When you think about Florida, you probably imagine postcard-perfect photos of palms, sandy beaches and people relaxing and living their best lives. And the best thing is that Florida really is like that. It’s a state with so much to offer for any tourist, so here are some spots that need to find themselves on your itinerary.
Let’s start from the north for Florida, St. Augustine. This European settlement was founded in the 16th century by Spanish explorers. The city is known for its colonial architecture and atmosphere of the Old Continent. From the Spanish fort Castillo de San Marco and the Ponce de Leon Hotel to Villa Zorayda (a palace inspired by the famous Spanish Alhambra), St. Augustine will charm you with its colonial influence and Spain-inspired atmosphere.
About an hour drive from St. Augustine, you will find the renowned Daytona Beach, a city known for wild spring break parties and all things car-related. The love of speed and racing is best visible at the Daytona International Speedway (home to Daytona 500 NASCAR race), but you can find it everywhere around you, even at the beach. If you have a license, rent a car, fill it with friends and picnic necessities and hit the Original American Beach for some sunshine, waves and fun.
Many cities and towns by the beach have little amusement parks, but let’s hit the big one right away—Walt Disney World and its four Disney theme parks. From Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and two water parks), you will have hours or days of endless fun and movie magic. And that’s not all! For some more magic, hit Universal Studios in Orlando and dive into the wizardry world of Harry Potter and friends—you’ll feel like you’re backstage of your favorite family movie.
Miami is a truly unique spot in the world—not many places can compare to its colorful, vibrant and friendly charm. Miami Beach is the place to be. Everyone from retirees to party animals will love the art deco vibe, the Ocean Drive and especially the chill atmosphere of South Beach. But, don’t forget to arm yourself with a lot of cash for your Miami adventure. The city’s museums, clubs, restaurants and tours don’t come cheap.
To get the best deal and familiarize yourself with the city, it’s best to opt for affordable Miami sightseeing tours and explore this destination and its surroundings. There are boat tours, city tours, sightseeing tours and everything else that might interest you for a price that won’t break your bank.
You can’t explore Florida without visiting the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. A national park founded in 1934, the Everglades also include one of the largest contiguous stands of protected mangrove forest in the world. This swampy area is home to over 30 endangered animal species like the Florida panther, American crocodile and the manatee.
And you can explore the area’s spectacular nature on foot, by boat or by kayak and canoe. Whatever you do, just make sure to have an experienced guide by your side—they can give you insight into all the flora and fauna and ensure you don’t get lost or stuck in the marshes. The Everglades is mysterious, murky, muddy and filled with vicious predators and people are known to disappear into thin air.
If you’re ready to leave the Everglades and get back to warm beaches and friendly people, Key West will completely revive and rewire your brain. The residents of Key West have a live-in-the-moment approach to life, so do as they do and see where the tide takes you. Maybe you end up on a guided tour or maybe you suddenly find yourself in a Duval Street bar or Mallory Square shop. Key West doesn’t abide by too many roles (it even threatened to go rogue in the 80s) so leave your itinerary at home and just chill, stroll, sip margaritas, watch street cats and enjoy life. Hurricane Irma did a number on the area in 2017, but Key West recovered and is ready for visitors.
If you want to see the whole of Florida, you’ll have to move there (which is not a bad idea), but if you only have time for a short trip, make sure to at least visit these top destinations. You won’t regret your time, money and effort!