Outstanding Lighting Displays on the First Coast | Amy West on The Chat

12/18/2014

There is nothing quite like slowing down during the busy Holiday season and taking a moment with the family to enjoy the celebrated tradition of Christmas lights. Jacksonville is a huge city and sometimes it's easy to stick close to home and tour what's nearby. There are so many great displays all over the city, however, and these are some you should really go out of your way to see. So do like our family does and cozy up in your favorite warm pajamas, grab some blankets and hot cocoa and make a night out of it at these festive locations.




Discussing Holiday Light Festivities with the Ladies of The Chat

In Town

The World Class Jacksonville Zoo puts on a show worth stopping for during Zoo Lights with thousands of LED lights that transform the  Zoo and Gardens into a winter wonderland. You'll see moving sculptures, lighted trees and animal designs, and forests of brightly lit trees. Zoo Lights opens at 6:30 pm December 12-14, 18 - Jan 3rd (closed Christmas Day). It's $8.00 admission for members and $10.00 for non-members. Purchase online for extra savings and for extras like warm weather skating, the train, and carousel

Tip- The Zoo recommends taking the train to the back of the park and walking your way to the front. Make sure to stop for S'mores on the lawn!

Drive through almost a mile of Christmas Lights synchronized to your favorite holiday music you can tune into right on your radio. Jax Illuminations has over 500,000 lights and takes around 8 weeks just to build! The team at Jax Illuminations works hard year around to create this one of a kind magical experience. Kids will love hearing Frozen's "Let it Go" while watching the massive lighting display dance to the beat. 
Jax Illuminations is located at the Morocco Shrine Center 3800 St Johns Bluff Rd S,  Jacksonville, FL 32224. M-TH $20.00 per car and $25.00 on the weekend. 
Tip- Jax Illuminations provides hot cocoa and candy canes to all who enter.
Blackhawk Bluff Neighborhood 
Several years ago this neighborhood adopted a unique method of decorating with lights by stringing them up vertically in the giant trees surrounding each home. The effect is something like a magical rainforest or jungle. Add to that shining stars that seem to float through the air along with Santa's sleigh slipping it's way from house to house and you get an experience like no other. In all the places I've traveled I've yet to happen on a display that scales a neighborhood this large. It's worth a visit but be patient, it's a popular place to be during the holidays. 

Beaches

Ocean Walk Neighborhood
Visit the ornate display at 402 Snapping Turtle Drive E., Atlantic Beach in the Ocean Walk neighborhood. Two houses unite to create one stunning display complete with  well choreographed and lengthy musical numbers the lights are synced to. The owners consider this a community out reach, a way to give back and enjoy chatting up visitors and passing out holiday candy to guests both young and old. In a conversation with the owner I learned it can take up to six hours to sync one minute of music to the lights. Now that's dedication!

Tip- The owners respectfully ask that you park at the top of the cul-de-sac and walk down out of consideration of their neighbors. 


Jacksonville Beaches annual Deck the Chairs display is a perfect way to celebrate the holidays at the beach. Take a walk around the pavilion and explore the dozens of Life Guard Chairs decked out to the nines. Each chair is sponsored by a local business and illustrates the diversity of the beaches community. All proceeds from sponsored chairs, ornaments, and raffles benefit the historic American Redcross Volunteer Life Saving Corps. 

Penman/Seagate Homes
At the corner of Penman and Seagate are several houses in a row who go all out in their Christmas displays with hundreds of lights, animatronics, blow up displays and holiday music. You'll enjoy the gator themes, and looking out for Santa who pops up here and there along the way. 


St Augustine 

You simply cannot talk Christmas Lights in the area without mentioning St. Augustines Famous Night of Lights. Voted one of the 10 best displays in the world, St. Augustine celebrates in style. Thousands of white lights decorate the city highlighting ancient architecture and the beautiful Southern Live Oaks. Take a trolley around the city or go by foot and enjoy all the city has to offer on a romantic holiday night out. 



Have any "Best Kept Secret" lighting displays near you?  What about favorite family traditions? Tell me about them in the comments below!
Until then...
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West
Watch my segment on The Chat here


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