If you’re looking for the best things to do in Florida, then this list is for you.
The sunshine state is not only worth a visit because of those spectacular beaches. You might be surprised how many cool things there are to actually do in Florida.
From turquoise blue rivers full of manatees to castles and mansions you have to visit, here are the best things to put on your Florida bucket list.
Best Things To Do In Florida
Florida is quite a big state with a length of around 500 miles from North to South and even up to 800 miles if you’re driving from the panhandle to the keys.
There is so much to see in this beloved state but we will just highlight our top picks in no particular order.
1. Disney World
One of the most popular destinations in Florida, Disney World is at the top of the list. With over 40 square miles, the Walt Disney Resort is as big as a city.
This includes four theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. Also there are over 100 restaurants, two water parks, over 20 on-site hotels, shops, rides, and plenty of other attractions.
There is so much to do that you could spend weeks there and not get bored. If you’re planning on a longer stay, consider getting the Fastpass that lets you skip long lines.
2. The Ringling
This estate is one of the top things to do in central Florida. What was once home to John and Mable Ringling, is now a recognized state of the art museum and a highly visited attraction.
The museum has over 20 galleries displaying all of the paintings that John had collected over his lifetime. The art museum holds paintings from the renaissance and classical eras as well as paintings from more modern artists that have been added.
The gardens are beautiful as well with huge banyan trees and a rose garden with flowerbeds encircling a central gazebo.
Visiting The Ringling is one of the best things to do in Sarasota and should definitely be on your Florida bucket list.
3. St. Augustine
For those who love history, St. Augustine is worth the visit because it is the oldest city in the United States.
It showcases Spanish Colonial architecture of which the most photographed one is the Lightner Museum. It was once the Alcazar hotel and was built in 1888 by Henry Flagler.
Taking a stroll down St. George Street is also one of the best things to do in this city with the cobblestone streets adding to its historic charm. It is lined with shops, eateries and plenty of unique little places.
If you stop by the Colonial Quarter, you’ll get a glimpse of what life was like in St. Augustine centuries ago.
4. Dry Tortugas National Park
The Dry Tortugas is one of the most unique national parks in the United States. It is only accessible by plane or boat and is approximately 70 miles from Key West.
Once you reach the islands, you will be amazed by the gorgeous beaches surrounded by the bright blue turquoise water.
Whether you choose to soak in the sun on the beach, explore the fort, snorkel and dive to the shipwreck nearby or just enjoy the nature spotting as many turtles as you can.
In fact, when Ponce de Leon discovered this chain of islands, he called them Las Tortugas for the abundant number of sea turtles there. Some other wildlife you can spot are the fish and rare birds.
You can do a day trip out there or you can opt to camp out under the stars overnight. Whichever you decide, try to book months ahead since, especially for the camping, there are limited spots.
5. Devils Den
This bright blue, crystal clear, underwater spring is truly a hidden gem running under the ancient rock formations.
You can step down into the water and scuba dive or snorkel while enjoying the 72 degree water temperatures all year round.
To have an even more unique experience, you can dive into the cave at night, but you do need to be certified and book at least seven days in advance.
While in the cave, you can also see some stalactites with the help of the light shining through the opening.
They also have four cabins available to rent for overnight stay or you can park your RV or set up a tent as well.
6. Everglades National Park
In the southern part of Florida, the Everglades span over 1.5 million acres of preserved wetlands.
That makes it one of the largest national parks in the United States and it has been included as a World Heritage Site.
The area is mainly made up of mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods which are home to many different animal species.
You can walk through only a small portion of the park so to explore it more you can take a ride in an airboat. Of course, you can expect to see alligators in abundance as well as a large number of birds.
If you get lucky, you might even come across a manatee or a Florida panther.
This park is one of the most unique things to do in Florida so be sure to make it part of your Florida itinerary.
7. Siesta Key Beach
Having been named as the best beach in Florida by TripAdvisor, Siesta Key Beach has grown in popularity.
It is easy to see why, as it stands out from other beaches around it. The white, soft, silky sand is made 99% from quartz that even on the hottest days it still stays cool to the touch.
The beach itself is very wide so you’ll find yourself enjoying a little walk towards the water.
The Siesta Key Village is the perfect stop after the beach where you can find restaurants, shops, and entertainment. Check out the Siesta Key Oyster Bar or Ophelia’s on the Bay for some delicious food.
