Florida in December: Weather, Warmest Beaches, Things to Do

If you plan to visit Florida in December for the winter holidays and seek reliable information, you’ve come to the right place.

Florida, known for its distinct holiday charm, offers an array of festive experiences to enhance your Christmas celebrations.

For those who prefer a tropical backdrop for their holiday festivities, December in Florida brims with captivating events, festivals, and distinctive activities tailored for visitors.

Florida in December

Whether you aspire to admire the architectural splendor of historic St. Augustine or explore the shores of Tampa Bay, we have compiled all the essential information to guide you throughout your stay in Florida.

Weather in Florida in December

The average temperature in December ranges from 64°F to 76°F (18-24°C), marking it as a relatively dry season with occurrences of fog, increased winds, and cooler weather.

A notable weather variation exists between southern and northern Florida. In the northern region—extending from Jacksonville to the Panhandle—December brings average daily highs of 68°F (20°C) and nightly lows around 48°F (9°C).

From central Florida down to the Keys, the southern area maintains an average temperature of 75°F (24°C).

Cities such as Destin, Tallahassee, and Pensacola can expect highs around 70°F (21°C) in the month of December.

When packing for Florida, consider bringing a variety of layers to accommodate the cool mornings and evenings, contrasted with the warmer daytime temperatures.

Rainfall in Florida in December

December and January in Florida are part of the dry season, typically marked by fewer rainy days compared to other months. When showers occur, they are generally brief, lasting from 15 minutes to an hour. On average, rainfall in December amounts to about 2 inches, with precipitation usually occurring on 6-7 days of the month.

It’s important to note that, despite the dry season, Florida’s weather can be unpredictable. Occasional thunderstorms, although not the norm, can indeed arise during December.

Wind in December

In December, Florida experiences common gusty winds, particularly in the morning or after sunset. While rain is infrequent during this time, the presence of these brisk winds suggests the advisability of bringing along a jacket or sweatshirt to stay comfortable in the breezy conditions.

Humidity in December

The humidity in Florida during December can vary, but generally, it tends to be lower compared to the warmer months. In the morning, humidity levels are around 80-90%, while in the afternoon, they drop to around 50-60%. Keep in mind that these values are approximate and can vary based on the specific location in Florida and daily weather conditions

The average humidity is about 86% in the morning and drops to 55% in the afternoon.

Daily Weather Cycles in Florida

The December weather in Florida is similar to early fall in most places. It goes in daily cycles:

  • The Morning weather is foggy but with cooler temperatures and high humidity until around 9 am.
  • During the day it gets warmer and dryer.
  • In the evenings, the temperature drops, and winds spike after sunset.

Water Temperature in Florida in December

The ocean waters in Florida are typically calm during this month of the year. Concerning ocean temperature, it’s noteworthy that the water becomes warmer as you head further south.

Areas such as Key West and Miami boast the warmest water in December, with an average temperature of 74°F (24°C).

Conversely, the coldest water is found in Northern Florida. Cities like Jacksonville and St. Augustine on the Atlantic side report an average ocean temperature of 65°F (18°C). Moving to the Northern Gulf Coast regions, destinations like Destin and Pensacola record a water temperature of 66°F (19°C).

Warmest Beaches in Florida in December

Florida’s beaches offer delightful experiences year-round. However, in December, they are subject to windier and cooler conditions. To assist your beach selection, we have identified beaches with the warmest and coldest temperatures during this time.

The warmest beaches are typically found in the South Florida region.

As a general rule, the further south you go, the warmer the ocean temperatures become. This trend ensures that visitors can enjoy warmer waters and pleasant conditions even during the cooler winter months. t southern beaches provide a cozy retreat from December’s chill.

Key West Beaches

Key West, distinguished as the southernmost point in South Florida, maintains the warmest ocean temperatures year-round, which is particularly appealing during December. With inviting waters averaging 77°F (25°C), visitors can bask in a near-tropical environment even amid winter.

The region features a plethora of welcoming beaches, including Higgs Beach, Sombrero Beach, Simonton Street Beach, and Bahia Honda State Park Beaches. With such an assortment of beautiful spots, choosing the perfect location for sun and relaxation is a pleasure in itself. A standout among these is Smathers Beach, located on the island’s south side along the Atlantic Ocean, embodying Key West’s idyllic coastal charm.

