by MARTIN BROOKS
With miles of beaches, countless beautiful islands, and its year-round sunny weather, there’s no wonder Florida has remained one of the most popular places to visit in the U.S. year after year.
The Sunshine State has so many unique places, experiences, and culture to offer tourists from around the globe – the hardest part is just deciding which of those places to head to, especially depending on the type of trip you’re planning. Here are some of the most popular destinations in Florida where you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
West Palm Beach
Sunny skies and a myriad of outdoor and cultural attractions make West Palm Beach one of the most popular destinations in the Sunshine State. Art lovers will love the Norton Museum of Art and its collection of American, Chinese, and European art, while the beautiful sandy beaches are a huge draw for tourists around the world. West Palm Beach is also a fashion destination that rivals some of the best shopping districts around the world, thanks to hotspots like Worth Avenue and Clematis Street.
“West Palm Beach is a popular retail city, but we have many up-and-coming areas like Boynton Beach and Delray Beach for chic places to shop,” muses Janet Nadeau, the founder of Beach House Gift Boutique, a beach shop based out of Palm Beach County’s Boynton Beach. “From luxury design houses to small, colorful beach boutiques, it’s an unmatched experience of vibrance, beauty, and culture.”
With art, shopping, great restaurants and food tours, parks and gardens, and dreamy beaches, West Palm Beach truly has it all.
St. Augustine is actually the oldest city in the U.S. Spanish settlers arrived in the 1500s, and centuries later, their influence still stands. Top attractions you need to see and do while you’re there include visiting the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, Lightner Museum, and the St. Augustine Nature Reserve. If you want to visit one of the most haunted places in Florida, make sure you also visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Excellent for a culturally rich and history-inspired vacation, you can’t miss this walkable town.
The Florida Keys
Though it consists of numerous islands, you’re guaranteed a tropical paradise, no matter which you choose. Known for its incredible natural landscape and coral reefs, Key Largo is one of the first among the Keys and one of the best places in the Sunshine State for snorkeling and scuba diving. Don’t forget to see the Christ of the Abyss Statue off the coast! Once you’re finished exploring beneath the ocean’s surface, the island offers plenty of action above the surface including parasailing, sailing, and kayaking.
Another popular destination in the Keys is Key West, Florida’s most southern point. Around 90 miles north of Cuba, Key West has countless amazing destinations like the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, butterfly watching at the nature conservatory, and bar hopping and shopping on Duval Street in Old Town.
Located in central Florida, Orlando is one of the top destinations in the state. When many think of Orlando, the first thing that comes to mind is very likely Disney World. Though that is the city’s biggest attraction, it’s certainly not the only thing that makes Orlando worth visiting. It also boasts other amusement parks like Universal Studios, Legoland, and Islands of Adventure, Discovery Cove marine life park, and great shopping.
Orlando is also in a prime location for day trips. Take a short drive to the Kennedy Space Center or Winter Park, Fla. – a nature lover’s destination with plenty of parks, world-class museums, and Old World charm.
Even though it’s famous for its nightlife, Miami is a culturally rich city with so much to offer, especially for those looking to explore the area’s rich historical roots and great art. Check out the street art at Wynwood Walls and the street art and restaurants in the up-and-coming Little River and Little Haiti neighborhoods. Make sure you also visit the Freedom Tower downtown, which was used as the government’s reception center for Cuban refugees in 1962. A symbol of hope and freedom, it’s now a contemporary art museum and a National Historic Landmark.
Home to a large Hispanic and Latin community, Miami is also where you’ll find Little Havana, a must-see destination for visitors to immerse themselves in the sights, food, and music of the vibrant culture.
If you’re visiting the Sunshine State, you need to visit the Sunshine City! Located on the Gulf Coast, it’s known for its pleasant weather, beaches, boating, golfing, and the 100-year-old Sunken Gardens. However, visitors will also be enthralled by a great arts and culture scene – particularly the Dalí Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Mahaffey Theater.
Visiting the Sunshine State
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a solo traveler, traveling as a family, a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or love food and art – Florida is a destination that any traveler can enjoy. There are plenty of stunning and exciting areas that await you in the Sunshine State. What are you waiting for? Start planning your getaway.