The best places to see snow near Florida

Many people who see winter as a depressing time of the year only think of the negative aspects like shoveling snow, scraping ice off the car windows, and covering head to toe in winter apparel. And thus, they lack the motivation to do much outdoors. These type of people typically love the idea of no snow in Florida. Others love skiing, sledding, and winter sports. And, many of us love snow around the holidays as it adds a sense of excitement and nostalgia to the air.

Nothing really sets the winter mood quite like a toasty fire, a mug of warm hot cocoa, and seeing some snow flurries out the window. Florida is probably the worst place to live if love snow or are simply dreaming of a White Christmas. Not only is there almost zero chance of snow in Florida, but palm trees and beaches really do not help improve the lack of any wintry ambiance. As Kevin McCallister said, “Why do we have to go to Florida? There’s no Christmas trees in Florida.”

Unfortunately, there really is no region easily accessible within a quick drive that is likely to get snow. That being said, these 5 vacation destinations spotlighted below are your bets bets for seeing snow near Florida. Keep in mind that you will need to drive at least 8-10 hours to see snow near Florida. Also, these areas tend to see more snow later in the season (Jan-Feb) compared to the Midwest and Northeast. While you could take a quick fight to many snowy destinations, a roadtrip enables you to bring with your own snow equipment, save money on pricey flights, and see more of the country!

Blue Ridge Mountains/Western North Carolina

Icy views along the Blue Ridge Parkway in winter
  • Distance from Tampa: ~10.5 hours
  • Distance from Orlando: ~9.5 hours
  • Distance from Jacksonville: ~7.5 hours
Hiking Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway in winter

The beautiful Blue Ridge mountains are a fabulous vacation destination anytime of the year. The region really shines during the summer season as there are so many wonderful hiking trails and waterfalls to explore. The Blue Ridge Parkway, at 469 miles, offers endless opportunity for outdoor exploration. While many people never think of visiting over the winter, this is actually a prime time to plan your vacation. Crowds are virtually non existent. Even better, the typically busy Blue Ridge Parkway often opens up to snowshoers & cross country skiers after a storm when roads are closed to vehicles.

Ski resorts are in full swing, frozen waterfalls are incredible to see in person, and a touch of snow adds a romantic Hallmark-esque vibe to the many small communities dotting the region. Grandfather Mountain (home to the highest pedestrian suspension bridge), one of the Parkway’s premier attractions, is desolate and even more enchanting during the winter season. Snow varies in the region with higher altitude areas like Boone (located at 3333 ft) seeing over 40 inches per season.

Highest suspension bridge at Grandfather Mountain in Western North Carolina
The Mile high suspension bridge at Grandfather Mountain

Small towns to explore: Hendersonville, Boone, Blowing Rock, Brevard

Winter activities: Appalachian Ski Mountain, Skiing on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Beech Mountain Resort (snow tubing)

Where to stay: Lazy Bear Lodge in Villas, NC. This is a beautiful rustic B&B run by super friendly innkeepers. Amenities include a full breakfast, gorgeous mountain scenery, and cozy rooms with fireplaces.

Lazy Bear Lodge in Western North Carolina

Gatlinburg/Smoky Mountains

The only ski resort in Tennessee - Ober Gatlinburg
  • Distance from Tampa: ~10.5 hours
  • Distance from Orlando: ~10 hours
  • Distance from Jacksonville: ~8 hours

While the Smokies are America’s most visited national park with over 11 million visitors per year, traffic really dies down during the slow winter season. This is the perfect time of the year to enjoy the gorgeous hiking trails, frozen waterfalls, and stay in a rustic cabin while enjoying cooler temps and less crowds. Winter activities include scenic tram rides at Ober Gatlinburg, skiing at Tennessee’s only ski resort, ice skating, & snow tubing.

While Gatlinburg only sees a few inches per year on average, coming from Florida, any possibility of seeing snow is exciting. Plus, the ski resorts have snowmaking (temps need to be below 28-29 degrees). Higher elevation areas tend to receive more snow. Unfortunately, snow is rare in December and more likely in February.