Without a doubt, Miami is one of the most popular cities in the United States, even possibly in the whole world.
Visiting this bustling city in tropical paradise should definitely be on your bucket list.
You could spend all of your time at the beaches, like the South Beach, but don’t miss exploring other incredible parts of this vibrant city too.
The Art Deco Historic District is one of the best stops for some culture and art. Many of these historic structures have now been transformed into hotels that offer luxurious views of the South Beach.
In downtown, Bayside Marketplace is the spot for scenic shopping and dining. With waterfront views, the mall is the perfect place to shop at the shops and boutiques.
9. Bok Tower Gardens
These gardens are a 250 acre garden and bird sanctuary. The founder was Edward William Bok, a successful editor and publisher, who said “Wherever your lives may be cast, make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it”, and that is exactly what the mission of the garden is.
The singing tower is the most iconic structure of the gardens standing at 205 feet tall. It perfectly reflects into the pond before it.
However, just as beautiful is the Pinewood Estate, a historical mansion in a Mediterranean style located in the gardens as well.
The gardens host events almost every day and especially around the holidays.
10. Crystal River Florida
On the Western coast of Florida, Crystal River is highly visited because it is home to one of the best places to see manatees.
The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, located in Kings Bay, is the largest year-round refuge for manatees, especially in the winter.
Three Sisters Springs are located on the Crystal River as a natural inlet on the east side of Kings Bay. It is one of the hot spots for manatees, however, there is only one access to it for kayaks, canoes, and swimmers.
Not only is this one of the best places to see manatees, the springs also are some of the bluest, crystal clear water you will see in Florida.
The best time to see manatees is in the winter, but the stunning blue rivers can be visited any time of year since they stay around 72 degrees all year long.
11. Busch Gardens
This safari style, animal theme park is one of the best places for families to visit in Florida.
You can ride roller coasters and view over 200 species of animals. They have lions and tigers, gorillas, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, penguins, and flamingos, just to name a few.
One way to view the whole park is to take a ride on the SkyRide. This is a popular gondola ride that lets you see the animals from the top.
If the park is overcrowded, consider buying a Quick Queue fast pass which allows you to jump to the front of the lines.
12. Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center sits on over 140,000 acres of land, close to Orlando. There are three types of exhibits you can see at the space center.
First you can take the bus tour which will take you all over the space center at the end of which you will be dropped off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. At the first exhibit, the Apollo/Saturn V Center, you will learn about the history of launching to space and the race to space.
The next exhibit showcases everything that has been going on in the last 30 years. The shuttle missions and the story of the shuttle Atlantis which you get to see displayed suspended as if still floating through space.
Nasa Now + Next tells of the future plans of the space discovery journey. You can easily spend the whole day at the space center while learning the amazing feat of the journey to space.
Bioluminescence is one of the world’s most mesmerizing phenomenons. It is a small organism that produces light from a chemical reaction inside the organism. It only happens in a few parts of the world and Florida is one of them.
To experience this you will need to go to the East coast. You can sometimes see a little bit of it in different parts of Florida but to really experience it, the best place to go is the Space Coast in the Indian River.
There are many tours you can take that will take you kayaking through the bioluminescent water. As you paddle, you will be able to see the water light up around you. You can even scoop your hands through it and see how the water lights up. Experiencing this is definitely one of the coolest bucket list things to do in Florida.
14. Southernmost Point
The Southernmost Point of the continental U.S. is located at the tip of the Key West island from where you are 90 miles from Cuba. It is one of the most popular things to do while in Key West.
The large concrete monument is painted into a buoy and represents the Conch Republic. You can find it at the corner of Whitehead and South St.
If you want to get a picture with it, you can expect to wait in a line. But once you do, you will be able to say you have been to the southernmost point of the continental United States.
15. Visit a Small Town
To have a rounded Florida experience, you will definitely need to visit one of the small towns in Florida.
One of the most loved towns is Mount Dora. It is located about 30 minutes northwest of Orlando and can be the perfect day trip from Orlando.
This town will transport you to old Florida where you will be surrounded by historical buildings that showcase the beauty of the older architecture.
Just because it is a small town, doesn’t mean there isn’t much to do there. There are over 30 annual festivals as well as antique shops, museums, restaurants, and of course Lake Dora where you can spend the day in nature.
16. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a beautiful Mediterranean-style mansion in Miami. It was built in the early 1900’s by Industrialist James Deering who got the architectural inspiration from an eighteenth century Italian villa.
For the time, it was built extremely modernized with generators, water filtration system, heating and ventilation, elevators, dumbwaiter, refrigerators, and a central vacuum system.
If you visit, you will find the home in a peaceful environment despite the bustling city. The gardens are European-inspired as well with hedges, statues, and fountains all perfectly manicured with a view of the sea.
To visit, you must purchase tickets online in advance which cost $25 per person. You can take a guided tour of the home and grounds to learn more about it.
17. Sunken Gardens
These botanical gardens are one of the oldest in Florida at around 100 years old. You can walk through paths surrounded by over 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.
It is a beautiful setting to spend a few hours in and enjoy the lush gardens. What makes this garden even more unique and the reason for its name is that it was built into a sinkhole 15 feet below the street level.
Amid the lush gardens and cascading waterfalls, you will also find a flock of flamingos so it is a great place to visit if you want to see flamingos while in Florida.
18. Castillo De San Marco
Castillo De San Marco is a National Monument that is over 300 years old. The fortress is the oldest and largest one within the continental U.S. and once withstood other empire forces and defended against pirate raiding.
Exploring the Spanish stone fortress will take you back into history where you will be able to see the rooms where the soldiers once lived, the courtyard and the gun deck that was a part of all the action.
The fort was preserved and named a National Monument in 1924 and it’s now part of the best things to do in St. Augustine. Entrance for adults is $15 per person.
19. Butterfly World
Being surrounded by hundreds of butterflies is being in a blissful environment and that is what Butterfly World is all about. They are trying to preserve and protect butterfly habitats all over the nation.
Butterfly World is the largest park in the United States where you will be able to explore, learn about, and interact with about 20,000 butterflies.
The park features a botanical garden, various tropical birds and a Lorikeet Encounter where you can purchase a cup of nectar and the lorikeets will eat right out of your hand.
20. Museum of Science and Discovery
This museum is fun for the whole family. The Museum of Science and Discovery has many events, exhibits and experiences for science education.
After the museum of cool shows and activities, stop by the IMAX is where you can experience an immersive viewing with the biggest screen around.
Florida is known for gators so a trip to Gatorland is one of the best things to do in Florida to see these creatures up close. You will get to feed the gators yourself but bring cash to be able to buy food.
The shows with the gators will wow you as you see the trainers feed and wrestle with the gators. As you walk around seeing all the different alligators and crocodiles in their habitats, you will see the strength and amazing features of these animals.
Apart from the main attraction of the gators, there are also birds and turtles you can interact with. For the brave, you can encounter a tarantula and snakes.
You can spend half the day in Gatorland or even the full day if you choose to do all the activities including the ziplining, having some fun in the splash pad with the kids or purchasing an extra adventure such as Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure where you will get to ride a monster vehicle named after one of their iconic gators.
Legos are some of the most loved toys in the nation so can you imagine everything surrounding you being made out of LEGOS? Well, that is what it’s like at Legoland and LEGO lovers will have a blast.
Legoland is located 45 minutes from Orlando so it is a great day trip if you are visiting the area. It is on the same grounds where the Cypress Gardens were so they have continued the tradition of a watersports show that was popular before.
This time it is LEGO themed with pirates doing the gravity-defying water stunts and a completely new fly board act that flies the pirate all the way up to 72 feet in the air.
See the Masters of Flight ride at the LEGO Movie World, travel the country in Miniland where all the iconic cities and landmarks in the USA are built out of LEGOs, and have fun at the Legoland Water Park where you can splash and play.
23. Visit A Sunflower Field
Sunflowers are the perfect flower to grow in Florida since they love the heat and grow really well in the sunshine state. There are large fields full of beautiful sunflowers and you can visit some of these fields if you’re looking for something a little different to do in Florida.
One of the best farms to visit is the Southern Hill Sunflower Farm which is located west of Orlando. You can walk around the fields for free and if you choose to bring home a sunflower or two, then they are $2 per stem.
If you are in Miami, one of the hidden gems right on the southern side of the city is the Berry Farm. In March, they have a sunflower festival where you can enjoy their sunflower maze right in Miami.
