14 best places to visit in Florida

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Walt Disney was proper: Florida is a spot that captures the creativeness. The panorama is exaggerated, and invitations exaggeration. Spanish conquistadors noticed manatees and imagined them mermaids; Ponce de Leon noticed crystal-clear springs and imagined them fountains of youth. Builders noticed swamps and bought them as paradise, but when they’re, there’s loads of the satan in them.

In its historical past, Florida has impressed as a lot mayhem because it has fantasies of a magical kingdom the place goals actually do come true. So come for the seashores and Mickey Mouse, come for the folks and the Everglades, come for the nightlife and the kayaking and the manatees and the gators. However be certain that to come back. Listed here are our high 10 Florida getaways.

The monorail passes in entrance of Spaceship Earth at Epcot Middle at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida ©James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

1. Walt Disney World

Wish to set the bar of expectations excessive? Name your self “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Walt Disney World does, then pulls out all of the stops to ship a spot the place a baby is an important character within the present. Regardless of all of the rides, leisure, nostalgia and frenzy that surrounds a go to right here, the magic is watching a baby swell with perception after they’ve made Goofy giggle, been curtsied to by Cinderella, guarded the galaxy with Buzz Lightyear and battled Darth Maul like a Jedi knight.

facade of the Carlyle, an art deco hotel in Miami, on a sunny day
Stroll by – or sleep in – artwork deco splendor in Miami © Jean-Luc Benazet / 500px

2. Miami

What was as soon as a bit citrus city is now a pan-American mosaic, probably the most Latin metropolis on this planet north of Mexico. A vibrant mixture of Cuban, Haitian and Colombian cultures (simply to call a number of) splashed towards a pastel backdrop of distinctive artwork deco structure, the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay kissing the sands of South Seashore, it’s this range that makes Miami extra quintessentially American than the cutest Midwestern Foremost Road.

Tourists and entertainers on a dock near water
Vacationers and entertainers on Mallory Sq. in Key West © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

3. Key West

The “Conchs” are natives of Key West, a separate island untethered from the nation, the state and even the remainder of the island chain. Directly an emblem of the human inclination to reside life on the restrict and a fragile place one hurricane away from being swallowed by the Gulf, Key West is not like wherever you’ve got ever been. A bring-on-the-night loopy celebration environment animates Mallory Sq and Duval St, half drunken cabal and half genuine tolerance for the self-expression of each rude, nonconformist impulse recognized to humanity.

An exhibit housing the NASA Space Shuttle
Area Shuttle Atlantis now housed on the customer complicated of Kennedy Area Middle © Zhukova Valentyna / Shutterstock

4. Kennedy Area Middle

Inside this 140,000-acre campus, the goals of a number of the biggest scientific minds of the twentieth century took flight all the best way to the moon and again…after which had been defunded and grounded on earth. However the sense of potential that all the time knowledgeable Kennedy Area Middle – certainly, that also pushes NASA to achieve out for Mars and past – stays palpable on this location, some of the visited spots in Florida. Study concerning the rigors of area exploration coaching and, after all, attempt the astronaut ice cream.

woman takes photos from a blue kayak in a mangrove swamp in the Everglades © Gable Denims
Kayaking by the Everglades gives many memorable moments © Gable Jeans

5. The Everglades

The Everglades are mesmerizing, a river of grass the place alligators lurk of their a whole bunch of 1000’s. It is a outstanding subtropical wilderness mottled by hammocks, cypress domes and mangroves, and populated by all method of charismatic wildlife. Engaging boardwalks and some elevated lookouts present a glimpse of the size and fantastic thing about this place. However they’ll solely take you to this point. To correctly discover the Everglades, push a canoe or kayak off a muddy financial institution and discover the shallow waterways on the Everglades’ personal, unforgettable phrases.

Spanish colonial revival architecture in St Augustine
St Augustine is a dose of Europe in Florida © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

6. St Augustine

Saunter alongside cobbled roads, linger at charming cafes, and study concerning the metropolis’s wealthy historical past at numerous museums. Cap all of it off with dinner at a gasoline lamp-lit restaurant and a horse-drawn carriage journey by the Historic District. Europe? Oh wait, we’re in Florida. Epcot? No manner, that is the actual deal. Based by the Spanish in 1565, St Augustine is the oldest repeatedly occupied European settlement within the US, preserved for hundreds of years and awaiting your discovery.

