Florida Travel Guide

About Florida

  • Places To Visit in Florida
  • Things To Do in Florida
  • Where To Stay in Florida
  • Florida Itineraries
  • Florida Road Trips
  • Best Beaches in Florida
  • Best Theme Parks in Florida
  • Best Time To Visit Florida
  • Getting Around Florida
  • Florida Travel Tips
  • What To Pack
  • Florida Facts & Info
  • Travel Budget For Florida
Florida Aerial View Vertical Photo

Prepare for your Florida adventure like a local! From the enchanting Panhandle to the sun-kissed Keys, I’m here to spill the Sunshine State’s secrets and help you plan the ultimate Florida holiday. As a proud Floridian, I’ll share my firsthand experiences and insights with my fellow travelers in this guide.

If you are planning a Florida holiday, you’ll want the inside scoop on everything the state offers.  Discover where to stay, what to see, and how to get there.

In addition, I’ll also offer practical advice on what to pack, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the state’s varying climates, from the humid (sizzling) summers to the mild (even frost-heavy) winters.

The Best of Florida

Florida is famous for its diversity and its many cities showcase exactly what makes the state so special.

Florida Travel Sunset Palm Trees Skyline
  • Miami pulsates with vibrant nightlife and multicultural energy.
  • Orlando/Kissimmee enchants young and old alike with its world-famous theme parks. 
  • Tampa Bay offers a perfect blend of historic charm and modern attractions.
  • Daytona Beach invites visitors to its laid-back, colorful paradise atmosphere.
  • Jacksonville is known for its stunning waterfront and historical charm.

Things To Do in Florida

Florida is filled with things to do for every age. It is a vacation paradise and the perfect getaway for a weekend or a week.

  • Beaches: There are 825 miles of beaches to explore in the state of Florida.
  • Theme Parks: Home to Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, Seaworld, Universal Studies, and MORE.
  • Museums: The state is home to more than 400 museums.
  • National Parks: There are 11 National Parks to explore.
  • Historic Sites: Rich in history, there are over 1,700 sites on the National Register.
Theme parks in florida universal studios ticket

Where To Stay in Florida

From trendy South Beach hotels in Miami to cozy historic inns in Key West, Florida’s accommodations meet the needs of any traveler. Explore the chic downtown hotels in Orlando, waterfront resorts in Tampa Bay, and luxurious beachfront properties in Naples.

Skyscrapers in South Florida on the Ocean
  • Miami: The best neighborhoods in Miami are South Beach for its trendy vibe, all-night dancing, and art deco architecture, and Wynwood for its vibrant arts scene and eclectic atmosphere.
  • Orlando: Downtown Orlando is a hub of entertainment and dining, while Lake Eola Heights offers historic charm and is next to the city’s lovely lake.
  • Tampa Bay: Ybor City, known for its historic significance and lively nightlife, and Channelside, with its waterfront views and modern amenities, are the top neighborhoods in Tampa Bay.
  • Key West: Old Town Key West stands out for its picturesque streets, historic homes, and easy access to attractions like Mallory Square and Duval Street.
  • Naples: Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples is famous for its upscale shops and dining, while the Naples Pier area offers stunning beach views and a relaxing atmosphere.

Suggested Florida Itineraries

Get ready to enjoy unforgettable Florida itineraries that blend the magic of theme parks, the serenity of nature activities, and an array of fun-filled experiences. Build an itinerary that lets you explore the thrilling attractions of Orlando’s theme parks, kayak through the enchanting Everglades, or relax on the sun-drenched beaches of Miami.

  • 2-3 Days: Just enough time to scratch the surface, check out the vibrant nightlife in Miami’s South Beach, explore the art scene in Wynwood, and soak up some rays beachside
  • 3-7 Days: Set out to explore Florida’s diverse attractions, starting with the theme parks of Orlando, then head north to explore the historic charm of St. Augustine, along the way – you can even explore Cape Canaveral or Daytona Beach.
  • 7-10 Days: You’ll have time to truly immerse yourself in the best of Florida, from the adrenaline-pumping rides of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort to the scenic beauty of Naples’ beaches, or spend time soaking up the sophistication of Sarasota’s art scene.
  • 10-14+ Days: Enjoy an extended Florida vacation by taking the time to truly explore the state’s treasures, from the space exploration wonders of Kennedy Space Center to the untouched beauty of Dry Tortugas National Park, onward to the cultural diversity of Fort Lauderdale, and down to the thrilling wildlife encounters in the Florida Keys.
A picture of a map of florida

Florida Travel Tips & Advice

Let’s examine essential Florida travel tips that guarantee a smooth and memorable journey. I’ll share basic facts about the state’s diverse regions insights on the best times to visit, expected costs, what to pack for varying climates, and share some useful tips to help guide you through your Sunshine State excursion.

