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Top Florida Fall and Winter Getaways

Great weather and events are highlights of these fall and winter destinations!


Downtown Plaza

More than two million tiny white lights illuminate the downtown St. Augustine area during the annual Nights of Lights celebration.

© St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches VCB

Since the weather in Florida is mostly pleasant in the fall, it is a great time to for a getaway. While it’s still warm enough for the beach, the extreme heat and humidity of summer give way to comfortable days and cooler nights, making it a pleasure to be outdoors to enjoy festival, fairs, Halloween celebrations and outdoor activities — all plentiful during this time of the year. The occasional sweater may be needed in the evening, but sunset celebrations and moon-lit strolls can be comfortably enjoyed through the end of November.

Some may still be able to tolerate the beach in the winter, but cool water temperatures combined with an occasional chill in the air doesn’t guarantee a pleasant experience. It’s best to leave the beach to those accustomed much cooler weather and enjoy the many holiday activities at the theme parks that abound from mid-November through the end of the year.

If you're looking to plan a fall or winter getaway in Florida, look no further than these fun fall and festive winter ideas:

Disney World

Disney World is especially nice in the fall and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival provides extra value for your admission to the park with the nightly Eat to the Beat! concerts. Also, a popular special-ticket-required event is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The family-friendly event is a great way for little ones to dress up in their favorite costumes in a fun atmosphere and a chance to take in favorite rides and attractions when crowd levels are low.

Disney World begins their holiday season in early November when decorations magically appear overnight throughout the resorts and theme parks. Highlights at the parks include the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that twinkle through the New Year; the special-ticketed Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney’s Magic Kingdom; and, Christmas Around the World and Candlelight Processional at Epcot. It is easy to make any or all of these family-friendly events a tradition that is sure to help you get in the holiday mood each year.

Of course, Disney World's resort hotels can serve guests with nearly any budget — from value and moderate-priced to deluxe accommodations. If you're not sure where to stay, About.com Contributing Writer, Samantha McNesby, has suggestions for choosing a Disney Resort for fall travel and names the best winter resorts at Disney World.

Key West

Quirky, zany, and over-the-top fun is the only way to describe Key West's 10-day Fantasy Fest — the equivalent of an adult-only Halloween party. The event was initially created to market Key West in late October, which at the time was one of the slowest of the year. Now October and the days just before Halloween are some of Key West's busiest. If you don't mind the crowds, you'll enjoy Key West's weather (it's some of the best in the nation); and, if you love to party... you'll love Fantasy Fest!

Considering Key West's weather in the winter, it's a no-brainer that it would be a top destination. It seems like everyone who is trying to escape snow comes to Key West, making it the area's high season; and, of course, with that comes higher prices for just about everything from transportation to accommodations and food to souvenir trinkets.

You can find affordable alternatives though. Camping is a year round activity in the Florida Keys and you can even rent an Airstream camping trailer and enjoy a retro-style alternative to Key West's hotels.

Mount Dora

Located north of Orlando in Central Florida, Mount Dora makes a perfect getaway in the fall and early winter when you’re shopping for those holiday gifts. Downtown Mount Dora offers an array of quaint and interesting shops that are perfect for picking up something a little different for each person on your holiday shopping list.

Just south of Mount Dora, Renninger’s Twin Markets is just one reason the area is known as one of the best places in Florida for antique shopping. Renninger's holds one of two bi-annual Antique Extravaganzas in mid-November. Over 1,400 antique and collectable dealers assemble both indoors and outdoors for a weekend of extraordinary finds.

In addition, consider packing up the family and travel a little farther south on weekends in September through mid-December and take a walk in the stalks at Scott’s Corn Maze Adventure. It’s a day of fun for the entire family; and, don't forget to take home some delicious fresh produce from their shop.

Since there is enough to keep you busy for an entire weekend, you'll need a place to stay. Look no further than Mount Dora's bed and breakfasts for a unique and unforgettable experience.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is one of my favorite getaways any time of year, but its pleasant autumn weather combined with its abundance of haunted ghost tours and bed and breakfast inns makes it a seasonal favorite as well. There are several ways to experience the dark side of the nation's oldest city — take a creepy walking tour where you become a paranormal investigator for the night; climb aboard a hearse for your ghostly experience; or, take a narrated tales and legends tour aboard a tram.

In mid-November, St. Augustine is transformed from ghoulish to grand as its annual Nights of Lights celebration lights up the city with more than two million tiny white lights. The celebration's origin can be traced to the Spanish tradition of displaying a lighted white candle during the Christmas season, but it could easily become your own family's holiday tradition — or perhaps something special to do after New Years, since the celebration continues through the end of January.

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