Looking for the Best Florida Vacation Spots in 2023? You have come to the right place.
Florida has a lot of exciting places to visit. From sleepy coastal towns to world class theme parks, you can just about find it all. We have rounded up the 30 best places to visit in Florida so you can start planning your next trip.
We have included everything from the best beach towns in Florida, to the best places to go for cool cities and nature and springs.
30 Florida Vacation Spots – Best Places to Visit in 2023
About an hour’s drive south of Tampa, you will find the picturesque town of Sarasota, Florida. We love the beaches, shopping, and restaurants here, and you will find plenty of cultural activities as well. It is without doubt one of the best places to visit in Florida.
Sarasota is home to the Ringling Museum of Art because the Ringling Brothers had a winter home here. Sarasota’s beaches have beautiful sand and shallow, emerald green waters.
It is on the Gulf of Mexico, so you are bound to get lots of sun year round. Apart from beaches, we love the Big Cat Habitat Sanctuary, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and the Saturday Farmers Market.
St. Petersburg, also known as the Sunshine City, is a part of Tampa Bay and definitely one of the best Florida vacation spots if you love culture in a city. You can find the world famous Dalí Museum here, as well as the Florida Orchestra.
We love eating and drinking our way through St. Petersburg, as you can find some of the most fresh seafood in all of Florida right here.
You can connect with wildlife at the Sunken Gardens or just stroll down downtown St. Petersburg to get a feel of local life here. The Sunken Gardens is home to over 50,000 different kinds of plants, making it a really neat family friendly attraction and a hidden gem in Florida.
We could not forget Key West when compiling a list of our favorite places to visit in Florida. The southernmost point of the Continental U.S. has incredible beaches, incredible culture, and festivals throughout the year to keep you entertained.
Key West is only 90 miles north of Cuba, so it feels as though you are in a different country when you are walking around.
We recommend stopping by the Ernest Hemingway House in between beach visits. You can also take a ferry to the Dry Tortugas National Park, which is a fun day trip filled with lots of history.
The town has, on average, 280 days of sunshine annually. This makes it not only a great beach destination, but a great spot for those who love to golf or participate in water sports.
We love grabbing a bite to eat at the Celebration Food Truck Park, made perfect with board games, proximity to the beach, and water views. We also recommend watching the sunset on the Naples Pier. We promise it will be unforgettable.
Miami Beach is an island connected to mainland Miami and home to gorgeous beaches and incredible dining and nightlife.
Southern Miami Beach, also known as South Beach, is frequented by many celebrities and features brightly colored buildings and vibrant experiences. You can find all kinds of art galleries, designer shopping, world class dining, and fascinating museums.
We recommend checking out the Art Deco Historic District, the Boardwalk, and strolling down Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive. Mainland Miami also has plenty to offer, from Wynwood Walls to Downtown. You can find some of the best Cuban food outside of Cuba here in Miami and Miami Beach, so be sure to try out as many restaurants as you can.
If you feel like a roadie from Miami, one of the best trips to take is the drive from Miami to Key West.
A small island near Fort Myers, Florida, Sanibel Island is home to the Sanibel lighthouse and a large National Wildlife Preserve. It is thought to be one of the best places for shelling in Florida as it has seriously amazing beaches.
The Preserve has over 230 different species of birds and plenty of hiking and trails for a day of active family fun. We recommend stopping by the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, which has over 30 exhibits on shells, including some of the largest and most rare in the entire world.
There are also aquarium exhibits with live mollusks. After the Shell Museum, head over to the Historical Village with 10 buildings, some of which date back to 1896. This village and museum will teach you all about the history of Sanibel Island, making it a must see.
Only a 40 minute drive north of Miami is Fort Lauderdale, which is best known for its beaches and canals. Also known as the Venice of America, you can take a gondola ride throughout the canals for a unique experience.
Downtown Fort Lauderdale is a great place to walk through, shop, and grab some coffee or a bite to eat. The River Arts and Entertainment District has galleries, museums, and performance centers if you’d like to grab a show while you are in town.
One of our favorite things to see in Fort Lauderdale is the 60 acre botanical and flamingo gardens. You can find everything from alligators to bobcats and exotic plants. Spend a day strolling through the gardens and learning more about Florida’s rich wildlife.
Cocoa Beach is located near Orlando and is south of Cape Canaveral. Its proximity to Cape Canaveral is ideal for those who want to venture to the Kennedy Space Station while getting beach time.
Cocoa Beach also has some relatively calm waters that still have waves, which makes it a great place to learn how to surf.
The Cocoa Beach Pier and Boardwalk is over 800 feet long and is filled with restaurants and shops. You can find all sorts of watersports here: kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, and more.
Clearwater Beach has great watersports along a beautiful, white sandy beach. You can find jet skiing, paddleboarding, and parasailing.
The waters here are famously calm, which makes watersports even more fun. There is a beachfront promenade that is perfect for those that want to ride their bike or skate and soak in the fresh air.