Florida Road Sign

Florida Facts & Info

  • Population: Approximately 21.5 million.
  • Total Area: Florida covers a total area of about 65,755 square miles.
  • Highest Elevation: The highest natural point in Florida is Britton Hill, with an elevation of 345 feet (105 meters) above sea level.
  • Capital: Tallahassee 
  • Time Zone: Florida is located in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).
  • Main Cities: Major cities in Florida include Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Fort Lauderdale.
  • Key Attractions: Florida is famous for its theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, beautiful beaches including Miami Beach and Clearwater Beach, the Everglades National Park, Kennedy Space Center, and the Florida Keys.
  • Main Airports: Miami International Airport (MIA), Orlando International Airport (MCO), and Tampa International Airport (TPA).
  • Main Hospitals: Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Cleveland Clinic Florida, and Baptist Hospital of Miami.
  • Nickname: Florida is known as the “Sunshine State.”
  • Demonym: People from Florida are called Floridians.
  • Abbreviation: FL
  • Governor: Governor of Florida is Ron DeSantis. 
  • Country: United States of America.
Perfect weather in Florida on the beach

Best Time To Visit

Best Time Overall: The best time to visit Florida is from November to April when the weather is mild, dry, and perfect for outdoor activities. There are fewer crowds, lots of events, and a reduced risk of hurricanes.

  • Spring: Spring in Florida brings mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and events like the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, making it an ideal time for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
  • Summer: Summer offers sun-soaked beach days and lively events like the Miami Spice culinary festival, attracting those seeking vibrant nightlife, water sports, kid-centric theme-park vacations, and cultural celebrations.
  • Fall: Autumn in Florida brings comfortable weather, fewer crowds, and events like Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, making it a great time for theme park enthusiasts and those looking for a quieter, enjoyable vacation experience.
  • Winter: Florida’s winter entices visitors with warm days, festive events like the Night of Lights in St. Augustine, and the chance to escape cold climates, making it a popular destination for snowbirds and holiday travelers.
Florida Trolly Bus On The Streets

Getting Around Florida

  • Airports: Major airports in Florida include Miami International Airport (MIA), Orlando International Airport (MCO), and Tampa International Airport (TPA), ensuring convenient access to various regions of the state.
  • Taxi: Taxis in Florida are readily available in urban areas and at airports, offering convenient, metered transportation to destinations. 
  • Rideshare: Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft operate widely across Florida, providing an affordable alternative to traditional taxis.
  • Buses: Florida boasts an extensive bus network, especially in urban centers, offering an economical and efficient way to travel within cities and even between some major cities.
  • Scooters: Electric scooters, available for rent through apps like Lime and Bird, in many cities and beachfronts.
  • Biking: Whether you own a bike or need to rent wheels at one of the many rental locations in Florida, the flat terrain and bike-friendly paths make cycling a breeze.  
  • Walking: Many parts of Florida, especially urban centers and beachfronts, are pedestrian-friendly offering easy access to dining and shopping.
A beautiful beach hut at sunset in Florida

Florida Travel Tips

  • Tip 1: Florida gets HOT so stay hydrated and wear sunscreen, especially during the hot and humid months. 
  • Tip 2: Plan your theme park visits strategically, arriving early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the crowds. 
  • Tip 3: Embrace local cuisine and seafood at coastal restaurants for an authentic taste of everything the state has to offer like grouper and Cuban sandwiches. 
  • Tip 4: Be mindful of wildlife and follow safety guidelines because Florida is home to alligators, pythons, bears, panthers, and even wild monkeys (non-native).
  • Tip 5: Check the weather forecast and pack layers, as Florida’s climate can change quickly so it’s wise to be prepared for sudden rain showers or cooler evenings.

Costs & Budget

  • Budget ($100-$150): Traveling on a budget in Florida typically means spending around $100-$150 per day, allowing for affordable accommodations, dining at casual restaurants, and enjoying various low-cost or free sites and activities. 
  • Midrange ($200-$400): Midrange travelers can expect to spend between $200-$400 per day, which provides comfortable accommodations, dining at a mix of mid-range and upscale restaurants, and the opportunity to enjoy popular attractions.
  • Top-End ($500 plus): For travelers seeking a premium experience, a top-end budget in Florida can range from $500 and above per day, allowing for lavish accommodations, fine dining experiences, exclusive tours, and access to high-end entertainment/activities

What To Pack

  • Lightweight Clothing: Pack lightweight, breathable clothing (a jacket in the winter) to meet the changing weather of the state. 
  • Sun Protection: Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong Florida sun(there are reasons why they call it the Sunshine State).
  • Nice Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are essential for exploring cities, parks, and attractions. 
  • Water Bottle: Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day; many public places in Florida have water refill stations for your convenience.
  • Umbrella: A compact umbrella is handy, as Florida weather can be unpredictable, and sudden afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Safety in Florida

When traveling in Florida, it’s essential to prioritize your health and safety. Florida is home to several reputable hospitals and healthcare facilities, especially in major cities like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Therefore, take the time to familiarize yourself with the locations of these hospitals in advance. 

