Being from the Midwest, the winter holiday season was synonymous with imagery of snowfall, sleigh rides and warming yourself by the fire. Celebrating in the relatively mild climate of the Emerald Coast just didn’t fit the narrative in my mind, so admittedly I approached my first holiday season here with more than a little skepticism. I assumed it would never really FEEL like the holidays. Those were woefully inaccurate expectations. As it turns out, I LOVE spending the holidays on the Emerald Coast!
The first thing that may surprise you is the fireworks. Fireworks are a summer thing in Midwest. On the Emerald Coast, fireworks are a way of life! Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve all include major fireworks displays. Keep an eye out or search Facebook. Normally, you will find them at the nearest pier.
The second thing that will strike you is incredible levels of decoration. The businesses, resorts, hotels, and condos are all beautifully lit up. Everything looks like a Christmas display you would see in a mall instead of on the street.
The third thing and maybe the most important: Everyone is in a great mood! The crowds are not overwhelming. It is easy to get around and park and explore. The Gulf is still amazingly beautiful and there is a plenty to be said for trading the usual holiday stresses for a relaxing weekend on the beach. You might need a light jacket or hoodie in the evenings, but it is far from unpleasantly cold. Some areas along the Emerald Coast allow beach fireplace services at night. For a fee, the service will provide everything needed (including the necessary permit) to have a private campfire on the beach.
Wherever you decide to spend the winter holidays on the Emerald Coast, you will be sure to cherish the memories created by such a truly unique and rewarding experience.