You can find some great seafood restaurants and cafes, as well as a sunset festival that has performances and local vendors. There is also a Marine Aquarium if you want to learn about dolphins and other marine life. We highly recommend relaxing on the beach and enjoying the waters of the Gulf Coast.
St. Augustine is known for being the oldest city in the United States, originally discovered by the Spanish and later developed into a colony.
We recommend visiting the Anastasia State Park and the Castillo de San Marcos. This 17th century fortress transports you back in time and helps you understand the rich history of St. Augustine. There are all sorts of museums here in St. Augustine, from Pirate and Treasure to American Gilded Age Antiques.
You can find more than 42 miles of sandy beaches along this part of the Atlantic Ocean. Take a guided tour of the Colonial Quarter to feel like you’ve stepped into the Spanish Settlement.
Close to Naples, Marco Island is a barrier island famous for its beaches and Tigertail Beach Park. Marco Island is said to have some of the best beaches in the entire world, great accommodation and the water looks exactly like the Caribbean.
You can find lots of kayaking and paddleboarding here, as well as some great breweries and restaurants. If you like to fish, Marco Island is your place.
You can find inshore, offshore, and deep water fishing on the island and grab everything from sea trout to king mackerel. The boardwalk at the Nature Center has seven habitats of the local ecosystem on display.
One of our favorite cities in the Florida panhandle, Destin is known for its beaches and golf courses. We love the many dolphin watching opportunities and dolphin tours.
Check out the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park if you and your family want the chance to interact with aquatic mammals. You can interact with and learn about dolphins, stingrays, turtles, and alligators. The Emerald Waters of Destin make it a popular vacation spot for many around the country.
If the kids love adventure, head over to Big Kahuna’s Water Park. The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is home to plenty of restaurants, shops, parasailing and boating opportunities, and even a Seafood Festival.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is probably best known for being one of the top spring break destinations in the country. However, there are still plenty of family friendly activities to keep everyone entertained.
Pier Park is an outdoor mall with over 120 stores, so be sure to stop by if you want to do some shopping while on your next vacation.
We love Shipwreck Island for the kids if you want to add a waterpark to your beach trip. You can also visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not or WonderWorks for a fun and silly museum experience.
Key Largo is in the upper Florida Keys, only a short drive from Miami. You can find plenty of wildlife, great beaches, sporting and outdoor activities here.
Check out the Coral Reef State Park or the nearby Everglades National Park to connect with nature. Then, go paddleboarding, snorkeling, or fishing for a relaxing and active vacation.
We love glass-bottom boating for a unique experience in the Keys. Key Largo has some of the best sunsets we have ever seen, so grab a drink at one of the many incredible Key Largo restaurants and watch the sun go down over paradise.
Islamorada is home to six of the Florida Keys between Key Largo and Key West. Islamorada is famous for its coral reefs, beaches, snorkeling, and diving. The calm, emerald green waters provide a special escape between the hustle and bustle of Miami and Key West.
There are plenty of trails, shipwrecks, and mangroves here. We recommend finding a dolphin show or a restaurant with live music.
If you want to learn more about the history of the Florida Keys, go to the History and Discovery Center. The Theater of the Sea has dolphin and sea lion shows daily.
Everglades National Park
This 1.5 million acre wetland preserve is located south of Miami. These coastal mangroves, marshes, and flatwoods are home to a diverse and thriving ecosystem filled with hundreds of animal species. You can find the leatherback turtle, Florida panther, and West Indian Manatee along with of course the alligator.
This park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the entire country. The habitat is crucial for many endangered species. It is also the third largest park in the continental United States.
You can spend the day kayaking, hiking, fishing, bird watching, slough slogging, and boating. We would highly recommend taking an Everglades airboat tour while you are there. You are sure to see something new every time you visit the park.
You can fill your time in Fort Myers with a lot of different excursions. Fort Myers is home to everything from world class museums to MLB Spring Training. If you love the outdoors as much as we do, you’re in luck. Spend a day with your partner at Lovers Key State Park.
If you are traveling solo or in a group, you can hop over to Captiva Island, home to two and a half miles of gorgeous beaches.
There are also plenty of wildlife refuges within a short drive, which are worth checking out. You can also visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates to learn more about important American figures. The River District is home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and cultural centers that make Fort Myers what it is.
Amelia Island, also known as the Isle of Eight Flags, is a great holiday destination for those wanting to stay on the Atlantic side of Florida.
Walk around downtown Fernandina Beach to see some historic buildings, eat some delicious food, and find some fun cocktails. The longest operating saloon in all of Florida is here on Amelia Island, named Palace Saloon.
There are a variety of festivals throughout the year that are worth visiting for, including Blues Festival, Jazz Festival, and Cookie Tour.
If you are visiting Boca Raton, you have to check out the Red Reef Park to visit the butterfly garden and sea turtle sanctuary.
While at the park, head to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center to see iguanas, turtles, and sharks. If you need somewhere to let the kids run around and play, go to the Sugar Sand Park, where you will find a playground, carousel, and plenty of walking trails.
