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Best Florida Beaches To Visit In December To Escape The Cold This Year

UPDATED October 2023. I remember the first year in Florida after we moved here from Cleveland. We lived roughly 20 minutes from Hollywood Beach and spent quite a few days during the winter months on the beach. As far as I’m concerned Hollywood Beach is one of the best Florida beaches to visit in December.

My neighbors, though, thought we were crazy for swimming not only in the ocean but in our pool as well. They’re looking at us crazy, and we are looking back at them the same way.

After all, it was mid-70s which was warm at the time for us Cleveland transplants. In South Florida, if the temps dipped below 50, folks brought out the parkas. For us that was a heat wave.

Fast-forward a few decades, and I am now more Floridian than Ohioan when it comes to temperatures. But average highs in the 70s throughout most of the state of Florida make this one of the best places to vacation during winter.

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Winter Bliss: Your Guide To The Warmest Beaches To Visit In Florida This December

A Florida beach is a great place for any getaway. It is also the perfect place to escape the winter blues and embrace the warmth of the sun on your skin.

A few other destinations such as San Diego, LA, and other West Coast beaches. South Padre Island in Texas, Orange Shores in Alabama as well as those in the Caribbean like Puerto Rico or the Bahamas are also nice during the holiday season. 

I most likely will circle back and write about these other December beach destionations. This article though is about escaping to Florida in what could be the coldest month for the year. 

While the rest of the world bundles up in layers, you can bask in the golden rays and feel the soft sand beneath your feet. Florida, known for its year-round sunny weather, offers a multitude of picturesque beaches that are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying the gentle ocean breeze.

Whether you’re seeking a vibrant party scene or a tranquil retreat, Florida has it all. From the vibrant shores of Miami Beach to the serene beauty of Sanibel Island, this guide will take you on a journey to the warmest and most inviting beaches in Florida.

Destinations where you can create unforgettable memories and experience the ultimate winter bliss whether that is in your favorite spot on the beach or one of the hot tubs at the resort or hotel.

Grab your sunglasses and sunscreen, and get ready to dive into a world of sun-kissed happiness this December. You can use this table of contents to jump to a certain destination or the information links for planning your December vacation.

Why December Is A Great Time To Visit Florida Beaches

December is the perfect time to visit Florida beaches because the weather is mild. One of the best things is the water is still warm enough for swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.

It is also off-peak season meaning there are fewer crowds, especially in North Florida. The average temperature in December is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect for spending time outdoors without feeling too hot or too cold.

Water temperatures are usually 60 to 70 degrees depending on where you are in the state. From beautiful beaches to theme parks to hiking and paddle trails for nature lovers to state and national parks and treasures, the Sunshine State is the perfect destination for a December vacation.

Plus, there are plenty of holiday events and festivities happening throughout the state, making it a great time to experience the local culture and traditions.

Prefer to be active on your vacation? You will definitely find plenty to do from water sports to volleyball courts and more. Many hotels also have an outdoor pool that remains open year-round and heated if necessary. 

Sun, Sand, And Surf: Discover The Best Florida Beaches For December Getaways

As the winter months approach, many of us start to dream of warmer climates and sunny beaches. And what better place to escape to than the beautiful state of Florida?

Whether you prefer to fly or take a road trip, with its stunning coastline and endless stretches of sand, Florida boasts some of the best beaches in the world. And when it comes to December getaways, there’s no better time to soak up the sun and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Sunshine State.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation or a romantic getaway, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your needs.

From the lively shores of Miami to the peaceful beaches of Sanibel Island and the surrounding waters, we’ve rounded up the top Florida beaches to visit this December.

So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to discover the best sun, sand, and surf that Florida has to offer.

Breaking the state down into sections, below are the Best Florida Beaches To Visit In December.

Best Florida Beaches To Visit In December: Northeast Florida

From St Augustine to Jacksonville up through the barrier islands including Amelia Island, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised when you vacation in this area. Not as warm as beaches farther south but quite comfortable year round.

St. Augustine

Starting with St. Augustine. This is truly one of the best places to visit any time of year including December and the winter months.

The beach is always beautiful but the holiday decorations in historic St. Augustine are out of this world. Visit the fort and sightsee during the day then head back down to the historic area to see the Christmas lights.

Check rates & availability here: St. Augustine Vacation Rentals

Jacksonville Beach

Moving a bit farther up finds you in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Beaches have become some of my favorites.

Crowds are much less even during the busy spring break and summer months. From Riverwalk to the state parks in the area like Boneyard Beach on Big Talbot Island to the many entertainment and dining options, this is a fantastic place to visit in December.

Amelia Island

Over to Amelia Island, which is located northeast of Jacksonville, you will find an Old Florida vibe. Fernandina Beach to Fort Clinch State Park to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Plenty of options for a wonderful winter break.

Check rates & availability here: Amelia Island Hotels

Best Florida Beaches To Visit In December: Southeast Florida

I absolutely love Southeast Florida. What I don’t love? The crowds. This area of Florida is popular all year round and crowds are much less in the winter but still pretty busy overall.

My number one destination pick for December is the Florida Keys. There are over 800 islands that make up the Florida Keys. You only need to pick one and go.

