Considering a trip to Florida in October and need some help? We’ve got you covered!
October is a beautiful time to visit Florida with weather changing from rainy and humid to cool and dry. It’s also one of the slowest months of the year with tourist crowds fairly low, making your vacation more enjoyable and easygoing. October is nearing the end of hurricane season as well, so storms won’t be as big of an issue this month.
There are many Halloween and Harvest events going on all over the state this month that welcome visitors and residents alike, along with great vacations to consider on Amelia Island and in Palm Beach. This is also a great time of year to see the mermaids at Weeki Wachee.
Whatever you plan to do this month, we’ve got everything you need to know about weather, things to do, best beaches, events, and more!
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 October
October weather in Florida is cooling off and getting drier. Hurricane season is nearly over and October typically won’t have too many hurricane watches or warnings. Aside from the big storms, daily rain showers and thunder storms begin to slow down this month, making most days pretty dry in October.
October is one of the first months that you begin to see cooler temperatures, as well. While it doesn’t drop too low too often, the humidity will be noticeably lower, making it easier to be outdoors for longer periods of time. This month tends to also be a bit breezy, but warm temperatures and random hot days are still frequent.
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 a high of about 80°F (26.7°C) in the month of October, and a low of 67.5°F (19.7°C) occurring at nighttime.
Florida Affordability & Crowds in October
October crowds in Florida are low. Most people aren’t traveling much this month anyway, but with the hurricane season unpredictability, it tends to keep tourists at bay. This makes it a nice month to visit the beaches and theme parks, but the weather is never guaranteed to be pretty. The Southern beaches, especially those on the Atlantic side, can still be very hot and more susceptible to bad storms.
Most travelers will experience lower rates for Florida’s best hotels in October. Decent accommodations in Orlando will range from $150 – $300 per night, hotels in Tampa will range from $100 – $150 per night, and the more populous city of Miami will see rates from $150 – $300 per night.
Best Things to Do in Florida in October
Relax in Palm Beach
Palm Beach is a long-storied beach haven for ritzy residents and upscale travelers who are looking for a refined destination on the coast. Unlike the many quaint beach towns that dot Florida’s shores, Palm Beach has a lot of glamour and style to offer for a spectacular beach vacation. It’s located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, north of Fort Lauderdale and sits on it’s own barrier island off Lake Worth Lagoon.
Henry Flagler, who’s name appears throughout many areas of Florida from St. Augustine to the Keys, once lived in Palm Beach while developing the Florida East Coast Railway along the Atlantic. His home has been dubbed the Flagler Museum, and it along with Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, give Palm Beach charming historic sites for tourists to visit. In addition to the historic nature of the town, Palm Beach has more to discover.
Worth Avenue’s palm lined streets are the birthplace of the famous Lilly Pulitzer brand and remain a fashion district for Palm Beach to this day. Shopping along with golfing are popular pastimes here, both offering luxurious views of the Intercoastal Waterway and Lake Worth Lagoon.
Experience Weeki Wachee
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a local favorite almost year round, located in Hernando County. It’s claim to fame, other than the mermaids that frequent these waters, is the fact that the bottom of the springs has never been found. It’s so deep that even the most expert divers can’t reach the bottom. The currents are extremely strong in the springs, so the designated safe swimming area is in the Buccaneer Bay Waterpark.
Florida is filled with natural springs, but something completely unique to Weeki Wachee is the underwater shows performed daily. Weeki Wachee mermaids put these shows on for all ages, with themes from various movies and folklore. It’s a truly unique and magical experience for audiences to enjoy, before heading to the swim zone themselves.
Aside from watching the mermaids or splashing in the waterpark, guests can also rent paddleboards or kayaks, ride the river boat or take a ranger led tour of the springs.
Stay on Amelia Island
Amelia Island is one of the closest island destinations to the state of Georgia, known for it’s luxurious accommodations, well-kept golf courses and beautiful white sand beaches. Most travelers will be looking for a relaxing beach trip, but there is plenty to do out of the ocean, as well.
