Tag Archives: Christmas

Fort Christmas in Christmas, Florida

Yes, there is a Christmas, Florida. They’ve created an awesome replica of the fort with great historical exhibits and an interesting historical park. Perhaps the other thing you’ve heard about in Christmas, Florida is the post office there. Your mail will be posted with “Christmas, Florida” and who wouldn’t want that on their Christmas cards? Maybe a December visit is in order?

Inside Fort ChristmasOnce you get to Fort Christmas, you are greeted with a huge replica of the original fort. The beams are impressive and well placed. It has nice signage that discusses the fort and the wars it was involved with also. Once inside the fort you’ll find an impressive historical display. They have collected tons of artifacts that you don’t see every day. The displays discuss war history, local history, Seminole history, and more. Much of the display discusses local history, which is especially neat once you see the connected historical park. In fact, I might consider visiting the historical park first—because the exhibits in the Fort are even more interesting when you have that context.

Fort Christmas historical park interiorThe accompanying historical park includes many homes, a cow camp, and various buildings. The day we went there, they had a guide who greeted you at the beginning of the exhibit. She was knowledgeable and friendly, and offered a few extra tidbits of history. I think what was perhaps the best part about the historical park is that we were able to actually walk through most of the houses in the exhibit. So, you aren’t stopped by ropes or a gate most of the time. It’s a better way to get a feel for the times and the home, though it does surprise you at first. (But always pay attention to the signage when you go, because it looks like sometimes the houses cannot be walked through.)

The houses belong to early residents of the town. They have signage and pictures discussing what the occupants did and a little about them. Then you got to see clothing, accessories, cookware, and such from those times. It was neat to see how they lived and how their homes were built.

Run by the county, you can enjoy a fun few hours at Fort Christmas. The area comes with a playground, picnic tables, and restrooms. It is not a daylong adventure, so perhaps you want to also plan on a trip to Dixie Crossroads restaurant in Titusville. This was my first visit there, and the fritters are not to be missed.

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Christmas in Florida by Kevin M. McCarthy

Christmas in Florida by Kevin M. McCarthy is full of Christmas trivia

Christmas in Florida by Kevin M. McCarthy

Christmas in Florida by Kevin M. McCarthy

Did you know that:

  • America’s first Christmas mass was held in Tallahassee, Florida in 1539?
  • Tampa saw a Christmas jousting tournament in 1882?
  • The Dade Massacre was on Christmas Day in 1835?
  • Florida has many Christmas tree farms?
  • Christmas 1992 brought poems, instead of parking tickets, in Jacksonville?
  • Christmas was not a legal holiday in Florida until 1881?

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2011 Florida Holiday Events

Author Bruce Hunt is discussing Winter in Small-Town Florida today (Monday Dec 5th) at 12pm on Twitter via a Twitter chat.
Use hashtag #smalltownFla to follow along.
Follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceHuntImages. You can reach us via @PineapplePress

A sampling of Florida’s holiday fun for 2011

Florida is a fun place to spend the holidays, especially if you want a different spin on winter events. Those of you visiting from up north might be surprised about what Floridians created into winter fun!

South Florida

Holiday Historic Lighted Inn Tours: Visit beautiful Key West inns while sampling mouth-watering foods and seeing exciting performances. Dec 9-10 and Dec 16-17. Learn more at www.schoonerwharf.com

Annual Dropping of the Conch Shell: Sloppy Joe’s is home to this annual New Years Eve event. Learn more at www.sloppyjoes.com

North Florida

Pensacola Winterfest: Looks like it’s a month-long celebration in Pensacola this December. Learn more at www.pensacolawinterfest.org

Regatta of Lights: St. Augustine’s spin on Christmas lights. See a parade of boats in historic St. Augustine. Dec 10. Learn more at www.visitoldcity.com

Central Florida

Cruising Downtown DeLand Car Show: Classic cars and crafts bring the holidays to DeLand. Santa Claus is the special guest. Dec. 17. Learn more at www.plantcity.org

Mount Dora Christmas Events: Mount Dora is famous for their many Christmas events. Lights, shopping, and oodles more fun. Learn more at www.mountdorachristmas.com

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Guest Post: Mount Dora, Florida

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Mount Dora is many things to many people, but to me it has always been home. It’s where I learned how to ride a bike and drive a car. It’s where I had my first kiss, my first boyfriend and my first breakup. I spent most of my teenage years trying to get out of Mount Dora, but it’s the one place I had to get back to when I graduated from college.

