In Florida, every day is an adventure.
Whether you're looking for adrenaline-pumping thrills, peaceful nature retreats, or a journey back in time, Florida has it all.
From the mystical marshes of the Everglades to the historic cobblestone streets of St. Augustine, from the dazzling theme parks of Orlando to the tranquil beaches of Sanibel Island, the Sunshine State is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.
And guess what? I've got the ultimate Florida bucket list for you, highlighting 11 places in this wonderland that you absolutely must visit.
You can swim with manatees, get up close with NASA's rockets, bask in the electric energy of Miami, and so much more.
So, ready to embark on this journey?
We're about to set sail on a voyage of discovery through the sparkling waters, bustling cities, and serene landscapes of Florida.
1. Everglades National Park
There's something truly magical about Everglades National Park.
This vast wilderness is home to unique ecosystems teeming with wildlife, including alligators, manatees, and countless bird species.
With over 1.5 million acres of wetlands, mangroves, and marshes to explore, you'll be mesmerized by the beauty and tranquility of the park.
Hop on an airboat tour to get up close and personal with the wildlife, or take a peaceful kayak trip through the mangroves.
The Everglades is a place where you can truly connect with nature and create memories that last a lifetime.
You can read our detailed Everglades National Park guide right here.
2. Orlando Theme Parks
Orlando is a bucket list destination for theme park enthusiasts!
With Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld all within close proximity, there's something for everyone in the family.
Experience the magic of Disney, get your adrenaline pumping on thrilling roller coasters, and marvel at the wonders of the ocean.
There's never a dull moment in Orlando, and with so much to see and do, you'll want to come back again and again.
3. The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a tropical paradise waiting to be explored.
This island chain stretches over 120 miles, offering everything from vibrant coral reefs to laid-back beach towns.
Snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters, try your hand at fishing or simply relax on the stunning beaches.
Don't forget to visit Key West, where you can indulge in delicious seafood, explore the colorful historic district, and catch a breathtaking sunset at Mallory Square.
Planning a trip to the Keys? Check out our full list of 66 Things To Do In The Florida Keys – From Key Largo to Key West
While there, make sure to try the best Key Lime Pie in Florida!
4. Crystal River & Ocala Forest
Crystal River and Ocala are a nature lover's dream come true.
Crystal River is famous for its manatee population, giving you the opportunity to swim alongside these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
The Ocala area also offers beautiful forests and rolling hills that are perfect for horseback riding, hiking, and camping.
These destinations provide a break from the hustle and bustle of Florida's more touristy spots, allowing you to experience the state's natural beauty at its finest.
Here are some great options for visiting the Ocala area and viewing manatees - Homosassa Springs, Florida: A Visitor’s Guide
Miami is a vibrant city that blends diverse cultures, stunning beaches, and a thriving arts scene.
From the trendy boutiques and restaurants of South Beach to the colorful murals of Wynwood Walls, there's always something to see and do.
Don't forget to explore the historic Art Deco District, take a stroll through Little Havana, or unwind at the gorgeous Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Miami is a city that truly has it all.
Stay safe! Visiting any big city can be daunting, so check out this post:
6. St. Augustine
As the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is a must-visit for history buffs.
The cobblestone streets, centuries-old buildings, and charming atmosphere make it feel like you've stepped back in time.
Visit the iconic Castillo de San Marcos, take a ghost tour, or simply wander the historic district to soak in the rich history of this captivating city.
7. Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is a classic Florida beach destination that offers fun in the sun for all ages.
Famous for its hard-packed sand, Daytona Beach is one of the few places in the world where you can drive right onto the beach.
Enjoy sunbathing, surfing, or even catching a race at the legendary Daytona International Speedway.
With plenty of entertainment, shopping, and dining options, Daytona Beach has something for everyone.
8. The Tampa Bay Area
The Tampa Bay area is a fantastic destination for both relaxation and adventure.
From the beautiful white sand beaches of Clearwater and St. Petersburg to the exciting attractions of Tampa, such as Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium, you'll never run out of things to do.
Don't miss the chance to explore the charming downtown areas and sample the local cuisine, or take a sunset cruise on the bay for a truly unforgettable experience.
Located in the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola is a charming city with a rich history and beautiful beaches.
As the home of the Blue Angels and the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola offers a unique blend of military history and coastal relaxation.
Stroll through the historic downtown, visit the Pensacola Lighthouse, or soak up the sun on the pristine white sands of Pensacola Beach.
With its laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals, you'll quickly fall in love with this coastal gem.
10. The Space Coast & NASA Kennedy Center
The Space Coast, stretching from Titusville to Melbourne, is a must-visit destination for anyone fascinated by space exploration.
At the heart of the Space Coast is the Kennedy Space Center, where you can learn about the space program's history, and tour launch pads.
You can even watch rocket launches up close! And it's free to do from the beach or locations along the Indian River Lagoon.
The Space Coast is also home to beautiful beaches, wildlife refuges, and charming coastal towns, offering something for everyone to enjoy.
11. Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island is a tranquil oasis located off the coast of Southwest Florida.
Known for its stunning beaches, world-class shelling, and abundant wildlife, Sanibel offers a unique and relaxing getaway.
Rent a bike and explore the island's many nature trails, visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, or simply stroll along the shoreline, collecting seashells as you go.
Sanibel Island is the perfect place to slow down and savor the beauty of Florida's natural wonders.
The Florida Bucket List Map
Let's take a look to see where these places are -
How to create a Florida Itinerary
First, let's get one thing out of the way - Bucket Lists are a fantastic tool for getting you interested in a destination and mapping out the most unique things to do.
However, no one says you need to check every item on the list. Definitely not on a single visit.
And yes, there are plenty of other awesome things to see and do in Florida - if you have the time, you can go deeper and explore more of the state at leisure.
To create a trip itinerary, you need to take into consideration the timing of your visit, and how long you have.
What's the best time to visit Florida
We've dedicated an entire post to when's the best time to visit Florida, so you can go there and read more.
The short answer is:
Winter is considered the best time to visit Florida.
Or, more precisely, November-April.
While this is generally off-season elsewhere in the US, this is high season in Florida. Here's why -
- Winter is the dry season. Relatively dry - it can still rain but not like it does during summertime.
- Hurricanes be gone - November marks the end of Hurricane season.
- Comfortable temperatures - generally in the 70's.
- Peak wildlife viewing opportunities.
Of course, like everywhere else, high season also means peak prices.
To try and balance things, you can try coming in April or even May, and hope that the tropical rains won't start just yet.
Just keep in mind that manatee viewing opportunities drop around February, as soon as the water begins to warm up.
How long should your visit to Florida be?
You can have an awesome weekend in Florida, or spend a couple of months here, especially during winter. There's just so much to see and do!
For many visitors, a week is a typical time to visit the Sunshine State. With that in mind, we prepared this mega post for you -
Over to you
We hope you found this list helpful. If you're already familiar with Florida, let us know what you think the Florida Bucket List should look like!
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