In 2014, TravelPulse ranked Orlando, Florida, the most visited city in the United States. With 75 million visitors in 2019, it was still the most visited destination in the country. In 2022, the “City Phenomenal” resumes its position as the No.1 U.S. destination for spring break travel. This is no surprise, given the city’s essential holiday ingredients — exotic wildlife, spectacular nature trails, thrilling theme parks, exhilarating rides, incredible underwater adventures, world-class restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Add year-round sunshine to the list; you’ve got the recipe for the holiday of a lifetime.
While there’s no wrong time for a vacation getaway, Orlando is an equally good winter travel destination, or maybe even better. This article discusses the reasons why.
Do Fewer People Visit Orlando in Winter?
Like every travel destination, Orlando has its tourist season. Generally speaking, the winter peak season kicks in during Thanksgiving and Christmas week through New Year’s Day. Martin Luther King weekend and the U.K. half term in February are also busy times in winter. Other than these periods, Orlando receives fewer travelers in winter. In short, the best times to visit in winter are:
- The week following Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas
- January (except New Year’s Day) until just before President’s week in February
Traveling during the peak or ‘high’ season means overpriced flights, expensive vacation rentals, and overcrowded tourist attractions. On the other hand, in the off or ‘low’ season, the crowds are smaller, flights are cheaper, and hotels are quieter and less expensive.
While saving more than you spend while traveling is good, you won’t mind splurging on luxury lodging that appeals to your travel fantasies. When searching for full-service, themed resort hotels near Orlando, look for one that offers onsite amenities, food and beverage options, on-property dining, and one that is close to regional attractions.
What’s Orlando’s Weather Like in Winter?
Because of its subtropical climate, Orlando is warmer than other parts of the country in winter. Throughout the winter, average daily highs are in the low 20s (mid-70s F), with the rare Arctic influx causing a morning frost.
It is a great time to explore nearby theme parks or beaches in the afternoon. Just remember to bring a travel jacket along to cover from the sun or protect yourself from a chilly breeze. It doesn’t mean Orlando’s winter is not cold. Orlando has seen 90F (32C) or higher in November in recent years. January is the cruelest month, averaging 68F. (20C).
How Can You Enjoy Orlando in Winter?
WalletHub ranks Orlando as the second-best city in the United States for recreation, in part because of its convenient proximity to a wide variety of entertainment and leisure options.
- Visit theme parks
Whether you’re looking for a gravity-defying ride or simply the opportunity to capture your friends screaming their lungs out this winter, there’s no better place to be than Orlando, FL, the theme park capital of the world!
Both DisneyWorld and Universal Resort step up their game in the winter. In Universal, you’ll find several holiday celebrations and local events underway, including the debut of a brand-new winter wonderland at both of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter parks. There’s also a Grinchmas event between the end of November and the beginning of January.
If you plan on extending your vacation till the holiday season (Christmas and New Year’s Eve), check out the world-famous EVE party at Universal CityWalk. And if you visit the area during February, attend the spectacular Mardi Gras celebrations at Universal Studios.
At Disney World, too, you’ll find an exciting roster of colorful parades, live concerts, and dazzling fireworks across Magic Kingdom park. After you’ve had your fill of all the live music and traditional celebrations (which take place on certain evenings), feel free to put on your beads and start the party! Sample cuisines from all over the world — from the bayou to Brazil and beyond.
There’s a brand new attraction called Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios. Its snowfall, twinkling lights, and animated Disney characters are not to be missed!
Also, while you’re in town, remember to visit ICON Park. You can view Orlando on The Wheel or the Orlando Starflyer, the world’s tallest swing ride.
That’s a lot of theme parks. Are you sure you don’t want to stretch it to a two-week holiday?
- Attend sporting events
If you’re a sports fanatic, you’re in luck! Thanks to the city’s miles of hiking trails, world-class tennis facilities, and 170 golf courses that rank among the best in the world, every day is game day in Orlando.
Find a fun, lively sports bar in February to watch the legendary Super Bowl and immerse yourself in the rich history of sports in this state. An event honoring American football will be held in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium throughout January. The NFL Pro Bowl will host it.
Soccer enthusiasts won’t want to pass up the opportunity to see Orlando City Soccer compete in the Major League Soccer (MLS). Basketball fans won’t resist the need to watch the NBA Orlando Magic teams do what they do best – play better defense for long stretches and win the game!
