It isn’t easy to put together a list of the best places to visit in Florida because there are just too many. Of course, that’s not a bad problem to have if you’ve got a month to travel. But if you don’t have that much time then we’re here to help you out.
Florida was named by Spaniard Juan Ponce De Leon who discovered its Atlantic coast in the 16th century. He called it La Florida and claimed the state for Spain. The Spanish colonized the state until the 1800s when it was transferred to the U.S. Up next, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit in Florida so you can plan your trip for optimum fun.
Best Places to visit in Florida
1. Tampa Bay
A visit to Tampa Bay will give you a chance to get the best of Florida, all in one region. Tampa Bay has theme parks (most notably Busch Gardens, beaches on the Gulf Coast, and is even home to the Salvador Dali Museum.
One of the most beloved parts of the greater Tampa Bay area is St. Petersburg which sits on the Gulf of Mexico. It is known as Sunshine city since it constantly breaks records for the number of consecutive days of sunshine it records every year. Visitors love St. Petersberg for its water sports as well as golfing, fishing, and the gorgeous Tampa beachfront. Read: 18 Best Beaches in Florida for Fun in the Sun
If you’re not towing kiddoes around, then Miami is one of the top places to visit in Florida. It’s known for its vibrant nightlife that can have you dancing right up until dawn. The food culture is also revered for Florida’s best restaurants filling up every night. In particular, you’re going to want to try out the Latin-American fusion scene which will totally blow your foodie mind.
One of the favored destinations in Miami is Little Havana. The neighborhood was formed in the 1950s and still has a little bit of that retro feel. Here you’ll get all sorts of authentic Cuban food, fun, and flavor.
If you’re looking for something a little calmer then head to the chilled-out neighborhood of Coconut Grove where you can enjoy a coffee in a little Parisian-style cafe and then take a walk in Barnacle Historic State Park. Read more: 30 Fun Things to do in Miami, Florida
3. Key West
If you like pastel Instagram filters then this should be at the top of your list of places to visit in Florida. The whole area has a relaxed morning glow hue that lasts all day. Key West is one of the Keys in the Florida Keys and some would say it is the best Florida Key.
Key West is not only the southernmost Key of the Florida Keys, but is also the southernmost part of the whole of the U.S. Here you’ll find all sorts of hot bars and restaurants mixed in between historic sites and surrounded by sand beaches. Duval Street stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean and that’s not the only thing cool about it. It is where visitors to Key West go when they want to go bar hopping as it is home to more than 40 bars. Check out: Where to Stay in The Florida Keys
There’s a lot more to Orlando than Walt Disney World, but it is probably what it’s best known for to non-locals. Besides checking out the world’s most famous theme park, you can also check out Universal Studios and get in some shopping. Orlando is also famous for having some great golf courses, which makes the city a great mix for families who want to check out the theme park and have some other adult fun too. Read more: The Best Things to do in Orlando, Florida
5. Fort Lauderdale
If you want to get a feel of what Venice, Italy is like without actually having to travel across the ocean to get there, then give Fort Lauderdale a try. The city is known for its canal system on which you can take lovely boat tours at any time of the day. Fort Lauderdale has 300 miles worth of canals and you have your choice of how you want to explore them.
You have your choice of romantic gondola rides along the canal, or you can hire a water taxi to cruise you around from one place to another. Of course, if you just want to experience the whole layout of the canal system without getting into it, you can walk along the canals and have yourself a romantic picnic nearby.
6. St. Augustine
If you’re a history buff, you’re definitely going to want to visit St. Augustine. It is the oldest European settlement in America and has things around the city that pay homage to that. That means you get to experience the windy roads and cobblestoned streets of Europe without actually having to leave the U.S.A.
In fact Castillo de San Marcos is one of the best places to visit in Florida if you’re a history buff. It’s an ancient fort that the Spanish built to protect Florida. Castillo de San Marcos is also a fantastic example of historic building techniques you just don’t see anymore. Once you’re all historied, you can get some surf and sun at the local beach. Read more: Facts about Florida
7. Florida Everglades
There are a lot of cool manmade places to visit in Florida, but you can’t forget about all of the places Mother Nature has created. Florida has some of the most beautiful national parks in the county. If experiences are what you’re after then a visit to Florida isn’t complete without a trip to Everglades National Park, which is also a world heritage site.
