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 22nd at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Shows are at 6, 7, and 8 pm on the Events Plaza Lawn.

Baytowne on Ice – ice skating rink open through January in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Daily hours vary. $13 for 90 minutes | $3 skate rentals

Breakfast in Bethlehem – Join the Kid’s Ministry at Destin United Methodist Church for a delicious pancake and bacon breakfast. Side activities include arts & crafts, cookie decorating,  face painting, and the Christmas Story reading. This is a free community event that you don’t want to miss! December 4, 2021 from 8am – 10am. 

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – Destiny Worship Center invites you to join the community in faith to celebrate the night before Christmas with family and friends. They have locations in Destin, Freeport, Panama City Beach, and Fort Walton Beach. December 24, 2021 at 12pm, 1:30pm, 3pm, and 4:30pm

Destin Boat Parade – a magical experience, and a parade like no other! Huddle up on the Destin Harbor for the perfect front-row-seat. Make sure you stay for the spectacular fireworks show over the harbor. December 12, 2021 at 6 pm. Check out The Good Life Destin’s blog for details on the route and best viewing spots.

Destin 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 float parade. 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 11, 2021 at 10am.

DestinFlorida.com’s Christmas Golf Cart Rally – In its inaugural year, join DestinFlorida.com’s team for a fun Christmas party at Auston’s on 98 Oyster Bar and Grill. Costumes are highly recommended, and this event is open to the public. Before the big event, there will be golf cart rides happening from 5pm – 7pm, compliments of Destin Elite Carts. Rides are free but require a toy donation for Toys for Tots. You do have to schedule your golf cart ride in advance. December 14, 2021 at 5pm and 7pm

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, bring toys for the kids, and don’t miss out on this fun time! December 12, 2021.

Elf on the Shelf photos – This is so much fun! Bring the littles over to Grand Boulevard and get your photos with the fabulous Elf on the Shelf! Magical memories can be made every Saturday between 2pm – 4pm, starting November 27, 2021 and lasting through December 18, 2021.

Grayt Santa Pub Crawl – There’s snow place like the GRAYT Santa Pub Crawl to eat, drink, and be merry this holiday season! Join Whole Life Fitness for this oh-so-jolly benefit for the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. December 28, 2021 from 2pm – 10pm. 

Grimp, Grudge, Grouch – If you’re into green things… smelly things… and grouchy things… then you should swing through Fort Walton’s The Crab Trap where you can meet the “Mean One” himself. If he’s feeling nice, he may even take a photo with you. Please bring a toy or two for donation to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation (P.S. you even get 1 free kid’s meal with each toy donation, wink, wink!) December 4 from 2pm – 5pm & December 5 from 11am – 2pm.

Holiday Mocktail Workshop – Learn how to make the Nutty Elf, Peppermint Bark, and Mistletoe Margaritas that are sure to delight the naughtiest of adults in the room. Tickets are $25/person. The mixers, glassware, and garnishes are provided, however you’ll want to BYOA (as long as you’re 21 years or older of course) and cash for gratuity. Limited seating is available at the Grayt Room, so make sure to sign up today! December 13, 2021 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm.

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides – We’re so excited this holiday event is back in action this year! Hop on over to Grand Boulevard on Friday and Saturday nights for horse-drawn carriage rides around Grand Park. Every Fri/Sat  night between 5pm – 8pm, from December 3, 2021 – January 1, 2022.

Miracle on 34th Street musical – This classic Christmas cup of cheer is something to look forward to! Presented by the Emerald Coast Theatre, this beloved musical will bring joy to the whole family. December 9-19: Thur-Sat at 7:30 | Sun at 2:30

Olde Holiday Market – You must visit the Harborwalk Village for this 2-day event. Featuring a festive marketplace, holiday activities, live music, and visits with Santa, this is going to be the place to be! December 11, 2021

Tuba Christmas – For a unique holiday event, join us at The Village of Baytowne Wharf where you can sing along to your favorite holiday classics with Tuba Christmas and possibly even a sighting from Santa Claus himself! December 11, 2021 from 5pm – 7pm.

Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl at Harborwalk Village – Pull out the best of the best sweaters and awkward styles you have hidden in your closet for this fun-filled holiday event. Drink and prance along the harbor playing games while enjoying drink specials along the way. This is an adult-only event you don’t want to miss! December 3, 2021 at 6:30pm.

Winter, Wonder Watersound – Celebrate the season with all your favorite festivities. You can sing along with strolling carolers (between 12pm – 2pm), munch on artisanal foods, and explore unique holiday gifts at the Watersound Town Center Farmer’s Market (from 10am – 2pm). Enjoy a live performance by the Seaside REP at 11am,  or come at night for a showing of the Grinch (6pm). December 4, 2021

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!

Shoreline Church – Visit Shoreline Church on Thursdays from 9am – 3pm through December where you can meander through Christmas gifts and treats for a special someone where proceeds are going to the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. Ornaments can be purchased as well, which benefit the Families First Network.

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 6 – December 24, 2021.

Emerald Grande Breakfast – Ho Ho Ho yourself into a winter wonderland with Santa and enjoy an amazing breakfast with the jolly ol’ man himself. There will be festive cookie decorating stations, letters to Santa, and visits from the man in the big red suit! December 11 & 12, 18 & 19, 2021 from 8am – 12pm.

Harborwalk Village – Enjoy a letter to Santa Station and visit with the jolly man himself for a free 4×6 photo, along the Destin harbor. November 27 – December 19, 2021 | every Sat & Sun

Henderson Breakfast – Come hungry and ready to dine with Santa and his elves this holiday season. There’s a Belgian waffle station, a mini donut bar, and so much more! Pre-registration is required. December 18, 2021 from 9am – 12pm.

North Beach Social – You better watch out, you better not cry! Santa may be swinging through North Beach Social where you can grab a photo with him if you’re on the nice list! Panhandle Bear Company will also be there where you can “Build Your Own Teddy Bear”! December 6, 2021 from 5pm – 8pm.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf – during the Holiday edition concert series on December 1, 8, & 15, 2020, from 6-8 pm. 

Where to dine on Christmas Eve & Day

Blue Mountain Bakery – pre-order your Christmas meal online before they sell out! All meals will be pre-cooked and packaged with re-heating instructions for pick up on December 23 between 8:30 am – 1 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!

Infinity Chef – you’re going to love this option where you can place your order of casseroles/sides by noon on December 16 for pick up on December 23 (time/location TBD). Their dishes typically feed 8-10 folks and range from breakfast casseroles, soups, mac & chees, beef lasagna, and more. Don’t forget desert!

Little Lunches and Kitchen 30A – experience a chef-crafted three-course Christmas dinner that’s pre-made and ready to heat on the holiday. You’ll want to get your orders in ASAP, but let me tell you, everything sounds delicious!! 

Ocean Club – one of our favorite restaurants is dishing up a special menu on Christmas Day from 12 am – 8 pm. They’ll also be open on Christmas Eve from 5 – 9 pm, serving up their normal menu. Reservations are required. 

“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

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