I have compiled a Florida vacation destinations guide to 13 of the major cities in our state and what they are best known for. Florida is one of the top three vacation spots in the United States, and one of the top world-wide, alike, and I thought my readers would enjoy this list or at least learn something from it. We are more than beaches and you can find practically anything you should want in this sunny state.
Key West– Key West is located at the southernmost point of the United States and is known for their incredible sunsets and laid back vacationers. It is a haven for artists, hipsters, and writers. Less than 100 miles from Cuba, Key West has been home to Jimmy Buffet, literary giant Ernest Hemingway, and US President Truman, who made it his winter home. Key West has a large LGBT population and an interesting festival called Fantasy Fest. The buildings are colorful and chickens freely wander the streets. Key West is a popular cruise port and scuba diving destination, but happy hour is the most desired option here.
Orlando– It truly is something other than home to the happiest place on earth, Walt Disney World & its wonderful theme parks. Orlando also offers trendy neighborhoods worth visiting, spectacular performing arts, and is on nearly every 2015 list of hot places to visit. Citrus groves dot the landscapes. Winter Park is my favorite place to hang out and be sure to eat/drink at the Ravenous Pig while you are there.
West Palm Beach– West Palm Beach offers plenty of fine dining throughout and premiere shopping at the City Place Mall. West Palm Beach is all things “upscale”. Take in a concert or musical show at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. Explore the area near the Intracoastal Waterway for some gorgeous waterfront photos and views of stellar yachts.
Cape Canaveral– 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. This is quickly becoming a very popular cruise port and Disney cruise line calls this their home.
Everglades– The Everglades is the home of the Florida wetlands, with clear shallow rivers filled with fish, birds, and trees, that are all 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 local author Carl Hiassen who writes mysteries set in the Everglades.
Destin–Located between the Chocktawhatchee 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.
Miami– Transport yourself to Latin America and never leave US soil. My favorite part of Miami is Cuban Miami with its domino parks for the locals, cigar rolling shoppes, 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.
Tampa– In my opinion, Tampa is “the” cultural scene of Florida. It earns my accolades by 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 of more just in Tampa. Take in a Buccaneers game, it is my favorite football stadium in the country.
Vero Beach– Once home to the LA Dodgers spring training program (1948-2008),Vero is part of the Treasure Coast in Florida. This Indian River locale is not a commercialized beach, but a beautiful one. Vero Beach has many ecotourism activities, including a stellar “Save the Manatees” program, and kayaking or canoeing on the Sebastian River is one of my favorite activities.
Fort Myers– 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.
Fort Lauderdale– My personal 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 speciality 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 Bar & Grill on the waterfront for a great sunset and happy hour.
Daytona– Though I have not been here yet, Daytona has remained popular for families and spring breakers for years now. They also host the most famous NASCAR race of the year, the Daytona 500. Sea turtles gather on the beaches to lay their eggs. It is suggested that 8 million visitors come to the beaches of Daytona annually.
Clearwater– I think Clearwater has the most enticing beach in Florida, located right beside the retro downtown. They have one of my favorite Florida restaurants, Pierogi Grill & Deli, and are close to noteworthy smaller towns such as Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Largo, and St. Petersburg. Clearwater defines laid back Florida beach vacation.
Also check out my City to City Guide- 12 Fantastic Florida Destinations