Winter Fun for Everyone

December 2016

the real florida connection

A Newsletter of Florida State Parks  |  #FLStateParks

Get Festive at Florida State Parks!

Stephen Foster light displays

‘Tis the season to explore the outdoors! From cozy cabin stays to walks on the beach, winter is fun in both chilly North Florida and sunny South Florida. Florida State Parks statewide will host holiday events such as historic home toursgreenery workshops, caroling events and more!

Join us for holiday traditions we love, such as Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park’s Festival of Lights. Named a Top 20 Event in the Southeastern United States, this light display runs from Dec. 2 to Dec. 24, 2016. See colorful holiday lights, a gingerbread village and candy cane forest, Santa’s workshop and more while enjoying this historic park in White Springs, Florida!

See all seasonal and holiday events in December and find your Winter Wonderland in Florida State Parks.

This month at State Parks, Trails and Historic Sites

Alafia River blog cover graphic

Video: Alafia River State Park

Firsthand Florida Fun blog #37: Alafia River State Park. Erika Z. and friends took a weekend camping trip to this park in Lithia, Florida. Some of Florida’s most challenging off-road biking trails can be found here, with steep grades and unique topography.

Visitors can also enjoy equestrian and hiking trails that explore a variety of natural environments.

Watch Erika Z.’s videoand read her blog to see what makes this park near

Scrub Jay in the tree tops

World Wildlife Conservation Day

World Wildlife Conservation Day is on Dec. 4, 2016! Florida State Parks protect many threatened and endangered animals.

Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey, Florida, is well known for its population of Florida Scrub Jays – a threatened species that only lives in Florida.

You can see a wide array of wildlife at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Florida, including manatees, sandhill cranes and red wolves.

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Take Our Survey and Win!

Have you visited a Florida State Park recently? Let us know how we did by visiting Disponible en español.

Your feedback can enter you for a chance to win a Family Annual Entrance Pass! You must complete a survey and provide your email address to be eligible to win. A Florida State Parks Family Annual Entrance Pass will be given away each month.

Events in December

Topsail Campfire

Community Campfire

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Santa Rosa Beach

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Gather ‘round the campfire with smores, songs, stories and hot apple cider and cocoa. This event is free with park entry and donations will benefit the Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

People looking at car displays

Cruisin’ Food Fest

MacArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016

Noon – 4 p.m.

Like food trucks, cars and live music? Attend MacArthur Beach’s Cruisin’ Food Fest on the second Saturday of each month. Event is free with park admission.

A tree with sprawling branches

Santa’s Twilight 5K

Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont

Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016

7 – 10 p.m.

Walk, jog or run down a 3.1-mile, glow-stick lit path. Participants will meet Santa at the finish line and registered guests will get hot chocolate and Christmas cookies!

Setting sun near road

Park After Dark Program: Night Hike

Little Manatee River State Park, Wimauma

Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016

7 p.m. EST

Let your senses be your guide as we explore the sounds, sights and smells of nocturnal wildlife and night-blooming plants. The program is held every third Saturday of the month and is free with park admission.

Hikers hike over a wetland

First Day Hikes

Florida State Parks Statewide
Sunday, Jan. 1, 2016

Join us for the yearly tradition of First Day Hikes, a group hike on the first day of the new year! Parks across the state will be ringing in 2017 with ranger-guided hikes and other activities. Find a park near you and celebrate the new year with us!

Other Important News

Mobile App for Smartphones

Plan your state park adventures using the new Pocket Ranger® app for your smartphone. The FREE Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® mobile app is available now on iTunes, Android Market and

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Get Your Annual Pass Today

Shop our online store at for annual passes, passports, shirts, water bottles, backpacks and more.

Annual Passes

Gift Cards Are Now Available

Give the gift of sleeping under the stars in Florida State Parks! Florida State Parks offers gift cards which can be used to make reservations for camping and cabins at participating Florida State Parks.


The Real Florida Passport

The Real Florida Passport is your perfect companion while visiting Florida State Parks! The Pioneer Edition contains 56 pages of fun facts, space to make notes and so much more. Order your Passport today and visit a park near you!


Shop Our Holiday Bundles

Two gifts are better than one! Our Holiday Bundles pair Florida State Park gifts such as Annual Passes, Real Florida Passports and our new Florida State Parks posters.

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What’s Available This Weekend?

Are you looking for a cool place to camp this weekend? Visit and click on our new camping this weekend feature to find state park campgrounds with open campsites for the weekend!


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