25 Best Things To Do in Florida (By a Local)

Ashley Fike Authors Bio Picture

If there was ever a state with an endless list of fun activities and outings, it would be the Sunshine State. I’ve lived here for a year now, and I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg of things to do in Florida. Every city in this state has something unique and interesting to offer.

I’ve been visiting Florida since I was a kid, and I love everything about it here. I’ve been living in Florida for a year now and I can tell you that the sunshine, the beaches, and the experiences are unlike any other place I’ve visited. It’s the perfect destination for families, couples, solo travelers, and adventurers.

The options for fun things to do in Florida can seem overwhelming, but, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

SEE ALSO: 15 Travel Tips for Florida (By a Local)

Best Things To Do in Florida

When planning your next trip, these are the top things to add to your Florida itinerary:

1. Ride an Airboat in the Everglades

airboat ride

Whenever I have friends or family come to visit for the first time, one of the main activities I always suggest doing together is taking an airboat tour in the Everglades. It’s such a blast skimming across the shallow waters at speed while catching sight of some of Florida’s most famous wildlife.

The most well-known Everglades are in southern Florida, but many people might not know that there are Everglades in central Florida too. Whichever destination you choose, it’s a guarantee that you’ll make a lifetime memory.

Find out more about your airboat tour here.

2. Swim in Devil’s Den

Three divers at the Devils Den Spring

One of Florida’s most beautiful hidden gems is Devil’s Den. Although the name sounds a little sinister, this magical place is truly one of my favorite places in the entire state.

This underground spring is 120 feet across and has a depth of 54 feet. The gorgeous pool is a destination that entices divers, snorkelers, and campers from across the world. What’s cool about this place in particular is that it’s one of North America’s most prehistoric springs.

If you’re going to do anything during your trip, make sure you visit Devil’s Den during your Florida stay. Click here for directions.

3. Visit the Kennedy Space Center

View of the rocket garden at Kennedy space center

What’s cooler than visiting the very spot where rockets launch into space? One of the most unique things to do in Florida is a visit to the Kennedy Space Center – it’s absolutely incredible.

Sprawling over 144,000 acres, the Kennedy Space Center features dozens of attractions, 3D simulators, interactive exhibits, and even the opportunity to meet an astronaut. To make your trip even more memorable, you can plan a visit around one of the scheduled launches.

Stay in Orlando and book a private transfer so you don’t have to worry about driving.

4. Visit The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

A pink structure, a garden, trees, and a statue.

Located in Sarasota, Florida, The Ringling is an impressive art museum that can’t be missed. Owned by the famous circus owner John Ringling and his wife Mable, it was named the official State Art Museum of Florida.

Well known as one of the top things to do in Florida, The Ringling has an extensive collection of art and is home to the Ca’ d’Zan – the mansion that served as a part-time residence for The Ringlings.

You can easily spend a full day here, touring the museum, and the mansion, and walking around the gardens. Find directions here.

5. Experience the Magic of Disney World

Character Experiences at Disney World

A trip to Florida wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Disney World. No matter how many times I go, it’s always amazing – and I still haven’t ridden all the rides, there are that many!

Disney World is made up of four separate parks – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. Each one offers different themes and rides, and they’re all awesome. Magic Kingdom is my personal favorite.

The most basic ticket starts at $109, but you’ll likely want to spend at least four days at Disney World to fully experience all of the parks and attractions.

6. Take a Glass Bottom Boat in the Crystal River Preserve

Manatee Florida glass bottom boat tour

My main goal when I moved to Florida was to see a manatee, and locals told me that going to the Crystal River Preserve State Park in west Florida was my best bet. It was a guarantee that I would see them (plural!) – it is known as the “Manatee Capital of the World, after all.

The best way to see Crystal River and these magnificent animals is by taking a glass-bottom boat tour or renting a clear kayak. You can also swim and snorkel with them as well, and I highly recommend doing so if you get the chance – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In the winter, there can be upwards of 500 manatees in the river; they’re majestic creatures to see. Book your Crystal River tour here.

