By Lauren Tjaden, VISIT FLORIDA
It’s hard not to gloat a little when you’re spending the winter in Florida. After all, you’re apt to be shucking your jacket and smearing on sunscreen while less-fortunate folks are battling ice storms. But delectable weather’s just the tip of the sandbar. Florida offers some seasonal experiences that will make your trip extra special.
MARVEL AT MANATEES
Who doesn’t love manatees? They’re cute, blameless, wrinkled, gray creatures that are shaped like giant blimps, gentle yet huge. When temperatures plunge, these mammals head to warmer waters, such as freshwater springs where the temperatures remain constant — around 70 degrees — throughout the year. In Florida, this gives you the chance to see wild manatees en masse. In some places, you can even swim or snorkel with them.
PLUCK A PIECE OF SUNSHINE
You’ve never really tasted an orange until you’ve picked one fresh from a tree, and it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss. Bursting with sticky, sweet juice, fragrant, a delight to the eye as well as the mouth, oranges are in season from fall until spring in Florida. Find citrus groves where you can tour a citrus plant, enjoy fresh fruit or pick up citrus souvenirs.
Winter in Florida brings crisp, cool nights, which make for good camping weather, and it doesn’t get any sweeter than camping on the beach. The Sunshine State boasts more than 900 campgrounds with more than 100,000 campsites, and some of the best and most popular are located at the beach. The Florida Beach Camping Guide, available online at visitflorida.com, will give you the inside scoop on where to go, from primitive tent camping to hotel-quality cabins and sites.
PICK A THEME
Florida is home to famed theme parks, and the cooler months are the ideal time to visit them. Not only are the temperatures pleasant, but January and February are also slower months at parks like Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Busch Gardens and Legoland, meaning shorter waits for rides and character appearances. Be sure to pack responsibly, though. Have a poncho ready if you want to enjoy any water rides and remember to wear sunscreen even when it isn’t hot outside.