Orlando is Florida's most visited city, with more than 75 million visitors a year. People come to this beautiful Central Florida city, from all over the country and around the world to enjoy the fantastic theme parks, first-class restaurants, and other amenities offered by this beautiful city. At least a dozen images come to mind when mentioning Florida, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. For many, it's Orlando's world-famous theme parks at Disney World and Universal, while others can think of the almost endless number of championship golf courses scattered throughout the Sunshine State.
Water lovers and sunbathers alike have hundreds of beaches to choose from, and retail connoisseurs will find luxury stores and quirky boutiques galore in every city. If your trip is based on a beach vacation or a specific activity, you may want to consider the weather and the best time of year to visit Florida. Beyond entertainment and recreation, Florida has a rich historical and cultural past with peaceful natives, Spanish conquistadors, intrepid pirates and generations of Caribbean influences that make it an incredibly interesting and diverse place to visit. Florida is also home to some of the most unique and special natural sites, including Everglades National Park and dozens of barrier islands with beautiful ocean ecosystems.
Plan your adventures in the Sunshine State with our list of the best places to visit in Florida. Located in South Florida, Miami is one of the most popular and modern cities in the state. Miami and nearby Miami Beach show the old and new side of Florida. The thriving and modern downtown area contrasts with the much more relaxed atmosphere of Miami Beach.
South Beach is the most exciting of Miami's beaches, known for its Art Deco district and its ultramodern pedestrian mall that runs parallel to the beach, full of waterfront outdoor restaurants, entertainment and lots of things to do. It's also a popular honeymoon destination in Florida. The Vizcaya Museum and historic houses made of coral rock are located in Coconut Grove, an area where peacocks strut unfenced among numerous street artists and sidewalk cafes. Families descend in large numbers to amusement parks during school holidays, but the city is a popular destination year-round.
This constant influx of tourists has brought a full range of recreational activities and services to the Orlando area, from championship golf courses and elegant spas to restaurants and huge shopping centers. Other nearby attractions can be a refreshing change of pace and can be easily visited on day trips from Orlando. Some of them include the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and seeing manatees on the Crystal River. Its location has resulted in a rich cultural mix that includes influences from many Caribbean islands, which have brought a relaxed attitude, interesting architecture and culinary variety to the region.
Key West is also a popular cruise port, full of entertainment options and things to do. Duval Street is the main tourist area, home to boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants, and even some historic houses. Some of the city's top attractions include a shipwreck museum that explains the area's long history of salvage and the Key West Aquarium. Those interested in ocean ecology will want to visit the Dry Turtles National Park, which consists of seven reef islands that form an archipelago.
Although the Florida Keys are not known for their beaches, Key West has several beaches. These can be a good break from sightseeing. Key West's casual vibe and the fact that it's a small town with lots to do make it a great destination for solo travelers. Getting around is easy and the people are friendly.
It's one of the best places in the United States for solo travelers. The southernmost city on Florida's Gulf Coast is Naples, an exclusive area with a picturesque downtown area and a beautiful stretch of beach. A mix of posh homes, some luxury resorts, and condo towers line the ocean, but the downtown area has maintained a small-town vibe. South and 5th Avenue South are home to its trendiest restaurants, art galleries and boutiques.
The beaches of Naples and its surroundings are some of the best in the entire state. The warm, shallow waters here are generally calm with small waves, making them ideal for swimming and playing. The white sand is soft and perfect for lying on your towel and enjoying the famous Florida sun while contemplating the Gulf of Mexico. A visit to the Naples Pier, the city's most beloved historical monument, is a must-see for tourists and the perfect place to watch dolphins without boarding a boat.
Despite its reputation as a high-end golf resort town, Naples has several historic attractions, as well as unique natural parks. The Gulf Coast Everglades Visitor Center is the park's only no-admission center, and visitors can take a boat tour or rent a canoe or kayak to explore the mangrove estuaries and see the region's incredible wildlife. Other nearby parks include the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, known for its ancient cypress forest, and Fakahatchee Strand State Park, home to the ghost orchid and other rare and endangered plants and animals. The city of Tampa is located in a cove on Florida's west coast, just across St.
