Florida is the perfect destination for those searching for sunshine, beaches, natural beauty, and culture. The Sunshine State is known for its beautiful weather that makes a trip to the beach perfect all year round.
Even if you don't want to go to the beach or visit a theme park, you can pick from a range of educational and entertaining attractions, such as visiting NASA centers, scuba diving, or even looking at forts that are centuries old.
Fishing, golfing, and hiking are just some of the outdoor adventures visitors to Florida enjoy. This list of the top 20 attractions in Florida can help you plan your perfect vacation.
|Table of Contents [Show]|
Walt Disney World is easily one of the top tourist attractions in Florida. Originally built to supplement Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, this Florida theme park has become the flagship for the Disney theme park empire around the world.
The sprawling complex encompasses multiple theme parks, golf courses, water parks, and hotels and has attracted more annual visitors than any other park of its kind.
The iconic Cinderella's Castle marks the Magic Kingdom, and a massive geodesic dome stands at the entrance of EPCOT, a planned community of the future. Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom round out the theme parks included in this epic Florida wonderland.
Address: 1180 Seven Seas Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Universal Studios Orlando is another one of the biggest attractions in Florida for families. This theme park brings the magic of the movies to real life. Blockbuster films like Jaws, Twister, Terminator, and Transformers are all reimagined as rides, often featuring the original stars to add authenticity to the experience.
Since Universal is a working studio, its films are the ones most well represented, although it has licensed out other popular titles like Ghostbusters and Shrek.
There are also actors dressed as various famous movie stars and characters roaming different areas of the park at any given time, including Marilyn Monroe, Sideshow Bob Optimus Prime.
Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
South Beach, the southern end of Miami Beach, has the distinction of being the oldest section of town. It rests between Biscayne Bay and the the Atlantic Ocean. Since its beginning in the early 20th century, it has changed in appearance due to increased development and the ever present danger posed by hurricanes.
Its vast array of Streamline Moderne art deco architecture landed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The beach features a variety of parks and cultural destinations, including the Miami Holocaust Museum and the World Erotic Art Museum Miami.
Address: Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Also Read: Top 10 Most Popular Beaches in Florida
Space enthusiasts flock to this center to take in the groundbreaking history of America's space program. Visitors marvel at the restored Saturn V launch vehicle, which was the method of getting astronauts into space during NASA's Apollo era, as well as the two launch pads and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
The Space Mirror Memorial is a black granite slab inscribed with the names of astronauts who have given their lives in pursuit of space exploration.
There are also exhibits detailing the very beginnings of the space program, videos that show behind the scenes glimpses of Mission Control, and the Rocket Garden, featuring different rockets used throughout the space program's history.
Address: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32899
Also Read: Top 10 Space and Aviation Museums in the USA
Key West is both a city and the island on which the city is built. Many U.S. Presidents have come to the island, including Truman, Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Carter. The Key West Historic District in the city's Old Town features many attractions like an aquarium, a tropical garden, and the armory.
Ernest Hemingway's house still stands here, complete with a pack of cats descended from his original pet. The famous playwright Tennessee Williams is said to have written a first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire while staying here.
Address: Key West, FL 33040
Kids and adults love to visit the vast array of aquatic life on display here. From the Dolphin Theatre to the Manta roller coaster, SeaWorld Orlando makes learning about the ocean's marine life a fun and engaging experience. Dolphins, pelicans, turtles, flamingos and manatees reside in the Sea of Shallows.
The Sea of Legends brings nautical tales of fancy to life, including the lost city of Atlantis and the mythical Kraken. The Sea of Power is arguably the most famous attraction, featuring the park's celebrity performing orcas.
Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
Busch Gardens Tampa is the ultimate animal theme park with 335 acres of land and more than 2,700 animals. Over time it began to incorporate more rides and entertainment options, making it a family-friendly destination. While Busch Gardens locations exist elsewhere, this location features African themed rides, decorations, and animals in its wildlife area.
Although no longer operated by Anheuser Busch, the park retains a stable of Clydesdales as a hat tip to its beer related origins. When you're here you can enjoy thrilling roller coaster rides, shows, animal exhibits, adventure safari tours, and various kid friendly attractions.
Address: 10165 N Malcolm McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612
Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Tampa, Florida
This masonry fort was built in 1672, when Florida was still under the rule of Spain, making it the oldest in the continental United States. The fort was so strong that it withstood two sieges by the British.
