When to Go
The question of when to go to Florida is a tricky one, but the short answer is “It depends.” What it depends on is where you’re planning to go and what you’re planning to do. As a general rule, holiday weekends—regardless of the time of year—are busy throughout the state.
Miami, South Florida, and the Keys
One of Florida’s most popular winter destinations, Miami, South Florida, and the Keys host several big events like Art Basel in Miami and is a prime destination for senior-citizen “snowbirds” who spend the season here, along with weekend warriors seeking a respite from the cold weather.
Accordingly, hotel rates approach extortionate rates in winter, if you can find a vacancy. Those rates plummet during the summer, which also brings stiflingly hot and humid weather and the threat of hurricanes.
South Gulf Coast
Just like Miami and South Florida, Florida’s South Gulf Coast fills up with snowbirds and frozen Midwesterners during the winter. Unfortunately, although hotel rates go down in the summer (again, watch out for hurricanes), many businesses simply close up shop May–October, as it’s not worth it for them to stay open to cater to the small number of tourists who visit.
Orlando Theme Parks
There used to be a time when one could recommend the slow season to visitors who had flexible schedules. Theoretically, there still is a slower season at the Orlando parks— between Labor Day and Christmas, particularly the first two weeks of November—but even that small window of time has begun to see capacity crowds at many of the area’s attractions.
Still, even though you are unlikely to find any mind-blowing deals or be able to experience Disney World without having to stand in long lines, that period of time, as well as the gap between Easter and Memorial Day, are still considered some of the best times to see the parks. The crowds may still be large, but the weather is nearly perfect and the likelihood of a hurricane ruining your vacation is next to nil.
The Rest of the State
Any visit to one of Florida’s many beach towns—whether on the Panhandle, the Atlantic coast, or in southwest Florida—will find you among large crowds during summer, spring break, or any other time when children aren’t in school. Cities like Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville run year-round, but the oppressive humidity can make a visit in July or August a withering experience.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition