Thinking about traveling to Florida in May and need some help? The Roundtript team is made up of born-and-raised Florida locals, so we’ve got you covered!
May in Florida is the unofficial start of Summer, since Summer weather tends to last six months of the year here. Though the crowds haven’t started to pour in yet, the weather is turning warmer, making the beaches and oceans much more pleasant during your vacation.
From weather and crowd levels to best beaches and things to do, this guide will cover everything you need to know about May in the Sunshine State.
This article is part of Roundtript’s series of expert Florida travel guides for every month of the year.
Spring in Florida
Summer in Florida
Fall in Florida
Winter in Florida
For a summary of each Florida month & season all in one place, check out our big guide to the Best Times of the Year to Visit Florida.
Florida Weather in May
May weather in Florida is definitely warmer than the start of the year with temperatures rising throughout the month. May tends to have the nicest weather out of the Spring months, with significantly less fog and more sunshine throughout the day.
May is the start of the wet season in Florida, so expect random rainfall during your trip. Rain in Florida is always unpredictable, so there could be a thunderstorm, rain shower or light sprinkling at any point in the day.
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, with the warmest temps showing up in the South. Most of Florida will average 65°F (18.3°C) to 85°F (30°C) in the month of May. Humidity levels are always fairly high, with May seeing approximately 75% humidity.
Florida Affordability & Crowds in May
May crowds in Florida are moderate. It’s usually the point in time when the snowbirds will begin to head back North with the increasing rise in temperature this month. It’s an excellent time to take advantage of lower hotel rates, while experiencing the oceans, beaches and inland areas of the state before the heat becomes unbearable in the summer months.
With the winter visitors leaving the state, there doesn’t seem to be one particular city or area where the tourist crowds will be overwhelming. However, the big cities like Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami will always have the most people in them at any point throughout the year. The beaches should be fairly busy, but not full like they were in Spring Break.
Most travelers will experience moderate rates for Florida’s best hotels in May. The best accommodations in Orlando will range from $250 – $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 – $500 per night.
Top Florida Attractions in May
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is the vacation capital of the world, therefore it’s Florida’s biggest attraction. 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 May, the weather will be warm with unpredictable rain showers. The parks and resorts are moderately crowded this month as schools begin to close for the summer. It’s probably best to plan a vacation early in the month before school lets out.
Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is finishing up this month, with special events and merchandise featured inside the park. Resort rates will be moderate, along with ticket pricing and even food pricing (which fluctuates with tourist volumes).
Universal Orlando is Disney’s biggest rival, 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.
May weather will be warm with a chance of rain showers throughout the day. There are no special events taking place this month, which will make the parks feel a little nicer with a leisurely pace and moderate wait times.
Sea World Orlando
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 May, the weather is warm with a chance of rain showers. The park will be moderately crowded in May and there will be no special events held this month.
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. There are no special events in May and the park will be moderately crowded.
Legoland is one of Florida’s newest theme parks located in Winter Haven, right in the middle of Central Florida. As you can imagine, Legoland 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.
May is a great time to visit Legoland with the warm weather and fewer visitors than in the full swing of summer. Lego Friends Weekends are going on this month, featuring special characters, merchandise and music.
Gatorland is a lesser known amusement park, but a popular attraction nonetheless. Visitors love to learn more about Florida’s swamp creatures and natural habitat in this fun experience. Gatorland is south of Orlando and offers ziplining fun, off-road adventures and petting areas. May will be a moderate month for the park.
Aquatica & Discovery Cove
May is a great month to begin visiting the water parks. It will typically have lower crowds and warmer water temperatures.
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 Florida Beaches in May
Florida has many 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 May. This is one of the best months for warm weather and warm oceans.
The Florida Keys: Best All Around
The Keys are an extremely popular destination all year round. May is a great time for fishing and boating after the Winter winds have died down. The water averages 80.8°F (27.1°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 won’t feel too overcrowded this time of year and there’s a plethora of different activities for vacationers of all types. There are many historical landmarks and tours to take. Sportsman will love the fishing, diving and boating this time of year. Foodies will always find a great dive or popular restaurant to try. It’s also a great time to go before Hurricane Season kicks up.
Treasure Coast: Warm and Welcoming
The Treasure Coast is located just above Miami’s beaches and is not quite as popular as it’s Southern sister, making the beaches a bit less busy. But it does have some of the warmer waters in the state at 80.2°F (26.8°C). 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. For instance, Delray Beach has a booming arts district within its beautiful beach town. Pompano Beach is perfect for diving coral reefs and shipwrecks and Boca Raton is nice for golfing and shopping.
Gold Coast: Bustling Beaches
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 are very popular with tourists, so expect them to be more crowded than the others on this list, with water temps at 80.8°F (27.1°C).
Our top recommendations for Gold Coast beaches in May include Miami Beach, South Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Expect the atmosphere to be energetic, with busy beaches, decent lodging and a bustling downtown area with a culturally diverse crowd. As a matter of fact, most of the people in Miami will be speaking Spanish, as well as English.
