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Are you ready to plan your next adventure? Florida is not just for Spring Break. Many visitors worldwide travel to the “Sunshine State” year-round, not just seasonally.
This vacation destination offers visitors an array of attractions to enjoy while on vacation. Snorkel above coral reefs in the Florida Keys, watch out for alligators in the Everglades, relax on the most beautiful beaches, and make dreams come true at Walt Disney World.
This Florida travel guide will lead you to the most beautiful sandy beaches, Orlando theme parks, amazing restaurants, 175 state parks, 11 national parks, and the state capital Tallahassee.
- Best Things to Do in Florida
- 1. Explore Kennedy Space Center
- 2. Walt Disney World
- 3. Discover the History of Florida
- 4. Support Florida’s National Parks
- 5. Experience Life in the Florida Keys
- 6. Snorkel and Swim in the Atlantic Ocean
- 7. Live it up in Wynwood
- 8. Go Fishing
- 9. Take Some Time to Enjoy the Excellent Food
- 10. Relax on the Best Florida Beaches
- Where to stay in Florida
- How to Get Around in Florida
- Travel Tips Florida
- Travel Insurance
- Pack Sunscreen
- Tips for Theme Parks
- Save Money by Camping in State Parks
- Watch Out for the Wildlife
- Plan Accordingly
Best Things to Do in Florida
1. Explore Kennedy Space Center
If you’re looking to explore Florida and have limited time, a quick trip from Orlando to Cape Canaveral is well worth considering. You can reach this unique destination in less than an hour by car, bus, or taxi. Once there, visit the local lighthouse for stunning views and an unforgettable experience.
Keep in mind that clearance is required to access the lighthouse because it’s located at the Air Force Station, but the effort is worth it. There’s plenty to do in the Orlando area, including a fun Wizard of Oz Museum tour and a range of popular attractions.
See Related: Is Orlando Safe? What You Need To Know
2. Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is a magical place and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Located in Orlando, Florida, it is home to four theme parks, two water parks, and dozens of other attractions. From classic rides like Space Mountain and Splash Mountain to new attractions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there is something for everyone at Walt Disney World.
There are also plenty of restaurants, shows, and shopping opportunities across the resort. Whether you’re a thrill seeker or an avid Disney fan, Walt Disney World is sure to have something for you. So grab your mouse ears and get ready for an unforgettable experience.
3. Discover the History of Florida
For any traveler interested in history and exploration, a visit to St. Augustine is a must. This city is considered the oldest in the United States, and it boasts beaches that hold some of the most significant discoveries in the world. When the Spaniards initially set foot on these beaches, they had no idea they were embarking on one of the most profound journeys in history.
The rich culture in St. Augustine is nothing short of fascinating, and it gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like in the early days. From the museums that showcase historical artifacts to the unique architecture that tells its story of struggle and success, St. Augustine is a treasure trove that every traveler should explore at least once in their lifetime.
See Related: Best Houseboats for Rent in Florida
4. Support Florida’s National Parks
Adventurers should plan to visit any or all of the 11 National Parks in Florida.
The Everglades National Park from Miami, Naples, and Homestead
Everglades National Park is a stunning and unique natural wonder in Florida. Spanning 1.5 million acres, the park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including panthers, alligators, manatees, and over 350 species of birds.
The Everglades National Park provides essential habitats for endangered species like the Florida panther, American crocodile, and manatee. An International Biosphere Reserve, people visit from around the world to experience this wetland.
It is also home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States, including sawgrass marshes, pine rocklands, and mangrove forests. Visitors can explore the park by airboat, canoe, or kayak, and there are a variety of hiking trails for those who want to experience the Everglades on foot. With its breathtaking beauty and abundant wildlife, Everglades National Park is an unforgettable destination for any nature lover.
See Related: Best National Parks in the USA to Visit
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine
In 1695, the Spanish constructed the Castillo de San Marcos to protect Florida’s coast along the Atlantic trade route.
Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee
Big Cypress Swamp shares a symbiotic relationship with the nearby Everglades. The swamp is essential to marine estuaries and coastal ecosystems.
This national preserve protects almost 730,000 acres of swampland and diverse wildlife. Most importantly, the endangered Florida panther lives in this territory.
Biscayne National Park from Miami, Key Biscayne, and Homestead
The Biscayne National Park preserves emerald islands and coral reefs. A history filled with prehistoric tribes, shipwreck remains, pineapple farmers, and presidents, Biscayne is a must-see destination in Florida. Activities in the area include boating, fishing, and diving adventures.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
Canaveral National Seashore from Titusville to New Smyrna Beach
When you visit this exquisite barrier island, stop at Manatee Sanctuary Park, where you can kayak with the manatees and dolphins. Explorers can experience an ecosystem of dunes, hammocks, and lagoon environments. The sanctuary protects thousands of plant and animal species.
Gulf Island National Seashore stretches from Florida to Mississippi
The Gulf Coast attracts millions of tourists searching for emerald green waters and white beaches paired with marshlands and offers exceptional fishing adventures.
De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton
The Infamous Conquistador Hernando de Soto landed in Tampa Bay in May 1539. They were met with hostile indigenous people fighting to protect their land from an invasion of Spanish explorers.
Fort Caroline National Memorial in Jacksonville
La Caroline was a French settlement of people seeking religious freedom and refuge in a new territory. Battles between with French and Spanish lasted almost 25 years.
See Related: Best Resorts in the USA For Families
Dry Tortugas National Park in Key West
Located approximately 70 miles west of Key West, seven secluded islands surrounded by 100 square miles of open water can only be accessed by boat. However, Fort Jefferson, the coral reefs, marine Life, and aquatic birds make this a must-see destination.
Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine
This national monument protects a fortified watchtower from 1742. It also preserves nearly 300 acres of coastal ecosystems and local flora and fauna, including endangered and threatened species.
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville
Explore a natural coastal wetland on the Atlantic Ocean’s coast. Take time to see Fort Caroline and the Kingsley Plantation.
5. Experience Life in the Florida Keys
Another must-see destination is the Florida Keys. Visit the home of the famous author and fisherman Ernest Hemingway.
Guests can see his unique six-toed cats. An app for both Apple and Google features these favorite felines.
Hemingway was gifted a white cat he named Snow White with six toes by a local captain. The cats found on the property are descendants of that original polydactyl cat.
Hemingway was known for naming all the cats after famous people, and that tradition still stands. Today, the Hemingway estate is home to 60 six-toed cats.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Key West
6. Snorkel and Swim in the Atlantic Ocean
The Florida Keys have the clearest teal waters to snorkel, swim, fish, and scuba dive. Explore the coral reefs off the coast of Florida for an unforgettable experience.
The Hemingway House and Museum are located within walking distance of the shore, so you can take a break from exploring underwater life and relax in Hemingway’s garden. Guests can also visit the lighthouse nearby for an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean.
7. Live it up in Wynwood
While in the Miami Beach area, be ready to discover the incredible art culture. Wynwood is a neighborhood known as the art district near Miami Beach. The remarkable art scene has an active art culture in the community.
Wynwood is the place to be for nighttime entertainment and culture. If exciting nightlife is what you are searching for, you will indeed find it in Miami. Visit south Florida to find the hottest dance clubs in Miami for the ultimate nightlife scene.
Do not miss the Wynwood Walls. The giant murals covering the buildings’ walls and the Graffiti Museum are a must-see when you visit Miami.
The walls are covered in brilliant colors and masterful artistry to inspire your inner artist. Wynwood has restaurants, breweries, and shopping for fun, vibrant travelers.
