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Florida, properly named the Sunshine State, is often thought of as being the perfect beach destination, especially for people from the north trying to escape the cold. But, there is way more to do in this underappreciated state.
There is something for everyone, whether you like nature, sports, history, or spotting wildlife. No matter why you decide to take a trip to the state, there are plenty of things to do in Florida, and I’ve listed the 23 best ones in this article!
Play at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is easily the most popular place to visit in Florida and the first thing most people think of when it comes to things to do in Florida. Of course, this is for a good reason, as Disney World is the most magical place in the state.
There are different parks to explore at Disney World, so you likely want to spend more than a day here when you visit. You can choose between Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
At Disney World, you can meet your favorite Disney characters, go on rides and attractions based on Disney movies, and eat food inspired by Disney.
Trek Through Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is one of the most treasured parts of Florida. The park covers an unbelievable one and a half million acres, making it the largest tropical wilderness in the country.
Exploring the entire park would take a lifetime, but you can surely see some of the highlights of the park during your visit.
You can hike or bike through the park if you want a chance to spot some of the wildlife that lives here, which is one of the best things to do at the park. Or, take a tour by boat or kayak if you want to see some of the marine wildlife.
And be sure to climb up the 65-foot Shark Valley observation tower for a view overlooking the park. There is also a missile base called Nike Hercules which you can tour.
You can also book an airboat tour through the Everglades where you can admire all the wildlife and nature in the park. Your tour guide will tell you all about the park and point out animals like alligators.
Cruise Through Dry Tortugas National Park
Florida is simply too special to have just one national park. Dry Tortugas National Park is 70 miles west of Key West, and it is made up mostly of water and seven islands in a 100-square mile area.
Fort Jefferson is also in the park which is on Garden Key Island. You can tour the fort, which was built but never finished during the Civil War. It is the third largest military fort in the United States, and you get beautiful views of the water from the island.
There is something for everyone on the islands of the national park. Some of the fun and unique activities you can do at the park include camping, boating, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
Blast Off at Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is one of the best places to go in Florida if you want to see something you can only see in a few places around the world: a spaceship launch. If you visit at the right time, you can see a rocket or spaceship blast off from one of the launch pads.
But, there is a lot more to see at the center, where you can learn about space and the United States Space program. Your journey begins with educational exhibits on the race to the moon and the people who started the push for space exploration.
Be sure to take a ride on the Bus Tour, where you can go behind the gates of the launch pads and spaceflight facilities where the shuttles are made and the astronauts train.End your visit by learning about the future of NASA and where space travel is expected to go next.
Go Back in Time in St. Augustine
St. Augustine is a quaint city in northeast Florida. As soon as you step into historic downtown St. Augustine, you’ll feel as if you’re in Europe. There are blocks of cobblestone streets, an old fort, and a historic college with buildings in a Spanish architectural style.
Spanish settlers came here in 1565, and people have inhabited the town ever since, making it the oldest city in the United States. With over four and a half centuries of history, there is a lot for you to see and learn about.
The focal point of the city is Castillo San Marcos. The military fort is run by the National Park Service. There are weapon demonstrations, tours of the fortress, and actors who are dressed as people did back in the day. They will teach you about the history of the fort and answer any questions you may have.
In St. Augustine, you will also encounter many old buildings and cemeteries. Keep your eyes peeled as you can still see some of the old city walls that were built to keep the town safe from military attacks and pirates. You should also walk along the water where you can get great views of the water.
With St. Augustine being such an old city, it only makes sense that there are some ghosts haunting the town. Hear all the spooky stories of the old buildings and cemeteries in an Old Town Trolley Tour. Keep your eyes peeled as you explore two of the city’s haunted buildings and pass by many others on the trolley.
Start Your Engines at the Daytona International Speedway
The Daytona International Speedway is home to one of the biggest events in Nascar, the Daytona 500. During the annual event, you can watch some of the fastest cars in the world race around the track for 500 miles. There are plenty of other races at the speedway, so there is a good chance you can have some fun here.
Even if you are not in town for a race, you can take a tour of the racetrack and learn about the ins and outs of racing. Some of the highlights of the tour include walking along pit row and getting a once-in-a-lifetime photo op at the finish line.
An All Access Tour is included with Orlando: Go City All-Inclusive Pass. The pass also includes a tour of the Everglades, the Titanic Exhibition, and the Kennedy Space Center, making it easy to visit some of the Florida attractions in this article.
