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Sunsational Off-Seasons

Off-season travel has its rewards!

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Want to avoid large crowds, packed attractions and expensive lodging? Make plans to visit Florida during one of the Sunshine State's off-seasons.

There are two major tourist seasons in Florida. The first runs from mid-December through Easter with the influx of the winter sun-seeking "snow birds" and spring break participants. The second begins in June as families with school-age children begin arriving for summer vacations, and continues through mid-August when the kids head back to school.

Winter Season

It is no surprise that the winter months are Florida's peak tourist season. This "winter season" offers, but doesn't guarantee, blue skies, warm sunshine, and low humidity — quite chilly (even freezing) conditions are possible, but infrequent. Thanksgiving week stands alone as one of the busiest, and Christmas week is the busiest of the year, pushing tourist facilities and restaurants to their limits. As our northern neighbors begin to head home and spring breakers head back to school, traffic eases and so do the crowds in restaurants and attractions. The weather often remains quite pleasant through the middle of May, making this a perfect time to take advantage of substantial discounts and great weather.

Summer Season

The "summer season" – from June through mid-August – offers less comfort from the weather, but that doesn't seem to hold back the crowds. Stifling near-tropical heat and humidity, coupled with terrific, although brief, afternoon thunderstorms does dictate early day sightseeing. Beginning in September, however, the intensity of the sun and humidity decreases enough to enjoy sightseeing anytime during the day. Be warned that Florida's hurricane season lasts from June to November. Although there's not much of a chance that one of the huge tropical storms will hit during your visit, if it does, there is plenty of warning and evacuation routes are well marked throughout the coastal areas of the state.

Exceptions

Are there exceptions to the rules of Florida's tourist seasons? Always. Much depends on the location and popularity of a specific destination. One that comes to mind is the area near Kennedy Space Center and Port Canaveral on Florida's East Coast. Between the frequency of the Space Shuttle launches and a booming cruise line industry, the Space Coast – Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, and Titusville – has few off-season weeks available. If there are no special events taking place, you may find some weekend specials through the summer months.

The Florida Keys is another area that is an exception. The summer months are off-season, and visitors will discover that rooms are cheaper and Key West is less crowded in the summer. Keep in mind, however, that the Keys are a popular weekend destination for many Florida residents seeking relief from the intense heat and humidity, so you may want to avoid the weekend traffic crushes and limit your visits to week days.

Traveling in Florida during its "off-seasons" can be rewarding – fewer people and lower prices. It all depends on taking "off" at the right time.

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