Florida is a destination all year round. Between its theme parks, amazing beaches, and diverse cities, there’s something for everyone at any time of the year.
While Florida can be hot, humid, and rainy in the summer, it’s one of the few places in the US with warm sunny weather in the winter.
Many people flock to the Sunshine State during the winter months to flee the cold and enjoy the more temperate climate.
January is one of the best times of the year to visit Florida. The weather is milder, the crowds are fewer, and the festivals are endless. You can take advantage of off-season hotel rates, though some areas can be expensive because they’re so popular with snowbirds.
If you’re considering a visit to the state down south, this guide will give you everything you need to plan your winter escape.
Is January a Good Time to Go to Florida?
January is a great time to visit Florida, primarily because of the weather.
The sun is out, but it’s not oppressive like in the summer months.
It’s also less likely to rain, so you don’t have to worry about downpours ruining your beach days or your Disney World experience.
Another advantage of Florida in January is that fewer tourists are there. The winter holidays are over, and everyone has returned to school or work.
Just keep in mind two things about visiting Florida in January:
The first is that Florida is a popular destination for retirees (known as snowbirds) who winter in major cities like Miami and Orlando. They tend to arrive after the holidays and stay for two to three months to escape colder climates.
Because of the influx of snowbirds, the prices in certain areas can be just as high as in the summer months, and finding accommodations might be a bit challenging.
The second thing to expect is that beaches are always busy, regardless of when you visit. Florida weather is ideal for beach-goers at any time of year, and there’s always something going on in the beachfront areas.
That said, generally speaking, there are just fewer people visiting Florida in January, and you can still have an amazing time anywhere you go.
Best Places to Visit Florida in January
If you’re familiar with Florida, you know Orlando is the home of theme parks, Miami is the life of the party, and the Florida Keys have some of the best beaches.
Regardless of what you’ve heard, finding your ideal destination in Florida is easy. Every major city offers a unique experience and caters to many different tastes.
The following are my top picks, including a few must-see attractions.
If you love theme parks, especially Disney and Universal Studios, Orlando is the place to be.
The iconic Walt Disney World is the largest theme park in the world, and Universal Studios Florida is epic for people who love movie franchises.
If those two aren’t enough for you, Orlando is also home to SeaWorld, Gatorland, and Legoland.
January is one of the best times to visit the area and experience the parks because the low season starts around the 7th of the month.
(The beginning of January is considered part of the ‘holiday season,’ so parks are busy as the kids are still out of school.)
Because Disney World and Universal Studios are the two most popular theme parks in the United States, a visit to either requires more than one day.
There’s so much to do (especially at Disney World), and most visitors plan at least two days per park.
SeaWorld has more waves and splashes, and given that January is cooler, the park attracts fewer visitors than usual.
Gatorland is not as popular as these three, but it’s still great if you love wildlife.
Legoland is the newest addition to the Orlando theme park scene and is an excellent option for escaping the crowds at Disney World and Universal Studios.
It is more suited to teenagers and adults, so if you have small children, keep that in mind.
Overall, Orlando is a city built around these parks, so if you want a fun-filled, action-packed winter vacation in Florida, it’s definitely at the top of the list.
If you love animals, Tampa is the place for you.
Florida’s most popular animal parks are in Tampa, including Busch Gardens and ZooTampa.
You can also visit Apollo Beach or the Florida Aquarium if you’re into aquatic animals.
The wildlife is not all the city’s known for, as it also houses popular attractions like the Tampa Theatre and the Museum of Science and Industry.
If you love winter sports, Tampa also boasts a pretty decent hockey team (the Tampa Bay Lightning), so you can get a taste of winter by heading to a game.
Regardless of where you go, the city of Tampa will leave you impressed.
Miami is always buzzing. Its Latin vibes, jam-packed beaches, and general party atmosphere make it a city that rarely sleeps.
It’s worth visiting at least once in your life, just to scope out the scene, but it does have a reputation for its extravagant prices.
That said, select destinations make it easy to enjoy yourself without spending a fortune.
These include the Wynwood Walls, Everglades National Park, and the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
To make the most of your time in Miami, I suggest visiting towards the end of the month – the holiday crowds have dispersed, and the weather starts approaching optimal levels.
If Miami, Tampa, or Orlando aren’t to your taste, you can check out these other great Florida cities to visit in January:
- Sanibel Island
- St. Petersburg
Florida Weather in January
As far as weather goes, January is Florida’s coolest and driest month, even though it has one of the most humid climates in the US all year round.
Rain in January is rare, and you’re also unlikely to see snow.
