Header image courtesy of Kevin Sarduy (via Unsplash)
Here are some random facts about Florida: It is the flattest out of all 50 states, it produces the most oranges in North America, and it is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators coexist. It is also one of the top places to visit in the US for many reasons!
Its significance can be dated back to 14,000 years ago when the first group of Native Americans resided around the peninsula. It underwent the rulings of Spain and Great Britain before becoming a US Territory in 1821. With that being said, while Florida is full of ancient and cultural sites, it is also a paradise of beaches, gardens, and natural sceneries.
From natural springs to mural art and fortresses, there are endless things to discover in this unique state, so follow us and explore our top places to visit in Florida.
Miami is not just sunken beaches, fancy hotels, and wild nightlife—it is also filled with cultural heritage and artsy gems. With the nation’s largest concentration of Art Deco architecture, Miami is home to over 800 buildings from the early 1920s and 1930s.
Its architecture is characterised by its retro and Neoclassical style, using vibrant colours from pastel blue and bright orange to hot pink. Many intricate elements are on display as well, such as exotic flora and fauna motifs, embellished gems, and geometric statues.
Since the Art Deco Historic District is located on Miami Beach, it is convenient for travellers. Sign up for tours at the Art Deco Welcome Centre on Ocean Drive; otherwise, feel free to roam around the area and admire the buildings on your own.
If regular scuba diving doesn’t do it for you, how about going diving in one of North America’s most prehistoric places? Devil’s Den is a mesmerising underground spring inside a dry cave, and its iconic opening is formed by a karst window.
First, you will enter via a concrete staircase before reaching the bottom platform. Devil’s Den can be traced back to the Pleistocene Age about 2.6 million years ago, so you might even feel like you are travelling back in time as you step into the cave.
Extinct animal fossils and human remains were discovered here, and in the wintertime, steam would rise through the karst window—these aspects all add up to create the mysterious and eerie atmosphere of the cave, offering a one-of-a-kind experience as you snorkel or dive in its crystal-clear water. Fish and some resident turtles might swim around you as you dive. Bookings are available on the website.
An introduction is hardly needed for Disney, the whimsical world that formed generations of childhood memories and adoration. When in Florida, there’s no place better than the Walt Disney World Resort to reminisce about fairy tales and fictional cartoons; the mega amusement park provides an extensive list of things to do that will cover several days.
Neighbouring Disney World is its rival, Universal Studios, just nine miles apart. From 4D simulator rides and thrilling attractions, this exciting place has them all, with special zones dedicated to Harry Potter, the minions from Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, and more.
While Disney World is full of nostalgia and magic, Universal Studios is more thrilling and innovative. Although both theme parks are totally different, they are amazing spots to create merry memories with your family and friends.
Located within the Dry Tortugas National Park, Garden Key first served as a lighthouse beginning in the 1820s, later becoming a military reservation in 1845. After the construction of Fort Jefferson, it was used to hold convicts during the Civil War. In 1867, the yellow fever epidemic hit both prisoners and soldiers hard, while frequent hurricanes and tropical storms damaged the fortress. Later, during World War I, the lighthouse no longer functioned, but a wireless station and naval seaplane facility continued to operate.
Fort Jefferson is now the third-largest fortress in the US, where tourists can camp, snorkel, scuba dive, fish, kayak, and more. A coastal paradise, the area allows visitors to enjoy moments of peace and leisure while being surrounded by a rich marine ecosystem. Removed from light pollution, night-sky viewing is also a popular activity for campers!
Whether you like astronomy or not, the Kennedy Space Centre is sure to fascinate you with real-life stories of humans in space. Divided into various “mission zones,” the complex guides visitors to travel chronologically through history as they learn about the legendary NASA programs and heroes. You will find rockets in their actual size and scale, such as the Saturn V from the Apollo programme. Kennedy Space Centre centre inspires and educates in an interactive way, and if you hop on the Kennedy Space Centre bus tour, you will get the opportunity to see sites and facilities inaccessible to the public. Expect to spend a whole day at this eye-opening place! Bookings are available on the website.
Next, let’s visit Duval Street on the island city of Key West, where you will encounter unique stores, diverse restaurants, and other entertaining attractions. With dozens of bars lining the block, Duval Street is no doubt a great place to go pub-hopping—visit Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the Green Parrot, and Rick’s Bar! If you are looking for unconventional souvenirs to bring home, walk into any local store and find elegant boutiques or handicrafts.
You can also head to the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens to admire art and green spaces from more than a century ago. Near Duval Street is Mallory Square, a popular location to appreciate sunsets where people gather to enjoy street performances.
For thousands of years, Manatee Springs has provided a land of serendipity for habitation, where wildlife, nature, and humans coexist in harmony. Now, the park is one of the best places in Florida for travellers seeking a getaway from the chaotic cities. You can go mountain biking through the forest, fish in or canoe down the Suwannee River, hike on the North End Trail, swim in the magnitude spring, and picnic on a warm and sunny day.
From time to time, there are engaging events for visitors to participate in, such as craftsmanship workshops, nature sessions for children, and kayak eco-tours. Reserve your spot at the campsite by calling (+1) 800 326 3521 or booking through the website.
Inspired by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance architecture, this exquisite estate built with Mediterranean Revival elements consists of charming villas and formal gardens. As a national historic landmark resting on Biscayne Bay, Vizcaya sends tourists back to the past as they study the cultural treasures and stroll around breathtaking green spaces.
European antiques from the fifteenth to nineteenth century are exhibited in the museum, including some ceramic décor from England that sank along with the Titanic. You will find a historic recreation and pool area as well, while the extensive gardens and courtyards are also open to the public. In the restored villages, you can get a taste of local flavours at the farmers’ market. With the abundance of archives and stories in Vizcaya, you are guaranteed to spend an afternoon exploring the area. Plan your visit using the website.
If you have brought the kids along for your Florida vacation and want to keep them entertained, consider Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the US. More eco-conscious than any aquariums and zoos, the Everglades allows animals to reside in their natural habitat at ease. Immerse yourself in the great outdoors with activities like bird watching, canoeing, slogging, geocaching, and more.
Glide over Florida Bay during sunset and catch a glimpse of crocodiles and dolphins, or go on a flamingo adventure. Make the journey extra meaningful by educating the younger generations on animal protection and conservation. Sign-ups for tours and programmes hosted by the Everglades National Park are available on the website.
A “Best things to do in Florida” list would not be completed without beaches. Previously a fishing town in the 1850s, Destin has now become the most popular city to visit in the Florida Panhandle. Its soft white sand from the Appalachian Mountains makes the shores extra beautiful, not to mention the clear water that smoothly blends with the sky.
Snorkelling and scuba diving off the coast is always an option, but you can also embark on a dolphin cruise to visit some adorable marine creatures. Otherwise, staying dry while traversing through the city is equally rewarding, as visitors can dine in delicious seafood restaurants and visit local shops. April and May are the best months to visit Destin, enabling you to enjoy a leisurely trip with perfect weather and temperature.