Posted on December 03, 2018 by Janet Steinberg
There's Snow Place Like Florida For The Holidays

THERE’S SNOW PLACE LIKE FLORIDA FOR THE HOLIDAYS

 

By Janet Steinberg

 

You may not have a white Christmas, but you will have a bright one.   You may not have icicles cascading from the trees and a snowman on your lawn, but you will have twinkling palm trees and Santa on the sand.   Florida during the holiday season is everything you might expect up north…sans the freezing weather.   And, if you can plan to be there a week or so before Christmas, you will have it all at a cost that is considerably less than after the “Social Season” begins around December 20th.  

 

There are a myriad of great cities in Florida, but for now let’s have a look at some of what Florida’s West Coast has to offer. 

 

NAPLES, the well-planned city nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades, is light years away from the glitz and glitter of some other parts of South Florida.  With its white sandy beaches, cool winter breezes and dreamy sunsets, Naples celebrates the season with the timeless traditions of Christmas tree lightings, Christmas parades, Christmas Lights at Victoria Park and the Nutcracker at Artis-Naples, the premier center for the arts in Southwest Florida. 

 

 

CHRISTMAS PAST AT THE INN ON FIFTH IN NAPLES

 

One of the most unique holiday events that come to Naples is Tuba Christmas. Since 1974, this event has paid tribute to William J. Bell, a famous tuba teacher who was born on Christmas Day.  Tuba Christmas showcases the tuba and the euphonium (the smaller version of a tuba).  Unofficially, children create their own white Christmas by making the fountain in front of the Inn on Fifth bubble over with white soapsuds. The Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples offers the peaceful intimacy and charming details of a boutique inn, along with the indulgences of a luxurious resort getaway. The Inn on Fifth is located on Naples’ famous Fifth Avenue, a picturesque area rich with arts, shopping dining, and it’s just a short walk from the sandy shores and sparkling waters of Naples’ beaches.

 

 

A BUBBLY WHITE CHRISTMAS

 

BOCA GRANDE connected to the mainland by a short toll causeway, is a slice of “Old Florida” on Gasparilla Island.  This sleepy town founded by the Dupont family as a playground for the rich and famous, has managed to maintain its quaint fishing village atmosphere despite a surge in development around it.  Upscale, but laid back, Boca Grande is down-home luxury personified.  It is the epitome of understated elegance where VIPs (Very Important People) call the show-offs PIPs (Previously Important People).  It is an idyllic retreat where residents park their Mercedes and Jaguars in front of Whidden’s Sea Food Market, a tin-roofed shack in total disarray, while they line up to purchase the fresh catch of the day. 

 

 

WHIDDEN’S SEA FOOD MARKET

 

Visitors spend their nights at the island’s classic accommodation, the historic Gasparilla Inn & Clubbuilt in 1912 as a stylish resort for the upper class.  And the Gasparilla remains just that.  During high season, it is one of the few remaining bastions of civility where gentlemen still wear a coat and tie to dinner.

 

 

THE CLASSIC GASPARILLA INN

 

It is a place where time stands still; where gentle Gulf breezes carry a quiet air of graciousness and gentility; where croquet is played on back lawns; and tea is served in salons.  The Inn’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” offers a different theme on each of the 12 days. Festive decorations, cheerful caroling, classic holiday movies and gingerbread house decorating are a few of the events that spark holiday magic.

 

 

TIME SEEMS TO STAND STILL AT THE GASPARILLA INN

 

CAPTIVA ISLAND has a little chapel that claims to have an internationally recognized Christmas Eve service that exudes the meaningful significance of the season. Captiva Chapel By The Sea, where all are welcome regardless of their religious beliefs, is an interdenominational ministry serving South West Florida's winter season. This historic church, bathed in holiday lights during the season,is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.  You can be part of a Captiva Chapel by the Sea Christmastime tradition by hanging a wreath on the walls of the little church, in memory and celebration of a loved one.  The name on your wreath will then be shared in prayer during the worship service on the Sunday before Christmas.

 

The Mucky Duck, reminiscent of an old English Pub, is in the heart of downtown Captiva where the sun sets nightly and the beer flows freely.  Smack on the sugar white sand of Captiva Island, in front of the Mucky Duck, is a lone Christmas tree, awaiting the mighty sunset that sends off the Florida sun as it sinks into the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

A  LONE CHRISTMAS TREE AWAITS THE SUNSET ON THE BEACH AT THE MUCKY DUCK

 

The Bubble Room, born in 1979 on its present site on Captiva Island, had a very modest beginning of just a few tables in the front room of the home of the Farqhuarson family. Today’s famous multi- theme restaurant slowly took shape. Starting with old toys from the 1930’s and 1940’s as its décor in the one room, the collecting began and has continued to the present day. With the addition of the many Father Christmases, the Elf Room and year round Christmas lights, “its always Christmas at the Bubble Room”.

 

 

IT’S ALWAYS CHRISTMAS AT THE BUBBLE ROOM

 

  1. PETE BEACH,with miles of beaches, surf shops and boutiques, along with a vast array of lodging, dining and water sports for all ages, was voted TripAdvisor’s No. 7 Beach in the U.S. in 2018. St. Pete Beach’s shores, a magical expanse of sand, include the longest undeveloped stretch of public beach in the county at Pass-a-Grille Beach.

Most people picture Christmas in shades of red and green. However, try picturing it in shades of hot pink. You'll be tickled pink as you cross the causeway and catch your first glimpse of "The Pink Palace".  Majestically poised, like a pink-iced wedding cake on the sandy shores of St. Pete Beach, the 1920’s Don CeSar is the crowning glory of Florida's Gulf Coast.  Affectionately dubbed “The Don”, the hotel's pink exterior is reminiscent of the rosy lime and mortar mixture the builder Thomas Rowe observed as a child in Ireland.  The hot pink color, known as "Don CeSar Rouge" is maintained partly to retain the Don's stature as an historic landmark in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

A HOT PINK CHRISTMAS AT THE DON CESAR

 

Holiday season in St. Pete Beach is twinkling palm trees, decorated boat parades, outdoor carolers at the holiday market and a jingle bell fishing tournament with Santa.  The people on St. Pete Beach even promise to show you that fake snow might just be better than the real thing.  The nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium transforms into Winter's Wonderland, complete with lights, Christmas décor and a splashingly great holiday celebration! 

 

YOUNG-AT-HEART- BEAUTY EMBRACES A FAUX SANTA AT THE DON

 

So shove those boots and earmuffs back into the closet and head south for some heart-stirring holiday memories.  There’s snow place like Florida for the holidays.

Janet Steinberg, winner of 47-travel writing awards, resides in Cincinnati but calls the world her home.

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