The holidays are over, and the new year has officially started. January is a superb time of year to visit Florida and take some much-needed rest after the busy holiday season.
It tends to be peaceful and calm this time of year, with not too many visitors or tourists; except for cities where snowbirds reside.
This January guide covers:
- Outfits/What to Wear
- Things to Do
Visiting the sunshine state in January also offers some of the best views of nature, above and below the surface of the ocean. With no heavy rain and clear skies, it would be hard not to enjoy this time of year.
However, there can be some downsides in January. We have all the essential tips from a Florida resident to ensure a fabulous trip.
Bonus: For more season tips, visit our guide to Florida in the winter.
This month crisp air and cooler temperatures. However, as it’s still warm and pleasant, January weather gives visitors a great chance to escape the freezing temperatures up north.
In Florida, the average high temperature in January ranges from 62°F to 74°F (17-23°C). The average low temperature is 57°F (14°C). It is the middle of the dry season, with higher winds and cooler weather, but still warm enough. Rainfall is highly unlikely, with a monthly average of 2.2 inches.
The weather this month allows visitors to be comfortable outside most of the day without it being too hot or humid and makes it easier to enjoy physical activities.
Average highs in January for the most popular cities and places:
- Miami: 74°F (23°C)
- Tampa: 71°F (21°C)
- Orlando: 72°F (22°C)
- Jacksonville: 66°F (19°C)
- Destin: 62°F (17°C)
If you plan to visit in December as well, read our complete guide about the Florida weather and things to do in December.
January is in the middle of the dry season in Florida and sees very little rainfall this time of year. You will almost never see snow, only on occasion in the northern regions, and most days are sunny and bright. You shouldn’t worry this month about rain affecting your vacation.
While it is the dry season, we have experienced nights in January with the occasional storm.
Miami/Local Opinion: While Miami is one of the warmest places in Florida during January, cloudy and cool weather can still happen here on about 4-6 days on average. However, rain is normally not a big problem, typically not all-day rain in winter.
The average rainfall in January in Florida is 2.2 inches, making it the driest month of the year and a highly unlikely chance of rain.
Florida is close enough to the Caribbean to have high humidity levels all year round. Most of the year this is obvious and there is a noticeable difference when the seasons shift. However, even with the humidity being present, it isn’t too noticeable this time of year.
In Florida, the average humidity in January is anywhere between 53-87% and tends to be higher in the morning hours. Humidity isn’t too much of a problem during this month, and visitors should be able to enjoy the outdoors without getting too hot.
Daily Weather Progression
January is considered to be the driest month of the year, and also the coolest month of the year to visit the sunshine state. Mornings start off cooler, but temperatures warm up by mid-afternoon.
Mornings tend to be foggy with the lowest temperatures of the day.
Evenings: It is cooling off in the later evening after the sun goes down.
Here is a Daily Progression of a southern location, Miami:
- 8 AM: 66°F
- 11 AM: 72°F
- 2 PM: 75°F
- 9 PM: 68°F
Water Temperature | Swimming
January has some of the coldest water temperatures of the year in Florida. For most people, it will be too cold to swim unless, in the most southern regions, like West Palm Beach, Key West, and Miami. The average ocean temperature is 60-62°F in the north and 71-74°F in the south.
💡 If you are wanting to do any type of water sport or activity, we highly suggest places like West Palm Beach, Key West, and Miami Beach. They have some of the warmest waters this time of year
Visiting North Florida? Water temperatures in the Northern part of the state will be a lot cooler and have more winds as well. The panhandle region will have the coldest waters of the state, with an average of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by Jacksonville on the Atlantic side, with waters of 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to Bring | What to Wear
Florida offers visitors a subtropical climate all year. It is still rather warm in January, especially for it being winter in the rest of the country. However, there are some regions, as well as morning and nighttime hours, that can get right down cold. Thus, you need to pack and dress accordingly.
In January, you can often wear shorts and t-shirts in southern Florida. For the northern regions and colder mornings and evenings, bring long-sleeve clothing items, sweatshirts, and sweaters. Wear clothing that can be layered easily and can be taken on and off as needed throughout the day.
During the month of January, the list of clothing items in your suitcase should include:
- Shorts (if going further south)
- T-shirts (long sleeves for layering)
- Long loose pants/leggings
- A summer sundress (just in case)
- Bathing suits/cover-up, swim trunks
- Sweatshirt or sweater
- Sweatpants (nighttime hours)
Dressing for Florida weather can be difficult when going in the middle of winter during January. That’s why layering is key.