While all the beaches in Key West boast warm waters and inviting atmospheres, Smathers Beach stands out for its accessibility, amenities, and sheer size, making it a top choice for those seeking the warmest beach experience in Florida during December.

Florida Keys. Smathers Beach

Gold Coast Beaches

The Gold Coast, located in the southeastern part of Florida, encompasses the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas. Known for being one of the warmest regions in the state, these areas also boast a reputation for their bustling tourist attractions, so you may want to prepare for some crowds.

Here, the average high ocean temperature hovers around 74.7°F (23.7°C). Miami, in particular, consistently records some of the highest temperatures in Florida throughout the year, positioning itself as an ideal vacation spot for travelers looking to escape the chill.

We highly recommend South Beach, Miami Beach, and Las Olas Beach along the Gold Coast for their vibrant atmospheres and scenic shores. Visitors can indulge in ocean drive cruises, benefit from a wide selection of hotels and dining experiences, and immerse themselves in the dynamic nightlife.

Additionally, the area is rich in a variety of holiday festivals, making it a lively and culturally rich metropolis to explore.

Miami in December: Miami Beach
Miami Beach

Treasure Coast Beaches

The Treasure Coast, positioned in South Florida along the Atlantic shoreline, boasts some of the warmest water temperatures in December, averaging 75°F (24°C). This makes it an exceptional destination for those looking to enjoy beach activities even during the winter months.

Nestled between the Space Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south, the Treasure Coast stretches from the city of Sebastian down to Hobe Sound, just north of West Palm Beach. This picturesque region offers a blend of serene beauty and warm ocean waters, making it a much-coveted hotspot for winter beachgoers.

Florida in December: Delray Beach
Treasure Coast

Among the best and warmest beaches to explore on the Treasure Coast are Vero Beach, with its refined charm; Jensen Beach, known for its laid-back atmosphere; Hobe Sound Beach, offering natural seclusion; Stuart Beach, characterized by its family-friendly vibe; and Fort Pierce Beach, which provides a mix of history and recreation opportunities.

These beaches not only provide an escape from cooler temperatures but also offer a range of activities and experiences.

They all have a similar atmosphere and structure, so you should consider your proximity to Orlando when making your choice – which makes cocoa beach your ideal option.  

Space Coast Beaches

Located north of the Treasure Coast, the Space Coast in South Florida graces the Atlantic side with water temperatures in December averaging 73°F (23°C). While slightly cooler compared to Key West and the Treasure Coast, these temperatures remain very comfortable for a range of beach activities.

Stretching over 72 miles, the Space Coast boasts expansive sandy shorelines that beckon visitors looking for a sunny respite during the winter months. The region not only claims fame for its pivotal role in space exploration with the Kennedy Space Center and historic shuttle launches but also as the location of Port Canaveral.

Among the top beach destinations on the Space Coast is Cocoa Beach, renowned as one of the best beaches in the USA for its vibrant surf scene and approachable charm for families. Playalinda Beach offers a more secluded experience with its undisturbed scenery, perfect for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

Space Coast. Cocoa Beach

For a beach visit coupled with ample amenities, Cherie Down Park Beach is an excellent choice, providing a peaceful atmosphere convenient to local comforts. Meanwhile, Jetty Park Beach attracts camping and fishing aficionados, complete with a picturesque pier and well-maintained facilities.

Paradise Coast Beaches

December water temperatures on Florida’s Paradise Coast average a pleasant 71°F (21.8°C). It’s important to note that Gulf Coast beaches generally have lower water temperatures than those on the Atlantic South Florida coast; however, the Paradise Coast boasts the warmest options on the Gulf side.

Located in South Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, the Paradise Coast is just north of the Everglades National Park. This region, known for its scenic beauty, primarily includes the Naples area along with the cities of Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City, and Immokalee.

The Paradise Coast is celebrated for its soft, sandy beaches and clear, aqua-colored Gulf waters, offering a quintessential Florida beach experience with a touch of tranquility.

Among the best and warmest beaches to visit is Clam Pass Park Beach, with its verdant natural areas and a boardwalk journey to the coastline. Lowdermilk Beach provides a welcoming, family-oriented atmosphere equipped with excellent amenities and panoramic views of the Gulf.