Relax on Miami’s Beaches
A lot of the best things to do in Florida are active or educational, so make sure you schedule some time to relax on the beaches in Miami. There are more than 20 miles of beaches along the coast and the Atlantic Ocean.
No matter what type of beach day you are looking for, there is a spot for you. You can find everything from quiet beaches to party beaches where you won’t actually do much relaxing. Don’t limit yourself to the sand, as there are plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars lining the beaches.
The highlight of the beaches is the colorful lifeguard stands that line the beaches. Each one is unique, and they make for a fun spot to take a picture, especially if you find one that matches your outfit or swimsuit! The beaches are pretty during the sunrises, which are also good picture spots.
After you spend the day at the beach, see the city from the water at night! On an Evening Cruise on Biscayne Bay, you can admire the sparkling skyline and see some of the city’s biggest and most expensive homes. A bar on the boat makes the cruise the perfect nightcap or pre-dinner activity.
Journey Through Naples’ Botanical Garden
If you want a place to make, you feel like you aren’t in Florida but in a vibrant and flourishing natural habitat, head over to the Naples Botanical Garden. The garden covers 170 acres with more than 1000 species of plants to admire.
The park is broken into seven different habitats to help the plants thrive in their natural environments. The plants are native to countries all over the world, and there are also ones that are local to Florida. There are also a lot of flowing water features in the park that have their own flora, like water lilies and lotus.
If you are traveling with your furry friend, dogs are welcome in the garden during certain hours each week so they can explore a cool part of Florida with you.
Catch an MLB Baseball Game
Another one of the fun Florida activities that you can take part in from late February to early October or so is catching an MLB baseball game. MLB hosts half of their teams’ spring training games throughout Florida in the Grapefruit League.
You will find the thirteen spring training facilities on the east and west coasts of the state south of Orlando. Three of them are on the east coast near West Palm Beach and the other ten are between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers.
No matter where you are in south Florida, you are bound to find a game to watch in March. Or, you can spend the month touring the southern part of Florida and see some of the highlights just by going to the towns these facilities are in.
Then, during the rest of the baseball season, from April to October, Tampa Bay and Miami are both home to two teams. Don’t worry about the Florida heat! Both teams have stadiums with retractable roofs, so you can always enjoy a game in a comfortable environment.
Baseball games are a lot of fun during both spring training and the regular season. Even if you are not a baseball fan, you can enjoy some classic ballpark food, tour the different ballparks, and take part in the events and games the teams offer during each game.
Head Straight to the Dali Museum
Salvador Dali was one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century, so it’s only fitting that he has his own museum. He was born and died in Spain, but he spent nearly a decade of his surrealist art career in the United States.
His museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, houses more of his masterpieces than anywhere else in the world and is home to the second largest collection of his after his other museum in Spain. You can see hundreds of oil paintings, drawings, watercolors, photos, and sculptures by Dali.
And, even if you are not into art, the museum itself was made to wow. The building, which cost over thirty million dollars to build, has a 75-foot-high glass entryway. The entrance, called the enigma, is based on the dome that is at his other museum in Spain.
Cast a Spell at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Whether you are a fan of the wildly successful book series and movie franchise or not, you will undoubtedly have a great time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The attraction is part of Universal Studios.
There are a lot of fun things to do at the park, like the rides and attractions, which make you feel like you are actually at Hogwarts. You can ride motorbikes, escape from Gringotts, and fly on the Hippogriff.
There are actually two Harry Potter lands in Universal: Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World and Hogsmeade in the Islands of Adventure. To get from one section of the park to the other, you get to take a ride on the iconic Hogwarts Express.
Other than the thrilling rides, there are shows, shopping options, and dining. Be sure to try some of the famous Butterbeer at Hog’s Head.
Admire the Wynwood Walls
Ready to see one of the unique places Florida has to offer? Wynwood Walls is a vibrant area in Miami full of massive murals. Artists from all over the world have shared their art on these walls.
The tradition started when Tony Goldman wanted to transform old warehouses into an open-air art gallery. The area exceeded his vision, and today you can see all types of murals and graffiti in the area.
One of the best times to visit is during the monthly Wynwood Art Walk, when the neighborhood the walls are in comes alive to celebrate art. The area is bursting with fun late into the night with food trucks, live music, and late-night events at the surrounding art galleries.
