11 Best Places to Visit in Florida
The best places to visit in Florida are scattered throughout the state. Taking a road trip to visit them throughout Florida is the best way to explore the state. You’ll find a great mix of large cities, small cities, and incredible natural areas you won’t want to miss.
Orlando and Miami may be at the top of most must-see lists of Florida cities. However, smaller places like Jacksonville and Key West are hotspots for learning about the history and culture of Florida.
The national parks of Florida are some of the best spots with the most beautiful and interesting areas. They’re great for getting quiet time and solitude away from the larger cities. They also offer a great opportunity for seeing wildlife.
No matter where you choose to visit in Florida, you’re sure to have an amazing solo trip or vacation with friends and family. Florida welcomes thousands of visitors per year, and for many good reasons!
Home to some of the best beaches, Walt Disney World, and a variety of ecosystems, Florida should be your next holiday destination. Here’s what you can expect from some of the best places to visit in Florida.
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1. Everglades National Park
Looking to spend time in one of the world’s largest national parks? The Everglades is 1.5 million acres so you’ll never run out of places to explore. It also gives you an inside look into the diversity of Florida’s ecosystems. Along with never-ending alligator sightings, you can also see leatherback turtles, Florida panthers, and West Indian manatees.
The Everglades is also a popular destination in the US for hiking. (Link to the best hiking trails in the US post). Even though Florida’s elevation is mostly flat, the Everglades is still one of the top places to go hiking in Florida. Hiking through the different trails and terrains also lets you get some great photos of the national park.
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Since Florida enjoys so much coastline, water activities can be found in virtually any part of the state. The Everglades has some of the best available. If you have a fishing license, you can fish freshwater or saltwater fish here.
Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are also top activities. Due to the small canals and moving coastal land areas, some kayaking trails can get pretty challenging. Ask for suggestions at the visitor center if you’re not very experienced.
If you are an experienced kayaker or want to try your hand in some of the smaller canals, Everglades National Park will help you to improve your paddling skills.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park
For a more remote Florida vacation, Dry Tortugas should be at the top of your list. Dry Tortugas is only reachable by ferry from Key West, so you get stunning views on your way to the islands.
It’s also a great place to travel if you’re on a tight budget. The only option to stay there is camping, and the fees are really low compared to Florida hotels and resorts.
If you’re a history buff, Dry Tortugas is also an incredible place because it’s home to the national monument, Fort Jefferson. You’ll see the stunning fort as you come in on the Yankee Freedom Ferry (include link). Self-guided tours are available, as well as demonstrations by park rangers.
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The top water activities on Dry Tortugas are snorkeling and kayaking. The water here is crystal clear and the beaches are soft white sand. Throwing on some goggles and snorkeling gear is the top way to explore the island because you can see all the best marine life. You can even snorkel around the fort, where there are hotspots for reefs and exotic fish.
If you decide to camp at the national park, be prepared for a real Florida wilderness experience. You need to bring all your own food and drinks as there are no dining options. Toilet and showers are also limited, but you get once-in-a-lifetime views of the sunsets and stars on the remote island of Garden Key.
3. West Palm Beach
For nightlife and luxurious vacations, most visitors will book their stay in West Palm Beach. While Miami used to be the wealthiest city in Florida, West Palm Beach is becoming a close second. Besides the huge mansions and palm tree-lined boulevards, though, there is much more to see in West Palm Beach.
Many of the private beaches in West Palm Beach are exclusive to resorts and hotels, while the public beaches are a little more crowded. Booking a stay in a place with a private beach is the best way to get some secluded beach time without fighting for sun tanning and swimming space.
Nightlife is the number one tourist activity, though. The main city strip is full of dance clubs, bars, and karaoke bars. Some are open until six in the morning, and the city teems with life until people start heading to work in the early morning hours.
Besides some late-night festivities, there are also plenty of other things to do in West Palm Beach. Popular cultural activities include visiting the Norton Museum of Art, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, and the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum.
Orlando is one of the best places to visit in Florida and one of the most popular. It’s home to famous theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
Orlando has more than just the theme parks though. There are lots of incredible dining options for every appetite and diet. Places like Mills Avenue and International Drive have restaurants from every country you could think of.
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Orlando is the top vacation spot in Florida for families and small children. Along with the main theme parks, you can also head to SeaWorld or Disney Springs.
The hotel and lodging options throughout the city have large suite rooms. Many properties offer vacation rentals perfect for large families.
Many state parks, such as Wekiwa Springs, are less than 30 minutes from Orlando. If you love snorkeling, scuba diving, or kayaking, the state parks give you a great way to relax away from the city. Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach are less than an hour’s drive from Orlando as well.
Besides Orlando, Miami is one of the most visited cities in Florida. The vibrant nightlife and endless cultural experiences are what have people flocking to Miami every month of the year. While some might think Miami Beach is the main city hotspot, there is plenty more to do than just suntan on the beach.
Downtown Miami is full of art galleries and museums, most of which have exhibits dedicated to local artists. Art murals are painted on almost every street of the Wynwood District. Gazing at the murals is a great way to learn about the current events of Florida, as many painters will dedicate their wall space for political or current affairs.
