It may not feel like it, but fall is upon us in Central Florida! I don’t consider fall to start until at least after Labor Day, but the Halloween festivities have already begun in Orlando, so you might as well start celebrating now! I have looked everywhere from St. Petersburg to Melbourne to find all the best fall activities in Central Florida to share with you.
This post is broken up into Halloween, autumn, foodie, sporty, and artsy fall things to do in Central Florida. This includes all sorts of events for people of every age. I have included over twenty-five ideas, including many of my own favorites, and will add more as the fall season continues.
Spooky Fall Things To Do
If you are looking for Halloween things to do without spending a lot of money at theme parks, there are options all over Central Florida! This first section includes scary and silly Halloween things to do, with most costing less than $20 per person.
1. Take a Ghost Tour
If you find the paranormal to be chilling, then you can take one of the many ghost tours in Central Florida! Sanford and Downtown Orlando have tours that last over an hour and a half for $20-$30. You can also find tours in St. Pete and Tampa for $22 that take you to the sights of hauntings. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it can be a fun Halloween experience!
2. Halloween at a Zoo
Central Florida is home to Zoo Tampa, the Brevard Zoo, and the Central Florida Zoo. Each has its own Halloween event, mainly trick-or-treating for kids and costume-wearing. Zoo Boo Bash at Central Florida Zoo takes place on October 14th and 15th and Boo at the Zoo at Brevard is every weekend starting October 7th until Halloween. Tampa is more haunted house-focused and their Creatures of the Night event is every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October.
3. Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Local farms all over the state will have their best gourds Jack O’ Lantern ready by October! The Rockledge Gardens Fall Market in October is a must-visit for me, as I just love seeing all the fall plants while I drinking some apple cider. If you really love pumpkins, head to Brandenton’s Hunsader Farms for the annual pumpkin festival. Here you can find all your fall favorites from hayrides and corn mazes to pumpkin pie and scarecrows.
There are so many adorable pumpkin patches and festivals to visit in central Florida. Here are some more options I have found:
- Fall Festival at the Ranch in St. Cloud – October 14th and 15th
- Eustis Fall Festival – October 21st
- Harvest Holler Corn Maze in Polk City – Weekends September 16th – November 12th
- Raprager Family Farm’s Fall Pumpkin Festival and Haunted Barn – Weekends in September, October, and November
- St. Pete Pier Pumpkin Patch – October 8th -15th
4. See a Scary Movie
Local theaters everywhere love to play classic horror movies this time of year. We saw The Shining last year on Halloween night and found it to be a great way to celebrate! In Orlando, you can visit the Enzian Theater for favorites all month from Nightmare on Elm Street to Casper. There is even a Halloween Party at Eden’s bar there. For a more classic Halloween movie, check out the Tampa Theatre for thirteen nights of scary movies, like Halloween and The Adams Family. Lakeland even has a drive-in theater where you can watch a Halloween movie marathon!
5. Visit a Haunted House
If you are really into being scared, there are multiple haunted houses open throughout Central Florida that can provide a fright! I am too terrified to go to any, but I hear Scream-A-Geddon has the best haunted houses. If you can’t go on the weekends, Mortem Manor provides a year-round haunted house of spooks in Orlando.
Halloween At The Theme Parks
For a purely Halloween experience, all the major Orlando theme parks have some sort of event going on. Universal and Disney World have the most famous events, but the smaller parks have their own Halloween fun as well. Here’s what to expect at each theme park for 2023.
6. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World
Disney World’s beloved Halloween party is going on at Magic Kingdom on select nights from mid-August (yes it has already started) until October 31st. This 8-hour event requires a special ticket that ranges from $109 to $189 depending on the night). You will get to see a Halloween parade, and characters in costume, and you can even do some trick-or-treating! Besides a few fall decorations here and there, this is the only Halloween offering at Disney World.
7. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort
On the spookier side of things, Universal has its haunted house event going on select nights in September and October. This six-hour event costs between $80 to $130 depending on when you go. I have never been because it honestly seems too scary for me! If you like haunted houses, this is definitely the place to go, and consider adding an express pass to skip the lines.
8. Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream
Busch Gardens hosts an event similar to Universal with themed haunted houses. They only have twenty or so nights where this 5-hour event is offered, starting mid-September. If you are on a budget, this is a great option because tickets only cost $45.
9. Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld
Since Busch Gardens is owned by the same company as SeaWorld, the events are pretty similar. SeaWorld Orlando just started their own Howl-O-Scream last year and many locals loved the haunted houses and fewer crowds than Universal. In addition to haunted houses and scare zones, you can also see spooky shows and go on a few rides.
10. Brick or Treat at Legoland
Similarly, Legoland allows guests to dress up and trick-or-treat throughout the park during weekends in October. There will also be LEGO characters in special costumes, a 3D movie, and a Halloween scavenger hunt. This is included in admission as a nice addition.
Fall Food and Drink Events
There’s no denying that one of the best parts of fall is indulging in some delicious treats! Once the weather gets cooler, there are all sorts of festivals and bar crawls going on throughout the area. Since it’s the off-season, fall is a great time for restaurant deals as well! Here are some of my favorite foodie fall things to do in Central Florida.
11. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
The most famous food fest takes place every day from August through November. I go almost every year and I always enjoy tasting the unique dishes from all over the world. My wallet, on the other hand, does not enjoy it, as you need a park ticket to enter and then pay for bites and drinks as you go. However, it’s a fun experience that should be on every Floridian’s bucket list.
12. Downtown Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
My hometown does its own foodie fest for a price much lower than Disney! Here you get to spend four hours trying unlimited food and drinks from the best restaurants in town. This year, it is on November 11th, and you can get your tickets now at this link.
13. Flagler Avenue Craft Beer Walk
A New Smyrna Beach Bar Crawl occurs monthly and you can check it out on the fourth Saturday of every month. I think fall is the perfect time for it because the weather is cooler and it’s basically like trick-or-treating, but for beer! You stop at all the different restaurants on Flagler Ave and get a taste of some unique brews.
14. Florida Beer Festivals
In addition to wine, there are plenty of beer festivals as well. My favorite is the Rocky Water Brew Fest at EGAD on October 22nd this year. SeaWorld has a craft beer festival most weekends in August. Busch Gardens Bier Fest starts on weekends on July 21st. Even Vero Beach is getting on the festivities with Oktoberfest at Indian River County Fairgrounds.
Visiting Tampa Bay is almost always like visiting a beer festival, but throughout fall, there are all sorts of special craft beer events going on. Be sure to check out the St. Pete Piertoberfest and the Dunedin Craft Beer Fest.
15. Discount Dining Months
Fall is a slower period for local restaurants, so you will find some great discounts for eating out. From August 18th through October 1st, many of Orlando’s best restaurants offer a prix-fixe menu for $40 per person. We love going to Disney Springs and getting a deal during Magical Dining Month.
16. Fright Night Bar Crawls
If you want to combine your love of Halloween with drinking, Cocoa Beach hosts a Halloween Pub Crawl on October 14th. If you buy now, it’s only $18 for five drinks at five different venues!
Sporty Things To Do in Central Florida
The cool weather brings plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. It’s still warm, but you can definitely break a sweat outside without feeling like you will pass out in the fall! Here are a few things I plan to do in the next few months.
17. See a Sporting Event
There are all sorts of events for any sports fan from August through October. I plan to see an Orlando Pride game, and the men’s team has games going on as well. Football and hockey both start in August and you can catch a Lightning, Solar Bears, Buccaneers, or even a UCF game this fall.
18. Run or Walk a 5K or More
I’m gearing up for the Cocoa Beach Half marathon in October, and that’s when many other big races start. This includes the Disney Wine and Dine 5k, 10k, and half marathon. I did the half and it was one of the most fun Disney experiences I have had! Halloween races are especially fun because you get to see all the costumes people wear. You can find the Ghostly Gecko 5K in Melbourne, the Creepy Crawly 5K in Orlando, the Zombie 5K run in Tampa, and the Great Candy Race in New Smyrna.
19. Get Out On The Water
This is my favorite time of year to take a paddle on the water or spend the day boating. I recommend kayaking or paddleboarding in the ocean or in one of Central Florida’s freshwater springs. There is plenty of sea life to see during this time of year.
20. Watch or Surf The Swells
Fall in Florida does mean hurricane season. I am crossing my fingers that we don’t get hit, but you can almost guarantee there will be storms off the coast. Local surfers love heading to Cocoa Beach and surfing the giant waves. I am not very experienced, so I enjoy watching them from the shore!
Artsy Fall Things To Do
We may not have leaves that change color down here, but we do have plenty of colorful art to see this time of year! Fall brings about many art festivals in Central Florida with everything from music to crafts. Here are a few that I am especially interested in.
21. Winter Park Autumn Art Festival
I love exploring Park Avenue on Winter Park any day, but it will get even better with this art festival. Florida artists will have a free sidewalk show along the area all day on October 7th and 8th. In addition to the beautiful art to see and purchase, there is live music and workshops for kids.
22. Fall Music Festival in New Smyrna Beach
Flagler Ave is always a great time, but during the weekend of October 19th, it will be especially rocking during the music festival. Come out for a free show, street entertainment and restaurant specials during this musical weekend in New Smyrna Beach
23. Fall Arts & Crafts Fair in Cocoa Village
Head to Cocoa’s historic downtown for a weekend of creativity and fall fun during the Arts & Crafts fair. This event occurs in October annually and is known for being one of the best Space Coast art festivals. There will be over 200 vendors, live music and it is pet-friendly!
24. Clearwater Jazz
If you like jazz music, Clearwater has a festival with live concerts and food on the weekend of October 19th. This four-day event is known for having some excellent musicians and a lively atmosphere.
25. Fall Fiesta in the Park
Orlando is celebrating the 51st annual Fall Fiesta in the Park this year and there will be so much to see and do. Check out Lake Eola Park on November 4th and 5th for a free event filled with arts, crafts, food, and more.
Fall Things to Do in Central Florida
If I see any other autumn activities, I’ll be sure to add them to this post! For now, this should cover most of the fall happenings in Central Florida. I personally am most excited about all the pumpkin-flavored treats. What is your favorite thing to do during the fall in Central Florida?
For more Halloween ideas, be sure to check out my guide for all the spooky things happening in Orlando this year!