The 21 x most beautiful highlights in Florida (update 2020)
Florida: the Sunshine State of southeast US. Besides the miles of beaches and sunshine, the state also has: impressive natural parks, interesting cities, world-famous amusement parks and much more!
Find out more in this article where we listed all the must-do activities and highlights in Florida!
Inspiration: Tickets, day trips & excursions in Florida
Planning a trip to Florida? I suppose you are looking for the funnest things to do in the state, from the amusement parks to the best activities. Our tip: book your tours or excursions online in advance! It is less stressful and it will make the planning of your trip easier. Additionally, you can cancel everything up to 24 hours before the start with money back guarantee. Check out all the Florida options here at GetYourGuide.
St. Augustine was the first European settlement in America, making it the oldest city in Florida. You will be surprised by the Spanish colonial architecture in St. Augustine. It sometimes even seems as if you are walking around in Europe. The main highlight is the seventeenth century stone fort Castillo de San Marcos. St. Augustine is also known for its ghost stories and creepy legends.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park is about a twenty-minute drive from Orlando. In this huge natural park of 2800 acres there is a lot to do: Wander along the Wekiwa River, discover the water sources or enjoy the beautiful nature all around you. Dive into the cold water, kayak or canoe, walk around the park with a three-hour walking tour or simply enjoy the tropical surroundings from the hammocks.
Orlando is Florida's third largest metropolis and one of the most visited cities in the Sunshine State. Miami is mostly visited for its world-famous beaches while Orlando is the walhalla for amusement park lovers. Find out what to do and see in Orlando.
The city has many amusement parks, including five of the ten most visited amusement parks in the world. Four of the most popular water parks in the United States are located in the Orlando area.
Walt Disney World
4.1. A giant amusement park
Walt Disney World is the most famous and largest amusement park in Florida. Walt Disney World consists of four separate theme parks and two water parks, all built around a particular theme. There's so much to see and do in Walt Disney World that two days is not enough to explore the entire park.
4.2. Theme parks
Many visitors spend an entire vacation in Walt Disney World, but if you're just taking one or two days to visit it, it's best to focus on one or two areas. The most famous part is Magic Kingdom, where the Disney fairy tales come to life around Cinderella's castle.
You also have Epcot, where you can experience what it feels like to live in the future, or World Showcase, where you can travel around the world. Follow this up with a visit to the Disney Hollywood Studios, where you can find the ride of Star Wars and The land of Toy Story. There's a large safari park in the Animal Kingdom and on a hot day, the water park rides Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach offer refreshment.
The film producer Universal Studios has two parks in Florida: The Universal Studios and Universal Island of Adventures. The Universal Studios are located in Orlando and are full of rides that have been built around the theme of various movies. Think of Dreamworks animated films like Shrek, but also films like E.T. and series like The Simpsons. You can also visit Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies and the bank Gringotts.
It is best to book your tickets online to avoid long queues.
Kennedy Space Center
If you travel more to the east of Orlando, in the direction of the coastline, you will come across NASA's home-base. Since 1968, Every American spaceflight has been launched here. At the Kennedy Space Center you can take an interesting guided tour from which you will learn a lot about American space travel with films, simulations and unique objects for better illustration. If you plan your visit well, you might even be able to experience a rocket launch.
Tampa Bay Area
The city Tampa is located in Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The area around the bay is very lively and attracts a lot of tourists.You can relax on the beaches or visit several amusement parks. The most popular one is the Busch Gardens safari park where you can brave the SheiKra, one of the most famous roller coasters in America.
In St Petersburg in Florida you can visit the Dalí Museum. The museum exhibits the second largest collection of works by the Spanish artist Dalí, which makes it one of the most important highlights of the state! There is an exhibition about Dalí himself where you can dive into the bizarre world of the artist, highly recommended!
Fort Myers, on the west coast of Florida, is very popular among tourists. This authentic town is full of multi-colored buildings and palm trees. The beach is also one of the reasons for its popularity. In Fort Myers it seems as if you are walking in Florida of the 70s. If you would like a beautiful view over the city, take a boat over the Caloosahatchee River.
Fort Lauderdale, a.k.a. the Venice of America, is known for its ingenious canal system that serves as a road network. The best way to explore the city is by boat. As with many other places in Florida, the beaches here are also definitely worth a visit.
The Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science is one of the largest museums in Florida and, in addition to the canal system, also one of the main highlights of Fort Lauderdale. In the museum you can visit many exhibitions on various scientific topics which are all related to Florida. For example, the functioning of hurricanes or the Everglades nature reserve. Additionally, you can also test your flying skills with the cockpit simulator.