Tampa is especially popular with families, who come to enjoy its many wildlife attractions. Busch Gardens is the best known, a giant amusement park combined with a zoo that has endless things to see and do. Animal lovers can also visit the Tampa Zoo in Lowry Park and the Tampa Aquarium and a public manatee observation center. Families with younger children will love the Glazer Children's Museum, which focuses on learning through creative play, and the whole family will enjoy the Museum of Science and Industry, where they can explore the world of technology with hands-on exhibits and attend incredible shows at the IMAX theater.
Ybor City, in Tampa, is one of its most historic areas and the center of the city's Latino community, where you can't miss a meal at the famous Columbia restaurant. The lively and trendy Sparkman Wharf is well worth a visit in the afternoon and evening. Here you will find unique and interesting restaurants housed in transport containers along with more traditional establishments. From here, you can walk along the Tampa Riverwalk enjoying the waterfront until you finally end up in the fun and vibrant Armature Works area.
Across Tampa Bay is neighboring St. Visitors, especially travelers from the northern states, come here to escape the cold winters and enjoy the oceanfront beaches and mild climate. Some unique areas to explore include St. Petersburg Pier, the shops and restaurants of Johns Pass Pier, the quaint atmosphere of historic Pass-a-Grille and the soft sand of Indian Rocks Beach.
St. Petersburg has many cultural tourist attractions, including several theatres and prominent art museums, such as the Dalí Museum and the Morean Art Center. One of the most popular things to do when you visit St. Petersburg is running boat tours ranging from dolphin watching and eco-tours to recreational cruises.
Nature lovers will appreciate the abundance of peaceful spots, such as the Caladesi Island State Park, which has remained undeveloped thanks to its high seas location and is full of beaches and nature trails. Pete Beach is a fun and fun beach area with miles and miles of soft sand, perfect for lounging in the sun, splashing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or settling under your umbrella with the latest pocket thriller. Petersburg, this area is a mix of condos, hotels, and private homes. It's a popular spot that attracts beach lovers from all over the United States.
All these people in a positive state of mind give the city a lively atmosphere. If you're looking for one of Florida's most consistent warm climates, even on the darkest days of February, head straight to Marco Island. Located near the southernmost tip of Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, this tourist island is almost always warm, while places like Fort Myers or Orlando are shaking. Good weather isn't the only attraction.
Stretching approximately four miles, this long and exceptionally wide beach is one of the best in South Florida. Accommodation options here are extensive, from first-class resorts to small hotels that cater to boaters. Downtown Fort Myers, also known as the River District, is full of things to do, from numerous shopping options to a wide variety of dining options, as well as sightseeing in this historic area. Sanibel Island is located off the west coast of Florida as a major barrier island, connected to Fort Myers by an elevated highway.
Sanibel is best known for its high-end resorts, which are popular with families, celebrities, and couples. Beyond the generous amenities of each resort, tourists won't be short of things to do, from ocean adventures to leisurely shopping at Sanibel's many boutiques and galleries. One of the most attractive aspects of Sanibel and Captiva is the dedication to conservation, a mission that has resulted in the protected status of half of the island's land and the establishment of organizations such as the Sanibel School of the Sea and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Many resorts also have their own naturalist-led programs to educate tourists about the delicate ecosystem and incredible wildlife.
Some of the island's most prized wild animals include the loggerhead turtle, which nests on pristine beaches; manatees and dolphins, which play in the nearby water; and hundreds of species of birds, including the bald eagle. Clearwater, one of Florida's long-time favorite beach destinations, has attracted beachgoers for generations. Located off the coast of the main city, there is a three-mile stretch of soft white sand, bathed by the crystal clear and warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A wide variety of beach accommodations are offered, from fantastic resorts to smaller, more welcoming hotels and inns.
This makes the Clearwater beach area a lively spot, with a host of great restaurants and great views of the people. One of the best places to practice this pastime is to take a walk along the famous Clearwater fishing pier as the sun goes down. Right off the coast of Bradenton, Anna Maria Island is a wonderful slice of old Florida. Strict building regulations have ensured that many of the original houses and hotels remain while new towers and major developments are blocked.
However, with that said, Anna Maria Island has a few resorts, many that will take good care of you without having to hit you in your pocket. The vision of the future of urban planners has ensured that Anna Maria Island has a relaxed atmosphere that is not found in many other parts of Florida. This, along with seven miles of incredible beaches, makes Anna Maria Island a must-see for beach lovers. Venice, often overlooked as a destination in Florida, is a place where you'll find plenty to do without the crowds of other Gulf destinations.
