Top-10 Things To Do In Florida

With all the things to do in Florida there is no question why it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world. From world-famous theme parks, picture-perfect beaches, unique history, exciting culture and amazing outdoor activities there is something for everyone. Here is our top-10 list of the best things to do in Florida.

Map of Florida and the top 10 things to doA map of the Florida, showing the location of each of the our top things to do. Note: Since our #1 and #3 picks can be done throughout Florida, they are not included on the map.

Top-10 Things To Do In Florida

Hogwarts Orlando Theme ParksVisit Hogwarts and the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, one of the many theme parks in the Orlando FL area.

10) Orlando Theme Parks

Orlando, FL is the theme park capital of the world with many amazing amusement parks and attractions for all ages. Walt Disney World is obviously the most famous having the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Non-Disney parks include Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Volcano Bay. International Drive (or I-Drive) is a popular commercial area convenient to all of Orlando’s major parks with lots of restaurants, hotels and shopping — it even has a few of its own attractions. With so many theme park options to choose from, it is likely you will need multiple trips to Central Florida to see them all.

Florida Everglades National Park alligatorExpect to see lots of wildlife including alligators during an airboat ride in any of Florida’s many wetlands.

9) Airboat Ride in the Everglades National Park (South Florida)

Visiting any of Florida’s famous wetlands is best done by airboat. Expect to see lots of wildlife including alligators, crocodiles, birds and turtles. The airboat rides themselves are a lot of fun and perfect for just about any age. While there are fantastic airboat rides offered just about everywhere in Florida, we give the edge to the Everglades National Park since it protects the largest tropical wilderness area in the United States.

The impressive Spanish fort Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida.

8) Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine)

Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Originally built by the Spanish in 1672 to protect the city of St. Augustine, the fort was never taken by force although it shifted hands many times during its existence. It was constructed using coquina stone, a porous type of local limestone that made the fort impenetrable to enemy fire. If visiting on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday make sure to checkout the canon firings and weaponry demonstrations (weather permitting of course).

Once you are finished exploring the fort, make sure to visit the city of St. Augustine which has plenty of its own history and interesting sites. The city is most famous for being the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental USA having been founded in 1565.

Artwork of Salvador DalíOne of Salvador Dalí’s surrealist masterpieces which you can see in St. Petersburg, FL.

7) Salvador Dalí Museum (St. Petersburg)

The largest collection of Salvador Dalí’s work outside of Europe can be found in the Tampa Bay area at the Salvador Dalí Museum. This is the best art museum in Florida and a must-see for fans of the Spanish artist known for his surreal and bizarre creations. The permanent collection features his paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and objects — many of which are some of the Dalí’s best known masterpieces. In 2011 the museum moved into a new surrealism-inspired building in downtown St. Petersburg.

Historic art deco buildings in South Beach, FLSome of the historic Art Deco hotels along Ocean Dr. in Miami’s world-famous South Beach.

6) South Beach & Historic Art Deco District (Miami Beach)

The most famous beach in Florida is without a doubt South Beach — a neighborhood of Miami Beach, FL. Its extraordinarily wide sand beach with tropical-blue waters is normally packed with tourists from all over the world. It is also a major entertainment destination with plenty of restaurants, bars, shopping and nightclubs.

What makes South Beach truly unique is its Art Deco District with 960 historic buildings, making this the largest collection of Art Deco buildings found anywhere in the world. The opportunity to admire the unique architecture of this iconic place makes a visit to South Beach a must-see. If spending the night, consider staying at one of the many historic hotels overlooking the ocean and main-strip.

A SpaceX rocket launching at Cape Canaveral FLA SpaceX rocket launching to the ISS from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL.

5) Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral)

The past, present and future of space flight can be found at the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast. When you arrive make your way to the the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex which features exhibits, displays, historic spacecraft, memorabilia, shows, IMAX theaters and bus tours. The two must-sees of your visit are the Space Shuttle Atlantis and massive Saturn V rocket used during the Apollo program to send astronauts to the moon. Other highlights include the rocket garden, launch pads, astronaut memorial, shuttle launch experience, space capsules and the vehicle assembly building.

Don’t forget to check the launch schedule to see if there are any rocket launches during your visit. If so, you can get great views from just about everywhere in Northern Brevard County, FL but popular places to watch the rockets go up include Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Titusville and Merritt Island.

