Hearing the word ‘Florida’ immediately conjures up images of sunshine, beaches, lush tropics, and spring break. In reality, it’s all of these things and more. For one peninsula, Florida sure packs a lot in.
Whether you want to let go of your inhibitions or escape reality, Florida’s the place to come.
For starters, there are the beaches. Some people come for hedonistic pool parties at spring break or in Key West, where you can let your hair down like no other place; others want something a bit more chilled. Whatever your style, you’ll find your stresses soothed by the lapping waves and soft sand. There’s also plenty inland for explorers.
So close to the Equator, Florida has untamed tropical wilderness and wildlife-filled swamps a-plenty.
From kayaking to concerts, there are so many things to do in Florida, and that’s before we even mention the theme parks! The ultimate in escapism, Walt Disney World and Orlando’s other theme parks are another good reason to visit. No matter where you go in Florida you’ll get to experience an incredible, diversely populated state where the welcome is as warm as the weather.
So, now you’re definitely visiting this mystical state, where are you going to begin? Let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit and things to do in Florida.
- 1. Apalachicola
- 2. Caladesi Island
- 3. City of Orlando
- 4. Everglades National Park
- 5. Fort Lauderdale
- 6. Gainesville
- 7. Gulf Islands National Seashore
- 8. Historic Spanish Point
- 9. Jacksonville
- 10. Kennedy Space Center
- 11. Key West
- 12. Manatees @ Crystal River
- 13. Miami Town
- 14. Naples
- 15. Ocala National Forest
- 16. Overseas Highway
- 17. Sanibel Island
- 18. Sarasota
- 19. Scuba Diving In Florida
- 20. South Beach Miami
- 21. St. Augustine
- 22. St. Petersburg
- 23. Tallahassee
- 24. Tampa
- 25. Theme Parks of Orlando
Apalachicola is one of the most famous attractions in Florida, not to mention the most attractive village on the Gulf Coast. A popular Panhandle escape, Apalachicola has a demure Southern feel and a wealth of outstanding lodging and places to eat. Laid-back and sublimely kept, we are surprised Apalachicola isn’t more famous.
The oak-shaded town, situated on the cusp of a wide bay, seamlessly blends its historic fishing economy with a new penchant for modern bistros, curious art galleries, trendy boutiques, and charming lodgings in restored mansions. By there is more to Apalachicola than being just a beautiful Gulfside town.
It’s an initiation to the real Florida’s, the one with a laid-back culture where not everything is perfectly presented. You won’t find a Disney Princess or bright neon lights here. Just real Floridians, unforgettable sunsets, and an abundance of oysters (Apalachicola produces 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and is one of the USA’s last locations where they are still harvested from the world).
One of the most romantic weekend getaways you could ever imagine, the historic district of Apalachicola will find a special place in your heart and then never leave.
2. Caladesi Island
The Florida Peninsula is bordered by mangrove-fronted keys and countless barrier islands. Most are reachable by roads and crossings — but you’ll need to go by boat in order to really escape from the crowds. The Caladesi Island State Park is one such place.
Only accessible by a 20-minute ferry ride, you’ll be rewarded for all your extra effort with three miles of seashell-strewn pristine beaches on Florida’s Gulf coast. A journey to Caladesi Island is an absolute blast, whether it’s a walk along the sandy beaches or kayaking along mangrove bayside.
Try walking through the heart of the island along the natural route to the iconic Scharrer Homestead and experience the marine whispers through a forest of ancient pines and oaks. The Caladesi Island ferry started running every morning at 10 a.m. with various returns and departures depending on the season.
A typical visit is around four hours, but it can be hard to drag yourself away from paradise. A natural, secluded escape like you might find in Fiji or New Zealand, Caladesi Island is one of the top things to do in Florida for those who don’t mind putting in a little effort.
3. City of Orlando
We’ll get to the theme parks in a moment, but first, we have to talk about how awesome the city of Orlando is. Often left in the shadow of Greater Orlando, the downtown area is starting to step into the spotlight and gain a little confidence in its own myriad charms.
