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Florida in July: Everything You Need to Know

July in Florida is peak Summer season and often one of the hottest months of the year, though this doesn’t stop tourists from crossing state lines to experience all that the Sunshine State has to offer. From Independence Day celebrations to watersports and recreational activities, Florida is a tourist hot spot this time of year.

Most visitors will be selecting a beach destination or going to a theme park for their vacation. Whether you choose Anna Maria Island or Panama City Beach, Florida’s quaint coastal towns are sure to please. The water and theme parks may also be busy, but a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth is always worth the wait.

With so much to do and enjoy, vacationers who don’t mind a bit of heat and humidity will love Florida in July.

This article is part of Roundtript’s series of expert Florida travel guides for every month of the year.


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Weather

Lighthouse Point in Fort Lauderdale. Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock

July weather in Florida is very hot and muggy and generally considered to be the hottest of the year. This is the official start of summer, and summer in Florida is always pretty warm, sunny and rainy.

July is in the middle of Florida’s wet season, so expect random showers and thunderstorms to occur at any point during your trip this month. Typically, rainfall in the Summer months in Florida will happen in the afternoons for about an hour or so and then taper off in the evening. But some days will have thunderstorms lasting all day through the night.

Even though the weather can be overcast and rainy, the sun still shine brightly and often in the month of July. The sun will be out most of the day this month, so come prepared with plenty of protection and sunblock because sunburn and heat rashes can happen quickly with even a little sun exposure in Florida. It’s extremely important to stay hydrated, too.

Florida is the only place in the United States that maintains a subtropical to tropical climate all year round. Based on where you’ll be traveling, temperatures are likely to vary and the warmest temps will be farther South. Most of the state will average about 90°F (32.2°C) in the month of July. Humidity levels are always fairly high, with July reaching over 75% humidity.

Affordability & Crowds

CityWalk at Universal Orlando. Kamira / Shutterstock

July crowds in Florida start to taper off. Many tourists like to travel to Florida at the beginning of the summer when the weather isn’t unbearable and the kids are out of school. With July being the hottest and most times wettest month of the year, most families aren’t crowding the beaches, but will still fill up the inland tourist spots and theme parks.

There are plenty of beautiful white, sandy beaches around the state, so most visitors will spread out, but the popular public beaches like Miami, Cocoa and Clearwater can still be highly populated in July. Most of the beaches should be fairly busy, but not completely full like they were in Spring Break.

Most travelers will experience moderate rates for Florida’s best hotels in July. Decent accommodations in Orlando will range from $200 – $400 per night, hotels in Tampa will range from $200 – $300 per night, and the more populous city of Miami will see rates from $200 – $400 per night.

Best Things to Do in Florida in July

Visit Panama City Beach

Boardwalk at St. Andrews State Park. Rob Hainer / Shutterstock

Panama City Beach also experiences a small lull at this point in the Summer when the heat becomes unbearable for non-locals and more sensitive guests. This allows the beaches and waters to be a bit clearer for your vacation and for hotel and rental rates to come down a bit. With over 27 miles of coastline to enjoy, there’s no shortage of fun for tourists of all types.

In addition to the sandy beach activities and water recreation, Panama City Beach has several state parks that visitors can explore. Places like Camp Helen State Park and Conservation Park are great for hiking, while St. Andrew State Park is good for water sports like snorkeling, diving, kayaking and fishing. The city also has several attractions for both adults and children like the Shipwreck Island Waterpark and Coconut Creek Family Park.

Off the beach, check out the many different local shops, restaurants and bars that PCB has to offer. They proudly proclaim their title of “Seafood Capital of the South”, proving that the majority of the seafood restaurants are worth visiting. After dinner, the nightlife continues with hot spots like Club la Vela, which is the biggest nightclub in the United States. Pier Park is also a great destination for restaurants and shopping while in town.

Visit Anna Maria Island

Javier Cruz Acosta / Shutterstock

Anna Maria Island is a charming beach town that Florida locals have called their summer home for decades. Summertime is one of the best times to be in Anna Maria since a lot of the winter visitors are gone, leaving the beaches and waters less crowded than they are at peak season. July is a special time to be here, when all of the local businesses on the island put together an Independence Day parade and set off fireworks at night.