24. Swim With Dolphins
One of the top things on the Florida bucket list is swimming with dolphins and thankfully there are many places where you can do that.
If you’re traveling through the Florida Keys, definitely make sure to do this bucket list item since many of the best places to swim with dolphins in Florida are located in the keys.
One of these places is the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon. They are invested in researching and rescuing dolphins to give them the best care possible. In their program, the Dolphin Encounter, you will get to be whisked through the water while holding on to the dorsal.
Other activities include dolphin hugs and kisses and hand gestures. If you want to get behind the scenes of what its like to work with dolphins, they even have a program where you follow around a trainer all day and help them out with tasks while learning all about the dolphins.
25. Daytona 500
The NASCAR races are some of the most popular and thrilling events in the state. Grab your tickets to the Daytona 500 early to witness the iconic race that opens the season.
If you just want to visit the Daytona International Speedway you have the option to do so. There are tours that take you behind the scenes of the World Center of Racing. Out several options, the most popular is the Speedway Tour.
The tours start in the morning and run every 45 minutes until late afternoon. Tickets are sold on a first come first serve basis and include a digital photo package.
Most tours end at the Motorsports Hall of Fame where you will get to see the winning Daytona 500 car up close.
26. Venetian Pool
Starting all the way from 1923, many people have enjoyed the Venetian Pool. The pool is fed by natural spring water from an underground aquifer and is refilled every day in the summer which comes out to about 820,000 gallons.
A few features include two waterfalls, cave-like grottos, and an on-site café. The admission rate is $21 per adult and $16 per children ages 3-12.
It is the perfect way to cool off from the heat of the Miami sun and enjoy a day lounging by the water.
27. Ernest Hemingway Home
Ernest Hemingway was a writer and an American novelist. He left behind many well-known written works but the biggest things he left behind was his home and of course the cats.
The museum is open daily with an admission of $17 per adult of cash only. It is one of the best things to do in Key West.
28. Dive/Snorkel In The Keys
Getting out into the water in the keys is an experience like no other. The stunning clear blue water and the beautiful reefs make it one of the best places for snorkeling.
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo is well-known for the large statue of Jesus that you can see underwater. This is the place to scuba dive to explore all the living reefs and wildlife.
Other popular places to snorkel are Marathon Key, Key West, and the Dry Tortugas National Park. You can take excursions and snorkeling tours that will take you out to see the best places.
29. Amelia Island
Amelia Island is a little off the beaten path which makes it the perfect island to visit. It is a hidden gem that doesn’t get too much of a crowd but it is still developed enough that there are great places to stay and things to do.
Getting out into nature is one of the best things to do while on Amelia Island. The island has many hiking and biking paths and places to views wildlife.
Fernandina Beach has a long stretch of the beach where you can enjoy a day in the sun or walk down to the downtown to admire the historic buildings and stop by the shops and restaurants.
Getting out on the water whether kayaking or taking a charter boat will complete your stay. The nearby Cumberland Island is worth taking a sail to, to see the wild horses.
30. Classic Car Museum
There are a few classic car museums spread across the state, so if you are a car enthusiast it is one of the best places to visit in Florida.
Recognized as the second oldest continuously operating antique car museums, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum goes back in time with their exhibition. As you walk in, you will see the very first forms of transportation that were used.
Starting from a carriage and slowly transforming into the car as we know it today. The museum has some very rare and unique cars on display and an antique camera collection.
31. Naval Aviation Museum
This Naval Aviation Museum gives you an up-close look at many rare aircraft and delves back into aviation history. There are more than 4,000 artifacts and 150 restored aircraft.
Many of the displays are interactive so among the aircraft displays, there is a giant screen theater, flight simulators, Apollo 11 VR, Blue Angels 4D Experience, virtual flight deck, and cockpit trainers.
The Maxflight 360 Simulator gives you control of the simulated flight and lets you experience what it’s like to be in one of those flights.
The museum is open every day from 9am to 4pm except for major holidays. It is located on the Naval Air Station and requires going through a gate.
32. Seacrest Wolf Preserve
Wolves are animals you don’t see too often but they are beautiful creatures. The Seacrest Wolf Preserve is home to 22 different wolves. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to wolf and wildlife preservation.
Other than the wolves, they provide a home for a small variety of native species including foxes, raccoons, skunks, and a coyote.
