It's official—the most wonderful time of the year is here. And so are holiday events! Get ready for some (socially distanced) celebrating across Orlando North and the cities of Sanford, Altamonte Springs, and Lake Mary. Here are our picks for what to do (and where to stay) in Seminole County through the end of 2020.
When: December 11-20, 2020
Where: Throughout the city of Sanford
The city of Sanford’s annual holiday festivities look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean they’re anything short of spectacular. To maintain safe social distancing and keep residents and visitors alike safe through the season, Light Up Sanford’s Holiday Tour of Homes will include a self-guided tour of the area’s most lavishly decorated properties. You can walk, drive or ride in a golf cart through downtown Sanford to spot all the entries on the map. Stay tuned to website updates as they will be adding more and more houses to check out.
If you’re a Sanford resident, your home can even be a stop on the tour. The winning decorator will receive $500 cash so dig up those lights, inflatable snowmen, and reindeer—it’s time to deck the halls and your yard.
Whether you’re visiting the area or want a change of scenery for the weekend, you’ll want to stay at this historic Sanford fire station. Built in 1887, this station has since been converted into a popular Airbnb with all the comforts of home while keeping the building’s vintage charm. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a loft, and a rooftop deck, this space has everything you need for a socially distanced getaway.
When: November 14 – December 5
Location: Lake Mary Museum, 158 N Country Club Road, Lake Mary, FL
Cost: Free, donations accepted
The trees are trimmed and ready for their moment in the spotlight at the Lake Mary Museum Festival of Trees. This exhibit features holiday decorations and trees donated by local businesses and friends of the museum. While there’s no cost for admission, donations are always appreciated, with all proceeds going towards bringing more art and events to the museum. You’ll also be able to do a bit of holiday shopping with trees and table décor available for purchase.
To keep guests safe, the museum will allow 15 people into the exhibit at a time with face coverings and social distancing practices in effect.
Named “Marriott’s Hotel of the Year,” the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary is a top choice for those looking for an affordable stay in the heart of everything the city has to offer. Just steps away from dining and drinks, as well as Colonial Townpark, and with plenty of on-site amenities to enjoy, you can enjoy a weekend away or a mid-week pick-me-up.
When: November 26-January 3
Make the most of Florida’s refreshingly cool evenings with a stroll along the waterfront walkways of Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. All along the way, you’ll be surrounded by impressive light displays, as well as a fountain show choreographed to your favorite holiday tunes every hour from 6pm to 9pm. With holiday characters making an appearance on select nights and live music on Fridays from 7pm to 9pm, there’s always something going on for the whole family to enjoy.
Just steps away from Cranes Roost Park and all the seasonal cheer, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando North puts you in the center of Uptown Altamonte Springs and all it has to offer. With a steakhouse on the property and plenty of other options within walking distance or a short drive, this hotel is perfect for families, couples or solo travelers wanting a comfortable, centrally located stay.
When: December 12, 2020
Where: Central Florida Zoo, 3755 W. Seminole Blvd. Sanford, FL 32771
Cost: Free with admission
It wouldn’t be the holidays without a visit to Santa and what better place to meet up than the Central Florida Zoo? Bring the little ones along to take photos with Santa himself, go on a candy cane hunt throughout the zoo, and more wild holiday fun. This meet and greet is free with admission, so be sure to explore the park and get to know all its other residents, too!
Earning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, Higgins House in historic Sanford lets guests enjoy delicious full breakfasts, swing on the front porch in the afternoon and stroll through Centennial Park as the sun sets. This renowned B&B is a few blocks from downtown Sanford’s lively shopping, dining, art galleries and more.
When: December 1 to January 1
Where: Wekiva Island
The beloved celebration is back for a fifth year as we get ready to kick off Wekiva Island’s Winter Wonderland. This month-long event brings meet-and-greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a Christmas tree forest, a giant gingerbread house, holiday movies, and “snow” flurries falling every night from 6pm-9pm and 12pm-9pm on weekends. You can even take a “sleigh” ride on the river! As the festivities wrap up, there will also be a New Year’s Day brunch with river views to help you ring in 2021.
To ensure the health and safety of guests, Wekiva Island is requiring masks for guests at the entrance and whenever they are outside the boundaries of their small, socially distanced group. Temperature checks are also required at the gate.