13 Best Places to Visit in Florida

It is impossible to talk about the tourism sector in the US without mentioning Florida. Florida is endowed with national parks, a rich and diverse culture, awesome people, beautiful golf courses, breathtaking white-sand beaches, among many other magnificent tourist attractions sites that make the Sunshine State a darling for many Americans and foreigners alike.

That is without mentioning the attractive and fun-filled cities of Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale, etc. Florida offers something for all types of visitors, all year round.

While all of us are dreaming about traveling, currently it is impossible given the new situation with Covid 19. The first lockdown has surely impeded us from enjoying the first part of the year and voting new places, however, we never thought that the second wave would be the same. Currently, we have been hit by another wave of Covid 19 which has pushed governments to impose other restrictions and ban most traveling. However, for now we can only make plans for 2021 and hope that the pandemic ends as soon as possible.

If you want fishing and diving, go to The Florida Keys. There’s everything from big corporate attractions around Orlando, to a colonial fortress in St Augustine. The Alligator Farm (as seen on Myth Busters) has a unique charm and can easily fill your day. Kennedy Space Center, offers a unique blend of science and history.

On the west coast, Naples, St Petersburg and Sarasota have amazing museums and incredible history to share from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Weeki Wachee still has mermaids. Tarpon Springs has wonderful Greek food and the historic sponge docks. The entire west coast has incredible sugar white sand beaches (compared to the yellow and grey sand of the Atlantic side.

The Nature Coast, Big Bend and Panhandle are more rural but feature great seafood dining, camping and military history with everything from colonial and Civil War forts to Eglin Air Force Base and Pensacola Naval Air Station, which has a great museum and is home to the Blue Angels. You shouldn’t forget that a significant part of the Florida Trail runs through this area.

Florida is one of the most visited travel destinations in the worldFlorida is one of the most visited travel destinations in the world.

It goes without saying that Florida is a must-visit destination for any fun-loving person. If you are such a person but you don't know where to start, here are a few of the top places to visit in Florida:

1. St. Augustine

Florida’s oldest cities, such as Saint Augustine and Pensacola, are in North Florida. On the North Atlantic side, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied city in North America, rich with Spanish and English colonial heritage. It’s a very worthwhile tourist stop. The state capital, Tallahassee, was established because it happened to be a midpoint between the Jacksonville/Saint Augustine area, and the Pensacola area.

St. Augustine, and the Jacksonville landing, are other great spots for shopping, dining, nightlife, live music and other special events around the St Johns River.

In North Florida, one can enjoy raw oysters on a soda cracker with cocktail sauce, okra and black-eyed peas, pecan pie, and collard greens. Aside from that, many of the most interesting spots are on the coast. Of course, almost the entire coast is white sandy beach, so you can stop at any one, any time. One can drive for many miles along canopy roads with Spanish moss falling off of oak trees onto your windshield.

2. Anna Maria Island

Beaches are fun until they start to get crowded. But the beaches at the small Anna Maria Island are never crowded at any time of the year. The beaches are long and breathtakingly beautiful, and you can swim and kayak with the dolphins while here. To the northern end of the island is the Bean Point Beach whose coziness will leave you begging for more.

In the interior of this hidden island are other amazing places such as Bayfront Park and countless restaurants which serve local Florida foods and drinks.

3. Miami

To the southern coast is this thriving modern happy city of Miami which, surprisingly, has never lost its unique old vibe even with all the new developments. Miami is a hotspot of Southern Florida. This is the city with the most booming real estate industry; many investors from across the world have invested heavily in the Miami real estate industry thus making it multicultural and multilingual.

The malls, entertainment halls, restaurants, and historic attractions down here are the best in the entire Florida. What's more, this City is adjacent to Miami Beach so you will have both beach life and city life experiences. It is more than a great beaching destination. Wonderful beaches extend all over Florida, but Miami offers such an atmosphere which can be seen anywhere in the United States.

Hopefully, we didn’t mislead you in the beginning. This beautiful and exotic location is not only suitable for shopping and parties. It also has an amazing art scene. There is a big variety of art related places that you can enjoy. One of them being Adrienne Arsht Center, where you can experience all different kinds of performing arts. Therefore, if you are a fan, don’t waste time and buy an online ticket as soon as you can.

The Cuban vibe in the Little Havana and the Art Deco District in the beach of Miami reminds people of the 1930s era. In the evening, the place fills with an endless parade of sports cars. Summers are just perfect for beaching scenes.

