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Christmas tree at Shops at Merrick Park
Photograph: Orlando Garcia

Where to see twinkling Christmas lights in Miami

Take a walk through illuminated gardens or simply go for a drive to see the most dazzling Christmas lights in Miami

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil
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Christmas in Miami may be different than what you’re used to seeing in colder climates but our tropical paradise still gets down with traditional Christmas lights. Miami brims with illuminated displays, over-the-top decorations and all types of dazzling productions, from big-time events to annual favorites to homespun classics. It’s the perfect time to hit the road, driving through neighborhoods like Brickell and Coral Gables, where ornamented office buildings and equally impressive, festooned residences bring the holiday vibes in a big way. It might surprise you but Christmas light peeping in some of the more extravagant enclaves can be one of the best things to do in Miami over the holidays.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to Christmas in Miami

Best places to see Christmas lights in Miami

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events

Get in the holiday spirit by surrounding yourself with nearly a million bright, animal-shaped lights draped throughout Zoo Miami. Families can stroll through the park and enjoy carousel rides and nightly carollers, and glimpse the twinkling displays. Santa will be around for photos, plus milk and cookies will be served (for an additional fee). Be sure to check the Zoo’s website for information on themed nights, like December 4’s ugly sweater event and Santa and elf look-a-like nights on December 17 and 18. 

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Charles Deering’s waterfront home is even more beautiful during the holidays when it transforms into an illuminated wonderland. Travel back in time to the Gilded Age on a tour of the historic houses at the Deering Estate this holiday season. Enjoy this beloved annual tradition where some of South Florida’s top interior designers showcase their most festive holiday accents and decorations. Visitors will also discover the permanent features of the Estate's historical furnishing plan.

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Known by many as South Florida’s best-kept holiday secret, the Enchanted Place has been shining bright every holiday season since 1988. It’s a community effort spearheaded by neighbors who every year decorate their street in North Miami with thousands twinkling lights. Everyone is welcome to drive by and pose for photos among illuminated Santas, Christmas trees, snowmen and Menorahs. 1800 NE 137th Ter, North Miami

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Coral Gables

With thousands of twinkling bulbs to adorn its 50-foot tree, Merrick Park’s holiday display is one of the highlights of the season. The magic gets underway on November 23, when the 18th annual tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled to take over the outdoor mall, featuring performances by Voice contestant Preston Howell, the Miami Royal Ballet and Coral Gables Senior High's Gablettes dancers. WSVN Channel 7 News co-anchor Belkys Nerey and Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago team up to flip the switch. Nov 23 6–9pm.

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs

Some big changes are on the horizon for the world’s largest holiday theme park (at least according to the website): In 2021, after 37 years at Tropical Park, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is moving to Hialeah Park. Folks can expect to find much of the original Santa’s reimagined at its new home, 100 East 32nd Street, including millions of twinkling lights, lots of carnival rides and only-in-Miami experiences.

The county-fair-meets-winter-wonderland is chock-full of roller coasters, amusement rides, carnival games, photo ops with Santa and his helpers and an assortment of fair food—think fresh doughnuts, funnel cakes and more. All of the vendors will be back when the 38th annual Santa’s Enchanted Forest returns this fall, plus a few surprise acts for opening weekend.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Dubbed the "World's Most Watched Boat Parade," the beloved South Florida tradition celebrates 50 years this holiday season. Assemble along the 12-mile route to watch dazzling displays and illuminated vessels of all sizes travel down the Intracoastal Highway with the likes of Rudolph, Santa Claus and other Christmas favorites. The procession starts at 7pm and is followed by a concert on the festival grounds, where you'll find opportunities to pose with Santa, grab a hot chocolate or a cocktail and enjoy live entertainment (10:30pm). Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park, 80 Las Olas Cir., Fort Lauderdale, FL. Dec 11 4–midnight; $25, children $15. 

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Coral Gables’ most treasured holiday tradition returns with more fanfare than ever. On December 3, officials will flip the switch on the city’s towering Christmas tree in front of City Hall. The momentous occasion, which marks the opening of Holiday Park (located across the street), includes three hours of performances, carnival games, holiday crafts and food vendors. Preregistration is required and VIP tickets are available for Coral Gables residents. Dec 3 at 7pm

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  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Mid-Beach

Lincoln Road’s iconic Christmas tree lights up the night sky on November 26 at 7pm and will remain illuminated through the holiday season. Adjacent to the giant, 30-foot tree is Santa’s Cabana, where a tropical Papa Noel hangs out till its time to hand out presents. Beginning November 28, one candle from the beautiful menorah will be lit each night at 6pm to commemorate Hannukah. The promenade will brim with festive bites like latkes, falafels and more.

  • Things to do

Step into a winter wonderland at Miami’s own Pinecrest Gardens. The annual holiday tradition turns the grounds into a brilliant landscape illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights. Indulge in delicious food and cocktails and pose for pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. On select evenings, admission includes a holiday concert in the historic Banyan Bowl. Dec 10–Jan 2, 6–9pm.

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  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Doral

CityPlace Doral isn’t holding back for its big holiday celebration. A fountain show synchronized to holiday tunes like leads up to the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree and surrounding palm trees. (It is Florida, after all.) Doral’s city mayor, Juan Carlos Bermudez, hosts the tree lighting ceremony on November 19, featuring a performance by the Yuletide Carolers. Can’t make it over the weekend? Expect the magical displays to go on throughout the holiday season. Nov 19–Dec 31 at various times.

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Coconut Grove’s annual tree lighting ceremony takes over Commodore Plaza, turning the street into a winter wonderland for pedestrians. Snap a photo with Santa, shop for gifts and explore the pop-up holiday village. It all leads up to the main event—the tree lighting, of course—happening at 6pm on December 6. Commodore Plaza between Main Hwy and Grand Ave.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions

While it's not your typical Christmas light display, NightGarden's whimsical garden is about the most illuminated spectacle you'll see all season. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s psychedelic neon playground brims with twinkling presentations, technicolor mazes, scavenger hunts led by virtual fairies, an enchanting snowfall experience, glowing dandelion fields and, yes, the infamous talking tree. Sounds fun, huh? We agree. Through Jan 2

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Neighborhood displays
Photograph: Courtesy 600 Brickell

15. Neighborhood displays

It’s nothing but manses for miles the moment you enter the Village of Pinecrest (celebrities who’ve called the neighborhood home include Timbaland, Romero Britto and Pitbull) so expect light displays as grand as the homes. The brightest lights tend to be on main arteries SW 104th Street and Ludlam Road (67th Avenue). In Coral Gables, the Merrick Park in front of City Hall (405 Biltmore Way) and surrounding areas are festooned with impressive illuminations and a giant mailbox where children can drop off letters for Santa. Downtown, not all skyscrapers lining Brickell Avenue will be in the holiday spirit, but areas near Fifth Street will. Stroll through the plaza at 600 Brickell—which is typically decked out with an oversized wreath and palm trees lit by green, red and white lights—and up the Brickell Avenue Bridge for the best views.

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