Key West is the farthest island south and about 90 miles from Cuba. This little island packs a big party punch.

Bars, live entertainment, plenty of dining options, and beautiful beaches make this island a premier destination all year long but even better in December as hurricane season is over.  This is also the closest island to the Dry Tortugas National Park with historic Fort Jefferson.

Snorkeling the moat was the highlight of my last Key West Trip. We also stopped at Bahia Honda State Park as well as Smathers Beach which are great options as well for a beach getaway.

The Best Key West Winter Rental Vacation Options

Be sure to explore the other islands including Islamorada, Key Largo with the many coral reefs you can explore in Camp Pennekamp, and the other keys along the way to Key West.

Pack a lunch and enjoy eating in one of the Sunshine State Parks. Many have a picnic table near the water where you can eat lunch as you enjoy watching the waves hit the sand.

Moving up to Miami finds you in beautiful South Florida. Miami Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the United States. Celebrity destination as well with many private islands you can only get to by ferry.

Palm trees sway in the wind off the ocean. South Beach is one of the most popular destinations known for many nightclubs and dining options.

Check rates & availability here: Miami Beach Vacation Rentals

Don’t let that stop you from heading farther north to Fort Lauderdale. Average highs for this area in December are around 78 rarely falling below the upper 60s.

Sunny days and plenty of activities make Fort Lauderdale perfect for water activities that you would not want to do farther north on the Atlantic Coast. Boating, kayaking, swimming and more await you.

A short drive north from Fort Lauderdale lands you in Palm Beach County. Some of the state’s best beaches are between Miami Beach and West Palm Beach.

Love to golf? You will find quite a few golf courses in this area as well.

One of my favorite beaches in this area is Delray Beach. I love the small beach town vibe and this little town goes all out for the holidays.

But plan your vacation well in advance if Palm Beach is where you want to go. It tends to be very busy in December.

Best Florida Beaches To Visit In December: Southwest Florida

Clear water and warm temperatures make Southwest Florida a popular destination in the fall. From Everglades National Park up to Tampa, you will find some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the United States.

My favorites on this part of the Gulf of Mexico are Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Marco Island, Anna Maria Island, Siesta Key, Clearwater Beach, and Tampa Bay.

My first excursion to this area was after I first moved to Florida, and it was to Bonita Springs which is near Fort Myers Beach. I was instantly in love with the Gulf Coast. After all, the white sand beaches are pretty amazing.

Near to Fort Myers and Naples, is Marco Island, one of the prettiest islands in the United States.

Sanibel Island Quiet Beach Florida Gulf Coast

Unspoiled land and natural habitat for animals make this one of the best islands for nature lovers. You will also find some of the warmest beaches in this area for the month of December.

Sea turtles, dolphins, rays, and more entertain as you watch them play in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Be sure to take time to visit Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge which may be reached by kayak or canoe.

Check rates & availability here: Fort Myers Hotels

Before we go too far north, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are both must visit locations. Both islands but more specific Sanibel Island is very well known for the beautiful seashells. A collector’s paradise.

Moving up the Gulf to Siesta Key, lands you at one of the most popular beaches in the world. Siesta Key has been named the number one beach many times in travel magazines. For good reason too.

Beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise waters, tennis courts, golf course and amazing restaurants all await you on this piece of paradise. Siesta Key is south of Anna Maria Island near Sarasota.

Best time to visit the barrier island Anna Maria Island? December and January through March. The temps are cooler and not nearly as crowded.

But you may not want to visit this area between Christmas and New Year as that is a popular time on this part of the Gulf Coast.

Midway up the coast, are Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island, St. Petersburg Beach, and Tampa Bay. No matter what type of beach you prefer, you will find it here.

Clearwater Beach was voted the number one beach in 2019. But don’t forget about St. Pete Beach. It was named number one in 2021.

If you choose Clearwater Beach, be sure to make time to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This aquarium is dedicated to rescuing and rehabbing injured sea animals. You may remember Winter, the dolphin. 

Check rates & availability here: Clearwater Beach Vacation Rentals

This area of Florida is popular due to the miles of beautiful coastline, water sports, dining, and shopping. Tampa Bay is also a good bet in December. From September through December, hotels offer bargain rates to offset the vacancies of this time of year.

Central Florida

Before we go farther north into the Florida Panhandle, we have to talk about Central Florida and the many theme parks. Not only Walt Disney World and Universal Studios but Busch Gardens as well.

Whether you have kids or not, you will enjoy exploring the theme parks in December as they show off their holiday decorations.

Early December is better than closer to the holidays as there are fewer crowds. If your heart is set on any of the theme parks including Magic Kingdom, plan your vacation early in the month. Check rates & availability here: Resorts Near Disney World

Best Florida Beaches To Visit In December: Florida Panhandle

Many folks overlook the Panhandle in December. It is cooler and the water temps not as warm, but it is still an absolutely beautiful location to visit during winter. Be sure to read this post too: Least Crowded Beaches In Florida Panhandle Area

Several years back, I was in Panama City Beach in December and there was little wait for anything including attractions and dining. The weather was beautiful. Sunny and in the 70s the whole week we were there.