This small town has a charming downtown area that is very walkable, with a wide variety of stores selling everything from dresses to swimwear. There are also several small, modern restaurants and bakeries here, all ideal places to take a spot in a courtyard and watch the world go by. A short drive from the center are the famous beaches of Venice. Condos and homes line the boardwalk near town, but a short drive south is Venice Fishing Pier and the iconic Sharky's on the Pier restaurant.
Those interested in looking for shark teeth should head a little further south to Caspersen Beach and keep their eyes peeled in the sand as they stroll along the coast. One of the most popular places to visit in the Florida Panhandle region is Panama City Beach. Famous for its white sand and emerald waters, Panama City Beach is the easiest place to get to if you're traveling from the north. The beaches here are fantastic and busy during the summer season.
The city has quite affordable beachfront accommodation compared to destinations further south. Outside the Beach, the Fun at Panama City Beach Doesn't Stop. Other things to do in Panama City Beach include visiting the giant Skywheel, Pier Park and Gulf World Marine Park. Other cheesy attractions include Ripley's Believe it or Not and Wonderworks.
For something a little more natural, head to Panama City Beach Conservation Park or St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island. Augustine is often referred to as the oldest city in the U.S. UU.
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed here on September 8, 1565 and claimed the territory in the name of King Philip II of Spain. Colonial architecture and old houses line the streets of the historic center, which has become a popular tourist attraction. The Colonial Quarter is a living history museum that introduces visitors to life in St. Augustine from the 16th century to the 18th century, including the construction of the replica of a 16th century ship and a working blacksmith shop.
Augustine is proud to be home to several of Florida's most important historic attractions, including the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park of Ponce de León and the Castle of San Marcos. Sailors will also enjoy seeing ships such as the Galleon and admiring the exhibits at the Maritime Museum. Features of interest in the surrounding area are the U.S. UU.
,. Naval Aviation Museum, Fort Pickens (183) on the west end of Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola Beach with its stretches of sugar-white sand. Visitors will discover that Pensacola has less of a Florida resort town atmosphere and more of the home influences of the Deep South. West Palm Beach in Lake Worth, inside Palm Beach, has several interesting museums and many trendy and stylish restaurants.
As the city's name suggests, it's often defined by its incredible miles of soft sandy beaches, and many tourists mainly come to sunbathe and enjoy the water. West Palm Beach is also home to many other attractions, many of them animal encounters for the whole family. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is popular for its many exhibits and underwater residents, and Manatee Lagoon offers visitors the chance to see these gentle giants up close and for free. However, marine creatures don't get all the attention: The Palm Beach Zoo Conservation Society %26 is home to 700 animals from habitats around the world, and Lion Country Safari offers visitors the opportunity to stroll through the park to see some incredible African animals, as well as interact at the zoo in pets and giraffe feeding station, and cooling off at the water park.
Daytona's main claim to fame is the Daytona 500 Nascar Race, which is held here every February, but the beaches also attract visitors throughout the year. Daytona Beach, once known as a hot spring break spot, has become more of a family-oriented destination that also attracts seniors. Daytona's beaches stretch along 37 miles of the Atlantic Ocean coastline and feature an activity-filled boardwalk that hosts attractions, games, restaurants, special events and a long pier. Cultural attractions include the Cici Museum of Art and Hyatt Brown, which houses the largest collection of Florida art in the world, and the Stetson Mansion.
Visitors can also admire the tallest lighthouse in Florida, the Ponce de León Cove Lighthouse, which reaches 175 feet in height. Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, may not be on most people's radar as a place to visit when you're in the northern part of the state. However, it's definitely worth a stop because of its excellent collection of museums, interesting attractions, and history. Just back from downtown is the sprawling Florida State University campus, and across from downtown is the charming Cascades Park.