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While in Miami, checking out Little Havana is a must. It’s the center of Cuban culture in Miami, full of bakers, coffee shops, and diners featuring Cuban cuisine. Nightlife and dancing options are easy to find in Little Havana, as well as throughout downtown Miami.
Jacksonville might be less visited by tourists than Orlando and Miami, but it’s full of opportunities to experience the best Florida has to offer. It’s perfect for beach lovers and those who want to experience a large Florida city.
The water in Jacksonville is much clearer than what you would see in central Florida. So, it’s a better option for those interested in snorkeling and scuba diving.
Art and history lovers will want to call Jacksonville home. It has some incredible museums and historic homes, including the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and the Kingsley Plantation.
Science lovers will want to book a ticket for MOSH. They have an interactive planetarium and tons of other science exhibits from prehistoric to modern times.
7. Amelia Island
Amelia Island is only about a 40-minute drive from Jacksonville, but it deserves its own place on the list. There are endless activities found on the island, making it worthy of its own spot.
Amelia Island is mainly known for its white-sand beaches and bright blue water. You will love laying out on the beach, exploring the underwater world, or getting scuba licensed at one of the many places in this beach town.
The historic downtown is the main point of interest with shops and restaurants. There’s also the Amelia Musical Playhouse and the Marlin Brewery & Distillery if you feel like seeing a show or sipping on a locally-made drink.
Towards the beach area, you’ll find several state parks where you can keep active during your vacation. Head to Fort Clinch State Park for hiking and running trails. Little Island Talbot Park has places to swim and paddleboard, and Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve is a great place to have a picnic or relax in the sun.
8. Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is one of the top growing cities in Florida, mostly known for its beaches and upscale shopping. Because of its location on the southeast coast, you can take high-speed ferries to many of the surrounding islands. This includes the Bahamas, as long as you have your passport.
If you’re interested in waterfront dining and shopping, head to Las Olas Boulevard. The architecture is amazing and the trees and fountains are always ornately decorated with string lights. For shopping, choose from one of 65 boutique shops. The boulevard also has 30 dining options, 10 art galleries, and 2 museums.
If you’re a history buff, make sure to stop by the Stranahan House, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, and Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum. If your main vacation goal is to get a few shades darker before heading home, spend time lodging around Las Olas Beach or Fort Lauderdale Beach.
9. Key West
Key West is the largest island of the Florida Keys. While it’s surrounded by water and has ample sand and places to swim, it’s actually not famous for its beaches. Most people in Key West choose this island as a vacation spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are countless reefs right off the coast that are ready to be explored!
If you don’t have your own equipment, downtown Key West is full of rental places to get goggles and fins. You can also sign up for a tour or excursion and there are a lot to choose from. A tour guide will show you the best reefs and the top areas to see marine life.
There are also activities to do outside of the water including The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Key West Butterfly Nature Conservatory. Mallory Square and Duval Street are must-see and are full of street performers, exquisite dining, and picturesque architecture.
10. Panama City Beach
If you’re looking for the best place in Florida with views of the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach should be your first stop in Florida. It’s in the northwest corner of the state and has soft white sand beaches and clear blue water.
Since it’s in north Florida, the hiking trails also have more elevation than some of the trails found in the southern part of the state. Panama City Beach is a top destination for hiking and fishing. Many of the resorts also offer temporary fishing licenses. Safely and legally try your hand at catching among one of the many piers.
If you’re traveling with the whole family to Panama City Beach, you’ll enjoy St. Andrews State Park. You can go hiking, have a picnic, or play frisbee. Shipwreck Island Waterpark also has fun for the whole family with waterslides, a lazy river, and concessions with drinks and food.
Tampa is another large city in Florida, although it’s less-visited than Miami and Orlando. Most visitors who come to the area visit the Florida Aquarium. Home to over 7,000 animals and marine plants, the aquarium is located in downtown Tampa.
You can also visit the Tampa Museum of Art and the Tampa Bay History Center. While you’re in downtown Tampa, explore the dining and drinking scene.
If you’re not tired of Florida’s amusement parks, Busch Gardens is in Tampa. It’s full of rollercoasters, live shows, and musicals. It’s smaller than Orlando’s theme parks, but it still offers adrenaline-pumping rides and great entertainment at a lower cost.
Looking to spend time outdoors? Tampa has plenty to do, including the Weedon Island Preserve, Lettuce Lake Park, and Apollo Beach.
The Best Places to Visit in Florida are Waiting For You!
Ready to visit Florida? You might have a hard time choosing from one of the many popular areas. No matter where you choose to spend your time in Florida, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.
If you’re planning to take a road trip, Florida’s cities are well-connected by major interstates and roadways. Make sure to get a good mix of places to visit in Florida, including beach towns and major cities.
Visiting Florida is a must whether you’re looking for a beach vacation, a place to explore the theme parks or a place to experience diverse cultures and landscapes!
If you’ve been to Florida, what are your favorite spots? Comment below!
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