Florida vs California: From afar, California and Florida appear to be very similar. Both have beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, a plethora of theme parks, and plenty of outdoor activities and sunshine.
While there isn’t yet an East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry, we believe it’s worth looking into so you can find the state that best suits your vacation needs.
Here’s our state-by-state comparison of the Sunshine State and the Golden State, taking into account weather, mood, activities, food, safety, and transportation.
Come Back and Forth
Both Florida and California are easily accessible, but if you’re looking for an international arrival, Los Angeles or San Francisco are likely to offer better value than Florida’s main contender, Miami.
Because they are both coastal states, you can travel by land or by boat, and both have a variety of road trip options.
The majority of visitors arrive via LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), or SAN (San Diego) (San Diego). There are, however, a slew of smaller (but still affordable) airports strewn across the sprawling state.
However, if you want to save money, you should broaden your search criteria. If you’re planning on taking a cruise, you’ll most likely arrive in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Long Beach.
Unless you’re visiting San Francisco, where you can get around using the city’s subway, trolleys, and buses, we recommend renting a car.
The subway system in Los Angeles is extensive, but it may not be sufficient to get you where you need to go. As a result, it’s worth looking up a route map and keeping an eye out for traffic while looking at the buses.
Florida: The state of Florida’s public transportation system pales in comparison to that of California. As a result, renting a car is essential.
You’ll encounter traffic at expected times, including on freeways, and you should be cautious of speeding vehicles when traffic is light.
Tampa, Orlando, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, and Key West are all popular cruise ports in Florida. TPA (Tampa), MIA (Miami), JAX (Jacksonville), and MCO (Miami) are all popular airports (Orlando).
Beaches in Florida vs California
The good news is that California and Florida both have stunning beaches. These two states provide us with 2,190 miles of shoreline to choose from, as well as the option of dipping our toes in the Atlantic, Pacific, or Gulf of Mexico.
The bad news is that making a decision is difficult.
California: Adventure seekers flock to California’s long stretch of Pacific Coast beaches. Spot surfers can be seen in the water, and hikers and climbers can be seen scaling seaside rock formations.
While you can walk to the beach in Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Santa Cruz, some of California’s best beaches, such as La Jolla’s Black’s Beach and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park’s beaches, are in Big Sur, and are often overlooked or difficult to reach. To put it another way, you must work for your reward.
Even though Florida has risen in the surfing rankings, California continues to have the best surfing in the country, particularly in Huntington Beach, Malibu, and Dana Point.
Even though the water in the north is cold, people still make the trip to the beaches, even if it’s just to see the incredible sunset. Florida is known for its award-winning beaches, which stretch from Panama City to Key West.
In fact, the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards named Siesta Key Beach the fifth best beach in the world this year, and Florida’s sandy shoreline took seven of the top ten spots on the list of the best beaches in the United States.
Almost all of the winners are from the Florida Gulf Coast, with the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area proving to be a popular choice.
While snorkeling is possible in California waters, it is best to do so in Florida, where the water is warmer. The Florida coast is also flatter and has fewer waves, making it ideal for laying out a towel or taking a jet ski ride.
Security in Florida versus California
Fortunately, as long as you keep your sanity and stay away from dangerous places, most tourist attractions in both states are safe.
California: Knowing where you’re going and where you don’t want to be is the best way to stay safe in big cities.
As you drive through Los Angeles, make a note of places to visit, such as the Tenderloin, Sunnydale, and Hunters Point in San Francisco.
In precarious neighborhoods, the atmosphere shifts dramatically. Hiking in the woods, swimming in the sea (beware of strong currents and dangerous sea life), and embarking on any unguided adventures should all be done with caution.
Keep an eye out for the “Do Not Enter” sign and the warning message. Because of the state’s large population, traffic is heavy, so be cautious on the roads, especially when it’s raining (or even drizzling) on Los Angeles’ oil-soaked streets.
Florida: There is less tourist crime in Florida, and the crime rate is slightly lower than the national average. Your main concerns are with the environment.
Due to humidity and heat, the subtropical climate is characterized by severe dehydration and unusual wildlife such as panthers, jellyfish, and rattlesnakes.
Visitors to Florida should also be on the lookout for signs of dangerous water or wildlife. The subtropical climate is hot and humid, and staying hydrated requires plenty of water.
There’s also a lot of street rage here, so if you find yourself in a street brawl, take a step backwards.
