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Things To Do During Christmas Break in Lakeland + Polk County

Things to do during Christmas Break in Lakeland Florida

The kids are out of school for 2+ weeks and we’re here with a list of ideas to squeeze in some family fun around Lakeland and Polk County. Need to keep them entertained and out of the house while you are cooking and wrapping gifts before Christmas? We’ve got you covered!

Whether you’re ready to explore new places in the Lakeland area or take your holiday guests to your favorite spots, we’ve got a list of ideas to save you time searching and help you plan family fun this holiday season. Our master list of things to do in Lakeland is also a great resource anytime you’re looking for local activities.

Christmas Break for Polk County Schools lasts for 2.5 weeks. Winter Break is from December 16, 2023 – January 3, 2024. (Teachers return Jan 3, students return Thursday, Jan 4 – see the 2023 – 2024 Polk Schools calendar). If you go to a Charter or Private school, check your school calendar for holiday break dates.

If you’re heading somewhere on Christmas Eve or Day, or New Year’s Eve or Day, please be sure to call first – we aren’t able to verify the hours for each place on our list but have provided links so you can easily call before you go.

Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities for a full list of things to do this holiday season in Lakeland and Polk County including Christmas Light Displays, Santa Photos, Christmas Tree Lots, Christmas Parades, Holidays Concerts, Live Performances, Holiday Markets, Ice Skating, Toy Donation Needs, and more.

A few of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. We have researched these deals to be sure they are a savings to you. Thank you for supporting Lakeland Mom! 

Winter Break Camps

If you’re looking for camps for Winter Break, activities for your kids over winter break, or you need childcare while you’re working, we’ve got a list of Winter Break Camps and Workshops in Lakeland including the Florida Children’s Museum, Camp Fire, Timbernook, What’s Cooking Lakeland, and more.

Holiday Themed Fun in Lakeland + Polk County

We are excited to have a full week off school before Christmas this year!
HELPFUL TIP – Most of the school districts around us are not off school as early as we are this year, so December 18-21 are GREAT days to do Christmas activities in Orlando or Tampa Bay and will hopefully be less crowded than when everyone in Central FL is off school.

Sometimes it is easier to fit in holiday fun after Christmas, and many theme parks and other Christmas light attractions are open past December 25.

🎄 Go on a Christmas light drive! Many of these displays will be running through New Year’s.

🎄 Drive through Ariana Village Christmas Lights – a local favorite open December 15-23

🎄 Take your family to Light Up BSP at Bonnet Springs Park – nightly themes and a variety of activities from December 15 – 31, nightly from 6:30-8:30pm {the park is still open all day as well so you can go earlier than 6:30pm}

🎄 Head to Silvermoon Drive-In or the Polk Theatre for Christmas Movies.

🎄 Go Ice Skating – we’ve got a list of ice skating rinks within an hour’s drive from Lakeland, plus we now have a year-round ice skating rink with public skate times – Lakeland Ice Arena!

🎄 Perform Random Acts of Kindness around town – we’ve got a list of 25 things you can do to spread joy!

🎄 Find free Christmas activities including walk-through light displays and ideas for things to do at home.

🎄Plan family activities at home like building gingerbread houses or having a movie night.

🎄 Track Santa on Google or NORAD on Christmas Eve

🎄 Play online Christmas themed games on the NORAD Santa Tracker App and Google Santa Trackers

🎄 Find Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Lakeland New Years Eve

Holiday Day Trips + Things to Do at Christmas Near You

Take a day {or night} trip to Tampa, Clearwater, or St. Pete to see free Christmas light displays, enjoy holiday activities, and get into the holiday spirit. Get details on Christmas Lights and Holiday activities in the Tampa Bay area including:

  • The Christmas Trail in Plant City
  • Nights of Shimmering Lights in Dover
  • Christmas Town at Busch Gardens
  • Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa at Lowry Park
  • Saturdays with Santa at the Florida Aquarium
  • Light Displays at the Tampa Riverwalk and St. Pete Waterfront (FREE)
  • Drive-Thru Lights and Walk Through Lights in Tampa + Clearwater (FREE)

Head to Orlando for some impressive Christmas light displays and attractions. Get details on Christmas Lights and Holiday activities in the Orlando area including:

  • Night of Lights at Island H2O Water Park
  • Christmas at Gaylord Palms – ICE at Gaylord Palms featuring Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Now Snowing at Celebration, Florida (FREE)
  • Dazzling Nights at Harry P. Leu Gardens
  • Holidays at Disney Springs + Christmas Tree Trail (FREE)
  • Holidays at Universal Studios
  • Sea World’s Christmas Celebration

Christmas Break Single Day Events

Only upcoming events show below. These events feed from our master calendar and are single day special events. Visit our calendar page for ALL upcoming activities.