When you drive into Hialeah, you'll come across very old bodegas (small food markets) that give off a nostalgic 50’s vibe. One thing that stands out are the window-stops that you'll find at a lot of Cuban restaurants. Don't forget to order yourself a shot of Cuban coffee, you'll be charged and ready to go for the rest of the day. Best damn coffee you’ll ever have!

You’ll come across a lot of the elderly gentleman still reading newspapers like the good ole’ days, some just standing in front of the bodega’s reading away, others at any given restaurant. You'll come across signs that are in Spanish, including billboards. In Hialeah, you don’t only still get the Ice Cream trucks, you get food trucks that play ice cream man music down the street, others yelling promotional speeches through a giant megaphone.

The old AmerTec building was a major icon in Hialeah. It stood out like a sore thumb. It was built in 1967 and was demolished in 2017. It was popular because it was the most unique design in all of Hialeah, but it was also a warehouse and many other things over time. Nobody ever knew what this building was about because it was constantly being sold and bought by someone over and over, till it’s demise.

Small shops and hardware stores are common to have advertising signs to a very exaggerated point of no return. At Lorenzo Hardware, you’ll see posts on the outside windows from boats, to missing dogs, selling dogs, cars, house, guns, botanica supplies, flowers, manicure, childcare, gallinas and there eggs, santero services, escorts, clothes, jewelry, tamales, purses, shoes, wives, wine, etc. Hate to admit it, but this is beyond tacky.

You have to realize, Hialeah is just old. Very old. You’ll still find record stores. Ricky’s Records being one of them. (Still open, keeping the old records alive).

When it comes to old-fashioned glamour in Miami, the Biltmore Hotel certainly stands out above the rest as a Miami luxury hotel. Built in the 1920s in the luxurious surroundings of Coral Gables, the Biltmore Hotel is famous for retaining much of its old pre-Depression glamour. They serve a four-course meal by waiters in white gloves.

As a guest, you can play alongside celebrities at the ultra exclusive Biltmore’s famous 18-hole championship golf course. This hotel is quite historic as well and has undergone a major remodel a few years ago. This hotel feels more like an ultra-luxe cruise ship than a chic hotel.

Since 1954, it has dominated the Miami hotel scene, and not just in size—though, at 1,504 rooms, Fontainebleau is the city’s largest hotel. It’s also been Miami's perennial paragon of style and star power. This hotel was designed by Marcus Lapidus that focus mainly in the Art Deco design and has attracted yesteryear’s celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley. Nowadays, the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Sean Combs, and Gwyneth Paltrow can be seen lounging at one of the resort’s 11 pools, dining at one of its seven restaurants—including a Hakkasan and Scott Conant’s Scarpetta—or partying at its nightclubs.

Guests looking for a more relaxing experience could easily spend their whole vacation at Lapis, Fontainebleau’s 40,000-square-foot spa.

4. Clearwater

Three miles of nothing but white sands and blue waters of the ocean may sound like an exaggeration. But it is not. This beach which is situated at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico will sweep you off your feet with its splendid, bare-knuckle awesomeness. The beach along the stunning Gulf Coast in Florida is endowed with restaurants which offer meals for all budgets and from all cultures.

Seafood and wild meat are also in plenty here, giving you a diverse menu that you will not find anywhere else. Do you want to eat in the sand? Why not? Restaurants at the Clearwater Beach understand that you need to get loose on weekends so they serve you wherever you wish. Curio and souvenir shops are open at all times so you can sample and buy whatever you need to take back home.

Head a little further North to quickly see Weeki Wachee Springs in Clearwater, now a state park, one of the oldest and most developed of Florida’s natural Springs - pumping out millions of gallons of fresh water daily. It also happen to be the only place with a Mermaid Show. At Weeki Wachee you will not only find spectacular springs, you can also enjoy Buccaneer Bay, the only fresh water park in the state.

Located in the city of the same name, one hour north of Tampa, this park is the favorite destination of many families for its mermaid show at Mermaid Theater. You can also do kayaking, snorkeling, boat tours, picnics and even enjoy from a white sand beach. For wildlife lovers, there are shows with birds and domesticated reptiles.

5. Palm Beach

Are you looking for some of the best things to do in Florida, entertaining destination for your whole family? Do you love music and art? If you answered yes to any of the questions, then Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach is your ideal destination. This is the only place in the whole world where you will see a 30+ meters high Christmas tree and interact with artistic exhibitions free of charge.

You will also have the chance to buy souvenirs at very friendly prices and enjoy low-cost local delicacies. All these will help you to better understand Florida and its culture.

