Florida — Attractions
Few other states in America can come close to the exciting mix of tropical beaches, red hot cities, and cool little towns found in Florida. It’s a recreation paradise, from eight major amusement parks to the late night clubs along Miami’s South Beach for guests of all ages. There’s even a nice bit of history in cities like St Augustine, thanks to the Spanish. Check out America’s space program at NASA’s Cape Canaveral or chase gators exploring the vast Everglades. There are few attractions you can’t do in Florida.
By far the star attractions in Florida are its beaches. The Atlantic coast has fun-loving Daytona, Ft Lauderdale, and the sizzle of Miami Beach, the Gulf side is where the real treasures lie. Islets like Sanibel Island and the city of Fort Myers are simply magical, with perfect sand and clear, calm water. Head north into the Panhandle for beaches just as nice and less touristy with standouts like St Andrews State Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore ensuring much of the shore stays protected.
Address: Florida coast
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Orlando is the vortex of kid-sized entertainment, with major amusement parks like Universal Studios, Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. But the original, and world champion of fun, is Disney World. The sheer size of Disney World is mindboggling and is essentially a self-contained city with dozens of different resorts, an inter-park monorail system, golf courses, and endless rides. Enjoy the world of Disney through its modern rides, old-fashioned carnival games, and magical residents.
Address: Disney World, 3111 World Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Florida’s main metropolis is one of the world’s top cities in terms of seaside recreation, sizzling nightlife, and cultural arts. By day, South Beach’s Lummus Park Beach is a quirky mix of beautiful sand and funky locals. After dark, its world-class club and bar scene party until the early hours. The Design District is cool, while a solid dose of Cuba is available in Little Havana. Though somewhat overhyped, Miami nearly lives up to its lofty reputation.
Address: Miami, South Florida
The Keys trickle away towards Cuba from the very southern tip of Florida. Comprised of more than 400 tiny islets running for 150 miles into the blue abyss of the Caribbean, one of America’s most scenic roads links most of this island chain. From chilled out Key Largo and Big Pine Key, to the legendary Key West at the very end of the line, these islands are a world unto themselves. As sung about by classic rockers the Beach Boys, expect an overdose of beauty in the Florida Keys.
Address: South Florida
The oldest still-inhabited European settlement in the US is this cool Gulf Coast city, founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. Unlike most of Florida’s over-the-top tourist attractions, St Augustine has genuine charisma. Its Colonial Spanish Quarter is as romantic as anything in the States, with its mossy, live oaks trees and coquina buildings. This town is the perfect complement to Florida’s romantic beaches, whether you’re a history buff or young couple looking for a private escape.
Address: Southwestern Florida
Everglades National Park
Most picture the Everglades as a gigantic swamp full of alligators. The latter is certainly true, but this majestic subtropical wild area encompasses most of southern Florida and is truly a treasure of nature. The 40-mile river at its heart is rarely more than knee deep and runs agonizingly slow. Experience the Everglades by airboats, quick little buzzing powerboats that skim the saw grass past an endless parade of wildlife, or slowly canoe through its waterways. There are also land trails that showcase another facet of this amazing national park and really should not be missed.
Address: Everglades National Park, 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
More of an adventure park than an amusement park; SeaWorld is a 200-acre marine center that manages to combine education, marine life, and fun into one quality package. The atmosphere is relaxing, even with its exciting water rides and roller coasters. The animal shows are a main highlight, as are the feeding pools that let you get very close to some friendly sea creatures.
Address: SeaWorld Orlando, 7007 SeaWorld Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
Kennedy Space Center
If you have any interest in outer space and the astronauts who have traveled there, you won’t want to miss visiting Cape Canaveral, Florida. This amazing complex is a surefire hit with the kids, but it’s no childish theme park. After its recent multimillion dollar makeover, the Space Center is as cool as ever, with IMAX films, interactive computer simulations, and loads of memorabilia. There are also a dozen real launches each year, so check the schedule to catch a liftoff.
Address: Kennedy Space Center, SR 405, FL 32899