Florida in May

Summer comes early in Florida! In May, the weather is turning warmer, the winds are dying down, and the sun is shining! The snowbirds are heading north and the summer tourists have yet to arrive!

May is one of the best times of the year to enjoy a trip to Florida. This month comes with lower rates, great weather, and lots of fun!

However, there are some essential things you should know before visiting in May. That’s why our writer, who is a Florida resident, gives you all the important insights to ensure that your May visit will be unforgettable.

In this guide, we cover:

  • Weather in May
  • Water Temperature | Swimming
  • Packing Tips | Outfits
  • Crowds and Rates
  • Best Things to Do in May (Attractions, Beaches)

💡 Other spring months? For more season tips (March, April, and May), visit our guide to Florida in the spring.

Weather

Average high temperatures during May.

The weather in May is a perfect mixture of spring and summer. The winds have died down from the crisp climate of the spring, leaving high temperatures and warm waters!

The average high temperature in May is 82-88°F (28-31°C) in Florida. It is the start of the wet season with occasional rain and warmer weather. Rainfall increases towards the end of May with a monthly average of 2.0 to 4.5 inches.

Average highs in May include:

  • Miami: 83°F (28°C)
  • Tampa: 88°F (31°C)
  • Orlando: 84°F (31°C)
  • Jacksonville: 86°F (30°C)
  • Destin: 82°F (28°C)

The temperatures aren’t that much different from city to city. The further south you go, the warmer the temperature will be; especially in the mornings and evenings.

May is one of the best months of the year if you are looking for pleasant conditions; not too hot, not too cold, but just right!

Rainfall

May is the first month of the wet season. This means that rain will be likely on most days, especially in the second half of the month. Florida can be unpredictable when it comes to weather.

Does it rain a lot in May in Florida? Although it’s the start of the rainy season, May is still preferable to the summer months in terms of weather. It doesn’t rain as much in May and is not nearly the threat of tropical summer storms systems which can happen in the following months

The average rainfall in May in Florida is 2.0-4.5 inches and very rarely exceeds 6.7 inches. Rainfall gradually increases as the month goes on, so expect more towards the end of the month.

Can it rain the whole day? Rainfall won’t spoil your trip, as it usually doesn’t last long. However, it is the rainy season, so you should still be prepared for the few long rainy afternoons that turn into night.

Tip: Longer periods of rain are less likely in the first half of May. Plan your visit accordingly for better chances of longer ‘dry periods.

If you are planning to go to any parks such as Disney, we would advise you to take an umbrella or a poncho. We spent 2 weeks at Disney World in May and had rain every single day in the afternoons, usually after 2 pm.

Heat/Humidity

Humidity is constantly high in Florida. This is one of the downsides of being so close in location to the Caribbean.

The average humidity in May is anywhere between 60-88% and tends to be higher in the southern and western regions of the state in places such as Tampa, Miami, and Fort Myers.

Good to know: One thing we noticed after many late spring and summer seasons in Florida if it rains in the morning, it tends to be more humid in the afternoons.

Daily Weather Progression

May is considered to be one of the best spring months of the year. There is more sunshine and less fog and wind than in the previous months.

Mornings tend to be bright and filled with sunshine, sometimes leading into rain showers in the afternoon, followed by higher humidity.

Evenings: It is finally cooling off in the later evening and at night.

Here is a Daily Progression of a southern location, Miami:

  • 8 AM: 74°F
  • 11 AM: 80°F
  • 2 PM: 83°F
  • 9 PM: 76°F

Water Temperature

May tends to be one of the best months of the year in Florida for a combination of warm temperatures along with warm waters. Beaches such as Palm Beach and Boca Raton have some of the warmest waters in the state with an average of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Waters on the Northern Atlantic side by beaches such as Jacksonville or Amelia Island will have the coolest temperatures with an average of 74 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by the panhandle region with beaches such as Destin or Pensacola with an average temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Miami/Keys: The warmest waters in Florida are always around the Southern tip of Miami and the Keys, averaging around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If warm water is an absolute must for your water activities, the further south you go the better.

Packing Tips | Outfit Guide

With Florida’s subtropical climate, according to some, it is summer all year long!

From our personal experience with traveling around the Tampa and Orlando area this time of year, you can feel the shift from spring to summer starting to happen.

During May in Florida, you wear shorts, capris, t-shirts, tank tops, and light sweaters for cooler evenings. Since it’s the first month of the rainy season, bring an umbrella or a raincoat. Don’t forget swimwear and comfortable shoes.

The complete list of clothing items in your suitcase:

  • Shorts
  • Capris
  • T-shirts & tanks
  • Ladies: Sundresses/skirts
  • A light sweater (for evenings)
  • Bathing suits/cover-ups, swim trunks
  • Raincoat or poncho

Dressing for unpredictable weather in Florida can be tricky, and every day is a surprise.

