For the 50+ Traveler

St. Augustine, Florida, has always gone all-out with its holiday celebration, and this season is no different for the self-proclaimed oldest city.

Nights of Lights was proclaimed one of the 10 best light displays in the world by National Geographic in 2011, and it continues to impress in its 27th season.

The festival opened earlier this month and will run until the end of January. It features more than 3 million white lights adorning the historic district in a festive holiday display. Public places, businesses, and homes all participate in the event.

The display covers more than 20 blocks of town, with twinkling lights hanging off rooftops, in front of businesses, and along the shrubbery of homes and sidewalks.

There are numerous ways to view the displays, from parking downtown and walking around town to viewing the entire display from above at the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. You can also get on a number of transportation options to tour the area.

  • Trolley: Old Town Trolley tours leave nightly at 6 p.m. from the Visitor Information Center. Tickets are $60 for a row, which can seat up to four people.
  • Boat: At least a dozen boating companies offer harbor tours throughout the celebration, giving visitors a relaxing way to take in the lights. There are strict passenger limits and mask requirements for most operators this season.
  • Train: Santa’s Red Express Tour leaves from Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum every 15 minutes from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are sold for an entire row on the train, which can seat up to four people, at a cost of $49.
  • Helicopter: First City Helicopters will take up to three passengers over the lights at a cost of $200. The helicopter will circle downtown twice, with flights leaving throughout the evening starting a half-hour after sunset.
  • Carriage: Let a horse take you around town as you tour the lights with a bottle of wine. Or skip the drinks and enjoy the ride with either Southern Carriages or Country Carriages.

In addition to the lights, there are a number of other events affiliated with Nights of Lights. Among the highlights:

  • The Palm Valley Boat Parade will take place December 5 as dozens of lighted boats will travel seven miles through the town’s waterways starting at 6 p.m.
  • Nights of Pints has local breweries tempting craft beer lovers with a passport to satisfy their taste buds around town.
  • Villa Zorayda Museum is decorated for the season with a huge Christmas tree and candle displays.
  • St. Augustine Ballet will perform The Nutcracker four times between December 18 and 20 at Flagler College.

For more holiday inspiration, consider our 7 Top Tips For Experiencing Brooklyn's Dyker Heights Christmas Lights and 10 Pennsylvania Towns That Feel Like You’re In A Hallmark Movie.