As a Florida native who has spent many summers at theme parks and many weekends touring my own state, I know exactly what is needed for a vacation to Florida. Whether you are going to the beach, the theme parks, or downtown Miami, this comprehensive list of what to pack for Florida vacations will help you plan for the perfect time in Florida.
After 27 years of being a Florida resident and MANY mini-vacations in my own state, I’ve learned what really needs to be packed and why. Some of these will seem obvious, some of them will need an explanation. Be aware that this isn’t your normal packing list, I’m not going to tell you to bring 3 blouses or 6 pairs of underwear. I’m here to help with the things that are Florida-specific and don’t have a travel timeline. I can promise you that this list will help you have the perfect Florida vacation.
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- Shorts: I hope this one is obvious to you, but Florida is HOT. I don’t care who you are, pack at least two pairs of shorts for your Florida trip: one walking around pair and one athletic pair. You will regret only bringing leggings or jeans very quickly.
- Bathing suits (at least 2): Because of all of the aquatic activities available to you, it would be best to bring at least 2 pairs of bathing suits if not more depending on your itinerary. Bringing more than one bathing suit will give one the opportunity to dry during the day while you are wearing the other one. Likewise, ladies, don’t just bring those sexy, barely-there bikinis, bring at least one bathing suit that you know will stay on while riding down a waterslide at a waterpark or kayaking in the Everglades because I have watched a lot of people lose their bathing suit tops on waterslides. It’s important to bring at least one that can withstand a bit of adventure.
- A pair of Jeans: Florida is notorious hot, but the hotels are notoriously cold. When deciding what to pack for Florida vacations, be sure to bring a pair of jeans for walking around those highly air conditioned hotels. It also should be noted that bringing a cardigan can also be really nice for the hotels. Floridians like their air-conditioning so hotels are usually freezing.
- Sundresses: I truly believe that sundresses are a godsend for women. It’s cute without trying and the perfect pantless option. Plus in Florida, they function as a great beach cover-up as well as a cute outfit for taking pictures in front of the city murals. Sundresses are going to be one of your best friends in Florida. Keep in mind that if you plan on walking on the beach in a dress, it can get incredibly windy so plan to wear shorts under the dress.
- Loose clothing: While form-fitting clothing may seem like the smart option because of the heat, Florida isn’t a dry heat like you may experience in the desert. It is a humid, wet heat. This means that any article of clothing that is sticking to you to begin with will morph to your body and become like a second, wet skin. If you want to stay dry, unsweaty, and airy, choose loose fitting tops and clothing to help keep you feeling fresh through the day.
- Tank tops: Let’s be real, it’s hot and you aren’t going to want to wear a lot of clothing. When deciding what to pack for Florida, you’ll appreciate having some sleeveless options, especially in the summer months.
Area Specific Clothing
- If you are going out for a night in Miami: Miami is a definitely a place where people get dressed up to go out. If you are trying to figure out what to pack for a Florida vacation that includes a night out in Miami, you will need to bring the proper clothing or they won’t let you into the clubs. Women need to dress up and so do men. Jeans and shoes won’t cut it. For men, bring a collared shirt and slacks. For women, it is common to wear a form fitting dress, a nice jumpsuit, or two piece skirt set with high heels. People enjoy wearing bright neons in Miami, but there are also “white” parties that require everyone to wear all white. The Fort Lauderdale area is similar to the Miami scene, but a little less high maitenance. Check out these top 5 things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
- If you are going kayaking, canoeing, or boating for a day: Bring shorts and a t-shirt to throw on over you bathing suit in case you start getting burned by the sun. Make sure that you bring water and beer with you on the boat as well as some snacks. Heat exhaustion is no joke and you will want to make sure that you stay hydrated and have electrolytes in your body. Bring sunscreen, a towel, sunglasses, a hat, and flip flops as well to fully enjoy your time on the boat.
- If you are going to a theme park: find the complete list here: What to Pack for Disney: Items You Can’t Forget for Your Magical Day
- If you are going to the Wynwood Walls in Miami or anywhere artsy: Make sure to bring something fashionable to take artsy instagram pics in. For example for ladies: a pair of high waisted jean shorts, an off-shoulder white top, and some cute tan wedges.
- If you are going to the Keys: bring snorkel gear and extra towels! There’s so much to do in the Florida Keys.
- If you are going to a waterpark: Most waterparks will allow you to rent towels or use them for free (check the website in advance). However you will want to bring flip flops and a change of clothes for after you are done getting wet! Here’s a list of 35 awesome waterparks in Florida to check out.
