THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE
MOST AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN FLORIDA
Magical theme parks, exhilarating water sports, rocking rollercoasters, sweeping sun-drenched beaches, scintillating nightlife – Florida has myriad charms. Boasting 300 days of glorious golden sun every year, it’s never a bad time to visit this US hotspot. If you’re looking for a beach holiday in the Sunshine State without spending a fortune, check out our cheap holiday deals to Florida or browse our beautiful selection of places to stay below for the best-value offers. Here's the ultimate guide to unmissable sights, magical activities and everything else you need to know about things to do in Florida before packing the mouse ears and jetting off!
WHERE TO PLAY
Image: Lena Q / Flickr
The glittering Disney castle, Harry Potter’s World, Jurassic Park dinosaurs, super-awesome theme parks, rollicking rollercoasters – no other destination offers more family fun than Florida! Spend a day of non-stop entertainment at the magical Walt Disney World, perfect your knowledge of potions at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, marvel over a marine wonderland at SeaWorld and meet your favourite Lego characters at LEGOLAND – all located in the theme park capital of the world, Orlando. Want to explore more of this exciting resort? There are bundles of family attractions in Orlando that will keep you (and the kids!) occupied for days.
Image: Jeremy Thompson / Flickr
The theme parks aren't the only places that are out of this world in Florida, a day at Kennedy Space Centre is a must if you're all about astronomy. Take a tour of the Space Shuttle Explorer replica, celebrate the pioneers and learn about NASA missions while you're here. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, experience an amazing African Safari at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay – a fantastic themed adventure park with some of the best roller-coasters, behind the scene animal tours in Florida. If you’re looking to cool off in the Floridian sunshine, Sun Splash Waterpark in Fort Myers is the perfect spot for families to have a splash-tastic day out.
WHERE TO FIND THE PERFECT BEACH
From big-city beaches to family-friendly shores and party resorts, Florida has a beach for every traveller. Check out the firm favourites and soak in the party vibe at the hip South Beach in Miami, try surfing at Orlando’s popular Cocoa Beach, or unwind on the powder-soft sands of Daytona Beach. But don’t miss out on the offbeat gems – collect colourful seashells on quaint Sanibel Beach, or lounge on the postcard-perfect Atlantic Beach, just a 30-minute drive from Jacksonville.
With over 1,000km of sun-kissed sands, it's no doubt that Florida boasts some of the world’s most picturesque beaches – and Siesta Key’s white sandy shore justifies that claim. It’s also a great spot for adventure and watersports. Located between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, Clearwater Beach is also a hit among families for its kid-friendly waves and dolphin watching cruises. If tranquillity is what you seek though, explore the scenic palm-lined beach in Fort Lauderdale, which offers excellent watersport activities such as sailing and kayaking.
WHERE TO VISIT
Whether it's exciting attractions in Orlando or blissful beach-hopping along the Gulf Coast, you’ll never run out of things to do in Florida. If you want buzzing beaches, exhilarating theme parks and sizzling nightlife, Miami and Orlando are your top picks – but fun in Florida doesn’t stop there. Explore low-key-yet-amazing destinations like Fort Myers where you’re greeted by fabulous beaches and a historic town centre. Naples may lack the see-and-be-seen vibe of Miami, but its sunny, pearl-white beach is the perfect spot to spread out the blanket and watch spectacular sunsets.
Families will love the traditional-charm-meets-urban-vibe of St. Petersburg, nicknamed the Sunshine City for offering the most consecutive days of sunshine. It’s home to the gorgeous Clearwater Beach, a buzzing pier and the excellent Salvador Dali museum. For a glimpse of historic Florida, visit St. Augustine – USA’s oldest city. Check out the colonial architecture or meet alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Or if you want to watch the world go by, enjoy a picnic on the sugar-white sands in Key West.
Can't wait to explore this fascinating state? Browse our last minute holidays in Florida and you could be basking on Miami beach before you know it.
WHERE TO GET ACTIVE OUTDOORS
Image: Wild Florida / Facebook
You'll find round-the-clock entertainment beyond the beaches, too. Whether you fancy gliding on airboats over crocodile-infested swamps or swimming with manatees, the Sunshine State is sure to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. Explore the wilderness at the Everglades National Park where you can ride on airboats and skim through swamps and marshes filled with crocodiles. Wild Florida also organises thrilling airboat rides deep into the tropical wetland on the southern tip of Florida – better still, in celebration of their 7-year anniversary you can get entry for free! Florida is one of the few places in the world where you can kayak or swim with manatees in their native habitat in the Crystal River, northwest of Tampa.