The Everglades National Park is an international biosphere reserve and is home to a number of endangered species including the Florida panther. Everglades National Park also offers Airboat tours so you get to see all kinds of places while cruising through the water. The park also has trails, 4WD tours and extreme sporting among a ton of other things to do.
8. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Totugas was one of the best places to visit in Florida for getting off the beaten path. Located (113km) 70 miles from Key West, it is one of the most remote national parks in the United States. Used as a fort to defend against the Spanish during the Spanish American War, Dry Tortugas was in operation from 1845 and 1876. Today the remains of the fort still remain and there are beautiful beaches with overnight camping.
- Some of the other favorite parks to visit in Florida include and Henderson Beach State Park, Biscayne National Park, and Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
Beaches to Visit
Florida beaches are some of the top places to visit in Florida. You have sand beaches all over the state and each beach has its own vibe. You can visit South Beach in Miami to see and be seen or head to West Palm Beach to whip down a slide at one of their water parks. There are also a ton of other beaches like Miami Beach, St. Pete Beach just west of St. Petersburg, as well as Lido Beach in Sarasota.
- Other not to miss beaches are of Palm Beaches, Panama City Beach, Delray Beach, and Clearwater Beach to name just a few.
- Panama Beach is known for good fishing as well as great scuba diving.
- St. Pete Beach is famous for amazing water sports. Water sports include wakeboarding, parasailing and a whole bunch more.
Whether you want to take a beach walk or just lay out on the beach, you have a wide selection of places in Florida that are beach friendly with a ton of things to do when you’re done just laying out.
9. Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is one of our favorite places to visit in Florida. In fact, Daytona was the first trip that Dave and I ever took together way back when we first met. We hopped in Dave’s Ford Topaz and took a road trip south during Spring Break.
We’ve been back plenty of times since. How can you not love it? With 23 miles of white sand, excellent hotels, and so many things to do. (coming soon) Daytona Beach is a one stop shop for vacationers. Read more at: The Best Things to do in Daytona Beach
10. Amelia Island
Amelia Island is one of the best destinations in all of Florida if you like the quaint and cute. It gets more visitors than all of the other barrier islands and has won the heart of the jet set as is evident from the plethora of high-end hotels and golf clubs that dot this luxury island on the Atlantic Ocean.
11. Sanibel Island
If you’re looking for a fun day trip, you should check out Sanibel island. Almost of the island is covered by wildlife refuges, which gives you a chance to get up close and personal with all sorts of creatures like crocodiles. Sanibel Island also has some pretty beaches when you’re done with the wildlife.
Sanibel Island was heavily damaged in Hurricane Irma but there is great effort in restoration and it is scheduled to reopen to outside residents and emergency workers in 2023.
12. Caladesi Island State Park
Sitting pretty in the Gulf of Mexico, Caladesi Island State Park is one of the cleanest and most pristine places in Florida. You can only get there by boat and once you get there, your only staying options are cabins or boat camping. Found by the Spanish in the 17th century, this Gulf of Mexico island still holds an old magic that has not been marred by the hands of time.
13. Palm Beach
This island is full of history and yet most people know it for its incredible Worth Avenue shopping, high-end dining, and resorts for miles. You can enjoy the new stuff and old stuff alongside each other, which makes visiting this part of Florida all the more fun. You can visit the Boca Raton Historic Society Train Museum, The Inlet Lighthouse as well as Henry Flagler’s former residence which is now a museum. After all that history, treat yourself to some foodie heaven.
Amusement Parks to Visit
Now over to manmade parks. If you love high speeds and thrills then you’re going to want to visit all the theme parks that Florida has to offer. And don’t assume that these amusement parks are just for kids, they’ve got rides like roller coasters and attractions that will have even the bravest of your bunch short of breath.
14. Walt Disney World Resort
Disney World is probably the most well-known of Florida’s theme parks but doesn’t just stop there. Magic Kingdom’s best rides are Space Mountain for thrill seekers, Haunted Mansion for nostalgia, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Space Mountain is designed to mimic a rocket launch into space and is our top recommendation for an exciting ride. Read more: 11 Best Theme Parks in Florida To Visit
Magic Kingdom Park is one of the best amusement parks in Florida and is part of the Walt Disney Resort. If you have ever seen a picture of Disneyland, Magic Kingdom was probably the picture you saw.
