Vacationing in Florida is high on the wish list for many travelers, both foreign and domestic – and for good reason. The weather is spectacular when the rest of the country is shivering and frozen; the beaches, fauna and flora are exotic and tropical; the lifestyle is casual, and activities are abundant for families as well as for the jet-setting party crowd (especially for occasions like spring break). Timing is important, however, and there are better times of year than others to venture into the sunshine state.
This article will go over different times of the year you might consider embarking on your Florida vacation—and why some of these times may be more preferable than others.
Some Like It Hot
Some people thrive in hot and humid weather, but for the rest of us, the hot summer months are not the best time to visit Florida. Temperatures all over the state reach into the upper 80s and low 90s Fahrenheit from April through October, with high humidity levels leaving you drained when exposed to the heat. During these months, make sure that the hotel has air conditioning, and avoid outdoor activities in the hot afternoon hours if at all possible. Do not forget to also wear plenty of water-resistant sunscreen. You may rely on the ocean to cool you off, but when the temperatures remain this high for an extended period of time, you will also be looking at much higher ocean temperatures.
Note: Remember that high temperatures are typically much higher in south Florida than they are in north Florida—locations in north florida like Jacksonville may be preferable for those that desire fewer crowds with slightly lower average temperatures (but still very good weather).
The Road Less Traveled
If avoiding crowds is the goal, pay attention to the peak season in each part of Florida. In Orlando and other family-friendly regions with theme parks and beaches like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, the Magic Kingdom and various waterparks, the summer months when school is out are very crowded, as are the temperate climate areas of north Florida.
Note: Christmas time and New Years Eve will also be popular times for families to venture to the many theme parks in Orlando, as these parks put on entertaining performances and parades to celebrate the holiday season. Consider Halloween, as well, as Universal Studios hosts the Halloween Horror Nights for fans of scary movies and great scares.
Older retiree travelers who spend winter in Florida start arriving as early as November, with the heaviest migration taking place after the holidays in January. These crowds push up the prices of housing, air travel and rental cars. Expect these "snowbirds" to stick around in the warm weather until spring when the weather improves in their home states. As a whole, the winter months may be some of the busiest months for tourism in Florida, making it the best months to go for those that love the hustle and bustle, but the worst times for those that desire lower prices and less crowding on the Florida beaches.
Thar She Blows
Decrease the chance of getting caught in an Atlantic or Gulf Coast storm by steering clear of the hurricane season in Florida. The most vulnerable months for hurricanes/tropical storms are June through November. If you choose to go during these months, you will likely get reduced rates on accommodations and activities. Make note of hurricane evacuation routes, which are posted along main corridors in all hurricane-prone regions. Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers actual or threatened storm activity, and ask the hotel and rental car company about the ability to cancel in case of hurricane watches, warnings and evacuations. The verdict? It may be a good time for lower prices, but a bad time for great weather and travel safety.
Rainy Day Blues
Although the stereotypical image of Florida depicts brilliantly sunny skies and puffy clouds scattering across the horizon at all times, the truth is that the state has rainy seasons just like anywhere else. September is typically considered to be the rainiest month in the Florida Keys and south Florida, while Orlando has the highest average precipitation levels in June. Depending on which region you are visiting, expect these rainy seasons and plan accordingly. The good thing is that rainy times in Florida seldom last for hours at a time, and the sun comes out intermittently throughout the day. So, if the weather forecast predicts thunderstorms, expect many of these thunderstorms to be short-lived and stay optimistic that the sun will ultimately come back out (and don’t forget to look for rainbows).