September in Florida can prove a bit dicey even for locals looking to have some fun. In between dodging daily rain showers and potential hurricanes, Florida has loads of relaxing activities and excursions that will enthrall both visitors and longtime residents of the Sunshine State.
When coming to Florida in September, consider visiting lesser known beach towns like Venice, hike the scenic Florida Trail or check out one of Tampa Bay’s unique cities. Children will also love the events offered at Central Florida theme parks this time of year.
No matter what you choose to do, a vacation to Florida in September is bound to be a fun time.
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 September
September weather in Florida is generally hot and muggy. Hurricane season is in full swing and most years, September is the first month that Florida will be affected by hurricane watches and warnings. Aside from the major storms, expect random showers and thunderstorms to occur daily, especially in the afternoon and early evening.
Speaking of rainfall and thunderstorms, Florida is often called the lightning capital of the world, so it’s important to protect yourself during a storm. While most visitors aren’t in danger, boaters especially need to pay attention to the weather when they’re on the water. Pro tip: Hurricanes will never have lightning. What’s dangerous about them is the high wind, flooding and possible tornadoes that spin off the main storm.
When it’s not overcast and rainy, the sun will still shine brightly in September. It’s important to prepare yourself 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 85°F (29.4°C) in the month of September, reaching over 75% humidity.
Florida Affordability & Crowds in September
September crowds in Florida are low. Most families are going back to school with their children, the hurricane season keeps tourists at bay and it’s not a busy month for most places around the country. This makes it a nice month to visit the beaches and theme parks, but the weather can turn on you in an instant. The Southern beaches, especially those on the Atlantic side, can be dangerously hot and more susceptible to bad storms.
Most travelers will experience lower rates for Florida’s best hotels in September. Decent accommodations in Orlando will range from $150 – $300 per night, hotels in Tampa will range from $150 – $250 per night, and the more populous city of Miami will see rates from $150 – $300 per night.
Best Things to Do in Florida in September
Tour Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay region of Florida is comprised of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Even as the cities have grown, visitors from outside the area still view this region as an easily accessible cluster of cities. However, each lays about 30-45 minutes from each other and is vastly different. You can certainly get to all three in one trip, but each city also makes a great week-long vacation on it’s own.
Tampa is the largest city in Tampa Bay and is well-known for it’s historic Cuban culture in Ybor City, for the annual Gasparilla flotilla and as the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa is the only city without a beach, but there is plenty of water fun between kayaking & paddleboarding or charter fishing in the Bay. The food scene serves all tastes from upscale to downhome and the fun nightlife takes places at the walkable restaurants and bars on Howard Avenue. A trip to Tampa is also incomplete without visiting Hyde Park Village, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Riverwalk, MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) and Busch Gardens.
St. Petersburg is the second largest and has a completely different atmosphere. The city is known for it’s award-winning beaches, historic places and overall casual vibes. St. Pete has an extremely relaxed approach to life and fun, which is best witnessed in their many eclectic shops and restaurants in the downtown area. A trip to St. Petersburg is incomplete without visiting Salvador Dali Museum, Fort de Soto State Park, the Sunken Gardens or St. Petersburg Pier.
Clearwater is the beachiest of the three cities, well-known among tourists as a beach vacation destination. In some areas, Clearwater has similar vibes to the Key West beach style, just with more shopping, dining and live entertainment and less history. In addition to the white sandy beaches, a trip to Clearwater is incomplete without visiting Clearwater Marine Aquarium (home of Winter the dolphin), Honeymoon Island or Caladesi Island State Park, and Frenchy’s Restaurant.
Jacksonville is Florida’s most populous city, and while it doesn’t always get the recognition that Orlando and Miami do, there are so many great things that make this metropolis a nice place to vacation. The city is filled with delicious cuisines, thriving nightlife and designer shopping. In September, there aren’t nearly as many tourists, giving you plenty of opportunities to take advantage of all Jacksonville has to offer.
One of the most popular experiences in Jacksonville is visiting the 22 miles of beach on the Atlantic coastline. The beach experience in Jacksonville is endless, with so many great activities in and out of the water. You can go surfing, diving and snorkeling, but you can also find dog-friendly beaches, hike the coastal state parks, hit the links at Jacksonville Beach Golf Course or dine and shop at the Beaches Town Center.
