Known as “the Sunshine State”, Florida is all about the beautiful weather, stunning beaches, and awesome theme parks. Being a former Spanish colony, certain parts of the State have a strong Latin-American influence reflected on its vibrant local scene and cuisine.
Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, this state has miles of white sand beaches. No wonder it is a popular tourist destination for Americans and foreigners alike!
Don’t know yet where to stay in the Sunshine State? Here are some of the best places to visit in Florida to get you started:
For the kids and the kids at heart, the Walt Disney World Resort will surely be a hit! The resort covers nearly 47 square miles and features four different theme parks. These theme parks are Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The theme parks feature interactive rides, magical attractions, animal adventures, and more than 60,000 cast members. For those who want to cool down a little, the Walt Disney World Resort also has two water parks: Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
If you want to explore all the theme parks, then it’s probably best to stay in one of the hotels in the resort. That’s right! The resort has its own accommodations, with over 20 resort hotels. There are also off-site hotels if you want to scope the surrounding area.
In addition to the theme parks, the resort also offers excellent dining and shopping experience so be prepared to splurge.
No trip to Florida is complete without visiting at least one of its beautiful beaches. One of the most popular ones is Panama City Beach, with its trademark white sand and warm Gulf waters. The place attracts people of all ages and lifestyle and offers a range of different activities for everyone.
If you’re traveling with your family or with kids, you might want to check out the Shipwreck Island water park and the Zoo World. Love the outdoors? You’d definitely enjoy canoeing and fishing at St. Andrew’s State Nature Park! Golfers will also find a lot of top-rated courses in the area.
The area is can be quite congested and noisy during the spring break season of March to early April, but the 27-mile coastline can certainly accommodate everyone. If you want some quiet, just try to avoid Front Beach Road which tends to be the busiest section.
For the movie junkies out there, the Universal Orlando Resort is definitely the place to be! It is comprised of two theme parks within walking distance of each other. The first one is the Universal Studios theme park and the other is the Islands of Adventure.
The state-of-the-art rides in Universal Studios will definitely make you feel like you’re a part of the blockbuster movies you love. Are you a die-hard Harry Potter fan? If you are, you’re in luck because the Islands of Adventure theme park features the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Navigate through Hogsmeade Village, visit the well-known shops from the series, have a mug (or two!) of butterbeer, and get yourself some souvenir. It will surely melt your muggle heart.
If you want some variety in your vacation, then Tampa Bay is the place for you! With a long list of attractions ranging from pristine beaches to world-class museums, this area definitely has everything to keep you entertained.
Tampa Bay’s beaches are some of the best in the country, so it’s the perfect place to swim and try out water sports. Want a pretty laid back vacation? Don’t miss the opportunity to try out charter fishing and sunset cruising. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, then you might want to try parasailing, too!
Tampa Bay also has a vibrant arts scene. Drop by Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art, St. Petersburg, and Tampa’s Museum of Art and feast your eyes on astonishing collections. Want something more modern? You’d love the IMAX theater at the Museum of Science and Industry!
The area also has a fair share of boutiques and shopping districts where you can shop and dine al fresco.
The Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to preserve the biodiversity of the Everglades ecosystem. It covers a staggering 1.5 million acres of Florida’s southern tip. The area is a federally designated wilderness. It is actually the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.
The landscape is a mix of freshwater and coastal prairie, mangroves, marshland, pine and cypress woods, and the waters and islands of Florida Bay. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.
Given its large size, there are three entrances to the Everglades National Park. Unfortunately, they are not connected and can be accessed through different areas of South Florida. Each of these areas offers a wide range of different activities.
You can take a short walk on the Anhinga Trail to spot wildlife or you can climb atop Shark Valley's 65-foot observation tower. You can also kayak on Florida Bay or paddle amongst the mangroves on Nine-Mile Pond.
Few people haven’t heard of Miami Beach, especially since it is commonly featured in movies. This place is everything you’ve heard of, but you still have to see it for yourself. Trust me, nothing says summer fun like lounging on its sugar-sand beaches and dancing the night away in its ultra-chic nightclubs.
But if you think Miami Beach is just a party hotspot, think again. This beautiful sandy paradise actually has a couple of surprises up its sleeve. Miami Beach has evolved into a modern mecca of the fashion industry, while, at the same time, retaining its Cuban influence.
If you want to have a taste of the lively Cuban culture, cuisine, art, and live music, then Miami Beach is the place to be. It also has a thriving architecture scene. In fact, it has more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930s and 1940s. You can take an Art Deco tour to see most of them.
Miami Beach also has a fine dining and spa scene. Numerous oceanfront hotels and cafes cater to beach strollers and everyone who wants a glamorous summer vacation.
If you’re not much of an outdoor person and prefer a luxurious vacation instead, then St. Augustine will surely captivate your heart. This city lies along the banks of the Matanzas River and is the oldest city in the United States.
Being a former European settlement, the city still retains its European charm. The city’s rich history can be seen in its cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages. Its hotel accommodations are also to die for, especially the landmark hotels at the city’s historic district.
While you’re in St. Augustine, make sure to drop by the historic district where you can revel in the area’s Spanish Renaissance Revival style. The terra cotta roofs matched with the narrow balconies are certainly romantic. Not to mention that you will surely love the hodgepodge of shops and eateries in the area.
Probably the most intriguing thing about St. Augustine is that the Fountain of Youth is rumored to be there. Intrigued? Then drop by the Fountain of Youth National Park and see for yourself!
Florida is a beautiful state with so much to offer in terms of sights and attractions. A week is too short to properly appreciate what this state has to offer! Do you have a favorite place in Florida which was not included in this list? Share it with us in the comments below!
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