Winter to do list: Hike to Grotto or Laurel Falls (sometimes frozen), Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood (lots of festive shows, rides, and even snowfall), Ice skating, tubing, & skiing at Ober.

Where to stay: Timber Tops cabin rentals. This luxury cabin company offers a diverse range of cabins, many with attractive amenities like wooded and mountain views, hot tubs, game rooms, and full kitchens.

Hot tub at Timber Tops Cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains


The gorgeous grounds of the Omni Park Grove Inn in Asheville, North Carolina
  • Distance from Tampa: ~9.5 hours
  • Distance from Orlando: ~8.5 hours
  • Distance from Jacksonville: ~6.5 hours

Asheville is the quintessential small mountain town. During the winter months, the charming downtown reminds me of a Hallmark movie set. With a hot chocolate cafe (French Broad), cozy local coffeeshops, plenty of boutique shops, art galleries, and a large lineup of winter festivals, Asheville is the perfect place to spend a few hours on a cold winter day. The city sees about 11 inches of snow per year making it one of the snowier destinations in the South due to the high altitude (2134 feet). January is the snowiest month with about 2 inches per average.

Fireplace at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC
Cozy fireplace at the Omni
Delicious liquid truffle at French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, NC
Liquid dark chocolate truffle at French Broad

The beautiful mountain backdrop makes for a perfect setting for any activity, whether it be shopping and dining downtown, walking a nature trail at the renowned North Carolina Arboretum, winter hiking, cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, or driving to a nearby ski resort.

Winter to do list: Hike to frozen Catawba Falls (the closest waterfall to Asheville), Winter Wonderland at the Grove Arcade downtown, National Gingerbread Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn, Wolf Ridge ski resort & tubing, Cataloochee Ski Area, Appalachian Ski Area, Christmas at The Biltmore

Ice rink at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Western North Carolina
Ice skating at Appalachian Ski Mountain, a 2 hr daytrip

Where to stay: Omni Grove Park Inn, a gorgeous luxury property which overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains. Amenities include a grand lobby with 2 gigantic fireplaces, a breakfast buffet featuring floor-to-ceiling windows. Don’t miss the annual Gingerbread Competition – open to resort guests and the public.

Mountain views at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC

Upstate South Carolina

Downtown Greenville SC after a rare December snowstorm
  • Distance from Tampa: ~8.5 hours
  • Distance from Orlando: ~7.5 hours
  • Distance from Jacksonville: ~5.5 hours

Upstate South Carolina, Greenville in particular, is becoming a popular travel destination for both longtime southerners and northerners looking to experience at bit of southern hospitality. Greenville, “Yeah that Greenville,” the new “It town”of the south offers a charming Main street district which is dotted with hundreds of local businesses. It’s really a step back in time to walk down the beautiful tree-lined street and pop in Mast General Store and take a walk around Falls Park, home to a striking waterfall.

Winter scenery at Falls Park in Greenville, South Carolina
Falls Park at winter

Greenville gets a little bit more snow than the rest of South Carolina thanks to the higher altitude (984 ft). What’s more – every winter a real ice rink opens on Main Street. Plus, there are plenty of great local coffeeshops to cozy up with a great cup of joe or a handmade hot cocoa. Winter festivals are on the lineup all season long – do check out the Festival of Trees held in the Hyatt Regency. And of course, a little snow adds to the wintry ambiance. The city just sees a few inches per year, although 2022 saw a freak storm of over 5 inches! December is the best month to catch some flurries.

Ice skating in downtown Greenville, South Carolina

Even better, Greenville’s prime location in the Blue Ridge foothills means a quick drive to all the natural wonders of the Upstate. Over 2 dozens waterfalls can be explored. Winter is the ideal time to catch a glimpse of a frozen beauty in an isolated setting.

