These are the best cities to visit in Florida. Enjoy great food, beautiful beaches, historic sites, and adrenaline pumping attractions.
Best Cities To Visit In Florida
In 2019, Florida had a record 131.1 million visitors. We know that most of those visitors went to a few select cities, but we’ve always been big advocates that there is more to Florida than beaches and theme parks. Florida has an incredible history that goes back thousands of years and there are museums all around the state where you can learn about that history. There are also unique attractions and foods that can only be experienced in Florida.
Want to explore underground caves, swim with manatees, or go on a safari? Maybe you’d like to drink wine made of guava? Or maybe you’d like to glide along in the early morning mist in a hot air balloon? All of these things can be done in Florida! So if you’re ready to start your next adventure, keep reading. You’ll quickly find out why these are the best cities to visit in Florida…
What was once a bustling destination for shipping and trade, Cedar Key has become a beautiful island city with an easy going vibe. History buffs will love the abundance of Old Florida charm to be found there.
Learn about the area with a visit to the local museums, hit the water with some paddling, or rent a boat to go fishing. Cedar Key is also home to some incredible nature trails. The Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail is easily one of the best hiking trails in Florida! There’s no shortage of great things to do in Cedar Key. That’s what makes it one of the best cities to visit in Florida!
Considered the “manatee capital of the world”, it’s a no-brainer that Crystal River is one of the best cities to visit in Florida. Whether you choose to take a boat tour, kayak alongside them, or dive in for a swim with the manatees, you’ll be amazed by these gentle giants of the sea!
This isn’t all the city has to offer, though. Foodies will absolutely love the wide range of delicious eats and treats in Crystal River. Enjoy a perfectly grilled filet mignon at West 82º Bar & Grill or a Golden Monkey tea at Tea House 650. Walk off your meal as you enjoy the trails at Three Sisters Springs or as you explore the charming historic downtown core. Be sure to end your day with a brilliant sunset at Fort Island Gulf Beach. It’s certainly one of the things to do in Crystal River that is not to be missed!
It may be a small city on the southeast coast of Florida but Delray Beach is bursting with charm. One of the most popular spots in town is Atlantic Avenue. The pedestrian-friendly downtown is perfect for an afternoon or evening stroll. You’ll also want to visit the Pineapple Grove Arts District. There you’ll find a plethora of art exhibits, festivals, theatre performances, and more!
There is no shortage of great restaurants to check out in Delray Beach. If you’re looking for some of the best seafood in Florida, grab a bite at Mussel Beach. Unleash your inner child with a scoop or two of ice cream at Sloan’s. Balance out the sweet with the savoury Thai flavors you’ll find at Eatthai. Afterwards, fight your food coma with an impeccable cup of coffee from Subculture Coffee Roasters, one of the most unique coffee shops in Florida.
With 300+ days of sunshine, there are so many fun ways to enjoy the outdoors when visiting Fort Lauderdale. Of course, the 24 miles of beaches are not to be missed. You can also take an airboat ride in the Everglades. If you’d like to snorkel or scuba, Fort Lauderdale has 69 miles of natural coral reef just offshore.
If you’d like some indoor activities, Fort Lauderdale has some great museums. The Museum of Discovery & Science is one of the most popular, along with History Fort Lauderdale and NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. A truly iconic attraction in Fort Lauderdale is the Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show. During the show, you learn about Polynesian culture through music and dance.
Gainesville holds a special place in Vicky’s heart as she went to school at the University of Florida (UF). She’s returned a number of times since then and knows all of the incredible things to see and do. There are a number of fantastic outdoor attractions like the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, and Paynes Prairie. You’ll also find plenty of gorgeous street art in Gainesville that make fantastic photo opportunities. There are a number of events that happened throughout the year in Gainesville. One to certainly keep on your radar is the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire!
As you can probably guess, there are a number of amazing restaurants in Gainesville. It doesn’t matter if you’re craving a burger, sushi, or pizza, your cravings will be satisfied by incredible restaurants like The Top, Dragonfly Sushi, and Satchel’s Pizza. If you’re feeling thirsty, head to the Inherently Floridian Swamp Head Brewery. With all of this to offer, you’ll want to plan an overnight adventure so head to the best place to stay in the city, the Sweetwater Branch Inn.