6. Key West

Now you have a choice: keep heading South on the overseas highway and in 3 hours you get to Key West. It *used to be* a quaint bohemian hideaway. Now it’s overrun with tourists, but packed with nightlife as a result. Key West used to be W*I*L*D. Key West feels and behaves like a natural island, although it is not. The architecture here is old but fancy. The economy is booming but people are never in a hurry. You will get optimally relaxed while here as you enjoy the rich and diverse cultures. The foods are mouth-watering as many recipes from all cultures across the world are represented here.

While here, remember to visit the fancy boutiques, affordable souvenir shops, historic museums, and exciting national parks. Key West is very accessible to the Miami crowd by car, by ferry from Fort Meyers and by all the nice people who live in the Keys - the Conch Republic. Different flavour of wild than the 80s, and Key West is WAAY upmarket from the other Keys. Key West is a dead end, so you’ll be coming back North again on the Atlantic side.

7. Fort Lauderdale

Keep going South and you get to Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. Of course you want to see those. Fort Lauderdale is the coastal city, known for its fine beaches, art, culture and nightlife. Take a ride in a gondola on the canals of the Venice of Florida, sliding past the luxurious house, mariner, yachts and sailboats. Bath and shopping there indefinitely. Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach got tired of being the world capitals of the hangover. There are young people wanting to party, who has now moved to Panama City Beach and South Padre Island.

8. Fort Myers Beach

It is a weekend and the last thing you need is the noise and pace of the city. That is why Fort Myers Beach is among the best weekend getaways in the United States. It is a small, tranquil, and everything here moves at your pace. While here, you can choose to swim or just watch the dolphins. The water is mostly warm and ideal for swimming at any time of the year.

9. Tampa

Already experienced east coast of Florida? Travel time to the western part - Tampa. If theme parks are your thing, you’re better off going to Florida. Here you should visit Busch Gardens, a zoo and amusement park with rides, 200 species of animals and shows. Busch Gardens in Florida is one of the best theme parks anywhere ever. St. Petersburg's white beach is a must.

10. Naples

Press on and you’ll get to Naples. Beautiful homes. Beautitful downtown. Beautiful beach. Beautful Gardens (Naples Botanical Garden).

11. Sarasota

From there you turn North on the Gulf Coast side of Floirda. You could stop at Sarasota, for another beautiful Beach. Or just make a bee-line for Tampa and the Dali Museum for art, and/or Busch Gardens for the biggest collection of roller coasters in Florida. Your choice. A bit further North, and you’ll get to Crystal River, where you are guaranteed to see some manatees in the Manatee Refuge, and possibly swim with some in season.

13. Cocoa Beach

A trip to the beach should always be a part of any Florida vacation but is one that seems to be missed when it is a theme park trip. There are all the normal places most in America hit, like Daytona Beach (The World's Most Famous Beach). But if you want to step off the beaten path a bit try a trip to Cocoa Beach for a day. South of Kennedy Space Center is Cocoa Beach.

If you watched 'I dream of Jeannie' TV series, you might be interested in this beach. There is no driving on the beach so the young 'uns will be safe every place but the parking lot. The great thing about Cocoa Beach is it is a straight drive up SR 528 (The Beachline) to get there. And while you are there, you can stop at Ron Jon's Surf Shop which is an attraction in itself.

If you want to take surfing lessons and the waves are good enough to do that, stop by The Cocoa Beach Surf Co. If fishing is your thing and you have the young 'uns in tow, go to Jetty Park instead. There you can fish your day away while the kids wipe themselves out riding Boogie Boards among the waves. Boogie Boards are available for rental.

Make sure you have a Fishing Permit before you start fishing. A 3 day permit is $17 and can be had from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. If you are lucky while there (or hit it on a Sunday at around 4 pm), you might get to wave at the cruise ships as they leave Port Canaveral for the Caribbean Islands.

13. Sanibel Island

Last but not least, Sanibel and Captiva Islands: the home to the best nature trails in Florida and America as a whole. Its coastline stretches up to 15 miles and is hook-shaped which allows it to collect lots of pristine sand dollars and conch shells. If collecting shells is your thing, then you will drown in the endless fun that this island offers you.

The restaurants here serve the best pies, seafood, and cocktails in Florida. Swimming, on the other hand, is every visitor’s favorite outdoor activity here, both in the ocean and in the countless swimming pools on the island. If your time allows, you can choose to hike or bike in J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Visiting Florida for vacation is the easiest thing to do because of the many accommodation options in the area. One such option is booking a vacation rental at an affordable fee. A decent vacation rental has all the furniture and infrastructure that you need to make your life comfortable. Don’t forget to book you during your next visit.

Kalyan Panja