A view of the sunset on a beach at Sanibel Island
Sundown on the seaside at Sanibel Island, Florida, USA ©Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

7. Sanibel Island

This stunning barrier island is the proper seaside escape: scout for seashells alongside the porcelain sand, spot night time herons, anhinga and alligators at JN “Ding” Darling Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, and dine on scrumptious contemporary seafood at one of many quaint beach-shacks. When you’re with no automotive, don’t fear about it – with 23 miles of devoted paths, you’ll be able to bike across the complete island.

Museum attendees descend a spiral staircase
The Salvador Dali Museum has one of many largest assortment of works of Salvador Dali on this planet © Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock

8. St Petersburg

It is all too simple to overuse the adjective “surreal” when discussing Florida. Within the case of the Salvador Dalí Museum, surreal is strictly proper. Dalí has no connection to Florida in anyway; this magnificent assortment of 96 oil work and an amazing slew of ephemera landed in St Petersburg virtually by probability. However then, all kinds of cultural choices are flowering throughout “St Pete,” from tremendous eating and craft breweries to reside music and glorious artwork museums – proof the Gulf Coast might be as cerebral as it’s enjoyable.

An aerial view of a coastal area
Aerial of Caladesi Island State Park ©Robert Bender/EyeEm/Getty Photographs

9. Caladesi Island State Park

Situated within the Tampa Bay space, Caladesi Island State Park ranks on the high of nationwide surveys for the perfect pure seashores. Attain it by canoe or take a ferry from close by Honeymoon Island (additionally price a go to). Along with nature trails and an unspoiled, palm-lined 3-mile seaside, it’s the proper spot for a lazy day of swimming and picnicking.

A water ride splashes down on a sunny day
The Dudley Do-Proper Ripsaw Falls journey at Common Studios Islands of Journey theme park © Kamira / Shutterstock

10. Common Orlando Resort

In a state full of theme parks, Common Orlando Resort is one thing else, and a cause by itself to go to Florida. The theming, the creativity of the rides, the adrenaline rushes, the foolish enjoyable – it’s the sensible and sassy class clown to Disney’s instructor’s pet. With some intelligent however easy planning you’ll be able to take pleasure in sights just like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with out ready hours to get in or for the rides.

seagrass waves on sugar-white dunes on Amelia Island © Kat Sturtecky / 500px
A go to to Amelia Island is a peaceable retreat © Kat Sturtecky / 500px

11. Amelia Island

Residence to Fernandina Seashore, an enthralling shrimping village with 50 blocks of historic buildings, pleasant eateries, and distinctive B&Bs, Amelia Island is a moss-draped southern fantasy.  Favor a swanky resort to the quaint B&Bs? They’ve bought that too, in addition to miles of shark-tooth coated shoreline and a commanding Civil Battle-era fort anchoring all of it.

Cypress trees in a swamp
Cypress bushes in Apalachicola Nationwide Forest © Natphotos / Getty Photographs

12. Apalachicola Nationwide Forest

The most important of Florida’s three nationwide forests, Apalachicola occupies virtually 938 sq miles of the Panhandle, from simply west of Tallahassee to the Apalachicola River. Hike and bike this otherworldly forest of cypress hammocks, dunes, swamps, sinks and karst terrain.

Kayaks on a beach
Kayaks at Myakka River State Park © Clifton Wilkinson / Lonely Planet

13. Sarasota

When you’ve ever needed to run away and be part of the circus, Sarasota is the place to go. John Ringling (sure, of Ringling Brothers fame) made Sarasota the winter house for his circus. His legacy lives on right here within the Ringling Museum Complicated, which incorporates his former house, a tremendous artwork museum, and naturally, a circus museum. The circus doesn’t cease there – the complete city is obsessed. Enroll your youngsters in circus lessons, go to the church that the circus constructed, or take a look at one of many many exhibits on the town.

The red bricks of an academic building
Griffin-Floyd Corridor on the College of Florida © irinka-s / Getty Photographs

14. Gainesville

If native boy Tom Petty is the patron saint of Gainesville’s rock-music scene, the College of Florida is the engine that retains it going robust. However it’s not simply concerning the music right here. Gainesville is Florida’s little city that would, buzzing with mental power, carefree scholar attitudes and a typically nice environment in its well-groomed, shady residential neighborhoods. There are nice eating places and bars to find on this college city, they usually’re not as costly or hectic as spots you may discover elsewhere.

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This text was initially revealed in 2010 and up to date in April 2021.

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