Comfortable shoes: You should wear comfortable shoes most of the time. Don’t underestimate the amount of walking. In particular, in theme parks like Disney, it’s likely that you will be walking over 10 miles. Without comfortable walking shoes, you end up with blisters and hurting feet at the end of the day. Please don’t wear flip-flops in the theme parks.
Additional items to pack:
- Small backpack for day trips
- Comfy walking shoes
- Beach bag
- Water shoes (for water sports or boating)
- Water bottle for hydration
- Mickey Mouse ears for Disney.
Restaurant tip: When staying in Florida, we always keep a sweater or light jacket handy throughout the day for dining out in indoor restaurants. Florida sees warmer temperatures compared to the northern states, and some facilities have a/c running even in January. If you get cold easily, this is a great tip to keep in mind.
With fewer travelers in most places, the rates are average, or even on the lower side of the spectrum. A lot of people are still recovering from Christmas, and the first of the year can be rather hectic, and not the best time to take a vacation, depending on your job. This is a great time of the year to take advantage of the lower prices.
Good to know: The rates will be slightly higher in certain cities due to an increase in seasonal residents and snowbirds. Expect things to be a little higher in cities like Fort Myers, Naples, Or Sarasota, compared to cities like Pensacola or Jacksonville.
- 10 Best Hotels in Orlando (via booking.com)
- 10 Best Hotels in Sarasota (don’t miss this city! Read more below)
- 10 Best Tampa Hotels (via booking.com)
- 10 Best Hotels in Miami
The hotel links above are really useful to save time and money. Bookmark your preferred hotels/cities and make your reservations a few weeks in advance as possible to save money.
Depending on your preference and budget, you can find hostels starting at around $30 a night. Staying in an Airbnb averages around $150 a night, hotels start at $32 a night and go up from there, and full home vacation rentals can be up to $500-$600 per night.
January is a month with few tourists and few vacations happening. However, certain areas will still have high crowds during this time of year in Florida. Well-known cities such as Miami and Orlando, and cities with a high number of snowbirds, like St. Pete or Naples, tend to increase visitors, at beaches and theme parks, especially.
Local opinion: Locals flock to the beaches this time of year. With fewer family vacations happening, and just for the fact of being able to go to the beach in the middle of winter. Traffic tends to be quite thick near beach towns, so plan for extra time just in case.
Beach crowds: Always remember, it is Florida, so beaches are always going to be somewhat crowded. January brings cooler waters and cooler temperatures, but beaches with more seasonal residents will still see higher crowds on pleasant days.
Places to Visit / Things to Do
When visiting Florida you are probably thinking about the major attractions in Orlando (Disney, Universal, Sea World) and the beaches across the state. However, beaches and theme parks aren’t the only way to enjoy Florida in January.
January is one of the best times of the year to go to do outdoorsy activities such as diving, snorkeling, hiking, and golfing. This month is also filled with festivals as well, so there is without a doubt something for everyone.
Florida is the host of various festivals during the month of January including the following:
- Gasparilla Pirate Festival
- Florida Manatee Festival
- St. Augustine Film Festival
- Key West Food and Wine Festival
Florida also will be filled with various other events in January such as rodeos, auctions, and art shows.
The coastline of Florida is a vacation hotspot all year round because of the gorgeous beaches. January beaches tend to be filled with seasonal residents (snowbirds) and locals as well; soaking up the sun rays in the middle of ‘winter.’
The Florida Keys is one of our personal favorites this time of year. Last time we did a fantastic deep sea fishing excursion due to warm waters of 80 degrees and fewer winds.
Dry Tortuga National Park is also located at the bottom of the keys, the most southern national park in the country and one of the best spots for snorkeling!
Miami Beach/South Beach is one of the best places to be if you are wanting to avoid bad weather and has waters of up to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
On our last trip to Miami in January, the beaches weren’t crowded, but they weren’t empty either; a good ‘in between’ number of people. The waters were chilly but not cold, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!
West Palm Beach and the rest of the Treasure Coast is an attractive spot this time of year with warm temperatures and waters of 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
Good to Know: Beaches in cities with more seasonal residents tend to have the most crowded beaches during this month, such as Clearwater or Fort Myers.
The average high temperatures in Orlando hover around 72°F (22.2°C). Orlando usually stays pretty dry all month with little to no rainfall.
Crowds: You’ll see average crowds in Orlando during January due to its popularity and a wide variety of theme parks but nothing too drastic like the month of December.
Universal Studios | Orlando
Universal Studios is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Florida. Kids are back in school, and January is not a popular month for family vacations. The Rock the Universe event happens in January, and visitors can enjoy various concerts during this time.
- Tip: Hotels in Universal Studio Resort (stay there to save time)
Is the park-to-park ticket worth it? The park-to-park ticket allows you to roam between the three parks (see below) on the same day. You definitely should get it if you are a Harry Potter fan, as you can only ride the Hogwarts Express with this ticket.