Keewaydin Island Beach offers an escape into seclusion, commonly reached by boat, which adds to its untouched allure. For those looking for a pristine and natural setting, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is an exceptional choice, ideal for spotting local wildlife and enjoying picnics by the sea.

Florida in December: Fort Myers Beach
Paradise Coast

Coldest Beaches in Florida in December

In December, Florida’s chilliest shores reside in two distinct areas: the North Region and the Panhandle Region. The beaches here may not be warm enough for swimming, but they are ideal for those looking to enjoy outdoor activities like camping, fishing, picnics, and hiking. With fewer visitors traveling to these northern shores during December, the reduced crowds make for a peaceful coastal experience.

First Coast Beaches

The First Coast stretches along Florida’s northeastern shore. Renowned for historic St. Augustine and its myriad of beautiful beaches such

  • St. Augustine Beach is a lively beach known for its beautiful, wide sandy shores and nearby historic attractions.
  • Anastasia State Park Beach offers a more natural and less developed beach experience within a state park.
  • Crescent Beach is renowned for its tranquil, unspoiled sands, perfect for long, peaceful walks by the sea.
  • Vilano Beach features a small-town feel with stunning views, especially appealing at sunrise.

Activities like historic city tours, beachcombing, birdwatching, and participating in holiday festivities make this coast a winter destination of choice for those embracing the cooler air.

Florida in December: Castillo de San Marcos fort
First Coast. Castillo de San Marcos Fort

Emerald Coast

The cooler-than-average December waters can also be found along the Emerald Coast in the Panhandle. Known for its crystal-clear, emerald waters, the region’s beaches, including:

  • Jetty East Beach is a well-equipped destination with jetties that are great for fishing.
  • Okaloosa Island Beach is known for its lengthy boardwalk and range of family-friendly activities.
  • James Lee Beach boasts crystal-clear waters and ample amenities within a park-like setting.
  • Grayton Beach is part of a state park known for its eclectic vibe and natural coastlines.

Visitors can take advantage of this quieter season to explore nature trails, bask in the beautiful Gulf sunsets, and join in the local holiday celebrations.

Forgotten Coast Beaches

The Forgotten Coast, positioned between the more traveled Emerald Coast and Apalachicola Bay, is often overlooked and therefore less crowded. Its remote beaches, like

  • St. Joseph Peninsula State Park Beach features miles of white sand and is an excellent location for birdwatching.
  • Carrabelle Beach offers a laid-back atmosphere with shallow, calm waters perfect for paddle-boarding.
  • Dog Island Beach is accessible only by boat, providing a secluded getaway experience.
  • St. George Island State Park is a pristine barrier island ideal for fishing, shelling, and observing wildlife.

The calmness of December is an excellent time for kayaking, scenic coastal drives, observing diverse wildlife, and discovering the unique maritime culture of this region.

Despite their cooler temperatures, these Florida beaches in December offer the allure of tranquility and a plethora of activities for visitors who prefer a less bustling beach environment.

What to Wear in Florida in December

Layered clothing is essential for Florida’s variable December weather. Start the day with pants and long sleeves for the cooler mornings and evenings, and keep a light jacket handy. As midday approaches and temperatures rise, shorts and a T-shirt often suffice. Comfortable footwear is crucial, especially when visiting theme parks where extensive walking is typical.

As you travel further south in Florida, temperatures become warmer. You might still need a sweater or jacket by mid-afternoon, particularly in central regions of the state.

Comfortable shoes are a must, as the amount of walking can be significant—especially in sprawling theme parks like Disney, where you may walk over 10 miles in a single day. Opting for well-fitting sneakers over flip-flops can prevent sore feet after long hours of enjoyment.

Additionally, always keep your light jacket or sweater within reach for evening outings. Many restaurants and indoor spaces keep the air conditioning on high due to the daytime heat, so a light layer can be comforting, particularly if you are sensitive to cooler temperatures.

Crowds in Florida in December

Florida stands out as a delightful escape from the chilly winter temperatures, offering a tropical ambiance for the holiday season.

The month of December sees a significant influx of tourists to Florida. Cities like Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and Sarasota become hotspots for visitors, especially snowbirds seeking warmer climes.

Christmas Crowds

The holiday season, particularly around Christmas, typically attracts larger crowds than at other times. It is advisable to plan for this by scheduling events in the last week of December when visitor numbers peak.

