Experience the magic of Florida in winter! Swap snow for sand as you explore warm beaches, outdoor adventures, and vibrant culture.
As a long-time resident of the Sunshine State, I’ve had the privilege to explore Florida from tip to tip. Raising my family here has allowed me to discover some truly remarkable places that shine even brighter during winter months. With teenagers who love the Florida life as much as I do, our adventures have taken us from serene beaches to bustling cityscapes and everything in between.
Florida’s diverse landscape offers an array of experiences for every type of traveler. If you’re into outdoor activities like we are, there’s no shortage of fishing spots or hiking trails. But if relaxation is more your speed, there are countless tranquil beach towns where you can unwind and soak up the sun—even in December!
Having navigated this state extensively over the years, I’m thrilled to share with you 16 of the best places to visit in Florida in winter. Whether you’re planning a family vacation or seeking a solo retreat, these destinations offer something special for everyone. So let’s dive right into it!
I’ve got to tell you, there’s something truly magical about Key West in the winter. It’s a paradise that doesn’t believe in winter blues. With its balmy weather and vibrant nightlife, it’s no wonder this place is one of Florida’s most popular destinations during the colder months.
Key West boasts an average high temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit even in December! You can imagine how delightful it is to escape from freezing temperatures and instead enjoy sunny days on sandy beaches. And if you’re into water sports, well, you’re in for a treat. From snorkeling around North America’s only living coral barrier reef to fishing in clear turquoise waters – Key West has got it all!
But let’s not forget about the history and culture that permeates every corner of this island city. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum offers an intimate glimpse into the life of one of America’s greatest authors. Meanwhile, Mallory Square hosts a daily sunset celebration filled with performers and food vendors that’ll make your evenings unforgettable.
Here are some must-visit spots:
- Duval Street: Known for its lively bars and shops. Stop by Sloppy Joe’s bar!
- Southernmost Point Buoy: A landmark representing the southernmost point of continental U.S.
- Dry Tortugas National Park: An isolated island known for Fort Jefferson, beautiful blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life.
Let’s talk about Islamorada, a true gem in the Florida Keys. It’s not just another spot on the map; it’s an experience that’ll leave you with unforgettable memories. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, this village of islands is a haven for those seeking a warm winter escape.
Known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World“, Islamorada offers unparalleled opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. Whether you’re after tarpon or bonefish, there’s no shortage of challenges here. And if you’re not into angling? Don’t worry! There are plenty more activities to keep you entertained.
- Snorkeling and diving: The clear turquoise waters surrounding Islamorada are teeming with vibrant marine life.
- Paddleboarding and kayaking: Explore the tranquil mangrove trails at your own pace.
- Art galleries: Discover local artistry and culture at Morada Way Arts & Cultural District.
Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate Islamorada’s culinary scene. This place is a foodie paradise! From fresh seafood shacks to gourmet restaurants, there’s something to satisfy every palate. You can’t miss out on trying their famous key lime pie!
In terms of accommodation, options range from cozy bed-and-breakfasts to luxury resorts. Many places offer stunning ocean views right from your room – imagine waking up to that!
To sum it up, I’d say Islamorada has got all bases covered when it comes to providing an idyllic winter getaway in Florida. Its laid-back charm combined with its array of outdoor activities make it a destination worth considering.
I’m sure you’re already thinking about Miami, it’s a city that truly comes alive in the winter. With temperatures averaging around 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, it’s an ideal escape from those bone-chilling northern winters. What’s more? The city is less crowded this time of year, making it easier to explore and enjoy.
Miami has so much to offer for every type of traveler. If you’re into art and culture, don’t miss out on Art Basel Miami Beach which happens in December. It’s one of the most prestigious art shows globally with artists and collectors flocking from all corners of the world.
For nature lovers, there are plenty of options too. Everglades National Park is just a short drive away where you can spot alligators, manatees, and other wildlife unique to Florida. Biscayne National Park offers snorkeling opportunities among vibrant coral reefs.
Foodies won’t be disappointed either. From Cuban sandwiches at local joints to fine dining experiences at renowned restaurants like Joe’s Stone Crab or Versailles Restaurant – Miami’s culinary scene is as diverse as its population.
