When most people think of packing for Florida vacations, they think of taking their lightest summer clothing — even in fall. And while it’s true that here in Florida, we are hitting the beaches and the water parks well into November, that doesn’t mean we don’t get stereotypical fall weather. Yes, even in the Sunshine State, we occasionally have a dreary, gray day with chilly rain falling. Don’t worry about it — the next day will probably be beautiful swimming weather again. But in the meantime, you’re going to wish you’d packed a nice snuggly hoodie alongside your swimsuit.
You also might be surprised to find out just how cold a relatively mild day can feel. Folks from the northern states who are used to a sunny, breezy day in the mid-50s laugh at Florida locals for shivering—until they spend the day outside with that chilly sea-breeze on their skin! Knit caps and gloves are surprisingly hot commodities at Orlando’s theme parks for just this reason.
To keep you warm and cozy (and cool and comfy) we have ten essential items to pack for your Florida fall vacation. (You’ll thank us later!)
- Hoodie/Sweatshirt. You should be safe through mid-October in Central Florida, but anytime after that, pack with the expectation of a cold front sweeping through the state, bringing with it a momentary drop in temperatures that could leave you shivering in your tank top. If you’re at one of our famous theme parks, you’ll find out just how much extra a hoodie can cost because of a certain famous mouse on the front. If you’re at the beach, cool evenings might surprise you even without a cold front.
- Poncho/Raincoat. The summer rainy season ends in mid-October as well, but late fall cold fronts can bring a day or two of heavy, heavy rain. Rather than let this stop you from enjoying the theme parks, throw on a poncho and get out there. Wait times and crowds drop noticeably on rainy days, giving you a distinct advantage.
- Extra shoes. For the reason listed above — you’ll need something to wear while your other shoes are drying out. For an extra-fast dry, stuff your wet shoes with newspaper. The paper will draw out the moisture quickly.
- Sunblock. The sun will come out… and you’d better be prepared. While the northern light might have a relatively light UV index, in Florida we’ll still be in danger of sunburns right through winter. Remember, too, that a thin cloud layer doesn’t block the sun’s rays. Even if it’s gray and cool out, slap on the sunblock.
- Leggings/Pants. One pair of jeans or leggings is probably enough for your average week in Florida, although the later in the season you arrive, the more you might want them!
- Sunglasses/Hat. The sun here never stops. It just stoops to a lower angle that gets into your eyes all day long. Avoid the constant squint with sunglasses or a hat with a brim you can pull down for shade.
- Allergy medicine. Florida is always blooming! You might run into tropical plants you never knew you were allergic to, or find that allergens already past their prime at home are still going strong in Florida’s warmer climate. Be prepared with your allergy meds, even if you’ve already shelved them for the season at home.
- Insect repellent. Mosquito season may be over back home, but much like our flowers, our bugs don’t know when to quit. If you’re visiting the beach, you might also find no-see-ums, a tiny biting bug, problematic. Skin-So-Soft is a common home remedy for both of these biters, or use your usual bug spray. This article at CaptivaSanibel.com has more on no-see-ums.
- Weather app. Keep on top of the weather’s wily mood swings with a good app set to your resort’s ZIP code. In addition to staying informed about severe weather (possible in summer storms as well as fall cold fronts), you’ll be up-to-date in the event of tropical weather. Don’t forget, the North Atlantic hurricane season lasts through November.
- Shorts, Light Tops, Sandals, Swimsuits. We hope we didn’t scare you too much with all the cold-weather warnings. The truth is, the average fall vacation in Florida is full of hot, sunny days that will trick you into thinking it’s still summer! Bring a few extras for the worst, but prepare for the best with plenty of warm-weather gear. Chances are, you’re going to enjoy a warm, sunny fall vacation in Florida!