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FLORIDA TRAVEL GUIDE

EPCOT, Florida Siesta Key sign, Florida Wynwood Walls, Miami

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Florida! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Florida.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons

OVERVIEW



Just about every American travels to Florida at some point, usually to enjoy its wonderful beaches or its world-class amusement parks. But there's so much more to the Sunshine State. There are two major coastlines in Florida, each worthy of exploration from top to bottom. To really get to know Florida, you have to dig deep and go beyond the major tourist areas and cities. Take a road trip and visit some of the charming towns and cities that dot the coastlines. Places like Destin, Naples, Sarasota, and St. Augustine are sure to charm. A road trip from Miami to Key West is also a must-do at some point as well.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN FLORIDA



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Florida? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Florida, in no particular order:

Take an amusement-park vacation in Orlando by visiting some of the parks of Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and/or Universal Studios
Enjoy some of the fine beaches along the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle
Take a roadtrip from Miami to Key West by driving across the Florida Keys
Cycle one of Florida's excellent paved rail trails (e.g. Withlacoochee State Trail)
Jump on a guided airboat tour in the Everglades region
Show off your stuff at South Miami Beach
Go boating or take a guided seashelling tour of the Ten Thousand Islands near Marco Island
Relax at one of the fine beaches on the southern and central Gulf Coast (e.g. Naples, Sanibel, Siesta Key, etc.)
Visit the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral
Spot manatees in one of Florida's beautiful natural springs

If I could select only one place to visit in Florida, I would choose the Orlando area. The quantity and quality of amusement parks in that area just keeps growing.

For a list of 10 great attractions in each U.S. state, click here.
For a list of great one week-long vacation ideas in the U.S. click here.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN FLORIDA



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Florida. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Florida bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Gulf Coast: Northern (including Apalachicola, Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and all of the Florida Peninsula)
Air Force Armament Museum, Fort Walton Beach - an excellent indoor and outdoor military museum featuring planes, helicopters, and missles
Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, Destin - while online reviews are a bit mixed, this water park does offer more than 40 water attractions
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla Springs - a beautiful freshwater spring with swimming and manatees in the fall/winter
Gulf Breeze Zoo, Gulf Breeze - a good medium-sized zoo with more than 800 animals; offers behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters
Gulf Islands National Seashore - features six separate areas in Florida; known for its beautiful white-sand beaches, marshes, and coastal forts
HarborWalk Village, Destin - the main shopping and dining district of lively Destin
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin - one of the very best beaches in Florida
National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola - features more than 150 military (Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard) aircraft on display
Navarre Beach, Navarre - one of Florida's best beaches
Okaloosa Island, Fort Walton Beach - a three-mile island between Fort Walton Beach and Destin that is known for its beautiful beaches
Panama City Beach beaches - offers 27 miles of beaches on the Emerald Coast that is known as the "Spring Break Capital of the World"
Pensacola Beach, Pensacola Beach - features 8 miles of white-sand beaches
Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Pensacola - climb up a historic lighthouse for great views of the Gulf Coast
Pier Park, Panama City Beach - a popular shopping and dining district with more than 100 stores
Santa Rosa Beach, Santa Rosa Beach - offers a quieter beach experience than nearby Destin
SkyWheel, Panama City Beach - an 187-foot tall ferris wheel with climate-controlled gondolas
St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach - features a 1.5-mile long beach (one of Florida's most beautiful) and good birdwatching
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Tallahassee - refuge with more than 150 miles of roads, levees, and trails; excellent birdwatching
Tallahassee Automobile Museum, Tallahassee - excellent auto museum with more than 150 vehicles on display
Tallahassee Museum, Tallahassee - a tourist attraction with an aerial adventure park, zip-lining, animal exhibits, and nature trails

Gulf Coast: Central (including Boca Grande, Bradenton, Clearwater, Dunedin, Sarasota, Siesta Key, St. Petersburg, and Tampa)
Adventure Island, Tampa - a large water park across the street from Busch Gardens
Brevard Zoo, Melbourne - a highly-rated medium-sized zoo with more than 900 animals
Busch Gardens, Tampa - a huge and famous amusement park that also has more than 12,000 animals; one of FL's most popular attractions
Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin - take a boat to visit an unspoiled island to "get away from it all"; walk the beaches or go kayaking
Caspersen Beach, Venice - one of the best places in the U.S. to hunt for shark teeth (tip: bring a small shovel and a sifting box!)
Clearwater Beach, Clearwater - a wide and beautiful 2.5-mile long white-sand beach
Dali Museum, St. Petersburg - an exceptional art museum featuring the works of Salvador Dali
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa - features a beautiful river and natural spring; manatees live here in winter
Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg - features a series of five interconnected islands known as "keys"; has outstanding beaches
Florida Aquarium, Tampa - an excellent large aquarium
Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail - an exceptional, fully-paved, continuous rail trail that travels 46 miles from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs
Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin - known for its 4-mile long white-sand beaches, hiking trails, and as the gateway to Caladesi Island
James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, St. Petersburg - a great indoor art/sculpture museum focused on Native Americans and the West
Madeira Beach, Madeira Beach - offers 2.5 miles of beach with a short boardwalk and good fishing
Manasota Key Beach, Englewood - one of the best of Florida's quieter beaches
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota - a botanical garden that is perhaps best known for their orchids collection
McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach - a small but highly rated sub-tropical botanic garden that has Florida's largest collections of waterlilies
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Sarasota - visit a marine research center and small aquarium that offers several animal encounters
Myakka River State Park, Sarasota - features Florida's 1st state-designated wild and scenic river; top-notch paddling and hiking opportunities
Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach - visit a beautiful white-sand beach in a "quaint, laid back, old Florida beach town"
Peace River Wildlife Center, Punta Gorda - a highly-rated wildlife refuge and animal rehabilitation center
Ringling, The, Sarasota - a large historical complex that includes an art museum, circus museum, a Venetian Gothic mansion, and more
River Ventures Manatee Tour Center, Crystal River - offers a variety of manatee watching and other boat tours
Robinson Nature Preserve, Bradenton - features mud flats, mangrove swamps, beaches, an observation tower, hiking trails, and great paddling
Siesta Beach, Sarasota - one of the top-rated beaches in the U.S.; very family-friendly; Hurricane Ian in 2022 did some serious damage though
St. Armands Circle, Sarasota - a famous upscale shopping and dining area
St. Pete Beach beaches - features 35-miles of great beaches; often rated as one of the best beaches in the U.S.
Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood - features a mile-long beach popular for seashelling, fishing, and swimming; hiking & kayaking too
Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg - a small botanical garden with more than 50,000 plants and flowers plus a flock of flamingos
Sunset Beach, Treasure Island - an excellent and mostly wide 3-mile beach; has "Old Florida charm" and is close to St. Petersburg & Tampa
Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Tampa - a pair of long-beam bridges that is referred to as the "flagship bridge of Florida"
Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River - a section of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge that offers excellent paddling on a beautiful spring
Venice beaches - features 14 miles of beaches, a fishing pier, and good shark-tooth hunting
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill - famous for its mermaid diving shows and river boat cruises
ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Tampa - a medium-sized zoo with more than 1,300 animals; known for its tropical zoological setting