Additionally, some visitors always get the park-to-park ticket as they love to move around, particularly if it’s too busy in one park (for example, if you visit on a weekend.) It just gives you more flexibility.
Skip-the-line-ticket: The crowds in January are usually low enough to do Universal Studios without the express/skip-the-line ticket.
Three parks: Universal Studios is not just one park. There are a total of three Universal parks, each with its own theme and unique attractions:
- Universal Studios Florida
- Islands of Adventure
- Volcano Bay Water Park
Walt Disney World | Orlando (Nearby)
Disney World is Florida’s most prominent attraction and perfect for a slightly less crowded area in January when most kids are in school. Additionally, visiting Disney in January allows you to enjoy your time at the park, without humidity levels being through the roof.
Rain is very uncommon in January, so you have less of a chance of a rainshower affecting your day in Disney World.
While Disney World features multiple attractions, including water parks and golf courses, its main attractions are the four theme parks:
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
Tickets: For a hassle-free experience, get the base tickets in advance: Walt Disney World Orlando – Admission Base Tickets 2-7 days (mobile voucher or printed voucher)
How many days? 5-7 days are recommended for the best Disney World experience. If you only have two or three days, visit Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom or Epcot. Magic Kingdom is the best park as its rides and attractions have more magic than anything else.
In general, plan 1-2 days for each of the four parks in Disney World Orlando. Park experts recommend two days for each park, except Animal Kingdom, which can be easily done within a day.
SeaWorld | Orlando
When visiting Sea World in Orlando, you get the fantastic chance to see penguins, otters, dolphins, and other amazing sea creatures up close. The park won’t be too crowded in January, and there will be no events affecting crowds heavily on particular days.
5 tips for a perfect SeaWorld visit in January:
- Make reservations in advance: While it’s not jam-packed in January, it’s still not fun waiting in a long line. Save time and money by purchasing (mobile or printed voucher) tickets in advance: Park Admission Ticket Reservation
- Pack a light sweater: While January brings pleasant temperatures during the day in Orlando, the animal exhibits and aquariums which are not outside can get quite chilly. A sweater helps if you get cold easily.
- Arrive early at the shows: As the number of daily shows is limited, they often fill up quickly. In particular, the dolphin show, Dolphin Adventures, and Shamu’s close-up, Orca Encounter. Try to arrive 20 to 30 minutes before showtime.
- Check the weather forecast: Check the forecast in the morning and prepare for your visit. January is typically a dry month with very little rainfall. However, it’s never impossible. Keep in mind, light rain showers are fine, as you can do many things indoors.
- Bring rain gear: You can get wet easily during one of the water rides or in the splash zone of the shows. We recommend bringing some rain gear or wearing clothes that dry quickly.
Kennedy Space Center | Orlando (Nearby)
The Kennedy Space Center is worth visiting and is only a 50-minute-drive from Orlando. You can either buy the admission ticket (mobile or printed voucher) solo or one where you don’t have to worry about driving as it includes transport from and to Orlando (via GetYourGuide – safe booking)
January is an ideal time to visit the Space Center as it is not as heavily crowded as in the summer months. In particular, the shorter waiting lines make it even more enjoyable. However, try to avoid weekends if possible. Also, keep in mind that you will often spend some time waiting to enter or get onto things, even during the off-season.
- Watch a rocket launch
- See a real space shuttle
- Go behind the gates (NASA restricted areas)
- Take the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center
Guided tour: You can explore everything on your own, but a guided tour is highly recommended since the area is overwhelming in its size and scope.
In January, the average high temperature in Tampa is 71°F (21.6°C) and the average low temperature is usually around 53°F (11.6°C)
Tampa Bay’s Sun Coast offers some of Florida’s best beaches, including Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach. These beaches tend to draw a high number of seasonal and local residents in January on days with pleasant weather.
Besides hitting the beaches, Tampa has some great activities to offer for the whole family. Our tips:
Busch Gardens: Tampa’s huge theme park features intriguing wildlife with more than 2000 animals from around the world, huge roller coasters, live shows, restaurants, and games. Spend a full day at Busch Gardens. Ticket reservations (mobile voucher or printed): Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Ticket & Multi-Park Options
Florida Aquarium: The Florida Aquarium is located on the southeastern edge of downtown Tampa. It’s truly fascinating and has a huge collection of marine life, with 14,000 animals, including stingrays, moray eels, and turtles. Consider 2-3 hours for your visit. If you plan to visit when it’s busier on a weekend, get a skip-the-line ticket: The Florida Aquarium Skip-the-Line Entrance
Sarasota is a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast south of Tampa that was originally the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Crowds: This region attracts a lot of snowbirds and seasonal residents, as well as permanent retirees as well, so expect January to be busy.