It’s a lovely, chilled city with attractive neighborhoods to stroll in and has a burgeoning foodie scene as well. There are lots of gardens and parks to explore, and we love the museums. From the huge Tiffany collection in the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art to the hands-on exhibits in the Orlando Science Centre, there’s lots to keep you busy.
One of our favorite places to hang out is the Milk District, Orlando’s premier cultural hub for those seeking a progressive lifestyle with a lively music and arts scene, diverse culinary options, creative street art, and murals – as well as a healthy dose of coffee shops, craft beer distilleries, and music venues. It is an excellent place to explore by car during the day, or on foot in the evenings!
After the madness of the theme parks, give yourself a couple of days more in Orlando to unwind. There is far more here to explore than you would expect.
4. Everglades National Park
One of our favorite things about Florida is how close you feel to nature, even when you’re in the big cities. It feels like the natural world is in charge, and the cities are just borrowing space for a while! Visiting the Everglades National Park, 1.5 million acres of preserved wetlands, gets you even closer to the wildness of the state – and it’s so easy to access on a Florida road trip…
It combines wetlands, swamp, grassland, rivers, and lakes to create a peaceful snapshot of the natural world. There’s an incredible variety of wildlife species, and nothing quite like watching the colorful birds soar above the greenery. If you feel like being more active, you can kayak on the lakes or hop on an airboat; alternatively, simply stroll the boardwalks and enjoy the quiet majesty.
They say you can find a hundred worlds in the Sunshine State – that’s definitely true! The list of fun things to do in Florida is rich and varied, and there’s always more. It’s a luxurious pace of life where exploration and relaxation meet. Enjoy!
5. Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale may have spent years courts the beer-touting college students who flocked here for spring break, but these days they have changed tac and attract an altogether different crowd. There might still be washboard abs, but the groups here are more likely to be drinking classic Tanqueray Martini’s with a twist and waving rainbow flags, then shooting back tequila shots and cheering for girls in wet T-shirt contests.
Yes, we are talking about the LGBT community. Fort Lauderdale is now all-gay, all-the-time, and competes with Palm Springs for the title of gay mecca in the USA. One of the world’s most celebrated gay travel destinations, it’s easy to see the appeal with over 100 gay-owned resort, hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants, the hot South Florida climate, and 23 miles of wide, sandy beach right on the doorstep.
Sometimes it can seem like the entire city is just one big gay heaven – and with not one, but two annual Pride Festivals (the Wicked Manors Carnival and the Leather Masked Ball) it definitely is! Ask anyone in Fort Lauderdale which neighborhoods are safe for gays; they’ll tell you, “Oh honey … this whole city is gay-friendly!” And in our experience, this is true! Many gay tourists, though, choose to stay in the Wilton Manors gay community or near to the San Sebastian Gay Beach, where fabulous gays outnumber their straight counterparts.
No matter who you love or how you identify, this haven of acceptance has to be top of your list of places to visit in Florida. Don’t miss the Las Olas Riverfront, the quintessential Fort Lauderdale’s promenade, or the picture-perfect 35 acres Bonnet Plantation House.
The small town of Gainesville initially prospered as a citrus-producing town thanks to its fortuitous location upon the Florida Railroad Company’s route, which trudged along via Cedar Key towards Fernandina Beach. Then the frequent freezes in the 1890s led to orange-growers migrating south. But today, Gainesville in northern Florida is not a forgotten backwater – but rather a vibrant, energetic, and fun city with consistently high livability rankings.
In large part due to being home to the second-largest university in the state, the expansive University of Florida. The University campus might be 2 kilometers away from the urban core, but there are tons of affordable food, trendy bars, and great exhibitions and art galleries thanks to the student culture the engulfs the whole city. Intertwined with this young, student-lead culture is the flourishing music scene of Gainesville. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are just two of the more well-known bands to have made their start in Gainesville in recent years.
