16 Best Places to Visit in Florida
Close your eyes and picture your dream vacation. What do you picture?
Are there beautiful tropical beaches? Sunshine? Outdoor adventures? Exciting nightlife? Fun for the whole family? Florida is calling! Located between the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the state boasts over 825 miles of beaches, and plays host to incredible attractions, including Disney World, Everglade National Park, and world-class nightlife.
More than 100 million people vacation in the Sunshine State every year–which isn’t surprising because there really is something for everyone. To help you start planning your dream Florida getaway, we’ve compiled a list of the 16 must-see places to visit in Florida.
16. Panama City Beach
When you begin your search for places to visit in Florida, make sure that Panama City Beach is high on your list. This mid-sized city of 36,000 residents offers pristine waters and abundant wildlife.
The local attractions–including Shipwreck Island Waterpark, dolphin-watching tours at the Treasure Island Marina, camping, fishing and hiking at St. Andrews State Park–offer fun for the whole family. The Panama City Beach Winery, which offers 100% fruit-made wine, is an especially unique experience. Selections include everything from banana wine to Blueberry Blue Dry and every fruit in-between. If you’re looking for a relaxing, affordable place to stay, Panama City Beach is a great place to start.
15. St Augustine
If this were a list of historic places to visit in Florida, St. Augustine would be at the top. It is the oldest European settlement in the continental United States. The city carries on that tradition with quaint charm at every turn.
Absorb the beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture in the walkable historic district. Be sure to check out the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest masonry fort in the United States!
The westernmost city in Florida is known for its proud military heritage and is home to the Naval Air Station. The Blue Angels are an elite U.S. Navy demonstration squadron based at the Naval Air Station. Flights from this group can be seen flying overhead often while practicing and during annual air shows. The Blue Angels perform in Pensacola on November 11th and 12th for their homecoming.
This town on the east coast of Florida may be one of the most underrated places to visit in the whole state. Home of the Kennedy Space Center, Titusville is a great place to bring your family or any space-loving friend. The Kennedy Space Center is open daily and offers a “behind the gates” tour, a rocket “garden”, and presentations given by astronauts.
If interplanetary travel is not your thing, Titusville also offers outdoor experiences such as the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary and the Sand Point Park.
Coral reefs are one of the first attractions people think about when they think about the best places to visit in Florida. If this speaks to you, Islamorada must be added to your bucket list!
Islamorada is a small village of only 6,400 and encompasses six of the Florida Keys. The village is located between the saltwater wilderness of the everglades and the deep blue waters of the Florida Straits which means world class diving and snorkeling tours and straight from the dock seafood are all in abundance.
The third largest city in Florida, Tampa is known for its countless attractions (too many to list here!)
For family-friendly sites, be sure to visit the Florida Aquarium or the Busch Gardens amusement park. For museum-lovers, Tampa has an art museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Henry B. Plant Museum. For nightlife, Ybor city is the place to go. The city’s historic Latin quarter transforms to a high-spirited playground at night.
Pro-tip: Tampa is the home of the Big Cat Rescue run by Carol Baskin, which was featured on Netflix’s docuseries, Tiger King. Guided tours start at just $29 per person.
The top fishing destination in Florida is found in the northwest corner of the panhandle. This coastal city is about an hour from Pensacola and offers all the fishing opportunities a beginner or advanced fisherman could want.
Also known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin features inshore, near shore, and deep-sea fishing experiences. Other than fishing, Destin offers white sand beaches, watersports, and a theme park. What more could you ask for?
While this landlocked city may not be the first city that comes to mind when considering places to visit in Florida, Gainesville offers one of the best music scenes, which draw people in from far and wide. This city's unique sound includes inspiration from folk, soul, punk, country, and so much more.
It’s also a very budget-friendly place to visit. Accommodations average around $190 per night for a three-star hotel. If you’re interested in learning more about how to make a budget-conscious trip to Florida, check out our article.
8. Wakulla County
Wakulla County is located in the Big Bend portion of the Florida panhandle. This beautiful area is only about 20 minutes outside of Tallahassee and is a great detour for any nature-lover.
The Edward Ball Wakulla Spring State Park is extremely inviting with it’s nearly 70℉ water year-round manatee sightings, and spectacular bird watching opportunities. If you find yourself in Wakulla between July 1st and September 24th, be sure to check out the recreational scallop harvesting, which is open the public!
7. Boca Raton
Boca Raton (also known as “Boca”) is located on Florida's southeastern coast. This city of around 97,000 residences is known as one of the most bike-friendly cities in Florida. So, if you’re looking for a leisurely pedal around a new city, Boca is the one to check out. Other than biking, Boca Raton offers 67 acres of beaches, 34 golf courses, and a laid-back lifestyle that is hard to resist.
Sarasota was historically known as the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus. Today, it carries on the tradition of circusing. The city is the home of the Sailor Circus, Circus Sarasota, and Big Top Tours. There is also a group of venues known as “The Ringling,'' which includes; a circus museum, the historic Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, Bayfront Gardens, an art museum, and live-performance theater.
If the big top is not your spot, Sarasota is also the home of the Myakka River State Park. This park offers campsites, including six hammock campsites, fishing, geo-seeking games, and hiking. This park is sure to get you feeling in touch with nature.
5. Everglades National Park
For the outdoor adventure-lovers, a list of places to visit in Florida would be lacking without mention of the Everglades National Park. The park encompasses 1.5 million acres of wetland preserves and comprises much of the southernmost tip of Florida. The park is the third largest national park by size in the country.
There are so many things to do in this national park. Try kayaking or canoeing, boating, bird-watching, fishing, slogging (off-trail hiking), and so much more. Make it a multi-day trip by camping at the park. Camping starts at $27 per night for a tent site and around $55 per night for a RV spot.
The coastal metropolis of 450,000 residences is one of the quintessential places to visit in Florida.
At the heart of Miami’s unique cultural heritage is Little Havana. This neighborhood features vibrant streets lined with latin-inspired restaurants, bakeries, fruit stands, rum bars, and music venues. Smoking a cuban-style cigar is almost obligatory.
Miami is also famous for its nightlife, especially in the South Beach neighborhood, where top nightclubs include Sobe, Story E11, and Space. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes!
3. Disney World
Fly into Orlando and you're guaranteed to see some mouse ears on the plane! Disney World is one of the top family-friendly places to visit in Florida.
Disney World offers four theme parks, including Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Be sure to check out the daily parade to see your favorite characters, zoom around the parks on the Monorail system, and make a splash at the Typhoon Lagoon water park.
We could not make a list of the best places to visit in Florida without Naples. The beautiful beach-front town offers the best of all worlds. The Naples Pier, first constructed in 1888, is the city’s symbol. Over time it has become a popular fishing and dolphin-spotting destination.
Naples plays host to white sand beaches, calm waters, and affordable accommodations. The quaint-town also has high-end boutique shopping and has gained a reputation as the “Golf Capital of the World.”
1. Key West
And finally, our top choice for places to visit in Florida is Key West. The island is the southernmost point in the United States and is only about 90 miles away from Cuba. It is known for its watersports, lively nightlife, the beach, and pastel conch-style architecture.
Be sure to pack your sunscreen! Key West is one of the sunniest places in the continental United states, with average year-round temperatures of 75-80℉. The most popular months to visit are March, April, and May.
Don’t be fooled by the many family experiences Orlando is known for. When it comes to romance, there is plenty to go around.
Vacationing at Walt Disney World in Orlando can be overwhelming and a little bit intimidating, even for the return visitor. There are so many attractions and thousands of things to see and do.