And let’s not forget about the beaches! South Beach is famous worldwide but I’d also recommend checking out lesser-known spots like Crandon Park Beach or Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park for some tranquility amidst your travels.
I’ve got to tell you, Clearwater Beach is a gem in Florida’s crown. It’s not just the powdery white sands that will captivate your heart, but also the warm Gulf waters and tons of fun activities for all ages.
Imagine strolling along Pier 60 with its daily sunset festival – street performers, musicians and local artisans creating a lively atmosphere as the sun dips below the horizon. And if you’re into fishing, this pier offers some fantastic opportunities too!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is another must-visit spot here. It’s home to Winter, the dolphin star from the movie “Dolphin Tale”. You’ll get to learn about marine life rescue while getting up close with dolphins, sea turtles and other aquatic creatures.
For those who crave outdoor adventures, there are plenty of options at Clearwater Beach. From parasailing over the sparkling waters to paddleboarding through calm bayous – it’s an adrenaline junkie’s paradise!
And don’t forget about dining! With fresh seafood being a staple here, I can assure you that your taste buds are in for a treat. Stop by Frenchie’s for a great grouper sandwich and a key lime pie – you won’t regret it!
No list of the best Florida cities to visit in winter is complete without mentioning Orlando. This globally-recognized vacation hotspot is home to some of the most famous theme parks in the world, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando.
Beyond the major theme parks, Orlando offers a myriad of other attractions such as water parks, world-class shopping and dining, professional sports teams, and scenic nature activities.
The amusement park thrills make Orlando an ideal winter vacation spot for families, while areas like Downtown Disney and Universal CityWalk give adults plenty of evening entertainment options. And thanks to Orlando’s central Florida location, visitors can expect warm weather during the winter months perfect for enjoying time outdoors.
Average highs reach the 70s Fahrenheit from December through February. With its reputation for theme-park fun and sunny skies, Orlando is clearly a premier choice for warm-weather travel during the colder times of the year – so make sure to put it on your list of places to visit in Florida in winter.
I’ve got to tell you, there’s always something fun to do in St. Petersburg in the winter. While most of the country is bundling up against the cold, this Florida city offers a warm and sunny escape. It’s not just the weather that makes it one of my top picks for winter getaways though.
First off, let’s talk about those beaches. With an average high temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit in December, you’ll find me strolling along the sandy shores of St. Pete Beach or catching some rays at Treasure Island. The Gulf waters might be a bit chilly for swimming but they’re perfect for a refreshing dip after soaking up the sun.
But don’t think that St. Petersburg is all about beach bumming. There’s plenty more to explore! Downtown St. Pete is brimming with art and culture, from world-class museums like The Dali Museum and Museum of Fine Arts to vibrant murals adorning local buildings. And the brand new pier is awesome with a rooftop restaurant and bar!
- The Dali Museum: Home to over 2,400 works by Salvador Dali.
- Museum of Fine Arts: Showcases thousands of years’ worth of art from around the globe.
- St. Petersburg Pier: Go have a drink and a bite to eat at the top with amazing views!
And if you’re a foodie like me, you’re in for a treat! The city boasts an impressive culinary scene with everything from fresh seafood joints to gourmet farm-to-table restaurants.
Now, I can’t forget about nature lovers out there. You’ll want to check out Sunken Gardens – a century-old botanical paradise featuring cascading waterfalls and over 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.
So whether you’re looking for sun-soaked relaxation or cultural exploration, St. Petersburg has got you covered for a great stop in Florida in winter time!
When winter hits, I find myself drawn to the sunny shores of Naples. It’s a gem on Florida’s Gulf Coast and one of my top picks for escaping the chill. With its balmy weather, pristine beaches, and an array of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder why so many snowbirds flock here each year.
Naples is renowned for its world-class shopping and dining scene. Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South are lined with chic boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants that’ll satisfy any foodie’s cravings. You’re bound to stumble upon unique finds you won’t get anywhere else!
But what really sets Naples apart from other Florida destinations is its commitment to preserving nature. The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary offers 13,000 acres of wetlands teeming with wildlife – think alligators, otters, white-tailed deer, and over 200 species of birds! If you’re lucky, you might even spot the elusive Florida panther.