7. Step Back in Time in the Sunken Gardens

Path and green plants, trees, and followers on the side path.

In St. Petersburg, Florida, you’ll find one of the oldest gardens in the region; home to thousands of tropical plants, trees, and flowers. What’s cool about the Sunken Gardens is that it’s literally “sunken” because it’s below sea level.

Take a stroll in the gorgeous 4-acre park that’s been around for more than a hundred years. There are stunning waterfalls, tropical birds, and even a flock of flamingos. I could stay in these gardens all day – it’s so peaceful.

Admission is $15 for adults and $6 for children. You can find directions to the Sunken Gardens here.

8. Explore a Fort and Snorkel at Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park florida

Accessible only by seaplane or boat, Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100-square-mile park comprising seven small islands and gin-clear open water. Home of the impressive Fort Jefferson, some beautiful coral reefs and active marine life, this park is the perfect location for outdoor enthusiasts.

Plan a camping trip, a seaplane charter, or simply explore the area by swimming; the diverse Dry Tortugas National Park is definitely a place to appreciate natural beauty both above and below the water and is an epic spot for snorkeling and diving.

Find out more about National Park tours and tickets here.

9. Sunbathe and Swim at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach florida

One of the best free things to do in Florida is to head to the beach. The crystal clear waters and soft white sands of Clearwater Beach offer that idyllic, picture-perfect setting you’re looking for.

The calm and warm waters of Clearwater Beach make it perfect for swimming, and the sand is so soft it feels like powdered sugar. There’s also a walkable beachfront with restaurants, shops, and a pier that holds nightly festivities.

While you’re in Clearwater Beach, book yourself a dolphin-watching tour out of Clearwater Bay.

10. Walk Around the Oldest City in the Nation

It is an old structure with plants and a fountain in front.

Many people don’t know that St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the nation – and it’s a city that needs to be on your bucket list. The history and architecture are beautifully preserved, and there’s even a massive old fort that sits on the river bank.

I love wandering the old streets of St. Augustine and popping into different shops, trying new restaurants, and learning about the history of the town. The old fort is now a national monument called Castillo de San Marcos, and it’s well worth touring the grounds.

The best way to explore St. Augustine is to take the trolley hop-on hop-off tour. An adorable trolley with a knowledgeable guide takes you around to the most famous attractions and museum areas, and you’re free to hop off to explore and hop back on whenever you’d like!

11. Visit Butterfly World

Old World swallowtail butterfly feeding on flower.

Who wouldn’t want to visit the largest butterfly park in the world? Butterfly World is located in Coconut Creek, and it’s one of the best things to do in Florida. It’s been open since 1988 and spans three acres.

It’s home to over 20,000 live butterflies that you can hang out with as you walk through the botanical gardens. There’s also an aviary with tropical birds and an on-site research center.

A day pass is $32.50 for adults and $22.50 for children. Find directions to Butterfly World here.

12. Eat Key Lime Pie in Key West

Slice of a key lime pie on white plate.

There’s truly no place like Key West; it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Florida. You can drive over 40 bridges to make it to the very southernmost point of the Keys, and a slice of authentic Key Lime pie is an absolute must.

Stroll along Duval Street which runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. The street is lined with shops, bars, and plenty of restaurants serving up this delicious treat, but the most famous slice is arguably the one from the Key Lime Pie Bakery.

Get directions to the Key Lime Pie Bakery here.

13. Head to the Daytona International Speedway

Aerial view of the racetrack, with grassy fields surrounding it, a parking lot, and little lakes.

Daytona Beach is a super fun place to visit, in general, but, one of the biggest draws to the city is the famous Daytona International Speedway. Even if you’re not a NASCAR fan, this race track facility is undoubtedly impressive.

You can take a 2.5-hour speedway tour or plan your trip around one of the races. If you’re lucky, you can try and get a ticket to the renowned Daytona 500. Book your ticket here.

