Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
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While there’s certainly no place like home for the holidays, there is a collection of hotels in Florida that provide some steep competition. Boasting meet and greets with Santa, winter-themed activities, and live entertainment, these holiday havens offer the perfect place to soak up the festive atmosphere, adorned with show-stopping decorations, towering Christmas trees, and dazzling light displays. Read on to discover the top hotels in Florida that go all out for Christmas.
One of the most decorated properties in Disney during Christmas, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando offers an elegant take on the holidays. Boasting an elegant Victorian charm, the highlight of the decorations is undoubtedly the life-sized gingerbread house made from real ingredients. Doubling as a refreshment stand, you can order gingerbread shingles and other holiday treats. Of course, you can’t miss the beautiful 40-foot-tall Christmas tree in the lobby of this top-rated Orlando hotel.
Celebrate the holiday with a little sunshine at the Boca Raton, one of Florida’s top beachfront hotels. Attend the annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony followed by a Character Parade. On Christmas Day, you can attend the Family Beach Bonfire and sit by the fire and enjoy complimentary s’mores, hot chocolate and apple cider while listening to live music or dig into the Grand Christmas Dinner in the Mizner Center. There’s even a gingerbread house decorating event with crafts, cookies, and photos with Santa. Alternatively, they have an annual Menorah lighting followed by a special feast in the Mizner Center.
Known for its holiday events and activities, Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee is where to take the kids to see elaborate ice and light displays and go snow tubing. The 2023 theme centers around “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Guests can also decorate gingerbread houses, make real snowballs for the snow-making machine, and check out Christmas Tree Trail to see eight beautifully decorated Christmas trees.
If you like your Christmas holiday with a little luxury, head to The Breakers in Palm Beach to spend your days seaside at this upscale resort. There are festive buffets to keep you refueled and an array of festive events designed with families in mind, along with 170,000 twinkle lights and 8,000 ornaments wrapping around the hotel grounds. You’ll want to see the 14-foot tree in the Flagler Steakhouse and the nutcracker-inspired tree at The Italian Restaurant, then visit HMF for Holiday Tea with sandwiches, buttermilk scones and Devonshire cream.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, offers you plenty of face time with Santa. It hosts a Breakfast with Santa event with a pancake station and holiday cookie station, while the Santa Tuck-ins is where the big guy himself brings cookies and milk and reads a holiday story. Attend Santa’s Storybook Tea for an Amelia Island tradition, where a fireside holiday storybook read by Santa is paired with afternoon tea and finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries. But don’t miss the chance to build a Gingerbread house with pastry chefs or marvel at the world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is inviting guests to the “Gulf Pole” this holiday season. Families can get into the Christmas spirit with breakfast with Santa and enjoy a full range of activities, like writing letters to the North Pole, finding holiday gnomes at a scavenger hunt, and receiving daily updates from Mr. and Mrs. Claus via the Santa Hotline. Santa himself will visit the hotel, while a special holiday photo op is perfect for souvenirs. You can even decorate a tree in the comfort of your guest room, sign up for Gingerbread House Decorating and Polar Express Movie Night, or enjoy some adult-only time at the spa with its Winter Wonderland massages and Peppermint Mocha pedicures.
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World has a variety of special holiday activities planned. With holiday-inspired floral arrangements and decadent gingerbread displays, guests can enjoy complimentary hot cocoa and cider daily, while there will be a cookie decorating event, poolside views of holiday classics and character dining. Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy peppermint s’mores at the on-site PB&G restaurant and holiday gelato flavors at Lickety Split.
Christmas is a magical time at Orlando World Center Marriott, as they feature light displays, music and themed events that the entire family can enjoy. Some of the holiday activities in this hotel include letters to Santa, individual-sized gingerbread house decorating with elf delivery, a meet and greet with Santa and his elves, and poolside movies. If that’s not enough, there’s also Christmas carolers and a 38-foot chocolate train display to enjoy.
Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa is a luxury beachfront getaway at the threshold of Florida’s iconic Seven Mile Bridge. Sitting on 24 waterfront acres, it boasts a private, mile-long coastline as well as a lavish spa, five oceanfront pools, and multiple on-site dining options. For the holidays, there’s a special Christmas Day buffet and you can meet Santas reindeer, while the hotel also boasts a synthetic ice rink so you can pretend you’re in a winter wonderland. The party continues into New Year’s Eve with a celebration that includes food and drinks and a fireworks show.
There are a lot of Christmas events happening at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando in December, as the hotel’s scenic rose garden is aglow with spectacular lighting and impressive holiday decor. There’s a Christmas Buffet at Cafe Osceola with seasonal classics and chef stations, while the hotel’s spa has an open house with complimentary mini services, sweet treats and sparkling drinks. Make sure to book early and reserve the Christmas Stay package, which includes a buffet breakfast for two and discounts at the spa, restaurants, and golf course.
A great place to create memories with the entire family, Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers a range of exciting activities, from roasting s’mores poolside to nightly views of Disney’s famed fireworks show. You can fill up with buffet favorites at Oscar’s restaurant or a four-course dinner at Bull & Bear, while the hotel even brings the holidays into your room with artificial Christmas trees. Don’t miss the decadent selection of chocolate hand-crafted by the pastry team.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples hosts lots of fun activities for the kids for Christmas. Past holiday seasons have included a poolside showing of The Polar Express, a Santa’s workshop at the North Pole with stocking decorating and a chance to get up close to Santa. Previous years have also included holiday stories in the lobby with cider and cookies and a chance to spot the Elf on the Shelf throughout the property.
Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande is popular for its annual Twelve Days of Christmas program, where you’ll find festive decorations, cheery music and holiday treats. From a cookie decorating event to caroling, classic holiday movies and gingerbread house decorating, you’ll be full to the brim with festivities. You can squeeze in an afternoon of kayaking or cycling, then return to the hotel for an evening of milk and cookies in the living room and movies in the Pelican Room.