The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Road Trips in Orlando

Published date on December 15, 2023

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We present your essential companion for unforgettable Christmas Road Trips near Orlando. This guide leads you through a wonderland of festive destinations, from the twinkling lights of Walt Disney World to the merry adventures at LEGOLAND and SeaWorld. Prepare to dive into a world of holiday magic, filled with enchanting experiences that capture the spirit of the season.

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Embark on a festive journey through the most enchanting Christmas road trip destinations near Orlando. This guide offers a curated selection of places that exude holiday charm and festivities, ensuring your holiday season is filled with wonder and joy. From the historical streets of St. Augustine to the twinkling lights of Celebration, Florida, prepare to be captivated by the magic of the season.

LEGOLAND Florida: A Festive Family Destination

Festive Activities at LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND Florida transforms into a holiday wonderland, making it an essential stop on your Christmas road trip itinerary near Orlando. This family-friendly theme park offers a variety of Christmas-themed activities that delight both children and adults.

  • LEGO Christmas Tree and Shows: The highlight is a stunning LEGO Christmas tree accompanied by a 360-degree light show. This unique spectacle is a visual treat, offering a fresh twist on traditional Christmas decorations​​.
  • Character Meet and Greets: Enjoy special character interactions with Holiday Unikitty, LEGO Gingerbread, and LEGO Santa. These meet and greets provide a playful and memorable experience for the little ones​​.
  • Holiday Shows and Festive LEGO Activities: The park hosts various holiday shows and interactive LEGO building activities. These activities are not only fun but also ignite creativity in kids, making the trip both enjoyable and educational​​.

Special Events and Offerings

  • Special Event Days: The Christmas celebration at LEGOLAND Florida runs on select dates, ensuring that every visit is packed with festive cheer. The dates for 2023 include select days from November 24th to December 31st​​.
  • LEGOLAND Florida Resort Hotel: For an immersive holiday experience, consider staying at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort Hotel. They offer special holiday packages that include themed surprises and holiday dinners, making your stay magical and convenient​​.

Why LEGOLAND Florida is a Must-Visit

LEGOLAND Florida is more than just a theme park; it’s a festive destination that brings the spirit of Christmas to life through LEGO-themed decorations and activities. The combination of light shows, character meet and greets, and interactive building activities makes it a standout choice for families looking to add a unique twist to their Christmas road trips. The park’s commitment to a child-friendly, festive atmosphere makes it an ideal destination for those wondering what to do in Orlando besides Disney during the Christmas season.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort Christmas Bricktacular in Winter-Haven
LEGOLAND Florida Resort Christmas Bricktacular in Winter-Haven

SeaWorld Orlando: A Dazzling Christmas Experience

Illuminating the Holiday Spirit

SeaWorld Orlando, renowned for its marine life and entertainment, transforms into a Christmas wonderland, offering a dazzling array of festive activities. The park becomes a sea of lights and holiday cheer, making it a prime destination for those seeking a unique Christmas road trip near Orlando.

Captivating Christmas Attractions

  • Over Three Million Lights: The park is adorned with over three million sparkling lights, creating an immersive winter wonderland experience​​.
  • Special Shows and Performances: Enjoy an array of Christmas-themed shows and performances that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages.
  • Christmas Parade and Sea of Trees: The Christmas parade features festive floats and beloved characters, while the Sea of Trees lights up the SeaWorld lagoon, adding to the magical atmosphere​​.

Unique Festive Experiences

  • Encounters with Santa and Rudolph: Meet and greet opportunities with Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer add a personal touch to the holiday experience.
  • Ice Skating and Snow Flurries: The park offers ice skating for a traditional winter activity and snow flurries that bring the joy of a white Christmas to Florida.
  • New Year’s Eve Celebration: Cap off the holiday season with a special New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with fireworks​​.

Why Visit SeaWorld Orlando During Christmas?

Visiting SeaWorld Orlando during the holiday season offers a unique blend of marine adventure and festive charm. The combination of stunning light displays, special holiday shows, and interactive experiences with Santa and Rudolph makes it a perfect addition to your Christmas Road trips. It’s a destination that promises both entertainment and a festive spirit, making it an ideal stop for those looking for what to do in Orlando besides Disney during Christmas.

Holiday Magic at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World: A Winter Wonderland

No Christmas road trip in Orlando would be complete without a visit to Walt Disney World. Renowned for its enchanting holiday transformation, Disney World offers an array of Christmas events across its theme parks, each brimming with festive spirit.