While Florida is generally a safe destination for tourists, it’s wise to avoid certain neighborhoods, especially at night, in cities like Miami and Orlando. Exercise caution in crowded areas and keep your belongings (passport, purse, wallet) secure to prevent petty theft. In addition, be aware of common scams, such as fake tour operators or overpriced attractions. 

Alligators are a natural part of Florida’s landscape so it’s crucial to keep a safe distance and adhere to warning signs near water bodies. Shark attacks are rare but can occur; paying attention to lifeguard warnings and beach flags can minimize risks. Also, be cautious about waterborne illnesses, such as amoebas in warm freshwater lakes and rivers; avoiding nasal contact with water.

Crime Rates By State (Graphic By: Wisevoter.com)
Crime Rates By State (Graphic By: Wisevoter.com)

Florida Travel FAQs

Take the time to read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section to find essential travel tips and insider insights.

What is the best time to visit Florida? 

The best time to visit Florida is from November to April when the weather is mild, and there are fewer crowds.

What are the must-visit attractions in Florida?

Some must-visit attractions include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, the Florida Keys, Miami Beach, and the Everglades.

What is the legal drinking age in Florida?

The legal drinking age in Florida is 21 years old.

Is it safe to swim in Florida beaches due to sharks and alligators?

Yes, it’s normally safe to swim, but always follow beach safety guidelines, pay attention to warning flags on the beach, and avoid swimming in areas known for alligators or sharks.

What should I pack for my Florida trip?

Pack lightweight clothing, a jacket, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

Are there any specific health concerns in Florida, like mosquitoes or waterborne diseases?

Yes, Florida does have mosquitoes, so use a repellent (especially in the evening hours). In warm freshwater areas, be cautious of amoebas; avoid any nasal contact with water.

Which cities are best for family vacations in Florida?

Orlando and Tampa are known for their theme parks, along with family-friendly beach destinations like Clearwater, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, and Naples.

Is it necessary to rent a car in Florida?

Renting a car is a must-have for exploring beyond major cities, but within cities, public transportation and rideshare services are available.

What is the tipping etiquette in Florida?

Tipping around 15-20% of the total bill is customary in all restaurants, and tipping hotel staff and taxi drivers is also very welcome.

What are some local delicacies I must try in Florida?

Try key lime pie, Cuban sandwiches, seafood (especially grouper and stone crab), and conch fritters.

Map of Florida

Below you’ll find our custom map of Florida that includes some places we highly recommend that you visit. Click the map below to zoom and interact with the map.

Meet Our Florida Experts

At Goats On The Road, our writers are always natives or experts on the places they write about, and Florida is no different. Our team has lived, traveled, and visited Florida for decades combined, and they share their knowledge, travel tips, and experiences in Florida here on the blog.

Ashley Fike Authors Bio Picture

Ashley Fike

Local of Jacksonville, Florida

Ashley Fike is a travel writer and local of Jacksonville, Florida where she travels around the entire state of Florida on her own, and with friends and family. Having lived in the state her entire life and showing people around for much of it, she has a unique perspective of things to do and places to visit in Florida.

Kimberly Sharpe in front of christmas lights in Florida

Kimberly Sharpe

Local of Ocala & Daytona Beach, Florida

Kimberly is a local of Ocala Florida and is a local of Daytona Beach, Gainesville, and other cities near her home town where she’s both lived and traveled extensively in the past 30 years. She spends most of her time in Daytona Beach and her hometown of Ocala, but also loves Sarasota for the coastal vibe.

Nicola Curtis writer bio photo

Nicola Curtis

Local of Tampa, Florida

Nicola has spent a considerable amount of time traveling around the state of Florida, and she lived in both Orlando and Tampa for an extended period of time. She enjoys taking tours and eating at as many different restaurants as she can while she’s traveling and living in different destinations around the US and the world.

Molly McGuigan Author's Bio

Molly McGuigan

Local of Florida & Disney Employee

Molly has lived in Orlando, Florida since 2010 when she moved to the city to participate in the Disney College Program. She discovered that the Sunshine State has much more to offer than just its world-renowned theme parks. From stunning beaches to charming historic cities, Molly fell in love with Florida.

Florida Travel Blog Posts

Below you’ll find all of our blogs about traveling in and around Florida including things to do in each city, national parks to visit, the best beaches and so much more.