The climate in Florida versus California
The atmosphere of a location has a significant impact on your overall experience. Fortunately, attitudes in both states are fairly laid-back. In the crunchy world of red or blue, the difference in overall atmosphere is significant.
According to the 2015 census, California is the most populous state in the United States. As a result, expect a large number of locals. Despite the fact that California is a blue state, there are still some areas that aren’t as liberal as others.
Southern California is known for its laid-back attitude, whereas Northern Californians consider it more down-to-earth. Both locations are socially and artistically conscious.
Florida: The atmosphere in Florida can be good or bad, but rest assured that the majority of people respect southern hospitality and let life flow.
There is also a strong flip-flop culture here for visitors. The Florida Keys, where people have a healthy dose of Caribbean cool, and Miami, where things get a little more metropolitan and savvy, are two standout exceptions that deliver their own distinct vibes.
It’s worth noting that, while there’s a laid-back vibe here, there’s also a conservative scent in the air in some areas.
Choosing Between Eating in Florida and Eating in California
Food is one of the most significant differences between California and Florida. On Florida menus, California’s health-conscious cuisine is competing with home-cooked comfort food. Both are delectable; it’s just a matter of preference.
Avocado can be found in almost every dish in California, and visitors will have the opportunity to add it.
Vacationers can also count on good Mexican food, easily accessible options, fantastic global cuisine, calories on most menus, and overall freshness in food in Southern California.
Sushi, Korean BBQ, Thai, or Vietnamese cuisine are some of your favorites. You’re in luck, because California is brimming with delectable, authentic Asian cuisine.
Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get your fast food fix at all of the necessary locations, including the famous In-N-Out burger if you’re in the mood.
No matter where you go in Florida, you’ll find plenty of fast food and national chains. Although there are pockets of culinary innovation, Florida’s menus are largely comprised of burgers, fries, and Southern-style comfort foods.
Because you’re in the South, expect sweet tea, gravy-topped biscuits, grits for breakfast, and fresh-squeezed citrus in your cocktails and desserts.
A plate of fresh fish, key lime pie, and Cuban sandwiches are must-trys when visiting Miami, Tampa Bay, or the Florida Keys.
Weather in Florida vs. California
Both beautiful states have plenty of sunshine, but California has a wider range of weather throughout the year.
However, don’t believe the hype that places like Los Angeles have perfect weather all year or that you can wear a bathing suit in Florida all year (although you can sometimes swim in the warm Gulf in February).
When it comes to terrain and weather, California is known for being a one-stop shop. In California, summers are hot, winters are snowy, fall is crisp, and spring is light and breezy.
While Northern California (Mount Shasta, Big Sur, and San Francisco) has more gray days and experiences more final seasons, Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego) is more comfortable year-round, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, an almost annual heat wave in August and September, and even a rainy season in January.
Florida’s weather is much more straightforward, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. Flurries have been seen in some areas to the north, but they are not common.
Otherwise, drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen in the summer, from March to September, and bring a light jacket or scarf in the winter, when temperatures in Florida can reach the 40s.
The wet and windy hurricane season runs from June to November, and it primarily affects the state’s southern and central Gulf regions.
Activities in Florida versus California
Both California and Florida are great places to visit, whether you’re traveling with friends, on a romantic getaway, or looking for a family-friendly vacation.
Theme parks, outdoor adventures, romantic getaways, and their own wildlife abound in both states.
California is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts because it was designed for the active adventurer.
It’s a state of seemingly unending activity accompanied by a breath of fresh air.
Visit the Redwood Forest to see America’s tallest tree; Yosemite to camp under the stars; hiking, surfing, and climbing; or simply hop on a bike and ride the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Theme parks such as Six Flags, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farm; the San Diego Zoo; and the aquariums in Long Beach and Monterey Bay are among the family-friendly activities (among others).
If you’re traveling alone, take a coastal drive to Wine Country, Catalina Island, Big Sur, or the Pacific Coast Highway. In addition to great shopping, live entertainment, and fine dining, the state has a lot to offer.
Florida is a no-brainer when it comes to choosing a family-friendly travel destination because it is home to Disney World as well as a slew of other theme parks and children’s activities.
Theme parks aren’t your thing? Visit Everglades National Park to see alligators, the Tampa Aquarium to see marine life, Ginnie Springs or Crystal River rafting, or the Key Largo Underwater Park to snorkel.
The warm and calm waters of Florida’s Gulf beaches make them ideal for children. Because Florida is mostly flat, visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports such as parasailing, jet skiing, and fishing, in addition to swampy nature walks.
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