There is a long list of reasons to love the state of Florida. One of its many perks includes very mild winters, when the Sunshine State is still shining. The warm winters are the reason snowbirds flock down every November, and the reason why many seasonal activities nationwide are year-round in Florida. Here are 15 great winter activities for Floridians.
Typically a summer event, the winter temps in Florida are fair enough for some skydiving. If indoor skydiving is more your speed, the friendly folks at iFly have you covered. First time visitors can experience a skydiving tutorial, get suited up and enter the “fly tank.” Strong air currents will have you flying in seconds, and will provide the weightless feeling experienced during actual sky dives. This is the perfect solution for those who either are afraid of heights, or for those who want to see what skydiving is like before participating.
Take the kids camping at some fun places in Central Florida. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort offers a relaxing sleep after a full day at the Disney parks. Before climbing into those sleeping bags, roast some marshmallows with your favorite Disney character. For something a bit more “Floridian,” try camping on the beach. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? The roar of the waves provides a lullaby in the background, the scent of saltwater in the air, and the cool breeze blowing… the beach camping is relaxing and inviting. Locations include North Beach Camp Resort in St. Augustine, Turtle Beach Campground in Sarasota, and Magnolia Beach Campground in Navarre.
Over at Westgate River Ranch, experience a terrific stay under the stars in one of the luxe Teepee or Glamping (glamor camping) units. All the comforts of home in the great outdoors. With both units supplied with electricity, kids (and parents) can be sure to keep their phones charging while they are out and about, exploring the natural beauty of Florida during swamp tours, airboat rides, or on horseback. A rodeo on Saturday night will entertain even the youngest family member. Stay and play at Westgate, where mini-golf, skeet shooting, rock wall climbing, a petting zoo, and plenty of open space views are full of fun and relaxation.
Probably the most curious creature to examine is the manatee. Winter is a great time to view these magnificent mammals, and there are several locations where they can be found. While these gentle giants are virtually harmless, there are guidelines that are expected to be followed. Cities like Fort Myers, Orange City and Three Sisters Springs at the Crystal River are a few places where these mammals can be viewed in the wild. Snorkel, kayak or view them from the various boardwalks and shorelines. It is an activity you will want to participate in year after year.
Pick where you want your annual Christmas celebration: Disney World? Universal Studios? SeaWorld? Why not all three? With such diverse celebrations, you and your family might want to stay for a few days or even a week—universal hosts their rendition of Macy&rsquo's Parade. Disney has a Christmas Parade twice an evening, and SeaWorld promises a splash of a good time with their holiday cheer.
Take a tour of a citrus grove, enjoy fresh Florida oranges and take home a souvenir or two. These orchards thrive from fall to spring, and your tour provides a great way to test the freshest of the fresh oranges.
In Jacksonville, the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many rescued big cats, and guests come back time after time to observe the grandeur and stealth of these magnificent creatures. These cats are often more active during winter simply because of cooler weather. Be sure to visit during dinner time, where over 400 pounds of meat is served.
St. Augustine is over 450 years old, making it the nation’s oldest city. With this title comes great responsibility to provide activities for people of all ages. And St. Augustine meets that task each year. Spend some time in this city and look for the fountain of youth. Spend a day at Alligator Farm, where feeding time will leave many breathless. Be sure to participate in the city's nights of lights, a way to truly get into the holiday spirit.
Downtown Orlando is home to Lake Eola Park, a 40+ acre recreational location, perfect for picnicking while listening to a free concert at the park’s amphitheater. With activities such as feeding the swans, paddle boating in swan-shaped boats and walking the trail around the water, there is plenty of winter activities within the park.
Florida is all about the sunshine, even in winter. The cooler temps provide a great time to get out on the water for a boating session. Whether you are exploring the waterways of Central Florida or the ocean and waves on the Atlantic or Gulf side of the state, boating is a refreshing and relaxing way to spend a winter's day.
There are great bike and walking trails throughout the state. One specific place stands out. Winter Park's Cady Way Trail is a great place to jog, bicycle, or walk. With scenic trails surrounded by nature, this trail connects to other trails, ensuring plenty of available miles.
In Miami, there is a place where animal lovers and those who appreciate nature come back every year. Jungle Island encompasses a plethora of rare and exotic birds, monkeys, other wildlife and plenty of flora. Spend some time at this Miami island, where winter is for the birds.