Gulf Coast: Southern (including Bonita Springs, Captiva Island, Fort Myers, Marco Island, Naples, and Sanibel Island)
Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Island - likely the #1 seashell museum in the U.S.
Barefoot Beach Preserve, Bonita Springs - visit a wild and undeveloped barrier island beach
Cape Romano, Marco Island - take a boat tour to see the remains of alien-like dome-shaped buildings that are sinking into the ocean
Captiva Island beaches - features 2.5 miles of laid-back beaches; close to the beaches of Sanibel Island; Hurricane Ian did damage in 2022
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples - features a 2.25-mile long boardwalk trail through an Everglades ecosystem; alligators commonly seen
Cycling on Sanibel Island - one of the premier areas to go cycling in the Southeast; the town has 25 miles of mostly paved bicycle trails
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Naples - one of the best beaches of southwestern Florida
Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers - offers self-guided and guided tours of the adjacent winter homes of Thomas Edison & Henry Ford
Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers Beach - a popular, 7-mile long sandy beach; very popular for watersports
J.N. (Ding) Darling Nat. Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island - one of the best birdwatching spots in Florida; I really enjoyed bicycling thru this park
Keewaydin Island, Marco Island - a beautiful barrier island off the coast of Naples that can only be reached by boat
Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach - one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida
Lowdermilk Beach, Naples - one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida
Manatee Park, Fort Myers - a small waterfront park where you can often spots manatees from late December through February
Marco Island - an upscale area with several large resorts and miles of great beaches
Naples Botanical Garden, Naples - a gorgeous botanical garden on 170-acres; probably one of the best botanical gardens in the U.S.
Naples Pier, Naples - one of Florida's best fishing peirs
Revs Institute, Naples - an excellent auto museum featuring more than 100 vehicles on display
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Fort Myers - this nature preserve features a 1.2-mile boardwalk trail that explores a wetland ecosystem
Ten Thousand Islands - offers some of the best boating opportunities in the U.S.; provides outstanding seashelling and remote beaches
Treasure Seekers Shell Tours, Goodland - this company offers some of the finest seashelling boat tours in the U.S.

Atlantic Coast: Northern (including Daytona Beach, Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach, and St. Augustine)
Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine - known for its pristine white-sand beaches, maritime hammocks, sand dunes, and tidal marshes
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine - visit the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. (built in 1627 by the Spanish)
Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, Jacksonville Beach - a top-rated animal rescue sanctuary for big cats
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville - claims to be the largest art museum in northeastern Florida
Daytona 500 (event), Daytona Beach - a famous NASCAR Cup Series motor racing event that is typically held in February
Daytona Beach - a medium-sized city famous for its drivable beach and motor racing events
Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach - one of the most iconic NASCAR racing tracks in the country
Flagler College, St. Augustine - take a guided tour of the beautiful architecture found at this college
Friendship Fountain, Jacksonville - see one of the largest water fountains in the U.S.
Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach - features a historic and oceanside Civil War fort, beaches, and hiking and cycling trails
Guided sightseeing tours in St. Augustine - there are several operators that offer great guided tours in this city (e.g. Old Town Trolley Tours)
Jacksonville beaches - there are several public beaches in Jacksonville, including Neptune Beach, Mayport Beach, and Atlantic Beach
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, Jacksonville - a good, medium-sized zoo with more than 2,000 animals and a garden with 1,000 plant species
Lightner Museum, St. Augustine - an art and antique museum housed within a stunning and historic late 1800s-era hotel
Ormond Beach, Ormond Beach - described as a "long, laid-back beach that is not terribly crowded"
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Ponce Inlet - visit the tallest lighthouse in Florida (and one of the tallest in the U.S.)
Southbank Riverwalk, Jacksonville - an attractive 1.25-mile paved promenade with great views of Jacksonville
St. Augustine - a small historic city with lots of Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and beaches
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, St. Augustine - see hundreds of alligators and every living species of crocodiles
St. Augustine beaches - there are many miles of beaches in this area, including St. Augustine Beach (which is 2 miles long)
St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine - visit one of the highest-rated distilleries in the Southeast
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, St. Augustine - see a 165-foot tall black-and-white striped lighthouse built in the late 1800s
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum, St. Augustine - one of the best museums of its kind in the U.S.
St. Augustine Wild Reserve, St. Augustine - offers excellent guided tours and animal encounters, but only on select days of the week
St. George Street, St. Augustine - a historic street that is the tourist hub of St. Augustine; the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the U.S. is here
World Golf Hall of Fame, St. Augustine - a golf museum that honors both men and women female golfers

