The Best and Worst Times to Visit Florida

For most people there two best time periods to visit Florida:

  • In the spring from late February until May
  • In the fall from October until December

During these times the weather is ideal. Temperatures are usually warm enough for most activities, but the weather is not too hot or humid. 

But, everybody’s situation is different. The best time for your situation will depend on several factors, including:

  • What part of Florida you’ll visit
  • What you want to do
  • Your schedule availability
  • Your preference for crowds
  • Your weather preferences

The Best Time for Activities

Certain activities are best in the summer, while others are best in colder weather.

Water Activities

If you want to go to the beach, snorkel, swim in springs or do water activities, it may be best to visit during warm weather months.

Golf

The best time to play golf in Florida is in the winter or spring. The next best time would be in the late fall, and without a doubt the worst time is in the summer.

Many golf courses and clubs close down for the summer season, or use the hot off-season to perform maintenance or recondition the grounds.

One upside of summer golf in Florida is that many golf courses offer reduced greens fees and other discounts because demand is so low.

Courses are also less crowded because the heat and humidity is too intense for many players.

Camping

Camping in Florida is extremely popular. The state has award winning state parks, and a surprising number of national parks. There are also numerous state forests and national forests to explore.

The best time for camping in Florida is in the fall, winter and spring. Many people also camp in Florida during summer months, but it is often only out of necessity due to scheduling conflicts in other months. 

The truth is that camping in Florida’s hot, humid summer weather is not very pleasant, and is really only suitable for fools, hardy die-hard campers, or somewhere in between.

Camping in the Florida summer may be tolerable with a fully air conditioned, self-contained RV which is impervious to outside weather. 

Springs

Know this about springs in Florida: the water is cold. It’s common to hear people shriek and squirm as they dip their toe in, or scream as they jump in.

Because of the chilly water, the best time for most people to visit a spring is during the summer, during hot summer months.

Except for a limited number of hot springs, almost all springs in Florida are chilly year-round, with constant water temperatures of 72-degrees. 

The water is cold enough that it quickly drops most people’s body temperatures. Warm weather is best because it’s possible to warm up between swims.

Many people prefer to wear wetsuits to swim in the springs, especially if the outside weather is chilly, or if you’ll spend a lot of time in the water.

On the other hand, visiting the springs during winter can also be amazing, if you have the right expectations and mindset. 

Benefits of visiting springs in winter, or cooler weather:

  • The water is often clearer due to reduced algae content
  • Crowds are often lower, or non-existent
  • The environment can be peaceful and quiet
  • Wildlife may be more visible due to lack of crowds
  • The outside temperature may be more comfortable
  • Humidity may be lower
  • Camping may be more comfortable
  • Bugs and mosquitoes may be reduced
  • You may see manatees
Continue Reading:   Sebastian

Note that some springs and activities have reduced hours or availability during winter months.

Theme Parks

The best time to visit Disney or other theme parks in Orlando is during late fall, winter or early spring, especially outside of school vacation times if possible.

In reality, the best time will probably be dictated by your family’s scheduling availability and your own individual preferences.

Obviously most families must visit when kids are out of school, leaving few options on the calendar. 

If you have a totally open calendar, the best time to visit Orlando is in late February to early March. Or, as late as the first half of April. 

During this time the temperature is usually cool, dry and lovely. Heat, humidity and sun intensity are all lower during this time, and hurricane season has not yet begun. 

The weather in central Florida usually begins to turn consistently hot and humid around May.

Some of the best time periods can also avoid the peak busy times for Spring Break, when crowds are higher and travel prices are higher.

In my opinion it’s best to avoid school vacation holidays and spring break times if you can.

Peak Travel Times to Avoid

Florida used to have one “peak” visitor season, but we now receive high tourist traffic year-round.

Some times are still busier than others, though. 

Peak tourist season occurs in a few distinct waves.

  • Spring break Season: March until April
  • Summer family travel season: May until August
  • Winter snowbird Season: October until May

These time periods are general, and vary quite a bit depending on school calendars, hurricane season, snowbird trends and other factors.

Summer Tourist Season

Summer in Florida is really a bad time to visit, in my opinion. But, for many people it’s their only chance to go to the beach or take a family vacation.

Many families with children visit Florida for summer vacation since it’s the longest school break. This is also a time when many families take Florida beach trips, although the weather is usually extremely hot and humid.

Winter Tourist Season

Florida’s winter tourist season is dominated by elderly travelers, mostly because they tend to have flexible schedules and location freedom.

Many elderly seasonal travelers are “Snowbirds”. This group lives in Florida during winter and spring months, then “migrate” back up north to avoid hot, humid summer months and hurricane season.

There is also a tourist peak in the winter tourist season around Thanksgiving, and again from Christmas to New years. 

These peak holiday periods tend to have a higher number of families with children because this time period includes school and holiday vacation periods.

Florida’s winter months are truly excellent times to visit Florida. But, prices tend to be higher due to increased higher demand from seasonal snowbird residents.

Spring Break

Spring Break is one of the busiest times for tourists to visit Florida. 

Visitors who come to Florida for spring break should expect high crowds, high prices and high competition for hotel rooms, rental cars, airfare and every other amenity that travelers need.

In terms of weather, spring break is a great time to visit Florida.

Air temperatures are likely to be warm enough for most activities, but not too hot. The weather feels the best at this time for visitors who are escaping cold, dark, snowy weather up north.

During spring break ocean water temperatures may still be too cold for swimming comfortably. This will depend heavily on personal preferences and individual tolerance for cold water.

Continue Reading:   Grayton Beach

In general spring break season in Florida tends to last from early March until April. 

The actual spring break season comes in waves due to various school and university schedules around the U.S. and Canada. 