Magic Kingdom Park is best for visitors who want a sense of Disney magic. For an iconic Disneyland experience, we suggest choosing Magic Kingdom to explore out of all the Florida Disney parks. There are several amusement parks in one including water parks to escape the heat.
15. Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort has the Island of Adventure containing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Studios.
Besides Harry Potter, it has various movie themes to explore, including Despicable Me, Minions, The Transformers, and Shrek. You can pick themed rides from your favorite movie and meet dressed-up characters that walk the park. Universal Studios is fantastically nostalgic for adults, while for children, the experience is pure magic.
The best rides in Universal Studios are Jurassic World: The Ride, The Simpson Ride, and Transformers: The Ride 3D. We advise trying the Jurassic Park-themed rollercoaster. It is one of Universal Studios’ best water park rides, and (disclaimer) you’ll emerge soaked at the end.
You can also check out Busch Gardens, Epcot Center, Universal Studios, Legoland, and more. Read all about the best Florida theme parks here. 11 Best Theme Parks in Florida
16. The Ringling
This museum is a tourist destination for lovers of The Greatest Show on Earth. John Ringling of Ringling Brothers Circus fame was one of the most famous residents of Florida. Besides his opulent mansion, Ringling owned a lot of property in Florida. And in the 1920s he built The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.
The museum houses Ringling’s private collection as well as a whole section dedicated to the preservation of circus history. The museum is one of the best places in Florida for families to visit as it has something for everyone to learn from and enjoy.
17. Cape Canaveral
If you’ve ever dreamt of being an astronaut then a visit to Cape Canaveral is a must. For most of us, it’s the closest we’re going to get to launching into space. And most people who visit there’s just something different about the air there.
Visitors get to check out the Kennedy Space Center where they can get a chance to meet an astronaut. You also have a chance to check out a full-scale model of the spaceship Atlantis, visit the rocket garden and immerse yourself in a 4D space experience at the Imax theater. This is one of the best places to visit not just in Florida, but also in all of the US for space buffs.
Whether you want to just relax with a beach and shopping vacation or get active with fishing, golfing, or getting to know the state’s wildlife, you’ll find it all in Florida. The state has a distinct vibe that you can’t put your finger on, but it makes you want to stay longer and come back for more. Let us know what your favorite spots are in Florida
The answer to this question is quite subjective, however, one of the prettiest places in all of Florida has to be St. Augustine. The reason for that is that when you visit the city, you feel as though you’ve almost stepped back into a pristine and pretty time with cobblestoned streets and ancient architecture.
There are a lot of things to do in Florida and Orlando is a great place to do them in. The reason for that is that Walt Disney World has something for everyone and outside of the theme park, you’ve got amazing golf courses, fantastic restaurants, and beautiful beaches. If it’s your first trip to Florida and you’re going with a group then this is the place you want to start out at because you’ll find something to do for everyone.
If you want to get the ‘fun in the sun’ experience without paying Miami Beach prices, you’re going to want to check out Panama City Beach or Clearwater Beach. There are also sorts of cheap activities like biking and fishing. Additionally, since they are known for their affordability, you’re going to find that you can get all sorts of tasty cuisine at a fraction of the cost you are expected to pay in the Florida Keys or Miami. In fact, Clearwater Beach is known for Pier 60, one of the most unique places in the world. You can walk along this pier for 60 feet right into the Gulf of Mexico. The views are gorgeous and it’s all free too.
Fort Myers is a great place to go for a getaway this weekend. It’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. However, that’s not all, it is all dripping with history. Two of the most famous inventors in the world have their own museums here. You can check out Thomas Edison’s Museum and Henry Ford’s museum all in one place. Fort Myers is also known for some great fishing and shopping, which might just make it a great couple’s trip.
And these are the best places to visit in Florida. This destination packs a huge punch with so many amusement parks, state parks, beaches, and cities, there is something for everyone.
Read More About Planning Your Florida Vacation
- About Florida: Our Favorite Fun Facts About Florida
- Daytona Beach: Best Things To Do In Daytona Beach, Florida
- Central Florida: 10 Unique Things To Do In Central Florida
- Fun: Top 10 Roller Coasters In Florida
- Florida Keys: 27 Best Things To Do In Key West, Florida
- Islamorada: Things To Do In Islamorada Florida Keys