If you’re searching for a way to escape that dreaded December chill, you’ve probably considered vacationing in Florida. As the nation’s southernmost state, Florida enjoys mild subtropical and tropical weather conditions.
That doesn’t mean it can’t get chilly in the Sunshine State. Vacationers who are keen to feel Florida’s warmth must read the research we’ve done on this topic.
Generally speaking, the further south you travel in Florida, the warmer temps you’ll experience.
Two of Florida’s “hottest” cities for December tourists are Miami and Key West. However, that doesn’t mean temps are “freezing” in popular Central Florida locations like Orlando. Even if you’re traveling in North Florida, it’s rare for temps to dip below 40° F in December.
December is typically one of Florida’s busiest months for tourism. Not only are visitors interested in this state’s warm weather, but they also want to check out the many holiday-related festivities.
If you’re planning a December trip to the Sunshine State, we’d recommend reading all the pro tips we’ve compiled below.
What Are The Warmest Florida Destinations In December?
Tourists who want to experience Florida’s warmest temps must plan a trip to southern counties like Miami-Dade, Collier, or Monroe.
Only Florida’s southern regions are technically in a “tropical climate zone.” This translates to higher average temperatures versus central and northern cities.
For instance, Miami has an average December low in the high 60° F range. If you travel even further to the Florida Keys, you’ll probably experience temps in the mid-70s F. Indeed; the Florida Keys are the only region in the USA that is 100 percent frost-free!
The further north you travel in Florida, the more likely you could experience a cold snap during your December vacation. It’s not unheard of for a cold front to dip into the Florida Panhandle or Central Florida during the winter months.
Depending on where you travel, you may experience daytime temps in the 40° F range during your vacation. Be sure to closely monitor weather conditions for your target area before deciding what clothes to pack. Chances are you’ll need at least a light jacket for those late-night strolls in Central or Northern counties.
Bottom line: If you want warm weather, you’ve got to book a South Florida vacation. Luckily for you, there’s a ton to see in these sizzling hot counties. In fact, you could check out our post on the “66 Things To Do In The Florida Keys” for fun vacation ideas.
What’s The Weather Like In Florida In December?
Although there are slight regional variations, Florida has the mildest winter weather pattern in the USA. No matter where you are, daytime temps are usually in the 60° F range, and rain chances are low.
However, as mentioned above, Florida’s southern counties will have the best chance of warm temps. Daytime weather conditions in Miami, Naples, and the Florida Keys are usually in the 70° F range.
That’s not to say Florida can’t experience chilly winds or even freezing nights. Indeed, there have been at least a dozen significant freezes in Florida’s past. Sadly, when these unseasonably cold temps occur, they can cause considerable damage to the state’s citrus industry.
Please don’t assume you could get away with a T-shirt and shorts when visiting Florida in December. Indeed, you should pack some autumn clothes in your luggage if you’re visiting Northern or Central cities.
We lived in Central Florida for a year, between the summer of 2021 and the summer of 2022. Our house was near Orlando. We could go out in shorts and teeshirts even on December nights. Can you imagine watching Christmas displays dressed like that? That's Florida for ya!
We did experience a couple of cold spells during January and February. They were short and mild. Only once did we get a frost on our lawn, and that only lasted for a few hours.
Oh yeah, and please don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly when you’re going out!
If you’d like more info on visiting Florida in the winter, be sure to read this previous post entitled, "When's The Best Time To Visit Florida?"
Can You Swim In The Ocean In December In Florida?
Although winter isn’t the “peak season” for swimming in Florida’s oceans, that doesn’t mean you can’t swim during the winter. However, you may find the water is a touch too chilly if you visit the Northern or Central beaches.
For the most comfortable swimming experience, it’s best to look into beaches in southern cities like Naples, Key West, and Miami. Since the average temps in South Florida are hotter than in other regions, it makes sense that the water here is warmer.
Also, southern attractions like John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offer better snorkeling opportunities in the winter. You could learn more about this Key Largo attraction in our thorough “John Pennekamp Park Guide.”
If you’re dead set on swimming in Northern or Central Florida, you should invest in a wetsuit to keep you warm. Otherwise, research the hotels in your area and see if they have heated pools.
For a more in-depth discussion of water temps in Florida, please read our post on “Swimming In Florida During The Wintertime.”
Is Disney World Crowded In December?
For many families, the primary reason for visiting Florida in December is to experience an extra-magical Disney Christmas. But some tourists complain it’s a lot more “frantic” than festive at this uber-popular resort. So, just how crowded does it get in the Magic Kingdom?
Usually, Disney World gets incredibly busy between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. In fact, it gets so crowded at these parks that employees typically have to turn some guests away.
Check out this compilation of Christmas day pics in Disney World:
If you’re going to travel in the heat of the holiday season, you have to do a lot of prep work beforehand. Be sure you book your hotel room months in advance and get to your chosen park early in the morning.
For a better chance of avoiding these crazy crowds, you should schedule your vacation for the first two weeks of December. While you’ll still get to experience the holiday festivities, there shouldn’t be as many people as later in the month.
By the way, these crowd-related tips also apply to the popular Universal Orlando theme park. So, anyone who wants a Potter-themed Christmas party should book their hotel rooms early.
FYI: Please remember the Magic Kingdom sometimes closes early for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.” If you want to go to this event, you have to purchase a special ticket well in advance. Be sure to research when these party dates when booking your Disney vacation.
All of the parks offered special programs for Christmas. While they all seemed extremely attractive, they were also very expensive.
Is The Everglades Open In December?
December is one of the best months to visit the Everglades National Park. Tourists to this South Florida park won’t have to worry about excessive humidity, tons of mosquitos, or hurricanes when visiting in December.
For more info on visiting this South Florida park, please check out our previous “Everglades Visitor’s Guide.”
We visited the Everglades twice. Visiting in winter time meant the temperatures were ok, but it was still very warm. Even hot! When we were visiting Shark Valley, the temperatures climbed up to the 90s and we had to cut our hike short.
The Everglades are FANTASTIC during winter time. Florida wildlife is actually more active and visible during wintertime.
If you're visiting Florida in December, make sure to go out and view the wildlife. Check out my guide about where to see alligators in Florida for specific locations.
Does It Snow In Florida During December?
Chances are, the only “snow” you’re going to see in Florida is the fake soapy suds they shoot out in Orlando theme parks. While snow isn’t impossible in the Sunshine State, it’s extremely rare.
If you’re going to see real snow on Florida vacation, odds are you’ll see it in a Northern city like Saint Augustine. However, even these “snowstorms” are more like “flurries.”
For those who like trivia: There was one freak day in 1977 when it snowed in Miami. So, while it’s unlikely you’ll see snow on your Florida vacation, stranger things have happened!
Warm Up With A December Florida Vacation!
It doesn’t take a NASA scientist to explain why Florida is such a “hot” tourist spot in December. Though if you're looking to talk to one, then Florida - and specifically the Kennedy Space Center - is where you should go!
Thanks to its southern location, Florida enjoys wonderfully warm temps year-round. Also, there are loads of festive decorations and events at some of the state’s most popular theme parks.
However, we’d still recommend packing some long pants and a jacket, especially if you visit Northern or Central Florida. While it’s unlikely temps will dip below 40° F, chilly nights are common in these regions.