Key West Mallory Square SunsetThe sunset from Mallory Square in Key West, the cultural capital of the Florida Keys.

4) Visit the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a chain of small islands connected via the Overseas Highway (US1) at the southernmost tip of the state and is one of the most unique areas in the United States. Notable islands and towns in this coral cay archipelago include Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and of course Key West.

The Florida Keys are best known for its abundance of water sport activities including scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, sailing, fishing and kayaking. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other things to do in the keys that don’t involve getting wet — such as The Ernest Hemingway House, Mallory Square, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, Turtle Hospital, Duval Street, Fort Taylor, History of Diving Museum and Truman White House. Foodies will enjoy sampling the amazing cuisine of the keys with lots of fresh local seafood and its signature key lime pie. Key West is the cultural capital of the keys with plenty of art, nightlife, entertainment and shopping.

While I might be cheating slightly here by listing an entire area instead of a single activity, the uniqueness of the Florida Keys as a whole allows for a bit of flexibility.

See the top-10 things to do in the Florida Keys.

Checkout our 1-week Florida Keys itinerary.

Learn more about scuba diving in the Florida Keys

Canoeing and Kayaking FloridaFlorida has lots of freshwater canoeing and kayaking options just about everywhere throughout the state.

3) Canoeing or Kayaking (Throughout Florida)

Unbeknownst to most who visit to Florida is how many fabulous canoeing and kayaking opportunities there are throughout the state. Florida has more freshwater springs than any other state and taking a canoe trip on one of them is a great way to experience the “real Florida” that most theme-park-focused-tourists don’t even know exist. Expect to see lots of tropical plants, trees, birds, turtles and of course alligators. Some of the most popular spots to canoe or kayak include Blackwater River, Silver Springs, Weeki Wachee River, Ichetucknee Springs, Rainbow River and the Rock Springs run at Wekiva Springs.

Dry Tortugas National Park Fort JeffersonThe highlight of the Dry Tortugas National Park is Fort Jefferson which is surrounded by tourquise blue waters.

2) Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida Keys)

Located about 70-miles west of Key West is the Dry Tortugas National Park, this is one of the most isolated and difficult to get to National Parks in the entire United States. The vast majority of the park is open ocean with the least disturbed coral reefs in the Florida Keys, abundant sea life, tropical birds and shipwrecks. The centerpiece of the park is Garden Key and the magnificent Fort Jefferson, an unfinished pre-Civil War fort that is the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas. The fort is most well known for its use as a prison and is where Dr. Samuel Mudd was imprisoned after he was convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Lincoln. While at the park, spend the day exploring the ruins of Fort Jefferson, relaxing on the beach, swimming, birdwatching or snorkeling in the crystal clear turquoise Caribbean waters.

Best Scuba Diving Sites in  FloridaA typical Florida coral reef, perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving.

1) Snorkeling or Scuba Diving (Throughout Florida)

Florida has the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the entire USA and is why we ranked this as the best thing to do in Florida. With snorkeling and diving options stretching from the panhandle to the keys, regardless of where you are in Florida you won’t be far away from an unforgettable experience.

You can explore the Great Florida Reef, which is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world and is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. With nearly 1,400 different species of marine plants, animals and coral calling Florida’s reefs home, you are bound to see something different each time you jump in the water.

Florida’s waters are also littered with thousands of shipwrecks including the three largest artificial reefs in the entire world; the largest being the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany in the Panhandle followed by the USNS Vandenberg and USS Spiegel Grove in the Florida Keys. Checkout the Florida’s shipwreck trail which lists some of the best historic shipwrecks to explore.

With so many great options just off of Florida’s coast, it is easy to forget about the many freshwater sinkholes, springs and rivers inland that make great snorkeling and diving opportunities. Highlights include Devil’s Den, The Blue Grotto and Ginnie Springs.

Top-10 Things To Do In Florida

Don’t agree with our picks? Give use your thoughts in the comments below. Here is the complete list of the top-10 best things to do and see while in the Florida:

  1. Snorkeling or Scuba Diving (Throughout Florida)
  2. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida Keys)
  3. Canoeing or Kayaking (Throughout Florida)
  4. Visit the Florida Keys
  5. Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral)
  6. South Beach & Historic Art Deco District (Miami Beach)
  7. Salvador Dalí Museum (St. Petersburg)
  8. Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine)
  9. Airboat Ride in the Everglades National Park (South Florida)
  10. Orlando Theme Parks

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