Over the course of its long and storied history, it has been under the control of Spain, Britain, the United States, and the Confederate States during the Civil War when Florida seceded from the Union. Spain, Britain, and the U.S. have all controlled it twice, as treaties were made and territories exchanged.
Address: 1 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, FL 32084
The reason for the naming of this town is, pardon the expression, very clear. The water is a brilliant cerulean blue, beckoning visitors to the area's white sand beaches for hours of oceanside relaxation.
Pier 60 entices visitors with a playground, a snack bar, and street performers and musical acts when the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico. The Beach Walk features showers for sand covered beachgoers, drinking fountains, and various watering holes.
Address: Clearwater, FL 33767
This national park is the third largest in the country, after Yellowstone and Death Valley. The park was established in 1934 when development of the South Florida sealine threatened the vitality of the area. More than just a wildlife refuge, the park was the first of its kind to protect an entire ecosystem.
Many of the animals inhabiting the park are endangered or threatened, like the American crocodile, the Florida panther, various types of turtles, the Cape Sable sparrow, the Schaus swallowtail butterfly, the wood stork and the West Indian manatee.
Address: 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
Also Read: What to Pack When Going to a National Park
You’ll find the Sea Islands Chain off the northeastern coast of Florida. The chain includes several islands, the most popular being Amelia Island, the southernmost island in the chain.
Amelia Island is a popular tourist attraction for events, festivals, and vacation.
It’s a small island but has plenty of things to see and do for tourists. Discover the rich history of Amelia Island in the Amelia Island Historic District or explore the lush nature in the Amelia Island State Park.
The island features a lot of infrastructures to support tourism since it hosts over half a million visitors every year. Visitors can stay at beautiful beachfront hotels and have easy access to the top beaches like American Beach or Fernandina Beach.
Amelia Island attracts lots of people around the year to several festivals and events. The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is one of the biggest festivals. It also features music festivals dedicated to jazz and blues.
Address: Amelia Island, FL
Daytona Beach Florida is home to the Daytona International Speedway. It’s owned and operated by NASCAR, hosting the sport’s premier race – the Daytona 500.
The Daytona 500 race moved from a road track to Daytona International Speedway when it opened in 1959. Every year, the annual event hosts over 100,000 fans and race car enthusiasts to see the biggest event in the NASCAR sport.
The multi-million dollar track features an oval race track extending 2.5-miles long - cars race 200 laps to complete the 500-mile race in the Daytona 500. The race happens every February, featuring lots of build-up around the event at the racetrack in the week before.
The Daytona International Speedway also hosts several other races and leagues, including Motocross and Superbike. The versatile racetrack alters the course from the standard oval to incorporate twists and turns within it.
Address: 1801 W International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Key West is the southernmost point in the US – Duval Street is the most famous street in the city. It runs for more than a mile between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It starts at the Mallory Square waterfront and ends near a buoy signifying the tip of the US.
Duval Street is a diverse street, quickly transitioning from residential to a commercial area. On one end, you’ll find historic Victorian mansions; on the other end, you’ll find the tourist hub lined with souvenir shops and street vendors.
It’s the most popular destination in Key West, where you’ll find a variety of boutique shops, art galleries, outlet stores, restaurants, and bars. It’s the perfect place for bar-hopping - one of the popular activities on the street is the Duval Pub Crawl. There are also live music venues.
Throughout the year, the street hosts festivals, parades, and other events.
Address: Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040
The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg features the largest collection of artworks from Salvador Dalí outside of Europe. The museum has over 1,500 works of art, including seven of the 18 “masterworks,” the most of any museum.
Dalí is a world-renowned Spanish artist known for his surrealist art style. The museum initially opened in 1982, started by collectors. It relocated into a new building in 2011, designed in a surrealist architecture style to reflect the artist.
Some of the most famous masterpieces in the museum include The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and The Hallucinogenic Toreador. The museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions showcasing a variety of the artist’s works (and works of similar artists).
Visitors can enjoy the museum experience with guided tours or audio tours. It also features an AI Dalí experience. The building includes an extensive museum library with multimedia of Dalí, catalogs, volumes, and more.
Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are housed in the Vizcaya villa and estate. It belonged to the notable executive, James Deering, who built his fortune in the agriculture industry. The estate was built in the early 20th century in Biscayne Bay in Miami.
Today, the estate is open to the public as the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Visitors can explore the wealth and opulence of the villa and surrounding grounds.