We also have separate articles to help you find specific types of events – Christmas Parades, Events + Pictures with Santa, Christmas Movies, Nutcracker Ballet and Christmas Performances, Holiday Markets + Christmas Craft Fairs, Live Nativities.

Outdoor Fun

Use our master list of outdoor activities to find things to do with your family! Use the link above for a full list, here are some of the highlights:

  • Explore the outdoors with out list of outdoor hiking trails in Polk County including local favorites spots like Circle B, Holloway Park, Colt Creek State Park, and Lakeland Highlands Scrub.
  • Wander around Bonnet Springs Park and play on the 4 playgrounds
  • Go on a bike ride (helpful if new bikes arrive on Christmas!) or take a walk on a paved path
  • Stroll through Hollis Garden and learn about the variety of flowers and plants there. Opens at 10am, closed Mondays.
  • Let your kids get their energy out at a local playground! The Rotary Playground at Hernando’s Landing on Lake Parker has a huge pirate ship as the main play structure! Other themed playgrounds include Common Ground (Fire Truck / Fire Station) and Woodlake Park (Train). See our master list of playgrounds in the Lakeland area for more details.
  • Play a game of football, soccer or throw a Frisbee in an open field – we’ve got a list of places where you can play outdoors.
  • Visit Bok Tower – one of the most beautiful places in Polk County. Kids can explore Hammock Hollow Children’s Gardenthen take a stroll to see the variety of flowers and vegetation and be sure to get a photo in front of the Singing Tower.
  • Looking for a place to have a picnic? The weather is beautiful this time of year, we can help with a list of 10 Places to Enjoy a Picnic in Lakeland.
  • Go on a Drive-Thru Safari at Safari Wilderness in Lakeland.
  • Play mini golf! Family Fun Center in Lakeland has an 18 hole outdoor miniature golf course with a lake and waterfall. Golfers of ALL ages will enjoy competing on each of the par 2 holes along the way.
  • Go on a Mural Scavenger Hunt – we’ve got a list and map of 19+ amazing murals in Lakeland. Whether you are looking for a selfie wall, an Instagram background, or just enjoy seeing these works of public art, the entire family will have fun trying to pick your favorite mural in Lakeland. 
  • Drive east or west and spend the day at the beach! {#ChristmasinFlorida}
  • Look for alligators, eagles, and other amazing wildlife at Circle B Bar Reserve – named one of the “Top 51 Places in the US to See Wildlife” by USA Today! Entry is FREE.
  • Walk around Lake Hollingsworth (only if your kiddos can handle the 3 miles!)
  • Dig for sharks teeth and fossils at the Mulberry Phosphate MuseumMake sure you bring a small shovel or other item to dig through the rock pile, and something to sit on – you won’t want to kneel.
  • Take a self-guided walk around the Florida Southern College campus and learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique architecture style.
  • Try out geocaching an outdoor treasure hunt where you use GPS coordinates to find hidden containers
  • Find a Little Free Library around town where you can take a book and/or leave a book – for FREE! Clean out your bookshelves and leave a few at each location, and hopefully you’ll find something to take with you. Use the map at to find one near you.

Indoor Fun + Things to Do at Home

Use our Indoor Fun GuideOutdoor Fun GuideFree Fun Guide, or Ultimate List of Things to do with Kids to find more family fun.

Christmas Events + Holiday Activities

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities to find more things to do including Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays, FREE Christmas Events, Santa Photos, Christmas Parades, and more.

100+ Things to Do with Kids

Check out our Ultimate List of Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland + Polk County to find indoor fun, outdoor fun, free things to do, seasonal activities, and more.