For those who love hitting the links, Naples has got you covered too. It’s often dubbed as the ‘Golf Capital of the World’, boasting more than 80 championship golf courses. From beginners to pros – there’s a course for every skill level.
And let’s not forget about Naples’ stunning sunsets! Nothing beats ending your day by watching the sun dip below the horizon at Naples Pier or Lowdermilk Beach Park. Trust me; it’s a sight that’ll leave you in awe.
So if you’re seeking sunshine mixed with sophistication this winter – make sure to put Naples on your list for Florida in winter travel!
Sarasota, Florida is my next recommendation for your winter getaway. It’s a city that truly comes alive during the cooler months. With its pristine beaches and vibrant arts scene, Sarasota offers an array of activities to keep you entertained throughout your stay.
First off, let’s talk about Siesta Key Beach. This beach is consistently ranked among the best in the country, thanks to its white quartz sand and crystal-clear waters. Even in winter, it’s a great place to soak up some sun or enjoy a leisurely walk along the shore.
But Sarasota isn’t just about the beaches. The city is also known for its thriving arts community. You’ll find numerous galleries and studios scattered around town, showcasing works from local artists as well as international names. One must-visit spot is The Ringling Museum of Art which houses an impressive collection spanning various periods and styles.
If you’re into wildlife, make sure to visit Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Here, you can learn about marine life conservation while getting up close with sharks, manatees, sea turtles and more.
Lastly, don’t forget to explore downtown Sarasota. Its Main Street is lined with unique shops and restaurants serving everything from fresh seafood to gourmet desserts. There are also several parks where you can relax amidst lush greenery.
In short, whether you’re a beach lover or an art enthusiast, there’s something for everyone in Sarasota during winter!
When winter rolls around, I can’t help but think of Boca Raton as one of Florida’s top spots to visit. Nestled on the state’s southeastern coast, this city offers a blend of cultural experiences and natural beauty that’ll leave you captivated.
Boca Raton is known for its Mediterranean Revival architecture which gives it a unique charm. A stroll through Mizner Park will give you a glimpse into this architectural style while also offering shopping and dining options aplenty. It’s an experience not to be missed!
But let’s not forget about the beaches! The city boasts some of the most pristine shorelines in all of Florida. From Spanish River Park to Red Reef Park, there are plenty of sandy retreats where you can soak up the sun or enjoy a picnic with loved ones.
For those interested in arts and culture, Boca Raton doesn’t disappoint either. The Boca Raton Museum of Art houses over 5,000 works spanning various periods and styles – it’s sure to inspire any art enthusiast.
And if wildlife piques your interest, then make sure to pay a visit to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. Here, you’ll get an opportunity to see sea turtles, tropical fish, and other marine life up close.
So whether it’s soaking up history at Mizner Park or basking in nature’s beauty at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center – Boca Raton has something for everyone in Florida in winter months.
I’m about to let you in on a little secret: St. Augustine is one of the best places to visit in Florida during winter. Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple really. This historic city offers an incredible blend of culture, history, and natural beauty that’s hard to beat.
St. Augustine isn’t just any old city; it’s actually the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States! Walking around here feels like stepping back in time with its cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture. The Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress with breathtaking views of the Matanzas River, is a must-see for any history buff.
But don’t think for a second that St. Augustine is all about history – there’s plenty more to see and do here! For instance, nature lovers will be thrilled by Anastasia State Park where they can enjoy bird watching or hiking amidst unspoiled beaches and lush marshes.
What makes winter such a great time to visit? It’s all about the weather! While other parts of the country are freezing cold, St. Augustine enjoys mild temperatures averaging around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). Plus, fewer tourists mean you’ll have more space to explore this charming city at your own pace.
And let me tell ya’, nothing beats strolling through downtown St. Augustine during Nights of Lights – an annual event when millions of white lights illuminate the city creating a magical atmosphere that’ll leave you speechless!
ANNA MARIA ISLAND
I’m taking you now to Anna Maria Island, a gorgeous island in Florida that’s perfect for winter getaways. It’s located on the Gulf Coast and is known for its stunning beaches, clear turquoise waters, and laid-back vibe.