The beautiful downtown area, full of rich history with combined Spanish, French and British influence, has streets lined with boutique shops and exquisite restaurants. The Maritime Museum provides an educational opportunity, along with a visit to the Amelia Island Lighthouse.
Nearby Jacksonville is Florida’s most populous city, and makes a great base for visiting Amelia Island or a good day trip for your beach vacation. The city can offer a little reprieve from the possible hot weather this month, with football season in full swing. One of the most popular games will be the Florida-Georgia Game, with rival Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs in TIAA Bank Field. You can also catch the Jacksonville Jaguars in the middle of their regular season this month.
Hike Florida National Scenic Trail
The Florida National Scenic Trail is over 1,000 miles of preserved trails, part of 11 National Scenic Trails in the United States. The 300 miles of planned trails serve as a hiking location for outdoor enthusiasts, showcasing some of the most interesting wildlife and landscapes unique to the state of Florida.
The Florida Trail is a calming getaway for nature lovers and those seeking peace from everyday life, described as a perfect blend of civilization and nature. Anyone can hike portions of the trail to experience the swamps, lakes, rivers and pine forests that tourists seldom think of when visiting Florida. Treks can run anywhere from 3.5 miles up to 10 miles and October is a great month to go with fewer mosquitoes and cooler weather.
Gainesville is home to University of Florida, the first university established in the state. It’s known strictly as a college town, but has a great group of permanent residents that make the city thrive. The university campus is the center of Gainesville, which is set on swampland that spans over eight state parks in Alachua County.
There’s plenty to explore on a trip to Gainesville, whether you bike the trails of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, educate yourself at the Florida Museum of Natural History, catch a show in the beautiful Hippodrome Theater or dive into a sea of butterflies at the Butterfly Rainforest. So many natural parts of Gainesville offer an unexpected glimpse into Florida’s historic scenery, landscapes and home life from centuries back.
Most people will be going to Gainesville to see the Gators play football. Whether you watch the game live in the Swamp or view it on the tv screens at the Social at Midtown, you’ll want to make a trip downtown when it’s over. Downtown Gainesville is a charming area that comes alive on game nights with restaurants and shops in close walking distance once you find a parking spot. Win or lose, the crowds will be enjoying the rollicking nightlife all the same.
Best Florida Beaches in October
Florida is surrounded by great beaches you can 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 October. October is starting to see the end of hurricane season and serves as a great in-between time before the snowbirds make their way back to Florida’s shores.
Sun Coast: Fun in the Sun
The Sun Coast is a highly marketed area across the country, made up of Tampa Bay’s best beaches. It’s one of the most popular places to be on the Gulf with average water temperatures at 81.1°F (27.3°C) in October. Tampa Bay is not often plagued with hurricanes, though it’s not impossible that they will hit this spot. When they do end up here, they are generally a lower category after coming across the state.
The busiest beaches include Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach, but the Sun Coast also has beautiful state park islands off Clearwater and Dunedin. Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park are more secluded islands that are highly recommended by locals and shouldn’t be very crowded in October.
Cultural Coast: Best for Families
The Cultural Coast is another great destination off the Gulf and is our personal favorite. In October, the water and weather will still be fairly warm with ocean temps at an average 82°F (27.8°C). The Cultural Coast offers a great in-between beach experience – not extremely quaint and not extremely ritzy, though certain accommodations can match these descriptions if you look hard enough.
Our best recommendation in this area is vacationing in Anna Maria Island, for the small, casual beach town vibe. But if you’re looking for a little more high-class Longboat Key, Sanibel Island and Captiva are great suggestions. Same as the Sun Coast, it’s less likely for hurricanes to make it this far (especially in October), but will typically have a lower impact when they do.
