The Best (and Worst) Time To Visit Florida, Where To Go

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Florida gets a bad reputation. There. It needed to be said.

I’ve been to a lot of places in the world. There are many places with just as many flaws and decidedly fewer amenities.

For some, the best time to visit Florida is never. However, my people embrace Florida. We revel in the ins and outs and enjoy the sun, the ocean and the parks.

Florida is not perfect. And still, every time I must leave, I’m ready to get back as quickly as I can.


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What is the cheapest month to go to Florida?

The least expensive time to visit is the post-Christmas and post-New Year’s Eve seasons of January and February.

Essentially, late winter is the off-season for tourists, though even the off-season is busy now, especially when you factor in the snowbirds who move south from November to March or April. 

Still, there’s less demand for hotels, restaurants and theme parks. If you want a Florida vacation at discount prices without the crowds, late winter is your best time.

When is the best season to visit Florida?

Before we start, there are no losers here. Florida is great to visit year-round. Each season has its pluses and minuses.

Honestly, you could pick any season as the best time of year to visit Florida and be right. Here are some of the best seasons:

World of Disney Store at Christmas Time
The winter isn’t a bad time to visit Florida, but most people want to enjoy the ocean and the warm weather (photo by Morgan Overholt/

The worst (but cheapest): Winter

We’re including all of Florida in this answer. If it was South Florida only, I would rank the winter as being better. However, for a lot of people, a Florida vacation means being able to get in the ocean and unless you’re in Southern Florida in the winter, you’re probably not getting in the water. 

However, I will say December at Disney or Universal Studios is a great time of year to visit. 

Read Also: The Best Time to Visit Disney World: 12 Months, Ranked

beach in the panhandle area of florida
Many spring breakers visit the Panhandle area of Florida (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

The second worst: Spring

The spring loses points for spring breakers which – if you’re not participating in the revelry – can put a dent in places like Daytona Beach or along the Panhandle.

The weeks prior to Memorial Day weekend are pretty good for visiting the theme parks.

Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom
Summer can be crowded at theme parks, but it’s a great time to enjoy the water rides (photo by James Overholt/

The second best: Summer

This is the peak season. Resorts and theme parks will be crowded. The average temperature rivals the surface of the sun, yet it’s glorious.

There’s a reason the summer months are the sunshine state’s most popular season and it’s not just because school is out. 

Magic Kingdom Fall with Pumpkins
The fall is a nice time to visit Florida and area theme parks (photo by Morgan Overholt/

The best: Fall

In general, I think September is the best month to visit Florida. The average high is still near summer temperatures. It is usually not too cold to swim in the ocean.

Plus, the crowds at Universal Studios and Walt Disney World are low because the kids are back in school. In my opinion, fall is the best time of the year to visit Florida.

Where in Florida should I go?

This is a big question. It depends on what you want from your vacation. Here are some of the best (and worst) spots:

7. North Florida

I like North Florida. Particularly, I like Jacksonville. But I also like Cleveland, so maybe I’m easily pleased when it comes to cities.

I love crossing the state line and stopping at the visitors welcome center. However, if I’m being honest, my biggest goal in North Florida is to get out of it and on to the rest of my vacation.

Best spot: Any place that’s not Gainesville. Go Vols!

Beach Area with Beach Chairs at Isla Bella in Islamorada Florida Keys
Pictured: The Isla Bella Resort in Islamorada in the Florida Keys (photo by Morgan Overholt/

6. The Keys

I like the vibe of the Florida Keys in theory but I’m just not ready for it yet. We have three kids. Our vacations are not calm, chill respites. They’re not about relaxing. They’re about getting stuff done.

But, the Keys may be higher on your list if you’re adults looking for a relaxing getaway.

Best spot: Key West, but you could convince me it’s Key Largo just so I can sing the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” over and over. 

Read Also: 16 Best Beaches Close to Orlando for a Quick Getaway

st augistine florida
The Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine Florida (photo by Wirestock Creators/

5. The Atlantic Coast

For the purposes of this discussion, the Atlantic Coast is basically north of Miami and South of Jacksonville. There are a lot of cool beaches – though not as cool as the gulf side – and a lot of neat cities. 

Best spot: St. Augustine. I can’t tell you how much I love St. Augustine. I love the old Spanish Fort and the fantastic downtown.

Divers Swim With Manatees Crystal River Florida
Snorkel with the manatees in Crystal River in Florida (photo by Thierry Eidenweil/

4. Wild Coast/Gulf Coast

This is the part of Florida close to my heart. From Tampa up to the edge of the Panhandle, I’ve spent decades running around this part of Florida.

I love the Greek village at Tarpon Springs and also the underappreciated Cedar Key. I also love the old-style Florida tourist trap at Weekee Watchee with the mermaids. 

Best spot: The areas near and dear to my heart are Homosassa Springs and Crystal River. Be sure to check out the state park where injured manatees go to be cared for. It’s also where Lucifer the Hippo still lives. Lucifer starred in “Tarzan” movies as a baby.

I also recommend Dan’s Clam Stand and the local fishing. In the cooler months, Three Sisters State Park is the place to be as the manatees come in to warm themselves by the spring. On the right day, you can see hundreds of them.

Destin Beach
Destin Beach is located in Northwest Florida (photo by Rotorhead 30A/

3. The Panhandle

This area is like Myrtle Beach except the beaches are nice and the water is clear.

Best spot: Destin unless you’re a student on spring break. Then, it’s Panama City Beach.

The Miami Strip at Night
The Miami strip in the evening hours (photo by Morgan Overholt/

2. Miami

Personally, I am not cool enough for Miami or possibly rich enough. It has a club scene and a great food scene. It’s an experience that makes me feel like an alien visiting from another planet.

But if you are part of the beautiful people – or the rich people – it is a must. 

Best spots: Bal Harbour for beaches, Brickell for shopping, Coconut Grove for food.

A Close-up View of the Universal Globe
Central Florida is, of course, the theme park capital of Florida and perhaps, the world (photo by Morgan Overholt/

1. Central Florida 

Central Florida is the theme park capital of the world with day trips either by car or rail to almost any other part of Florida. It’s accessible and affordable from the air as well.

It’s just the place to be. 

tampa airport large flamingo
Above: The Tampa International Airport (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

What is the cheapest city in Florida to fly into?

There seems to be a lot of varying information on the internet, and it often depends on many factors.

However, the most recent data I found indicated that St. Pete Clearwater International near Tampa is typically less expensive on average for a round-trip fare, with Orlando second. 

I can, however, confirm that there are plenty of Florida airports that rank among the cheapest in the country based on the average cost of a round-trip fare. 

What is the rainy season in Florida?

The rainy season is essentially in the summer.

As the heat rises, you can expect pop-up thunderstorms in the afternoon. In late May through June, these storms can tend to be more severe, but the rainy season peaks in July through August and into September. 

When is hurricane season in Florida?

Officially, it’s June 1 through October 31, but it feels like it’s expanding. There have been no documented tropical storms in the gulf in April, but one did form in the Atlantic.

What do you think is the best time of the year to visit Florida? Do you have a favorite destination? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of author


John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for LLC – the parent company of and

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