My Favorite Jacksonville Holiday Traditions

Christmas on the First Coast presents so many wonderful opportunities to see a whole new side of our beautiful community. Here are my favorite things to do with my family during the holiday season: 

Gingerbread House Extravaganza (Downtown) 

This sweet exhibit is hosted by the Historical Society and features creations from many Jacksonville community members. This year’s exhibit will also be viewable on Youtube! If you’re hungry after seeing the exhibit,  head over to Sweet Pete’s.


This may not occur 2020, but the Zoo never looked better! It’s a magical night to enjoy and support our local zoo while seeing real snow! 

Night of Lights

This is the best place to propose during the holidays. It’s so romantic with thousands of twinkling lights illuminating St. Augustine, which is already so, so beautiful.  It’s a little crazy, parking is hard, people are everywhere and the restaurants are packed. Get there early and make reservations so that you’re not overwhelmed. 

Deck the Chairs

One key tip, go early. These creative installations featuring a life guard’s chair are incredible. But…some don’t make it to the end. Bundle up because it gets cold by the water! 

Luminaria (Riverside/Avondale and San Marco)

Two of my favorite historic neighborhoods, Riverside and San Marco show off in two beautiful nights of simple luminarias lining every street. Local businesses make a point to stay open late or participate in a special way on these nights! 

The Polar Express (South Georgia) 
This even usually goes from Jacksonville to Mt. Dora, but 2020 was canceled. Luckily, it’s still happening in St. Mary, just over the GA line! This incredible immersion into the book is magical for kids. 
Imagine  a night at the Ritz with your kids,  elves dropping by to tuck you in and bring Christmas cookie and brunch with the Big Guy himself. Worth every penny. 
Christmas Light Tours and Luminaria (throughout town)
Nothing beats driving around town to appreciate the hard work of our neighbors to light their streets aglow with holiday cheer! It’s so simple and so fun.

Share your favorite holiday actives in the comments! 

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about Shannon

I'm an award-winning, expert lawyer with a life and style in Jacksonville, Florida helping professional women and their families after an injury or arrest.

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