- Enjoy delectable, award-winning food
At the Paddlefish restaurant at Disney Springs, you may taste some of the most famous seafood dishes in Orlando, such as Apalachicola oysters, Florida lobster, and Key West pinks. While theme parks are renowned for their character restaurants and stunning dinner shows, Downtown Orlando is undoubtedly one of the most favorite destinations for tourists and locals alike.
Because food plays such an essential role in the culture of Orlando, the Downtown Food and Wine Festival is held annually in February to showcase the city’s finest restaurants and signature dishes. Whether you’re looking for Masaharu Morimoto’s Asian delicacies or Guy Fieri’s famed burgers and sandwiches, you don’t have to travel farther into the city to find something delicious.
Furthermore, Orlando is home to some of the most well-known food experts in the world. Plant Street Market in Winter Garden is a must-visit for anyone who considers themselves a true foodie. Here, visitors can indulge in a wide variety of mouthwatering foods from vendors such as Market to Table, Ceviche Mix, and Morthan Cheese. Pair your order with a locally brewed pint from Crooked Can Brewing Company, and you’re in for a fantastic Orlando treat!
When in “The City Beautiful,” you can have dinner wearing a sombrero like they do in Mexico, eat sushi like the Japanese, or savor the best burgers in town like a quintessential American. From couples looking for a romantic evening out to large corporate parties, there is something for everyone in Orlando’s restaurants.
- Shop till you drop
Winter is the ideal time to go on a shopping frenzy fest. Many shopping malls and centers in the city offer massive discounts during winter months, especially in the days leading up to Christmas and around when the New Year’s deals begin in January.
Visit The Florida Mall or Orlando Premium Outlets to completely revamp your wardrobe instantly and stock up on all the hottest must-haves in today’s fashion industry.
You might also go to The Mall at Millenia for the ultimate luxury shopping experience. Here you’ll find some of the world-renowned designer labels at every turn, not to mention some incredible restaurants where you can take a break from shopping when you’ve had enough!
- Go on an aquatic adventure
At the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium – located in I-Drive 360 – travelers of all ages are treated to a kaleidoscope of colors while 5,000 marine animals wade through their new homes. It would be best if you planned to spend most of your afternoon getting up and personal with the sharks, Green Sea turtles, and jellyfish in the aquarium.
The exhibits of the Sea Life Aquarium are interactive and educational, with a focus on teaching and conservation. Some of the aquarium’s more entertaining elements include a children’s soft play area and an underwater tunnel that rotates 360 degrees.
Lauded as one of the best water parks in the world, Aquatica is known for its exhilarating water slides and two enormous wave pools located side by side. The Dolphin Plunge is a hair-raising roller coaster attraction that takes you through an aquarium filled with dolphins. You won’t be more than a few centimeters away from a diverse array of stunning marine creatures.
At Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, you and two other people will find themselves perched atop trap doors that will suddenly open and send all of you hurtling down one of three slides, each of which offers a unique and exciting experience.
If you would rather rest than ride, you can float along the lazy river or soak up the sun on the sandy beach area next to the wave pool. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll find that Aquatica is a tiny piece of paradise (and thrills) right in the middle of Orlando.
- Plan a fun night out
The nightlife in Orlando is in a category all by itself because of the sheer volume of entertainment options, including dance clubs, live music events, posh lounges, and blockbuster Broadway performances, in this big city. Situated in the center of Downtown Orlando, Wall Street Plaza is home to many amazing bars. These bars range from an upstairs martini lounge called The Monkey Bar and a no-frills basement bar with drink specials and local live music, Tanqeuray’s Bar & Grille, to a casual indoor/outdoor bar called Hooch boasting TV sports action and flavored moonshine, and the relaxing, laid-back vibes of Waitiki, where you can slip off the street and into a beach-style haven with plenty of cocktails and great tunes. Many bars, including Hooch, feature a happy hour every day from 4 to 7 o’clock.
Orlando Improv Comedy Club is a must-visit for comedy fans. Located on International Drive, this club is ideal for a fun night out with friends, replete with enormous belly laughs followed by a stroll down the street to perform some serious retail therapy. Comic greats have performed here, including Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, and many more.
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to jump on the off-peak travel bandwagon. If you avoid traveling during busy holidays, you can take advantage of the dip in airfare and accommodation prices during winter. With some of the best things happening in the city in winter, there’s no doubt you and your loved ones will want to pack their winter wear, book a flight to Orlando, and partake of the fantastic and enthralling experience the city offers!