While most of us are flocking to our local Starbucks to get our hands on a pumpkin spice latte, the folks in Florida are still sipping on margaritas, and they’re not mad about it.
Although the Sunshine State lacks the fall color and cold snaps that many other areas of the country get to experience, there’s no shortage of fun fall events. Here are my favorites:
Fantasy Fest (October 17-26)
If you’re the type who loves to marathon party, look no further than Fantasy Fest. This 10-day event of non-stop activities including parades, masquerades, street parties, circuses and sideshows is hard to describe until you see if for yourself. You’ll see lots of neon colors and enough tutus to last you a lifetime, as well as every costume imaginable. In case you didn’t catch on yet, this isn’t a party to bring the kids to—but it’s not all adult antics.
There’s also great music provided by island bands, food and fun activities such as costume and dance contests. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the Florida Keys nightlife at its craziest, this is definitely the time of year to do it.
Where to stay: Silver Palms Inn
Halloween Horror Nights (now through November 1)
You think you like theme parks on any ordinary day, but Universal Studios Orlando takes it up a notch in the fall with Halloween Horror Nights. For those who love a good scare and want to relive the vivid memories of haunted houses and horror movies from their childhood, Universal Studios won’t let you down. They take their scare tactics seriously, and before you’ve even entered a haunted house, you’ll feel like you’re the lead character of a classic scary flick.
Studio lots and several “scare zones” are set up to bring nightmares to life, and no matter where you set foot in the park you’re likely to be chased by horrifying characters. Whenever you need an escape, there are also several outrageous live shows to watch, and many of the rides stay open until the event ends.
Where to stay: Enclave Hotel & Suites
Biketoberfest (October 16-19)
Anyone with a love for thrills, beach cruising and the loud purr of thousands of motorcycles is going to have a great time at Biketoberfest. While the rest of the country is breaking out the sweaters and scarves, the main things you’ll want to bring here are a bathing suit and your helmet. The Daytona area has some of the best beaches, as well as some of the best surf-side biker bars, that know how to handle all the traffic. The best part is these establishments are also right by the main stretch of hotels, so you can park your bike and easily walk on over to dance, drink and eat the night away.
If you want to take a break from riding your bike, you can take a trip down to the boardwalk or you can head down to the Daytona Speedway where there’s free demo rides, live entertainment, vendor displays, motorcycle racing and more throughout the Biketoberfest dates.
Where to stay: Hawaiian Inn Beach Resort
Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival (early October through mid-November)
This is the ultimate destination for foodies, winos and Disney-lovers to unite. With a standard day of Epcot admission, you get to experience select wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, culinary exhibits, concerts and all the attractions. There’s also wine tastings, Disney and guest chefs cooking up culinary delights, and the popular Eat to the Beat! concerts leaving you with enough fun, food and drinks to fill an entire weekend.
And if you’ve ever been to a food and wine festival before, I bet you’ve never experienced anything like this. All the food and wine you’ll be enjoying highlights countries and continents from around the globe, giving you an authentic taste of their culinary culture.
Where to stay: Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista
McIntosh 1890s Festival (October 25)
Located between the college town of Gainesville and the city of Ocala, and home to tons of beautiful farm land, lies the town of McIntosh. This Victorian-style town has plenty of its own beauty with tons of century-old live oak trees and the atmosphere of being frozen in time.
The town celebrates this feeling every fall with the McIntosh 1890s Festival, where they have roughly 280 vendors that host booths selling arts, crafts and antiques, as well as hosting demonstrations on candle making, glass blowing and basket weaving.
There is also plenty of music, food vendors, and kid-friendly activities, and history buffs can visit the town’s museum in the restored downtown railroad depot.
Where to stay: Herlong Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn
Florida certainly knows how to put on a great outdoor party, whether you’re looking to go the adventurous route or just enjoy a relaxing day at a fall festival. If you’re looking for one last warm weather getaway this season before winter hits, trust me, there’s something to find in almost every corner of the state that will please everyone.