If you’re on the hunt for your next unforgettable vacation, look no further than Florida. The sunshine state is packed with incredible destinations, and 2023 is shaping up to be a fantastic time to explore this sunny paradise. In this handy guide, we’ll explore some of the best places to visit in Florida, each with its own distinct charm and attractions.
St. Augustine, founded by the Spaniards in 1565, is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the U.S. It’s a town steeped in history, with cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and Romanesque Revival-style buildings designed by Henry Flagler. Aside from its historical attractions, St. Augustine offers a range of experiences, from ghost tours to the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. The city also boasts beautiful beaches and year-round sunshine.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Located about 70 miles off the coast of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is renowned for its premier snorkeling and wildlife viewing opportunities. Home to nearly 300 bird species, five types of sea turtles, and around 30 coral species, this remote seven-island park in the Gulf of Mexico is a nature lover’s paradise. Explore the 19th-century coastal fortress Fort Jefferson on Garden Key and immerse yourself in the park’s pristine environment. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park requires a $15 entrance fee.
Clearwater Beach, located on a slender island off Florida’s west coast, is famous for its stunning shoreline. It’s consistently ranked as one of Florida’s best beaches. Here, you can enjoy water sports like paddle boarding, jet skiing, and parasailing. The area also features historical theaters, parks, shopping districts, and beachfront restaurants. Don’t forget to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see its famous dolphin resident, and catch a Philadelphia Phillies game at Spectrum Field during MLB’s spring training season.
Siesta Key, a charming barrier island off Sarasota’s coast, is a good spot for those seeking relaxation. The Siesta Beach consistently ranks among the world’s most beautiful beaches, offering powdery white sands and family-friendly amenities. You can enjoy beach volleyball, a playground, and hiking trails. For a quieter escape, Turtle Beach is perfect for shelling and kayaking. In the evening, Siesta Key Village comes alive with live music, and you’ll find top-notch hotels and resorts for a comfortable stay.
Islamorada, consisting of six islands in the Florida Keys, is a tranquil retreat with parks, vibrant coral reefs, and art galleries. Positioned between Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, this coastal village is renowned for its sport fishing. You can try your hand at catching sailfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, tuna, and tarpon. Apart from fishing, you can explore the History of Diving Museum and indulge in shopping at Rain Barrel Village’s unique shops.
Miami Beach is a vibrant city where cultures, residents, and travelers converge. Whether you’re into Instagram-worthy beaches, architecture, or a lively nightlife, Miami Beach has it all. North Beach offers family-friendly beaches, parks, and affordable dining while South Beach is a chic metropolis with high-end shopping, fusion cuisine, and trendy nightclubs.
Orlando is synonymous with family-friendly attractions. From Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot Center to Universal Orlando Resort’s Hogsmeade and SeaWorld Orlando’s “One Ocean” water show, there’s something for all ages. Beyond theme parks, you can enjoy golfing in the subtropical climate and exploring the downtown cityscape.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S., is home to alligators, crocodiles, manatees, and panthers. You can explore its vast 1.5 million acres through trails and guided tours. Visit during the dry season (November to April) for pleasant weather, fewer mosquitoes, and increased wildlife sightings.
Naples, named after the Italian city, exudes laid-back luxury along southern Florida’s Gulf Coast. Known for its white-sand beaches and top-notch restaurants, Naples is a relaxing and romantic destination. Enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing on the pristine shores. For a more cultural experience, explore Naples’ boutiques, museums, and galleries. Naples caters to those seeking a serene beach escape.
Marco Island, the largest of Southwest Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, caters to water sports enthusiasts. Boating, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing are popular activities here. Discover the island’s connection to the Calusa Native Americans at the Marco Island Historical Museum and observe manatees, sea turtles, and wildlife at Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Key West, famous for warm beaches and eccentric residents, offers a relaxed yet eclectic seaside experience. Embrace the island’s free-spirited atmosphere by taking guided tours, snorkeling trips, or visiting Ernest Hemingway’s former home. Key West’s vibrant Duval Street and Mallory Square are must-visit spots.
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach, a small coastal town on the Florida Panhandle, offers a range of family-friendly activities. If you’re looking for a relaxed beach vacation, Okaloosa Island and John Beasley Park boast pristine, white-sand beaches perfect for lounging. For those seeking more adventure, there are deep-sea fishing charters, water-skiing, and parasailing to enjoy. You can also delve into local history at the Indian Temple Mound Museum.
Located northeast of Jacksonville, Amelia Island combines historical charm with uncrowded beaches. Stroll through Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach, known for its pirate history and shrimping industry roots. Enjoy horseback riding by the water, golfing on renowned courses, and exploring the island’s rich history.
Destin, nicknamed the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” has become a popular vacation spot on Florida’s Panhandle. Its stunning white sand beaches, known for their pure Appalachian quartz sand, are perfect for family getaways. Golfers, water sports enthusiasts, and anglers find their paradise here, while deep-sea fishing charters offer unforgettable experiences.
Key Largo is a swift departure from the party atmosphere of Key West. Enjoy picnicking on the beach, admiring manatees, or embarking on a slow canal cruise on the African Queen. Explore Everglades National Park’s wetlands and dive among diverse underwater ecosystems at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Key Largo, the “Dive Capital of the World,” offers sites that attract divers year-round.
Tampa is known for its family-friendly attractions like Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium, but it has much more to offer. Explore its history, museums, and sporting events. Visit the Museum of Science & Industry, attend a Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Tampa Bay Lightning game, and enjoy nearby St. Petersburg and Clearwater for additional dining and beach experiences.
St. Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg, holding the Guinness World Record for consecutive sunny days, offers a blend of beach getaways and urban experiences. Enjoy white sandy beaches, outdoor activities, and a thriving arts scene. The city hosts over 1,000 events annually, offering something for everyone, from families to nightlife enthusiasts.
Sarasota, along Florida’s west coast, offers an impressive array of art-centric attractions and activities. Explore The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Art Center Sarasota, and craft shows. Sarasota’s performing arts scene includes ballet, opera, and circus acts. Learn more about the local flora and fauna at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Myakka River State Park, or Lido Beach.
Cocoa Beach caters to space enthusiasts, sun seekers, and surfers alike. Visit the Kennedy Space Center, surf at one of Florida’s best surf spots, and explore the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop with the Florida Surf Museum. Don’t miss bioluminescent kayaking tours, beach volleyball, and scenic views from the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier.
St. George Island
St. George Island, nestled in the Gulf of Mexico just off Apalachicola’s coast, is an unspoiled barrier island ideal for travelers seeking a quieter escape. Unlike some popular beach destinations, you won’t find towering hotels blocking your view here. Instead, you’ll be treated to serene watersports like kayaking and snorkeling, breathtaking views from Cape St. George Light, and pristine beaches, especially at Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park.
Well, folks, that wraps up our tour of the best places to visit in Florida in 2023. Whether you’re dreaming of powdery white sands, underwater adventures or just some good old relaxation, the Sunshine State has it all. So, pack your swimsuits, grab your shades, and get ready for a Florida adventure you won’t forget. Happy travels!
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Q : Is Clearwater Beach family-friendly?
A : Yes, Clearwater Beach is known for being a family-friendly destination.
Q : How can I get to Dry Tortugas National Park?
A : Dry Tortugas National Park can be reached by boat or seaplane from Key West, Florida.
Q : What’s the best time to visit the Everglades National Park?
A : Visit between November and April for milder weather and fewer mosquitos.