There are frequent alternative rock and punk rock gigs, though music-lovers can find almost everything here, from bluegrass to reggae, hip-hop, and even techno. If music and arts and culture don’t do it for you, the area outside of Gainesville is a haven for natural pursuits. There are large untouched wilderness areas and crystal-clear springs providing abundant opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and more. No wonder so many students love it here.
Side note: Gainesville is were Gatorade was invented, by the science department at the University of Florida who were trying to combat the Fighting’ Gators football team’s fatigue. If you are going to fully absorb yourself in the attractions on offer here (by day, or by night), you’ll need a bottle or two yourself!
7. Gulf Islands National Seashore
Just next to Pensacola, the gorgeous Panhandle Barrier Islands are one of the many natural highlights of Florida – and thankfully, the most stunning parts including a mainland area and parts of seven islands are now protected as the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Although the area is well recognized for its energetic beach towns, those who want some solitude will find isolated spots with pure white sand easy to find. There is a cornucopia of riches the be discovered here beyond the magnificent white beaches — with sparkling blue water, coastal marshes, historic forts, trails, and campgrounds. Stretching across from Cat Island, Mississippi eastward for 160 miles to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, there is a lot to discover. The National Parks Service has plenty of information to help you explore further.
Whether you want to relax, nap, and tan on a sandy bank or explore the vestiges of Fort Pickens, there is something for everyone. There is also plenty of opportunities for seeing wildlife like birds, turtles, and alligators. Since it’s a National Park, you do need to pay an entrance fee, but the fee is good for seven days. Considering how uncrowded, clean, and visually appealing the coastline here is – we think this is excellent value for money.
8. Historic Spanish Point
Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, Florida, is a spectacular 30-acre heritage and nature attraction. The highlights within are all connected by a 1-mile walking tour that passes through various historic sites in an otherwise pristine coastal ecosystem of clear springs, white sand, alligator-filled wetlands, and jumbled mangroves.
There is no real Spanish connection here (the name is a tribute to the Spanish merchant who told settlers, John and Eliza Webb, about this idyllic location in 1867). The praise was the least they could so as the expansive site is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in County Sarasota. In 1910, Bertha Palmer, a well-to-do Chicago socialite, bought the Spanish Point home along with vast tracts in the surrounding area for cattle ranching, citrus groves, and land development.
The original pioneering homestead was part of the property she selected for her 350-acre estate, which she called “Osprey Point.” She retained the pioneering buildings and combined them with lush landscaped gardens and lawns. Mrs. Palmer passed in 1918, and her family preserved Osprey Point in the following decades and encouraged the nomination of the Spanish Point to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. In 1980, the Palmer heirs donated the National Registry to the Gulf Coast Heritage Association, and the Osprey Point site is now home to the Historic Spanish Point Museum.
Don’t miss the charming Selby Gardens, hugging the beautiful Sarasota Bay, a tropical urban oasis of unparalleled botanical bliss or the turn-of-the-century pioneer homestead historic house museum. A magnificent historic place close to Sarasota, there is so much to explore here, with well-maintained trails and even trams that cross large areas of the grounds if the humid Florida heat makes walking less appealing.
The natural beauty alone means that even without the archeological significance, Historic Spanish Point would be one of the best things to do in Florida. And is somewhere you should allow at least half a day to explore.
Jacksonville is the largest city by land area in the contiguous United States, spreading across a massive 840 square miles — and the most populated in Florida. Despite its vast size and somewhat isolated position just 25 miles south of the Georgia state line, Jacksonville is a treasure trove of activities and one of the most underrated things to do in Florida.
Stretching across both sides of the St. Johns River (and with two more meandering waterways now located entirely within Jacksonville), this is a city of spanning bridges, twinkling city lights reflecting on the water and numerous lookout points to enjoy the unusual cityscape.
Don’t be put off by the first impression of high-rise towers and corporate head offices, Jacksonville has the soul of a southern belle if you look deeper. A good place to start is wandering its 22 miles of beaches, extensive park systems, or historic neighborhoods. There are plenty of things to do with curious museums, a lauded street art scene, coastal cuisine, the hoppy craft beer scene, and so much more! Though the city is gigantic, most places of interest are clustered along with the St Johns River’s narrowest point around the downtown and the historic Five Points and San Marco neighborhoods (filled with bistros, boutiques, and restaurants).