For those who want to come face to face with the wolves, they provide VIP tours where you can interact with the wolves while having the park all to yourself. Their photographer will capture all of those moments for you to keep.
After you go and decide you love the wolves, you have the option to “adopt” a wolf by giving a donation after which you will receive a certificate of adoption and a picture of your adopted wolf among other things.
33. Castle Otttis
Castel Otttis is a very unique and unexpected castle in Florida. It was “Done In Remembrance of Christ” and the t’s in the name are like the three crosses.
It was built to resemble an Irish castle with the exterior and the interior of the building. The interior especially was designed to resemble an Abbey, or a Christian church, of over a thousand years ago in Ireland.
This castle is near St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, but the construction of the castle was only started in 1984. Touring the castle is by appointment only.
34. Florida Caverns
Did you know there are caverns in Florida? The Florida Caverns State Park is located in Northern Florida Northwest of Tallahassee. The caves are the wonders of limestone with stalagmites and stalactites that make up the cave system.
Tours are lit up by LED lighting so that visitors can see all of the formations. As you descend down, you will find large cave rooms as well as smaller, narrow passages. As you move from room to room, you will learn about the history and interesting geological finds.
Some animals you may encounter in the caves are bats, mice, cave crickets, salamanders, cave spiders, snakes, or frogs.
35. Ancient Spanish Monastery
The Spanish Monastery is unlike any other structure in the Miami area. This monastery that first stood in Spain, was dismantled stone by stone and shipped to the United States.
However when it got to Miami, the plans fell through and only after years of them sitting in a warehouse, the stones were purchased. Nineteen months and 20 million dollars later the monastery was put back together.
The admission is 10 dollars per adult and at the entrance you will also find a museum with more historic artifacts. Once you have admired the monastery be sure to see the courtyard and gardens that surround the site.
36. Stay On Island Resort
This luxury island resort, Little Palm Island, is the ultimate getaway resort and definitely a bucket list stay. You can only get there by boat or plane with the island being part of the Florida Keys.
Once you get there you can really unplug and enjoy the scenery and delicious food. This adults-only resort is very private so you can really enjoy this oasis.
On site is an indoor/outdoor spa that you can book to pamper yourself even more. The world-renowned cuisine is prepared by a chef who sources the seafood, spices, and produce from the islands to truly give you a taste of the islands.
You have the choice between lounging by the pool or by the beach, the Great Room which has the only TV on the island, or shop their boutique.
They have a few packages to choose from depending on your vacation goals. One includes more emphasis on dining while the other on adventure or you can choose a simple basic package with breakfast and spa credit.
37. Falling Waters State Park
Florida doesn’t have very many waterfalls but this one is an exception and it is beautiful. The water cascades down into a sinkhole which makes it the highest waterfall in the state.
Enjoy the springs and the trails by hiking or even camping surrounded by the peaceful nature.
38. Weeki Wachee
Florida’s many springs include Weeki Wachee where you will find the most mesmerizing turquoise water. As the sun hits the water, it transforms into different shades of blue and it’s beautiful to see.
One of the unique things about Weeki Wachee is that it has a mermaid show which is especially fascinating for the kids and one of the best things to do in Florida with kids. Watch the mermaid show or head over to the Bucaneer Bay where you can enjoy a waterpark right in the springs.
With so many things to do at Weeki Wachee, the best experience is getting out on the water in a kayak, you’ll be able to paddle through, see the nature, and maybe meet a few manatees along the way.
39. Neptune Memorial Reef
For those who love diving underwater and seeing the beauty beneath the surface, Neptune Memorial Reef is one of the best things to do in Florida.
It is an artificial reef created to promote coral growth in the area and overall ocean health. It is located off the coast of Miami on the Atlantic side of Florida.
The structure was inspired by the lost city of Atlantis so you will find sunken columns, statues, and roadways all creating a cool ecosystem to explore. It attracts many kinds of marine creatures so you never know what you will see.
40. Eat Delicious Seafood
Anywhere you go, you can find great restaurants that serve delicious, fresh seafood. Since seafood is so abundant in Florida, it is one of the best things to eat while you’re in the state.
In many restaurants, they will tell you which seafood is brought to the restaurant daily and what their signature dishes are.
Fresh fish and crab are some of the top choices of seafood lovers.