Inside the historic city, guests can visit a plethora of Jacksonville’s rich cultural centers and sites. Fort Caroline National Memorial was built as a French fortress in the sixteenth century and now serves as an historical center and museum, located on the Timucuan Preserve. Cummer Museum is a top site for the arts and horticulture, featuring over 5,000 works of art and a masterfully kept garden on the St. John’s River. Children will especially enjoy MOSH (Museum of Science and History), as well as the famous Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
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.
Venice is a small town in Florida, best known for Venice Beach and Caspersen Beach on the Gulf Coast. It’s located between the cities of Sarasota and Fort Myers and keeps a nice even temperature in the water this time of year. Venice boasts 14 miles of beaches and offers the ultimate Florida water recreational opportunities from boating and fishing to swimming and snorkeling.
Shelling is one unique form of recreation that you won’t find on other Florida beaches. You can find shells anywhere, but nothing beats Venice for it’s sheer amount of fossilized sharks teeth that wash ashore everyday. Service Club Park is also known to have sharks teeth and other types of fossils in abundance for anyone to pick up and take home.
On land, visitors will love the Italian architecture and design inspiration of Venice buildings and walkways. Astonishingly similar to the Italian city of Venice, Florida’s Venice is unlike any other coastal town in the United States. A guided walking tour can help you capture all the experiences that historic Venice has to offer. But you can also go it alone by taking the tree-lined downtown streets to the many shops, restaurants and historic sites. The historic district of East Venice Avenue also has lots to offer tourists, from the Venice Museum & Archives to the Venice Area Historical Society.
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.
Best Florida Beaches in September
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 September. September is peak hurricane season, so most people won’t be crowding the beach this month. While most beaches will experience daily rainfall, the Northern Gulf side of the state will have the best chance of avoiding the hurricanes.
Emerald Coast: Best All Around
The Emerald Coast makes up Florida’s panhandle from Pensacola to Tallahassee and is a perfect combination of the American South and the Florida Coastline. This coast will maintain some of the more mild temperatures over the Summer, so expect September to have average water temperatures of 82.8°F (28.2°C).
Our top beach recommendations in this area are Pensacola, Destin and Panama City. The Emerald Coast is ideal for families, couples and friend groups, with lots to accommodate all types of vacationers. It’s also the closest beach area to Tallahassee. Tourists love the sugar-white sands and turquoise water of the Emerald Coast, as well as the homey beach town atmosphere. This area is farthest outside the hurricane zone, but no part of Florida is completely in the clear.
First Coast: Calm and Quiet
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 September will be the some of the coolest in the state at 83.1°F (28.4°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 First Coast is farthest North in the state, so it’s a little less likely to get hurricanes than the Southern areas.
Sun Coast: Hot but Cool
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 84.6°F (29.2°C) in September. 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.
Most guests will be heading to St. Pete Beach and Clearwater, but Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park are better, more secluded islands that are highly recommended by residents. Tampa Bay is often one of the last areas for hurricanes to come through. When they do end up here, they are generally a lower category after coming across the state, though flood watches are usually in effect.
The Cultural Coast is just South of the Sun Coast and is our personal favorite place to be in the Summer. In September, the water and weather will be warm and sunny with ocean temps at an average 84.6°F (29.2°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 while Longboat Key has luxurious accommodations and wider beaches. The islands surrounding Sarasota have many different amenities and styles to suit different travelers. Same as the Sun Coast, it’s less likely for hurricanes to make it this far, but will typically have a lower impact when they do.
The Paradise Coast is on the Southwest side of Florida. It has a more relaxed and natural upscale vibe than the busy city feeling of Miami. The area tends to be an idyllic setting for an older audience, 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 85.6°F (29.8°C). The top beaches on this coast are Marco Island, Naples, and Fort Myers. The Naples and Fort Myers area are most appealing to retirees, so there will be a slow-paced, laidback feeling here. Hurricanes can become an issue for this area, but it’s not quite as bad as neighboring Miami as far as likelihood goes from year to year.
The Space Coast is located slightly north of Orlando on the Atlantic side of the state. Aptly named the Space Coast for it’s landmark Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, this coast is also home to the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach and the International Speedway in Daytona.
September will have water temperatures averaging 83.8°F (28.8°C), which are some of the cooler temps for Florida seas in the summer. 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.