The Wynwood Walls are a great place for everyone to see, but you will thrive if you are an art lover. There are plenty of shops and boutiques where artists sell their work, so make sure you have room in your bag to take all your new art home!
Walk Along Destin Harbor Boardwalk
The city of Destin is one of the western cities on the panhandle. One of the best things to do in the city is the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
As you walk along the quarter-mile-long boardwalk, you will see breathtaking views of the water and the coast of the town. No matter what time of day you come to strut down the boardwalk, there is plenty to do.
During the day, you can fish off the boardwalk or charter a boat to further explore the water and the coast. There are also a lot of shops and restaurants that are open day and night for maximum entertainment.
Delve Into the Titanic’s Artifacts
The Titanic. A passenger ship with a tragic ending. An Oscar-winning movie. And an Orlando experience.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition will take you back more than 100 years and make you feel as though you are on the original ship. After you “board” the ship, you will go on a journey on the ship from the time it leaves the dock to its tragic ending.
There are over 300 artifacts from the ship that will help you understand what it was like on the ship. Be sure to tour the recreations of some of the rooms that were on the ship. They’ll make you feel like you were actually there!
If you want to learn even more during your time at the exhibition, you can book one of the informative tours. One of them will teach you about the heroes who sacrificed their lives during the tragedy. Another will tell the stories of other passengers, crew members, and the team who worked to recover the ship and its artifacts.
Sightsee in Tallahassee
Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, is on the panhandle, far from the beach towns that you might be visiting Florida to see. But, you should not skip over this city as it is overflowing with things to do and cultural highlights.
Of course, one of the must-visit places in the city is the state capitol building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Florida State Capitol is actually two buildings, the Old Capitol and the new building, which sit one in front of the other. The old one was supposed to be demolished when the new one was built, but it still stands today.
Tallahassee is also filled with ways to get in touch with nature. There are over 700 miles of trails and water where you can hike, bike, boat, and explore. One of the coolest trails is the St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail which used to be a shopping railway. Now it is a paved 20-mile path that connects Tallahassee to St. Marks on the coast.
And, if there are not enough art attractions on this list already, Tallahassee has its own art district that covers 10 acres with art, shops, and galleries. The neighborhood is fun to walk around since there is vibrant art all over.
Finally, the city has the Tallahassee Museum, which is not your typical museum. It sits on 52 acres outside with trails, historical exhibits, and plenty of wildlife. You can zipline and go on aerial courses on the museum’s campus or explore the historic buildings. The buildings teach you about the history of the city, the state, and the land.
Discover Florida’s Coral Reef
A coral reef in Florida? It’s the only reef system in the continental US, making it another one of Florida’s hidden treasures. The reef runs for over 300 miles between Dry Tortugas National Park and the St. Lucie Inlet.
There are plenty of places along the reef where you can see the reef and the 40 species of coral that thrive in the area. The coral builds a reef here, and the reef is where plants and animals live and feed.
Pollution and global warming are putting the reef at risk, but you can still visit and see the reef without adding to the risk. You can swim, dive, fish, boat, and snorkel in the reef. Just be sure to not touch or stand on the coral.
If you can only visit a few Florida attractions, the reef should undoubtedly be one of them. Visiting with intention and being mindful of the coral will keep this natural wonder here for years to come.
Explore Devil’s Den
Devil’s Den is one place that makes you think, “this is in Florida?”
The water is crystal clear and stays at a comfortable temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. So, with no bad time to visit and walls made up of ancient rock formations and fossils, this is one of the gems of Florida.
You can snorkel, and scuba dive in the den, and they offer equipment rentals to make it easy for you to enjoy. Snorkeling is easy for anyone as long as you know how to swim, so you shouldn’t miss a visit here. You can still walk through the den even if you are not snorkeling or scuba diving.
There are camping and lodging options if you want to stay here longer. It is a one-of-a-kind place, and one day here is not enough!
See the Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens is an eye-catching tower and garden sitting atop one of the highest points in Florida at 295 feet above sea level. If you are looking for somewhere to rejuvenate yourself and find some good energy, the gardens are the best place in Florida to do so.
Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. The land was built and designed by Edward W. Bok, who resided here and wanted to protect the birds who call this place home.
