Finally! The holiday I look forward to the most, Christmas. It’s not about the gifts and the hoopila. It’s the feeling – the spirit of togetherness and joy. There’s something about thinking about others and wanting to spread cheer that really makes my soul shine brighter. If it were up to me, Christmas would be all year round. Since that’s not up for discussion, and 2020 has been one heck of a roller coaster ride, we are here to persuade you to load up the family, and gift them an experience this year. Make it one they’ll never forget, and packed full with a little extra love. You should spend Christmas at the beach.

Christmas – the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25.

Holiday festivities

12 Nights of Lights – a festive light show presented every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday through December 23rd at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Shows are at 6, 7, and 8 pm. 

A Christmas Carol – theatrical adaption of Dickens’ most beloved characters from Scrooge and Tiny Tim to Bob Cratchit and Mrs. Fezziwig. Emerald Coast Theatre’s performances are at 7:30 pm on December 4, 5, 10-12, & 17-19 as well at 2 pm on December 6, 13, & 20th.

Baytowne on Ice – ice skating rink open through January in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Daily hours vary. $11 for 90 minutes | $3 skate rentals

Christmas Charity Ball – Café Thirty-A is hosting its annual ball benefiting Caring and Sharing of South Walton on December 12, 2020, from 7-11 pm. Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, a buffet, cash bar, and music by DJ 30A. Dress is evening attire with black tie optional. Tickets should be purchased in advance. 

Christmas Parade – join the Destin community early in the morning for a jolly good time. Bring a chair, and fill your cooler full, so you can relax on the main drive watching our local land parade. Normally, candy is tossed about, and you may even catch a glimpse of Santa along the way (if Mrs. Claus doesn’t have a honey-do list for him as long as my husband’s is right now). December 12, 2020

Destin Boat Parade – a magical experience, and a parade like no other! Huddle up on the Destin Harbor, or join Cruisin’ Tikis for the perfect front-row-seat. Make sure you stay for the spectacular fireworks show over the harbor. December 13, 2020 at 6 pm. 

Dock the Halls Fundraiser – it’s time to ‘elf around over at Boathouse Oyster Bar for their annual Dock the Halls fundraiser. Supporting Children in Crisis, this event raises funds for the local community, and allows you the chance to get in your best jolly slacker spirit. Come dressed up, and don’t miss out on this fun time! December 13, 2020 at 2 pm.

Holiday Farmer’s Market – hop on over to Rosemary Beach where you can browse local produce, baked goods, jewelry, and so much more. December 23 & 30 from 9 am till 1pm.

Tacky Christmas Sweater Party – dust off your favorite holiday sweater, and meet at The Gathering Spot’s lobby bar for a holiday themed soiree. Celebrate around the poolside firepits, enjoy live beats, specials, and prizes all night long! December 19, 2020 from 8-11 pm.

Teddy Bear Brunch – join The Palms Bistro in Destin for a whimsical, joyful time at their holiday event. The elves have turned the dining room into a magical wonderland, and kiddos of all ages will enjoy seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus. From hot cocoa, teddy bears, story time, cookie decorating, and more, the entire family will have a blast. Adults are $32, and children 12 and under are $22. December 12 & 19, 2020 at 10:30 am and 1 pm.

Winter Wonderland – come play in Florida snow at the Village of Baytowne Wharf! Slide down a thrilling ice slide, make snow angels, and enjoy other frosty fun all day long on December 19, 2020, from 9 am – 1 pm. 

Christmas ornaments

Artists at Gulf Place is a great place to find locally made ornaments and Christmas décor. Artists hand-paint oysters, Christmas balls, and more so you can bring home a piece of the beach with you this holiday season.

Beau Interiors in 30A carries beautiful coastal Christmas décor and ornaments. Whether you are looking to create an astonishing centerpiece or just need a quick gift, this is a shop you shouldn’t pass by.

Bungalow Home & Life is one of the best places in town to find gorgeous Christmas ornaments, pillows, and other holiday décor. They are located near the Santa Rosa Beach post office, off Highway 98.

Lola’s on 30A always has gorgeous ornaments every season. This locally owned shop offers consignment furniture and décor, as well as gifts and ornaments that you won’t find anywhere else. They are a bit more active on social media, so make sure to follow their Facebook page.

Retail Therapy is my go-to anytime I want to find a handmade gift or shop through the cutest Christmas ornaments during the holidays. They have a location in Miramar Beach, across from the Silver Sands Outlet Mall, and a store in Santa Rosa Beach, a little closer to 30A. They have affordable prices, and inventory changes daily so you’ll never know what treasures you may find!

Where to find Santa

Bass Pro – pictures with Santa will be re-imagined this year, but don’t worry, he can still see if you are being a good little boy or girl from behind his acrylic Magic Santa Shield. Reservations are required, as Santa is a very busy man. November 7 – December 24, 2020.

Pecan Jacks – whether you’ve been naughty or nice, Santa wants to see you! Come out to 30A and grab some delicious homemade ice cream, only after saying “hi!” to the man in the red suit. Free chocolate lolli’s will be handed out to the kiddos. December 12, 2020 from 1-3 pm. 

Shunk Gulley – visit with Santa, make ornaments, sip on hot cocoa or a craft adult cocktail. November 27, 2020 from 1-4 pm.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf – during the Holiday edition concert series on December 2, 9, & 16, 2020, from 6-8 pm. 

Where to dine on Christmas Eve & Day

Blue Mountain Bakery – order your Christmas meal online by December 18th at 3 pm. All meals will be pre-cooked and packaged with re-heating instructions for pick up on December 23 between 9 am – 3 pm. From breakfast items to a whole smoked turkey, they have pretty much everything you’d need to have an amazing holiday dinner in the comforts of your own home!

Boathouse Oyster Bar – belly up to the bar with some fresh oysters and a cold beverage at Boathouse Oyster Bar. They’ll be serving their normal food menu on Christmas Eve till midnight (with live music!) They’ll be closed Christmas morning, but back in action at 4 pm on Christmas Day. 

Fish Out of Water – enjoy special menu features and wind down with family and friends on a spectacular Christmas Eve night. Reservations are not suggested, so you may want to pop in early. December 24, 2020 from 5 till 10 pm.

Marlin Grill – there’s nothing quite as magical as a savory meal from Marlin Grill, located in The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Reservations will be required for Christmas Day, and they’ll be open from 5 till 9 pm.

Ocean Club – one of our favorite restaurants is dishing up a special menu on Christmas Day from 11 am – 7 pm. They’ll also be open on Christmas Eve from 5 – 9 pm, serving up their normal menu.  

Restaurant Paradis – celebrate this holiday season with the finest hand-crafted libations, and some of the freshest cuisine in town. Paradis is my favorite place for a steak in 30A, and everything else on their menu is absolutely amazing. They’ll be open for Christmas Eve dinner, but closed on Christmas Day.

Rhumcay Island Grille – welcome to one of Destin’s newest restaurants, located along the Destin Harbor at Harborwalk Village. This local spot is open their normal hours on both Christmas Eve and Day. Stop in for scrumptious holiday specials and cocktails while you overlook the stunning water views!

“It came without ribbons…and tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 

— How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Book a vacation as a Christmas present for your family!   

If you are visiting the Florida Panhandle in November, make sure you check out our Thanksgiving blog!

#Christmasatthebeach #beachholiday #giftanexperience #spreadcheer #Christmas2020

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