A short drive along the coastline takes you to many of the most popular beaches in the world. From the bottom of the panhandle near St. George Island and Tallahassee over to the state line near Pensacola, you will find calm waters and white sand beaches.

Whether you like to scuba dive, snorkel, hike nature trails, or simply enjoy walking on the beach, you will find December the perfect time to visit the Florida Panhandle beaches. Temps may be cooler on the Panhandle than Miami but don’t let that stop you.

Plenty of warm sunshiny days and walking distance to many attractions make December a good time to visit. And because many folks will opt for South Florida, you will have these Florida beach towns to yourself.

My favorite is the Panhandle. You will find some of the best Florida beaches to visit in December in this part of the state. Check rates & availability here: PCB Hotels

Of course, my favorite is PCB but Fort Walton, Miramar Beach, Mexico Beach, and Destin are all absolutely gorgeous. They are also close enough that no matter which town you choose for your holiday, you will have a short drive to visit the others.


The Best Beaches For Swimming In December

While the water temperature may not be as warm as it is in the summer months, there are still plenty of Florida beaches that are great for swimming in December. Here are some of the top beaches to visit if you’re looking to take a dip:

Siesta Key: Located near Sarasota, Siesta Key is known for its soft, white sand and calm waters. It’s a great spot for families with children or anyone looking for a relaxing swim.

Cocoa Beach: Famous for its surfing scene, Cocoa Beach is also a great spot for swimming in the winter months. The water is usually in the mid-60s, which may be a bit chilly for some, but perfect for those looking for a refreshing dip.

Daytona Beach: With its wide, sandy beaches and gentle waves, Daytona Beach is a popular destination for swimmers of all ages. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a dip in the ocean at night during the annual Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

The Best Beaches For Surfing In December

Surfing in Florida may not be as well-known as surfing in California or Hawaii, but there are still plenty of great spots for catching some waves.

Here are some of the top beaches to check out if you’re a surfer looking for a December getaway:

New Smyrna Beach: Known as the “shark bite capital of the world,” New Smyrna Beach is also one of the best surf spots in Florida. With its consistent waves and friendly locals, it’s a great destination for surfers of all levels.

Sebastian Inlet: Located on the east coast of Florida, Sebastian Inlet is a popular spot for experienced surfers looking for a challenge. The waves can get quite big, especially during the winter months, so it’s not recommended for beginners.

Jacksonville Beach: With its long, sandy beaches and consistent waves, Jacksonville Beach is a great spot for beginner and intermediate surfers. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot some dolphins playing in the waves.

The Best Beaches For Family Fun In December

Florida is a popular destination for families, and for good reason. With its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and endless activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the top beaches to visit if you’re traveling with kids:

Fort Myers Beach: Located on Estero Island, Fort Myers Beach is a family-friendly destination with plenty of activities for all ages. From building sandcastles to dolphin watching to parasailing, there’s never a dull moment here.

Pensacola Beach: With its sugar-white sand and turquoise water, Pensacola Beach is a great spot for families looking to relax and unwind. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a dolphin tour or rent jet skis for some fun on the water.

St. Pete Beach: Known for its soft, powdery sand and calm waters, St. Pete Beach is a great spot for families with young children. And if you’re looking for something to do off the beach, the nearby Salvador Dalí Museum is a must-visit.

The Best Beaches For Relaxation In December

Sometimes, the best beach vacation is one where you can simply relax and unwind. Here are some of the top Florida beaches to visit if you’re looking for a peaceful and rejuvenating getaway:

Anna Maria Island: With its laid-back atmosphere and pristine beaches, Anna Maria Island is the perfect spot for a quiet and relaxing escape. Take a stroll on the beach, enjoy a sunset yoga session, or simply soak up the sun with a good book.

The Ultimate Guide To Anna Maria Island Florida

Naples Beach: With its calm waters and soft sand, Naples Beach is a great spot for a peaceful and relaxing beach vacation. And if you’re looking to indulge in some pampering, the nearby spas and golf courses are top-notch.

Beach Activities To Try In December

In addition to swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, there are plenty of other fun activities to try on the Florida beaches in December. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Kayaking: With its calm waterways and abundant wildlife, kayaking is a popular activity on many Florida beaches. Rent a kayak and explore the mangrove tunnels, or take a guided tour and learn about the local ecology.

Fishing: Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, Florida’s beaches offer plenty of opportunities for fishing. From pier fishing to deep-sea fishing to fly-fishing, there’s a type of fishing to suit every preference.

Beachcombing: With its abundance of shells and other treasures, beachcombing is a popular pastime on many Florida beaches. Take a walk along the shore and see what treasures you can find, or join a guided tour to learn more about the local marine life.

There you go! Florida’s beaches offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation, a romantic getaway, or a peaceful solo retreat.

And with its mild weather and smaller crowds, December is the perfect time to visit. From the bustling shores of Miami to the secluded beaches of Sanibel Island, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches to explore.

So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to discover the best sun, sand, and surf that Florida has to offer.

Plan your vacation on one of Florida’s Beaches To Visit In December

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About Denise

Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH.  Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise

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