The main attraction is the Singing Tower which stands 205 feet tall. The bells in the tower ring daily with short rings every 30 minutes and longer concerts twice daily. There is a cafe in the gardens, and I recommend grabbing some food to enjoy while listening to the bells.
After you see the tower, explore the rest of the grounds, which include the Pinewood Estate, the Pine Ridge Trail, and the Bok Exedra, which is in the garden as a way to home Edward W. Bok.
Walk Down Duval Street in Key West
Key West is a fun place to visit in Florida, no matter what you do there. However, one of the highlights that you can’t miss is Duval Street. You’ll find nearly anything and everything you want or need on the almost mile-long street.
Start at one end of the street, one of which is at the Atlantic Ocean and the other at the Gulf of Mexico. As you walk down the bustling street, you’ll find restaurants, shopping, bars and pubs, and many entertainment options.
There are all types of shops on Duval Street, from beachy-type shops to local boutiques. The restaurants and bars also cover a variety of places, from dive bars that have been around for decades, to upscale dining that does not disappoint.
The street is one of the most popular places to visit on Key West, so you will meet lots of other people, especially at the hottest bars and restaurants. Part of Duval Street is part of the Key West Historic District, including the popular Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which opened in 1933.
Tour the Ernest Hemingway House
Another interesting thing to do in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway House. Hemingway lived in Key West for 10 years, and he wrote some of his literary masterpieces during that time.
There are guided tours of the house where you can learn about Hemingway, his home, and his writing, and you will see the grounds of the home, including the garden, the pool, and all the plants native to the land.
You’ll get to see the grounds of the home and meet some of the other residents of the house: cats. Hemingway had a cat when he lived here, and it’s said that all the cats that now live in Key West today.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, you and a guest can have exclusive access to Hemingway’s home for three hours. After a guided tour, you can write in the same studio Hemingway used or spend your time elsewhere in the house or gardens.
Travel to Sanibel Island
Florida has a lot of busy places, and you may feel the need to escape the crowds after exploring so much. I have the perfect place for you to go. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, and you might not even feel like you are in Florida.
Sanibel Island: a tropical island where you can escape the busy Florida heat and go to what might actually be paradise. It’s easy to get to the island from Fort Myers or Tampa, either by car, boat, or bike.
Once you arrive, the island has 15 miles of beaches overlooking the blue waters. Whether you are traveling solo, with a partner, or with your family, the island is a great getaway. You can also look for shells with 250 varieties to search for on the island.
After spending a day relaxing on the beach, check out the island’s restaurants, shops, golf courses, and fishing spots. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, as there are over 200 species of birds that inhabit the island’s lush foliage.
Visit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is another one of the interesting museums in Florida that I think anyone would enjoy visiting. The villa was home to James Deering in the early 20th century. His fortune came from his family’s stake in International Harvester, and he spent winters at the Vizcaya estate.
Today, the 43-acre grounds are well worth pursuing. The gardens sit on Biscayne Bay, surrounded by subtropical forests. You’ll feel at peace when you walk through the estate, but for a more educational experience, you can take a guided or audio tour and learn during your visit.
And the gardens hold some of Deering’s art collection, including statues from Italy and a fountain in the Fountain Garden that was created by the same designer who made the fountain in front of Rome’s Pantheon.
The highlight is the actual home which was inspired by Mediterranean architectural styles. The home has mostly Italian elements, but the home was also designed to be Mediterranean in the sense that it works with a similar climate in Miami.
Descend Into Florida Caverns State Park
By now, you’ve seen a lot that Florida has to offer. So, why not try seeing it from below? Florida Caverns State Park is in the northern part of the panhandle, and you can take a guided tour of the caverns.
On tour, you will learn about the caverns and how they have formed over thousands of years. Obviously, the caverns are typically dark, seeing as though they are underground, but the state parks system has added an LED lighting system, so it is easy to make your way around without harming the caves and their ecosystem.
If you aren’t thrilled about going underground into a cave, I don’t blame you; it’s scary! There are plenty of other fun activities the park offers. Some of the more common activities include bike trails, camping, boating, hiking, and swimming.
Be sure to check out the visitors’ center to see the one-of-a-kind limestone structure. It was built using locally sourced limestone and other materials as a representation of the caverns below. There is a museum in the building where you can tour the caverns by video and learn about the area’s history.