The city of Homestead often gets overlooked. People drive right through it on their way to and from the Florida Keys, but most don’t bother to stop. We think that’s a mistake! Homestead has quite a few places to visit, including Schnebly’s, one of the best wineries on the East Coast. Schnebly’s is unique because it makes its wine with all kinds of fruit, not just grapes or blueberries.
Homestead is also the home of Coral Castle, one of the best castles in the US. It was built between 1923 and 1951 by Edward Leedskalnin as a symbol of his undying love for a woman who broke up with him a day before they were to be married. The Thai Buddhist Temple Wat Buddharangsi is also in Homestead. It is a great place to enjoy some peace and quiet and admire the many Buddha statues.
Another absolute must-visit in Homestead is the family-owned market called Robert is Here. They sell local and exotic fruits, veggies, and other groceries, but the reason they are famous is their milkshakes. They have all kinds of flavors and you can mix and match up to three. All milkshakes are made on the spot with no extra additives and they are absolutely delicious!
As the largest city in the state by population, Jacksonville has plenty to offer in terms of things to do. Say hello to the animals at the Jacksonville Zoo. Admire the European-inspired gardens along the St. Johns River at the Cummer Museum of Art. Or, experience the eclectic vibe of the Riverside/Avondale district where history meets modern design.
Jacksonville has over 850 square miles of beaches and canals to explore. It also has the largest system of nature park trails in the entire United States! You don’t want to miss out on the abundance of outdoor adventures in Jacksonville like kayaking, diving, and more.
If you’re a sports fan, chances are Jacksonville is on your radar as a top place to visit in Florida. However, as such, you’ll want to do a bit of planning ahead of time to ensure you make the most of your visit since it can get busy.
There’s a reason why Key West in the Florida Keys is one of the best cities to visit in Florida. Many flock to the island for a plethora of reasons. Key West is bursting with cultural icons from the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum to Capt Tony’s Saloon. There are a number of great tours which will give you an overview of the history and are certainly one of the top things to do in Key West. Don’t forget to enjoy the many photo opportunities! Take a selfie with US 1’s Mile Marker 0 and the Key West buoy, marking it as the southernmost point in the continental US!
Despite the inherent tourist attractions that are scattered throughout the area, the magical sunsets combined with the beautiful views make the Florida Keys one of the best places to visit in Florida for couples. Enjoy a candlelit dinner at Sunset Key. Take in the incredible views on a parasailing adventure. Or, spend the day relaxing on a beachfront cabana at the Casa Marina Resort.
Just south of West Palm Beach is the city of Lake Worth. This charming city has a growing food and art scene, as well as many historic buildings. One of the best ways to explore and learn about the area is to take a tour of Lake Worth. You’ll go to local eateries and visit eclectic art galleries.
For a longer visit, we recommend staying at the Mango Inn. It is only a 10 minute walk to all of the shops and restaurants in downtown Lake Worth, but still feels secluded. It’s location in the Parrot Cove neighborhood makes it perfect for a quiet and relaxing weekend.
One of the most popular cities to visit in Florida, Miami is a hot destination with so much to offer. While known for its thrilling nightlife and beautiful beaches, there is much more to Miami than meets the eye. Did you know you can visit an ancient Spanish Monastery? How about an amazing automobile museum? Let’s not forget about Miami’s Monkey Jungle. This is where monkeys roam freely inside the only semi-natural tropical rainforest in North America! This is just a handful of the unique things to do in Miami.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to break the bank during your visit either! Yes, Miami can indeed be one of the most expensive places to visit in Florida. However, there are a number of easy ways to keep costs down as you wander. Admiring the beautiful murals in Wynwood, touring the Biltmore Hotel, and exploring the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens are just a handful of the free things to do in Miami.