SEE ALSO: 25 Fun Things To Do in Daytona Beach (By a Local)

14. Grab a Pint at the Palace Saloon

Friends Hands Toasting Beer Pints at Brewery Pub Restaurant.

A little-known Florida attraction is the Palace Saloon on Amelia Island. Every time I go to Amelia Island, I always make sure to make a stop here – it’s a part of history!

Open since 1903, the Palace Saloon is Florida’s oldest bar. During Prohibition, they were able to stay open by selling ice cream, special wines, and gasoline. The architecture is amazing, and it’s an awesome place to grab a drink.

Here’s how to find your way to the Palace Saloon.

15. Have Fun at LEGOLAND

A Lego replica of a city.

Florida has tons of theme parks, but LEGOLAND is one of the coolest. This park is perfect for all ages because it has three separate parks – the theme park, the water park, and the world’s first Peppa Pig-themed park.

The theme park has lots of fun rides that are all centered around LEGO. Kids will love it, and it’s sure to transport adults back to their younger years too. The water park boasts slides, a lazy river, and other play structures for every age.

Family passes that also include a hotel stay start at just $93 per person. Find directions to LEGOLAND here.

16. Experience The Dali Museum

A dome-shaped building structure built of cement and glass, with an outside garden.

Salvador Dali was an incredible artist, and The Dali Museum houses some of his most iconic works of art. Located in St. Petersburg, it’s one of the most unique things to do in Florida.

The Dali Museum features the largest collection of the artist’s work, outside of Europe, and the Avant garden is gorgeous. Make time to check out the Dali Dome for an immersive 360-degree experience that envelops you in Salvador Dali’s art.

Tickets are $29 for adults, $12 for youths, and free for children under five. Find directions to The Dali Museum here.

17. Admire the Wynwood Walls

A sidewalk street with paint on the building's walls.

Located in Miami, the Wynwood Walls is the city’s original street art museum. This mind-blowing museum features massive street art murals from some of the most famous artists in the world.

When I first visited, I seriously couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You’re surrounded by bright and bold colors, and each mural is more impressive than the next. It’s perfect for those perfect IG shots.

Skip the museum line and purchase your skip-the-line ticket here.

18. Cheer from the Stands at a Sporting Event

basketball game

Sports enthusiasts will absolutely love traveling around Florida because nearly every major city has a sporting team of some sort. Whether you’re into professional or college, football or basketball – you’ll be able to find a sporting event to attend throughout the entire year.

During football season, you can go to a Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. Basketball fans can head to Miami for a Heat game or Orlando for a Magic game. And during baseball season, we’ve got the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.

Keep an eye out for ticket deals, special events, and other discount days to score great seats at your favorite sporting event.

19. Go Tubing at Ginnie Springs

Young people floating down the river in inner tubes.

When looking for things to do in Florida, anything involving water is always at the top of my list. Ginnie Springs is one of those watering holes that’s so crystal clear, that it looks like something straight out of a movie.

You can spend the weekend at Ginnie Springs, camping with friends or family, and cruise down the immaculate waters of the Sante Fe River. The summer months can become super busy, so book your reservations in advance.

Aside from tubing, you can also simply swim in the stunning waters, rent snorkeling gear, canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. It’s the ultimate outdoor water adventure spot. Find directions to Ginnie Springs here.

20. Find Serenity at Bok Tower Gardens

A tower in the middle of the forest with a clear sky.

There’s no shortage of gorgeous nature landscapes to explore around Florida – and Bok Tower Gardens is certainly one of them. Located in Lake Wales, Florida, it’s absolutely worth adding a visit to your list of places to visit in Florida.

The contemplative garden and bird sanctuary sprawls over 250 acres with trees, flowers, and art installations around the property. There’s also an impressive 205-foot “Singing Tower” with carillon bells, hiking trails, and a visitor center.

Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-17, and free for children 5 and under. Dogs are $10. Find directions to the Bok Tower Gardens here.

21. Check out the Sponge Docks at Tarpon Springs

Natural sponges from Tarpon Springs in a net.