Some of the best things to do in Anna Maria involve leisurely yet adventurous activities. For instance, there are plenty of rental locations on the island for recreational sports like jet skiing, paddleboarding and sailing for on-the-water fun, but there are also bike, golf cart, and beach buggy rentals for getting around on land.

For the most part, the island is filled with local restaurants and shops, favoring a hyper-local atmosphere for residents and tourists to enjoy. Our favorite eateries to frequent when visiting AMI include the Waterfront Restaurant, French Table, Poppo’s Taqueria, Duffy’s and our #1 Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus. Their overall laidback approach to vacationing provides the ultimate relaxation experience for anyone looking for a casual beach trip.

Go Fishing

A redfish caught in Tampa Bay. Laszlo Tengerdy / Shutterstock

Fishing is almost always good in Florida and summertime is one of the best times to be on the water. If you want to fish fresh water in July, there’s nothing stopping you from taking your own boat out on one of Florida’s many public lakes and rivers. Bass fishing is extremely popular here, but fishermen have also been known to catch lots of Bluegill, Redear Sunfish and Catfish in July.

On the ocean, there are loads of different charters in all of the beach towns booking up for the Summer. Tarpon is huge this time of year, especially in places like Anna Maria Island, where the fish gather under the bridges and through currents ripping out of the intercoastal. It’s not uncommon for fishermen to land sharks any time of year, with a better chance in the Summer months.

Near shore, you’re likely to land Spanish and King Mackerel, Grouper, Snapper and Trigger Fish. Offshore charters will turn up the fun, hunting for big game like Dolphin, Blue Marlin, Wahoo, Tuna and Swordfish. If you like to fish the flats on a more casual trip or while kayaking, the catch could include the coveted Redfish and Snook this time of year.

Visit Polk County

Downtown Lakeland in Polk County.

Polk County is the largest land county right in the center of Florida. For a long time it’s been highly underrated, but recently it’s been listed as one of the top places to move in the United States due to it’s historic charm and family-friendly atmosphere in a great location. While we do suggest planning a day trip to Tampa or nearby Walt Disney World, there’s plenty to occupy you and the family for over a week in Polk County.

Polk County’s largest city, Lakeland, is known for it’s beautiful lakes and the swans that inhabit them. It’s also famous for being the Publix headquarters and home to the annual Sun’n’Fun air show. Downtown Lakeland and the historic Dixieland area are the two best areas to hang out in, boasting the city’s best restaurants, museums and hot spots. Circle B Bar Reserve is a must-see with recreational and explorational activities on over 1,000 acres of preserved land.

Winter Haven is also a great place to visit, being just as quiet and charming as Lakeland this time of year, but in a smaller city. Winter Haven has a great, growing downtown area with local breweries and boutiques, but it’s biggest claim to fame is Legoland Florida. If you plan a week in Winter Haven, don’t miss out on seeing Lake Wales’ Bok Tower just a short drive south. Bok Tower Gardens is a lovely stretch of land filled with scenic pathways and a gorgeous carillon tower that sings every hour.

Go Boating

Summertime in certain areas that are more popular with locals, like Long Boat Key, Pass-a-Grille, Lover’s Key, Vilano Beach, Gasparilla and Boca Grande, is a great time to go boating if you’re a pro. Summer is usually when the locals will be on the water, making it a bit safer time to go than when the Spring Break crowds are in town.

If you’ve got your own boat, there are lots of places to dock and launch all along the coastline. If you prefer to rent, there are many outfitters and rental shops that have everything from jet skis to pontoon boats, kayaks, paddleboards and more. If you’d prefer to ride and let the experts do the driving, there are lots of party boats, charter captains and tour boats that take groups out on the water for a fun time.

Top Attractions in Florida in July

Walt Disney World

Slinky Dog Dash at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

Walt Disney World is the vacation capital of the world, therefore it’s Florida’s biggest attraction and remains busy most of the year. Walt Disney World is comprised of four different theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) and two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). Disney is located outside of Orlando in Lake Buena Vista.

