A long list of family-friendly accommodations, natural beauty, and endless sunshine, Florida has a lot to explore in its 65,755 square miles of land. Discover the best places in Florida to visit in order to fully understand why it is a top holiday destination for vacationers around the world. From unspoiled beaches with turquoise emerald waters to swampy National Parks filled with alligators, Florida has a range of diverse beautiful landscapes. For your next vacation getaway, here are some of the best cities to visit in Florida, in no particular order.
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A trip to Florida would not be complete without visiting America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, which also happens to be one of Florida’s most charming destinations. With 500 years of history since Ponce de Leon first discovered the area, visitors can delight at some of the most significant historical landmarks in the state. Pay a visit to the fountain of youth, explore centuries worth of history by strolling the colonial-era fort Castillo de San Marcos, watch a cannon firing and re-enactment at the Colonial Quarter, or climb the 142-year-old historic lighthouse before heading on a haunted pub tour.
The Florida Keys
120 miles of stunning tropical islands, The Florida Keys is a slice of paradise known for an abundance of water activities and laid back vibes. Head to Key West and grab a slice of Florida’s signature key lime pie dessert, explore underwater marine life and coral reefs at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, or take a snorkeling adventure to a 19th-century fort at the world’s most remote national parks in the state, Dry Tortuga’s. Make your stay extra special by staying at one of the Key West’s most beautiful hotels and resorts.
Gorgeous coastline beaches and an abundance of fun-filled attractions, Tampa is one of the top vacation destinations in Florida for good reason. Get your thrills at Busch Gardens or Adventure Island, cheer for the local football, baseball, or hockey team at one of their many sports events, try your luck at the Hard Rock Casino, or visit nearby St. Petersburg to see impressive art at the Salvador Dali museum. For an outdoor adventure, dig your toes in the sand at the award-winning Clearwater beach or find seclusion at Honeymoon Island and nearby Caladesi Island State Park. It’s a paradise for foodies, beach bums and art aficionados alike. There are so many things to do in Tampa, you could never be bored.
Made famous for the parties, beautiful people and one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, Miami is Florida’s most vibrant melting pot of culture and an epicenter of fun. A perfect combination of culture, language, and fine dining, Miami knows how to appreciate the finer things in life with endless entertainment and cultural activities. Join the revelry on South Beach, visit the graffiti art at Wynwood, or explore diverse underwater marine life at Key Biscayne. Don’t forget to visit the alligator-filled swamps of the Everglades National Park and catch a glimpse of Florida’s most pristine natural ecosystem.
One of the most beloved cities on the list for its long list of theme park attractions, Orlando is a family friendly vacation destination with activities that are sure to please all members of the family. Disney World, Universal, and Sea World are big crowd-pleasers for their thrills and roller coasters, but don’t forget about the unique and historically important Kennedy Space Center where you can see where the shuttle launched or have lunch with an Astronaut. Nature lovers will also enjoy the crystal clear waters at nearby Wekiwa Springs and Rock Springs. Make sure to get all the necessary tips for your first visit to Disney World to make the most out of your trip. If you’re looking for incredible Orlando dining options, you won’t be disappointed, and you may even find time to visit one of Orlando’s best-kept secret restaurants.
Sarasota has been dubbed “Florida’s Culture Coast,” and it’s easy to see why. It was the home of circus king John Ringling and his wife Mable. You can tour his famed mansion, the Ca’d’Zan and also walk through the Ringling Museum to get a firsthand look at their immense art collection. The main draw, however, has to be the luxurious beaches nearby. Siesta Key, rated the #1 beach in the nation, is famous for its cool quartz sand. Factor in delicious local eateries, and it’s clear why Sarasota is a must-visit Florida destination.
Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida panhandle, which is why it’s nicknamed the “western gate to the sunshine state.” It’s known for its brilliant white sand and turquoise water. Considered the epicenter of Florida’s Gulf Coast, it has postcard-worthy beaches that consistently rank at the top of Florida’s most beautiful landscapes. You are spoiled for choice with natural beauty, as Pensacola is situated near the preserved Gulf Islands National Seashore that includes offshore barrier islands with emerald waters, white powdery sand, and miles of undeveloped coastline. Many pilots including Neil Armstrong and John Glenn received their training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, and it is the station of the Blue Angels.
Not only is Mount Dora one of the most popular small towns in the Sunshine State but it’s also is in a great location for exploration opportunities. Laid back with Old Florida vibes, here you’ll find vintage clapboard houses and charming B&B’s set among antique shops and delightful cafes. In fact, the antiquing is one of this cozy towns biggest draws, as they have regular antique extravaganzas and. An arm’s length from the bustling of Orlando, Mount Dora is also an hour away from the lush Ocala National Forest where you’ll find Silver Glen Springs and Juniper Springs, two of the best natural swimming holes in the state.
As you can see by the above photo, Destin is more than worthy of its nickname “The Emerald Coast.” Henderson Beach State Park is a local beach sanctuary and you must take the time to walk along its boardwalk. Kids and adults alike will enjoy paying a visit to Big Kahuna’s Water Park. Dolphin watching is a must, as the clear waters and friendly marine life are sure to be the highlight of your trip. Equestrian enthusiasts will be thrilled by the local riding trails, and attractions that focus on Destin’s rich history will make for an enlightening experience.
A laid back beach town with charming vibes, Sanibel Island is known for its world-class shelling. In fact, Travel + Leisure Magazine named it the best shelling spot in North America. People traveling from all over the world to scour the beaches for unique pieces of treasure that wash up ashore. With a lack of chain stores, stop lights, and fast food joints, Sanibel maintains a cozy, small-town Florida vibe with preserved natural beauty in the midst of its popularity. Favorite activities on the island include biking through the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for wildlife viewing, spotting manatees at Lovers Key State Park, and exploring its sister barrier island Captiva Island.
If you’re looking for an authentic Old Florida experience, Apalachicola is the place to be. Rustic charm at its finest, this friendly little fishing town is one of Florida’s most preserved hidden gems. Boasting some of the freshest seafood and most welcoming locals in the state, Apalachicola has over 900 historic listings and gives visitors a chance to see Florida’s oyster, timber, and fishing history from the ground level. Postcard-perfect surroundings away from traffic noise and stress, explore Apalachicola’s beauty or visit nearby Port St. Joe and St. George Island for a quaint retreat away from it all.
On the edge of Georgia, you’ll find Amelia Island, an island full of Southern charm and pristine landscapes. Here you’ll find a pleasant combination of Spanish moss, quaint B&B’s, and pristine beach that creates endless opportunities for family-friendly water activities. Choose your adventure with activities like kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, surfing, or just soak in the breathtaking panoramic views at the beloved Fernandina Beach.