A short drive from downtown, but not far from Interstate 10, is the famous Tallahassee Auto Museum, with more than 160 rare and classic cars on display (along with many other eclectic items). The Kennedy Space Center is one of Florida's most exciting, fascinating and educational attractions. Located on Florida's Space Coast, this massive complex is where space exploration has made history. Today, you can see rockets and the space shuttle Atlantis, meet an astronaut, and learn about space missions.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is divided into mission zones, each of which has interesting exhibits and interactive exhibits focusing on specific topics. The screens are designed with all ages in mind, making this an engaging experience for adults or families. Behind the Gates Kennedy Space Center bus tour takes you to restricted areas for a glimpse of historic launch sites and other facilities with limited access to the public. This is included in your daily ticket.
It takes time to see each area, and you should expect to spend a full day at the Kennedy Space Center. Incredible 3D and 4D simulator games, exciting rides and wet and wild rides at the newest theme park, Universal's Volcano Bay, are some of the highlights. You can also find more taming rides for younger children to enjoy. Everglades National Park protects 1.5 million acres of swamps and marshes, an important and fragile ecosystem that supports alligators, American crocodiles, Florida panthers, deer, turtles, egrets, manatees, river otters and many other species.
It is one of the largest parks in the country and offers a unique opportunity to see some of these creatures in nature. Airboat rides are the best way to see the Everglades and catch a glimpse of alligators and other wildlife. Half-day tours from Miami will take you from your hotel to the Everglades for a 30-minute airboat ride and an alligator and wildlife education program. You'll also have time to walk along a path.
The Speedway was built in 1959 to get car racing off the beach. Previously, land-based racing and speed competitions were held in the tough arena of Daytona Beach. If you can't go to the race itself, you can take a tour to explore the Speedway. Like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando is a mega amusement park that has long been an important part of family vacations in Florida.
The resort presents its classic dolphin and whale shows, as well as acts with a cast of unexpected characters, from cats and ducks to otters and sea lions. Dry Turtles National Park is home to the impressive Fort Jefferson, built by the United States government in the 1800s. Although this is the park's key attraction, the beautiful reef islands, seven in total, that make up the Dry Turtles, are well worth the trip. You can walk around the fort and spend the rest of the day enjoying the soft sandy beaches and diving in the clear, shallow waters.
You can also camp here and, once the tourists are gone for the day, you can live your own experience on a deserted island. Access is via a private boat or the public ferry that carries a maximum of 10 campers. Known to be one of the oldest settlements in Florida, although Pensacola would disagree, St. Augustine's historic sites and charming old architecture definitely make it worth a visit.
At the top of the list of things to see is Flagler College from the late 19th century, one of the most photographed buildings in the city. It was originally built as a hotel by railway magnate Henry Flagler. Don't miss the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, famous for being the oldest masonry fort in North America, according to the National Park Service. Built in the 17th century, it is very well preserved and offers a breathtaking view, even for those with little interest in history.
The view of the coast is also quite spectacular. This exceptional Venetian-inspired property, built mainly in the mid-1920s, consists of the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum, the Circus Museum, the Ca' d'Zan and the gardens. The Ca' d'Zan was the residence of John and Mable Ringling. His inspiration for this Venetian-style mansion facing the sea comes from his travels around Europe and the great palaces of Venice.
The 36,000 square foot home was completed in 1926 and is an architectural masterpiece in South Florida. Although it may seem a bit exaggerated, the show is quite entertaining and well worth a visit. Mermaids have been performing here for more than 60 years, and a trip to Weeki Wachee is almost a rite of passage for many tourists. Take one of the 400 seats in the underwater theater and get ready to enjoy a show like you've never seen before.
Pensacola is a charming old coastal town in Florida, the westernmost city on the Florida coast, with the beautiful island of Santa Rosa separating it from the Gulf of Mexico and creating calm and safe sandy beaches perfect for children. Disney World is one of the most visited places in Florida and Orlando is the most visited city in Florida. Florida is one of the top vacation destinations in the United States thanks to its theme parks, beaches and warm weather. Stretching nearly 120 miles from the southernmost tip of Florida, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, is a chain of tropical islands called the Florida Keys.
Key West is an island city located in the Florida Keys archipelago, in the extreme south of Florida. In summer, visitors to Florida and surrounding states often escape the heat and head to the refreshing breezes and sparkling white sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle. Destin is a city in northwest Florida, in the Florida Panhandle, on a peninsula that separates the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Florida's parks are spectacular, from the world-class Everglades to the underwater paradise of Biscayne National Park, Florida.