When to Go

Peak season is Memorial Day to Labor Day, with another spike during spring break. Inland, especially in Tallahassee, high season is during the fall (football) and March to April. Vendors, attractions, and other activities are in full swing in the summer. There's a "secret season" that falls around October and November: things quiet down as students go back to school, but restaurants and attractions keep normal hours and the weather is moderate.

Top Festivals

Destin Fishing Rodeo. Anglers young and old compete in offshore and inshore categories in the competition, that lasts throughout October. Even those who aren't fishing can enjoy the nightly weigh-ins and several events, some geared toward children. The festival ends with Halloween on the Harbor, a night of fun and fireworks. All events are free and open to the public. Destin, Florida, 32540. 850/837–6734; www.destinfishingrodeo.org.

Florida Seafood Festival. In November Apalachicola celebrates its seafood industry with oyster-shucking and -eating contests, as well as blue-crab races, a 5K, parade, Blessing of the Fleet, and entertainment, not to mention lots and lots of fresh, delicious seafood. Apalachicola, Florida, 32328. 850/653–4720; www.floridaseafoodfestival.com.

Pensacola Seafood Festival. Fried, broiled, battered, grilled, or served gourmet—the fish options abound at this fall event in downtown Pensacola. And while that's the main course, side dishes to this family-friendly festival are arts and crafts, cooking demonstrations, children's activities, and live entertainment. Pensacola, Florida, 32502. 850/433–6512; www.pensacolaseafoodfestival.com.

Springtime Tallahassee. Held in late March or early April, the capital city's major downtown festival draws thousands with its crowd-pleasing parade and a jubilee on Saturday featuring food and handmade works, as well as stages with entertainment. Country music plays Friday night at the free Music Festival on Kleman Plaza. Tallahassee, Florida, 32308. 850/224–5012; www.springtimetallahassee.com.

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