Tarpon Springs, just outside of Tampa, is known as the “sponge capital of the world,” and the docks are certainly a sight to see. There’s a rich Greek heritage in the town, so there are lots of tasty restaurants to try out during your visit as well.

This small fishing village started harvesting sponges back in the 1880s, and in its heyday, there were more than 500 Greek divers with 50 boats working in the area. The docks are still active today, and you can see the boats drying out their harvested sponges. It’s a really unique place to visit in Florida.

After you’ve checked out the docks, head to Mykonos for an authentic Greek meal. Find directions to Tarpon Springs here.

22. Find Adventure at Busch Gardens

Kumba Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida

Also located in Tampa is the world-famous Busch Gardens. It’s a great theme park in Florida for families and also makes for a fun date day option.

The African-themed adventure park has over 330 acres of thrilling amusement park rides, daily shows, and so much more. After spending the day on some of the best rollercoasters in the state, grab a bite at one of the many eateries in the park.

Out of all the theme parks in Florida, this is by far one of the most unique due to its theme. Book your Busch Gardens ticket here.

23. Swim in The Venetian Pool

The public swimming pool with mini falls known as the Venetian Pool surrounded by green trees and plants.

Known as one of the top things to do in Florida, The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, just outside of Miami, is quite the attraction. With over 820,000 gallons of water, it’s the largest freshwater pool in the United States. 

The 4-acre pool has gone through some changes since it was built in 1924 but has maintained its spot as a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. There’s a waterfall, kids’ pool, various bridges, and small grottos. There are also plenty of cafes to grab a snack from and refuel.

Admission prices vary throughout the year ranging from $5.50 to $21, depending on the season and your residency. Find directions to The Venetian Pool here.

24. See Wildlife at Ichetucknee River State Park

A lovely river with green trees and plants growing along its banks.

Just 80 miles southwest of Jacksonville in Fort White is the absolutely glorious Ichetucknee River State Park. It’s another nature spot on the list and is just as breathtakingly beautiful as the others. 

Eight major springs form the 6-mile Ichetucknee River, and it’s teeming with wildlife such as turtles, ducks, beavers, and many other critters. You can tube along the river during the warmer months or hike on one of the three trails while taking in all the beauty around you.

If you’re into birdwatching, this state park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Find directions to the Ichetucknee River State Park here.

SEE ALSO: Best Time To Visit Jacksonville, Florida (By a City Local)

25. Get a Reading from a Medium in Cassadaga

A woman in a white shirt is demonstrating the Self-Acceptance Concept.

Roughly 50 miles from Orlando is a small town called Cassadaga, Florida, which is famous for one thing – most of the residents claim they can communicate with the deceased. Yep, the entire town is full of mediums.

Known as the “Psychic Capital of the World,” Cassadaga is home to the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, where they hold church services, events, and medium readings. It’s open to the public, however, appointments are encouraged for readings with a medium.

So, if you feel like you want to get in touch with any lost loved ones, this place is definitely the best place to do it. Get directions to Cassadaga here.

Quick Travel Itineraries For Florida

Orlando, Florida, USA aerial cityscape towards lake Eola at dusk.

There’s a lot to do and see in Florida, so it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to building an itinerary. Here are a few suggestions on how to spend your time in The Sunshine State.

1 Day in Florida Itinerary

If you only have one day to spend in Florida, your best bet is probably to hang out in Miami or Orlando. Miami is home to beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and the Wynwood Walls. Plus, there are tons of great restaurants and bars – making it ideal for a whole day. Check out the MIAM Cafe, Coyo Taco, or Crazy Poke, all located near the walls.

Orlando is another great option because you can pick a theme park to spend hours on thrill rides, seeing shows, and making memories.

2-3 Days in Florida Itinerary

Two to three days in Florida allows you to do a bit more. I’d recommend heading up to St. Augustine to explore the oldest city in the nation for one day, before taking a drive to Gainesville. From there, you can explore the gorgeous Devil’s Den and swim in the crystal-clear waters.