The temperatures hit highs of 76°F (24°C) and lows of 57°F (14°C), but the exact weather depends on your location.
Here are the average temperatures of the most popular cities:
- Miami – 73°F (23°C) / 63°F (17°C)
- Orlando – 72°F (22°C) / 50°F (10°C)
- Tampa – 70°F (21°C) / 52°F (11°C)
- Jacksonville – 64°F (18°C) / 42°F (6°C)
- Key West – 75°F (24°C) / 65°F (18°C)
What to Wear in January
The early mornings and late evenings in Florida can be chilly, so I highly recommend layers you can easily peel off as the weather improves throughout the day.
You’ll probably need a little of everything from a jacket, long-sleeved shirts and pants to shorts and other light clothes like t-shirts and skirts.
The rest depends on your itinerary.
A trip to the beach will require swimwear, and you should always wear comfortable shoes if visiting a theme/animal park.
Regardless of what you do and how mild the weather feels, Florida is sunny, so don’t forget your sunscreen!
Warmest Beaches in Florida in January
Florida is on the eastern coast of the United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
Luckily, its beaches have reasonable temperatures this time of year, though the following are the warmest in January.
(I’ve also recommended these spots because they have the best scenery.)
The Gold Coast has the most visited beaches in Florida.
It’s on the southern coast of Florida in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area and extends to other cities like Boca Raton.
Because of their popularity, Gold Coast beaches are crowded all year round, including in January.
If you’re looking for private, peaceful, and serene, Gold Coast beaches may not be ideal.
On every other front, however, the Gold Coast is number one.
Places like Miami Beach and South Beach have warm temperatures of 72°F (22.2°C), which isn’t so bad if you’re coming from somewhere with snow.
You can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of the iconic Ocean Drive, including the must-see art deco buildings.
Whether or not you’re going for a swim, the Gold Coast won’t disappoint.
The Treasure Coast boasts slightly warmer beaches than the Gold Coast, with average temperatures around 74°F (23.3°C).
The Gold Coast and the Treasure Coast are close in proximity, so don’t be surprised to see Palm Beach or even Boca Raton listed as part of either (the border between them is fluid).
The top beaches on Treasure Coast include West Palm, Pompano Beach, and Delray Beach.
They have impressive shopping and dining areas, so there’s always something to see or do during your visit.
The Keys are a group of islands between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
The beaches have warm temperatures of 71°F (21.6°C) and are famous for marine activities, including scuba diving and snorkeling.
Key West and Key Largo are well-known destinations, with Islamorada and Marathon also worth visiting.
The Florida Keys pride themselves in other attractions like the History of Diving Museum and the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District.
You can also catch a movie at the Tropic Cinema and grab food at The Fish House before returning to the mainland.
Florida Events in January
The Sunshine State has a variety of events in January.
Most target a specific audience and take place over a few days.
Here are a select few.
Key West Food and Wine Festival
The Key West Food and Wine Festival features various cuisines, some with ingredients from local waters.
It takes place over five days, and the 2023 edition will occur from Wednesday, January 25, through Sunday, January 29, 2023.
If you’re a foodie in Florida, you won’t want to miss it.
Saint Augustine Film Festival
The Saint Augustine Film Festival showcases numerous films, uplifting local and foreign independent filmmakers.
The schedules are usually on the website, and you can get all-access, all-film, or single-film tickets.
Be sure to check it out if you love a good movie.
Art Deco Weekend
Miami Beach prides itself on its famous art deco architecture.
So much so that locals dedicate an entire weekend to celebrating it.
If you’re a fan of the sleek building style, make a point of going to Art Deco Weekend.
The event features parades, food, and numerous activities that will make it worth your while.
Other January festivals include:
- Art Fort Lauderdale
- 30A Songwriters Festival
- Florida Manatee Festival
- South Florida Fair
- Gasparilla Pirate Festival
- The Nights of Lights Festival
The Sunshine State has long been the ultimate winter escape.
The weather is mild, with cooler mornings and evenings, but there’s almost no rain, and the sun isn’t as strong as in the summer months.
Fewer tourists visit Florida’s attractions in January, so it’s a great time of year if you want to avoid crowds at some of its most famous spots.
Whether you love theme parks, beach days, festivals, or late-night parties, Florida has a lot to offer, and you can have a great vacation no matter where you go.
Table of Contents
- Is January a Good Time to Go to Florida?
- Best Places to Visit Florida in January
- Florida Weather in January
- Warmest Beaches in Florida in January
- Florida Events in January
- Final Thoughts