Cooler weather, holiday activities, and endless sunshine, Florida is a pleasant place to visit in the winter. Perfect for exploring Florida’s pristine coastline and natural outdoor landscapes, the humidity of summer fades and festivals, fairs, and outdoor adventures take precedence. Whether you’re looking for thrills at one of the many theme parks or just want to soak in the sunshine, discover the top vacation ideas for a winter getaway in Florida.
Part of The Florida Keys archipelago made up of 1,700 islands, Key West is popular for its laid-back tropical vibes, water activities, and key lime pie even in December. Winter is the perfect time to visit, as the 70-degree weather and cool ocean breeze is all visitors need to kick those winter blues. With all its summer activities still in full swing, here visitors can charter a boat and go diving, deep sea fishing, or spend a day snorkeling in addition to swimming, sailing, and jet-skiing. Nature lovers will love exploring the crystal clear waters at Dry Tortugas National Park and observing gorgeous winged creatures at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, while history and literary enthusiasts will be captivated with the Ernest Hemingway Home and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park. Those who want to join the revelry can participate in the fun events held on Duval Street and the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar before watching one of Key West’s famous sunsets at Mallory Square.
The theme park capital of the world, Orlando is the place to be for thrill-seekers. Here visitors will find shorter lines at big name parks like Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Islands of Adventure. Space enthusiasts can explore the world-renown Kennedy Space Center while those intrigued by Florida’s alligators can enjoy Orlando’s oldest major attraction, Gatorland. LEGOLAND is less than an hour away, and puts on its annual Christmas Bricktacular, the Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center has “The Sound of Music” performances, while ICE! at Gaylord Palms boasts an impressive display of interactive ice sculptures and displays carved from 2 million pounds of ice.
Sunshine is the best way to treat winter blues, and Miami does it best with its stunning beaches and an extensive list of activities for a range of travelers. South Beach is where to go to be and be seen and get the party started, Ocean Drive and Coral Gables Miracle Mile are a shoppers paradise, and Jungle Island, the Miami Seaquarium, and Zoo Miami are ideal for animal lovers. Art enthusiasts will enjoy the popular Art Basel contemporary art fair with over 250 art galleries from 31 countries and the Art Deco Weekend celebrating South Beach’s Art Deco architecture. Little ones can visit Santa’s Enchanted Forest complete with an insane amount of activities, rides, and entertainment, while those looking for a real adventure can take an airboat ride through the nearby Everglades National Park for a tour of Florida’s grassy wetlands and endangered species.
Considered one of America’s most charming cities, St. Augustine is even more lovely during the wintertime. Here visitors can stroll along its 450 year old cobblestone streets in the historic district through historic landmarks, quaint cafes, and haunted ghost tours, while history buffs can explore the Castillo de San Marcos fort, stroll through the Colonial Quarter to watch the famous re-enactments, and drink from the Fountain of Youth that dates back to 1565. St. Augustine also boasts an award-winning annual holiday lights display rated in the “Top 10 Best Holiday Lighting Displays in the World” by National Geographic. This popular Night of Lights celebration brightens this charismatic city with more than 2 million dazzling lights strung towards a towering Christmas tree.
Offering a range of fun-filled activities and mild temperatures, Tampa is a perfect winter getaway destination for all types of travelers. Art enthusiasts will be fascinated with Dali’s most comprehensive collection of paintings outside of Europe at the Dali Museum, while animal lovers can visit the Lowry Park Zoo, Big Cat Rescue, and try to catch a glimpse of Florida’s treasured manatees at the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center. Busch Gardens holds its annual Christmas Town event, turning the park into a magical winter wonderland with holiday shopping, festive treats, and a Santa House with elves, Mrs. Clause, and photo opportunities for the family. Visitors can also take a run on Tampa’s annual outdoor ice skating rink set up at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown, or cheer on their favorite college football team at the winter Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.