Please don’t forget the following items:

Comfortable Shoes
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Comfortable shoes are a must, no matter where you go. Don’t underestimate the amount of walking you will be doing.

In particular, when going to Orlando and visiting the theme parks. Without comfortable walking shoes, you might end up with blisters and hurting feet at the end of the day. Please don’t wear flip-flops in theme parks.

Sandals
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In addition to comfortable shoes, sandals with support are a good idea. They are a must when adding water rides in the theme parks to your activity list.

Light Rain Jacket
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It doesn’t rain too much in May but it’s the start of the wet season. Thus, rainfall can happen anytime in Florida. Please bring a raincoat as a precaution.

Maxi Dress
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Ladies: One of our staple ‘go-to’ outfits is a maxi dress. This can be dressed up or down, can be worn long or short, as a bathing suit cover-up, and is lightweight for those sunny mornings. Pair this with a light jacket and an umbrella and you have the most functional afternoon or evening attire!

Additional items to pack:

  • Sunglasses
  • Small backpack for day trips
  • Comfy walking shoes (alternative: sandals with support)
  • Beach bag
  • Hat
  • Water shoes (for water sports or boating
  • Water bottle for hydration
  • Sunscreen
  • Small portable fa
  • Cooler
  • 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. Since the temperature outdoors is mainly hot, the air conditioners are on full blast. If you get cold easily, this is a great tip to keep in mind.

Headache: When traveling in Florida we suggest is always bringing some medicine for a headache. The Florida heat is no joke and if you aren’t used to a warm climate, this could really bring a damper to your vacation.

Rates

May tends to have lower rates for most activities, and travelers will likely see moderate to lower rates as well with accommodation. For the best accommodation in Florida prices will vary depending on where you are traveling to.

Depending on your preference and budget, you can find hostels starting at around $35 a night. Staying in an Airbnb averages around $165 a night, hotels average $106 a night, and full home vacation rentals can be up to $560 per night.

Memorial Day & Cinco de Mayo: Keep in mind, Memorial Day is the last weekend of May, and Cinco de Mayo is the first week of May. This is where you will see an increase in rates and crowds all over the state due to the holiday seasons, especially in cities farther south like Miami, due to the larger Latino population.

Memorial Day weekend, in particular, gets usually very busy as it is the start of the summer season.

Crowds

May is the final month of spring, and summer is right around the corner. Meaning, it’s time for the ‘snowbirds’ to say goodbye to their winter homes and head back north! With the Winter visitors gone, this is one of the best times of the year to take advantage of the lower crowds and lower rates.

There won’t be any particular area that is taken over by tourists and crowds, however, certain cities such as Orlando and Miami are always crowded. These cities are popular for reasons outside or weather and crowds (South Beach, Disney/Universal, etc.).

Local opinion: I would visit Florida in early May if possible. While not jam-packed, the later you go in May, the busier it will be. Schools in the U.S. all have varying schedules, but some in the south get out already in mid-May since they return in late July or early August.

Beach crowds: Always remember, it is Florida, so beaches are always going to be somewhat crowded, even in May, but nothing like how they were during spring break. If relaxing on the beach is what you are most looking forward to on your vacation, May is the ideal time to visit.

Places to Visit / Things to Do in May

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Most visitors think 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 May. There are countless options to immerse yourself in nature and the outdoors in the sunshine state during this month.

Whether you enjoy camping, hiking, swimming, or just admiring the scenery, Florida has something for everyone. Visitors can cool off and go tubing down the Ichetucknee River, or go swimming and SUP boarding down in Bahia Honda State Park. Camping and hiking is also an option in Big Cypress National Reserve, which happens to be right around the corner from Everglades National Park.

Florida Beaches
Miami South Beach

The coastline of Florida is a vacation hotspot all year round because of the gorgeous beaches. May is a superb time to plan a beach trip due to lower crowds, and the weather is still bearable before the heat and humidity of summer set in for the season.

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!

Naples and Fort Myers are favorites among the older generation, but winter is over and the snowbirds are leaving! Now is the time to take advantage of the lower rates and crowds and enjoy the warm water temperatures of 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Miami Beach/South Beach will be the busiest due to its popularity, warm waters, and Cinco De Mayo. The waters here will be on average 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jacksonville and St. Augustine will be the least busy, this is mainly because of their northern location and cooler waters of 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Orlando

The average high temperatures in Orlando hover around 84°F (31°C). Especially in the second half of the month, rainfall increases.

Crowds: Except for late May, it’s not too crowded in Orlando. However, keep in mind Orlando hosts the Fringe festival every year. This could cause the parks to be a little busier, only because of their location to the festival.

Universal Studios | Orlando
Universal Studios: Breathing Dragon, Diagon Alley – Harry Potter

Universal Studios is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Florida. Kids are still in school until mid- or late May, and summer vacation ‘technically’ hasn’t started yet. This means May is a great time to take advantage of good weather, cheaper rates, and lower crowds.

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 in May or in late May). It just gives you more flexibility.