If you can’t live here, it’s a great destination for day and weekend trips. There are several bed & breakfasts within the blocks of downtown, including the Mount Dora Historic Inn on 4th Avenue. If your accommodations don’t offer breakfast, there are several places to grab a quick bite and a cup of coffee. One Flight Up offers breakfast sandwiches, bagels, coffee and specialty espresso drinks or if you prefer more of a country cookin’ type breakfast then Chew Chew Express is the place to go.

If you’re a history buff and want to get the juicy gossip on how Mount Dora came to be, there are two different tours you can jump on. It’s best to do them early in the morning because they tend to get busy as the town wakes up. The first option is the Mount Dora Trolley Company. It was started a few years back by a mother and daughter. They really do know how to make you feel welcome. They take you by trolley all throughout the downtown area and into some residential streets, while giving you the history of our town that sits beside Lake Dora. If you prefer a more private tour then jump into a horse-drawn carriage over at A Hitch in Time Carriage Tours at the corner of 4th Avenue and Alexander Street. They do a 30–45-minute guided tour of the downtown area and it really is the best way to hoof the town without doing any of the work.

There are several specialty shops along Donnelly Avenue that can’t be found anywhere else. The Drawer Ltd. is the town hot spot for Vera Bradley, Crabtree and Evelyn, and Brighton jewelry. It’s one of the most frequented stores by the locals, and if you listen closely you’re bound to hear some town gossip. After walking through all the stores you have to stop by My Father’s Bread. They are the local celebrity in town after doing an appearance on NBC’s Today Show, and their assortment of fresh baked breads and cinnamon rolls are perfect for taking home. If you’re in the mood for ice cream, then swing through La Cremerie at Alexander Street and 3rd Avenue. They always have sixteen different flavors to choose from, all the toppings for a great sundae, and they truly make the best old-fashioned milkshakes in town.

Mount Dora is also a great place for outdoor lovers. The hills are perfect for bike enthusiasts. If you’re a boater, there is a public boat ramp down past the marina, and there are several golf courses nearby.

While Mount Dora is a great place to visit any day of the year, the best time to make a trip is during the holiday season. Here are the top five  holiday festivities that can’t be missed:

1. Light Up Mount Dora is always first to kick off the holiday season. This year it will be the Saturday night after Thanksgiving (November 26). The entire downtown area is blocked off from traffic, and when they flip the switch at 6:30 p.m. the entire Donnelly Park is lit by over two million twinkling Christmas lights high above in the trees.

2. The Christmas Walk is the first weekend in December. It’s a holiday street party with music, drinks, food, and entertainment out on the streets of downtown. The shops stay open late and carolers in time-period costumes make their way through the crowd caroling as they go (December 2).

3. The Boat Parade is the next night (December 3) just past dark. It takes place down along the shore of Lake Dora. Boats of all different shapes and sizes are decorated with strands and strands of lights that illuminate off the water.

4. The Christmas Movie in the Park takes place the second Friday in December. A large crowd gathers in Donnelly Park in front of a huge movie screen, and they bring their chairs and spread out blankets to watch a Christmas movie under the twinkling Christmas lights in the trees.

5. Snow in the Park is the second Saturday night of December and snow always finds its way into Donnelly Park for the younger kids to go sledding down the steep hill. When it’s really cold, the snow tends to last well into the next day, but there have been some warmer years where the snow started melting as soon as it hit the ground. (Truth in advertising: Mt. Dora has a snow-making machine.)

Overall, Mount Dora is a great place to live or visit any time of year. We truly have something for everyone. If you plan to take a trip soon, I am always more than happy to offer up recommendations when it comes to Mount Dora. Feel free to send me a message at: artinthedeal@gmail.com. You can also visit http://www.whattodoinmtdora.com/

Erika Bennett, Art of Living

I am a book designer at a publishing company in Orlando and when I’m not working, I’m blogging about the funny mishaps of life after college. I was born and raised in Mount Dora, FL, and left to attend college in Boca Raton, FL. After four years and one college degree later, I moved back to the town I call home, Mount Dora.

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