Atlantic Coast: Central (including Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Hutchinson Island)
Canaveral National Seashore - a "recreational paradise" with 24 miles of beaches, dunes, lagoons, and mangrove wetlands
Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach - a lively beach and beach town known as "the surfing capital of the East Coast"
NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Merritt Island - one of the best space/NASA museums in the U.S.
Navy SEAL Museum, Fort Pierce - visit the only museum dedicated to the U.S. Navy SEALS
Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, Titusville - features nearly 50 combat aircraft on display

Miami and Miami Beach (see below for the rest of the southern Atlantic Coast)
Art Deco Historic District, Miami Beach - famous architectural district on Miami Beach on Ocean Drive between 5th Street and 23rd Street
Frost Science, Miami - a relatively new museum complex with science exhibits plus an aquarium and planetarium
Guided food tours in Miami - Miami is a dining destination, and several companies offer excellent guided food tours
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens - a famous football stadium; home of the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes (college football)
Lincoln Road, Miami Beach - a very popular shopping district/pedestrian mall with 200-300 stores
Little Havana, Miami - a district in Miami that is "the closest you can get to Cuba without leaving the U.S."; known for its outstanding food
Lock & Load Miami, Miami - a popular and highly-rated machine gun shooting experience
Miami Beach Boardwalk, Miami Beach - walk or jog along a 7-mile pathway that starts at South Beach and ends at the Surfside town border
Ocean Drive, Miami - this road travels through the heart of Miami's famous South Beach area and is famous for its Art Deco-style buildings
Perez Art Musuem, Miami - an excellent waterfront contemporary art museum
South Beach (SoBe), Miami Beach - arguably the trendiest/hippest/most youthful beach in the U.S; bars and night clubs galore
South Pointe Park, Miami Beach - a lovely green space at the southern tip of Miami Beach; the walking trails here offer great views
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami - offers tours of a large Gilded Age estate and 10 acres of formal gardens on Biscayne Bay
Wynwood Walls / Wynwood Art District, Miami - a huge art district that I would say offers the best collection of art murals in the U.S.
Zoo Miami, Miami - the largest zoo in Florida; features more than 3,000 animals from 500 species on nearly 750 acres
Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Miami - an appointment-only zoo with intimate animal encounters

Atlantic Coast: Southern (including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Everglades NP; see above for Miami)
Airboat tours in or near Everglades National Park - there are several operators in/around the Everglades that offer these extremely fun tours
Big Cypress Oasis Visitor Center, Ochopee - a visitor center that offers near guaranteed alligator sightings (the last time I went I saw 20+)
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne - features a lighthouse, paddling, one of the best beaches in Florida, and several hiking trails
Biscayne National Park - take a ferry to visit long reefs and islands; one of the best places to go snorkeling and scuba diving in the U.S.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, Jupiter - walk the trails of a small wildlife sanctuary; it's free but donations help support their wildlife hospital
Butterfly World, Coconut Creek - home of more than 20,000 butterflies plus a botanical garden
Coral Castle Museum, Homestead - visit a castle made out of coral rock; not everyone will appreciate this roadside attraction
Everglades National Park - an enormous subtropical wilderness area; offers outstanding paddling and wildlife/birdwatching opportunities
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables - a great 83-acre botanical garden
Flamingo Gardens, Davie - a 60-acre botanical garden with a variety of animals (and not just flamingos)
Fort Lauderdale beaches - this city just north of Miami offers seven miles of lively beaches
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, Hallandale Beach - a large horseracing park with a casino
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Boca Raton - features an indoor nature center, small aquarium, and a sea turtle rehabilitation facility
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum / Whitehall, Palm Beach - explore a grand, 75-room Gilded Age mansion
Hollywood Beach, Hollywood - popular beaches located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Jupiter - climb 105 steps up to the top of a lighthouse built in 1860
McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary, West Palm Beach - one of the best animal sanctuaries in the U.S.; offers hands-on experiences for kids
Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach - a beautiful Japanese garden and cultural center
Shark Valley, Everglades National Park - take a tram tour or cycle this 15-mile long paved route; the last time I went I saw 15+ alligators
Square, The, West Palm Beach - a lively indoor and outdoor shopping and dining area
Venetian Pool - a tourist attraction featuring a giant pool that is fed by a natural underground spring
Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach - a nature preserve with great birdwatching/wildlife viewing opportunities (alligators are common)

Interior Florida: North (including Gainesville, Lake City, and Ocala)
Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours, Ocala - adventure center with several ziplines, sky bridges, horseback riding, and more
Devil's Den Prehistoric Spring, Williston - a subterranean natural pool where you can go diving or snorkeling
Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville - the official natural history museum of Florida; includes a Butterfly Rainforest
Gypsy Gold Farm, Ocala - a horse farm known for their Gypsy Vanner horses
Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon - visit a beautiful, 70-foot deep natural spring that offers swimming, paddling, diving, and snorkeling
Silver Springs State Park, Silver Springs - see a beautiful spring from a glass bottom boat; kayak/canoe down the Fort King Paddling Trail
Stetson Mansion, DeLand - take a tour of a Gilded Age mansion built in 1886 that is often called "Florida's most historic home"

Interior Florida: South & Central
Alligator Cove Airboat Nature Tours, Lake Wales - popular airboat tours of the Kissimmee Basin
Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales - tour 50-acres of Frederick Law Olmsted-designed gardens and a 20-room Mediterranean-style mansion
Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland - an excellent nature preserve with a variety of short hiking trails; see alligators in their natural habitat
Dinosaur World, Plant City - a tourist attraction featuring more than 150 dinosaur sculptures
Legoland Florida Resort, Winter Haven - one of three Lego-themed amusement parks in the U.S. (the other two are in CA and NY)
Solomon's Castle, Ona - tours of an aluminium castle and recycled art pieces; one of the quirkiest tourist/roadside attractions in Florida

