Florida is an excellent destination if you’re looking for a vacation spot that offers something for everyone. The Sunshine State is one of the most popular states in the United States for tourism; with its miles of beaches and world-famous theme parks, there is so much to draw visitors here.
However, Florida is much more than just beaches and theme parks. In this guide to the best places to visit in Florida, we’re sharing some of the best destinations in Florida, well worth adding to your Florida itinerary. From hidden gems to bustling cities, these are the places in Florida you won’t forget
Best Places to Visit in Florida
1. Key West
Key West is a small island town in the Florida Keys known for its clear blue waters, sandy beaches, and sunny weather. It is also home to several historic sites, including the Ernest Hemingway House and the Key West Lighthouse.
Visitors to Key West can enjoy a wide range of activities, from snorkeling and swimming to fishing and exploring the island’s many shops and restaurants.
Take a day trip north on Highway 1 from Key West. You will cross the historic Seven Mile Bridge on your way to Islamorada, known as the “sport fishing capital of the world.” Another popular tourist attraction is a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, a great spot to spend the day swimming and snorkeling.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or adventure, Key West has something to offer everyone. Don’t forget to grab a piece of key lime pie before you leave.
2. Tampa Bay Area
Tampa Bay is a great place to explore. With its warm weather and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder Tampa is one of Florida’s most popular tourist destinations. There are many things to do in Tampa, from visiting the world-famous Busch Gardens to taking a stroll through Hyde Park Village.
A visit to Tampa is not complete without spending some time at the beautiful beaches. Madiera Beach is a favorite spot near the water, and Clearwater Beach is located about 30 minutes west of Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico. Clearwater is also home to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where you can see rescued dolphins and other rescued sea animals.
If you want a more relaxed beach experience, drive to Fort De Soto Park, an island off the coast of St. Petersburg. The park features miles of beaches, hiking trails, and fishing piers. If you’re looking for a more private beach experience, head to Siesta Key, about an hour south of Tampa.
3. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is one of the United States’ most unique national parks. A large portion of the park comprises sawgrass marshes, home to various wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and birds.
Kayaking and canoeing are popular activities in the park, with many different paddling trails. Visitors can also take an Everglades National Park airboat tour to see the park from a different perspective. Although you can visit the Everglades any time of year, consider visiting during winter when the weather is cooler and drier.
There is no doubt that Orlando is the theme park capital of the world. Popular tourist attractions, Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, and Universal Studios are all located in Orlando, making it a prime destination for family vacations.
However, there’s more to Orlando than just theme parks. Orlando is also home to various museums, art galleries, and historical sites. In addition, Orlando boasts a vibrant nightlife scene with plenty of bars and clubs to keep visitors entertained.
Destin, Florida, is a popular vacation spot for families and couples. The Emerald Coast is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Visitors to Destin can enjoy plenty of sunshine, swimming, and beach activities.
There are also several parks and attractions in the area, including Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, Henderson Beach State Park, and the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. Plus, there are numerous restaurants, shops, and nightlife options.
There is something for everyone in Destin so if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a fun-filled vacation, add Destin to your list of potential Florida travel destinations.
6. Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park is an excellent place to explore the outdoors. The park is in Central Florida and is home to various wildlife, including turtles, alligators, and otters. There aren’t any manatees in the river to see because Rainbow Springs is landlocked, but there is plenty of other great aquatic life to see.
Paddle sports reign supreme at Rainbow Springs, with plenty of kayaking and paddle boarding opportunities. Visitors can rent kayaks and paddle boards (SUP) or bring equipment. Several miles of hiking trails are also perfect for exploring the diverse park plant life. With so much to see and do, Rainbow Springs is a great place to spend a day or two and enjoy Florida outdoors.
7. Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is a popular beach destination with beautiful white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, and plenty of fun activities to keep you busy. Located on the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida, Panama City Beach is a popular spring break destination for college students. In addition, it is a family-friendly spot year-round.
With over 27 miles of coastline on the Gulf Coast, there are plenty of beaches to explore. Popular watersport activities include swimming, fishing, boating, and parasailing. For those looking for more than just a beach day, Panama City Beach also has countless shopping and dining options and attractions like Pier Park and Ripley’s, Believe it or Not.
Miami is a great city to explore, and the Art Deco District in South Beach is a great place to start. This historic district is home to a wide variety of art deco architecture, from the iconic pastel-colored buildings lining Ocean Drive to the more understated art deco details throughout the neighborhood.
A walk down Ocean Drive will give you a front-row seat to some of the most iconic examples of the style, including the Art Deco Welcome Center. In addition to its rich architectural heritage, the Art Deco District is also home to many galleries, shops, and restaurants.
If sun and sand are your top priorities, Miami is home to many famous beaches, including Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, which is about 45 minutes north.
9. West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is an energetic city on the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of things to see and do there. Favorite spots include Rosemary Square, where you can explore the local shops and restaurants and take in the sights and sounds of the city’s cultural attractions. West Palm Beach is also home to several beaches, parks, and other outdoor spaces, making it the perfect place to enjoy the Florida sunshine.
10. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Located in St. Augustine, Florida, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest masonry fort in the lower 48 states. The Spanish built the fort in the late 1600s to protect the city from attacks on the new world.
Today, visitors can explore the fort’s many rooms and tunnels and learn about its important place in American history. Ranger-led activities are offered throughout the day to learn more about the fort’s history. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is an excellent place to learn about America’s past and experience some of its most beautiful architecture.
11. Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is a Florida hotspot for spring breakers looking to let loose, but the area has a lot to offer beyond its party reputation. With 23 miles of sandy beaches, Daytona is a paradise for sunbathers, fishermen, and anyone who loves to build sandcastles.
This is a great place to learn how to surf. Visitors will delight in its plethora of restaurants and bars within walking distance of the beach. Another option is to explore the Daytona International Speedway, home of the famous Daytona 500 race, or take a walk through one of the city’s parks.
12. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is a very popular tourist destination in Florida. Located on Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center offers visitors the chance to explore the history of the US Space Program and see some of the most iconic spacecraft ever built.
This tourist attraction also houses the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, where astronauts prepare for their journey into space. Visitors can also tour the launch pads and see where famous missions such as Apollo 11 and STS-135 took off.
There are plenty of places to visit in Florida, each with its unique attractions. Whether you’re looking for a place to sunbathe on the beach, learn about American history, or explore space (from land), Florida has something for you. So get started planning your trip to Florida and enjoy all that this beautiful state has to offer.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.