The Best Time to Visit Florida
As a destination, Florida offers an embarrassment of riches for its visitors all year round. You'll find the world's best amusement parks in Orlando, miles and miles of sandy beaches, and sparkling waterfront along the east coast and the gulf coast. Nature lovers will regale in the remarkable beauty and wilderness of the Everglades and the many unspoiled state parks, lakes, and rivers. The eclectic will love the eccentric and artsy keys and other unique enclaves. History buffs will hit up St Augustine, the oldest city in the country, and culture lovers will find diversity in the neighborhoods and plenty of art in the world-class museums.
When is the best time for you to visit Florida?
The best time for you to visit will be determined by precisely what kind of traveler you are. Where in Florida are you headed, and what do you want to do? Are you ready to escape the north and hit the beach, or will you be heading north to some of the cooler areas? In general, the best time to visit Florida is considered to be between February and May and October and December. Value seekers will embrace the off-season so you can avoid the crowds, the higher prices, and the limited availability of peak season. You'll find the coolest temps ( around 60) in January and the warmest in July. A great “value” time to travel is between September and November. For more tips on this, see The Ultimate Florida Road Trip on a Budget.
Here are some guidelines on the best time to visit Florida based solely on the weather.
If you are coming to soak up the sun, the best months are between February and May. This should ensure that you miss the cooler months of November through January and the super-hot months of July and August. Oh, and did we mention hurricanes? The season runs from June through November; typically, the storms are most active from mid-august through mid-October.
When you think about Florida, remember it is a large state. It is two times the size of the country of Ireland and 540 miles from top to bottom. So the weather will vary, and you'll want to pay attention to exactly where you are headed. There is really no wrong time to be in Florida. The Atlantic (east) coast tends to be cooler than the Gulf (west) Coast as a rule, and both are cooler than inland areas.
To give you a sense of the variance in temperatures, here are some average Florida temperatures:
January can run from the mid-'40s (once in a while!) to the mid-'70s.
May is temperate at high 60's to low 80's.
August will bring on the heat in the mid-'70s to '90s.
November is comfortable with the mid-'50s to low 80's.
Visiting Florida Beaches
Florida has over 1300 miles of shoreline and 663 miles of beaches. They offer surprising diversity in the sand, water temperature, views, accessibility, surf, and amenities. You can be sure that you will find perfect Florida beaches to enjoy any time of the year.
Afternoon thunderstorms can be bothersome in the summer, but they pass quickly. They do sometimes bring lightning, so heed the lifeguards, and stick to lifeguarded beaches if you plan to go in the water.
Watch the lifeguard postings for stingrays. They will post any cautions relative to riptides or other hazards. Bring sunscreen and keep an eye out for sand flies.
Visiting Orlando and the Theme Parks
Deciding on the best time for you to visit Walt Disney World and all of the fantastic attractions and theme parks is an important decision for several reasons. Weather and temperatures, crowd size, and pricing will all contribute to the enjoyment of your vacation.
Let's take the weather first. As stated above, if you can't hack the heat, stay away from July and September. You'll enjoy the cooler weather in Orlando from November to February. It will be warmer and more temperate from March to May.
If you are crowd-averse, try to visit before the crowds arrive in mid-March. The crowds will subside around September and pick up again around Thanksgiving. They will peak at Christmas. The holiday events and decorations are reason enough to visit Walt Disney World but beware, rates will be at their highest, availability at their lowest, and crowds at the max.
There is a vast difference in peak season and shoulder season rates when it comes to pricing in the Orlando theme parks. The daily Disney ticket can soar from $10 per day to $159 per day. Hotel rates and dining prices are at their highest, and special offers disappear. For more on Disney on a Budget, click here.
Visiting the nature and outdoors of Florida
If your interest is in seeing the wildlife of Florida, your best time to visit Florida will again depend on your greatest interest. Here are a few tips.
Alligators: It's easy to spot alligators almost everywhere in Florida. Caution- They reside in and around lakes and retaining ponds and can be very dangerous to humans and small pets, so don't swim in those waters and don't ever approach an alligator. It's not unusual to see them basking in the sun along the road on the appropriately named Alligator Alley that crosses the state. You can also go in search of one an airboat in the Everglades. Another bucket list adventure for your Florida trip.
Manatees, also known as Sea Cows, can also be spotted any time of year. They are slow and passive, and not dangerous. You can most easily spot them in March through September, but when the water gets colder, they look for warmth by swimming upriver in the Crystal River or Weeki Wachee Springs. In Ft Lauderdale, you'll see them huddled together in Port Everglades or one of the many local canals.
Dolphins are common on both the east and west coast. They are most active between 10 am to noon and 2 pm to sunset. They love to play in a group and put on a show as they jump out of the water, almost in unison.
Many nature lovers seek out the exotic birds of Florida. In the months of January through April, South Florida is good for viewing waterfowl, shorebirds, passerines, and raptors. The months of October through December show an abundance of shorebirds, white pelicans, and migratory birds. There are many wildlife preserves to visit for the best viewing or take a seat on any of the piers lining the seacoast.
Staying out of the crowds
Florida is always a great destination year-round, but certain seasons lend themselves better to specific activities and types of vacations. Here are some tips to help you book the best time to visit Florida for you and your party. Visiting during the shoulder seasons right before or after the peak is your best bet for skipping the crowds. Think also of when school is in session. That's an excellent way to remember where the peak seasons lay.
What is the best time to visit Florida by season? The simple answer is, "it depends on you!" Here are some highlights and guidelines by season.
- Visiting Florida in the Summer
Summer in Florida is very hot and often humid. It also is peak season. Some tips are to bring light clothing and plenty of sunscreens even if you're not hitting the beach. Be ready for quick afternoon rain showers. Think about visiting one of the less-known areas and beaches like Clearwater Beach, Daytona Beach, or Cocoa Beach to enjoy plenty of swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. The Keys will be very busy as well. Remember, every indoor spot is air-conditioned, so it's always simple to chill out.
- Visiting Florida in the Fall
The temperature in the fall is far more temperate. You'll find temps in the upper 70's to upper 80's. You'll see afternoon rain showers, mainly in September, but they pass quickly. Bring warm clothes and a sweater or two for temperature dips and rainwear. This is a less busy time for the theme parks and most restaurants and attractions in Florida, so that you may do better in terms of rates. Autumn is also an excellent time for outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding. You can wander a local farmers' market or stroll the boardwalks with less jostling from the crowds. Rentals will also be more reasonable, and you may score a waterfront rental.
- Visiting Florida in the Winter
If you are a golfer, winter is your time to visit! The temperatures are cooler, and the rainfall drops. If you plan on beaching it, remember that the water temperatures in the north, like Jacksonville and Daytona, drop and may be too cold for swimming. Bring layers of clothing to handle the changes in temperatures. And don't forget to get your fresh Florida citrus that is just being harvested.
- Visiting Florida in the Spring
Spring in Florida infolds from April through June. It will be dryer, and the temps in April and May will be around 80. North Florida will still stay crisp. This is a great time to visit South Florida and explore, shop, avoid peak crowds and still get decent rates. Visit the botanical gardens, Vizcaya Museum, and some wildlife refuges like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or Gator Beach. Be sure your rental has a lanai or firepit to enjoy beautiful Florida nights.
Florida is one of the most diverse destinations in the United States and has plenty to offer whenever you plan to visit. When planning the best time to visit Florida, just remember, "it depends on you!"
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