Florida is one of the top three vacation spots in the United States, seeing over 102 million visitors per year, and one of the top worldwide. They are much more than beaches and theme parks. You can find practically anything you should want in the Sunshine State. Florida prides themselves on offering family fun activities, delicious meals, and fun for everyone. Here is our guide to 13 Florida vacation destinations guide and why we love them. Have you visited these Florida cities?
13 Florida Vacation Destinations
Key West is located at the southernmost point of the United States and known for their incredible sunsets. The laid-back culture makes it a haven for artists, hipsters, and writers. Key West is located less than 100 miles from Cuba and shares some of the same influences. Their large LGBT population brings about an interesting festival called Fantasy Fest, where people literally paint their bodies in an artful manner. Key West’s buildings are colorful and chickens freely wander the streets. It is a popular cruise port and scuba diving destination, but happy hour is the most desired option here.
It truly is something other than home to the happiest place on earth, Walt Disney World, and its wonderful theme parks. Orlando also offers trendy neighborhoods worth visiting, spectacular performing arts, and is on nearly every list of hot places to visit. Citrus groves dot the landscapes. Winter Park is my favorite place to hang out but new neighborhoods are trending often. For the ultimate touristy vacation, hang on I-Drive, famous for their outrageous adventure offerings and unique things to do. Orlando has an impeccable culinary scene, too.
West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach offers plenty of fine dining and premier shopping in this wealthy enclave. It is a destination where all things are “upscale”. Take in a concert or Broadway show at the beautiful Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. Explore the Intracoastal Waterway waterfront for some views of incredible yachts and a beautiful skyline. Take a food tour or visit their Green Market on Saturday mornings. Indulge in the top of the line luxury resorts West Palm Beach has to offer.
Cape Canaveral is home to the Kennedy Space Center, famous for rocket launches and the space program. It is located near Cocoa Beach, which has a unique historic shopping village. Cape Canaveral, on the Space Coast of Florida, is quickly becoming a very popular cruise port. Disney Cruise Line calls this their home. Schedule your visit around a rocket launch and experience the sonic boom for yourself.
The Everglades is the home of the Florida wetlands. These clear, shallow rivers are filled with fish, birds, and trees that are protected by environmental laws. Here you will see and have a chance to get up close and personal with gators and swampy marshes. Read a book by Carl Hiassen. a best-selling local writer whose books take place in the Everglades, to familiarize yourself with the special area.
Located between the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is called the world’s luckiest fishing village. It is known for its sparkling emerald colored waters. Destin has white sandy beaches made of ground quartz, which lure you into this great family beach destination. Here you will find many water activities, with chartered fishing being a favorite. I like to visit the Village of BayTowne Wharf at Sandestin for shopping and dining.
Transport yourself to Latin America and never leave US soil. My favorite part of Miami is Cuban Miami with its local domino parks, cigar rolling shops, and authentic Cuban dishes. Stop by the Bay of Pigs Museum. Another favorite is to people watch at the incredible Lincoln Road Mall, not to mention that my favorite performer in the world, Barry Gibb, resides there. Check out the incredible art at the Wynwood Walls, a free tourist option, and then get lost in the rhythms of South Beach and its stellar nightclubs.
In my opinion, Tampa is “the” cultural scene of Florida. It earns accolades for offering a variety of social events, theme parks, museums, pro sporting teams, diversity of restaurants, and beaches. There will be enough to keep you busy for a month or more just in Tampa. Take in a Buccaneers game, it is my favorite football stadium in the country.
Once home to the LA Dodgers spring training program (1948-2008), Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast in Florida. This ritzy Indian River locale is not a commercialized beach, but a beautiful one. Vero Beach has many eco-tourism activities, including a stellar “Save the Manatees” program. Kayaking or canoeing on the Sebastian River is one of my favorite activity.
Fort Myers is one of the fastest growing small towns in Florida and known for its attention to environmental concerns and sustainable travel. It is often photographed in sunset backdrops and is a popular wedding destination. Great neighboring places to visit include the seashell capital of the world, Sanibel Island. A visit to Downtown Fort Myers is a must for quaint cafes, historical buildings, and shopping.
My favorite city in Florida is Fort Lauderdale. You must, repeat, must visit Las Olas Boulevard and eat/drink your way through. Fort Lauderdale has unique little specialty areas, hidden in nooks and crannies. This is a great place for people watching or just plain out enjoying a day at the beach. Dine or stroll around Hammarshee Village or meet at Boatyard Restaurant on the waterfront for a great sunset and happy hour. Neighboring Hollywood is definitely worth a visit to stroll down the Broadwalk, visit the art galleries, and have a classic margarita at Margaritaville Resort.
Daytona Beach has remained popular among American beaches for years now. Gone are the wild party days. Today, families make Daytona Beach their Florida vacation destination. Daytona Beach also hosts the most famous NASCAR race of the year, the Daytona 500. Sea turtles gather on their gorgeous beaches to lay their eggs. It is suggested that 8 million visitors come to the beaches of Daytona annually. It is the most affordable beach vacation I have found in Florida and there are plenty of options to keep the entire family entertained.
Clearwater has the most enticing beach in Florida, located right beside its retro downtown, and only steps from the boardwalk. Clearwater is great for visiting noteworthy smaller towns such as Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Largo, and St. Petersburg, all within a few minutes drive. Clearwater defines laid-back Florida beach vacation and remains a favorite beach for families and weekend getaways. Check out their beach events hosted year round, with the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival ranking as my favorite.
Florida is Fantastic Fun For Everyone
As you can see, Florida is not all Mickey Mouse and beaches. There are so many cultural, eco-tourism, and artistic places to visit, plus they have stellar cuisine and adult libations. You cannot go wrong with a Florida vacation destination. Why not start planning your visit to the Sunshine State now?
Want more? Check out our City to City Guide- 12 Epic Florida Destinations