Another perk to visiting Miami is that there’s plenty to see and do nearby! You won’t want to miss touring the Everglades and there’s no one better to do that with than Billie Swamp Safari. It’s located on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. You’ll explore gorgeous nature trails, learn about local animals, and have the chance to try native Seminole cuisine. While in the area, we recommend a visit to the Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum. There you’ll learn more about the Seminole Indian tribe and the rich Native American culture found in Florida.
As you can see, Miami has something for everyone, no matter what your interests are. Whether you choose to embrace the arts, geek out in the museums, or enjoy the brilliant Miami waters via kayak, it’s a no brainer that Miami is one of the best places in Florida to vacation.
Miami Beach, not to be confused with the city of Miami, is definitely one of the best cities to visit in Florida. Many don’t realize that Miami Beach is an island city between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, while Miami is on the mainland.
Home to some of the best beaches in Florida, you cannot go wrong with some fun in the sun here. Stroll along the ever iconic Lincoln Road as you peruse the shops and patios. People watch for days as you feel the sand in your toes. Enjoy the beautiful boardwalks of North Beach or watch the yachts and ferries go by from South Pointe Park. Let’s not forget the abundance of bars and clubs where you can dance the night away until sunrise!
Oh, and let’s not forget the many amazing restaurants. Whether you’re craving the best Thai food around, the classic combo of burgers and shakes, or are on the hunt for some serious food truck action, you won’t go hungry in Miami Beach. In all honesty, you might need to book an overnight stay so you can sleep off your food coma!
Along Florida’s west coast is the beautiful city of Naples. We’ve seen some amazing sunsets in Naples! The city also has great farmers’ markets, restaurants, and shops. If you love to fish, head over to the Naples Pier. It’s also a great place to look out for dolphins. Another popular attraction is the Naples Botanical Garden, with 170 acres of plants from around the world.
Ocala has found a warm place in our hearts. We’ve done a number of house sits there, meaning we’ve really had the chance to explore it like locals!
Exploring historic downtown Ocala is a must with its adorable shops, great restaurants, and our favorite – the painted horse statues! Art connoisseurs will want to check out the Appleton Museum of Art. Outdoor explorers will love The Canyons Zipline and Canopy Tours and Silver Springs State Park. If you’re a fan of craft beer, then you’ll want to pay a visit to Infinite Ale Works. It’s one of the best breweries in Florida!
There are a number of great attractions for families too. The quirky Official Florida Flamingo Museum has the world’s largest collection of flamingo-related items! First Fridays are a must too, as downtown takes on a new vibe with local artisans lining the streets. Let’s just say that there is no shortage of fun things to do in Ocala.
Orlando is one of the most visited cities in Florida, and that comes as no surprise. There’s a lot to do in and around Orlando! It’s obviously known for its theme parks; two of our favorites are Disney World’s Animal Kingdom and Legoland. But Central Florida has a lot more to offer.
How would you like to go on a hot air balloon ride and see Disney from the sky? Or maybe you’d like to try some Central Florida wineries? With so much to offer, make sure you give yourself time to explore Orlando and its surrounding area. If you’re flying in, getting a car rental from the Orlando airport is a convenient and quick way to get your adventure started.
If you love close-knit communities that are passionate about all things local, then you will adore Sanford. Locals are very proud of their little town and the history behind it. Did you know Sanford was once the celery capital of the world? How about that local sports stars Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson played in town? Or that you can work with local photographers to craft beautiful photos that you’ll remember forever?
Located about 30 minutes from Orlando, we recommend you check out some of these great things to do in Sanford the next time you’re heading to Disney!
One of the best cities to visit in Florida is also also one of the oldest. The city of St. Augustine is known as the “Nation’s Oldest City” because it is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America. Juan Ponce de Leon first explored this area in 1513 while on his quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth. The city was founded in 1565 and was ruled by both the Spanish and the British before eventually becoming an American territory.
Some of St. Augustine’s top attractions include wine tasting at San Sebastian Winery and a tour of Whetstone Chocolate Factory. Other popular attractions are the Castillo de San Marcos, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, and walking down St. George Street. Even the Pirate and Treasure Museum gives a lot of insight into the history of piracy in Colonial America, with both interactive technology and over 800 museum-quality artifacts.