Beach Crowds

Given its reputation for beautiful beaches, Florida’s coastline is predictably busier in December, though not as congested as during spring break. If a beach vacation is what you’re after and you prefer quieter times, consider planning your beach visits for May when the crowds tend to be thinner.


Most locations in Florida experience sustained high rates throughout the winter season due to the arrival of seasonal residents and “snowbirds” looking to enjoy the milder climate. In December, this trend intensifies as prices are further driven up by a multitude of holiday festivities and celebratory events.

Typically, December is recognized as one of the costliest months in Florida concerning accommodations and entry fees for various attractions and activities. It’s a season marked by a high demand for travel and tourism amenities.

Due to the expected surge in visitors, we recommend making accommodation reservations well in advance—several months ahead, if possible, to avoid the disappointment of sold-out venues.

Budget and preferences will dictate your accommodation choices, with options ranging across the spectrum.

For budget travelers, hostels may offer rooms starting at $60-70 per night. For those looking for more private accommodations,

Airbnb listings generally begin around $150-200 per night.

Hotels provide a range of pricing from $70 to $300 per night based on location and quality.

For larger groups or those seeking a home-like experience, vacation home rentals average about $500-600 per night, though premium properties in prime locations can command higher rates.

Planning not only secures your stay but can also potentially lock in more favorable rates before the seasonal hikes take effect.

Camping in Florida in December

December is a popular time for camping in Florida due to its favorable weather conditions. The winter season in Florida is typically mild and dry, ideal for outdoor camping adventures. With infrequent rainfall and moderate temperatures, it’s a great time to enjoy the natural beauty of the state.

Florida boasts a wide variety of camping locations, including forests, national parks, recreational areas, state parks, city parks, and private campgrounds.

Winter camping in Florida
Winter camping in Florida

The ideal campsite serves as a perfect home base for camping enthusiasts, offering a range of leisurely activities such as boating and fishing, alongside more active pursuits like biking and hiking. When selecting a campground, it’s important to research the activities and amenities available to enhance your outdoor experience.

However, when packing for your trip, remember to include warm clothing and a blanket, as temperatures can reach up to 80°F (27°C) during the day but may drop to around 50°F (10°C) or lower at night. A range of clothing is advisable to ensure comfort throughout your camping stay.

Fishing in Florida in December

Florida offers a variety of excellent fishing destinations in December, catering to both freshwater and saltwater anglers. Here are some popular fishing spots:

Saltwater Fishing:

  1. Florida Keys: The Keys are known for their fantastic saltwater fishing. You can target species like bonefish, tarpon, permit, snapper, and grouper.
  2. Everglades National Park: This vast wilderness area provides opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Explore the backcountry for snook, redfish, and tarpon.
  3. Tampa Bay: Known for its diverse fishery, Tampa Bay offers opportunities to catch snook, redfish, trout, and sheepshead.
  4. Fort Myers/Sanibel Island: These areas offer great inshore and offshore fishing opportunities. You can target snook, redfish, and seatrout inshore, or head offshore for grouper and snapper.

Freshwater Fishing:

  1. Lake Okeechobee: Known as Florida’s largest lake, Lake Okeechobee is famous for its bass fishing. December can be a productive time for largemouth bass.
  2. St. Johns River: This river system is known for its largemouth bass and crappie fishing. The slower flow during the winter months can concentrate fish in certain areas.
  3. Rodman Reservoir: Located on the Ocklawaha River, Rodman Reservoir is renowned for trophy bass fishing.
  4. Lake Kissimmee: This lake is part of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and offers excellent bass fishing opportunities.

Remember to check fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses before heading out. Additionally, consider hiring a local guide to enhance your experience, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area or fishing techniques specific to the region.

Things to Do in Florida in December

December in Florida offers an array of activities suited to its temperate climate and festive atmosphere. Here are some of the best things to do in the Sunshine State during this month:

Visit Theme Parks: Florida’s famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld, are bedecked in holiday decorations with special Christmas events, parades, and shows.

Explore The Florida Keys: Enjoy the warmer weather in the Keys with activities like snorkeling, fishing, and boating, or simply relax on the beach.

