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Looking for the best things to do in Florida in October? As a Floridian, I’m sharing my favorite things to do in Florida in October!
Most travelers associate Florida with beaches and theme parks on spring break. October is an underrated time of year to head to The Sunshine State. If you aren’t tethered to school schedules or waiting for a long weekend, travel during a month like October has plenty of advantages.
The crowds are at a year-round low for most travel destinations, especially theme parks. The weather is about as comfortable as it gets for Florida, with milder temperatures and less rain. There are plenty of festivals and events taking place throughout the state, and the conditions for outdoor recreation are basically perfect.
Here’s a quick guide for what to expect, what to pack, and what to be excited about for your October trip to Florida!
Florida Weather in October
Weather in South Florida in October
The Southern tip of the peninsula will feel relief from summer temperatures starting in late September, so expect temperatures in the mid to upper 80s (this is considered “cooler” in places like the Florida Keys). It’s still in the rainy season, though it’s less frequent. A light afternoon shower is generally the worst of it!
Weather in North Florida in October
The weather in Northern Florida is slightly cooler than in southern parts of the state, with mild temperatures around the low 80s during the day and 70s for the mornings and evenings. The rainfall will start to decrease in September, making October one of your best bets for packing in a full day of activities during trips. Humidity levels are quite low compared to other months, so October days are absolutely delightful for outdoor activities, especially hiking and camping.
A Note on Hurricane Season…
October is still technically part of hurricane season, but it’s the tail end of it. If you’re traveling to Miami, the Keys, or other coastal regions of the state, you’ll still want to familiarize yourself with what to do during a hurricane. Checking the weather before your trip is always useful. If you’re camping or visiting state parks, the authorities will be diligent in updating you on whether it’s safe to travel, and if areas will be open. Research and awareness always help!
What to Pack for Florida in October
The weather during October is one of the most comfortable times of year in Florida, but you’ll want to plan for a wider range of temperatures than you would during warmer times of the year. T-shirts, shorts, flip flops, and swimsuits are all must-packs, but you’ll want to plan for milder evenings and mornings. A windbreaker or light coat will likely be useful at least once. While the rains are subsiding, having something for a drizzle never hurts!
If you’re doing any trip to Florida correctly, you’ll be spending plenty of time outside. While the days are shorter, you’ll want to bring some SPF. Believe me, you want to make sure you don’t show up to work with an inexplicable sunburn in the middle of October! Comfortable walking shoes are a must, and they will be even more useful if you can pair them with jeans for the evenings.
Things to Do in Florida in October
October may not have the crowded event calendar that the winter months have, but that’s what keeps the crowds away. The fall holidays tend to focus more on fun, with Oktoberfest and Halloween having relaxed expectations. These holidays are the most prominent events to look into, and most cities will have some programming dedicated to getting spooky or wearing lederhosen and drinking beer.
Top Florida Music Festivals in October
While other regions tend to wind down their festival season as temperatures dip, Florida’s music scene picks up quite a bit in October. A diverse array of music festivals take place throughout the state. Here are a few:
- Country Thunder (Kissimmee, FL): This 3-day concert featuring the latest headliners in country music
- Clearwater Jazz Holiday: a 4-day celebration in Coachman Park that has been a crowd favorite for over 40 years!
- Jazz in the Park (Sanford, FL): Located in Centennial Park, this annual music and food festival is free for everyone to enjoy.
- III Points (Miami, FL): Tastemaking electronic, rock, hip-hop, and pop acts come together for one of the country’s best-curated music festivals. III Points is held during the third weekend of October at the Wynwood.
- The FEST (Gainesville, FL): A sprawling event featuring dozens of underground punk, rock, and metal bands.
- Music Events at Suwannee (Live Oak, FL): Suwannee Roots Revival holds a festival the first weekend of the month, bringing Grateful Dead-inspired rock to the Suwannee Music Park. Later in the month, Suwannee Hulaween brings a diverse range of rock, electronic, and hip-hop to massive crowds and Halloween events.
Oktoberfest in Florida
I’m always a sucker for a good Oktoberfest! While Florida may not be a top destination for this fun October holiday, you’ll find plenty of outstanding festivals throughout the state. Here are a few of the best options for Octoberfest in Florida.
- Oktoberfest of the Palm Beaches: Top on the list is a glorious annual event in Lake Worth. This was one of my favorite childhood events, yet it’s still more popular with adults. You’ll find authentic Bavarian live music, food, and beer! As I mentioned it’s family-friendly with a carnival with new rides and plenty of games for all ages.
- IRB Oktoberfest (Indian Rocks Beach): The annual IRB Oktoberfest at the beginning of October. It is usually held on the first Saturday of the month in Kolb Park. This beachy, non-traditional style German event is full of fun things to do, including beer, food vendors, live music, a silent auction, and a crafts show. Don’t miss my favorite Keg Throwing event!
