Winter doldrums getting you down? Dreaming of a sunny escape? Visit Sunshine State! Let the palm-fringed shores of the warmest beaches in Florida thaw your winter blues. A respite from the gloomy depths of the cold season, these beaches will recharge your body and soul with laid-back warmth.
Can you swim in Florida in December?
Winters in Florida are the mildest and about the best you can experience anywhere in the continental US. Even in January, the coldest month, the average highs range from 64°F/18°C to 74°F/23.5°C while in December, the second coldest, 66°F/19°F to 76°F/24.5°F.
The temperatures increase as you go farther south. The same goes for water temperatures; the farther south you go, the warmer the temperature. Based on observations over the past years, the ocean temperature is above 68°F/20°C during the winter months around South Florida which is comfortable enough for bathing. Hint, the water along its Gulf coast is even warmer! So, lose those mittens and scarves, grab sunscreen, and head to Florida beaches this winter.
Top 10 Warmest Beaches in Florida in December and January
Grayton Beach State Park
Sparkling white sands and emerald-green waters form the backdrop for this portal to a perfect beach vacation in Sunshine State. Walk along the shore or swim in the crystal-clear waters of the beach, tucked into the northwest corner of Florida in South Walton. The water temperatures may be cool for most to enjoy, but not a problem for those who like likes refreshing swims.
Grayton Beach is unique for its coastal dune lakes, a geological rarity found in only a few places on earth. One of these lakes, Western Lake, even has an ideal paddle trail to kayak or canoe. You can also do freshwater and saltwater fishing in its brackish waters, while nature enthusiasts can hike or bike the winding trails through the coastal forest. And the best is, that Grayton beach was upgraded with sand mats and ramps, so it is now one of the best wheelchair-accessible Florida beaches!
Caladesi Island State Park
Long to get away from the hustle and bustle and savor the sights and sounds of undisrupted nature in winter? Head to Caladesi Island State Park. One of Florida’s few remaining undeveloped barrier islands, Caladesi lies off the Gulf coast near Dunedin and is accessible only by boat and is one of the less-crowded beaches in Florida. Wiggle your toes into the alabaster-white sands or dive into the calm azure waters that are pleasantly warm even during the winter months if you happen to be here on a nice sunny day.
You can enjoy the tranquil nature trails through the island’s interior. For an adventurous and immersive experience, go kayaking or canoeing into the mangrove forests and do some birding. Despite its secluded feel, the island is equipped with modern amenities for the whole family.
Fort De Soto Park
Set your sights on the stunning Fort De Soto Park if you plan a winter beach vacation in the US! Proclaimed best family beach by Parents Magazine in 2011, De Soto is located in the Gulf of Mexico near St. Petersburg. A virtual playground for the outdoor enthusiast, it offers a slew of activities from swimming and fishing to boating and kayaking.
You can even camp overnight on this white sandy beach where the shimmering waters can be right at your doorstep. There’s also a Spanish-American War era fort for kids to explore. Best of all, it is also one of the best pet-friendly beaches on the Gulf Coast so you don’t need to leave your four-legged friends at home!
Related post: Warmest Florida beaches to visit in March and April
Offering the best beaches to visit in December in the USA, Sanibel Island, a barrier island along southwest Florida is a destination you cannot miss! A short drive from Fort Myers, it boasts idyllic beach weather even in winter. Our favorite spot, Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel Island not only offers several miles of unobstructed swaths of white sand to relax but also gentle waves and tailwinds for windsurfing and sailing.
A top shelling destination in North America, you’ll be amazed by the vast variety of shells the currents funnel right onto the beach! Even if you find the ocean a bit chilly, pristine ecosystem and wildlife sightings await you at the J. N. Darling Wildlife Refuge.
Named after its curving spit that extends like a tiger tail into the Gulf of Mexico, Tigertail Beach is located on Marco Island, probably the warmest place in Florida in December. It encloses a wildlife-rich tidal lagoon that is not only a delight for nature lovers but also perfect for paddle-boarding and kayaking.
The beach itself is secluded, and you may even find a stretch of sand all to yourself! If you’re lucky, you may spot dolphins splashing offshore. Host to a trail that loops through the habitat of over 200 bird species, the beach is also incredible for birding. The park has a playground and full facilities, making it a family-friendly retreat.
Fort Zachary Taylor Park
Located at the southernmost point of the continental US where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico, this beach has the best waters in Key West. Play on the mix of sand and coral rock, swim in the warm blue waters or fish off the west rock jetty.
This is an excellent family-friendly beach in the Florida Keys where you and your kids can enjoy a wide variety of water activities including snorkeling, swimming, and fishing. If you get tired of hanging out beachside, explore the wooded nature trails or travel back in time with a visit to the historic fort in the park. Make sure to stick around and watch a beautiful sunset!
This beautiful palm-lined strip of white sand along the southwestern coast of Key West awaits all beach lovers as one of the warmest beaches in Florida in the winter season. Equipped with all the amenities, Smathers Beach offers relaxed oceanside fun for the entire family.
The soft sands of this largest beach in Key West make it a great spot for relaxation and beach volleyball, the shallow, temperate waters make it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. You can also enjoy a host of exciting diversions like paddle boarding, kayaking, and parasailing.
The southern chunk of Miami Beach, a slender barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach is probably the warmest place in Florida in January. Little wonder so many people flock to this legendary sandy stretch for a winter getaway where no one can get bored!
Catch some rays on the white sands or enjoy a dip in the turquoise waters. The intrepid can try a parasailing excursion. Art enthusiasts and architecture buffs can enjoy a stroll through the famous Art Deco District. Don’t forget to visit the beachfront Lummus Park, an urban oasis, complete with playgrounds for children.
Among the best beaches in Florida in December, Playalinda ranks high with so many attractions and things to do! Imagine jaw-dropping views of rocket launches as you unwind on the beach! It is a common occurrence here! Sand and surf converge in pristine perfection at this undeveloped, protected national shoreline, located along the Atlantic coast near Titusville. It even has a clothing-option section, if you love au natural relaxation.
Playalinda Beach vaunts some of the best waves on Florida’s Space Coast; so, get out there and test your surfing skills. Nature lovers are guaranteed unforgettable sights at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge with its whopping 1,500-plus species of diverse plant and animal life! The refuge is also excellent for hikers and saltwater anglers.
Look no further than Vilano Beach if you want to vacation in a quiet beach town in Florida. Located near downtown St. Augustine but without the bustling energy of the city, Vilano Beach is perfect to recharge your batteries.
If you’re a fan of water sports, this is the beach for you! The heavy surf and strong current make for near-perfect conditions if you want to go surfing or skimboarding. Even kids can have fun at the splash park near the beach ramp. With its mellow beach, intricately tiled fountains, and Art Deco décor, Vilano Beach offers a wonderful winter escape.
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