Anna Maria Island offers an authentic “Old Florida” experience. You won’t find any high-rise condos or bustling shopping malls here. Instead, it’s all about quaint shops, local eateries, and charming beach cottages. The island has three small cities: Anna Maria City, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach – each with its unique charm.
Winter on Anna Maria Island is mild and pleasant. Temperatures typically hover around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for outdoor activities like fishing, bird watching or simply lounging on the beach. And let me tell you about the sunsets! They’re absolutely breathtaking and provide the perfect backdrop for evening strolls along the shore.
One of my favorite things about this place is its commitment to preserving nature. There are several parks and nature reserves where you can spot local wildlife including sea turtles, manatees, and a variety of birds. Plus, there’s a strict ‘lights out’ policy during turtle nesting season to protect these beautiful creatures.
Lastly, don’t miss out on exploring Pine Avenue – dubbed as “The Greenest Little Main Street in America”. This eco-friendly street is lined with boutique shops selling everything from handmade jewelry to organic food products.
If you’re planning a winter getaway, I can’t recommend Tampa enough. It’s one of those places that has something for everyone. From the stunning beaches to the vibrant nightlife, it’s a city that never fails to impress.
Let me start by talking about the weather. In winter, while most parts of the country are freezing cold, Tampa enjoys mild temperatures averaging around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s perfect beach weather if you ask me! And speaking of beaches, some of Florida’s best ones like Clearwater and St. Pete Beach are just a short drive away from Tampa.
Now let’s talk about things to do in Tampa during winter. If you’re into wildlife, don’t miss out on visiting the Manatee Viewing Center where you’ll get a chance to see these gentle giants up close. For history buffs, there’s Ybor City – a National Historic Landmark District known for its rich Cuban heritage.
One thing I love about Tampa is its food scene. The city offers an array of dining options ranging from high-end restaurants to casual eateries serving everything from seafood to Cuban cuisine. Some must-try dishes include stone crab claws and Cubano sandwiches.
And finally, no visit to Tampa would be complete without exploring its thriving sports scene. Grab tickets to watch the Buccaneers, Lightning or Rays play!
- Winter temperatures average around 70 degrees Fahrenheit
- Must-visit spots: Manatee Viewing Center, Ybor City
- Must-try foods: Stone crab claws, Cubano sandwiches
- Awesome sports events: Buccaneers, Lightning or Rays
I’m telling you, Palm Beach is a gem of Florida that truly shines in the winter months. It’s got everything from pristine beaches to luxurious resorts and an array of shopping options. Not to mention, it’s one of the best places for those who love outdoor activities.
Now, let me tell you about its stunning coastline. The sandy shores are perfect for sunbathing even in winter, thanks to Florida’s mild climate. And if you’re into water sports, there’s plenty to keep you busy – think jet skiing, paddleboarding or just a relaxing boat ride.
But don’t think it’s all about the beach life here! Palm Beach also boasts some top-notch golf courses. In fact, it’s often referred to as the ‘Golf Capital of Florida‘. So if you’re looking to improve your swing or simply enjoy a round or two amidst beautiful surroundings, this place won’t disappoint.
Shopping enthusiasts aren’t left out either. Worth Avenue is a must-visit spot with its upscale boutiques and designer stores. You’ll find everything from high-end fashion pieces to unique antiques and art galleries.
And lastly, let’s not forget about the vibrant nightlife scene here in Palm Beach. With numerous bars and clubs offering live music and entertainment throughout the week, there’s always something going on when the sun goes down.
I’m excited to share about Fort Lauderdale, a great city in Florida’s winter escape list. It’s often overlooked due to its glitzy neighbors like Miami and Palm Beach, but trust me, it has its own charm that can make your winter vacation memorable.
Known as the “Venice of America”, Fort Lauderdale boasts an intricate canal system. You’ll find yourself mesmerized by the city’s beauty while taking a water taxi or gondola ride through these scenic routes. And don’t forget to visit Las Olas Boulevard, where you’ll discover an array of shops, art galleries, and restaurants that are sure to pique your interest.
