Where in Florida Should We Spend Christmas? (Seafood is Important)

Christmas in Canada wasn’t as popular in our household as I expected. The spousal foot has come down for 2016: Florida.

Where to go in Florida for a quiet, beachside Christmas? We know Miami/Ft Lauderdale/Palm Beach well as I lived there for a year. One year we spent a great holiday at a friend’s condo in St Petersburg. We do not like the Keys.

My wife’s two requirements beyond pleasant weather:

  • Pleasant, quiet, beachside place, hotel, AirBNB, whatever. No party atmosphere. Beach is for the view and evening strolls.
  • Good seafood. Seafood is not baskets of fried stuff. There exist other cooking methods, chiefly steaming, which generally implies a local Asian community.

Steamed Fish

Readers, help me out, please. Where should we go?

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  • My parents spend 2 weeks in Naples every year and love it!

  • JEM

    I’m usually in Naples with my family. If I had to stay in a hotel, I’d look at Marco Island.

  • Kate

    We were in Naples for New Year’s Eve a few years ago, and it certainly was pleasant. We stayed at the Hilton, not on the beach, but there is a lovely (and very expensive) Ritz Carlton directly on the beach with an outdoors dining place close to the water where we had a nice dinner. Naples itself is very upscale.
    It depends on what you are looking for, but from reading your posts, I can’t imagine you in Naples for a week, but maybe it could just be a relaxing type trip.

    Why limit yourself to Florida for some place warm? Maybe also consider Arizona? Or someplace further south?

    I totally get that Canada in the cold might not be a hit!

  • Beck

    St. Augustine is beautiful at Christmas time. The entire old city is decorated in lights. Just over the Bridge of Lions, you will find St Augustine Beach (Anastasia Island) and there are plenty of condos, houses for rent, etc. It is not expensive and has a very central Florida feel to me (not like South FL at all). Many, many restaurants both small and quaint, large and loud. On New Year’s Eve, there are fireworks and festivities at the pier on the beach. You can also watch them from any ocean front balcony down the beach about a mile or two.

  • Rich T

    Quiet beach and Asian steamed seafood are kind of mutually exclusive. The beaches in the panhandle are great (Grayton, St. George Island), very relaxed and residential. You may find more interesting food in nearby Seaside. Not as warm at Christmas as southern Florida but a great part of the state rarely visited by northerners.

  • Jonathan

    I second St. Augustine 100%. Definitely much more small-town charm than somewhere like Naples (which, don’t get me wrong, is amazing as well). Enough small reasonably priced upscale restaurants to fit almost any palate. Not a huge Asian presence though, but you positively won’t be stuck with fried food.

  • Don’t rule out the other coast of Florida, especially if you have Hyatt status (don’t recall if you do). There are some decent areas that have smaller crowds than the most popular destinations on the East coast.

  • Jenelle Madera

    I definitely recommend Naples! I live here and it is on the water, beautiful, great weather, and amazing restaurants. I have so many restaurant recommendations for you if you go there. The Ritz Carlton Naples Beach Resort is absolutely amazing in North Naples, they are opening up a great new Hyatt House in downtown Naples in April, and there is a fantastic new JW Marriott on Marco Island (renovated from a regular Marriott). Also, Sanibel and Captiva Island is another great option.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Pizzaman – I am trying not to antagonize people as I am one of those who got Diamond through the flash match. 🙂

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @all – multiple votes for Naples and St. Augustine, I will present the options to the boss.

    @Rich T – panhandle is totally off my prior travel map, I will investigate. I imagine these is great food form that stretch on over.

  • I strongly recommend you look into staying in Sanibel or Captiva. Very nice, laid back island atmosphere, and lots of options on VRBO and similar sites. I’ve been all over Florida, and this is my favorite spot. There is a Holliday Inn in Sanibel, but it’s a bit spartan. Plus, award availability isn’t that great during peak times. There are some decent seafood options in the area.
    Alternatively, look into Hyatt Regency Coconut Point resort in Bonita Springs. It’s a category 4, so using 15k points per night during holidays is a great deal. Put your top tier status to work!