Orlando and surrounding area
Airboat tours from Kissimmee - a variety of operators offer fun airboat rides in the Kissimmee area
Aquatica: SeaWorld's Water Park, Orlando - a large and excellent water park; one of the best water parks in the U.S.; next to SeaWorld
Blue Spring State Park, Orange City - known for its wintering manatees, excellent canoeing/kayaking, and guided river boat cruises
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park - an art museum notable for its art nouveau collection
Discovery Cove, Orlando - one of the best places to swim with dolphins in Florida; next to SeaWorld and Aquatica
Disney's Animal Kingdom, Orlando - a major zoological theme park; one of the four main parks of Walt Disney World
Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, Orlando - one of two excellent Disney water parks in Orlando
Disney's Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista - a major theme park with rides and themed areas; one of the four main parks of Disney World
Disney Springs, Orlando - a large outdoor shopping area with more than 150 stores and 60 places to eat
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Orlando - one of two excellent Disney water parks in Orlando
EPCOT, Orlando - one of the four main parks of Walt Disney World; famous for its "around the world" food and beverage stations
Fun Spot America, Kissimmee - a medium-sized amusement park and family-fun center offering a variety of rides, attractions, and arcades
Gatorland, Orlando - one of the best reptile parks/zoos in the U.S.; offers a variety of experiences, including gator shows and zip-lining
ICON Park - ride a 400-foot tall ferris wheel that is surrounded by many shops and restaurants
Madame Tussauds Orlando - one of the best wax museums in the U.S.; take photos with famous people
Magic Kingdom Park, Lake Buena Vista - the "classic Disney park" of the four major Walt Disney World theme parks
Orlando Science Center - a science and natural history museum; has good dinosaur/fossil exhibits
Rock Springs Run tubing at Kelly Park, Apopka - a fun 0.75 mile river tubing adventure; rental tubes are available nearby
SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando - a major theme park and marine zoological park; next to Discovery Cove and Aquatica (both run by SeaWorld)
Universal Studios Florida, Orlando - a major theme park with many movie/TV-based attractions and thrill rides; the Harry Potter World is here
Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando - a major amusement park with many thrill rides
Universal's Volcano Bay, Orlando - an excellent tropical-themed water park
Wekiwa Springs State Park, Apopka - features a large, beautiful natural spring for swimming and paddling, plus more than 13 miles of trails
West Orange Trail - an excellent, continuous, partially-paved 23 mile rail trail from Oakland to Apopka; one of the best rail trails in Florida

Florida Keys
Bahia Honda State Park and Beach, Big Pine Key - generally regarded as the best beach in the Florida Keys
Barefoot Billy's, Key West - offers popular watersports activities and rentals
Big Betsy / Giant Lobster statue, Islamorada - the world's largest lobster at 30 feet high and 40 feet long; one of FL's best roadside attractions
Boat tours from Key West - e.g. sunset cruises, sailing charters, dolphin watching, kayaking tours, trips to Dry Tortugas National Park, etc.
Dolphins Plus, Key Largo - one of the best places to swim with dolphins in Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park - take a ferry or seaplane from Key West to visit a beautiful island, which has a historic fort and lovely beaches
Duval Street, Key West - the tourist center of Key West with many shops, restaurants, and bars
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West - tour the beautiful residence of the famous author; famous for its six-toed cats
Fishing in the Florida Keys - the Florida Keys offer an unlimited amount of fishing opportunities (some of the best ocean fishing in the U.S.)
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West - visit a Civil War-era fort near the southern tip of Key West
Harry S. Truman Little White House, Key West - tour the "second White House" used by President Harry Truman
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo - some of the best scuba diving & snorkling in the U.S.; also offers glass-bottom boat tours
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Key West - a butterfly park with more than 50 species of live butterflies
Mallory Square, Key West - a lively harborside area with many shops and restaurants; famous for its daily sunset celebrations
Overseas Highway - this is the main scenic drive that travels across the Florida Keys; the best part of the drive is the Seven Mile Bridge
Robbie's of Islamorada, Islamorada - a tourist attraction where you can feed giant tarpon fish; also a popular marina with shops and food
Sombrero Beach, Marathon - one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys
Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. marker, Key West - take a photograph with the famous buoy marker
Sunset Pier, Key West - a famous bar on a wooden pier that features great sunset views
Theater of the Sea, Islamorada - a marine mammal park where you can swim with various animals (e.g. dolphins, sea lions, etc.)
Turtle Hospital, The, Marathon - guided tours of a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, Key West - tour a Coast Guard cutter-style ship

Boat tours (e.g. dolphin tours, fishing charters, pirate cruises, scenic cruises, etc.) are also enormously popular across the state. In fact, Florida is one of the very best states in the country for boat tours. There are so many great boat companies in the state that I couldn't possibly even attempt to list them here.

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Florida? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

For a list of 5-star attractions in neighboring states, click on any of these links:  AL  |  GA

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN FLORIDA



These towns and cities in Florida are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Gulf Coast
Anna Maria - a very small town on a barrier island (Anna Maria Island) with beaches, shops, and restaurants; very close to Bradenton
Apalachicola - a small town on Cape San Blas that is known for its fishing, seafood ("oyster capital of the world"), and antebellum architecture
Bradenton - a medium-sized city known for its beaches, water sports, golfing, art galleries, antebellum architecture, and nature preserves
Clearwater - a medium-sized city near Tampa known for its popular beaches, beach pier, and water sports; the "Disney World of beaches"
Destin - a small beach city known for its beautiful beaches, resorts, water sports, and outstanding fishing
Fort Myers Beach - a small beach town near Fort Myers that is known for its beaches and water sports; has a "small old town Florida feel"
Naples - a small and upscale city loaded with high-end shops and fine dining; home of the Naples Botanical Gardens and lots of golf courses
Panama City Beach - a beach town with 27 miles of beaches; great fishing, scuba-diving, and other water sports; popular for spring break
Sanibel - a small town on Sanibel Island known for its beaches, wildlife refuge, and excellent cycling paths; Captiva Island is next to it
Siesta Key - an area of Sarasota known for its beautiful white quartz-sand beaches and watersports; often rated a top ten beach in the U.S.
Tampa - a major city famous for its museums, the Busch Gardens amusement park, and its proximity to many great beaches (e.g. Clearwater)

