Miami has developed a notorious reputation over the decades: home of the famous South Beach and a legendary nightclub scene with clubs like Story and Liv attracting thousands every weekend. While these aspects are certainly gems of this beachside town, Miami has a plethora of other treasures—especially when the temperature dips a little too low to stretch out on the beach, and the holidays roll into town. So, what exactly is there to do here when summer melts away and you’re left with sub-eighty degree weather? Thankfully, I’ve compiled a handy list for you!
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
This sprawling park opens from October to January, and makes you feel like you’re submerging yourself in something out of a fairytale book. Millions of Christmas lights dot the sky, offering the perfect merry glow over mini-Santa Clauses and other seasonal figurines. The great thing about this event is that there’s something for everyone: rides, like the Mega Drop and Water flume, shows, like the Dale Scott Magic Show and Cats of the World, and other attractions, like bungee jumping, bull riding, and getting to meet Santa!
Additionally, if you’re a foodie (like I am), enjoy treats like mini doughnuts covered in cinnamon sugar, fresh fried elephant ears, hot roasted corn, pizza, BBQ and candied apples. If you’re feening for something more exotic, there’s cuisines from Mexico, Italy, and Greece—as well as some Latin favorites.
Typically, the forest is open from 5 PM to midnight.
Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida, and the only subtropical zoo in the continental United States! Every time the holiday season comes around, the zoo’s glorious grounds come to light in a plethora of brilliant Christmas lights, from December 16-23, 7 to 10 PM. Take a cozy stroll as animal-shaped lights illuminate the walkways, listening to classical holiday music, sipping belly-warming hot chocolate, and snacking on delicious cookies.
Enjoy attractions like riding on a camel, the wildlife carrousel, or the hippo slide (the world’s largest inflatable slide). Included in your admission package is a pair of 3D glasses, which will make the experience more electrifying. The best part of all this? It’s super cheap! $5 per person plus tax.
Holiday Evening at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Wintertime is a special time for Vizcaya, because the owner, James Deering, came to the estate on Christmas Day in 1916. To celebrate the occasion and the holiday season, each year Vizcaya adorns the Main House in seasonal decorations, with a twist! It embodies the historical flair of that time, holding a charm several decades old. Members of Vizcaya will get to sip on hot chocolate by the bay, take guided tours for insider intel, and enjoy the tunes of carolers. This event is hosted on December 13th typically, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Miami City Ballet is an American ballet company based in Miami Beach, and is a true melting pot of talent. Every year, they treat the city of Miami to George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, ringing in the holiday spirit. Step into a magical world of toy soldiers, vibrant characters, and the classic “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, set to the music of Tchaikovsky, provided by a live orchestra. With a cast of more than 100, this is a must-see for people of all ages! Single tickets start at $30, and the show runs from December 15th through 18th.
But of course, we didn’t forget the number one reason you’re visiting Miami this year, or why all the snow birds seem to migrate down here for the holidays. If all else fails, our gorgeous beaches are open year-round for you to soak up some sun, engage in a game of beach volleyball, or take a dip in the ocean.
If you’re absolutely in love by the time I’m finished, who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a home right here in Miami!