Winter to do list: Hike to a frozen waterfall, Beech Mountain Ski Resort, Festival of Trees, Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing resort, Ice skating on Main Street

Where to stay: The Hyatt Regency is a beautiful hotel which is walkable to Falls Park, as well as most restaurants and shops. Amenities include a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant and a pool and airport shuttle.

Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville, South Carolina

Northern Georgia

Views of the Appalachians mountains from Brasstown Bald in Georgia
  • Distance from Tampa: ~8 hours
  • Distance from Orlando: ~8 hours
  • Distance from Jacksonville: ~6.5 hours

Northern Georgia is another decent winter getaway destination if you are hoping to see a few flurries. Most snow is limited to the mountain regions, with Brasstown Bald (the state’s highest point) seeing 30-40 inches per year. You will want to stay in the Blue Ridge mountain region if you are hoping to see any snow or participate in any winter activities. Blue Ridge is a particularly attractive option. This charming community is home to a great little downtown. It is also located near the start of the Appalachian trail and offers many cabin rentals.

Appalachian trail sign
Start of the Appalachian trail
Downtown Blue Ridge
Downtown Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge sees just a few inches of snow per year. Even if it doesn’t snow, you will definitely feel the crisp cold mountain air. Let’s just say you will need to bundle up! Plus, skiing is an easy drive away. Sugar Mountain Ski Resort (~4 hours) is a great choice as in addition to skiing guided snowshoeing walks, ice skating, and tubing are all available. Cataloochee, the first ski resort in North Carolina, is even closer at just 2 hours.

Winter to do list: Winter/holiday ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, See a frozen waterfall (50 foot Long Creek falls is gorgeous anytime of year), Skiing and tubing

Helen, Georgia is also popular with tourists, especially during the Christmas season. The small mountain community is known for its’ Bavarian style buildings and easy access to waterfalls and outdoor recreation.

Where to stay: Mt. Laurel cabins offers a number of beautiful rustic cabin rentals, with various room sizes and amenities available. Pricing is affordable and the amenities fantastic!

Mt Laurel Cabin rentals in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia

Where to see snow in Florida

Snowfest in St. Petersburg - Sledding in Florida
Snowfest in St. Petersburg features a real sledding hill!

The odds of seeing real snow in Florida, even in the northern portion of the state are astronomically low. Let’s face it – it’s not the place to go if you want to see snow. That being said, if you want to see snow and have no intention of leaving the state, you may want to attend a “fake snow” related event. Luckily there are plenty of festive holiday events which often include a little bit of magical snow. Take a look at a few of the best!

Symphony of Lights at The Shops of Wiregrass (Tampa metro)

Popular winter festival featuring a Christmas tree lighting, fireworks, and fake snow.

There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs (Tampa metro)

Popular Christmas festival on the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs featuring falling snow, a snow play area, and other holiday festivities.

Snow at the Magic Kingdom

Book tickets to Mickey’s Merry Christmas Party at Disney World to see snow fall, plus holiday parades, special holiday entertainments, fireworks, and more!

Jacksonville Arboretum

Walk into a huge snowglobe and enjoy a nightly snowfall at this dazzling holiday event featuring thousands of colorful lights.

There's Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs
Snow in Tarpon Springs!

When is the last time it snowed in Florida?

With average high temps in the mid 70’s and lows in the mid-upper 60’s, it’s incredible that the 3 biggest cities have all seen snow at one point. Surprisingly, it has snowed at one point in Orlando, Miami, and Tampa according to this article. While super rare, it has happened! The biggest snow event was 4 inches in Santa Rosa County back in 1954! Feb. 16,2021 was the last time it snowed in Florida (flurries – Escambia County).

Miami Snow – January 19th, 1977 – The only time it ever snowed – just a trace amount, but something!

Tampa Snow – On Jan. 19th, 1977, the city record 0.2 inches of snow, but some areas saw 1-2 inches. This is the last recorded snow event in the Tampa region.

Jacksonville – The record single day snowfall was 1.9 inches on February 12, 1899. The last time time it snowed in Jacksonville was Dec. 23rd, 1989.