On your final day, you can drive up to Jacksonville and head to Amelia Island. Here, you can enjoy a delicious cocktail at the oldest bar in Florida, the Palace Saloon. Amelia Island also has some fantastic beaches for sunbathing and swimming. Connections are easy, and you can fly straight out of Jacksonville.

1 Week in Florida Itinerary

If you’re lucky enough to have an entire week in Florida, the possibilities and options are almost endless! You could spend an entire week nearly anywhere, and you’d have an absolute blast. 

Fly into Orlando and stay at Walt Disney World Resort and explore the four theme parks over four days. Then, drive west to Clearwater Beach to enjoy the pristine beaches and to visit the Sunken Gardens. Finally, drive north to Sarasota and check out the awe-inspiring art at The Dali Museum.

Alternatively, I’d recommend flying into Miami and enjoying all of the art and culture the city has to offer. Visit the Wynwood Walls, check out the nightlife in South Beach, and swim in The Venetian Pool. After a couple of days in Miami, rent a car and drive four hours to the southernmost point in the United States in Key West. Don’t forget to have a slice of Key Lime pie!

Getting To Florida

Internet travel vacation flight ticket booking and a keyboard with sign of airplane

Getting to Florida is quite easy, no matter where you’re coming from. Every single major city in the state has an international airport (or two), so booking a flight is simple. 

Once you’ve arrived, your best bet would be to rent your own car, so you can get around on your own time. However, if that doesn’t interest you, or doesn’t fit your budget, there are plenty of other options.

The Miami, Tampa, and Orlando areas have a fantastic rail system to help you get around. Otherwise, you can take public transportation, call an Uber, or arrange for private transfers to get you to where you need to go.

Things To Do in Florida: FAQs

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Florida:

What is Florida famous for?

Florida is famous for its sunny weather, fantastic beaches, and incredible culture. For more information on the best time to visit the Sunshine State, check out this post: Best Time to Visit Florida (Weather and Costs).

When is the best time to visit Florida?

The best time to visit Florida depends on your interests and vacation goals. The summer is hot, and the beaches are packed. The winter is cooler with fewer crowds. And the shoulder seasons offer mild temperatures, with fewer crowds.

Is Florida worth visiting?

Yes! Florida is absolutely worth visiting. Every region and city has something different and exciting to offer.

How many days should I spend in Florida?

You should spend a minimum of 4-5 days in Florida, but could easily spend up to two weeks exploring the state.

Is Florida safe?

Overall, yes, Florida is a very safe state. Of course, in every major city, it’s important to know which areas to avoid. So, do your research beforehand and apply common sense when traveling.

What is the most popular thing to do in Florida?

The most popular thing to do in Florida is enjoy the glorious beaches and perfect sunny weather. Theme parks are also particularly popular.

What is the best beach in Florida?

The best beach, in my opinion, is in Sarasota on Siesta Key. The water is clear and the sand is unbelievably soft.

What foods should I try in Florida?

It’s all about fresh seafood in Florida. If you’re in Miami, Cuban food is quite popular, and Key Lime pie is a must.

What is the most visited place in Florida?

The most visited places in Florida are Orlando and Miami.

Where is the prettiest place in Florida?

There are so many pretty places in Florida; the Florida Keys are arguably the most beautiful.

What months can you swim in Florida?

In southern Florida, you can swim year-round. In northern Florida, the best swimming months are May through October.

Is it safe to swim in the ocean in Florida?

Generally, yes, it’s safe to swim in the ocean in Florida. However, it’s important to keep an eye out for rip current warnings. There is risk of sharks in Florida too.

In Closing

Figuring out fun things to do in Florida can be challenging when there are so many places to visit and attractions to see. I never get tired of exploring my state and seem to find something new every time I go out and explore.

No matter if you’re into thrilling experiences and an adrenaline rush, or something more relaxing and quiet – Florida has something to suit your vacation needs.

Ashley Fike Authors Bio Picture

Written by

Ashley Fike

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.

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