Walt Disney World 50 Years Celebration
Walt Disney World 50 Years Celebration

Magic Kingdom’s Festive Flair

  • Disney Very Merriest After Hours: An exclusive event filled with music, special Christmas lights on Cinderella’s Castle, and snowfall on Main Street. It also features character sightings, festive treats, and fireworks, creating an unforgettable holiday experience.
  • Holiday Decor and Treats: Even with regular admission, the park is adorned with holiday decorations, offering special holiday treats and a merry ambiance​​.

Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays

  • World Showcase Christmas Makeover: Experience holiday traditions from around the world as each country in the World Showcase shares its unique Christmas customs, decorations, and songs.
  • Holiday Cookie Stroll: A delightful activity where guests can purchase special desserts at different locations throughout the park and collect stamps in their Festival Passports.

Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom Celebrations

  • Sunset Seasons Greetings: A projection show at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, adding a cinematic touch to the holiday spirit.
  • Flotillas and Tree of Life Awakenings: At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, enjoy festive flotillas and the Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition, where the tree sparkles with holiday tunes and lights​​.

Why Walt Disney World is a Must-Visit

Walt Disney World during the Christmas season is a dazzling spectacle of joy and festivities. Each park offers a unique take on holiday celebrations, making it a versatile and exciting destination for Christmas Road trips. From the mesmerizing decorations to the cultural celebrations at Epcot, Disney World caters to all ages, ensuring a magical holiday experience.

Gaylord Palms: Ice! Featuring Charlie Brown

A Winter Wonderland at Gaylord Palms

Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, near Orlando, offers a unique and frosty Christmas experience. It’s an ideal stop on your Christmas road trip for those looking to explore holiday festivities beyond the theme parks.

Ice! Featuring Charlie Brown

  • Sculptures and Scenes Made of Ice: The resort showcases over two million pounds of ice sculptures, featuring festive scenes and characters. This year, the theme is centered around the beloved Charlie Brown, bringing the classic holiday story to life in frozen form​​.
  • Twinkling Light Displays: Accompanying the ice sculptures are beautiful light displays that enhance the magical atmosphere.

Additional Festive Activities at Gaylord Palms

  • Snow Flow Mountain and Ice Bumper Cars: Guests can enjoy sliding down snow slides and bumper car rides on ice, offering a unique twist to traditional winter activities.
  • Gingerbread House Making and Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt: Engage in fun holiday activities like building gingerbread houses and participating in a scavenger hunt.
  • Photos with Santa and Holiday Light Show: Capture memorable moments with Santa and enjoy a captivating holiday light show​​.

Why Visit Gaylord Palms During Christmas?

Gaylord Palms provides an immersive Christmas experience that is distinct from other Orlando attractions. With its ice sculptures, light displays, and array of festive activities, it’s a perfect stop for families and couples alike. The resort combines the joy of the holidays with the fun of interactive experiences, making it a standout destination for Christmas road trips.

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Celebration, Florida: A Winter Wonderland

The Magic of Celebration During Christmas

Celebration, Florida, known as the town that Disney built, is a must-visit destination for a quintessential Christmas road trip experience. This charming town offers a festive atmosphere that captures the spirit of the holidays.

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Festivities in Celebration

  • Sparkling Christmas Lights: Celebration is famous for its spectacular Christmas light displays. The entire town is adorned with twinkling lights, adding a warm glow to the festive season​​.
  • Month-Long Festive Events: The town hosts a series of events throughout the holiday season, including carolers, ice skating, and the magical snowfall – yes, snow in Florida!
  • Santa Visits: Encounter Santa Claus in this picturesque setting, a perfect opportunity for memorable holiday photos.

Unique Holiday Experiences

  • Ice Skating and Snowfall: The artificial snowfall and ice skating rink bring the joy of a traditional winter to the warm climate of Florida.
  • Carolers and Christmas Markets: Enjoy the sounds of holiday carolers and explore the Christmas markets for unique gifts and festive treats.

Why Visit Celebration?

Celebration offers a unique blend of traditional and Floridian Christmas experiences. Its small-town charm, combined with Disney’s touch, creates a magical holiday atmosphere. The variety of activities, from ice skating to browsing Christmas markets, makes it an ideal destination for families and couples seeking a festive getaway.

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Festival of the Trees at Orlando Museum of Art

A Sparkling Tradition: Festival of the Trees

The Festival of the Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art is a glittering display of holiday spirit. This annual event transforms the museum into a festive wonderland, featuring beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, and gingerbread houses.

