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, make sure you 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 providing a lullaby in the background, the scent of saltwater in the air, the cool breeze blowing…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 unique 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, air boat rides, or on horseback. A rodeo 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 provides 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.
Take your pick of where you want to have 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 own rendition of Macy’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 Santucary is home to many rescued big cats, and guests come back time after time to experience the beauty and stealth of these magnificent creatures. These cats are often more active during the winter months simply because of cooler weather. Be sure to visit during dinner time, where over 400 pounds of meat is served at 7:30 p.m.
St. Augustine is over 450 years old, making it our 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.
Nearly every Florida city hosts an annual holiday boat parade each winter. Key West, Boca Raton and Pensacola, just to name a few. Animated characters and blinking lights mixed with holiday decorations light up the water during the December parades.
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’s waves on the Atlantic or Gulf side of the state, boating is a fun and relaxing way to a spend a winter’s day.
There are great bike and walking trails throughout the state. On specific place stands out. In Winter Park, the Cady Way Trail is a great place to jog, bicycle or walk. With scenic trails surrounded in nature, this trail connects to other trails, ensuring plenty of available miles.
Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale is home to the the fastest indoor go cart location in the country. Spend some time on the half mile track, or check out of one of over 120 video games. A day for the young, and young at heart.
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.
If time spent at Miami’s Jungle Island didn’t provide enough interaction with exotic animals, maybe time at Key West Aquarium will do the trick. With giant sea turtles, exotic fish, sharks and many more native species to Key West, there is plenty to fill up a semi-cold, Florida winter day.