The Beautiful Nuance of Fall in Florida

October 23, 2023
3 mins read
"A Beach Day" by Adam Johnson


Words by Mallory Pace


As a Florida native, I know exactly two seasons: summer and not-summer. Hot air, high humidity and a blazing sun are what Floridians know for most months of the year. But each year, around September or October, one day you go outside and it feels … different. There are no leaves on the ground indicating a season change, and it’s certainly not cold enough for a jacket, but in the subtle smell of the wind and in the brisk taste of the breeze, you might find the beginning of fall in Florida.


Like most everything and everyone in Florida, our seasons are out of whack. The remnants of summer linger all year, even as a cool breeze and tinted leaves settle into place. We might not enjoy the traditional changing of seasons, but fall shows us its presence in its own unique ways, and there are plenty of ways to get in the fall mood — even in 85 degree weather.


In fact, the weather is one of the luxuries Floridians have during the fall season. Temperatures drop just enough to wear a sweater in the morning but still be able to spend time at the beach in the afternoon. Even as the year nears its end, the beach remains a beautiful place to take a walk or bike ride. Being coined the “Sunshine State” has its perks during the colder months as we’re able to spend more time outside enjoying the crisp air rather than being forced to stay indoors. Fall in Florida looks like driving with the windows down, taking walks with a light jacket on and choosing to sit outside at dinner. It might seem small and mundane, but it’s Florida’s way of feeling fall. 


Also, just because we can’t run and jump into a pile of leaves (no matter how much I have always wanted to) doesn’t mean Floridians can’t enjoy fall-related activities. With a quick Google search, you’ll find plenty of fall festivals happening in Jacksonville and its neighboring counties.  And what’s fall without pumpkins? Pumpkin patches scatter the city and make for the perfect date or family outing. Just the smell of pumpkin guts is sure to put you in the fall mood. There is truly nothing quite like digging through the insides of a pumpkin, feeling that slimy, stringy texture run through your fingertips … yummy. 


Speaking of yummy, baking or consuming anything pumpkin-related is one of the best ways to feel the season. Filling the air with the aroma of pumpkin bread while a Halloween movie plays in the background and the thermostat is turned to 70 degrees is my definition of a perfect fall evening. If we can’t have a true autumn season, we sure can imitate it. Hosting a fall-inspired party is the perfect excuse to indulge in the season by crafting themed cocktails, charcuterie boards, baked goods and of course, decorations. With an autumn leaves candle lit, pumpkin cookies on the table and laughter roaring through the living room, your home will turn into your own fall oasis, even if the forecast is calling for a tropical storm.


Part of what makes fall in Florida so much fun is getting to role play small town, “Gilmore Girls” fantasies where we go apple picking and get lost in a corn maze as if we’re somewhere else besides Duuuval County. Even if you can’t bundle up in your favorite scarves and coats that haven’t seen the light of day since December 1989 (the last time it snowed in Jacksonville), take in all the fall festivities you can. Enjoy these few months for what they are, even if it doesn’t feel like “true fall.” This season gives locals a glimpse into an escape from year-round summer, although if you don’t love year-round summer, Florida might not be for you. 


There is something so charming about fall in Florida and its bashful, nuanced hints that it’s anything other than a Sunshine State. Each year, she (yes, Florida is a she in my mind) wakes up one day, lets out a cold, refreshing breath of air and tells us, almost telepathically, change is here. Then suddenly, you take a moment to look around and hints of fall reveal themselves to you in ways they didn’t yesterday. The clouds are softer, more inviting. The wind is happier, whispering melodies to the trees and grass. The air smells sweeter, like how it did when you were a kid and seeing the beauty of the world for the first time. The changes are just subtle enough to remind us that the year is coming to an end, the world is still spinning and we’re still standing. 


Tomorrow might feel different, but in those small moments, we can appreciate the delicate mystery of fall in Florida.


Friends and family knew Mallory Pace would become a writer when she wrote and illustrated a hand-made children’s book in the third grade for her class to read. It didn’t indicate a prodigy-in-the-making, but all the elements of a good storyline were there, waiting to be improved. Now, Mallory is about to graduate from the University of North Florida with a multimedia journalism degree and minors in political science and marketing, with which she hopes to continue storytelling and exploring avenues of multimedia journalism. In Mallory's free time, you’ll either find her taking her cat, Peter, on a walk via stroller, or galavanting around the beaches.

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