Emerald Coast: Cool and Calm
The Emerald Coast is the entire Florida panhandle, spanning from Pensacola to Tallahassee. The nature of the towns in this area are a combination of the American South and the Florida Coastline. October water temperatures begin to cool off significantly, preparing for the incoming Winter weather. This month the ocean will average 78.4°F (25.8°C).
Pensacola, Destin and Panama City beaches are some of the most highly recommended vacation spots on the Emerald Coast. These beaches are ideal for families, couples and friend groups, with many activities and forms of recreation to accommodate all types of travelers. October is late in the hurricane season, so big storms and hurricanes will be less likely here.
The First Coast is located on the top Northeast side of Florida’s Atlantic shores. It boasts Florida’s oldest cities of St. Augustine and Jacksonville. The water temperatures in the month of October will be cooling down with an average of 79.5°F (26.4°C). Visitors to this area will love the historical aspects of the region, along with the beautifully quiet shores. October doesn’t often see hurricanes, but it’s possible the First Coast could experience one this month.
St. Augustine is a great spot to visit all times of year with it’s historic tours and delicious many local restaurants and bars to enjoy. Nearby Flagler Beach offers a more secluded feeling with pristine, less crowded beaches and Jacksonville Beach is a nice getaway for the whole family. Amelia Island, part of the Sea Islands, is a luxurious spot for an upscale experience.
The Paradise Coast is on the Southwest side of Florida, comprised of well-known cities like Naples and Fort Myers, and it’s also closest to the Everglades. The area tends to appeal to an older audience whose families and children will visit for the warm Florida weather. October is generally the time of year that the snowbirds will come back to inhabit the Paradise Coast for the next half year.
The waters are typically warm in October, averaging 82°F (27.8°C). The top beaches on this coast are Marco Island, Naples, and Fort Myers. Hurricanes can become an issue for this area, though October doesn’t typically see too many come through.
The Space Coast is the closest beach area to Orlando, located on the Atlantic side of the state. It’s known as the home of Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach and the International Speedway in Daytona. Both Cocoa and Daytona have been popular tourist spots for decades, but are usually not busy in October.
This month will have water temperatures averaging 81.3°F (27.4°C). Since the Space Coast is on the Atlantic side of Florida toward the center of the state, it always has a chance of getting slammed with hurricanes. However, October tends to report a lower number of storms, so hurricanes will be less likely as the season comes to a close.
The Treasure Coast is just above Miami and Fort Lauderdale and has a refined, luxurious atmosphere. It shares the same risk of bad storms and hurricanes with Miami, but with October bringing the hurricane season to a close, there usually won’t be a threat. It’s a beautiful place to vacation and October is pretty quiet with warmer waters at 82.6°F (28.1°C).
Our most highly recommended beach destinations on the Treasure Coast include West Palm, Delray, Pompano, Palm Beach, and Boca Raton. All feature slightly different styles, with West Palm and Palm Beach being the most popular. Pompano Beach has multiple diving sites, Boca Raton is great for recreational activities like golfing and shopping and Delray has a booming cultural district.
The Florida Keys
The Keys are an extremely popular destination all year round. October will have fewer visitors due to its high chance of hurricanes, but the storm chances begin to drop off toward the end of the month. The water averages 82.8°F (28.2°C) and our best recommendations are the beaches on Key West, Key Largo and Marathon, as well as Bahia Honda State Park and the Dry Tortugas National Park.
The Keys are an extremely unique stretch of islands connected by the Overseas Highway. There are many historical landmarks and island tours to take, along with loads of inshore, offshore and on land recreational activities.
The Gold Coast is one of the most famous parts of Florida, housing both Miami and Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic side. Miami has the highest temperatures in Florida all year, but also has the highest chance of being rattled with hurricanes as Florida’s first line of defense in most circumstances. The beaches are usually less busy in October because of this, with water temps at 82.8°F (28.2°C).
