Jenn Baxter is an accomplished author, speaker, and freelance writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been published in numerous print and online publications and appears nationwide at tiny house festivals, healthy living festivals, and private engagements. She is an expert on downsizing, minimalism, clean eating, healthy living, and spiritual health.
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Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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The Sunshine State of Florida is one of the top destinations in the United States for a vacation, whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, a fun beach adventure, or an exciting trip with your friends. With a wide variety of cities and attractions to choose from, there’s a spot here for every taste, budget and itinerary. From the bright lights and sounds of Miami Beach to the excitement of Daytona and the endless adventures in Orlando, these vacation spots in Florida have everything you need for your next great vacation.
The exciting city of Miami isn’t just one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country, it’s also one of the most popular in the world. Visitors come from all over to experience the lively South Beach district with its white sandy beaches, clear blue water, and brightly colored buildings. During the day, you can stroll through the art galleries, boutiques, and shops, and then later, you can dance the night away at one of the strip’s many hot spots. But, that’s not nearly all. You can also take a tour of the city, have an Everglades adventure with alligators, visit the aquarium or enjoy the historic Italian renaissance architecture and décor at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Of course, the city of Orlando is always a great vacation spot with all of the many family-friendly theme parks there are to visit. Besides the infamous Disney World Resort, there’s also EPCOT Center, Universal Studios, MGM Studios, Legoland, and Sea World. Your family could stay entertained for days just visiting the parks, but Orlando is also home to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, a giraffe farm, and several alligator parks, as well as lots of shopping, restaurants, and recreation including everything from miniature golf to airboat rides.
St. Augustine is America’s oldest city, so it’s a great vacation spot for history lovers. From the beautiful Spanish-style architecture to the living history museums, there are tons of things to do. Because of the many different people who have lived and passed through the area, you can find castles, military forts, historic lighthouses, and ornate hotels all in one place. You can take a tour by train, trolley, or boat and check out attractions like the Colonial Quarter and the Medieval Torture Museum. Food and drink lovers will also want to check out the city’s wineries and distilleries, as well as the Whetstone Chocolate Factory, where you can take a behind-the-scenes tour.
Key West is a vacation like no other. In fact, it’s probably the closest thing you’ll get to taking an island vacation without leaving the mainland. The attraction-filled town is dotted with palm trees, brightly colored buildings, and lively music, especially on the popular Duval Street, where you can enjoy a tropical drink at one of the many quaint bars and hot spots (including the state’s oldest bar). But, you won’t want to spend all your time inside here, because the crystal blue waters will be calling you to go snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, and sailing. The city is also where Ernest Hemingway made his home, which is open to the public for tours. And of course, while you’re in the city, you’ll definitely want to snap a selfie standing at the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States!
Located along the Gulf Coast, the city of Tampa is one of the most diverse vacation destinations in the state. Besides the obvious reason, the beautiful beaches, Tampa is a great family vacation destination because of the long list of things there is to do and see. There’s the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa, the Busch Gardens theme park, and the Glazer Children’s Museum for kids to enjoy. Plus, craft breweries, world-class spas, and championship-level golf courses for the adults to enjoy. And if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, there are plenty of opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, hiking and even doing some adrenaline-pumping activities like ziplining and ropes courses high in the trees.
Daytona Beach isn’t just your average beach town, it’s also the home to one of the most popular race tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Not only can you catch a race at the Daytona International Speedway, but you can also hop in a stock car yourself with the Petty Driving Experience and tour the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. And then there’s the beach – 23 miles of it to be exact. Where you can drive your car right onto the sand, pop open the trunk, and tailgate right on the beach! The Daytona Boardwalk and Pier also run along the beach and features restaurants, shops, and amusement rides including thrill rides like the SlingShot.
Sarasota, Florida is a great destination in Florida to take a vacation if you enjoy nature because Myakka River State Park is nearby. Other fun things to do outdoors in this area are Lido Beach and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. People who enjoy the arts and cultural experiences like visiting Sarasota because of the many concerts, plays, and art exhibits here. Many people choose to visit Sarasota between late February and mid-May or between mid-October and late November. The weather is absolutely lovely during these times of the year, although the crowds can be greater in the early spring season.