Atlantic Coast
Boca Raton - a medium-sized city known for its golf courses, beaches, nature parks, and upscale shopping (e.g. Mizner Park)
Cocoa Beach - a small city known for its beaches, great surfing, water sports, and fishing pier; the "surfing capital of the East Coast"
Fort Lauderdale - a large city known for its beaches, lively seaside tourism areas, and inland waterways; the "Venice of America"
Miami - a major city known for its strong Cuban culture, fine food, arts scene, beaches; boating, and art deco architecture
St. Augustine - a small historic city with lots of Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and beaches
Vero Beach - a small city known for its beaches, golf courses, great fishing, and water sports
West Palm Beach - a medium-sized city famous for its beaches, fishing, upscale shopping (e.g. Worth Avenue), mansions, and resorts

Inland Florida
Orlando - a major city that is world-famous for its many theme parks and water parks; this area is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world; the city is the major gateway to the four major theme parks and other attractions of Walt Disney World

Florida Keys
Islamadora - a small town known for its water sports, coral reefs, diving, world-class sport-fishing, dolphin-based attractions, and breweries
Key West - a small city at the end of the Florida keys that is world-famous for its sunsets, nightlife, and attractive streeets; tons of boutique shops, art galleries, and B&Bs; excellent diving, sport-fishing, boating & other water sports; gateway to Dry Tortugas National Park

My favorite major city in Florida is Orlando - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 7-10 days there
My favorite medium-sized city in Florida is Naples - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 3-4 days there
My favorite small city in Florida is Key West - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 2-3 days there
My favorite beach town in Florida is Sanibel - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 3-4 days there

If you want to visit Biscayne National Park, stay in Homestead or Miami.
If you want to visit Dry Tortugus National Park, stay in Key West. Make a ferry or seaplane reservation well in advance.
If you want to visit Everglades National Park, stay in Homestead or Miami.

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS FLORIDA FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Florida is famous or well-known for:

air boats
alligators/crocodiles
amusement parks
art deco
beaches
bird-watching
boardwalk-trails
charter boats
citrus fruits
deep-sea fishing / sport-fishing charters
dolphins / dolphin-watching tours
fishing camps
golfing
hurricanes
kayaking/paddling
key lime pie
manatees
mangroves / mangrove tunnels
natural springs
ocean piers
oranges
panthers
retirement communities
saltwater fly-fishing
scuba-diving
sharks
shelling / sea-shells
spring break
spring training
state parks
sugar mills / sugar mill ruins
sunshine
swamps
swamp-walking
theme parks
wildlife refuges
zoos & wildlife sanctuaries

Click here if you'd like to explore what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN FLORIDA



There are currently three national parks in Florida. There are also a fair number of other federally-managed parks and properties in the state, including:

National Parks
Biscayne National Park - take a ferry to visit its long reefs and islands; one of the best places to go snorkeling and scuba diving in the U.S.
Dry Tortugas National Park - take a ferry or seaplane from Key West to visit a beautiful island, which has a historic fort and lovely beaches
Everglades National Park - an enormous subtropical wilderness area; offers outstanding paddling and wildlife/birdwatching opportunities

National Monuments
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument

National Forests
Apalachicola National Forest
Ocala National Forest
Osceola National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks & Properties
Big Cypress National Preserve
Canaveral National Seashore
Fort Caroline National Memorial
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve

For more information on Florida's national parks, visit the Florida page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN FLORIDA



Florida has one of the best state park systems in the entire United States, and there are more than 170 of them. Some of the finest beaches in Florida are part of the state park system, and some parks feature beautiful natural springs (some of which have resident manatees in season). Many would agree that these represent Florida's finest state parks:

Gulf Coast: Northern (including Apalachicola, Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and all of the Florida Peninsula)
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla Springs - a beautiful freshwater spring with swimming and manatees in the fall
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin - one of the very best beaches in Florida
St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach - features a 1.5-mile long beach (one of Florida's most beautiful) and good birdwatching

Gulf Coast: Central (including Boca Grande, Bradenton, Clearwater, Dunedin, Sarasota, Siesta Key, St. Petersburg, and Tampa)
Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin - take a boat to visit an unspoiled island; walk the beaches or go kayaking; go to "get away from it all"
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa - features a beautiful river and natural springs; try to spot manatees in winter
Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin - known for its 4-mile long white-sand beaches, hiking trails, and as the gateway to Caladesi Island
Myakka River State Park, Sarasota - features Florida's 1st state-designated wild and scenic river; top-notch paddling and hiking opportunities
Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood - features a mile-long beach popular for seashelling, fishing, and swimming; hiking & kayaking too
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill - famous for its mermaid diving shows and river boat cruises

Gulf Coast: Southern (including Bonita Springs, Captiva Island, Fort Myers, Marco Island, Naples, and Sanibel Island)
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Naples - one of the best beaches in southwestern Florida
Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach - one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast of florida

Atlantic Coast: Northern (including Daytona Beach, Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach, and St. Augustine)
Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine - known for its pristine white-sand beaches, maritime hammocks, sand dunes, and tidal marshes
Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach - features a historic and oceanside Civil War fort, beaches, and hiking and cycling trails

Atlantic Coast: Southern (including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Everglades NP)
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne - features a lighthouse, paddling, one of the best beaches in Florida, and several hiking trails

Interior Florida: North (including Gainesville, Lake City, and Ocala)
Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon - visit a beautiful, 70-foot deep natural spring that offers swimming, paddling, diving, and snorkeling
Silver Springs State Park, Silver Springs - see a beautiful spring from a glass bottom boat; kayak/canoe down the Fort King Paddling Trail

Orlando and surrounding area
Blue Spring State Park, Orange City - known for its wintering manatees, excellent canoeing/kayaking, and guided river boat cruises
Wekiwa Springs State Park, Apopka - features a large, beautiful natural spring for swimming and paddling, plus more than 13 miles of trails

Florida Keys
Bahia Honda State Park and Beach, Big Pine Key - generally regarded as the best beach in the Floriday Keys
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West - visit a Civil War-era fort near the southern tip of Key West
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo - some of the best scuba diving & snorkling in the U.S.; also offers glass-bottom boat tours

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN FLORIDA



Florida only has three known natural waterfalls, and they are all small. The best one is Devils Millhopper Falls in Devils Millhopper State Park.