The Paradise Coast is opposite of the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. It is upscale, but embraces a little more of the natural Florida landscape than Miami does. The area tends to be appealing to snowbirds. But, as mentioned before, most of them will be gone at this point in the year.
The waters are cool and clear, averaging 79.3°F (26.3°C). The top beaches on this coast are Marco Island, Naples, and Fort Myers. Marco Island is great for fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding, making it 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.
We are most partial to the Cultural Coast as it’s been the favorite summer destination for our families since before we were born. In May, the water and weather will be slightly cooler with ocean temps at an average 78.1°F (25.6°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, 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.
The Sun Coast is on the Gulf side of the state, with mild weather and water temps at 78.1°F (25.6°C) in May. The Sun Coast boasts Tampa Bay’s best beaches, including 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 flocking to St. Pete Beach and Clearwater, but Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park are other more secluded islands that are highly recommended in this area. These well-preserved state parks have designated dog-friendly areas, picnic tables and walking paths to take in the natural island habitats.
The Emerald Coast is the entire panhandle of Florida, from Pensacola to Tallahassee. This coast will be one of the last to heat up after Winter in Florida, but by May the water temperatures will average 76.5°F (24.7°C). Our top beach recommendations in this area are Pensacola, Destin and Panama City. These areas are ideal for families, couples and friend groups, with lots to accommodate all types of vacationers. It’s also got that sweet Southern charm you won’t find in areas farther South in Florida.
Tourists love the sugar-white sands and turquoise water of the Emerald Coast, as well as the homey beach town atmosphere. If a relaxing Florida beach day is what you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it in the panhandle.
The First Coast is Florida’s coldest coast on the Atlantic side, featuring the historical cities and beaches of St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Amelia Island. The water temperatures in the month of May will be the coldest in the state at 74.1°F (23.4°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. As the United States’ oldest city, it’s got 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 the whole family.
The Space Coast is located slightly north of Orlando on the Atlantic side of the state. Known as the home of Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, this area has been a popular destination with tourists for decades.
May will have water temperatures averaging 75.7°F (24.3°C). The best beaches on the Space Coast are Daytona Beach, Melbourne and Cocoa Beach. But the overall atmosphere here 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.
Best Things to Do in Florida in May
Visit Key West
The Keys are warm and busy in May, with many people visiting for the water sports and fishing, as well as the historical aspects of the area. Key West in particular is one of the most popular tourist destinations with many things to do for all sorts of travelers. We suggest flying in directly to Key West, but driving the Florida Keys Overseas Highway is extremely scenic.
Two of the best water activities this time of year are fishing and diving. The Keys are home to the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, with many different dive spots to visit. Spearfishing is also highly recommended this time of year, along with inshore fishing for Snapper and Yellowtail and offshore for Blue Marlin and Dolphin.
You can’t plan a trip to Key West without cementing a time to see the Dry Tortugas, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, and the Southernmost Point. It’s also suggested that you take a walk through Duval Street for the great shopping and dining, as well as Mallory Square for dinner and the gorgeous sunset.
Sarasota is a gorgeous, partially coastal city that has many different things to occupy visitors on a vacation. From the white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast to golfing and shopping or nightlife fun, Sarasota is a lively city with plenty of activity for the whole family.
If you’re looking for fun in the sun while staying in Sarasota, check out the nearby Lido Beach or Longboat Key. Both offer pristine, private beaches with nice accommodations, or public areas for day-trippers. We also enjoy the St. Armand’s Circle off of Longboat Key for excellent shopping for both local and name brand finds, as well as delicious seafood dining.
Some of Sarasota’s top attractions include the Mote Marine Laboratory, which is perfect for young children, and the historical Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Tours are a great way to see the city via bike or bus, but you can also go it alone by visiting the Ringling Museum or the Ca d’Zan Home of the Ringlings. Don’t forget to swing by the famous Unconditional Surrender Statue, reimagining the famous World War II photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse after coming home.
Tube Down the Itchetucknee
Itchetucknee Springs is a State Park with a natural lazy river in Florida that residents love for tubing. The spring-fed river keeps water cool and clear all year round, but May is probably one of the warmer months where the temperatures are a bit more bareable. Those in search of a quiet getaway on the inland waters of Florida are in for a real treat.
The Itchetucknee has an outfitter where daily rentals are available for tubes, kayaks, paddleboards and canoes. There are no motorized boats allowed on the river, making this serene experience that much better. The river flows through 3.5 miles of forested areas with Florida’s natural wildlife and river creatures making an appearance throughout the day.
There’s also one designated area that’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling and several nature trails for hikers to explore. The State Park is also equipped with a General Store for souvenir shopping and learning, along with some tasty dishes for your breakfast or lunch meal times. The nearby town of Fort White is where you’ll want to stay, which features quaint attractions and cheap lodging for your vacation.