Or the beach. Jax, as locals call it, is all about waterworks, breweries, and history. If you only have time to stop briefly, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is absolutely not-to-be-missed. The Southbank Riverwalk and ultra-modern Museum of Contemporary Art (which reminded us more of Eindhoven or Stockholm) are also worth taking note of.
10. Kennedy Space Center
One of the most iconic things to do in Florida has to be to get up close and personal to the space shuttle Atlantis at the famous Kennedy Space Center, just one hour outside of Orlando.
The shuttle launches may have stopped, but the Space Center is still an excellent, unforgettable experience that gives you a taste of what an astronaut’s life is like and gives you important insight into the ongoing work of the space program in the USA. No matter if you are only moderately passionate about science and space, or an uncompromising sci-fi enthusiast, you can’t help but be impressed by a visit to the Space Centre and the sheer scale of the endeavors taken to further humanity here.
Begin at the Early Space Exploration museum to get a quick summary, then head out on the 90-minute bus tour to the Apollo / Saturn V Center and conclude at the spectacular new Atlantis museum, in which you can walk under the scorched fuselage of a spacecraft that flew on 33 flights to space.
Located on the Atlantic Coast and adjacent to the wind-swept beaches of Canaveral National Seashore, an all-day immersion in US space history will have you wanting to head to the stars yourself.
11. Key West
Key West is the ‘final frontier,’ the end of the Overseas Highway, and one of our favorite places to visit in Florida. Only seven-square miles, this island combines classical Caribbean villas, tropical flora and fauna, and wild parties (not to mention the S&M fetish parade!).
You can see why Hemingway was so captivated by this place, which feels more like an oasis than part of the USA. How could you not be captivated by a place that celebrates the sunset every night? Or just relaxing at the gorgeous Hotel Perry… It’s also got some great quirks, fun artwork and is a good town to just wander around and soak up the atmosphere.
Key West is Florida’s southernmost point, located only about 90 miles north of Cuba. More famous for its pastel-hued, conch-style buildings and coral reefs than for its beaches, Key West is a world unto itself — and one of the best places to visit in Florida.
12. Manatees @ Crystal River
Seriously, how adorable are manatees? They’re so cute you can hardly believe they’re real! And did you know you can swim with them? I bet that just shot to the top of your bucket list, right? It’s not that easy because they’re so well-protected (definitely a good thing), but it’s possible at Crystal River.
Even with manatee numbers on the rise recently — thanks to strict state and federal protections — the Manatee (Florida’s official state sea mammal!) is still highly protected. It is entirely illegal to approach – or touch – a wild manatee anywhere in the state, that is except for a small area in King’s Bay, Citrus County Florida know as Crystal River.
Manatees chose to live at Crystal River during the cold winter months as hot springs in the area warm the water to significantly higher temperatures than the Gulf of Mexico downstream. When you visit and legally swim with manatees, please ensure you go with a sustainable tourism operator.
There are strict rules that it’s important to follow, so you know the animals are being respected, and it’s an incredibly moving experience to be this close to such incredible creatures. Floating around in nature like this is definitely one of the best things to do in Florida.
13. Miami Town
People can be a bit snobby about Miami, but for us, it’s one of the most fun and laid-back cities in the US, and well worth a visit. It’s not just long stretches of beach, although that’s a big draw; it also has fascinating architecture, food, and arts alongside a wild nightlife.
As soon as you arrive here you feel time slowing down – let it! Enjoy the languid pace of life as you soak up rays on Miami Island, explore the Bayside Market, or simply watch the world go by on the boulevard. This last activity is one of the best ways to get a sense of the city as life happens outdoors as much as possible (unsurprisingly, given the gorgeous weather). Clear a night (and morning) after to party in South Beach as well…
While you are visiting, don’t miss the modernist marvels of the revitalized MiMo district, the festive bayside marketplace, or the world’s largest collection of street art at the Wynwood Walls. There there is all the famous filming locations from Miami movies.