Attend Holiday Festivals: Cities across Florida host holiday festivals and events such as Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, where millions of holiday lights adorn the historic district.

Take a Cruise: Depart from ports like Miami or Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean cruises, perfect for escaping to even warmer destinations.

Watch Wildlife: Go bird watching or take an eco-tour in the Everglades National Park to see Florida’s unique wildlife, including alligators and a range of bird species.

Enjoy Outdoor Sports: With cooler temperatures, December is a great time for outdoor sports such as golf, tennis, and hiking.

Golfing in Florida

Savor Stone Crab Season: Stone crab season runs from October to May, so try some fresh stone crab at one of Florida’s seafood restaurants.

Relax on the Beach: Head to South Florida’s beaches, like those in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or the Gulf Coast for sunbathing and beachside activities.

Visit Gardens and Zoos: Check out the holiday-themed nights at the best places like the Naples Botanical Garden or visit the zoo for a more laid-back experience.

Historic Tours: Take a historic home tour, such as the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, decorated for the holidays.

New Year’s Celebrations: Join in on the festivities with fireworks, parties, and celebrations at various locations across the state to ring in the New Year.

Camping: Take advantage of the milder weather for camping, whether in a tent, cabin, or an RV at Florida’s state parks or campgrounds.

Shopping: Visit the numerous outdoor shopping districts or malls for end-of-year deals, perfect for holiday shopping.

Keep in mind, no matter what activities you choose, December is a busy time of year in Florida, and it’s wise to plan and make necessary reservations well in advance.

Florida in December: FAQ

What Is the Best Time to Visit Florida?

The best time to visit Florida is typically from November through December due to the milder temperatures and lower humidity. During these months, the weather is more comfortable for outdoor activities, and you can enjoy the state’s attractions without the extreme heat that can be present at other times of the year.

For a more comprehensive guide on when to plan your trip, including considerations like crowds, pricing, and seasonal events, refer to our dedicated article titled “Best Time to Visit Florida.”

Can you Swim in Florida in December?

Yes, you can swim in Florida in December, but whether it’s comfortable or not largely depends on the specific region of the state you are visiting. Florida’s geography extends from north to south, resulting in a range of climates.

In Southern Florida, including locales like Miami, the Florida Keys, and the southern Gulf Coast, ocean temperatures remain warm enough for swimming, often making it a pleasant experience even in December.

Contrastingly, in Northern Florida and the Panhandle regions, the water temperatures are cooler, and many might find them too chilly for swimming. If you’re considering a beach vacation in these northern areas, it’s wise to be prepared for cooler water that may not be conducive to swimming.

What Are Average Temperatures in Florida in December?

What are the Warmest Places in Florida in December?

In December, some of the warmest places in Florida, where temperatures tend to be the most agreeable for visitors looking to escape colder climates, include:

Miami: Known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, Miami typically has some of the warmest winter temperatures in the state.

The Florida Keys: This string of tropical islands includes Key West, which is the southernmost point in the continental United States and often the warmest.

Fort Myers/Naples: Located on the Gulf Coast, these areas offer mild temperatures and gentle waters.

Tampa: This city and its surrounding areas, such as St. Petersburg and Clearwater, also benefit from the moderating effect of the Gulf of Mexico.

Orlando: While slightly cooler than coastal cities, Orlando has a temperate climate that is conducive to visiting the numerous theme parks and attractions.

These regions experience warm temperatures conducive to outdoor activities, although evenings can be cooler, and the occasional cold front may pass through. It’s always a good idea to check the forecast and come prepared with layers of clothing.

Is December a Good Time to Visit Disney World?

December is a prime month to visit Disney World, thanks to Florida’s mild temperatures and lower humidity rates, providing a comfortable climate for exploring the parks.

However, it’s important to note that it’s also one of the busiest times at the resort due to the holiday season. Visitors should plan for larger crowds and potentially longer wait times for attractions.

Despite this, many find the unique seasonal entertainment and joyful atmosphere during this month make it well worth the visit.

Florida in December | Final Thoughts

Spending the winter holiday in Florida can leave you with the most memorable experience. It is one of the best times to visit Florida. The sight of a palm tree in Christmas light is fantastic, especially after experiencing the cold winter. More than everything we listed, there are many amazing things you can do in Florida in December, and we hope you’ll enjoy your stay.

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