Florida is my home. I love it so much I wrote a book about Florida. Because I’ve traveled all over the state and used my experiences to write the book — and because I’ve lived here most of my life — I know the best time to visit Florida. I also know the best seasons to go to various places in the state.
Because of the state’s geography, most of my short trips have been in various places throughout Florida. (Why? Well, from where I live, it takes five to six hours just to get to the Georgia state line — and weekend trips call for shorter driving distances.) There’s a cool place to go in every part of the state, for almost anything you’d want to do. Different regions tend to be popular at different times of the year, or they are better to visit at specific times of the year. So if you’re like me and enjoy some down time in the Sunshine State, plan your next trip and check out where to go in Florida every season.
Visit Florida in Winter
It’s technically winter right now, although in Florida it feels like spring. In fact, many schools are taking a spring break around this time. Between locals looking for staycations and nearcations, and the influx of northern snowbirds and tourists (yes, even in a pandemic), this is a busy time at many beaches.
It’s a delightful time to be outside December through March. The weather is typically cool and dry. This is a great time to go camping, hiking, and stargazing! This is definitely the best time to visit Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. You tend to see more wildlife this time of year. Our wildlife refuges, too, are great for wildlife watching, especially refuges where migratory birds like to spend the winter — like J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Winter is also the best time to see manatees that come to warmer inland and near-shore water, and out of the cold ocean.
If you’re not outdoorsy, this is still a good time to visit. It’s fantastic to be able to see and do things and not sweat!
Off-season: If you’re looking for deals or want to avoid crowds, this is a good time to visit the Panhandle area. It can be chilly, though! The western part of the state from Pensacola east to Tallahassee generally sees more tourists in the spring and summer. January can also be a good time to visit the theme parks if you like shorter lines.
Visit Florida in Spring
March through mid-June is excellent for visiting just about anywhere in Florida. (Although the same could be said of just about anywhere in spring, right?) Temperatures are warmer than in winter, and it might even be hot, but the rainy season hasn’t started yet.
Visit Florida in Summer
Ah, summer. Have you even been in a sauna? Then you’ll know what Florida is like in summer. Don’t be fooled by that average-temperature stuff — that’s an average of the sunny days (when the feels-like temp can climb above 100 degrees) and rainy days. And who wants to be out in the rain? (Our thunderstorms can be pretty spectacular to watch, though.) If you want to spend time outside in the summer, say, boating or paddleboarding, and you’re not used to Florida heat and humidity, try to do it before 10 am or after 6 pm.
On a positive note, this is the perfect time to see bioluminescent dinoflagellates on a nighttime kayaking tour. The dark water will glow with the light of these small organisms! The water is also warm and inviting to ocean snorkelers in summer, so go see those reefs!
Off-season: September after Labor Day is a good time to visit most places (including theme parks), because kids are back in school and most people have already taken a summer vacation. However, September is also the historic peak of the hurricane season, and it tends to be rainy and hot. If you don’t mind the potential for bad weather, you can find discounts and fewer fellow travelers.
Visit Florida in Fall
I’m not going to sugar coat it: Mid-September through October is not the best overall time to visit Florida. This is typically the worst period for tropical storms and hurricanes. It’s still the rainy season (through the entire month of November!), and it can still be hot. Even so, Florida definitely still sees plenty of tourists in the fall.
If you’re not fazed by the weather, you can still have a good time. Cities are fun to explore, and so are Florida’s historical sites. I’ve still had a good time camping, kayaking, and snorkeling in the fall. Just keep an eye on the weather and be prepared.
Florida residents and visitors love to enjoy the state year-round. Some places are great any time, and some are better at certain times of the year. The best time to visit Florida is the best time for you and when you feel safe to do what you want to do. I’d love to hear what you think about visiting, so feel free to send me a message.