Yes, we told you there are so many more things to do in Miami than just sunbathing!
A natural and cultural gem hidden away in Southwest Florida, the city of Naples at is at the heart of the Paradise Coast, a sweet spot where the Gulf of Mexico’s sea-green water coincides white sand and lush islands.
Not content to rely on nature’s bounty on its doorstep, Naples has filled itself with cultural treasures, culinary pleasures, and sophisticated boutiques to offer a little something for everyone. This is not the backwater of Florida, but instead, a rather stylish conic of old Florida filled couture and style, and the prices to make. Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, with the second-highest proportion of millionaires per capita in the US.
The historic Old Naples is a fabulous place for people watching, filled with Mediterranean revival mansions, tall coconut palms, and banyan trees — along with over 100 beautiful apparel shops, gift boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. Dotted in amongst it all are old cottages from a time before money found its way here, but notable no high-rises as they are prioritized here.
Whether you are staying a few nights or decide just to pass through, try to see the outstanding Naples Botanical Gardens (up there with the world’s best gardens in Singapore and Rio de Janeiro), the modernist Baker Museum and the quaint relic of the past: Palm Cottage.
If being part of the glitterati is not top of your list of Floridan things to do, you might still be drawn to Naples to the significant land reserves in the surrounding area, including the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
15. Ocala National Forest
We love the majestic Everglades, but there is so much more to the nature of Florida. One such place is the Ocala National Forest, located just north of Orlando.
The southernmost forest in the continental United States, inside this otherworldly park, you will find hidden cypress stands, bizarre sinkholes and crystal-clear springs — and the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. The forest covers 607 square miles (1,570 km2) of Central Florida and has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, including springs where you can swim, snorkel, and dive in the magical crystalline waters year-round.
There are hundreds of trails, many of which take you on past unusual and mysterious scenes, including the remains of 19th-century homesteads. You’ll get the feeling you could be lost for weeks if you strayed from the path, which is probably true, and we don’t suggest it. There is very much the ‘Old Florida,’ and you can appreciate what early settlers would have experienced when they arrived in this humid and confusing land all those years ago. And get a sense of what this area of Florida was like before the theme parks arrived and changed everything forever.
There are 40+ odd campgrounds and ample activities, whether you want a short hike, longer kayaking adventures, or just to explore this tangle of unique flora and flora.
16. Overseas Highway
Look at the Overseas Highway on Google maps, and you almost think there’s been some kind of mistake – surely that route takes you into the sea? Well, yes, it does. This ‘Highway That Goes To Sea’ is a modern wonder, taking you through Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon before ending in Key West.
The Overseas Highway is a 113-mile (181.9 km) highway through the Florida Keys. It is part of U.S. Route 1 and runs from Miami to Key West. It was built on the former right-of-way of the Overseas Railroad, which was damaged in a 1935 hurricane.
There are long stretches where you’re scooting along through open seas, enjoying incredible views and a sense of freedom particular to US Highways. See if you can time it, so you’re there at sunrise or sunset – it’s spectacular.
17. Sanibel Island
Idyllic Sanibel Island, found in the Gulf of Mexico, just a quick drive from Fort Myers, is renowned for its sunsets, lighthouse, luxurious resorts, and abundance of beautiful and rare shells.
Seashell enthusiasts —yes, there is such a thing — come here for all over the USA to try their luck hunting for the spiral calcium gems that wash up along the beaches here. Over 250 kinds of shells have been found here. One of Florida’s hidden gems, island life on Sanibel is spontaneous and carefree.
The island’s egalitarian nature gives it a rather refreshing point of difference. Growth at Sanibel has been consciously considered, and the island’s northern half is almost completely contained within the JN ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The result is a very paradise lost kind of vibe, with 15 miles of pristine beaches, 25 miles of bike paths, and zero stoplights.
There is no downtown, and the beachfront is blissfully free of the ubiquitous commercial-and-condo monstrosities that can be found on most of Florida’s coastlines.