You can find everything from spas to pamper yourself to the Museum of Art to experience some great American and European culture in Boca Raton. If you want to shop, head to Mizner Park, which has a wide variety of stores and restaurants for any budget.
If you are visiting Orlando, you have to experience Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. These world famous theme parks provide days and days of entertainment for people of all ages. If you have young children, check out Cinderella’s Castle.
If you are an adult couple, you can drink your way through the world in Epcot. There really is something for everyone at the parks, and we think it makes Orlando worth visiting all by itself. However, you can find plenty more to do in Orlando outside of the parks, from Seaworld to other museums and incredible dining after dark in Orlando including the awesome sushi restaurants!
Orlando is one of our favorite cities to visit in Florida because of the wide variety of attractions and opportunities for all interests.
Jacksonville is the most populous city in all of Florida, so you are sure to find lots of things to keep you entertained during your vacation.
The Jacksonville Zoo has 2,400 animals and 1,000 kinds of plants. If you want a tiger specific experience, go to the Catty Shack Ranch to support an organization that wants to rescue tigers from inhumane activity.
The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is the largest single-lens planetarium in the country. If you are in town on a Saturday, go to the Riverside Arts Market to support local vendors with live music and food trucks.
Tampa is a large city on the Gulf Coast side of Florida, famous for its beaches and cultural activities. If you are a thrill seeker, you will love Busch Gardens with plenty of rides and animal viewing areas so keep the whole family entertained. Just sitting in the Tampa Theater is a treat, but it is even better when you see a show.
For a unique experience, visit the Tampa Bay Downs, which is one of the only places for horse racing in this area. If you feel like a unique weekend activity there are some great springs near Tampa which are well worth checking out.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park has coral reefs, a mangrove forest, and islands in the Florida Keys. Dolphins, turtles, pelicans, and many other mammals call Biscayne National Park and Lagoon home.
You can only get to the park by boat, but we highly recommend the journey. You can find a lot of dive sites filled with shipwrecks and reefs that are worth exploring. You can also find a lighthouse and museum teaching about the local ecosystem.
Dry Tortugas National Park
One of the best places to go in Florida is certainly Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles outside of Key West, and only reachable by boat. You can find a 19th century fort and snorkeling here at the park, along with a variety of different birds.
The boat ride to the park is about two hours, so plan on spending the day here exploring the coral reefs and taking in the great views.
Daytona Beach is probably most famous for the annual Daytona 500 NASCAR race, but is also home to some great beaches and culture.
In the summer, head over to the Daytona Beach Bandshell for free concerts. Near the beach you can also find a waterpark with go karts, laser tag, and waterslides. The nearby town of New Smyrna Beach is also worth checking out if you have the time.
Cape Canaveral is known for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Cape was actually originally called Cape Kennedy, but was renamed to Cape Canaveral in 1973.
Only a short drive from Orlando, you can learn about all things NASA and even watch a rocket launch, if you’re lucky.
Ocala National Forest – one of the best Florida Vacation Spots for nature lovers
North of Orlando is Ocala National Forest, which is known for its natural springs, natural pools, and lakes. It is about 673 square miles with a variety of trails.
You can find all sorts of sporting activities, from horseback riding to swimming or mountain biking. There are no entrance fees, which makes it a great free activity to connect with nature. Note there is a small fee to enter into the stunning natural springs in the forest which are well worth doing. Some of the best springs to visit in the Ocala Forest include Alexander Springs and Silver Springs State Park.
One of the most unique places to visit in Florida.
Tallahassee is the capital of Florida and hosts many fun activities. We recommend stopping by the Bradley’s Country Store, which has been owned and operated by the same family since 1927.
The Cascades Park is in downtown Tallahassee and is fun day and night. During the day you can wander through the trails, but at night, catch a performance by the Southern Shakespeare Company.
Home to the University of Florida, Gainesville is a college town with lots to do. We recommend the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Butterfly Rainforest.
If you are visiting during football season, you cannot miss a game at UF. Check out the numerous parks, museums, and lakes throughout the city for free family fun. There are also lots of great restaurants in Gainesville as it is a bit of a foodies paradise as well as great breakfast and brunch spots.
About an hour and a half northwest of Orlando and north of Tampa is Crystal River, a small coastal town famous for its National Wildlife Refuge which shelters manatees throughout the year in the Three Sisters Springs. It is probably the best place to see manatees in Florida.
There is also an archaeological state park on land from an early Native American settlement. While you can find sandy beaches here, we recommend checking out the amazing wildlife and snorkeling opportunities that are unique to Crystal River.
You can find shark fishing and even swim or kayak with the manatees here. Crystal River has beautiful sunsets and exemplifies what it means to be the Nature Coast of Florida.
Things to do in Florida at the end of the day…
Florida is an amazing state known for its great weather, beaches, attractions, and culture and good vacation spots. Cities throughout the state have a variety of world class museums, sporting venues, and theme parks.
We love traveling throughout Florida and taking in the best of each of the cities we have reviewed. Whether you want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios or grab a Cuban sandwich in Miami, you can find just about anything and plenty of fun places to vist in the Sunshine State.