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We explain why you should start planning an escape this winter to Central Florida 

When much of the Northern Hemisphere is busy worrying when the next winter storm will bury the driveway or keep the kids home from school, Orlando is basking in the best weather of the year. The winter months in Central Florida see the lowest rainfall, with clear blue skies and mild temperatures the delightful norm. This is what Floridians wait for all year—and what others come down to enjoy. And with the exception of the holiday rush periods, winter in Orlando also sees reduced crowds at the theme parks and many other area attractions. Read on for a few favorite reasons why Orlando is the perfect destination for winter travel.

At the Encore Resort. Photo by Edgar Woo.

The water’s warm—dive in!

For most of the country, outdoor swimming pools won’t open again until next spring. But Orlando and the rest of Florida didn’t get the notice. And why should they? Dipping in a heated outdoor pool under the clear skies of a Florida winter day (or night!) is pure delight. At Encore Resort at Reunion, every 3- to 13-bedroom home has its own swimming pool that guests can opt to have heated. The resort’s waterpark, main pool, and Splash Pad are also heated to a comfortable 78 degrees year-round for outdoor swimming fun.

Dine alfresco

Winter in Florida means nary a mosquito in sight and perfect evening temperatures for eating outdoors. Let the savvy concierges at Encore Resort point you to favorite lakeside restaurants and terraces for dining alfresco across the Orlando area.

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You might end up at a hideaway within the theme parks, or perhaps at one of the trendy bistros in downtown Orlando or along Park Avenue in the European-style suburb of Winter Park. At Disney Springs, set your sights on a table with water views at Frontera Cocina or The Boathouse, among other restaurants. After all, when the weather is perfect there’s no better way to enjoy it than with a festive drink and meal in plein air.

You could also use all that space that comes with Encore homes and barbeque outdoors—even in the middle of winter!

Wekiwa Springs State Park. Photo by Paul Clark

Go take a hike, or paddle along a stream

If you believe that flat Central Florida doesn’t have any hiking of interest, think again. Orlando is home to some excellent nature trails, and beautiful rivers and streams for canoeing and kayaking, too. And the winter months are the most comfortable time of the year to get out there and work up a sweat enjoying them.

Part of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, the Disney Wilderness Preserve is home to over 1,500 species of plants and animals while easy walking trails make it easy to explore all 11,500 acres. Rent canoes and kayaks at Wekiwa Springs State Park to paddle the crystal-clear waters at the spring head and onward into the river, where you may spot turtles and alligators sunning themselves ashore during the cooler winter months. The 22-mile-long West Orange Trail is another favorite spot for a wintertime stroll or to rent a bike for a ride.

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It’s no-sweat season at the theme parks

The theme parks are at their most crowded during summer school vacations and other peak holiday periods such as spring break, the period around Christmas to New Year’s, and at Thanksgiving. When you visit outside of these times—and especially on weekdays—you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to get on the rides at top Orlando attractions like Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And even if you do get caught waiting in a line for a rollercoaster, at least you’ll do it under sunny skies with mild temps. Before you head to the parks, check with the concierges at Encore Resort, who can get you the best deals on admission and know all the strategies for avoiding the lines.

Enjoy Orlando at its best time of the year by booking one of the vacation rental homes at Encore Resort.