Highlights of the Festival

  • Decorated Trees and Gingerbread Houses: Local designers, artists, and community groups showcase their talents through creatively decorated trees and gingerbread houses. Each piece is unique, reflecting various themes and styles​​.
  • Special Holiday Events: The festival includes special ticketed events such as breakfast with Santa and storytelling sessions with Mrs. Claus, offering a personal touch to the holiday experience.
  • Pop-Up Shops and Festive Café: Browse through a selection of holiday gifts at pop-up shops and enjoy seasonal treats at the festive café, adding to the holiday shopping and dining experience.

Why You Should Visit

The Festival of the Trees is not just an exhibition; it’s a celebration of community and creativity. It’s an opportunity to witness the artistic talent of Orlando while enjoying the holiday atmosphere. This event is perfect for families, art enthusiasts, and anyone looking to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit.

Visiting the Festival

  • Event Dates: Typically held in November, the festival’s exact dates vary each year. For 2023, the event is scheduled from November 11th to 19th​​.
  • Tickets and Pricing: Admission prices vary, with special rates for children, seniors, and military personnel.

Exploring Nearby Getaways: Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Sanibel and Captiva Islands: A Tropical Christmas Escape

For those looking to experience a different kind of Christmas road trip near Orlando, Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer a tropical holiday getaway. These islands are known for their natural beauty and unique approach to celebrating the festive season.

Festive Activities on the Islands

  • Holiday Concerts and Events: Sanibel Island hosts various holiday concerts, offering a great way to get into the holiday spirit amidst a tropical setting​​.
  • Captiva Island’s Holiday Village: Captiva Island transforms into a quaint holiday village, featuring thousands of lights and charming decorations that create a festive atmosphere​​.

Unique Holiday Experiences

  • Luminaries Lighting the Streets: Experience a magical evening stroll along roads lined with luminaries, a tradition that lights up both islands during the holiday season.
  • Tropical Christmas Decorations: Witness unique holiday displays, such as Santa in a sled led by flamingos or dolphins, adding a Floridian twist to traditional Christmas imagery​​.

Why Visit Sanibel and Captiva Islands?

Visiting Sanibel and Captiva Islands during the Christmas season offers a unique blend of tropical beauty and holiday cheer. It’s an ideal destination for those looking to combine a beach getaway with festive celebrations. The islands’ serene atmosphere and unique holiday traditions make them a perfect retreat from the bustling city life of Orlando.

Sarasota’s Holiday Charm

Celebrating the Holidays in Sarasota

Sarasota, a picturesque city on Florida’s Gulf Coast, offers a distinctive blend of traditional and beachside Christmas festivities. It’s an excellent destination for those looking to add a cultural twist to their Christmas road trips near Orlando.

Festive Events and Highlights

  • St. Armands Holiday Night of Lights: Early in December, this event kicks off the holiday season in Sarasota with a tree lighting ceremony and opportunities for photos with Santa. The entire area participates, with holiday specials at shops and traditional treats at nearby restaurants​​.
  • Downtown Sarasota Holiday Parade: Featuring hundreds of floats and circus wagons, this parade brings old-time Sarasota to life for the holidays, concluding with an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus​​.
  • Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights: Over two dozen boats adorned with brilliant lights and festive decorations sail along the Bayfront Park and Centennial Park shorelines, showcasing Sarasota’s coastal holiday charm​​.

Unique Cultural Experiences

  • Sailor Circus Season’s Greetings Show: Performed by circus student acrobats, this seasonal show combines acrobatic feats with holiday themes, offering entertainment for the whole family.
  • Gingerbread Festival by Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida: A gingerbread village created by local groups, where visitors can vote on their favorite gingerbread house and even purchase them at the end of the event.

Why Sarasota is a Must-Visit During the Holidays

Sarasota offers a unique mix of traditional holiday festivities and its own coastal flair, making it an ideal stop on a holiday road trip. From its cultural events like the Sailor Circus to the charming boat parade, Sarasota provides a festive experience that stands out from the typical holiday destinations.

Road Trip Destinations: St. Augustine, Clearwater, and Beyond

St. Augustine: A Historical Holiday Getaway

St. Augustine, known as the nation’s oldest city, offers a unique blend of history and holiday charm. Located about an hour and 40 minutes from Orlando, it’s an ideal destination for a Christmas road trip.