In the month of July, the weather will be hot and humid with a unpredictable rain showers that occur almost daily. The parks and resorts are heavily crowded this month. Resort rates will be high, along with ticket pricing and even food pricing (which fluctuates with tourist volumes).

This month, Independence Day is celebrated with a special fireworks show that takes place nightly in Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Special tributes to the United States armed forces and veterans take place and special merchandise is also available. July is also a great month to hit the water parks, though they’ll be equally as crowded as the regular theme parks.

Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando. Box Lab / Shutterstock

Universal Orlando is Disney’s biggest competitor, featuring two different theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) along with one water park (Volcano Bay). It’s located on the outskirts of Orlando and has it’s own resort accommodations for guests to enjoy. The parks are known for movie-themed roller coasters, rides and attractions for all ages.

July weather will be hot and wet with daily rain showers highly likely. This is a great month to hit up Volcano Bay, which will be just as crowded as the other parks in July, but will offer a nice reprieve from the hot Florida sun.

This is the only month when Universal Orlando sets off fireworks. They celebrate Independence Day with several nights of fun activities and fireworks to commemorate the birth of the United States of America.

SeaWorld Orlando

The Manta rollercoaster at SeaWorld Orlando. VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock

SeaWorld is most popular for it’s aquatic animals, shows and coasters. It’s very close to Universal Orlando and makes a great full day of entertainment. SeaWorld has recently added big roller coasters like Manta and Mako to up their thrill game for older audiences. There is plenty for people of all ages to enjoy inside this ocean-themed park.

In July, the weather is hot with a high chance of rain showers. The park will be pretty crowded in July and there will be no special events held this month, but the park hours should be longer giving vacationers even more time to play.

Legoland

Rob Hainer / Shutterstock

Legolandis one of Florida’s newest theme parks located in Winter Haven, right in the middle of Central Florida. The park is entirely themed after these popular little toy blocks which have inspired movies, roller coasters and water rides. There’s even a Lego resort where you can stay on vacation.

July is a nice time to visit Legoland with the hot weather and fun summer activities, but the park is likely to be crowded, especially on the weekends. July is also a great time to splash in the water park area and little kids will love the toy-themed attractions all over the park. On the 3rd and 4th days of the month, Legoland also has a special Fourth of July fireworks show called Red, White & BOOM!

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is the biggest theme park in the Tampa Bay area, located in north Tampa. It’s a great option for a full day to add into your weeklong vacation in Tampa, St. Petersburg or Clearwater, about 15 miles from the Tampa International Airport.

Busch Gardens is known for it’s big coasters, like Cheetah Hunt and Kumba, along with it’s African themed animal habitats where guests can see wildlife in designated areas. July is a busy month for the park and Busch Gardens often allows veterans and their families in free on Independence Day, concluded with patriotic entertainment and a huge fireworks display.

Aquatica & Discovery Cove

July is a perfect month to visit the water parks. It will typically have busy crowds and warmer water temperatures, but this makes it more exciting than the cold Winter months.

Aquatica is an Orlando-based water park that’s great for kids and families. There are many different water features, slides and pools for all ages to enjoy, along with more relaxing areas with cabanas and umbrellas for those not seeking to get wet. They’ve even got manmade beaches and a wave pool. The most popular attraction is the Dolphin Plunge: a fast water slide with a clear tube that sends you through the dolphin exhibit.

Discovery Cove is near Aquatica and is best known for it’s dolphin encounter. The entire resort has a more relaxing atmosphere with a focus on getting you up close and personal with Florida’s native sea creatures. Discovery Cove offers multiple diving, snorkeling and swimming tours for each comfort level. It’s even got a Certified Autism Center and beaches for little ones to play.

Best Beaches in Florida in July

Florida has a multitude of great beaches to visit all year. Below we’ve listed the best beaches in each of Florida’s coasts and what the experience will be like in the month of July. Mornings and evenings will be significantly more pleasant than midday. On average, the Atlantic side has cooler waters than the Gulf side.