Historically Florida had a reputation for hosting wild and crazy spring break vacations. That reputation has faded in recent years, as local cities and counties have cracked down on spring break partying. 

Local communities have transitioned towards more family-friendly, civilized spring break atmospheres. 

The demographic shift has helped local communities avoid mayhem from college partiers. It’s also helped local economies because families tend to spend more during their vacations than young college spring breakers.

That said, spring break in Florida is still a thing for many college students. 

If you visit during this time you should carefully consider your lodging choices, your activity plans, and how spring break might influence your stay.

Best Time to Visit Florida by Region

RegionBest Time to VisitActiviites
North FloridaSpring, summer, fallBeaches, Camping, Springs
Florida PanhandleSpring, summerBeaches, Camping, Springs
Central FloridaFall, winter, springTheme parks, Camping, Springs
South Florida, KeysFall, winter, springBeaches, Keys, Water Activities

The Worst Time to Visit Florida

Summer

In my opinion the worst time to travel to Florida is during the summer. This period lasts from June until some time mid-October. 

Summers in Florida are extremely hot and humid, and the sun is extremely intense. 

Heat in Florida should not be underestimated. Temperature often look deceptively low – the geography of Florida tends to cap temperatures in the low to mid nineties. 

But, it’s worse than it might seem. Humidity in Florida is extreme, and makes even moderate 90-degree temperatures feel unbearable. 

You should expect to be drenched in sweat the moment you walk out of air conditioning. 

The only relief comes in the form of intense daily thunderstorms, which may drop temperatures by twenty degrees in a matter of minutes. Even those come with a downside, because post-thunderstorm humidity is very sticky and feels like 100% humidity. 

Rain storms also tend to dampen wind, so the cooling effects of a sea breeze might go away.

On the other hand, summer is often a preferred time to visit for certain activities, like tubing in springs, swimming at the beach, 4th of July celebrations or boater’s sandbar parties.

Winter

The second-worst time to travel to Florida would be during cold winter months, depending on the location and your preferred activities. 

If you don’t care about water activities then the winter may actually be the best time to visit, especially if you’re escaping ice and snow in a northern climate.

Visitors should also note that the days in winter are much shorter than during summer months, leaving fewer daylight hours for activities. 

Along with all of North America, the sun sets very early during winter in Florida.

Spring Break

As a Florida resident, in my opinion, spring break is one of the worst times to visit Florida because of increased crowds and higher prices. 

But on the other hand, spring break is a great time for many people with different preferences. If you’re a college student escaping from an icy winter, this would be the best time! There are other reasons why this might be an excellent time to visit:

  • Many people (not me) enjoy a high-energy party atmosphere
  • The weather is often extremely pleasant around spring break
  • It’s one of the best times to escape cold northern climates.
Continue Reading:   Bonita Springs

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is an extremely important factor to consider for choosing when to visit Florida.

On one hand, hurricane season offers the chance to save money, although the savings today are often less enticing than they have been in the past. 

Visitors who come to Florida during hurricane season may benefit from lower prices for: 

  • Airfare
  • Car rental
  • Hotels, resorts, vacation rentals and lodging

On the other hand, hurricane season presents a truly unpredictable risk which may ruin or impact vacation plans.

Savings of traveling during hurricane season might be wiped out by lost deposits and disrupted travel plans. 

Hurricane season in Florida does coincide with the lovely fall shoulder season, complicating things even more. Fall in Florida lands smack dab in the middle of the most active part of hurricane season. 

But, that’s also one of the best times to visit Florida because summer temperatures have finally begun to cool off, and crowds are lower because families with kids are out of the picture because school calendars. 

Hurricane season lasts longer than most people expect. 

Hurricane season in Florida begins on June 1st, and does not officially end until November 30. It’s also possible for freak storms to hit on either side of this window.

The most active period of hurricane season lasts from late August until late October, when ocean temperatures are very warm due to the accumulated heat from spring and summer.

The fall season from mid-October until November 30 can be a great season to visit Florida for travelers who have flexible plans and are OK with the possibility of hurricane-related disruptions. 

The benefit of this time is that crowds are often lower due to the hurricane threat and because kids are in school.

If you do visit Florida during hurricane season it is an excellent idea to consider these tips:

  • Consider getting travel insurance to cover trip interruptions
  • Ask about cancellation policies and deposit refunds
  • Consider the historical hurricane risk of the place you’ll visit

Festivals and Seasonal Events

Seasonal events, festivals and other special occasions can also influence tourist trends and are often important to consider.

Extreme Weather

Weather in Florida is seriously intense in many ways. It can even be dangerous for people and pets, so it should not be underestimated.

  • Extreme heat
  • Extreme cold
  • Lightning
  • Strong winds
  • Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes

High temperatures and high humidity can create intolerably hot, and even dangerously hot conditions.

Heat stroke, sunburn, skin damage and heat-related injuries must be guarded against. Pets should get special attention to avoid burned paws and injuries from extreme temperatures.

Winters in Florida can be surprisingly cold. 

Even the southernmost parts of Florida can experience frost, freezing temperatures, strong winds and severe winter weather. 

Florida’s humidity also makes winter weather feel much colder than a thermometer reading would suggest, due to evaporative cooling effects. 

Any Florida resident will tell you that 70 degrees in Florida feels much colder than 70 degrees anywhere else!

Spring and fall both tend to have the nicest weather, but both still carry the threat of severe thunderstorms, and fall is the busiest time for hurricane season.

Florida endlessly markets itself as the “Sunshine State”, but wise visitors should not assume that the weather in Florida will always actually be sunny, warm or pleasant. 

Visitors should seriously consider the weather before visiting, and pack appropriately for a variety of weather conditions.