- Oktoberfest by the German American Society of Central Florida: Arguably, the most authentic festival around! Join the fun from live entertainment, dancing, food, and beverages served in their Biergarten!
- Oktoberfest Tampa: This annual 3-day weekend usually occurs mid-month at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. You’ll see some of the finest traditional dances, craft beer, and plenty of fun things to do along the Tampa Riverwalk.
More Florida Festivals in October
Beyond live music, much more is happening in the Sunshine State. Here’s a quick look at some of the top Florida events to check out in October.
- Micanopy Fall Festival (Micanopy, FL): The Antique Capital of the US hosts their annual event in October. For over 45+ years, local artisans, craftsmen, and musicians put on one of the finest events in North Florida.
- Tampa Pig Jig (Tampa, FL): For 10+ years, this not-for-profit event has raised money for a debilitating kidney disease in Tampa. Come out for the barbecue, live music, and craft beer, and tickets go to a good cause.
- Cedar Key Seafood Festival: One of my long-time favorite sleepy fisherman villages is Cedar Key. For over 50 years, they have held their incredible seafood festival with fresh seafood, live music, and more festivities.
- Annual Treasure Coast Seafood Festival (Vero Beach, FL): Held at the Indian River Fairgrounds, this family-friendly event has delicious fresh seafood, arts and crafts, and a kid’s zone!
- Annual Stone Crab Festival (Naples, FL): For some of the best stone crabs and more delicious seafood, you’ll want to head to Naples. This end-of-the-month event boasts plenty to see, from shops, activities, arts and crafts, and live music.
It’s Spooky Season At Florida’s Theme Parks
While the Halloween holiday isn’t specific to Florida, the state’s numerous theme parks are perfect hosts for Halloween festivities. While these events are very popular, the crowds will be more manageable than when school is out. The weather also makes it very comfortable, especially if you’ll be dressing up!
Walt Disney World Florida in October
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, held at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, brings Halloween events to the park. You’ll see a flurry of spooky floats, live music, and Disney villains. Costumes are encouraged, as all your favorite characters will also be dressed for the occasion. If you have little ones, Magic Kingdom is a less frightening choice for Halloween.
EPCOT at Disney World offers its annual Food & Wine Festival that runs through November. This includes live entertainment, exclusive marketplaces, and in recent years a scavenger hunt. This is a wonderful time of year to visit EPCOT because of the fun food and beverages to try, and you can enjoy cooler weather!
If you get time to explore beyond the Disney parks, you’ll want to check out some of their free entertainment and shopping in Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk.
Universal Studios hosts its Halloween Horror Nights, which features haunted houses and live shows aiming to bring scares to parkgoers of all ages. I particularly enjoyed Universal’s Halloween event as a teenager and a young adult with scare zones, themed food, and haunted houses.
🎃 Pro Tip: Early October, when Universal Studios holiday season starts, is ideal for avoiding tourist crowds.
More Theme Parks with Florida October Events
Legoland, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens also put together great Halloween-themed programming and have the same advantages of smaller crowds and comfortable weather. I highly recommend looking at tickets ahead of time for opportunities to save.
🤑 Pro Tip: I found incredible deals at all three of these parks by purchasing tickets during their summertime specials. For example, I’ve been able to use the Fun Card I bought at SeaWorld for over a year as many times as I wanted to go. Legoland also ran a special with 50% off ticket prices to use by November.
Best Florida Cities to Visit in October
I’m a bit biased as a Tampa Bay resident regarding Florida cities! However, there are plenty of other parts of the state I love to spend time during the month of October.
Miami is one of my favorite places in Florida in October, as the South Florida weather is as comfortable as it will get, and the hordes of tourists are taking a break between summer and winter. It’s not for everyone, but I like to think of it as a place everyone should visit at least once, and October is easily one of the best times to do it.
For adults travelers looking for party vibes, there’s no better place for a big night out than a trip to the nightlife capital Miami. Nightclubs, bars, and restaurants host events celebrating the holiday, with drink deals, costume contests, and fantastic energy. Stretches like South Beach almost feel like “adult trick-or-treating” with clubbers and revelers dressing up when they hit the town. Miami also hosts a perfectly serviceable Oktoberfest, with a full-fledged festival celebrating all things German.
Visiting Tampa in October is a delightful experience, especially for those keen on exploring the city’s unique events and attractions. The month is packed with activities, starting with the much-anticipated “Howl-O-Scream” at Busch Gardens, a Halloween-themed event that promises both thrills and chills. October is a great time to catch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game and feel the electrifying energy of the NFL season.
Tampa has one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations of any large city in Florida. The event is held downtown along the gorgeous waterfront. Later in the month, a spectacular array of Halloween events. Overall, Tampa in October provides a balanced blend of leisure and excitement, making it an ideal getaway.
