Plenty of holiday activities, beautiful beaches, and balmy breezes beckon visitors to stay at one of many unforgettable vacation rentals in Florida for Thanksgiving. The Sunshine State offers holiday-themed attractions to entertain people of all ages. Participate in or watch a turkey trot in Naples or Orlando on Thanksgiving morning. Enjoy a weekend horse show in Tampa, or see a spectacular holiday light show in St. Augustine. Set your sights for an awesome Thanksgiving weekend in Florida at one of these great vacation destinations.
1. See the Night of Lights Festival in St. Augustine
Founded in 1565 on Florida’s northeast coast, St. Augustine features miles of beautiful beaches. For more than 20 years, the United States’ oldest city has hosted a spectacular display of 3 million tiny white lights during its Night of Lights Festival. Take a horse-and-carriage tour down cobblestone streets or cruise along the 4-mile beach coastline to see one of the best holiday light displays in the world.
2. Savor the Thanksgiving Weekend Art Festival in Delray Beach
With tourist season over, Delray Beach has a relaxed atmosphere as you stroll downtown or enjoy activities on the shore. On the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, savor the display of artistic talent at the annual Downtown Delray Beach Thanksgiving Weekend Art Festival. This free celebration featuring regional arts and crafts has been a favorite of locals and visitors for almost 20 years.
3. Parade Your Pooch at the Paw Parade in Mount Dora
Mount Dora goes to the dogs on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving at its annual Heroes Foundation Paw Parade. Register your dog on or before the morning of the parade, or just come watch the fun. See who wins the Mount Dora Canine Mayor Contest, and then take your kids to Scott’s Maze Adventures. Activities including a corn maze and hayrides keep everyone in the fall harvest spirit. In the evening, experience the free annual Light Up Mount Dora Festival in Donnelly Park and downtown, with 2 million lights, Christmas singing, and dancing. Close out your night at the lighting of the town’s 40-foot Christmas tree featuring lights coordinated to flash to Christmas songs.
4. Celebrate Winterfest in Pensacola
Known for its white-sand beaches, Pensacola converts itself into a spectacular winter wonderland for the holidays with Winterfest. Free opening events on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving include an Elf Parade and Reindeer Games with Rudolph. Kids enjoy Santa’s Puppy Party, with puppies from a local shelter, and laugh at Rudolph’s Review with dancing Christmas trees. Take the family on a trolley ride through downtown Pensacola.
5. Attend a Turkey Trot and the Arabian Horse Show in Tampa
If your family enjoys Turkey Trots and horse shows, Tampa and Clearwater vacation rentals are the perfect choice for Thanksgiving. A popular event since 1979, the Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning in Clearwater brings out more than 15,000 participants. Run in or watch the 10k Turkey Trot, 5k Wing Ding, 5k Fun Run and 1 Mile Gobbler. You can push your kids in strollers in the Fun Run and Gobbler. Later, attend the Arabian Horse Association of Florida’s annual Thanksgiving weekend show, where horses and riders compete for thousands of dollars in prizes. With more than 400 entries and a history of more than 45 years, this Tampa Bay event ranks among the nation’s premier Arabian horse shows.
6. Enjoy a Thanksgiving Costume Run in Orlando
Before you head to an Orlando theme park for a holiday show, watch a Thanksgiving Day tradition at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. For almost 30 years, the Seniors First Turkey Trot has featured runners, walkers, and joggers wearing Thanksgiving-themed costumes. More than 5,000 participants make this 5k run an exciting event, and proceeds benefit local programs for seniors. A Turkey Calls Contest and free Tot Trot kids’ run add to the fun.
7. Get Thrills at Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Miami
Miami’s warm temperatures draw visitors during the Thanksgiving holiday, and so does Santa’s Enchanted Forest. Based in Miami’s Tropical Park, this attraction is billed as the largest holiday theme park in the world. Treat your family to thrills including the Ferris wheel and Mega Drop rides, along with carnival-style games, shows, rides, and a Christmas tree 92 feet tall. More than 3 million Christmas lights dazzle locals and vacationers alike at this amazing event. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, celebrate the lighting of the 50-foot Christmas tree at Bayfront Park and stop by the Feria del Mercado de San Miguel, a Spanish market tradition.
8. Watch the WinterNational Thanksgiving Parade in North Miami
Join a North Miami tradition as you watch the Winter National Thanksgiving Parade. As the only Miami-Dade County parade that is Thanksgiving-themed, this event celebrates the town’s history with floats, high school marching bands, face painting, and live stage music.
9. Take a Thanksgiving Sunset Dolphin Cruise in Naples
On Thanksgiving morning, take the kids to the Li’l Gobbler Dash, One-mile Fun Walk/Run, and Gobble Gobble Four-Miler at the Village Shops on Venetian Bay in Naples. Later, share a special evening with the family on a Thanksgiving Sunset Dolphin and Wildlife Cruise at Adventures in Paradise. Set sail on the Sun Princess or Dolphin Waters power catamaran, enjoy live music, gorgeous views, and give thanks for life’s bountiful blessings.
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