People often ask “when is the best time to visit Florida?”. As Florida is a year round destination, the obvious answer is “anytime” but in reality it depends on several factors including exactly where in Florida you are heading, what you plan to do, the weather/seasons and school and family holiday periods.
Like any supply and demand situation, prices are generally higher during the periods when more people want to visit a particular part of Florida. By travelling out of season you will often find it a lot quieter and also save yourself money though some local facilities may be closed.
If you are travelling with children of school age then to some extent you may be constrained as to when you can visit Florida as more and more schools clamp down on taking kids out of school during term time. If you are not travelling with children, then you might well consider avoiding school holiday periods.
Like most countries, in the United States the main school holiday is the long summer break. Florida’s schools typically break for the summer between early June and late August.
Other Florida school holidays typically centre around a one week Spring Break usually around Easter time, a one week Thanksgiving Break and a two week Winter Break from just before Christmas until the New Year.
Florida schools also observe some (but not necessarily all) of the US National holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, Presidents‘ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans’ Day plus other one day holidays for teacher training and local festivals and fairs. Bear in mind that all of this does vary by Florida school district.
This contrasts with the United Kingdom, where school summer holidays typically run from late July to early September, with breaks at Easter and Christmas, an extra break half way through each term and public (bank) holidays.
College Spring Break
As well as school Spring Break, there is also the American College institution known simply as “Spring Break”. Because Florida has traditionally been one of the premier destinations for college Spring Breakers, Spring Break has a major impact on the number of visitors to certain parts of Florida at that time of year.
Though each college typically only has a one week break, Spring Break is spread over a number of weeks as different colleges and universities throughout the USA stagger their break times. The busiest time is generally around Easter but Spring Break can run from late February well into April.
US National Holidays
Another thing to consider is the long weekends around some US National holidays. Many Americans take short family holidays around some of the major US National holidays which often fall on a Monday. So you can expect many more people out and about around the weekends of Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day in particular plus of course Thanksgiving.
Florida Weather and Seasons
With its sub-tropical climate, it never really gets that cold in Florida but in the summer months it can get very hot, particularly in Central and Southern Florida. Your tolerance to heat may dictate when you travel to some extent especially if your holiday revolves around visiting the theme parks in Central Florida.
Most of Florida also has a pronounced wet and a dry season though the rain showers and thunderstorms are usually short-lived. In the North the wet season runs from June to September on the East coast whilst rainfall is more evenly distributed across the year in the Panhandle with July being the wettest month. In Central Florida, the wet season also runs from June to September with an extended May to October season in the South.
In Northern Florida, the winters (December to March) can be cold by Florida standards which means the sea is probably going to be too cold to swim in and many bars/restaurants may be closed. The most popular times are during the summer months when it can get very hot and humid. Off peaks times are during the spring (April to May) and autumn (September to November).
In Central Florida, the climate is similar to Northern Florida only warmer. Because of its year round theme park entertainment, peak times are around Easter, the summer holiday period, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In Southern Florida, winters (November to April) are mild which makes winter the peak season. During the summer months, temperatures and humidity are very high along with mosquitoes but it does bring prices down.
From a heat and humidity point of view, the worst time to visit Florida is late July/early August which of course is right in the middle of the school summer holidays (and the hurricane season).
If you are travelling with children of school age, then to a great extent, you hands are tied unless you can get permission to take them out of school during term time.
If your main interest is in water sports then the summer offers the best water temperatures.
If you do have more flexibility, then from a crowd/busy time point of view, the quieter periods (low seasons) are:
- Northern Florida - December to February (though it can be chilly)
- Central Florida - January/February, after Easter and leading up to the end of May and then September to December but avoiding Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season around Christmas and the New Year
- Southern Florida - June to September