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Great Winter Vacations in Florida

Great Winter Vacations in Florida

Florida sounds great for a break from the winter blues, but where are the best places to go? From the Emerald Coast to the Florida Keys, there are a multitude of great vacation spots all over the state. Are you looking for a warm water spot in the dead of winter? Or just somewhere milder to enjoy the great outdoors? Read on to find out the skinny on vacationing in Florida from September through March.

Miami

If you are looking for someplace warm to visit that also includes beach time, night life, and lots of places for family adventures, you might want to check out Miami. One of the larger cities in the state, Miami averages a temperature of 75 to 77 degrees from December to February. This means that every day can be a beach day! You can also visit Little Havana for some new sights and smells, take a cruise through the Everglades, or set your own agenda to visit the many art museums, historical sites, aquariums, state parks, and botanic gardens that are available. 

Florida Keys

The Keys are also a great place to visit any time of year – they are a string of islands known for their laidback vibe. You can snorkel, fish, swim, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the continental United States. Of particular interest is the first and only underwater park in the country, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. You can kayak through the mangroves, snorkel or scuba dive underwater, or just view the sights while riding a glass-bottom boat. 

You can also visit Key West if you would like to explore the home and garden of prolific writer Ernest Hemingway. At the Ernest Hemingway Home and Garden, you can see where the writing legend lived, where he wrote, and even pet some of the six-toed “Hemingway” cats who are direct descendants of the writer’s own personal pets. If you explore the area, you will also encounter Hemingway’s favorite bar, which was Sloppy Joe’s back then (now Capt. Tony’s Saloon). 

Emerald Coast

Another excellent place to vacation in Florida during the winter months is anywhere along the Emerald Coast. This is the 24-mile stretch of beach land along the Gulf Coast, which includes cities such as Fort Walton, Destin, and Okaloosa Island. If you prefer sightseeing, restaurants, and activities, Destin is your best bet. Places like Fort Walton Beach are less crowded and better for a relaxing day of fun in the sun with your family. Okaloosa Island is also a special treat for families, especially if you enjoy fishing. There is a 1,262-foot fishing pier that extends into the Gulf’s calm waters. Here you can cast off to see if the fish are biting or enjoy the entertaining and fun Boardwalk. 

The Emerald Coast is actually one of the most beautiful areas in the whole state. It’s called this because of its clear emerald-green waters next to the white sandy beaches. Anywhere you visit is going to give you plenty of outside adventures, including water sports such as kayaking, scuba, and snorkeling, or other outdoor activities such as hiking, hanging out at the beach, visiting one of the many state parks, or even trying your luck with offshore fishing. 

South Walton

If you’re looking for more family-friendly places to visit, you can’t go wrong with the South Walton area. The beaches along 30A hold a host of great places to visit for your fall or winter retreat. There are 15 small beach communities in South Walton, including Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach. Seaside is notable for its walkable ambience and its sugar-white sandy beach. Famous as the location for the Jim Carrey hit movie, The Truman Show, the town hosts only pastel colored cottages for rent as accommodation – Seaside vacation rentals are an experience in themselves. 

Any of these locales along the magical Hwy 30A is perfect for a family getaway. Most of the locations are also home to state parks such as Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach – often called the most pristine piece of coastal property in Florida. Grayton Beach State Park is also  one of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches where you can hike, bicycle, hang out on the white sands, and enjoy stunning Florida sunsets.

St. Petersburg

If you desire a vacation spot that is more geared toward art and food lovers, St. Petersburg is your best bet. It’s been called the “new Portland” because it has all of the art, culture, and progressiveness of Portland, Oregon, but no grey skies or rainy days. St. Petersburg actually has 361 days of sunshine every year, which makes it a great place to visit during the fall and winter months. Here you can enjoy street art and alleys filled with color and amazing talent. You can also visit the Dali Museum, which features the largest collection of works by Salvador Dali outside of Europe. This is also the place to try some local eateries since this city has a diverse food community that features local produce and international food flavors.

Wherever you decide to vacation when the winter months set in, be sure and explore these and other areas of the sunny state of Florida. The farther south you go, the warmer the water – if you gave your children swimming lessons from an early age, you’re a water family now (which always makes vacation planning easier), so whether to the northern end or to the south, head to Florida and enjoy.

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