The museum features 70 rooms filled with antiques, art, ceramics, and decorative furniture collected by Deering. The experience offers audio guides and private tours to learn more about each room.
Visitors can also tour the property’s 50 acres of villa gardens, designed in an Italian Renaissance style. The gardens surround the house and include fountains and man-made ponds.
The villa is known for its beauty and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a popular venue for events, weddings, and pop culture media.
Address: 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
The National Naval Aviation Museum is one of the premier tourist attractions in Pensacola, FL., located on the local Naval Air Station. The museum is dedicated to former military and aerospace with a mission to preserve and showcase its history.
Exhibitions in the museum include former serviced aircraft used by the US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the US Coast Guard. It features more than 4,0000 memorabilia and artifacts. There are also displays of over 150 retired aircraft formerly used. The exhibitions are showcased across indoor and outdoor space.
In addition to the exhibitions, the museum also includes an IMAX theatre, a flight simulator, a 4D experience, a store, and a café. One of the most exciting attractions at the museum is the practice demonstrations of the aircraft by trained professionals.
It also features the National Flight Academy on the grounds for student programs.
Address: 1878 S Blue Angel Pkwy, Pensacola, FL 32508
Get ready for some all-day fun at the Discovery Cove in Orlando. Discovery Cove is a sister park to SeaWorld, who owns and operates the park. The highlight attraction at the park is the various dolphin experiences.
All ages are welcome to enjoy an up-close experience with bottlenose dolphins. There are lots of activities, including swimming and playing with the dolphins or viewing one of the shows.
Discovery Cove also includes other attractions, including the free-flight aviary and the Grand Reef. The aviary consists of more than 250 tropical and exotic bird species.
The Grand Reef is the latest addition to the park, where visitors can walk on the reef floor. The reef has an abundance of marine life such as sharks, eels, and tropical fish. Some of the favorite activities include snorkeling and walking across the rope bridge suspended over a shark lagoon.
Cool off from the Florida sun at the discovery Cove beach and Tropical River.
Address: 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821
Often called Florida’s Stonehenge, the Coral Castle is a popular attraction filled with mystery. The castle is near the city of Homestead, where visitors flock to witness the construction wonder of the castle. It was built in 1920 by Edward Leedskalnin.
The most significant appeal of the attraction is how Leedskalnin built the castle on his own and without modern technologies. The property features a castle structure made from oolite limestone, megalithic stones, and coral limestone. Stones form the castle tower, walls, furniture, and other structure on the grounds.
With each stone weighing several tons, the castle’s architecture leaves it up to the visitor to wonder how it was done. No additional materials were used in holding the stones in place and connected using precise design.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the castle grounds to learn more about the history of Leedskalnin and the supposed legend of creating it using supernatural powers.
Address: 28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33033
In case the Everglades National Park gets crowded, an alternative is the Big Cypress National Preserve, located adjacent to the park. The nature preserve was one of the first national preserves established in the US in 1974. Today, it attracts over one million visitors to experience the preserve’s biodiversity.
The landscape of the Big Cypress National Preserve includes wet cypress forests of mangrove and pine trees. It also contains swamps and other wetlands.
The diverse ecosystem is home to lots of animal species. Some of the common animals to see in the preserve include alligators, crocodiles, snakes, Florida Panther, dee, black bears, and cougars. It also has an abundance of bird species.
Visitors enjoy the park for hiking, camping, swamp walks, canoeing, and hunting. Hiking trails are well-marked, and it has a dozen designated campgrounds for overnight stays.
The preserve’s visitor center is a great starting point for trail locations and information about things to see and do in the park.
Address: 33100 Tamiami Trl E, Ochopee, FL 34141
WonderWorks Orlando is a popular location of the entertainment center chain. WonderWorks features locations all around the US, built for education and entertainment for the whole family.
The first noticeable thing about the site is the upside-down building housing the museum. The center includes hands-on exhibitions, brain challenges, and other fun, interactive activities. Some of the unique things to do at WonderWorks Orlando are feeling the force of hurricane winds, experience the tremors of an earthquake, or play virtual sports.
Many of the activities and experiences are based on the themes of space, physics, and math. The center divides each experience into various sections, such as Natural disasters, Space Discovery, and an Imagination Lab.
The location also includes laser tag, rope courses, and a magic show.
Address: 9067 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Also Read: Orlando, Florida Top 10 Attractions