Early Morning: It’s cold in the mornings when the sun first rises. We would always wear long pants and sleeves during this time of year in the early morning hours.
Sarasota is a vibrant place with plenty of great things to do. From the white sandy beaches to golfing and shopping or nightlife activities.
The Mote Marine Laboratory, which is ideal for small children, and the historical Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are two of Sarasota’s main attractions.
Tours by bike or bus are a fantastic way to experience the city, but you can also do it on your own.
- Ringling Museum: Perfect alternative to the beach for a cooler day in January.
Tip: To discover the main attractions as well as the hidden neighborhoods, book a Sarasota sightseeing tour. It covers the historic downtown neighborhoods of Gillespie Park, Burns Court, Laurel Park, St. Armands Circle, and the Rosemary Design District.
In January, the Everglades is generally cool with lower temperatures (low for Florida), with an average high of 76°F (24.4°C) and an average low of 62°F (16.6°C). Rain is very rare this month, making this one of the best times of the year to visit the Everglades.
Please read our complete Everglades guide and find out why January is a wonderful month to visit.
The water levels are usually low, making it a lot easier and a lot more common to spot a lot of diverse wildlife. It is also very dry, so fewer mosquitoes and other biting bugs that are common in the wetter months.
Weekends are the most crowded, so opt for a morning trip through the week if possible.
Crystal River | Manatee Viewing & Swimming
If you haven’t been to Three Sisters Springs in Florida (Google Maps Location) to swim with manatees, you’re missing out! If you are not into snorkeling, it’s also possible to watch them from the viewing area.
January is a prime month during the manatee season and the best time to swim with manatees in Crystal River. A huge number of these fascinating giants are here now as their population swells to its largest size.
During January in Miami, the average temperature is 74°F (23°C). This is a great month to visit as it has great beach weather and is the best place to have consistent warmer days this month.
Crowds: It’s not super busy, but Miami is always rather populated due to its southern location and popularity. On our last trip to Miami we had average crowds but were the most noticeable on the roads, traffic can get heavy. Beaches and restaurants felt like average days at the beach.
Activities: Keep in mind that there is more to experience than Miami Beach and South Beach. Our tips:
- Everglades National Park: Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show (starts in Gator Park)
- Miami: 45-Minute Sightseeing Speedboat Tour (mobile tickets): A thrilling ride through Miami with the best sights
- Miami: South Beach 30-Minute Plane Tour: Experience amazing views of South Miami with a terrific pilot
- Miami: City Cruise to Millionaire’s Homes & Venetian Islands (our tip!)
The Florida Keys is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit when exploring Florida in January and during any other month, of course.
In January, the average temperature for the Keys is 75°F (23.8°C), and enjoys the most sunshine in the whole state, perfect for sunsets on the beach.
The Keys have some of the best diving and snorkeling spots in the country, which attract visitors from all over the world.
The Florida Keys cater to various types of travelers and there is something for everyone. This area is great for sportsmen, beach lovers, foodies, and history buffs of all ages.
Activities around the Keys
- Key West: The best ‘all around’ beach in the Keys and one of our favorites in all of Florida. It’s warm and ideal for living the island life at its best!
- Key Largo: Famous for being the Dive Capital of the world and being the site for the biggest artificial reef. Make sure to visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during your visit.
- Dry Tortugas National Park: The most southern National Park in the country, is the perfect place to learn about history. Take a tour to the island and learn about legends of sunken treasures, pirates, and ghostly civil war stories. Divers will also love this place because it has some of the least disturbed reefs in the whole country.
- Snorkeling: There are countless world-class snorkeling spots all over the Florida Keys.You can take boat tours to various locations, or just walk right in the water and explore at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
- Seven Mile Bridge: This is amongst the longest bridges in the world, connecting the Florida Keys islands. It was also featured in various television dramas such as Burn Notice. Drive down over the water for some of the most spectacular views of a lifetime!
- Bahia Honda State Park: Bahia Honda State Park offers visitors an award-winning beach, a historic bridge, snorkeling tours, kayak adventures, and the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.Keep in mind, this park will close if it gets too crowded, to protect the environment and assure visitors enjoy their time. The park is open daily from 8:00am until sunset.
January is one of the best times to visit Florida if you are trying to avoid the humidity. The crisp dry air during this month allows visitors to peacefully enjoy their time at beaches, theme parks and all the other attractions Florida has to offer. A trip to Florida in January is perfect for a summer vacation in the middle of winter.