Plus, there are only a few beach points of access, meaning it is easy to find your own seclusion. There are mansions here, but the hidden from view and life is a very casual affair. This makes Sanibel a perfect choice for a romantic getaway, a family trip, or a nature vacation. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your bucket an a shell guide and get hunting.
You never know what you’ll find.
On the southwest coast of Florida, Sarasota is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. This struggling city was rejuvenated when the circus magnate John Ringling set up camp here, and now it’s a thriving, culturally rich place to visit. Learn more about its particular history at the Ringling campus, complete with museum, former home of the Ringlings, and beautiful grounds.
Otherwise, simply enjoy the natural beauty in Sarasota, whether it’s the turquoise seas and white-sand beaches or the lush tropical gardens. There’s also delicious cuisine to enjoy, which makes full use of the fresh seafood readily available from the Gulf. Don’t be surprised if you end up staying longer than planned.
19. Scuba Diving In Florida
Being surrounded by water on three sides and have a rich maritime history, is it any wonder scuba diving in Florida is some of the best in the world. Well, for wreck divers, at least. Its biodiversity doesn’t compare with spots like the Galapagos, Komodo, or Sipidan sadly.
More ocean-going vessels have had the misfortune of hitting reefs while sailed off the coast of Florida than we can keep a record off — and some are even at that sweet spot that can be explored by snorkelers.
Almost anywhere you stay along the coast will have opportunities for diving, but for enthusiasts, Panama City is the wreck capital of Florida providing an underwater graveyard for over a dozen warships, tugs, and most famously a 441-foot World War II “Liberty Ship; “The Chippewa.” There are also natural reefs just a few miles offshore with small corals and colorful sponges.
Another incredible option for diving is the granddaddy USS Oriskany at 911ft long, 148ft wide and 129ft tall, (diveable from Pensacola), or the many wrecks which litter the seafloor around Fort Lauderdale.
For snorkelers, a Spanish galleon, the Urca de Lima, is found in only 10ft of water close to Fort Pierce, or Biscay National Park has a maritime heritage trail with six ships that are small enough for snorkelers.
20. South Beach Miami
Even those of you whose party animal is more of a squirrel will fall in love with the party scene in South Beach Miami – it is one of the ultimate fun things to do in Florida, and while it’s not cheap you won’t regret a penny (and there are ways to keep the costs down!). Cocktails, beautiful people, big-name DJs, and the constant throb of music combine for an epic experience.
One great way to make the most of South Beach is to take part in an epic 6.5-hour crawl at the South Beach / Miami party scene! Enjoy the famous nightlife and enjoy free entry in up to four hot spots like Nikki Beach, VLive, and Cameo with a friendly guide to show you the ropes and fellow revelers / new friends. Skip the lines and expensive cover charges, enjoy exclusive drinks, learn great party games, and dance away the night. This is one night out you will never forget!
Don’t be intimidated by all the glamour, either. There’s a scene here for everyone, whether you prefer dancing til dawn, rock bars, or sitting outside a bar with a mojito watching it all happen. During the day, make sure you check out the Art Deco buildings in the American Riviera.
21. St. Augustine
St Augustine was founded by the Spaniards in 1565 and today stands as one of the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental USA. This alone makes it one of the top places to visit, and indeed it is a major tourist destination — thanks to its 144-block National Historic Landmark District – but there is a lot more to love here.
St Augustine embodies beauty and retains its dignity, having developed gracefully over the years. However, there is no ignoring the blight of kitschy tourist traps that have come with its fame. There are miniature amusement parks, tour companies at almost every intersection, and horse-drawn carriages plodding along the street. Not to mention everyone dressed up in period costumes from ye’ olden days.
Love it or hate it, one of the main endearing qualities of St Augustine is the rich heritage of built architecture, landmarks, and picturesque cobblestone streets complemented by a seemingly endless array of museums. Unlike other faux-historic theme parks in Florida, St Augustine has the credentials to back its fame up.
