Welcome to Florida
With more miles of shoreline than any other state in the Lower 48, Florida is a premier spot to have fun on the water or on the beach. From the northern Emerald Coast to the tip of the Florida Keys, the Sunshine State offers unforgettable beauty and adventure. Of course there’s more to Florida than just the coasts. Head inland for colorful cities and laid-back small towns — and, of course, some of the nation’s preeminent theme parks.
Big Cities, Big Thrills
For family-friendly attractions without the theme park bustle, head to Tampa, which boasts top-notch museums along the bay. Head south to Miami and South Beach for trendy entertainment spots, iconic architecture and beautiful beaches. A bevy of small towns and big cities line Florida’s shores. St. Petersburg, Daytona, Destin and Pensacola are just a few of the sublime coastal retreats.
Captivating Wetlands and Dazzling Waters
The southern tip of Florida is home to a national park that ranks as one of America’s most popular outdoor attractions. Located on the southwest coast, Everglades National Park protects over 1.5 million acres of Florida’s wetlands. Explore the prairies, pinelands, marshes and mangroves by foot, on a bike or in a boat, while watching for abundant wildlife.
A Bevy of Theme Parks & Beaches
Located in the heart of the peninsula, Orlando is the epicenter for theme park thrills, with Walt Disney World, Legoland, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld offering magical adventures like no place else. Where else can you swim with real dolphins, play Quidditch with Harry Potter, see mind-blowing Lego creations and have a play date with Mickey Mouse?
Diverse Landscapes for Outdoor Recreation
Some of the state’s best hikes can be found along the Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs 1,300 miles from Florida’s panhandle through myriad landscapes all the way to the state’s southern tip. For a quintessential Floridian experience, check out the Bulow Woods Trail between Flagler Beach and Ormond Beach, taking hikers under a canopy of massive live oak trees. Cyclists will find an abundance of trails in the Sunshine State.
In mid-February, head to Daytona for one of the nation’s most significant motorsports events, the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR’s best drivers compete in this 500-mile race. Feel like dining with Mickey? While any time is an excellent time to visit Walt Disney World, foodies won’t want to miss the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, held each fall.
From a Colonial Past to an Astronomical Future
For a taste of Florida’s colonial history, head to the city of St. Augustine, which dates to the 1500s. Once the capital of Spanish Florida, the town retains a Spanish flair in architecture and culture. Take a drive along the Old Florida Heritage Highway to experience “Old Florida,” where small towns and simpler times beckon visitors. Visit the sleepy antique stores and sample the local cuisine at welcoming eateries. Along the Atlantic coast, Florida has played an essential role in the nation’s space exploration, from the launch of early rockets from Cape Canaveral in the 1950s to the human-crewed space shuttles from the Kennedy Space Center.
Pirates, Race Cars and Food for All
Prepare to walk the plank at the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest. For over a century, Tampa has hosted this lively event each January. The festivities start with the pirate invasion of Tampa Bay with a flotilla of boats, followed by a spirited parade modeled after Mardi Gras.
Follow the Sharks
For a thrill, hit the Shark Valley Trail in the Everglades, which goes right through prime alligator territory. Sanibel Island’s network of trails provide a relaxing way to explore this beautiful destination. For unique hiking, paddling and hunting opportunities, head to Big Cypress National Preserve, with its 700,000 acres of swamplands.