Visit sunny St. Petersburg, Florida to spend time at St. Pete Beach, the waterfront parks, and excellent local museums. Many people visit St. Petersburg each year for its top attractions, including the great golf courses, fishing, and beaches. Definitely make a point to see the Museum of Fine Arts and the amazing glasswork of the Chihuly Collection when you are in this area. The Salvador Dali Museum is also worth a visit to see the unique works of this legend. It is the largest collection of Dali’s art outside of Spain. St. Pete Pier is also a great place to watch a concert or go for a bike ride in town.
Located along the coast of the Florida Panhandle, Destin is a popular summertime destination in Florida that has a great boardwalk. In and around Destin, you’ll find golf courses, great fishing, and cute shops to explore. Some top spots to check out when you are staying in Destin include the Destin History & Fishing Museum, Big Kahuna’s Waterpark, and Henderson Beach State Park. Crab Island is a major attraction in Destin and a fun place to gather if you have a boat. Meanwhile, Baytowne Wharf is a top spot for nightlife, and Destin Harbor has many boutique shops and restaurants.
For a low-key and affordable beach vacation, consider taking a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. It is located just off of Fort Myers and in the Gulf of Mexico. This destination is known for being uncrowded, casual, and relaxed, making it an excellent choice for both families and couples. You should know that the nesting season for sea turtles is between early May and late October here. Therefore, you’ll have to follow special guidelines to help protect this native species during this time. Winters are mild on Sanibel Island and usually between the 70s and 80s during the day.
Amelia Island offers 13 miles of lovely beaches and opportunities to see native wildlife in a barrier island environment. You can find tranquil, uncrowded beaches here, as well as wellness-inspired spas and several museums. It’s easy to relax and unwind by the sea when you come to Amelia Island. But you can also get active with horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, or trying out a hydro-bike. The city of Jacksonville, Florida is about 40 miles away in case you are looking to take an extended trip and explore the greater region.
Couples love spending time in Naples, Florida because the area is romantic and filled with upscale places where you can really treat yourself to some luxury. There are high-end shops and amazing restaurants along Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South. Also, make sure to check out the local zoo in town, the botanical garden, the Baker Museum, and the numerous art galleries. Naples is a really pretty city that is worth visiting for beaches and the nearby wildlife refuges, such as the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
The Clearwater, Florida area is popular among travelers because of the bright blue waters for swimming and lovely white sands for lounging on the beach. This is a great family vacation destination, not only for the beach but also for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Couples often travel to Clearwater Beach to get married, renew their vows, or celebrate anniversaries. If you’re a baseball fan, you might be interested to learn that this is the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Meanwhile, the Clearwater Marina offers opportunities to head out onto the water for a sightseeing cruise, some of which are themed for kids or romantic for a date night.
Panama City Beach is known as a top spring break destination among young people looking to party. But during other times of the year, it’s also a destination for family-friendly fun. It’s a warm and sunny Florida destination with many miles of white sandy beaches, the Gulf World Marine Park, and Shipwreck Island Waterpark. You can do some fishing or scuba diving on a trip to Panama City Beach and enjoy an average water temperature of around 73 degrees.
Marco Island is an ideal place to be if you enjoy water sports, such as fishing, boating, and kayaking. There are plenty of opportunities here to relax and soak up the sun, as well as to learn about history and culture at the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Marco Island Historical Museum. The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a good place to learn about coastal habitats during your Marco Island trip. It’s also fun to take a boat tour, rent a SUP, and bring your binoculars to watch pelicans and egrets along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. For hiking, check out the Collier-Seminole State Park, which has over six miles of trails and nature tours available.
Visit Pensacola when you are looking for a charming and classic Florida getaway that’s safe and quiet. There are many things to see and do in Pensacola, including the Pensacola Lighthouse, National Naval Aviation Museum, and Historic Pensacola Village. Downtown Pensacola offers food trucks and restaurants, as well as quaint shops and many lodging options. Kids of all ages will enjoy mini-golf, zip-lining, trampoline parks, and go-karts in Pensacola. It is also possible to see dolphins at play in the waters around Pensacola for a memorable nature experience.