🌴 Related: Best Downtown Tampa Hotels
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, a city adorned with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, offers a captivating experience for its visitors, especially during the autumn months. If you’re up for an adventure, St. Augustine is one of the most haunted cities, which makes for super fun ghost tours!
The Castillo de San Marcos, a centuries-old fortress, stands as a testament to the city’s rich past and provides panoramic water views. And if you’re a food enthusiast, the city’s culinary scene, deeply influenced by its Spanish heritage, is a treat, with many eateries hosting special autumn-themed menus. In essence, St. Augustine in the fall is a mosaic of history, culture, and gastronomy, awaiting exploration.
Top-Rated St. Augustine Tours
With all the events in Orlando, Florida in October, you can’t leave it off the list. It’s ideal for anyone who loves theme parks, especially if you enjoy Halloween celebrations! I also find Orlando to be one of the best places for golfers and shoppers. There’s 100+ golf courses in the Orlando area and some of the best malls and outlets, you’ll have plenty to do!
Best Florida Beaches in October
I’m a firm believer that any day by the beach is a good day!
The weather in Florida is comfortable enough during October that basically any beach is worth visiting. But, there are a few white sand beaches that I particularly like to visit in October due to smaller crowds and favorable weather conditions.
Anna Maria Island, Barrier Islands
Anna Maria Island is just outside of Bradenton, north of Sarasota and Siesta Key. This beautiful stretch of land (located just south of Tampa Bay) juts out into the Gulf of Mexico and features 7 miles of sandy beaches flanked by historic streets and fishing piers. Fishing charters are especially popular for group trips.
Clearwater Beach, Tampa Bay
While Clearwater Beach may have gorgeous beaches year round, but you’ll have a great time exploring downtown Clearwater without the larger crowds. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is perfect for a rainy day, and Pier 60 will provide some post-dinner entertainment. I frequently staycation in Clearwater Beach. For ultimate pampering, my go-to hotel is the Sand Pearl Resort. Plus, Clearwater Beach is just a short drive from Tampa for more fun things to do like football season!
Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island
This remote stretch of Nassau County features some of the most stunning beaches on the Atlantic, but the main feature is its picturesque town. The historic Main Street is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy when you’re not splashing away or taking sunrise runs along Fernandina Beach.
Smathers Beach, Key West
This Key West hotspot is ideal for its miles upon miles of Bahama-imported white sand. Because of the preservation efforts to combat coastal erosion, the conditions of Smathers Beach are ideal year-round. I can’t get enough of The Florida Keys. You feel like you are living in a Hemingway novel. And for those of us living on Florida’s Gulf Coast, you can take the Key West Express ferry and skip the drive!
Enjoying the Outdoors in Florida in October
With the heat finally subsiding, Floridians start to pursue outdoor activities they’ve been putting off during the summer scorchers. The weather is about as good as it will get for hiking, trekking, kayaking, and other activities, and camping is less tedious with the milder temperatures. Even better, October is when pesky mosquitos will finally start to disappear!
Best Florida Camping and Recreation in October
Ocala National Forest (Ocala, FL)
Situated just north of Orlando, this is one of the best camping destinations for travelers coming in from other states. Ocala is only a few hours away from Orlando International Airport, with car and RV rentals being easy to arrange before heading to this tranquil region. The region boasts a wide range of natural beauty to appreciate, including Juniper Springs, Salt Springs, Lake Kerr, Lake George, and the Yearling Trail. Plus, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is a short drive away to see manatees up close.
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo (River Ranch)
For novice campers, “glamping” might be the best introduction to the pastime. Central Florida’s coolest destination is this 1,700-acre ranch that’s been repurposed into a luxury outdoor destination. There are covered wagons that have been converted to camping tents, complete with furniture and even ceiling fans.
I’ve been visiting Westgate River Ranch since childhood, and I say it’s come a long way! If you’re looking for a family-friendly destination for horseback riding, trails, and wilderness adventures, it’s one of the best in Florida.
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (Mayo)
Located between Tallahassee and Gainesville, this trail spans miles upon miles of winding river. This is the best place in Florida for kayakers, as they can paddle between the trail’s five campsites for a convenient multi-day trip down a stunning river.
Final Thoughts on Florida in October
With crisp temperatures and the crunch of leaves arriving in most of the country, anyone missing summertime should look into an “offseason” trip down to Florida. Smaller crowds, comfortable weather, and a variety of events make the Sunshine State a superb travel destination during the fall.
Whether it’s an all-night Halloween party in South Beach or a quaint stroll through one of Florida’s historic coastal towns, empty-nesters, yuppies, and elderly travelers can all take advantage of Florida’s ideal travel conditions during this month. Families will also find plenty of reasons to travel to The Sunshine State. Either way, Florida should be on your shortlist of destinations for your next October vacation!