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Florida, visit the World Waterfall Database.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN FLORIDA



Here is a list of the best scenic drives in Florida:

A1A from Ormond Beach to Matanzas Inlet - this 30-mile section of the 338-mile paved highway is perhaps its most scenic/undeveloped
Big Bend Scenic Byway - the best section of this 220-mile paved route might be the 40 miles from Bald Point State Park to Apalachicola
Loop Road, Big Cypress National Preserve - a 24-mile mostly dirt/gravel route famous for its cypress trees, alligators, and bird-watching
Ormond Scenic Loop - a 30-mile paved route that includes several different roads (including a portion of A1A/Ocean Shore Boulevard)
Overseas Highway/Florida Keys Scenic Highway - a 113-mile paved route from Key Largo to Key West in the Florida Keys region
Tamiami Trail - a 100-mile paved route from Tamiami (near Miami) to Naples; alligators are commonly seen on this route
Wildlife Drive, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge - a 4-mile paved drive that you can drive, cycle, or walk; great bird-watching

Although not a "scenic" drive per se, driving along Ocean Drive in Miami is also recommended. You'll see Miami's culture in action and also pass by several interesting Art Deco-style buildings.

The three mile drive across the Sanibel Causeway is also a notable scenic drive.

For a list of great scenic drives in each U.S. state, click here.

BEST OCEAN BEACHES IN FLORIDA



Florida is world-famous for its beaches, and there are dozens of amazing stretches of sand. Here is a list of many of the best beaches in Florida:

Gulf Coast: North
Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach
Destin-Fort Walton Beach
Eglin Beach Park, Destin
Eglin Matterhorn Beach, Destin
Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach
Gulf Islands National Seashore (e.g. Opal Beach)
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin
Langdon Beach, Pensacola Beach
Mexico Beach, Mexico Beach
Okaloosa Island Beach, Okaloosa Island
Panama City Beach beaches
Perdido Key Beach, Pensacola
Shell Island Beach, Panama City

Gulf Coast: Central
Beach Point Beach, Anna Maria
Blind Pass Beach, Englewood
Boca Grande Beach / Gasparilla Island State Park, Boca Grande
Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin - a boat/ferry is required
Caspersen Beach, Venice - famous for shark-tooth hunting (tip: bring a shovel and a sifting box!)
Clearwater Beach, Longboat Key
Coquina Beach, Bradenton Beach
Cortez Beach, Bradenton Beach
Fort DeSoto Park beaches, St. Petersburg
Holmes Beach, Holmes Beach
Honeymoon Island Beach, Dunedin
Howard Park Beach, Tarpon Springs
Lido Key Beach, Sarasota
Manasota Key Beach, Englewood
Medeira Beach, Medeira Beach
Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach
Redington Shores Beach, Redington Shores
Sand Key Beach, Clearwater
Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota
St. Beach Beach, St. Pete Beach
Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood
Sunset Beach, Tarpon Springs
Treasure Island Beach, Treasure Island
Turtle Beach, Sarasota
Venice Beach, Venice

Gulf Coast: South
Barefoot Beach County Preserve, Bonita Springs
Bonita Beach Park, Bonita Springs
Bowman's Beach, Sanibel
Clam Pass Park, Naples
Englewood Beach, Englewood
Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers Beach
Gulfside City Park Beach, Sanibel
Lowdermilk Park, Naples
Lovers Key Beach, Fort Myers Beach
Marco Island Public Beach, Marco Island
Naples Beach, Naples
Wiggins Pass Beach, Naples

Atlantic Coast: North
Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine
Crescent Beach beaches
Daytona Beach beaches
Fernandina Beach / Amelia Island beaches
Flagler Beach, Flagler Beach
Little Talbot Island, Jacksonville
Jacksonville Beach beaches
Neptune Beach beaches
South Ponte Vedra Beach Recreation Area, Ponte Vedra Beach
St. Augustine beaches (e.g. Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Augustine Beach, North Beach, Vilano Beach)

Atlantic Coast: Central
Canaveral National Seashore beaches
Canova Beach Park, Indialantic
Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park, New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach, New Smyrna Beach
Playalinda Beach, Titusville
Round Island Beach Park, Vero Beach
South Beach Park, Vero Beach
Spessard Holland South Beach Park, Melbourne Beach

Atlantic Coast: South
Avalon State Park, Fort Pierce
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
Dania Beach, Hollywood
Deerfield Beach, Deerfield Beach
Delray Public Beach, Delray
Fort Lauderdale beaches
Haulover Beach, Miami Beach
Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
Hobe Sound Beach, Jupiter Island
Hobie Island Beach Park, Miami
Hollywood Beach, Hollywood
Hutchinson Island beaches
Jupiter Dog Beach, Jupiter
Lake Worth Beach Park, Lake Worth
Las Olas Beach, Fort Lauderdale
MacArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach
North Beach, Miami Beach
Ocean Ridge Hammock Park, Boynton Beach
Palm Beach beaches
Pompano Beach, Pompano Beach
Red Reef Park, Boca Raton
Riviera Beach, Riviera Beach
South Beach, Miami Beach - Florida's most famous beach (sorry Daytona)

Florida Keys / Key West
Bahia Honda State Park beaches (e.g. Calusa Beach and Loggerhead Beach)
Dry Tortugas National Park beaches
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, Key West
Sombrero Beach, Marathon
Veterans Memorial Park, Big Pine Key

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN FLORIDA



Florida has an impressive amount of rail trails. In fact its one of the very best states in the country for rail trails (along with states like MI, OH, and PA). Here is a list of some the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Florida:

Northern Florida
Blackwater Heritage State Trail
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail
Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail
Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
Nature Coast State Trail
Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail
Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail
Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail

Central Florida
Courtney Campbell Trail
East Central Regional Rail Trail
Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
General James A. Van Fleet State Trail - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Seminole Wekiva Trail
Shingle Creek Regional Trail
South Lake Trail (Lake Minneola Scenic Trail)
Suncoast Trail
Upper Tampa Bay Trail
West Orange Trail / South Lake Trail - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Withlacoochee State Trail - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.

