Taking a winter vacation to Daytona Beach or New Smyrna Beach is a delight in itself. Getting away from the northern cold and snow for a few days of bright sunshine and warm sand between your toes: priceless! But if your visit overlaps with any of these wonderful winter festivals, take some time away from the beach and pay a visit. You won’t want to miss the brilliant holiday displays in St. Augustine, or the incredible motorsports events at Daytona International Speedway. Below, here are some of our favorite festivals to add to your Daytona Beach winter vacation.

St. Augustine Nights of Lights November 19, 2016 – January 31, 2017

St. Augustine's Old City lights up for Christmas. Flickr/Joe Ross

St. Augustine’s Old City lights up for Christmas. Photo: Flickr/Joe Ross

Celebrate the holidays in the nation’s oldest city as historic St. Augustine lights up everything from palm trees to landmarked towers. The whole city stays up late to enjoy the lights, with extended hours at many cafes, restaurants and other businesses. You’ll find special tours from the many train, trolley, boat and horse-drawn carriage companies, all designed to bring you the best of the lights and bring holiday cheer to you and your family.

Start at the gorgeous Christmas tree anchoring the celebration at the Plaza de la Constitucion, and work your way through the Old City, pausing for strategic sips of hot cocoa… if the temperature is cold enough! You might want to try a sweet tea this season. Get details and links to special holiday tours from Visit St. Augustine.

Daytona Turkey Run November 24 – 27, 2016

See famous cars, enjoy a swap meet, and view custom cars at the Daytona International Speedway. If you love motorsports, there’s no better way to spend your Thanksgiving weekend (with your family alongside, of course)! There’s fun for all ages at the Daytona Turkey Run — little ones will especially appreciate the Little Gobbler’s Play Zone, with all the bounce houses, obstacle courses, and carnival games kids need to blow off some steam after examining some world-class cars. Gearheads will be kept busy by the Car Corral and exciting vendors at the Swap Meet.

Enjoy classic cars and family entertainment at the Daytona Turkey Run. Photo: Flickr/Scubabix

Enjoy classic cars and family entertainment at the Daytona Turkey Run. Photo: Flickr/Scubabix

If a member of your party isn’t necessarily excited by autos, there’s also the Artisan Alley, with vendors offering up crafts, merchandise, and food and beverage. Find out more about this fantastic Daytona Beach event at http://www.turkeyrun.com/

St. Augustine Historic Inns Bed & Breakfast Holiday Tour December 10 – 11, 2016

Ever wanted to peek inside all those historic B&B’s which line the streets of St. Augustine’s Old City? Imagine doing it at the holidays, when these lovely old homes are dressed up in their Christmas best! You can during this walking tour, which opens these peerless homes to the public for just two days.

Along the way, you’ll find samples from some of St. Augustine’s most iconic restaurants. 2016 ticket sales benefit the Lightner Museum, a St. Augustine institution located in the historic Alcazar Hotel, built by Henry Flagler. Join the fun and buy tickets at their website.

Rolex 24 at Daytona January 28 – 29, 2017

Can’t get enough racing? In January, Daytona International Speedway gives you what you want: twenty-four hours of racing! The stars of auto-racing aren’t the only spectacle on display this weekend, though. The speedway also welcomes fans into the Fanzone, with garage tours, driver appearances and autograph sessions. The infield is filled with fun and games, with a massive ferris wheel offering incredible panoramas of the historic raceway.

Catch all or part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Photo: Flickr/pontiacunderground

Catch all or part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Photo: Flickr/pontiacunderground

Add on incredible experiences like garage access wristbands, which give you a front-row view of the action as mechanics keep their motors in motion. And the Taste of the 24 brings fine dining to the races as Daytona Beach-area chefs work their culinary wizardry to benefit local education programs. Get details on the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the Daytona International Speedway website.

Ready to plan your Daytona Beach or New Smyrna Beach winter vacation? Start with our Destinations tab, where you can explore our beachfront resorts, complete with all the comforts of home in studio, one-, or two-bedroom accommodations.  Choose from Grand Seas By Exploria Resorts, in action-packed Daytona Beach, or slow down at New Smyrna Waves By Exploria Resorts, just a few miles down the coastline, but a world away from the hustle and bustle of Daytona’s tourism corridor.

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