This is a town of people who were born and bred here, and many of them have chosen to stay in St. Augustine precisely because they are so passionate about their historic city. That means that despite its often touristy feel, there is also an incredible array of beautiful-restored B&Bs, cute cafes, cozy pubs, which only add to the town’s timeless appeal.
Legend has it St Augustine is the home of the elusive fountain of youth, and while it may never have been found — or at least made public — there is plenty of ghost tours and costumed actors willing to help you find it. For those who don’t fall for the allure of endless youth, the ludicrously ornate Hotel Ponce de Leon and Hotel Alcazar are architectural gems to hunt out. Designed by Henry Flagler – each is landmarks of Florida in their own right.
22. St. Petersburg
St Petersburg has been busy establishing a new identity as a culturally sophisticated Southern City — and its efforts ensure it is now worthy of a place on this list of things to do in Florida.
Yes, it is still a place for spring break parties and retirement, but St. Pete’s is now much more than that. Conveniently located on Florida’s gulf coast, part of the Tampa Bay area, there is a revitalized waterfront, bustling new commercial district and the incredible Dalí Museum, offering the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside Europe and worthy of a trip in-and-of-itself.
The St Petersburg’s downtown is slowly expanding, and Central Ave is now the place to be with a glut of stylish restaurants, in vogue craft breweries, hipster farmers’ markets, and modern art galleries fueled by a wave of young urbanites moving here. It’s not yet as cool as San Diego or Palm Springs, but St Petersburg is getting there. And travelers with a curiosity in food and culture will not want to miss it.
Other top highlights include the Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, and the Chihuly Collection (whose previous works we feel in love with in Toyama, Japan).
Florida’s capital is a city of unexpected delights, with larger-than-life festivals, energetic nightlife, award-winning cuisine, and over 700 miles of trails and endless outdoor adventures.
Tallahassee, the largest city in Florida Panhandle, is cradled between slowly rising hills and filled with tree-lined avenues, street art, and a distinctly different vibe than the rest of Florida. Tallahassee is a peaceful and majestic city (ironically) more southern that much of the state it oversees to the South. Given that geographically, it’s nearer to Atlanta than Miami, this inverse relation makes sense.
Even though the city is home to two major universities (Florida State and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University) and plenty of governmental institutions, the tempo of life here is remarkably slow, only adding to its charm. There is a range of museums to explore, like the Tallahassee Museum of History & Natural Science and the Museum of Florida History, which explores European colonization, the Civil War, and WWII, but it’s the southern atmosphere and way of life we found the most alluring.
If you are only dropping by, a glass of sweet tea and a plate of cornmeal-battered catfish from the Catfish Pad is as good an introduction as any.
Tampa may be missing the legendary downtown skyline which gives Miami its distinctive character, but that doesn’t mean this city is not cool. Less immediately appealing but equally as intoxicating Tampa; Florida’s business hub.
It’s become very ‘up and coming’ in recent years, making it quite new to the list of things to do in Florida. It’s packed full of things to do, with attractions like the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the Henry B Plant Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art. Then there is the world-class Florida aquarium and the odd theme park.
We love exploring the streets of Ybor City at sunset, as the restaurants and bars start to come to life and delicious smells float across the pavements. You can also take the newly-revitalized Riverwalk to see lots of architecture and parks.
25. Theme Parks of Orlando
The theme parks of Orlando are definitely among the can’t-be-missed things to do in Florida. Even if you’re not usually into theme parks, you’ll find yourself having the time of your life at Walt Disney World or the Universal Resort. It’s almost like going back to childlike delight when you step inside these self-contained worlds, filled with all your favorite Disney characters, magical rides, and live shows.
There’s always something new happening, and you could spend days exploring the different parks, from the classic Magic Kingdom to the Animal Kingdom, from the Harry Potter park to Universal Studios. There’s no requirement to go on rollercoasters at all – you can also enjoy the behind-the-scenes exhibitions, the light shows, and the amazing level of detail that’s gone into designing these worlds.
And let’s not forget the incredible Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando…[/sc]