8. Go Fishing
The Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are the top destinations for anglers seeking a chance to reel in a big catch. With abundant sport fish, including Marlin, Wahoo, Tuna, and barracuda, Florida is the go-to spot for avid fishermen worldwide. From the Florida Keys to the Panhandle, endless places exist to cast a line and land a trophy fish.
With ample expertise and resources available, anglers can gear up with the best equipment and charters to maximize their chances of success. Whether a seasoned pro or a beginner, the thrill of the catch awaits in these rich fishing grounds.
See Related: Best Fishing Spots in the World
9. Take Some Time to Enjoy the Excellent Food
Florida has the best restaurants that serve the freshest seafood. Some restaurants even allow you to bring in your day’s catch, and the chef will prepare it for you – how you like it!
Visit Florida to indulge in incredible food. For all the foodies, this delicious destination will satisfy your appetite with eclectic cuisines like Cuban and Caribbean specialties like savory seafood dishes to die for.
And do not pass on the alligator; it is a popular Florida delicacy that tastes like chicken! Especially in the Tampa Bay area, Cuban and Caribbean culture is ready to feed your soul.
10. Relax on the Best Florida Beaches
Florida has an abundance of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The coastline of Florida continues for 825 miles.
Cerulean waves gently ebb and flow from white sand beaches creating the ideal atmosphere for total relaxation. Found just 30 miles off the coast of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is a magnificent beach covered with seashells.
While most other islands are oriented north to south, Sanibel island is situated east to west, so the island receives an unusual amount of shells. Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel Island is known as one of the best beaches in Florida – for hunting unique shots.
But with such an extensive coastline, other popular beaches in Florida include:
|Miami Beach||Miami||Known for its vibrant nightlife and diverse culture.|
|West Palm Beach||West Palm Beach||Features stunning waterfront views and upscale shopping.|
|Panama City Beach||Panama City||Boasts sugar-white sand and family-friendly attractions.|
|Daytona Beach||Daytona Beach||Famous for its wide, hard-packed sand and motorsports events.|
|Jacksonville Beach||Jacksonville||Offers great surfing, fishing, and seaside dining options.|
|Marco Island Beach||Marco Island||Renowned for its pristine white sands and shelling opportunities.|
|Deerfield Beach||Deerfield Beach||Features a tranquil, family-friendly atmosphere and a picturesque pier.|
|Siesta Beach||Siesta Key||Award-winning for its powdery white quartz sand and turquoise waters.|
|Clearwater Beach||Clearwater||Offers stunning sunsets and a variety of water sports activities.|
|Fort Lauderdale Beach||Fort Lauderdale||Popular for its beachfront promenade and picturesque boating canals.|
|Fort De Soto Park||St. Petersburg||A historic park with five interconnected islands and diverse wildlife.|
Where to stay in Florida
When you visit Florida, knowing where to stay is essential. Throughout most of the year, millions of tourists travel to Florida.
The luxury resorts are exceptional. Visitors alike will agree that the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort know how to keep their guests happy.
Pro Tip: Choose places that provide free breakfast… You will save a ton and get the most important meal of the day for FREE!
Here are some of the best places to stay in Florida:
- Key West Villas in Key West
- The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami
- Ivory on the Bay in Miami Beach
- The Betsy Hotel – South Beach in Miami Beach
- Casa Del Mar – Waterfront in Tampa Bay
- Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa in Fort Myers
- Buena Vista Suites in Orlando (the most visited city in Florida!)
- Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola
- Korakia Pensione in Palm Beach
- Naples Park Central Hotel in Naples
How to Get Around in Florida
Take a road trip through Florida down to the Overseas Highway. Most tourists travel by car or R.V. The Overseas Highway is 113 miles long and stretches across the Keys – from Key Largo to Key West.
There are more than 40 bridges that connect these Florida Islands. The most famous Florida bridge is the seven-mile bridge in the Florida Keys. Traveling by boat is always an option near coastal states.