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, though the likelihood is a little lower than the Miami area.
The Treasure Coast is located just above the Miami and Fort Lauderdale beaches. While it’s not nearly as busy as South Beach, it’ll still share high chances of hurricanes with Miami. Despite this, it’s a beautiful place to vacation and September isn’t extremely busy. It has some warmer waters at 84.7°F (29.3°C).
Our top beach recommendations in this area are West Palm, Delray, Pompano, Palm Beach, and Boca Raton. 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.
The Gold Coast is located in the southwest side of Florida, mainly comprised of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area on the Atlantic side. Miami has the highest temperatures in Florida all year and the highest likelihood to get wrecked by hurricanes and tropical storms. The beaches are usually less busy in September with water temps at 84°F (28.9°C).
Our top recommendations for Gold Coast beaches in September include Miami Beach, South Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Expect the atmosphere to be slightly less energetic than usual, though downtown will still bustle with a culturally diverse crowd. While September is extremely hot and rainy in Miami, the city remains a popular destination all year, so crowds won’t differ too much from the cooler months.
The Florida Keys
The Keys are an extremely popular destination all year round, but September will have fewer tourists with a high chance of hurricanes. The water averages 85.5°F (29.7°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. But September will be a bit risky trying to accomplish a full week’s worth of vacation plans due to encroaching hurricanes, tropical storms and/or daily thunder storms on the islands.
Top Florida Attractions in September
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.
In the month of September, the weather will be hot and humid with unpredictable rain showers. The parks and resorts are not crowded this month, making the rates more favorable for a longer vacation.
Fall festivities, special treats and merchandise will be underway in Disney Springs this month, as well as Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. In Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is taking place, while Epcot’s super popular Food & Wine Festival is dominating the month in Disney’s largest park on property.
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.
September weather will be hot and wet with daily rain showers highly likely. This is a great month to visit Volcano Bay when the weather permits as the water park, along with the regular parks, will be less crowded than the summer months. Halloween Horror Nights will be going on select nights inside Universal Orlando and all should be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart.
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.
In September, the weather is hot with a high chance of rain showers. The park won’t be very crowded this month, though Sea World’s Spooktacular event will draw more local families with younger children. Spooktacular is a great Halloween alternative for kids.
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, they’ll be hosting Tampa Bay’s Bier Fest, inviting guests to try local brews and special treats.
At the end of the month, 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.
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.
The park shouldn’t be particularly crowded in September, being that most families are back to school and there aren’t any special events drawing people in. You’ll have a quieter stay and probably an easier time getting on the rides in September.
Aquatica & Discovery Cove
September is probably one of the last consistently warm months for visiting the water parks. This month will also have lower crowds, making it a great time to take advantage of the last heat of the season.
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.
September Events in Florida
Key West Sunset Celebration
Key West’s famous Mallory Square, a popular sunset viewing spot, hosts this annual celebration for all to enjoy. In addition to watching the sun set each night, attendees can see magicians, musicians and food vendors. The historic area has enthralled writers like Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams, which makes the experience even more magical.
Orlando’s Magical Dining Month
This five week dining event is attended by thousands. Orlando’s Magical Dining Month is put on by restaurants from all over the city, serving up some of their best dishes for all to enjoy. Guests can purchase a $35 three-course meal from any of these renowned participating restaurants and a portion will be donated to select local charities.
Miami Spice is a two month-long program dedicated to giving residents and tourists the best restaurant experiences that the city has to offer. It’s designed with the unique culture and cuisines of Miami in mind, giving guests special rates on multi-course meals at some of the best restaurants, cafes and bars.
Flavor Palm Beach
Over 50 restaurants in Palm Beach and surrounding cities participate in this event over the course of a full month. Various menus from these restaurants offer three-course meals ranging in price for guests to savor and each venue features something unique from on-beach dining to lively entertainment.
Whether you enjoy exploring the cities of Jacksonville or Sarasota, hike the Florida Trail for the first time or attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, children and adults alike will find plenty to do in the state of Florida this month.
September in Florida might be rainy and overcast, therefore this month is most ideal for travelers who are willing to stick it out and expect thunder storms periodically during their trip. Despite this, the experience offered this time of year are well worth the visit.
Let us know if you chose to vacation in Florida in the month of September and tell us how it went in the comments!