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Top 10 Florida Vacations in the Fall

Florida’s pleasant fall weather means it is warm enough to go to the beach in many parts of the state without putting up with the summer’s extreme heat and humidity. The season brings comfortable days and cooler nights, making it a great time to enjoy outdoor activities without all the crowds. There are plenty of fun-filled seasonal festivals, while November also marks the beginning of the manatee season. One of the best times to visit the Sunshine State – read on to discover some of the best fall getaways in Florida.

Destin Destin, Florida
Credit: Destin, Florida by © Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

Destin

Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin is a fantastic family-friendly destination that sees fewer crowds in the fall. Fishing is the most popular activity in the area, while water enthusiasts can also go boating along Destin’s turquoise waters. Stroll on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk during the annual Destin Seafood Festival. You’ll find fresh seafood served by local restaurants, live music, and fun activities for the entire family. You can also attend the Festival of the Arts to admire the work of over 65 artists from across the nation.

Mount Dora Mount Dora

Mount Dora

A charming lakefront town in Central Florida, Mount Dora is one of Florida’s most beloved small-town treasures. Its historic downtown district makes for a lovely exploration of the area, where you’ll find antique stores, galleries, and outdoor cafes. While shopping is plentiful in Mount Dora, fall means it is time for the annual Mount Dora Craft Fair, which showcases the talents of more than 400 local vendors. For fall-themed fun, take the kids to Scott’s Maze Adventures to enjoy a maze through the 7-acre corn field, hay rides, and a 60-foot slide that lands you on a giant pillow.

Orlando Swan boats on Lake Eola
Credit: Swan boats on Lake Eola by © viavaltours - Dreamstime.com

Orlando

As the world’s theme park capital, Orlando boasts beach-worthy weather in the fall. Orlando’s best fall events include Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, where you’ll find 30 unique global marketplaces that allow you to sip and eat some cuisine from around the world. At the same time, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is perfect for the kids. If you’re looking for a thrill, Universal has you covered with their Halloween Horror Nights and an array of scary haunted houses, scare zones and live shows. For an afternoon in nature, take a day trip north to Orange City to Blue Spring State Park to capture a glimpse of Florida’s famous manatees.

Tampa Tampa skyline
Credit: Tampa skyline by bigstock.com

Tampa

With access to ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Adventure Island, and Clearwater Beach, Tampa boasts a long list of family-friendly attractions that are great to visit in the fall. It’s the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors, where a short drive will land you in the manatee-filled Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River and plentiful hiking opportunities in Little Manatee River State Park. Get rowdy at the Top of the Bay Oktoberfest with a pint of German beer, or drive out to Gulfport to attend the popular GeckoFest. This quirky event showcases local art, music, and street performers along Beach Boulevard.

Ocala Juniper Springs
Credit: Juniper Springs by usda.gov

Ocala

Often referred to as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Ocala boasts fewer tourist crowds and plenty of natural beauty in fall. The city’s crown jewel is the impressive 360,000-acre Ocala National Forest, considered one of the best hiking spots in Florida. Over 100 miles of natural habitats showcase the gorgeous pine forests, gum swamps, and cypress. An ideal time to take advantage of the area’s outdoor recreation, you can also go on paddling adventures in Juniper Run and take a dip in Silver Glen Springs.

Fort Walton Beach Fort Walton Beach
Credit: Fort Walton Beach by Kristi Blokhin/shutterstock.com

Fort Walton Beach

An underrated gem on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Fort Walton Beach boasts a tranquil shoreline that is easy to enjoy in the autumn months. This family-friendly area offers a fuss-free holiday with a year-round fishing and beach resort community with easy access to parks, museums, and aquariums. The ideal weather will allow you to spend your days relaxing on the beach, dining on delicious Gulf-to-table seafood, and enjoying a glass of wine sitting around a fire pit in the evening. November brings plenty of festive fall events and things to do.

Amelia Island Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
Credit: Beach on Amelia Island, Florida by © Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

Amelia Island

Amelia Island is the place to be if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax in the fall. Just 30 miles north of Jacksonville, this charming barrier island has warm days, cool nights, and a slower pace of life. The natural beauty of the vast Atlantic beaches highlights serene marshes and moss-draped oak trees. Take a tour of the quirky historic downtown area, where you’ll find art galleries, locally-owned boutiques, and the oldest operating saloon in Florida. You can enjoy horseback riding on the beach, paddle boarding, or sit and watch the dolphins frolicking in the waters.

Siesta Key Siesta Key, Florida
Credit: Siesta Key, Florida by © Felix Mizioznikov | Dreamstime.com

Siesta Key

Fall is one of the most excellent times to visit Siesta Key, one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches. With comfortable, mild temperatures and silky white sand made of quartz, you can spend your afternoon lounging on the beach and soaking up the cool Gulf breezes or engaging in exciting watersports activities. This stunning eight-mile barrier island offers easy access to Sarasota, where you’ll find unique attractions that are great to visit in the fall, including The Ringling, Myakka River State Park, and Marie Selby Botanical Garden.

Sanibel Island Sanibel Island
Credit: Sanibel Island by © Peanutroaster - Dreamstime.com

Sanibel Island

The offseason is a great time to explore Sanibel Island, where the kids will delight in the array of colorful shells that wash up on the beach. Its 15 miles of shoreline is often quieter in the fall, so you can stretch out on the sandy beach, book a private charter boat, or sample the local seafood cuisine. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge holds its weeklong “Ding” Darling Days in October, where the 5,200-acre refuge celebrates with a week of eco-activities, including bird watching, kayaking, and paddleboard adventures.

Anna Maria Island Anna Maria Island, Florida
Credit: Anna Maria Island, Florida by © Bonandbon Dw | Dreamstime.com

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island fits the bill if you’re looking for a fall escape without the hustle and bustle of some of Florida’s more popular areas. With a speed limit that never exceeds 35 mph, this quaint barrier island and seaside town is full of kayakers and cyclists eager to soak up the laid-back ambiance. You won’t find high-rise condos or fast-food joints here, making its quiet shoreline a perfect escape from day-to-day life. 

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