Beach-laden Florida is the perfect destination for anyone who is looking for a sunny escape. There’s plenty for everyone here - check out some of the top areas and attractions across the state:
Florida’s panhandle, also known as the Emerald Coast, borders the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its resorts, beaches and natural beauty of the Gulf Coast National Seashore. Here are some of the best things to do by area:
- Pensacola: Lay out on the perfect white beaches, check out military history at the National Naval Aviation Museum and take a stroll through the historic district.
- Panama City: Panama City Beach Spring Break is the major draw for co-eds every year. It gets pretty wild, so if you’re planning a family vacation, you might want to come at a more relaxed time of year.
- Destin: Go kayaking or hiking in the stunning Grayton Beach State Park, lay out on the bone-white beaches of Henderson Beach State Park and see history at Fort Pickens.
Though inland, Orlando is the entertainment capital of Florida and perhaps the theme park capital of the U.S.
- Visit all of the sites at Disney World - the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and water parks Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
- Young children will love to see their favorite characters and movies come to life at Universal Studios and older kids will appreciate the Harry Potter and Marvel-themed attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
- Check out Seaworld and then cool off at its Aquatica Waterpark, or swim with the dolphins and snorkel at Discovery Cove.
- Don’t miss a visit to the Kennedy Space Center as well!
The biggest draw here is the Daytona 500, the creme de la creme of NASCAR races, held here every February since 1959. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival, further north, is held in downtown Jacksonville every May with the biggest names in Jazz from around the world.
- including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Vero Beach - has a rich cultural heritage and fabulous beaches.
- South Beach in Miami Beach is a contender for Florida’s biggest party spot- it’s the place to be and be seen. For more of a family experience, visit the Miami Zoo, learn about the interesting history of Coral Castle and immerse yourself in nature at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Villa Vizcaya. Don’t miss Carnaval in early March! It features Cuba cultural traditions, parades, excellent food and the Calle Ocho Music Festival.
- Fort Lauderdale and Vero Beach are the go-to family destinations in the area. Fort Lauderdale hosts WinterFest in early December every year with a decorated boat parade - it’s a must-see.
Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples in southwestern Florida are nearly always sunny. They are quieter destinations on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River, with many opportunities to see local wildlife and visit nearby islands like Sanibel and Marco Islands. Visit Manatee Park to see these gentle endangered giants or venture further south and take a guided tour into the expansive Everglades. Head south to Hemingway’s refuge in Key West or explore the other tropical-like Florida Keys.
Tampa Bay Area
The Tampa Bay Area has plenty to see and do.
- Visit the Florida Strawberry Festival in nearby Plant City, held every February and March, and check out Florida’s State Fair in February in the city of Tampa.
- Head to the beaches in Clearwater Beach, Venice and St. Petersburg - all fabulous and fairly quiet.
- Take a drive inland to Winter Haven to visit Legoland Florida - the largest of this amusement park chain in the world.
- Take the family to Busch Gardens for more fun than you can imagine.
- Visit the Renaissance Festival in Tampa for a unique experience. It’s held every year from February to April.