🔓This outdoor winter wonderland offers kayaking, sleigh rides along Wekiva River

Wekiva Island transforms into holiday attraction with snow, visits from Santa

LONGWOOD, Fla. – You don’t have to be an outdoorsy type to enjoy Wekiva Island in Seminole County. It’s a family friendly attraction combining holiday spirit with nature.

“Wear your best holiday garb, wear your bathing suits, we don’t care,” Wekiva Island Manager Carrie Vanderhoef said.

It’s all about being comfortable at Wekiva Island. The area is decked out in Christmas décor. Everything from Christmas trees, one standing at 20-feet tall, to light-up reindeer and snowmen. All the enjoyment of the holidays in tropical weather.

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The sights and warm weather attracting visitors like Aaron Kaleta and his family.

“I was just in another state, and I was freezing. To be able to sit outside and see decorations like this, it’s like true Florida Christmas. You can enjoy nature and have your shirt off which is awesome,” Kaleta said.

The destination sits along Wekiva State Park, offering several outdoor activities including kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and beach volleyball.

“Every time families are here, we want them to rediscover their river because the Wekiva is in their backyards,” Vanderhoef said. “We have alligators, we have birds, we have otters — they’re our favorite around here. Bear, deer, all things to explore.”

Wekiva Island also has a bar and food truck on site with everything from hot dogs to lobster tail.

Even Santa makes an appearance. With a little magic, bringing snow with him. You can experience the snow flurries at Wekiva Island almost daily. Click here for a schedule of holiday events at Wekiva Island. Wekiva Island is open to the public with a $2 admission fee. Some holiday events and water activity rentals require an additional ticket.

If you don’t want to put in the work paddling along the water, you can hop on the Wekiva Island Express. The boat transforms into a sleigh, giving tours along Wekiva River on the weekends.

Rachael Hill is from Georgia and said she and her family have made it a yearly tradition to visit Wekiva Island during the holidays.

“This time of year it’s super special because we can be together and enjoy the holidays and enjoy nature,” Hill said.

Hill said Wekiva’s transformation into a Winter Wonderland is a plus, making the holiday cheer contagious.

“The people are nice here and the spring is beautiful, it keeps us coming back every year,” Hill said.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.