A Florida Vacation Guide to 12 Epic Towns
Florida is a perfect vacation choice, no matter what time of the year, for beaches, outdoor activities, camping, boating, cruising, theme parks, nature, cultural events, art, gambling, amazing food, festivals, and sporting events. You name it, we’ve got it.
Here is my Florida vacation guide to 12 epic towns that I recommend, including a few that you may not be so familiar with.
Jupiter is located North of Miami and is a great destination for ecotourism. Visit the Jonathan Dickinson or Riverbend State Parks and tour the 1860 dated inlet lighthouse. Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy the Roger Dean Stadium who hosts the spring baseball training for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins.
A rich little enclave of about 20,000 residents, Naples has the second highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. You will find very high-end shopping, first-rate golf courses, pristine sandy beaches and waters sports in Naples, with an emphasis on fishing. The neighboring beach of picturesque Marco Island is popular for family vacations.
This is the oldest city in Florida. St. Augustine is a fun-filled city featuring the Fountain of Youth Discovery Park. There are tons of cool things to see and do including the Fort Matanzas National Monument, St. Augustine Lighthouse, Pirate & Treasure Museum, and haunted pub and ghost tours. I love strolling St. George, the pedestrian-only street lined with cafes, shops, and historic buildings.
Boca Raton, pronounced Ra-Tone, is an affluent South Florida city with many zoning laws protecting its beauty and charm. Forbes named Boca as having three of the top ten most expensive gated communities in the United States. Media states that it is a place highly associated with the Mafia. The Boca Raton Resort and Club is a gorgeous, historic luxury hotel which is one of the finest in the state.
Tallahassee claims the throne to Florida’s state capitol building, which is a classic revival in style and oozing with southern charm. Tallahassee has a large selection of impressive museums to visit and many choices for enjoying the performing arts and galleries. Tallahassee also has dozens of choices for outdoor fun including state and national parks and forests, Segways, and sporting events. This powerhouse city is a must for our Florida vacation guide.
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida with the craziest traffic outside of the speed demons in Miami. If you are traveling I-95 and make it past this point, consider yourself a good driver. Avondale is my favorite Jacksonville neighborhood, busting at the seams with cool and trendy hip establishments. Check out the historic Alhambra Theatre in Jacksonville for dinner theater shows and don’t miss the MOCA and Sweet Pete’s tasty candy tours.
Saint Lucie is a city along Florida’s Treasure Coast comprised of historic Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie, and the beaches of Hutchinson Island, showcasing 21 miles of uncommercialized coastline. During spring training season, you can watch the New York Mets baseball games at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie. Sport-fishing is a popular activity with kingfish, cobia, and wahoo being the most desired catch. The glamorous Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce is my go-to concert venue where there are always a huge variety and number of concerts to choose from.
Delray Beach is a fast-growing artsy city which was named “America’s Most Fun Small Town” by Rand McNally. Historic Atlantic Avenue shares its home with the posh Colony Hotel. The Pineapple Grove Arts District is a great area to stroll around and have a meal as well as visit the Silverball Pinball Museum. Delray’s beaches are beautiful, and most places are pet-friendly. Hop on a Taste History food tour to eat your way around the city.
Sarasota is bustling with activities. Stroll down the impressive streets of St. Armand’s Circle, bursting with shopping and eateries and chock full of history. Animal lovers can visit a host of attraction such as the Aquarium, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, and the Big Cat Habitat. Many impressive art installments and galleries dot the Sarasota landscape. You’ll be bewitched by the neighboring beach beauties such as Lido and Siesta Key. Lastly, a visit to Sarasota would not be the same without seeing The Ringling.
Besides supporting the wondrous sports teams at the University of Florida, Gainesville hosts the most amazing Hoggetowne Medieval Festival each year in January, a must see. The Butterfly Rainforest is another popular tourist attraction as well as numerous art museums, including the Harn Museum which has an impressive Frida Kahlo exhibition. Gainesville has many great restaurants to choose from and a popular theatre, The Hipp, for stellar performances. There is so much to do in this cool college town.
Nestled North of Orlando, and located in more of a country setting is DeLand, a quaint little town with panache. DeLand is the setting for the opulent Stetson Mansion, a historic estate that now offers top notch tours and even a special Christmas tour. The mansion was built by famed hat-maker John B. Stetson over 150 years ago and at its time, was Florida’s most impressive before the 20th century. Stetson University is located in DeLand and is the oldest private college in Florida. Noteworthy chefs reside in the area serving locally-sourced eats in cozy settings.
Another great find located near Orlando is this jewel, Mount Dora. Mt. Dora is a 100+-year-old historic village with streets lined with charming eateries, shops, and handicrafts. The town is host to many great festivals, and the downtown area features the iconic Lakeside Inn on the shores of Lake Dora. Mt. Dora has frequently been named “Best Small Town Downtown In America.”
Florida is Bursting with Fabulous Cities
Florida is full of fun cities to visit and this Florida vacation destination guide only includes 12 of the 100’s of options. I would recommend almost anywhere in the Sunshine State. For more great Florida vacation destination ideas, click here.