Southern Florida
Sanibel Island Shared-Use Paths
Legacy Trail (Sarasota)
Shark Valley Trail

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Florida, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN FLORIDA



Florida is jam-packed with amusement parks, including some of the very best in the world. The best amusement parks in Florida include:

Orlando area
Aquatica, Orlando
Disney's Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista
Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, Orlando
Disney's Epcot, Lake Buena Vista
Disney's Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista
Disney's Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Orlando
Fun Spot America, Kissimmee
Fun Spot America, Orlando
Give Kids the World Village, Kissimmee
Legoland Florida, Winter Haven - about 90 minutes southwest of Orlando
Old Town, Kissimmee
Peppa Pig Theme Park, Winter Haven - about 90 minutes southwest of Orlando
SeaWorld, Orlando
Universal Studios Florida, Orlando
Universal's Epic Universe, Orlando - this theme park is expected to open in 2025
Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando
Universal's Volcano Bay, Orlando

The rest of Florida
Adventure Island, Tampa
Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park, Destin
Busch Gardens, Tampa
Daytona Lagoon, Daytona Beach
Rapids Waterpark, West Palm Beach
Shipwreck Island Water Park, Jacksonville
Splash Harbour Water Park, Indian Rocks Beach
Sun Splash Family Waterpark, Cape Coral

A friend is mine is a professional travel planner and can help you book Disney trips, cruises, and other vacations. Here's a link to her Facebook page.

WALT DISNEY WORLD TIPS



Here are a few basic tips for planning a trip to Walt Disney World:

There are four major amusement parks in Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios
Each of the four major amusement parks is worth at least one full day. I would encourage enter each park exactly when it opens, take a 1-2 hour break in the middle of the day, and then return to the park and stay until it closes.
In addition to the four major parks, there is also Disney Springs, Disney's Boardwalk, two water parks, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports
The least-crowded times at Walt Disney World appear to be: (a) mid-to-late January; (b) early February; (c) most of May (excluding Memorial Day), (d) late August, and (e) most of September (excluding around Labor Day)
There are more than 20 hotels inside of Walt Disney World
It's very expensive, but staying in a hotel within the Walt Disney World complex comes with many perks (e.g. early park access, free transportation, etc.)
You should book hotels, tickets, and dining reservations several months in advance (as far in advance as possible)
Walt Disney World is not a place that you can just show up to. You need to have a daily plan, often in 15 or 30 minute increments (especially if you want to enjoy a lot of rides).
The character dining experiences are great fun, although very expensive. Book them months in advance.
One of my favorite things to do in Disney is to go "around the world" in EPCOT. This entails stopping at a variety of country-themed areas and trying the food and drinks of those countries.
While in the Orlando area, don't just visit Walt Disney World. There are also the theme parks of Universal Studios and SeaWorld, plus many other parks and tourist attractions (e.g. Blue Spring State Park, Fun Spot America, Gatorland, ICON Park, etc.)

BEST MUSEUMS IN FLORIDA



Florida has many excellent museums. The best museums in Florida include:

Gulf Coast: Northern (including Apalachicola, Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and all of the Florida Peninsula)
Air Force Armament Museum, Fort Walton Beach
National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola
Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Pensacola
Tallahassee Automobile Museum, Tallahassee

Gulf Coast: Central (including Boca Grande, Bradenton, Clearwater, Dunedin, Sarasota, Siesta Key, St. Petersburg, and Tampa)
Ca d'Zan Mansion, Sarasota
Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
Great Explorations Children’s Museum, St. Petersburg
James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, St. Petersburg
Ringling, The, Sarasota
Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa

Gulf Coast: Southern (including Bonita Springs, Captiva Island, Fort Myers, Marco Island, Naples, and Sanibel Island)
Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Island
Edison & Ford Winter Estates / Edison Winter Estate, Fort Myers
Revs Institute, Naples

Atlantic Coast: Northern (including Daytona Beach, Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach, and St. Augustine)
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, St. Augustine
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum, St. Augustine

Atlantic Coast Central (including Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Hutchinson Island)
NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Merritt Island
Navy Seal Museum, Fort Pierce
Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, Titusville

Atlantic Coast: Southern (including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Everglades NP)
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum / Whitehall, Palm Beach
Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami

Interior Florida: North (including Gainesville, Lake City, and Ocala)
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Ocala
Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville
Stetson Mansion, DeLand

Orlando and surrounding area
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park
Modernism Museum, Mt. Dora
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando
Orlando Science Center, Orlando

Florida Keys
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West
Harry S. Truman Little White House, Key West
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, Key West

BEST DAY HIKES IN FLORIDA



Although the state is mostly flat, Florida does have some great hiking trails. Here are some of the best hiking trails/areas in Florida:

Northern Florida
Anastasia State Park trails
Florida Trail: UWF/SRIA Dunes Preserve section, Santa Rosa Island
Garden of Eden Trail, Apalachicola Bluffs & Ravines Preserve
Juniper Creek Trail, Blackwater River State Forest
Little Talbot Island State Park trails - e.g. Dune Ridge Loop
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park trails

Central Florida
Blue Spring State Park trails
Circle B Bar Preserve trails - e.g. Reserve Trail, Alligator Alley Loop, etc.
Dames Caves and Lizzie Heart Sink Loop Trail, Withlacoochee State Forest
Hillsborough River State Park trails
Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge trails - e.g. Cruickshank Trail

Southern Florida
Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park - near-guaranteed alligator sightings
Cayo Costa State Park trails - boat/ferry required
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary trails, Naples
Grassy Waters Preserve trails, West Palm Beach

In addition to the hikes listed above, you can also hike for miles upon miles upon miles on many of Florida's other beaches.

