Everything You Can Do in Miami This Holiday Season

Consider this our gift to you.

The Shops at Pembroke Gardens
The Shops at Pembroke Gardens | Courtesy of The MRKT Co.
The Shops at Pembroke Gardens | Courtesy of The MRKT Co.

Though we don’t have the onslaught of aggressively bright lights off the Palmetto Expressway that typically signals the holiday season in South Florida, Christmas is far from dead. Ok, so there’s no Santa’s. Or boat parade. Or ice skating rinks that melt by noon. But we’ve still got Mi Burrito Sabanero on Power 96 and, as long we’ve got that, Christmas will never die. In addition to Dade County’s signature Christmas song, we’ve also got some other traditions you can still enjoy, like The Nutcracker performed outdoors, a Christmas-themed bar, and Santa’s villages aplenty. So if you’re still feeling the holiday spirit in South Florida, here’s the best places to get out and enjoy it.

Get wild at a drag show without leaving your car

December 1-2
Westfield Broward Mall
The stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race get into the Christmas spirit for two nights at Westfield Broward, bringing Drive ‘N Drag Saves Christmas to the mall’s parking lots. You’ll get to enjoy the show from the comfort and safety of your beloved automobile, with jumbotron screens near the stages so you won’t miss a second of the action. The show runs from 7:30-10 pm, so a little late for brunch. But no reason all those not driving can’t enjoy some DIY mimosas in the car anyway.
Cost: $25

Score a free drink with your ugly sweater

Thursday, December 10
American Social Brickell
Sure, the Zoom Ugly Sweater Party your office threw was a rollicking a good time. But is it really an Ugly Sweater Party if you don’t spill at least two drinks on your sweater and forget about them until next year? Get in the sweater-staining fun at AmSo, who’s throwing their own Ugly Sweater soiree from 9 pm - 3 am. The first 100 people to RSVP get a free Tito’s cocktail, which you should absolutely mix with cranberry juice.
Cost: Free admission

Watch a drive-in movie under holiday lights

Friday, December 11
Doral Central Park
In what can only be described as the ultimate 2020 Christmas event, Doral Central Park continues its drive-in movie series, screening The Santa Clause sometime after 6 pm. In addition to the Tim Allen classic, you’ll also be treated to a drive-through light display on the way to your parking space, transporting you to the Christmas season from the subtropical environs of Doral.
Cost: $5 per vehicle

Learn how to build your own snow globe

Saturday, December 12
Boca Center
Ever wondered how you could create your own wintery paperweight with a scene of snow falling on downtown Hialeah that makes your friends say, “Bro, where’d you get that?” Well, while you’ll have to create your own Hialeah street scene, the elves from artNEST will show you how to do the rest during a Snow Glove workshop from 11 am - 2 pm.
Cost: $10, all proceeds benefit the Giving Network

Construct your own Christmas wreath

Saturday, December 12 - Sunday, December 13
Fairchild Tropical Garden
Fairchild Gardens becomes a sort of Austria-with-Banyan-trees this December, bringing a full-fledged holiday market to its lush tropical landscape. The best time to visit will be the weekend of the 12-13, where you’ll partake in a wreath building experience to create a festive door decoration to last the rest of the season.
Cost: $90 per person, $75 for members

Keep the Nutcracker tradition alive outdoors

December 18-31
Downtown Doral Park
If you want to see The Nutcracker live and in person this year, Miami is literally the only place in America you’ll be able to do it with a nationally-recognized ballet company. And not only will you be able to see the Mouse King and Sugar Plum Fairy without having to log into Zoom, you’ll be able to do it while enjoying the warm tropical breeze during outdoor performances at Downtown Doral Park.
Cost: Pods of four tickets start at $120, depending on section and date. (December 18 will be a free show for first responders, but tickets are still required.)

Santa Clause at The Shops at Pembroke Gardens
Santa Clause at The Shops at Pembroke Gardens | Courtesy of The MRKT Co.

Create your own gingerbread houses

Saturday, December 19 - Sunday, December 20
The Shops at Pembroke Gardens
You’ll realize how hard it is to make an adorable north pole casita out of gingerbread and candy canes when the Shops at Pembroke Gardens hosts a gingerbread house making event. Guests will get their own kit with icing, cookies, and plenty of candy. Plus, a little help from a big guy in a red suit who thinks he knows a little bit about making these things.
Cost: $45

Drive through a magical Santa’s village 

Through December 23
Miramar Regional Park
Since Broward County might as well be the North Pole to many in Miami, it won’t seem like that unusual a journey when you head to Miramar Regional Park for their drive-thru Santa’s village. You’ll be magically transported from suburban South Florida to the arctic circle, where villages like the Elves’ Toy Factory, Mrs. Claus’ Villages, and Singing Carolers’ town await. You’ll even see Santa himself from the comfort of your own car.
Cost: $49 for a car load of seven

