Florida is a big state, home to many coastal mangroves, Mickey Mouse’s humble abode, and some of the most visited beaches in the country. It can be intimidating to plan a trip to a place like this, so we’ve highlighted a few things to know and places to go, 14 to be exact. Read on to learn all about Florida.
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14 Things To Know And Places To Go In Florida
1. Go to: The Keys
A string of islands stretching some 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida, The Florida Keys are known for being a super laid-back vacation spot. It’s also popular among younger adults who head to Duval Street for the countless bars and restaurants. Key West is more of an ocean activities destination, housing some of the areas best diving and snorkeling locations. Whether you’re ready to party or looking to sit back and relax with a great view of the ocean, Key West is a hotspot for tourists traveling to Florida.
2. Go to: Miami
Located on the southeastern shores of Florida, Miami and its beach are nightlife meccas. Miami gets many of its cultural influences from Cuba, and none if that is more evident than in the city’s Little Havana. The food in this area is so good, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it all these years. For a day in Miami, check out South Beach, a trendy neighborhood on the waters of the Atlantic, eat dinner at Doce Provisions, a Cuban delight, and end the night with some dancing at Coco’s Nightclub where a Long Island Ice Tea will cost you a mere $5.
3. Thing to know: Florida is incredibly hot in the summer
Florida is warm year round, and while that may sound like a beautiful thing when you’re freezing in the winter months, the summers in Florida can warm up very quickly. Keep the heat in mind when planning for your vacation. Always travel with enough water and sunscreen, as dehydration and sunburns are among the most common mistakes travelers make when visiting Florida.
4. Go to: Disney World
Your inner-child will thank you when you arrive at Disney World in Orlando. Boasting 4 theme parks and 2 water parks, this place will astonish you with how much it has to offer. Head to Epcot to experience a variety of countries and their cultures. The Magic Kingdom is home to the iconic Disney castle, while the Animal Kingdom has a real-life safari and Hollywood Studios will take you help you relive some of your favorite movies. See for yourself why Disney can call itself “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
5. Go to: Ybor City
Back in the 1880s, Ybor City was a welcoming melting pot of immigrants. The cigar industry was booming there, and was the Cigar Capitol of the World until the 1930s. When the cigar industry collapsed, the city became desolate. Today, thanks to a huge influx of artists in the 1980s, the city is making improvements and renovations left and right, but 7th Avenue, the main road through Ybor City remains the same. There is plenty to do here other than explore all the historical buildings and streets, like stop by Tampa Bay Brewing Company for a flight of beers or stroll through the Saturday Farmer’s Market, the largest continuous outdoor market in the Tampa Bay area.
6. Thing to know: be prepared to pay for parking
If you’re traveling to Disney World, you’ve probably already taken care of this through your hotel or vacation rental provider. When visiting other parts of Florida, like Miami, be prepared to shell out a little cash to park your car. The last thing you want on vacation is a parking ticket, so make sure to read all signs before parking.
7. Go to: Ana Maria Island
About halfway down the west coast of Florida is where you’ll find Ana Maria Island. The soft, white sand and stunning sunsets over the water make this place a perfect getaway in Florida. The town is quite small, so you won’t feel overwhelmed by tourists or attractions. This beach town is proud to be home to a donut shop that rivals the best of the best. Head over to The Donut Experiment where you can custom order your donut and have it made right in front of you. That’s right, your donut is hand-dipped into hot icing and coated with the toppings of your choosing, helping your morning in Ana Maria Island start off on the right foot.
8. Go to: Busch Gardens
Often overshadowed by Disney World, Busch Gardens has many attractions that make it worth visiting. Aside from shorter lines than the famous Disney World, this park has around 15 state-of-the-art thrilling roller coasters. It hosts nightly shows that adults and children can enjoy, and has animal-centered attractions unique to the park. Feed birds, watch bats sleep, and even see cheetahs run; you can’t do those things at Disney let alone many other places in the Florida. This park is the perfect place to go for entertainment for the whole family.
9. Thing to know: toll roads now operate through a SunPass
For all the driving you’ll be doing, you will undoubtedly come across a toll road or two. Florida has converted to a cashless operating system for its toll roads, so pick up a SunPass at Florida’s Welcome Center or one of many supermarkets and drug stores that also sell them. If you choose not to use a SunPass, you’ll simple arrive home from your vacation with a bill waiting for you, including a picture of your license plate that was taken on the toll roads.
10. Go to: Everglades National Park
Referred to as “The Everglades”, this National Park is truly a unique experience. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, and an international gem. The park provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind look at the habitat home to animals like the American crocodile and the Florida panther. The Everglades take up about 1.5 million acres of land in Florida, offering an outstanding place for flora and fauna, mangroves and estuaries, and marine life to reside.
11. Go to: Daytona Beach
NASCAR fans don’t need us to tell them about Daytona Beach; they already know the place. The beach hosts the Daytona 500 every year in February. If race car driving isn’t your thing, check out Daytona Beach Bandshell and catch an outdoor concert. The beach itself has some areas of hard-packed sand where folks are allowed to drive onto it. For a fancy dinner out, try Chucherias Hondurenas Restaurant where customers love the pupusas and authentic Hondurian cuisine.
12. Thing to know: there will be creatures!
Sure, Florida is known for its prolific number of alligators, but did you know the state is also home to all sorts of other animals and critters? The Diamondback Rattlesnake is native to the area, as well as armadillos, manatees, and all sorts of other little creatures. Keep your eyes peeled and you may just spot something you haven’t seen before.
13. Go to: Jupiter
We’re not talking about another planet, Jupiter, Florida is a beach town in Palm Beach County on the southeastern end of Florida. This town was named the 9th Happiest Seaside Town in America by Coastal Living in 2012, and it might have something to do with the Jupiter Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a 2.5 mile walkway that locals and visitors can walk, bike, or even roller blade on to get to different parts of the town, including the Jupiter Inlet Light. This 1860 lighthouse and museum is the first federally designated Outstanding Natural Area. The lighthouse hosts programs every month, and admission is $10 for adults and free for children. Events are also hosted on The Plaza Down Under on The Riverwalk, like the Jazz and Art Festival, which is an open-air, yet covered, space for public events and celebrations. You can get to the Harbourside Place development, the main entertainment component of The Riverwalk, the Jupiter Yacht Club, and Burt Reynolds waterfront park. It’s easy to see why Jupiter is such a happy place, so make sure to visit it on your vacation.
14. Thing to know: Florida is very flat
With the highest point in Florida a mere 345 feet, the state is not going to challenge you with inclines. This benefits tourists who come to Florida for a relaxing vacation and will most likely be doing a lot of walking. Exploring different cities will be even easier now that you know you’re not going to run into any steep hills!
This article was written by Julianne Aiello.