Why you should visit Orlando in the winter

Things to do in Orlando in winter

World-famous theme parks, top-rated golf courses, and year-round sunshine are just a few of the things that attract millions of people to Orlando each year. If you’re considering a trip there in winter, you’ll find fewer crowds, pleasant balmy days, and a whole load of fun things to do.

What’s Orlando winter weather like?

What makes Orlando particularly appealing in the winter is the subtropical climate – this means milder winters compared to the shivering states further north. While the occasional Arctic intrusion may produce a morning frost, average daily temperatures hover around the mid-70sF (low 20sC) through the winter.

This makes it an ideal time to visit the theme parks, or, at least in the afternoon, one of the beaches nearby. Just make sure you pack a jacket for chilly mornings and cool evenings.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the winter weather in Orlando is necessarily that cool. In recent years Central Florida has enjoyed some of its hottest winters on record with Orlando seeing days of 90F (32C) or above in November. The coolest month overall is January which has average daily temperatures of around 68F (20C).

Is Orlando less crowded in the winter?

The theme parks in Orlando are open all year round, and they’re especially busy in the week leading up to Christmas and in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Famed for their elaborate Christmas entertainment, both Disney World and Universal get pretty packed over this period – but it’s well worth the hubbub if you’re spending Christmas in Orlando.

There are a few other busy periods in winter too, like Thanksgiving in the last week of November, Martin Luther King weekend in January, and the UK half term in February, when lots of Brits arrive on vacation. Other than at these peak times though, Orlando is generally less crowded in the winter than at other times of the year.

Things to do in Orlando in winter

Play golf

Winter activities in Orlando

If you’re looking for winter activities in Orlando, the weather is perfect for teeing off on the region’s many courses. One of the best golfing locations – Reunion Resort – is the only place in the world where you can play signature-designed courses by 3 of golf’s greatest legends: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson. The Kissimmee-based resort is home to a host of luxury villas, as well as restaurants, bars, and other amenities. It is conveniently located just 6 miles from Disney World and 20 minutes from Orlando International Airport.

Another top golfing spot is Championsgate where you’ll find two 18-hole golf courses designed by Australian golfing legend Greg Norman. The resort has a golf school and a driving range on-site, along with a swanky clubhouse offering post-game refreshments and equipment rental. Championsgate is home to a number of high-end vacation rentals, as well as a water park, swimming pools, restaurants, sports courts, and a nearby shopping village.

Hang out at the beach near Orlando

Believe it or not, hitting the beach is one of the top things to do in Orlando in winter. It may not be boiling hot, but beach trips are a great way to escape the hustle and bustle, and you can still get a tan on a warm winter day. There are no beaches actually in the city, but take a short drive east, or a longer drive west and you’ll find dozens to choose from.

Daytona Beach is around an hour away, and it offers 23 miles of golden beaches to choose from. It has fantastic attractions for all the family including a splash park, an entertainment center, and lots of restaurants, bars, and arcades. You can park right on the beach so it’s ideal if you’re packing a picnic or carrying water sports equipment, as you won’t have to lug it around with you.

If you head to Cocoa Beach Pier or one of the many other Space Coast beaches, you’ll get a great view of a live rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The Space Coast beaches are within 100 miles of Orlando so you’ll easily make it there and back on one tank of gas.

Enjoy a bit of retail therapy

Fun things to do in Orlando in winter

Orlando is home to some of the biggest and best malls and outlet stores in the US, offering huge discounts on big-name designer labels. It’s no wonder, then, that shopping tops the list of winter activities in Orlando, especially in the pre-Christmas run-up and around the January sales.

Malls, markets, and boutiques can be found almost everywhere, including the enormous Florida Mall which sees some 20 million visitors a year. The Downtown area gets in on the retail action with its buzzing shopping district and a weekly farmer’s market. There’s great shopping at Disney World, too, especially at the ever-expanding Disney Springs which is packed with family-friendly shops and restaurants.