First Coast: Best All Around

St. Augustine is without a doubt one of Florida’s best beach towns. Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The First Coast is Florida’s oldest coast located on the Atlantic side. It features the historical cities and beaches of St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Amelia Island. The water temperatures in the month of July will be the some of the coolest in the state at 82.2°F (28.2°C). Visitors to this area will love the historical aspects of the region, along with the beautifully quiet shores.

St. Augustine is a great spot to visit year round. It’s the United States’ oldest city and has lots of great historic tours and delicious restaurants to indulge in. Nearby Flagler Beach offers a more secluded feeling with pristine, less crowded beaches and Jacksonville Beach is a nice getaway for all types of travelers.

Treasure Coast: Great for Couples

Aerial shot of Boca Raton. andrespilot / Shutterstock

The Treasure Coast is located just above Miami and Fort Lauderdale beaches. While it’s not nearly as busy as South Beach, this area makes a beautiful vacation on Florida’s Atlantic side. It has some of the warmer waters in the state at 84.4°F (29.1°C). and the feeling here is a bit more ritzy and upscale than other coastal Florida cities.

Our top beach recommendations in this area are West Palm, Delray, Pompano, Palm Beach, and Boca Raton. All feature slightly different styles, with West Palm and Palm Beach being the most popular. We suggest trying Pompano Beach, which has multiple diving sights to explore coral reefs and shipwrecks. Boca Raton is also great for recreational activities like golf and shopping and Delray has a booming arts district for culture seekers.

Cultural Coast: Great for Families

Aerial shot of Anna Maria Island’s Coquina Beach. bonandbon / Shutterstock

The Cultural Coast is our personal favorite place to be in the Summer, with Anna Maria Island being our traditional family destination for decades. In July, the water and weather will be warm and sunny with ocean temps at an average 85.3°F (29.6°C). The overall feeling in this area is a bit more beach town than big city, though you can get more of the city vibes in nearby Sarasota.

Our best suggestions for visiting the Cultural Coast are Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Sanibel Island, Captiva and Siesta Key. Anna Maria Island is a charming beach town with a very relaxed atmosphere that encourages walking and biking around the island. Longboat Key to the south of it has luxurious accommodations and wider beaches. And the islands surrounding Sarasota have many different amenities and styles to suit different travelers.

Sun Coast

A beach on Honeymoon Island. Florida Chuck / Shutterstock

The Sun Coast is a popular place with tourists across the country, featuring Tampa Bay’s best beaches. It’s on the Gulf side of the state, with warm weather and water temps at 85.3°F (29.6°C) in July. Our best recommendations in this area include Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach and the islands off Dunedin. This area is best for those looking to vacation in Tampa or St. Pete with access to the beach. It’s also a great area to fly right into.

Most guests will be heading to St. Pete Beach and Clearwater because of the heavy tourist marketing in those areas, but Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park are better, more secluded islands that are highly recommended by locals. These well-preserved state parks have designated dog-friendly areas, picnic tables and walking paths to take in the natural island habitats, with a ferryboat shuttling guests from the mainland in Dunedin.

Emerald Coast

South Walton beach. Terry Kelly / Shutterstock

The Emerald Coast makes up Florida’s panhandle from Pensacola to Tallahassee. This coast will maintain some of the more mild temperatures over the Summer and July waters will average 85.3°F (29.6°C). Our top beach recommendations in this area are Pensacola, Destin and Panama City. South Walton is also a great place for a quieter atmosphere.

Tourists love the sugar-white sands and turquoise water of the Emerald Coast, as well as the homey beach town atmosphere and old school Southern charm you won’t find in regions farther South in Florida.

The Florida Keys

The Keys are an extremely popular destination all year round, but July will be hot and rainy. Fishing, diving and boating are still going strong this month, but there won’t be quite as many visitors due to the encroaching hurricane season. The water averages 85.3°F (29.6°C) and our favorite spots include beaches on Key West, Key Largo and Marathon, as well as Bahia Honda State Park and the Dry Tortugas National Park.

