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Florida is always better in fall. The sticky days of summer have passed, the crowds are headed home, and hotels are offering huge discounts to lure in travelers for the shoulder season. Florida sees average highs between 75 and 90 degrees in September, October, and November, which means you can squeeze at least three more months out of summer. Whether you’re headed to Florida for the uncrowded beaches, discounted attractions, or fall sports games, these five cities offer the most bang for your buck this time of year.
The top five cities of Florida
Panama City, Fla., is the ultimate city by the sea. Visitors can enjoy all of the perks of city life, like specialty shops, historic sites, nonstop nightlife, and world-renowned eateries, while enjoying affordable accommodations in the heart of town or at nearby beaches. Stay steps from the sea for an unbelievably low fall price at the Long Beach Resort by Funquest Properties in Panama City Beach or just over the bridge at the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel in Panama City.
Fort Myers Beach
Know for its sugary sands and crystal clear Gulf of Mexico waters, Fort Myers Beach is even more picturesque when the droves of tourists have left for the season. However, the tourists heading back to school and work doesn’t mean the seaside town shuts down. Visitors can still enjoy dolphin eco-tours, parasailing, fishing, and combing the seven miles of fine white sand. Affordable oceanfront accommodations like the Neptune Resort are much easier to find in fall, leaving you more money to spend on fresh-caught seafood and souvenirs.
Gainesville comes to life in September, and the Gators fans don’t stop cheering until the season ends. There’s no doubt you should catch a game at the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during your fall visit, but Gainesville offers far more than football. Visitors can kayak and fish on nearby lakes, hike, shop the downtown farmers market, browse boutiques, taste local craft beers, and dine at the college town’s legendary restaurants. Stay in the heart of the Gators action for a budget-friendly price at the Holiday Inn Gainesville University Center or Days Inn Gainesville University.
Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city, but its size shouldn’t scare you away. World-renowned beaches can be found minutes from the bustling downtown area, which comes even more alive during the NFL football season. Jax, as it’s known among locals, is one of few places in Florida where you can enjoy the perks of a big city vacation and the sand and sea for an affordable price. Look to Homewood Suites by Hilton for a good value and better location.
Southwestern Florida is as stunning as it sounds, and so is picture-perfect Treasure Island. The oceanside town is located on a peninsula west of bustling Tampa, which means the city’s favorite attractions (like Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium) are less than a one-hour drive from your luxurious seaside retreat. Fall is the best time to find unbeatable deals in tropical Treasure Island, as the hordes of summer tourists leave lavish resorts like Bilmar Beach Resort nearly empty.