Miami is the most visited city in Florida and is the perfect place to start your trip through Florida. It is a trendy and hip city where you can enjoy the sun on the beach and party in popular nightclubs.
Miami is a mix of the American and Caribbean culture which makes the city feel very Latin American. Be sure to visit Little Havana and the Cuban neighborhood to fully admire those Caribbean influences.
Do you love Miami? Then don't wait any longer to plan your vacation and start looking for a suitable accommodation to spend the night. Overview of accommodations in Miami + prices can be found here.
Anyone who visits Miami should definitely pass by or lay down at Miami Beach. It is one of the most famous beaches in the world. You can reach Miami Beach via bridges from the mainland. By the white sand beach, you will find the famous Ocean Drive where many Art Deco buildings can be found. There are also many hotels, resorts and restaurants overlooking the clear blue waters.
Our tips: luxury in a historic oceanfront hotel? Try 1 Hotel South Beach. Prefer something budget-friendly? Then go for L Hotel: a cozy place, just 3 minutes walking from the beach.
In Southern Miami you can visit the Vizcaya Museum. This villa was built in 1914 by the wealthy businessman James Deering. The building itself looks like a Spanish villa while the gardens resemble the Renaissance French castle gardens. Nowadays the building serves as a museum where about 2500 works of art are exhibited. More info on the website.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
If you've had enough of the hustle and bustle of Miami, visit the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. This botanical garden was founded in 1936 by Robert H. Montgomery to reflect the great variety of flora and fauna in Florida. The garden is over 33 hectares and features a lot of trees, plants, flowers as well as water ponds and a butterfly garden.
Coral Castle Museum
Between 1923 and 1951 Edward Leedskalnin worked many a day to finish his beautiful stone artwork. He used around 1100 tonnes of petrified coral to build a gigantic castle. To this day, no one knows exactly how he did it, but that makes the Coral Castle even more intriguing!
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is a smaller, less-known natural park in Florida, yet it's one of the best highlights of your journey through the Sunshine State. Here you can dive or snorkel along the impressive coral reef near the islands of Elliot Key and Sands Key, south of Miami. Another fun way to explore the coral reef is by canoeing with a transparent canoe.
If you really enjoy the place, there are two campsites on the island where you can spend the night in nature.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is Florida's largest national park and is a must-see for anyone visiting Florida. The park was established in 1947 and consists of a large swamp area where you can see many crocodiles, alligators and other reptiles. The best way to visit the park is with an airboat that glides at a high speed over the water of the swamp. In doing so you can admire the animals up close.
In the town of Marathon, on the island Boot Key, you will find the Turtle Hospital. This animal hospital focuses on rescuing and caring for endangered sea turtles. The caretakers try to heal the animals and then send them back to nature.
Fewer tourists come here, but Turtle Hospital is definitely worth a visit if you are an animal lover. The hospital also organizes guided tours for visitors.
Key West is the most southern point of the United States. The island is part of the Florida Keys archipelago and can be reached by car via the Overseas Highway. On the island you can explore the pastel-colored houses in the historic center and wander around the paradisiacal beaches.
Key West is also popular amongst sports enthusiasts. You can practice many water sports on the island including surfing, diving and snorkeling. Furthermore, we recommend a visit to the Southernmost point of the U.S., Point Buoy and to try out the local Key Lime Pie.
Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson
West of Key West is Dry Tortugas National Park. Several remote islands are located in this natural park but these can only be reached by boat or plane. On one of the islands you will find Fort Jefferson, an impressive hexagonal nineteenth-century fortress. The water surrounding the islands is naturally decorated with spectacular coral reefs, so make sure to snorkel or take a dive in the water!
Which car to rent?
- Are you still unsure which car to rent for your road trip?
- Do not rent a car that is too small, go for a comfortable car.
- Be sure to book an all-inclusive insurance policy so you can drive around in peace.
- A reliable car rental company is Rentalcars (very large offer).
- Read more tips about renting a car on vacation.
Don't miss out on anything during your stay in Florida, get our travel guide!
Like most of us, you don't want to miss out on anything during your vacation in Florida. Well, we have some good news, because we already did the research for you! Buy our travel guide Florida with a fully planned out round trip that brings you along all the highlights + map. Discover Florida at your own pace. Prefer to try it out first? Download your free preview travel guide here.