It may seem oxymoronic to say that Florida actually has colorful fall foliage displays — but it’s true. Fall in Florida is quite unique!
As a native Floridian, I’ve always grown up hearing about the beautiful displays of yellow, orange, purple, and red that proliferate throughout the Northeast during the months of September, October, and November.
And, while it’s true that the Sunshine State isn’t really known for its fantastic fireworks display of fall foliage cresting over mountainous hillsides, we do have some fall colors in Florida that are worth noting.
What To Expect From Autumn In Florida
So, what is fall in Florida really like?
Well, let’s put it this way – when most states up North begin seeing the first hints of fall color in their leaves during mid to late September, we’re still dealing with afternoon temperatures that reach through the 80s and flirt with 90.
In fact, we don’t really start getting morning lows under 70 degrees on a regular basis until early to mid October.
And since cool, crisp evenings are necessary to help trigger the onset of leaf color change, the science behind fall color in Florida doesn’t even really kick into gear until the leaves up North have already peaked.
So… early to mid November is when the leaves in Florida begin their fall color display!
Some years are better than others when it comes to fall colors in Florida.
For example, every few years we tend to have several colder-than-average days — which, in turn, produce a far more vivid-than-usual fall color show here in Florida.
A typical display of fall foliage in Florida includes scant hues of yellows, oranges, and reds — with some occasional purple.
Of course, in the Sunshine State, palms and firs proliferate. (Those are the evergreen trees that dominate much of the landscape here in Florida.)
As a result, fall in Florida is much more sporadic here than, say, New Hampshire or the Smoky Mountains — where there are many more deciduous trees.
Which Trees In Florida Have The Best Foliage Color?
If you’re trying to figure out which trees in Florida produce the best fall color, here’s your answer:
There are many great places throughout Central and Northern Florida to see fall foliage from these colorful trees.
Yes, Southern Florida picks up a little hint of color in the autumn — but the color is far more muted there than in the northern half of the state.
Best Places To View Fall Color In Florida
So, where should you go to see the best Florida fall foliage?
I love the drive along I-75 from Tampa north to Lake City. This drive takes you through Florida’s hillier region and features a multitude of deciduous stands — all which feature extraordinary color, at least by Florida’s standards.
Another fantastic route for fall foliage drives in Florida is throughout the I-10 corridor. I’ve seen some really deep hues of classic red, orange, yellow, and purple in the extreme northern edge of the state.
However, you still must look carefully — because the fall coloration occurs mainly in blotches here in Florida. Remember, much of the woodland throughout the state is pine, which is an evergreen.
If you’re coming to the state specifically to enjoy fall in Florida, here are a few fun ways to take in the colorful Florida fall foliage:
- Go canoeing in Florida during the autumn and see the colorful stands of trees along the banks of a river.
- Hike on a trail or walk through a park.
- Drive along some rural Florida back roads.
If you’re ever in the Florida panhandle region around early November, check out Torreya State Park — a 12,000-acre preserve with incredible views of the Apalachicola River.
It’s one of the highly popular Florida state parks, and is by far one of the best places in the Sunshine State to view fall foliage!
The 150-foot bluffs overlooking the banks of the river will remind you that Florida is far more diverse in topography than just rolling sand dunes along the Gulf Coast.