St. Petersburg continues to grow and grow! The St. Pete Pier District is a fun place to explore, with green spaces, waterfront restaurants, a marketplace with local artisans, and amazing public art. Speaking of art, the street art in St. Petersburg is incredible and new murals are added around town constantly.
St. Peteresburg is home to some of the best museums in Florida, including the brand-new Museum of the American Arts & Crafts Movement, the Dali Museum, and the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center. And, of course, you should visit St. Pete Beach, Tripadvisor’s No. 1 Beach in the U.S. in 2021!
As the state capital and the home of Florida State University (FSU), Tallahassee has a lot to offer visitors. It might not be the biggest city around but there are a number of important landmarks to see and experience! This is just one of the many reasons why it makes our list of best cities to visit in Florida.
Since there’s plenty to see and do, we recommend first getting acquainted with a segway tour of Tallahassee. This will allow you to get to know the city a little better in a speedy, effortless way. Then we recommend you diving deep into some of the historical gems in the city. Head to the Tallahassee Museum to learn about the natural history of Northern Florida.
Next, we recommend heading to Mission San Luis. There, costumed interpreters will teach you about native Apalachee Indians and Spaniards who lived together in the late 1600s before they were forced to evacuate by British forces. Another great spot that even non-history buffs will enjoy is the Museum of Florida with tactile, interactive exhibits that are fun for all ages!
For the foodies, you will rejoice as the mix of both government officials and college students gives Tallahassee a wide range of fantastic restaurants to dine at. We definitely recommend spending at least one night in Tallahassee. There’s no better place to call home than The Governors Inn Hotel.
Oh and for any of our readers in Georgia, Tallahassee makes for a fantastic road trip from Atlanta!
Titusville is one of the destinations in Florida that really surprised us. It’s well known thanks to the Kennedy Space Center. However, it wasn’t until we visited the city’s welcome center that we realized just how much there is to see and do!
Our first visit to Titusville was to go skydiving which we 100% recommend. Not only will you enjoy phenomenal views of central Florida but you’ll also experience the world’s highest tandem jump! No wonder it’s one of the best places to go skydiving in the United States. If that’s a little too much adrenaline for you, though, don’t worry. There are plenty of other great things to do in Titusville. Enjoy the Florida mural trail, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and more.
Oh, and if the reason you are visiting is to get your space on, we highly recommend taking the time to visit Port Canaveral’s Exploration Tower. It’s not to be missed while visiting Florida’s space coast!
West Palm Beach
During your Florida travels, we recommend slowing things down with a weekend in Palm Beach. You may even want to plan it for October during their spa and wellness month. During this time, you can save big on visits to their award-winning spas! Even if that doesn’t work out, West Palm Beach has plenty of relaxing things to do. Take a sunset cruise, lay out at Juno Beach, or eat like royalty. You can also take a self-guided tour at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, one of the best lighthouses on the east coast!
There are an abundance of fantastic restaurants to indulge in, though we recommend hopping on a Taste History Culinary Tour. You’ll be toured around West Palm Beach where you’ll enjoy learning about the area’s history, beginning at pre-colonization until the present day, all while enjoying scrumptious food from family-owned eateries.
If you do choose to spend a weekend exploring West Palm Beach and the area, we have two hotel recommendations for you. The first is The Colony Hotel. There you’ll feel like a big shot as the hotel has hosted both US presidents and European royalty since it opened in 1947! The other is the Hilton Garden Inn Palm Beach Gardens. Its amazing amenities and its location close to restaurants, shopping malls, and world-class beaches and golf courses make it the perfect home base for your visit.
Final Thoughts On The Best Cities To Visit In Florida
While it isn’t always sunshine and beaches in Florida (we’re looking at you, Hurricane Irma), it’s a special corner of the world that we will forever love. There is so much diversity in the state and you can see, do, and learn so much. And for the times when you’re missing Florida terribly, you can always check out these virtual experiences until you’re reunited with the Sunshine State once again.
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