Skip-the-line-ticket: The crowds in May 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)
Magical Castle in Magic Kingdom, Disney, Orlando

Disney World is Florida’s most prominent attraction and perfect for a less crowded area in May when most kids are still in school. Visiting Disney until mid-May is the best choice, as some schools already begin summer break from mid-May to late May.

Additionally, the later in the month you travel, the higher the temps and humidity and the greater chance of daily rain showers in the parks.

While Disney World features multiple attractions, including water parks and golf courses, its main attractions are the four theme parks:

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Animal Kingdom
  3. Hollywood Studios
  4. Epcot

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 to 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 May, and there will be no special events affecting crowds heavily on certain days.

5 tips for a perfect SeaWorld visit in May:

  1. Make reservations in advance: While it’s not jam-packed in May, 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
  2. Pack a light sweater: While May offers pleasant temperatures in Orlando, the animal exhibits and aquariums which are not outside can get quite chilly. A sweater helps if you get cold easily.
  3. 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, especially on weekends in May.
  4. Check the weather forecast: Check the forecast in the morning and prepare for your visit. Light rain showers are fine, as you can do many things indoors. However, many outdoor shows close due to bad weather (rainstorms or lightning). During one of those rare but possible heavy rainy days in May, you might plan to visit the Kennedy Space Center instead, for example.
  5. 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)

May is an ideal time to visit the Space Center as it is not as crowded as in the summer months. In particular, the shorter waiting lines make it even more enjoyable. However, try to avoid weekends and late May (Memorial Day Weekend). Also, keep in mind that you will often spend some time waiting to enter or get onto things, even during the off-season in May.

Must-see attractions:

  • 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.

Tampa
Tampa: Busch Gardens, Kumba

In May, the average high temperature in Tampa is 88°F (31°C). It’s about 10 to 15 degrees colder in the early morning and late evenings.

Tampa Bay’s Sun Coast offers some of Florida’s best beaches, including Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach. They are not too crowded in May, and except for the occasional rain shower, the weather is ideal for going to the beaches.

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 or late May, get a skip-the-line ticket: The Florida Aquarium Skip-the-Line Entrance

Sarasota
Sarasota: Ringling Museum

Sarasota is a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast south of Tampa that was originally the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Average high temperature progression during May in Sarasota:

  • Early May: 83°F (28°C)
  • Mid-May: 85 (29°C)
  • Late May: 87 (31°C)

Early Morning: It’s 10-15°F degrees cooler in the morning (around 8 AM) in May compared to the afternoon.

Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota

Sarasota is a vibrant place with plenty of great things to do in May. From the white sandy beaches to golfing and shopping or nightlife activities. For more tips visit our complete ‘Is Sarasota Worth Visiting?’ with tips from a local.

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.

Must-see/recommended:

  • Ringling Museum: Perfect for a rainy afternoon in May

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.

Another spot you shouldn’t miss: The Unconditional Surrender Statue, which recreates the famous World War II photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse after returning home.

Everglades

In May, the Everglades is generally hot, with an average high of 86°F (30°C) and an average low of 74°F (23°C). With the start of the wet season, rain becomes more common than in previous months, with 12 rainy days on average.

Please read our complete Everglades guide and find out why May is still a great month to visit.

As wildlife starts to disperse with the rising water levels, the mornings and evenings are the best times to spot animals in May. Mosquitoes will usually become more of a problem during this month, and thunderstorms may build up late in the day.

Although it’s getting less busy, weekends can get crowded, especially Memorial Day Weekend.

Miami
Miami South Beach

In May, the average temperature in Miami is 83°F (28°C). This is a great month to visit as it’s almost perfect beach weather. It’s warm but not as muggy and rainy as later in the summer.

Crowds: It’s not super busy, especially in mid-May. However, try to avoid late May as it gets crowded due to Memorial Day Weekend and Urban Beach Week.

Read more about crowds, weather details, and more tips in our Miami in May guide.

Activities: Keep in mind that there is more to experience than Miami Beach and South Beach. Our tips:

Florida Keys
Seven Mile Bridge, Key West

The Florida Keys is hands down one of the best places to visit when exploring Florida in May and during any other month, of course.

In May the average temperature for the Keys are 85°F (29.4°C), and enjoys the most sunshine in the whole state, perfect for sunsets on the beach!

May is less windy than the previous spring months of March and April, making fishing and boating activities ideal.

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 May 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 and 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.
Festivals

Florida is the host of various festivals during the month of May including the following:

  • Orlando Fringe Festival
  • Jacksonville Jazz Fest
  • Suwannee River Jam

Florida also will be filled with multiple festivals and events to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day!

Conclusion

Florida: Sunset Key

Take advantage of this time of year with cheaper rates on activities and accommodation, fewer tourists, and lower crowds in most regions. Whether you are coming to enjoy holiday celebrations, sunbathe on the beach, or relax in nature, Florida has something for everyone, especially in May!

 

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