Visiting Florida in December

USA, Florida, Saint Augustine, 'Nights of Lights' Christmas celebration, Palm trees and Christmas lights
••• John Coletti/Getty Images

If you're planning a trip to Florida for the month of December, there's plenty of nice weather to enjoy all of the events, activities, and attractions available for tourists and residents alike during this holiday season.

From the dazzling lights that transform Florida's oldest city to New Year's Eve celebrations at Disney World Resorts and Universal Studios Orlando, there are many options that will put any member of the family in the holiday spirit, no matter which part of the state you plan to visit.

Explore the following guide to find out more about December weather in Florida, what to pack for your trip, and the plethora of events happening this month in the Sunshine State.

December Weather in Florida

Florida's mild climate extends into the winter, but there is more of a chance for cold to freezing temperatures toward the middle to end of the month in North and Central Florida. Average temperatures are listed below, and if you're looking for more specific...MORE information on these popular Florida destinations, take the links to see what's in store throughout the year and more specifics on what to pack.

The water temperature for the Gulf of Mexico (West Coast) ranges from the mid to high 60s, and the Atlantic Ocean (East Coast) waters are several degrees cooler; additionally, the beaches to the south are always several degrees warmer than those in North Florida.

Best Time to Go and What to Pack

At Disney WorldChristmas through New Year's Day is the most crowded, while the week after Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas is the least crowded, and this generally holds true for most other attractions like Universal Orlando as well.

You may want to opt for long sleeves, pants, and a light to heavy jacket for evenings, but otherwise usual resort casual wear is appropriate, which includes shorts if you tolerate cool to cold temperatures well. Don't forget those comfortable shoes for those miles you'll be walking if visiting the theme parks.

You may not be aware that sunscreen is a year-round necessity in Florida. The sun can be intense enough to burn even in December, and you should also bring a bathing suit because even if the water is too cold, sunbathing isn't necessarily out of the question.

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    Rollercoaster at Busch Gardens
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    On selected dates from November 19 through December 31, celebrate the spirit of the season with Busch Gardens Christmas Town, an annual celebration of the holidays featuring thousands of lights, Yuletide shows, and even a special performance of "Sam the Snowman," a new production featuring the characters of "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

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    Christmas at Disney World
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    Christmas at Disney World Resorts is one of the most magical ways to spend your Florida holiday vacations. Walt Disney World Resort is aglow in decorations, millions of lights, parades, celebrity appearances, and more. The holidays are a joyous time at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando. For more details and photos, visit our guide

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    Gaylord Palms Resort is slightly south of Orlando in Kissimmee and runs annually from mid-November through early January, turning into a winter wonderland for "ICE! featuring Christmas Around the World." This popular family experience gives guests a chance to visit a whimsical interactive environment with larger-than-life, three-dimensional ice monuments and sculptures. The enormous structure used to house ICE!—dubbed "The Florida Fridge"—is cooled to a chilly 9 degrees making it necessary for the resort to provide over-sized winter coats for visitors to wear.

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    Universal Studios Orlando's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's and Grinchmas are great ways to spend the holidays at Universal Studios Orlando. Macy's will bring the magic and excitement of its world-famous parade daily to Universal Studios Orlando with a brand new parade experience and at Islands of Adventure; the popular Dr. Seuss book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is brought to life in Grinchmas, a live stage show. Enjoy nightly holiday music and don't miss concerts by top-selling holiday musicians Mannheim Steamroller.

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    Epcot Center
    ••• Richard T. Nowitz

    Epcot's Candlelight Processional runs nightly from November 24 through December 30 each year, one of Disney's most beloved holiday traditions—Epcot's Candlelight Processional—is a joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir.

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    Nights of Lights transform Florida's oldest city, St. Augustine, into a grand celebration of lights and holiday cheer, featuring over two million lights that illuminate the colonial buildings, downtown parks, and historic bayfront. The event has grown to include activities that keep visitors busy well into the new year, with events running nightly from mid-November through the end of January.

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    New Years in Florida
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    Florida celebrates New Years in style, so don't miss out on ringing in the new yaer with Florida's best celebrations and fireworks displays, including "New Year at the World," Disney World's premier fireworks display featuring live entertainment and new attraction thrills.