Some people might not think spring applies to the sunshine state—yet, in actuality, it does. Contrary to popular belief, Florida does not experience a perpetual summer, and depending on where you are in the state, it does occasionally see the mercury dip down into cold, though snow is a rarity anywhere in this land of coastline. Across the state, locals enjoy fresh, local strawberries in March and, of course, Florida oranges. So what gives?
There are three separate climates in Florida: north Florida, from Georgia to just below Ocala; central Florida, from south of Ocala to Lake Okeechobee; and south Florida, from Lake Okeechobee to Key West, the southern-most location in the nation. The frost line, the longitude below which it rarely drops below 32˚F, runs from West Palm Beach on the east coast to Ft. Myers out to the west.
During spring in south Florida, you can awake to 65˚ temperatures and easily warm up to 84˚ by mid-day. South of the frost line, it never snows. Marco Island, just to the west in the Gulf of Mexico, lies below Naples, where toney shops and great restaurants line Fifth Avenue. Here, spring begins in mid-February and runs into April. Temperatures range from night-time lows in the 50s to the mid-80s.
Very low humidity and sunny blue skies are the norm—some say it’s the best time of year. There isn’t too much pollen since the tropical and semi-tropical lush vegetation needs warmer temperatures and lots of rain to bloom. The rainy season begins in late May. Coconut, date and Royal palm trees are quite happy and plentiful in this area, though not native. Colorful tropical flowering plants like orchids have their best display in summer months.
Central Florida has a mix of semi-tropical vegetation and typical southern varieties of plants. You’ll find Oleander and Palmetto trees mixed with pines and a few hardwoods like the Grandfather Oak, whose cousin the Live Oak can be found in the Carolinas. Best known for iconic Disney World, central Florida is also home to NASA on the east coast and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area to the west, the latter of which you’ll find fishermen bragging about the Tarpon and Sailfish caught just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
Spring begins in late February in this region. With plenty of 70˚ days, little rain and school still in session, spring is the best time of year to enjoy Disney, Sea World or Universal Park. Many flowering plants common around the South such as red
camellias, pink and white impatiens, yellow and white Jasmine and purple wisteria are in full bloom from March through May.
North Florida, including the Panhandle, is generally colder in the winter than the rest of the state’s peninsula, though it’s much milder than most of the U.S. Rarely experiencing snow, spring begins in March in northern Flordia.
In the 1500s, the Spanish fell in love with and settled St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. Just north in Ormond Beach, John D. Rockefeller started the trend of the wealthy wintering in Florida. It’s anchored on the east by picturesque Jacksonville, with its harbor-side downtown, and Panama City to the west with its sugar sand beaches.
From mid-March to May, azaleas, tulips, bougainvillea and hibiscus all display their colors. Ocala, Citrus County (just north of Tampa) and Lake County (just north of Orlando) seem more like somewhere other than Florida. Enjoying moderate winters, they boast freshwater boating, fishing and livestock breeding. Rolling hills and crystal clear lakes dot the horse country known for its immaculate estates and champion equine bloodlines.
Start your summer early in the Sunshine State. Be for-warned, however, you may not want to leave!