But the easiest way to cover the entire state of Florida is by car or a recreational vehicle (R.V.). With so many state parks and miles to cover, an R.V. is an excellent choice to get around. Companies like Outdoorsy and R.V. Share are great places to rent an R.V. for a long trip.
Rent a car if you would rather save the miles on your personal vehicle.
Travel Tips Florida
The Sunshine State is known for being a haven for travelers seeking warm weather, pristine beaches, and diverse attractions. Here are several travel tips to make the most of your visit.
When traveling far from home, you should be prepared for anything—even an emergency. In addition to your car or R.V. insurance, travel insurance is a smart way to protect yourself in emergencies.
The Sunshine State will leave you burned if you forget to pack sunscreen. And a bad sunburn can ruin a fantastic vacation!
See Related: The Ultimate Summer Trip Packing List
Tips for Theme Parks
Central Florida is a mecca for theme parks. Most famous for luxury resorts like the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida is an epic destination for a vacation.
While the entire state has tons of smaller attractions and parks, there are ten major theme parks with fun for all ages. Roller coasters and entertainment that thrill the entire family will create lasting memories.
|Walt Disney World||No matter how old you are, there is something so magical about Disney. The moment you meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World is a moment you will never forget. For families with children, introduce them to the wonderful world of Disney and stay at an awesome resort. Your favorite characters are waiting for you to visit!|
|Magic Kingdom||The most magical place on Earth, the Magic Kingdom takes visitors on a Jungle Cruise, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, It’s a Small World, and Peter Pan takes flight for an unforgettable adventure.|
|Epcot at Disney||EPCOT was a personal vision of Walt Disney himself. His vision opened in 1982 and encouraged guests to experience and explore global culture, space, the oceans, and environmental activities.|
|Disney’s Hollywood Studios||Star Wars, The Twilight Zone, Tower of Terror, and Toy Story are popular attractions at this exciting theme park.|
|Universal Studios||Another Central Florida attraction, Universal Studios in Orlando, offers the latest thrill rides for millions of visitors. Harry Potter, Minions, Autobots and Decepticons, E.T., Men in Black, and the Fast and the Furious are all part of the experience at Universal.|
|Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay||The Everglades aren’t the only reptilian residence in Florida. The Busch Gardens Theme Park zoo in Central Florida has various diverse reptile species for people to view from a safe distance!|
Save Money by Camping in State Parks
There are 175 state parks, most of which are on sandy beaches. Honeymoon Island State Park is not only a romantic destination but one of the most visited parks in the state. Be sure to drive to Caladesi Island State Park in nearby Dunedin before you head for Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne and Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key.
Watch Out for the Wildlife
For animal lovers, Florida has several unique attractions that let tourists get up close and personal with various local wildlife. For example, travelers can kayak with manatees in freshwater springs and visit research facilities for dolphins, sea turtles, and shorebirds throughout the Florida Keys to learn more about endangered animals in the area.
The Big Cypress National Preserve is home to an endangered species, the Florida Panther (aka American Cougar). So, be on the lookout for this elusive predator when you are visiting Florida.
From the wildlife and natural beauty of the wetlands in the Everglades to Disney and Epcot, Orlando, Florida, is an epic destination for families, singles, and couples of all ages. This state has a lot of ground to cover, so you should plan diligently to ensure you make the most of your visit.
Florida is full of entertainment and activities for the whole family, singles, and all the love birds who enjoy fun in the sun. Visit the ten major theme parks, snorkel in clear waters, scuba dive into sunken ship wreckage, and meet Ernest Hemingway’s polydactyl cats as you tour his incredible Key West home when you vacation in Florida.
Florida offers sightseers an array of visual attractions and outdoor activities to enjoy while on vacation. Snorkel over coral reefs in the Florida Keys, watch for alligators in the Everglades, and make dreams come true at Walt Disney World.
A vacation like this, with so many activities and adventures, is a great way to make happy memories that will last a lifetime.
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.