Historical and Festive Highlights

  • Colonial Architecture and Festive Lights: Wander through streets lined with Spanish colonial architecture, beautifully illuminated with festive lights.
  • Castillo de San Marcos: Visit this historic fort, which stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and offers a unique backdrop for holiday festivities​​.
  • Lightner Museum and the Colonial Quarter: Explore the Lightner Museum housed in the former Hotel Alcazar and stroll through the well-preserved Colonial Quarter for a taste of historical charm.

Clearwater: Sun, Sand, and Holiday Spirit

Just two hours from Orlando, Clearwater offers a holiday experience with a beachside twist, making it an appealing destination for those seeking sun along with their Christmas celebrations.

Beachside Holiday Attractions

  • Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands: Enjoy the tranquil beaches and nature trails of these beautiful islands, which provide a serene escape from the holiday rush.
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium: A must-visit for marine life enthusiasts, especially during the holidays when it’s decked out in festive decor​​.
  • Pier 60 and Sand Key Park: Experience the holiday festivities at the famous Pier 60 and explore Sand Key Park for a mix of natural beauty and recreational activities.

Sarasota, Bradenton, and Anna Maria Island: Cultural and Coastal Delights

A little over two hours from Orlando, this trio of destinations offers a mix of cultural attractions and coastal beauty, perfect for a varied holiday road trip experience.

Cultural and Beach Experiences

  • The Ringling in Sarasota: Visit this art museum and historic estate for a touch of culture on your Christmas road trip.
  • Beach Relaxation on Anna Maria Island: Escape to the pristine beaches of Anna Maria Island for a peaceful holiday retreat​​.

Why These Destinations?

These road trip destinations from Orlando offer a diverse range of experiences, from historical tours in St. Augustine to beachside relaxation in Clearwater and cultural exploration in Sarasota. Each location presents its unique holiday attractions, making them ideal for those seeking variety in their Christmas road trips.

As our journey through the magical Christmas road trips near Orlando comes to a close, we hope you are inspired to explore these enchanting destinations. Each location, with its unique charm and festive spirit, promises to make your holiday season memorable. Whether it’s the historical allure of St. Augustine or the tropical festivities of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, these destinations are sure to fill your holiday road trips with joy and wonder.

FAQ’s Section for “The Ultimate Guide to Festive Roadtrips: Destinations and Tips”

Is Orlando a good place to go for Christmas?

Yes, Orlando is a fantastic destination for Christmas. The city transforms into a festive wonderland with numerous theme parks and attractions offering special holiday events, light displays, and seasonal entertainment. From the magical decorations at Walt Disney World to the unique Christmas experiences at places like LEGOLAND and SeaWorld, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during the holiday season.

How busy is Orlando during Christmas?

Orlando is quite busy during the Christmas season, as it’s a popular time for tourists to visit the theme parks and attractions. The weeks around Christmas and New Year are particularly crowded, so it’s advisable to plan ahead, book accommodations and tickets in advance, and be prepared for longer wait times at popular attractions.

Is Orlando fun in December?

Orlando is a great place to visit in December, offering a plethora of fun and festive activities. The weather is generally mild and pleasant, making it ideal for exploring outdoor attractions and events. With holiday-themed shows, Christmas markets, and special events at the theme parks, December in Orlando is filled with excitement and festive cheer, making it a delightful time for a holiday road trip.

As we conclude our journey through the best Christmas Road Trips near Orlando, we hope this guide has ignited your holiday spirit and inspired your festive travel plans. Each destination offers a unique slice of holiday magic, from theme park wonders to captivating light displays and joyous events. Embrace the season’s festivities with these enchanting road trip adventures, perfect for families and travelers alike. May your travels be merry, your experiences bright, and your holidays filled with the unforgettable joy and wonder of Christmas.


  • Corey Piccirillo

    Corey Piccirillo was born on March 26, 1995, in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They received their education at The University of Florida, where they studied Mass Communication Spec. In Digital Strategy. Corey is a content creator in Orlando, FL. creating relevant travel content for tourists and locals alike. This includes writing on the blogs, capturing videos and pictures, and creating short-form content on social media.

  • Fabian Mendoza

    Master in Digital Marketing with over 15 years of experience, Fabian has focused a significant part of his professional career on promoting the tourism industry. From the beginning, he led commercial, communication, and marketing strategies for renowned tourist attractions in Colombia, his native country. Currently residing in Orlando, he has worked on projects that encourage tourism in the Caribbean region. More recently, he has dedicated himself to promoting Orlando, highlighting not only its famous theme parks but also its hidden gems.