Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
December 8, 2012
Some holiday traditions endure and others, well, they just don't have what it takes.
In the latter category, this is the year that I finally abandon my dream of a joyous Florida ice-skating excursion — of gliding across the glassy surface of some man-made pond, surrounded by smiling friends and family members like the ones in ads for a big supermarket chain.
My friends apparently don't roll — er, glide — like that, although there are still places to scratch your holiday skating itch in Central Florida:
Light Up UCF (lightupucf.com), the annual holiday fest outside the UCF Arena on the University of Central Florida campus, features an outdoor skating rink as well as a schedule of seasonal films, light shows and carnival rides through Jan. 6. It's free admission, but there is a charge for the skating and rides.
There's also an outdoor skating rink in Central Park along fashionable Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park. The annual "Winter in the Park" features open skating sessions daily through Jan. 6, an activity that would go nicely with a stroll through the lovely Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (morsemuseum.org), just north of the park. Visit cityofwinterpark.org for cost and schedule for skating.
There's also beachfront ice skating at the Daytona Beach Bandshell, at Atlantic Avenue and Earl Street, where you could potentially skate and surf, if the mood strikes, daily through Jan. 6. Hours are 4-10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Cost: $12.
Although I likely won't be skating, I will continue my tradition of cutting down my own Christmas tree.
Yes, there are places to do this in temperate Florida.
For years, my family has stopped at a rural home in Osteen, about two blocks west of State Road 415 on Doyle Road in Osteen. Look for the handmade wooden sign, "Xmas trees — $15-$35," and pull in the driveway. Along with a tree, you'll likely take home a tale about the local history.
For a more festive tree-hunting trip, visit Santa's Christmas Tree Forest, an institution for two decades in the Lake County city of Eustis. With its tours, tractor hayrides, Christmas maze and concession stand, Santa's (35317 Huff Road) adds theme-park panache to the process. Visit santaschristmastreeforest.com for details.
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