- Sandals: Don’t forget these, you will end up buying ugly, over-priced flip flops at Ron John.
- Wedges or heels for going out: Let’s be real, wedges are more comfortable, but if you are going out with the rich and famous in Miami, go with the heels. If you are going out in Orlando or Tampa, you can get away with a cute pair of sandals.
- Shower shoes for camping/walking in lakes: If you plan on camping or doing any “in water” fishing or wading, make sure to bring wet shoes. There are plenty of razor sharp shells, stingrays, and crabs just waiting to attack you feet, make sure you protect them if you plan on walking in the water (or gross camp showers).
- Walking shoes: You will absolutely need comfortable walking shoes if you are going to any of the theme parks. If not, a nice sandal will work for about any other occasion.
- Facial Sunscreen: I could talk about sunscreen forever, but basically your face will often require a different kind of sunscreen than the rest of your body. You want to make sure that your face is thoroughly covered and protected from the sun in order to prevent early aging and skin cancer. I like to use Neutrogena sunscreen on my face because it is made specifically for the face and doesn’t irritate my skin.
- Chapstick: Did you know that your lips can get sunburned? Make sure you get a chapstick with SPF in it like this one.
- Waterproof mascara: Waterproof everything really. Use a good setting spray if wearing makeup or it will all come off with the humidity.
- Want to feel fancy when flying and landing? Check out these tips: Travel Tips for Women: How To Look Good AND Feel Good
- Sunglasses: You can always buy a pair in Florida if you forget. Just know that you can’t wear them on rides at theme parks or they will be gone forever so when planning what to pack for Florida vacations, maybe opt for bringing your favorite pair for walking around and a cheap pair for the theme parks.
- Hat: I would recommend like a baseball hat if you are going out on any type of boat or kayak. It will help protect your face from the sun and keep you cool. Plus, it hides your messy hair!
- Bathing suit cover-up: This is a nice thing to have for when you get out of the pool or leave the beach to just grab a bite to eat. You don’t need to get your clothes sandy or take the time to clean up. Instead, just throw on a cute coverup and call it a day.
- Sun hat: Because they are cute and make the perfect instagram photo, I HAVE to recommend them for your Florida vacation packing list. This particular hat is incredibly cute and available on amazon. I love how it looks good and will also protect your face from sun damage.
- Rain Poncho if you are going to a theme park because it always rains when you are at a theme park. Always.
- Gopro: Make sure to bring a camera to document your adventures! I highly recommend a Gopro with waterproof casing because you are likely to get wet or rained on during your time in Florida.
- A good book for the beach
- Bug Spray: Florida has more bugs than it does beaches. Please don’t forget your bug spray. The mosquitoes will carry you away happily if there is nothing stopping them.
- Sports sunscreen: There are many different kinds of sunscreens out there, but I would highly recommend getting a sport sunscreen that is the spray kind like this one. While the lotion sunscreens go on thicker, they take a lot longer to dry and leave you feeling incredibly greasy. Often times, you won’t want to wait the appropriate time for it to dry before jumping in the water. When creating your Florida vacation packing list you want the best sunscreen for you activities. The sport variety are waterproof, won’t leave you feeling greasy, and are very easy to re-apply (which you should do every two hours) making them the perfect option.
- Aloe: If you aren’t from Florida, it’s like a 99% chance that you will get sunburned while in Florida. Honestly the best cure for a sunburn is some good old fashioned aloe. It is cooling and will provide you some sweet relief to your lobstery-red skin.
- Beach Towel: Don’t buy one of the overpriced touristy ones unless you REALLY want to. Bring your own.
- Camping Chairs: You can use them for the beach or the springs.
- Beach bag: Trust me, it is super nice to have a bag just to throw what you need in and take with you to the beach. Just be aware that this bag WILL get sandy. Don’t take a precious purse with you, just get a giant tote and go.
- Theme park bag: A theme park bag will look different than a beach bag. You don’t want to carry a huge tote around Disney with you. Instead, I would recommend a small backpack. Something that can fit some pain killers, a poncho, and a few water bottles.
Is there anything that I should add to this Florida vacation packing list? Comment with your opinions below!
Planning a Florida Adventure? Check out these other tips!
- 8 Things to Do in Orlando That Aren’t Disney World
- Cute Outfits for Florida Vacation from Amazon That Make Packing Easy
- The Best Trail Near Gainesville, Florida: San Felasco Hammock Trail
- Interview with a Disney Insider: Tips and Stories You Don’t Want to Miss
- The Ultimate List of Wild Camping Essentials
- 19 Best Natural Springs Near Orlando, Florida