Camp at Big Cypress National Preserve
If you’re looking for an extremely natural environment that remains completely untouched for your camping or hunting trip to Florida, look no further than Big Cypress National Preserve. It’s located in the Western Everglades and has a huge variety of outdoor activities available, from swamp buggy tours to kayaking excursions and scenic driving trails.
There are a total of eight different campgrounds to choose from and should be reserved prior to your trip. Most will offer the same experience inside this swampland, with a unique nighttime opportunity to see a gorgeous starry sky. Big Cypress has been designated as an International Dark Sky Place, making it one of the most ideal places in Florida to see an unadulterated night sky.
See Bahia Honda State Park
This popular Florida State Park was established in the early 1900’s as a marine sanctuary for visitors and residents to enjoy. Today’s tourists can have fun exploring the beaches and wading in the shallows of this gorgeous tropical vista. The preserved beauty of Bahia Honda has been enjoyed my many over the last century, with lots of things to occupy guests.
Bahia Honda State Park is a popular beach and swimming destination in the Florida Keys, located on Big Pine Key. The area is equipped with several rental centers for kayaking, snorkeling and diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Keys. For those seeking a little more adventure, there are boat trips and snorkeling excursions available, as well. There’s also a Sand and Sea Nature Center with information on the local wildlife and foliage of the island.
On land and out of the water, the island is great for hiking, walking and running the trails. Biking is also allowed, and there campground and picnic pavilion for those staying a few days. To take the trip up a notch, Bahia Honda also has cabins to rent which can accommodate six people, have wheelchair access and central heating. The state park makes a beautiful natural getaway for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation.
See Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore is located in Florida’s panhandle on the Emerald Coast. It has gorgeously preserved historic buildings and forts on scenic beach real estate. It houses some of the most pristine beaches in Florida with Perdido Key and Santa Rosa. The area offers plenty of recreational activities and things to do for all types of vacationers, including hunting, camping and boating.
The top places for seeing some of Florida’s historical sites on the beach are Fort Barrancas (a Civil War era Spanish water battery) and Fort Pickens (Pensacola’s 1816 waterfront defense). Both are architectural marvels that have withstood the test of time. Rangers lead groups of visitors through these forts, as well as other outdoor areas on the island.
One of the best outdoor spots is the Naval Live Oaks Area, whose trees served as the US Navy’s most ideal wood for building warships. The Andrew Jackson Trail in this portion of the seashore is Florida’s first major federal highway, connecting Pensacola and St. Augustine in the early 1800’s.
May Events in Florida
Suwannee River Jam
The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park and Campground comes alive with tourists from across the nation traveling to enjoy concerts and camping wrapped into one weekend. America’s famed country music artists make an appearance at this four-day event. Attendees not only listen to some great music, but also participate in parades, barbecues, campfires, canoe races and more.
Oceanfront Bandshell Concert Series
Daytona hosts this annual concert series for residents and tourists to enjoy in the month of May. It occurs each weekend of the month with a big celebration on Memorial Day and again on July 4th. The amphitheater is situated on the Atlantic Ocean and seats up to 5,000 guests. The concerts are free and will feature local artists, as well as top names from around the nation.
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo events will be taking place all over the state of Florida, mostly celebrated with restaurant dining discounts and specials. Some of the best festivities take place in South Florida, where there’s a bigger party atmosphere and large Hispanic population.
Miami has several big celebrations to suit your party style, including Cinco de Mayo Brickell’s casual day-to-night street party, Cinco de Wynwood block party featuring the biggest pinata in Florida, CityPlace celebration boasting the biggest party in the city and Las Olas’ Cinco de Mayo block party in Fort Lauderdale.
Orlando International Fringe Festival
This huge event is touted as the longest-running Fringe Festival in the United States. Over the course of two weeks fringe artists from around the country will perform in dance, music, theater and other art forms. There are many different events that audiences can attend to experience the “most unique cultural event in Florida”.
Megacon dates and times will vary from year to year, but it’s typically held in Orlando in the Spring for enthusiastic fans from all over the state of Florida. It hosts a series of big events over one full week, allowing guests the opportunity to dress in costume, listen to actor interviews, meet comic book creators and even pose for photo ops with Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Jacksonville Jazz Fest
Downtown Jacksonville is booming this month with jazzy, bluesy tunes. Classic, smooth and modern jazz artists are represented in this four day event that appeals to music-lovers of all ages. In addition to the sound stage, there’s food and drink vendors, shopping and other entertainment to take part in.
Whether you visit Orlando or Sarasota, or go out on a limb swimming the Itchetucknee or diving Bahia Honda State Park, adventure is abundant in Florida throughout May. Visitors can enjoy the warmer weather with fewer tourists this month and take advantage of moderate travel rates before the prices go up in June.
May is most ideal for families seeking to get an early start on Summer vacation or anyone looking for Florida’s more ideal warmth than the typical heat and humidity you’ll find in the Summer.
Planning a trip to Florida in May? Let us know what you chose to do and experience down in the comments!