Visiting Florida in January

Events, Weather, and What to Expect This Winter

Gasparilla Pirate Festival
••• The Gasparilla Pirate Festival. getdown/Flickr

Winter is a popular time for people across the northern United States to travel south to Florida for a chance to escape the cold, and in January, visitors to the Sunshine State can leave their winter coats at home and enjoy the sun on one of the state's many beaches or attend some one-of-a-kind events.

New Year's Day through the first week of January will usually see average crowds at Central Florida's theme parks—attendance at Disney World is typically the least crowded from the second week of January through the first week in February, and the same holds true for most other theme parks and attractions.

Whether you're going to Universal Orlando or Disney World in January, it's important to know what to expect. Generally, Florida's daytime temperatures are easily tolerated by most visitors, but if you are visiting north Florida, you may need warmer clothing during the day and something heavier than a sweater at night.

January Weather and Water Temperatures

Florida's mild climate extends into the winter months, but there is a chance for cold temperatures and even frost during the month in North and Central Florida. Average temperatures are listed below, but if you're looking for more specific information on these popular Florida destinations, take the links to see what's in store throughout the year.

One plus for a January visit is that hurricane season doesn't begin until June 1 and frequent cold fronts that roll through the state seldom produces violent weather. The water temperature for the Gulf of Mexico (West Coast) ranges from the high 50s to high 60s.

The Atlantic Ocean's (East Coast) waters average mid-to-high 50s from Central Florida north. The beaches to the south—West Palm Beach, Miami, and The Keys—are always several degrees warmer than those in North Florida.

January Events: Lights and Pirates

If you're visiting northeast Florida in the early part of the month and still in the holiday spirit, consider heading over to the oldest city in America, St. Augustine, where millions of holiday lights illuminate the entire downtown area. The "Nights of Lights" festival runs from late November 2017 through February 1, 2018, and features over two million lights that illuminate the colonial buildings, downtown parks, and historic bayfront as well as a series of special events that will keep visitors busy well into the new year.

On the other hand, if you're feeling a bit more adventurous and heading to Tampa in Central Florida at the end of the month, consider checking out the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival has, for a century, sailed into downtown Tampa. Hundreds of colorfully costumed pirates will "invade" the city aboard the Jose Gasparilla with canons and pistols blazing, accompanied by a flotilla of hundreds of boats.

Later, Jose Gaspar and the Mystic Krewe captures (with little resistance) the city and shares their wealth of trinkets and doubloons with the enthusiastic crowd along the Parade route, making for a fun-filled day that might make you think you're in one of Disney's "Pirates of the Carribean" films.