If you’re a beach lover like me, then Fort Lauderdale won’t disappoint. The city offers 23 miles of sun-kissed beaches which are less crowded during winter months – perfect for those seeking tranquility amidst natural beauty. Plus, with average temperatures hovering around 75 degrees Fahrenheit even in December and January, it’s ideal for soaking up some sunshine without breaking into a sweat!
For history buffs out there, Stranahan House Museum is a must-visit spot in Fort Lauderdale. This historic house-turned-museum gives visitors insight into the early days of this vibrant city. If wildlife interests you more than history does, then head over to Flamingo Gardens – home to over 3,000 species of rare and exotic plants along with flamingos and other native animals.
In terms of dining options, Fort Lauderdale doesn’t fall short either. With numerous waterfront restaurants offering fresh seafood dishes coupled with stunning views – it’s hard not to be impressed!
If you’re looking for a unique Florida winter experience, I can’t recommend Weeki Wachee enough. It’s a small city in Hernando County that’s famous for its mermaid shows at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. You might be thinking, “Mermaids? In winter?” Yes! The park features live performances by women dressed as mermaids swimming in the natural spring.
The water at Weeki Wachee Springs maintains a constant temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. That means it’s perfect for a refreshing dip even during the cooler months. And don’t worry about getting too cold – there are heated areas to warm up after your swim.
While you’re there, take advantage of the river boat cruise and wildlife animal show included with your admission ticket. The boat ride takes you on a journey down the pristine Weeki Wachee River where you’ll likely spot manatees, turtles, and an array of bird species.
Beyond the state park, Weeki Wachee offers other attractions worth exploring:
- Weeki Wachee Preserve: This 11,206-acre preserve is home to numerous trails and lakes ideal for hiking and bird watching.
- Bayport Park: Located on the Gulf Coast, this park provides opportunities for fishing and sunset viewing.
- Rogers Park: A popular spot among locals featuring a beach area, playgrounds, picnic tables and access to kayak rentals.
In terms of dining options, BeckyJack’s Food Shack is a local favorite serving delicious seafood dishes. Also worth trying is Breakfast Station for their hearty breakfast offerings.
So if you’re seeking something different from theme parks or beaches this winter season, consider adding Weeki Wachee to your Florida itinerary. With its charming mermaid shows and abundant nature activities, it truly offers an enchanting escape unlike any other.
As we wrap up our list of the best places to visit in Florida during winter, let’s not forget about Crystal River. It’s a town that truly shines in the colder months.
Why do I recommend Crystal River? Well, it’s one of the only places in Florida where you can swim with manatees! These gentle giants flock to the warm waters of Crystal River when temperatures drop elsewhere. And guess what? You’re allowed to join them for a swim!
But don’t worry if swimming isn’t your thing. There are plenty of other activities on offer at Crystal River. From fishing and bird watching to exploring local parks and historical sites, there’s something for everyone here.
Here are some highlights:
- Three Sisters Springs: This is where most of the manatees hang out. Even if you decide against swimming, it’s worth visiting just for the view.
- Crystal River Archaeological State Park: A chance to delve into history and explore ancient Native American mounds.
- Fort Island Gulf Beach: If you miss the beach vibes, this small yet beautiful beach will give you just that.
To sum it up, Crystal River offers an exceptional blend of nature, wildlife, and history that makes it stand out from other destinations. So why wait? Pack your bags and head over to this fantastic location this winter!
Recap: Florida in Winter
With its tropical climate and sunny weather, Florida is a fantastic destination to escape the cold during the winter months. The Sunshine State offers many exciting cities to explore, from the world-famous attractions and beaches of Orlando and Miami to the charming seaside towns of St. Petersburg and Key West.
Whether you’re seeking theme park thrills, sandy shores, artistic culture, or a lively downtown scene, Florida has a city that will fulfill your winter vacation dreams. The variety of activities, scenery, cuisine, and ambience across these diverse urban destinations makes planning the perfect warm-weather getaway easy.
As you consider where to soak up the sun this winter, be sure to give these excellent Florida cities your utmost consideration. With so many options for fun and relaxation during the colder months, you really can’t go wrong when choosing a Florida city for a rejuvenating winter escape.