Enjoy a Christmas musical from your car

Through December 23
Tamiami Park
Tamiami Park transforms itself into a Christmas theme park for 15 magical days as part of Swarm’s Santa’s Spectacular. It’ll include a drive-through musical extravaganza with holiday sing-alongs and classic Christmas characters, plus a massive holiday lighting showcase and holiday market. There’s also a  cocktail lodge, that’s about as close as you’re getting to an Apres ski without having to put chains on your tires. Plus a build-your-own-gingerbread-house station and loads of holiday-themed photo ops.
Cost: $45, tickets sold in 15-minute time slots.

Write a letter to Santa at his post office

Through December 24
Brickell City Centre
If you’re worried about your Christmas list getting mishandled, or possibly misread by Santa’s new Dominion Christmas List reading machines, go straight to the source and send Santa a letter from his official post office at Brickell City Centre. Here you’ll find an eight-foot table where you can keep an appropriate social distance from St. Nick while writing him a letter. Then you can get free masked photos with the big guy, and photo ops with your pets.
Cost: Free

Light up the night in Doral

Through December 31
CityPlace Doral
The usual choreography of colorful fountains and pop music that is the centerpiece of CityPlace Doral takes on a holiday twist this year. The fountains will be lit up red and green, and dancing to holiday hits at regular intervals. The rest of the center will be filled with palm trees dotted in Christmas lights, so your friends up north can freely comment “That’s not Christmas!” out of sheer jealousy.
Cost: Free

The Village at Gulfstream Park
The Village at Gulfstream Park | Courtesy of Duree & Company

Dazzle in a symphony in lights set to Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Through December 31
The Village at Gulfstream Park
The Village at Gulfstream Park is lit up in all the holiday regalia, with over a quarter million LED lights filling the shops, restaurants, and criminally-underused horse paddock through the end of the year. Every hour on the hour, the lights come alive and dance to the sounds of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who you may remember as the official high energy soundtrack of Christmas before Mariah Carey came along.
Cost: Free

Warm up with Christmas cocktails at The Wharf

Saturdays and Sundays through December
The Wharf Miami
Miami’s Wharf will be celebrating Christmas safely with Christmas-themed drinks from 1-5 pm. You can expect weekend days filled with live entertainment, literally thousands of Christmas lights, and oversized holiday decorations that’ll almost have you forgetting about the front entrance to Santa’s. You’ll also get Beat the Clock specials on mules, mojitos, and margaritas with $4 drinks at 4 pm, $5 drinks and 5 pm, and so on until 7 pm.
Cost: Drink prices vary. Limited free RSVPs here.

Visit the Grinch’s Grotto

Through December 31
Aventura Mall
Visiting Santa’s workshop is cute and all, but we all know the villains have way more fun. And while we don’t have any Scrooge experiences to hit this year we do have the Grinch’s Grotto at Aventura Mall. Here you’ll be able to head just north of Whoville and into the Grinch’s cave, where you’ll get a photo op with the green guy himself plus a special bag of Grinch-related goodies.
Cost: $50 for up to five people. Professional photo and goodies included.

Hit the only Miracle Bar in South Florida

Through December 31
Death or Glory
Remember last year, when you’d go out on a random weeknight and drink cinnamon-packed cocktails until 3 in the morning, absolutely losing your shit every time Mariah Carey came on and it started snowing? Well, there’s still one Miracle bar running in this COVID-crazy year in South Florida, at Death or Glory in Delray Beach. If you don’t live nearby, we suggest taking an Uber, as just like in years past those Christmas cocktails definitely hit hard.
Cost: Drink prices vary

Stroll through the lights at Pinecrest Gardens

Through January 3
Pinecrest Gardens
The place that used to be Parrot Jungle adorns itself in thousands of holiday lights this month, creating an illuminated tropical spectacular that’s both socially distant and outdoors. You and your family can enjoy light displays, specialty foods, cocktails, and even story time with Mrs. Claus. And on select dates, her busy husband might also show up for some pictures.
Cost: $7

Savor a happy hour with live Christmas music

Fridays through January 4
Boca Center
If you’re the type who counts down the days until radio stations start playing Christmas music like kids count down the last few weeks of school, your Friday night go-to this holiday season is Boca Center. There you’ll find a live wandering minstrel playing all the holiday hits from 5-7pm. If you’d like to make that holiday music sound a little sweeter, score a free cocktail at participating Boca Center restaurants when you bring a new, unwrapped toy to one of the mall’s donation centers.
Cost: Free. Drink prices will vary.

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Matt Meltzer is a contributing writer for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.