A paradise for water sports lovers, Miami offers paddle boarding, water-skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and much more on its beaches. Biscayne Bay is popular for parasailing, boat rentals and dolphins and manta ray spotting excursions, while Coconut Grove is the to-go destination for kayakers and paddle boarders. Don’t miss the out-of-the-world experience of snorkelling or scuba diving on the Great Florida Reef in Biscayne National Park. If lucky, you might find dolphins accompanying you in scuba trips!
WHERE TO STAY
Whether you want to stay inside the Orlando theme parks, or opt for townhouses looking out to the sea, Florida abounds with hotels and resorts catering to all tastes and prices. If you want to add a dose of luxury to your Florida holidays and stay in a beachfront property in Miami, select from our impressive range of 5-star hotels. Don’t worry, our prices won’t break the bank! In Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort (all-inclusive price £783 pp) is a luxurious property inside the Universal Orlando complex and features tastefully decorated rooms, cascading waterfall and resort-style pool, plus exclusive theme park benefits for visitors! If you like classic Florida beach resorts, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort takes you back to the 1950s with retro-style rooms and endless family fun.
Image: CLC World Florida / Facebook
If you’re looking for Orlando-style comfort and budget-friendly prices, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando is an excellent family-friendly staying option in a prime location, where you can grab all-inclusive deals at just £590 pp. What’s more, you get free shuttle service to Universal Orlando. For a change of scene, stay at the luxury townhouse-style Encantada Resort (£673 pp) in the Kissimmee area, which provides a tranquil escape from bustling city resorts.
WHERE TO EAT
Image: Columbia Restaurant Group / Facebook
Classic seafood shacks on the beaches to elegant restaurants in historic buildings and superb wineries – Florida is a melting pot of diverse flavours and cuisines. After a fun-filled day out at the Orlando theme parks, head to delightful eateries such as Kres Chophouse, Norman Van Aken or Kabooki Sushi. Downtown Orlando has a string of charming family-friendly restaurants. When you’re at Miami, it’s a sin not to eat at Joe’s Stone Crab that has been serving Florida stone crabs since 1921! The city’s culinary scene is a delicious meld of Caribbean, Cuban and Mexican flavours – try pastelito burger at Pincho Factory or fried fish at Chef Creole, you’ll know why we say so. In Tampa, sample delectable Spanish and Cuban dishes in the garden-style indoor courtyard at the legendary Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Its internationally acclaimed wine list is another plus! If you’re looking for a romantic meal, dine on the beach with your toes in the sand at Latitudes in Key West.
WHERE TO PARTY
Florida has a slew of bars, pubs cafés and night clubs, where you can groove to the beat till the wee hours. The vibrant Ocean Drive is where the Miami nightlife magic unfolds, and this colourful Art Deco street overlooking the South Beach is a must-go spot. Unwind on the rooftops of Juvia, or enjoy your favourite tipple at the Rum Line in Loews Hotel. The best party spot on South Beach is Clevelander that houses 9 bars. How about a slice of Cuban culture in Little Havana where you stroll past cigar stores and salsa bars? There are excellent bars and clubs in Downtown Orlando, including The Independent and The Social. Universal Orlando’s CityWalk is an entertainment complex with a clutch of bars, clubs and restaurants. If laid-back vibe is what you prefer, unwind at the waterfront lounges and beach bars in Fort Myers. Tampa’s Ybor City sizzles in the evening with vivacious bars and nightclubs playing everything from salsa to hip-hop.
WHERE TO SHOP
Florida is a shopper’s paradise! From branded buys to cheap bargains, Florida’s super-sized malls and shopping centres are the ideal spots to indulge in some retail therapy. Dubbed as the ‘Fifth Avenue of the South’, the Lincoln Road Mall is the best place in Miami to splurge on high-street brands like Zara, H&M and Gap. Close to the Ocean Drive, this pedestrian-only promenade is also lined with excellent cafés, bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for plush brands at factory prices, hit the Dolphin Mall – Miami’s largest shopping mall. The upscale Mall at Millenia in Orlando is the best place for designer brands including Chanel, Jimmy Choo and Emporio Armani, while the Florida Mall and Orlando Premium Outlets are for more wallet-friendly shopping. In Fort Myers, Miromar Outlets is a huge factory outlet with over 140 brand name outlets that includes Nike, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Saks.