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Celebrate the Holidays at Florida's State Parks



If you have been following my journey as your Florida Travel Expert for very long, you know that I am partial to Florida's State Parks. They are one of my favorite destinations for a quick day trip or weekend getaway. The parks are all unique with plenty of activities for the outdoor enthusiast; but, best of all, they are budget-friendly getaways for families with limited resources.
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In an effort to find something a little different to do with the family in December, I made another discovery about Florida's State Parks.

Many of them celebrate the holiday season with fun festivities that the entire family can enjoy! How could I have missed this all these years? You can be sure I won't be making that mistake this year! 

Of course, during the holidays, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and opt for more traditional family activities...

like shopping, decorating our homes, more shopping... well, you get the picture. Why not opt for a simpler holiday and take the time to attend one of these great events at these Florida State Parks? The celebrations encompass lights, special refreshments, and activities unique to each park. Here are a few highlights:


Festival of Lights
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
White Springs
December 4 thru December 31, 2015 - 5:00 until 9:00 p.m.

Named one of the top 20 events in the Southeastern U.S., the Festival of Lights celebration is an annual event held nightly from early December through the end of the month. Visitors to this historic park will find the antebellum museum dressed in holiday grandeur and the park's majestic oaks sparkling with thousands of lights.
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Additionally, visitors will experience a gingerbread village, a candy cane forest and the North Pole with Santa's workshop.

That not all! Craft Square features craft demonstrations, a bonfire, marshmallow roasting and holiday singing. Complimentary hot cocoa and popcorn are served nightly. Admission is just $3.00 per person.
Children ages 3 and under are admitted free. December 24 is drive-through only and closed December 25. There are participation requirements that include, but are not limited to, traversing uneven terrain independently or with the assistance of  a companion. For more event information visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/parks/Stephen-Foster.


Camellia Christmas
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Tallahassee
December 4, 2015 - 6:00 until 9:00 p.m.

Enjoy an old-fashioned introduction to the holiday season with music, hot cider, cookies and candlelight. The historic Maclay House will be adorned for the holidays and start your holidays shopping by bidding on items in the silent auction.
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This event is free, however, there are participation requirements that include, but are not limited to, being able to withstand exposure to outdoors for a period of one hour. Looking for more information? Visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/parks/Maclay-Gardens for details.


Celebration of Lights
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Homosassa Springs
December 19 thru December 24 and December 26, 2015 - 5:30 until 9:00 p.m.

Visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park during the week before Christmas and enjoy a spectacular display of lights and a variety of entertainment. Refreshments will also be available.
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Suggested admission is a $5.00 donation for adults and a $2.00 donation for children. Visitors to the Celebration of Lights are encouraged to park in the Visitor Center parking area, located at the main entrance on U.S. Hwy. 19. There trams will be available to transport guests to the West Entrance of the park. For additional information, visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/park/Homosassa-Springs.



Christmas On the Florida Frontier
Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
Bushnell
December 5, 2015 - 3:00 p.m.

Celebrate the holidays the old fashioned way with wassail and popcorn prepared over open campfires as traditional folk music fills the December air. Visitors can help decorate a live Christmas tree, enjoy pioneer crafts, games and dancing. After the sun goes down, stroll the luminary-lit walkways.
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Admission is just $5 per car! And, you can take your pet along as long as they are leashed. For more information visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/park/Dade-Battlefield.



Cracker Village Christmas
Silver Springs State Park - Silver River Museum
Ocala
December 5, 2015 - 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

In a joint effort with the Pioneer Garden Club, the Silver River Museum presents music performances, tours of the pioneer buildings and vendors displaying old-time crafts.
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Regular museum admission of $2.00 is waived for this event, but park admission of $8.00 per vehicle applies. For additional information visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/park/Silver-Springs.



Fort Clinch Holiday Jollification
Fort Clinch State Park
Fernandina Beach
December 5, 2015 - 6:30 until 8:30 p.m.

Fort Clinch will host caroling, a bonfire and interpreters will be on hand throughout the fort to show what their life would have been like during the holiday season. Special treats of hot chocolate and cookies will be served.
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Admission for this event will be waived to those making a donation of one canned good per person which will support the Barnabas Food Pantry for local families in need. For more information about this event visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/park/Fort-Clinch.



Fort Foster Candlelight Experience
Hillsborough River State Park - Fort Foster State Historic Site
Thonotosassa
December 11 & 12, 2015 - 6:00 until 9:00 p.m.

Bring the Florida frontier to life this holiday season with music, living history scenarios and refreshments. After 8:00 p.m. each night, a battle reenactment will take place as the Seminoles attempt to burn the bridge crossing the Hillsborough River, while soldiers try to defend it.

Admission is a suggested $5.00 donation for ages 13 and up. Those under the age of 13 are admitted free. For additional information visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/park/Fort-Foster.



Holiday in the Gardens
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Palm Coast
December 13, 2015 - 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Enjoy this family-friendly event featuring live holiday music, tea with Mrs. Claus, photos with Santa and other children's activities, arts and crafts. Grown-ups can stroll the beautiful gardens and mark off those gifts for the gardeners in their life at the plant and dish garden sale. There, of course, will be food and much more to enjoy.

This event is included with park admission, but additional activities incur an additional charge. Visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/park-Washington-Oaks for more information on this event.

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Travel Magazine: Celebrate the Holidays at Florida's State Parks
Celebrate the Holidays at Florida's State Parks
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