The Keys have a lot of interesting scenery and things to do that you won’t find anywhere else in the U.S. There are many historical sites, great recreational fishing, diving and boating as well as delicious dives and upscale restaurants to try.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is located in the southwest side of Florida, mainly encompassing the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area on the Atlantic side. Miami has the highest temperatures in Florida all year round and it’s one of the liveliest beach areas to be in. The beaches here tend to be the most crowded in the state with water temps at 85.3°F (29.6°C) in July.

Our top recommendations for Gold Coast beaches in July include Miami Beach, South Beach and Fort Lauderdale. While July is extremely hot in Miami, the city remains a popular destination all year, so crowds won’t differ too much from the cooler months.

Paradise Coast

The Paradise Coast is opposite of the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. It has a more relaxed and natural upscale vibe than the busy city feeling of Miami. The area tends to be an appealing setting for an older crowd, or for families who don’t require the nightlife and big city attractions that are typical for South Florida.

The waters are warm and clear, averaging 85.5°F (29.7°C) and the top beaches on this coast are Marco Island, Naples, and Fort Myers. Marco Island is a fun beach trip for families and active seniors. The Naples and Fort Myers area are most appealing to retirees, so there will be a slow-paced, laidback feeling here.

Space Coast

The Space Coast is located slightly north of Orlando on the Atlantic side of the state. It gets its name from Cape Canaveral, home of Kennedy Space Center and the rocket and spaceship launches from this area.

July will have water temperatures averaging 82.8°F (28.2°C). The best beaches on the Space Coast are Daytona Beach, Melbourne and Cocoa Beach. But the overall atmosphere at these locations is more suitable for beach daytrips. If you’re looking for a nice beach vacation that’s less touristy, check out New Smyrna Beach or Merritt Island, which are better for a weeklong stay.

July Events in Florida

Independence Day

4th of July fireworks in Miami. Francisco Blanco / Shutterstock

Every municipality across the United States of America is celebrating this annual Independence Day with fireworks and special events. No matter where you visit in Florida within the first week of July, your destination is bound to have either discount specials at restaurants and bars, live entertainment, or nighttime activities to celebrate the holiday.

Fireworks at the Fountain

The annual Fireworks at the Fountain show on Orlando’s Lake Eola. Javier Cruz Acosta / Shutterstock

Orlando’s Lake Eola Park comes alive on Independence Day to celebrate with a bang! This annual event hosted by the city’s mayor invites families and kids of all ages to join in the festivities and watch the fireworks shoot off at the end of the night. Food and drink vendors, as well as bounce houses and other fun activities for kids surround the area.

Star Spangled Spectacular

Celebration, FL – a town established and owned by the Walt Disney Company – hosts an annual Star Spangled Spectacular fireworks show for its residents. Visitors from all over are welcome to the Town Center, where the patriotic festivities and nighttime displays take place on the Fourth of July.

America’s Birthday Bash

Miami does Independence Day right with one of the biggest parties in the state. Hosted at Bayfront Park, families and friends are in for a wild night of live entertainment, family fun and the “best fireworks in Miami”. The event is free with the exception of food and drinks and the park is packed with celebratory guests.

Celebrate America

This event is one of Tallahassee’s best of the year. The state capitol hosts Fourth of July in style with two entertainment stages, a naturalization ceremony and fireworks at the Tom Brown Park downtown. Once the sun sets, attendees will marvel at the city’s gorgeous bursting lights in the sky.

Key Lime Festival

Key Limes are to Florida what peaches are to Georgia and cheese is to Wisconsin. Key West is the Key Lime capital and they celebrate with an annual festival for visitors to enjoy. Touted as “America’s favorite citrus celebration”, the island comes to life with sip & strolls, a scavenger hunt, VIP exclusives and other fun activities.

Conclusion

No matter the experience you choose, planning your beach trip or experiencing a theme park, Florida in July will be hot but fun. If you plan to bring necessary rain gear and sun protection, it’ll make the trip that much better.

While July in Florida isn’t for everyone, families with kids will have the best time playing in the sand, meeting Mickey Mouse or catching their first fish on the water. Let us know if you’re going to Florida in July and tell all about your experience in the comments!

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