The highpoint of Florida is Briton Hill (345'). You can drive very close to the top, and so there is no hiking required.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN FLORIDA



Florida offers a few good backpacking opportunities. Some of premier backpacking areas in Florida include:

Coastal Prairie Trail, Everglades National Park - warning: this trail may be overgrown! check the nps.gov site for updates
Florida National Scenic Trail
Hal Scott Preserve
Lake Kissimmee State Park
Little Manatee River Trail
Myakka River State Park
Prairie Lakes Loop
Tamiami Trail, Big Cypress National Preserve
William Bartram St. Johns River Loop
Withlacoochee State Forest

The premier backpacking trail in Florida is the Florida National Scenic Trail. The entire trail is 1,500 miles from Big Cypress National Preserve to Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore at Pensacola Beach.

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN FLORIDA



Florida offers many outdoor adventures, including these classics:

Backpacking the Florida National Scenic Trail
Bouldering in Blowing Rocks Preserve
Canoeing/kayaking the Apalachicola River
Canoeing/kayaking the Blackwater River
Canoeing/kayaking the Crystal River
Canoeing/kayaking in Everglades National Park
Canoeing/kayaking the Loxahatchee River
Canoeing/kayaking in Rainbow Springs State Park
Canoeing/kayaking the Santa Fe River
Canoeing/kayaking the Suwannee River
Canoeing/kayaking the Wakulla River
Cycling the East Central Regional Rail Trail
Cycling the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail
Cycling the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail
Cycling the General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
Cycling the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail
Cycling the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail
Cycling the West Orange Trail / South Lake Trail
Cycling the Withlacoochee State Trail
Kayaking the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail
Kayaking to Indian Key Historic State Park
Kayaking the mangrove tunnels in Marco Island or Sarasota
Kayaking in Myakka RiverState Park
Kayaking the Ten Thousand Islands
Mountain biking Alafia River State Park
Mountain biking Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve
Mountain biking Caloosahatchee Regional Park
Mountain biking Graham Swamp
Mountain biking Markham Park
Mountain biking Mount Dora
Mountain biking Santos
Parasailing on one of Florida's beaches (many beaches have operators that offer this activity)
Sea-shelling boat tours from Marco Island
Scuba diving in Blue Grotto in Williston
Scuba diving in Devil's Den in Williston
Scuba diving in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo
Skydiving in one of a dozen plus places in Florida that offer this activity
Snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park
Surfing on Cocoa Beach
Surfing on Daytona Beach
Surfing on Sebastian Inlet
Tubing in Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Tubing in Kelly Park on Rock Springs Run
Tubing in Rainbow Springs State Park
Tubing the Santa Fe River / Ginnie Springs
Tubing Spring Creek

FLORIDA TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Florida attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN FLORIDA



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Florida:

conch fritters / conch chowder
cuban coffee
cuban sandwich
Dole Whip (e.g. at Disney)
fish dip
fried catfish
fried shrimp
frog legs
gator
key lime pie
key lime pie ice cream
lobster (e.g. Key West lobster)
shrimp and grits
stone crab
swamp cabbage

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Florida (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Florida (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY FLORIDA INFORMATION



State Capital:
Tallahassee

Major Airports:
Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers (Southwest Florida), Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Palm Beach

Largest Cities:
Jacksonville (975,177), Miami (450,797), Tampa (394,809), Orlando (321,427), St. Petersburg (261,016), Hialeah (222,797)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-4, I-10, I-75, I-95

State Highpoint:
Briton Hill (345'); you can drive very close to the top

Professional Sports Teams:
MLB: Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays
NBA: Miami Heat, Orlando Magic
NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NHL: Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Celebration, Christmas, Hooker Point, Niceville, Picnic, Reddick, Two Egg, Yeehaw Junction, Yellow Water

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.



Casperson Beach, Florida
Casperson Beach, Florida

Alligator on the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park, Florida
Alligator on the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park, Florida

Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, Florida
Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, Florida

Alligator at the Big Cypress Visitor Center in Florida
Alligator at the Big Cypress Visitor Center in Florida

the start of US-1 in Key West, Florida
the start of US-1 in Key West, Florida

the southernmost point in the continental U.S. in Key West, Florida
the southernmost point in the continental U.S. in Key West, Florida

beautiful flowers at the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, Florida
beautiful flowers at the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, Florida

Naples Pier in Naples, Florida
Naples Pier in Naples, Florida

Siesta Key beach in Sarasota, Florida
Siesta Key beach in Sarasota, Florida

Siesta Key sign in Sarasota, Florida
Siesta Key sign in Sarasota, Florida

one of the hundreds of Wynwood Walls murals in Miami, Florida
one of the hundreds of Wynwood Walls murals in Miami, Florida

Siesta Key Beach, Florida
Siesta Key Beach, Florida

sea shells found in Florida
the haul from our guided sea-shelling tour in Goodland, Florida (near Marco Island)

key lime pie store. Florida Keys
one of several good key lime pie stores in the Florida Keys

XXXX, Florida
Big Betsy in Islamorada, Florida

Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park beach in Bahia Honda Key, Florida

Disney's Animal Kingdom, Florida
Disney's Animal Kingdom, Florida

EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival

EPCOT, Florida
EPCOT, Florida

Disney's Magic Kingdom, Florida
Disney's Magic Kingdom, Florida

Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida
Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida


ROAD TRIP GUIDEBOOKS



In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any book cover to read reviews and/or purchase these books on Amazon.com.

        


MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
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California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

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