Ride the Wheel or go ice skating at ICON Park

ICON Park is home to a number of attractions and it has in the past hosted a number of Christmas events, like Frostival and an outdoor ice-skating rink with snow machines, so keep checking to see what events they will announce this year. 

Visit the theme parks

No matter what time of year you visit Orlando, you’ll find exciting events and thrilling rides at the theme parks. However, if you visit in winter, you’ll be greeted by some serious wow factor at both Disney World and Universal Resort.

At Universal, you’ll find a heap of holiday festivities and local events kicking off including a new Christmas wonderland at both Wizarding World of Harry Potter parks. The Grinchmas event also runs from late November through January.

For New Year’s Eve head over to Universal Citywalk for the renowned EVE party. And if you’re around in February, check out Universal Studios’ dazzling Mardi Gras.

At Disney World, there are more winter events going on. Besides Disney’s awe-inspiring holiday decorations, there are colorful parades, live shows, and amazing fireworks across Magic Kingdom park. At Epcot, you’ll find food, music, and traditional celebrations from across the globe. And at Hollywood Studios there’s the new Sunset Seasons Greetings attraction, boasting falling snow, twinkling lights, and iconic Disney characters.

Christmas in Orlando

Head south

If you head south, away from the thrills and spills of Orlando, you’ll find some winter sun on the picturesque Paradise Coast. Just take a few hours’ drive down the I-75 you’ll find the kind of pearly-white sands and crystal-clear waters that will have you convinced you’re in the Caribbean.

Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City, and the Gulf Coast part of the Everglades comprise this scenic region which is lapped by the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There are tons of opportunities for shopping, dining, and nightlife. And the area is famous for its water activities including backcountry and offshore fishing, boating, and paddling.

Part of the Everglades National Park is located here too. The entrance is in Everglades City, offering access to the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands and Wilderness Waterway sections of the park which can be toured by airboats, fishing charters, and guided paddling adventures.

Do something unusual

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Orlando in winter, why not think outside the box and check out the city’s more unusual offerings?  You can head to one of the world’s largest Mcdonald’s located at the junction between International Drive and Sand Lake Road. Or you could visit a unique Christian-themed amusement park.

Disney World has some unlikely attractions too. Did you know you there’s a whole other level below the rides and the streets at Magic Kingdom park? Or that you can ride the world’s largest hot air balloon? You can find out more here.

Go wakeboarding

Fun things to do in Orlando in winter

Wakeboarding is fast becoming one of the top winter activities in Orlando. The new Orlando Watersports Complex is open for business all year round and offers a whole range of water sports including wakeboarding, boating, and paddleboarding.

For something a little different why not grab your friends and family and have a water sports party? You’ll get 4 hours of cable time, as well as basic instruction, picnic space, access to the cables, and beach area, plus all equipment rental included. It costs around $30 per rider for a group of 10-19 participants.

Do something free

You don’t need to spend wads of cash on winter activities in Orlando. Both Universal Citywalk and Disney Springs are free to get in and they offer a great mix of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife – and if you visit during the holiday season there’ll be additional free festivities to enjoy.

On Saturday nights there’s a classic car cruise in Kissimmee. It’s one of America’s most famous, featuring hundreds of classic cars and free entertainment for all ages. There are also dozens of parks and historic sites where you can hang out and explore for free.

You can check out a whole load more free and cheap things to do here.

Winter rentals in Orlando

Winter rentals in Orlando

If you avoid the busy holiday periods, you’ll find that airfares and accommodation prices take a dip during the winter months. There are great deals to be found on a wide range of winter rentals in Orlando, including homes located in the best resorts near Disney World.

If you’re thinking of booking a winter vacation and you need advice on the best places to stay then contact Top Villas today. We offer a wide range of vacation homes in the best resorts in Orlando. Additionally, our dedicated Guest Experience team can arrange any added Travel Extras you need such as attraction tickets, groceries, and great-value car hire.

Why not view our full collection of luxury Orlando villas?