'Tis the Season for Outdoor Adventure and Relaxation at a Florida State Park

By: DEP Release
By: DEP Release


With the weather changing and holiday season quickly approaching, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is encouraging Floridians and visitors to step outside and into the beauty of one of Florida’s 160 state parks and attend a holiday event. Hosting an array of festive decorations and activities throughout the holiday season, state parks are the perfect venue to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate the holidays.

“Holidays are about gathering with family and friends; there’s no better place to rendezvous this season than a beautiful Florida state park,” said DEP Florida State Parks Director Donald Forgione. “From visits with Santa to decorations with millions of dazzling lights, Florida’s state parks are offering endless opportunities for combining nature, quality time with others and contagious holiday cheer.”

In light of the hassles that holidays bring, DEP emphasizes the upside of taking a break at a Florida state park. Attending an event while spending time in nature and releasing endorphins through physical activity will help relieve stress and maintain a healthy balance during the busy holiday season. White sandy beaches, vast open prairies, steep ravines, lush semi-tropical forests, cultural sites, crystal clear lakes, or rivers and springs offer countless landscapes for the ideal holiday reprieve.

Holiday events taking place at state parks in Northwest Florida include:


Orman House Historic State Park, Apalachicola

Friday, November 26, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

The Orman House will be decorated for a traditional Apalachicola Christmas and hot cider punch will be offered. A pianist will play holiday music from when Thomas Orman resided in the antebellum home in the 1830s. All visitors are welcome to attend this free family friendly event. Donations will benefit the Friends of Franklin County State Parks. Parking is available on 5th and Market Streets. For more information, call (850) 653-1209.


Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Tallahassee

Friday, December 3, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

A candle-lit stroll through the gardens accompanied by holiday music performed by local artists is the perfect way to share the holiday spirit with friends and loved ones. Bid on holiday finery for the home or a gift at the silent auction, which will include items donated by local merchants, artists and florists. Hot apple cider and holiday cookies will be served. Park entrance fees will be waived for participants. For more information, call (850) 487-4115.


Three Rivers State Park, Sneads

Friday, December 10 and 17, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Three Rivers State Park invites visitors to a scenic drive through the park to enjoy all the beautiful light displays. Park entrance fees will be waived for participants. For more information, call (850) 482-9006.


Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla

Saturday, December 18, 5:00 p.m.

This evening out for a cruise on the Wakulla River will be followed by dinner in the historic lodge. Guests will enjoy the festive holiday decorations. Tickets are $32 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under. For more information or to make reservations, call (850) 926-0700.


Eden Gardens Historic State Park, Point Washington

Saturday, December 18, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Visitors will take the traditional walk through the luminaries to the Historic Wesley House to enjoy it's beautifully seasonally decorated rooms. Inside, visitors will be greeted by Civil War reenactors in period garb, acting as hosts for each room. After the tour is completed, the Friends of Eden Gardens will be provide refreshments in the pavilion and the reenactors will welcome guests to the small encampment on the North lawn of the house beyond the Reflecting Pool. Park entrance fees will be waived for this event. For more information, call (850) 267-8322.


Tarkiln Bayou State Park, Pensacola

Saturday, December 25, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Water, binoculars and a camera are recommended for the Christmas Day walk in the park. Participants will identify native plants and learn about the state park. Admission is $3 per person. For more information, call (850) 432-1595.

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