Visitors can always expect Miami to be lively, especially in the bustling downtown area with a culturally diverse crowd. While October can be hot and humid in Miami, the city remains a popular destination all year.
Top Florida Attractions in October
Walt Disney World
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.
October brings drier weather and more mild temperatures. The parks and resorts are mildly crowded this month with moderate resort, ticket and even food pricing (which fluctuates with tourist volumes). Epcot’s popular Food & Wine Festival is still going on this month, along with the happy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party suitable for families and children.
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.
Weather in October will be drier with mild temperatures and only a slight chance of rain. The main attraction this month will be the Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Orlando, geared towards teens and adults. The event is filled with haunted houses and scary creatures and people lurking around the streets, waiting for unsuspecting guests.
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. Sea World 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.
October brings the fun Spooktacular event for children. It’s a fun nighttime festival that invites kids to come in their Halloween costumes to collect candy and see the animals in a whole new way.
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. During the day, Busch Gardens will be hosting Tampa Bay’s Bier Fest, inviting guests to try local brews and special treats.
At night, Busch Gardens’ Halloween event, Howl-o-Scream, starts up. It features a different theme each year and is very comparable to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Depending on which city you end up in, these are the events that are best suited for teenagers and older because they can be pretty scary.
Legoland is one of Florida’s newest theme parks located in Winter Haven, right in the middle of Central Florida. It 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.
On weekends in October, Legoland invites families to participate in Brick or Treat. The event includes character meet-and-greets, a scavenger hunt, Lego building contests, and candy collecting. Both children and adults are invited to dress up for the occasion.
October Events in Florida
Halloween Zoo Bashes
All around the state of Florida, big zoos in the major cities have nightly Zoo Boos where children and parents can play in the park after dark. Animals can be viewed from their cages in this special not-scary event and you can collect candy at designated areas around the park.
St. Augustine is well-known for their haunted historical areas and hosts a variety of Ghost Tours and Pub Crawls all nights of the year. On Halloween, these tours are even more popular, so plan well in advance! Tampa Bay and Orlando have several ghost tours around town, as well.
Pumpkins are in season and there are hundreds of patches all over the state of Florida in October. Some of the biggest and best include Pickin’ Patch in Dunnellon (near Crystal River), Hunsader Farms in Bradenton (near Sarasota), Hydro Harvest in Ruskin (near Tampa), Cowart Ranch in Bunnell (near Daytona), Bedner’s in Boynton Beach (near West Palm) and Fruitville in Sarasota.
Many tourists don’t think of Florida farmers growing corn when they visit the state, but there are plenty of them farther inland. A lot of the mazes host farmer’s markets and create a different theme to plow into the maze each year. Some of them are scary and more geared toward teens and older, but most are family-friendly. Two of the best in the state include the Harvestmoon Fun Farm in Maskaryktown (near Brooksville) and Long & Scott Farm in Mount Dora.
Fantasy Fest Key West
Fantasy Fest is a fun street party open to the public in the last week of October. The party was initially created to bring more people to the Keys in a season that’s traditionally quiet due to the hurricanes that plague the area. The celebration is adults-only and includes parades, live entertainment, food & drink vendors and costumes.
Pensacola Interstate Fair
Like most state fairs, Pensacola (located closest to Alabama in the panhandle) hosts this annual festival with plenty of fun, games and rides for the whole family. The highlights are the special attractions like the Cirque Ma’Ceo, the live Sea Lion Splash, and Rino’s Reptiles. The festivities include live entertainment and plenty of food and drinks.
October in Florida is beginning to see the change in seasons, waving goodbye to the ugly hurricanes and welcoming the holiday season with open arms. The weather is likely to be cooler this month, with a few hot days sprinkled in, making outdoor activities and Halloween events more exciting and festive.
October is an ideal month for vacationers looking to save some money on travel expenses, since more Florida cities will be experiencing a slow season this time of year. Whether you choose to visit Gainesville or hike the Florida Trail, you’re in for a real treat this month.