Miami might not be your typical winter wonderland destination. Sunny skies keep our fair city relatively warm all season long, and any “snow” you see at events tends to be made from bubble machines or shaving cream. Still, parents have plenty of holiday-themed events to choose from if they want to get the whole family into the spirit. Below are our picks for best holiday-themed events and attractions in the Magic City.
1. Santa’s Enchanted Forest
When you think of Christmas in Miami, there’s one place that always comes to mind. Santa’s Enchanted Forest is a holiday theme park complete with games, rides, and of course, thousands of lights. Walk through the various holiday displays, get a caricature done, check out the petting zoo, go on a rollercoaster, listen to Christmas tunes, watch the various shows, eat yummy carnival food, and even take a photo with Santa – it’s all possible at Santa’s.
7900 SW 40th St., Olympia Heights; 305-559-9689
2. Pinecrest Gardens
This beautiful botanical garden used to be the site of the original Parrot Jungle. These days, it’s a relaxing place for families to spend a day, or a night, enjoying festive activities. Their Live Like Bella Nights of Lights event from Dec.16 -Jan. 1 features Christmas music, pony rides, pictures with Santa and more.
11000 S. Red Road, Pinecrest; 305-669-6990
3. Polar Express at Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Through Christmas eve our local railroad and train museum hosts their annual Polar Express event for giddy children of all ages. Tickets start at just $35 and include a ride aboard the Polar Express, hot chocolate and cookies, a reading of the classic book, and a visit (and gift from) old St. Nick himself. It’s sure to be a magical experience for the whole family.
12450 SW 152nd St., South Kendall; 305-253-0063
4. Wild Holidays at Jungle Island
Jungle Island’s annual winter event, Wild Holidays, is a fun-filled celebration for all visitors to the animal park from Dec. 24-Jan. 8. Among the events will be a Candy Cane Jungle, holiday-themed animal shows, a daily parade with holiday music, holiday-themed scavenger hunts, arts and crafts and face-painting for kiddos, storytimes, and more. Santa Claus will also be on-site to visit kiddos and find out what presents they want for the year.
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Watson Island; 305-400-700
5. Zoo Lights
Every year, ZooMiami puts on its best holiday face for the annual Zoo Light extravaganza. From Dec. 16-30, the zoo will open at night so folks can come and see more than half a million twinkling lights shaped like all your favorite animals. Included in the admission price ($9.95) are free carousel rides, holiday music, and 3D glasses (because they make everything better). Hot chocolate and cookies and photos with Santa will also be available for a small fee.
12400 SW 152nd St., Kendall; 305-255-5551
6. A Christmas Carol at the Actors’ Playhouse
There’s never a better time to see Charles Dickens’ classic on the stage than at Christmastime. And this year, you can take your kiddos to witness it musical-style at the Actors Playhouse on Miracle Mile. From Nov. 28- Dec. 24, families can share this old tale brought to life with their little ones. A sensory-friendly “All Kids Included” performance will also be taking place the morning of Dec. 10.
280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293
7. Winterland At Pinto’s Farm
Pinto’s Farm has become synonymous with holiday events in recent years. From Dec. 9-Jan. 8, families are welcome to visit the farm and enjoy all kinds of wintery fun. Meet and greet with Nix the Snowman, Sprinkle the Gingerbread Cookie, and of course, ol’ Saint Nick. Enjoy paddle boat rides, hayrides, and pony rides, then walk through the illuminated forest. Pet animals at their zoo, let the kiddos enjoy some arts and crafts, and get your face painted. And don’t forget to purchase some poinsettias on your way out to make your home more festive!
14890 SW 216th Street, Redlands; 305-258-6067
8. Every Performance Of The Nutcracker
For many, the start of the holiday season is signaled by purchasing of tickets to the legendary Nutcracker Ballet. This year, Miamians have the option of attending one or several performances taking place throughout the city. For the purists, there’s George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker as performed by the Miami City Ballet, at the Adrienne Arsht Center. For a slight variation, check out the Moscow Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker, which can be enjoyed at the Fillmore on South Beach. And those with little ones might further enjoy Artistic Dance Theater’s performance of the Nutcracker at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.
9. Magical Snowfall At Dolphin Mall
It may not technically snow in Miami, but there is one place you can catch something kind of like it during the holidays. Now in its 10th year, Dolphin Mall’s Magical Snowfall takes place every night at 7 p.m. from now until Jan. 6th (with an additional snowfall at 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights). Little ones under 12 years of age will be given a magical wand to wave in the air to signal the snowfall, and you can bet they’ll have a blast.
11401 12th St., Sweetwater; 305-265-7446