Best Places to Visit in Florida

Florida is one of our nation’s, if not the world’s, most popular vacation destinations…and for very good reason. Although it is extremely hard to narrow down, here is a small sampling of the best places to visit if you happen to be in Florida.

It almost goes without saying, but of course Florida is home to the most magnificent theme parks and attractions anywhere. Disney World in Orlando offers over 40 square miles of entertainment and includes nearly 30 themed hotels. Epcot in Orlando is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement and technological innovation, in a very fun way. Then there is Universal Orlando Resort with its rides, animated characters and amazing cinematic moments brought to life with exhibits including Harry Potter’s Escape, Minion Mayhem and Men in Black Alien Attack. You don’t want to miss Gatorland’s 110 acre wildlife preserve or Legoland in Winter Haven. Plus, there are a multitude of waterparks located throughout the entire state of Florida, including Adventure Island in Tampa, Big Kahuna in Destin and the Rapids Waterpark in Riviera Beach.

If you don’t enjoy the beaches in Florida, most people would say you’ve lost your marbles. According to Florida’s State Department, Florida possesses 663 miles of beaches. They come in the form of crystal clear ocean waves that softly slap the sugary white sand and scenic rivers including the St. John’s – which is famous for its frolicking manatees; and the Indian River Lagoon – which stretches 156 miles and is home to over 4,300 species of plants and animals. U.S. News and World Report also suggests a visit to Florida beaches and anoints quite a few as the best around, including Clearwater Beach, Panama City, Destin, Sanibel, Marco Island, Naples, Ft. Lauderdale, Amelia Island and St. Petersburg. 

If it is at all possible that you are not a big fan of lounging around and digging your toes in the sand, Florida’s beautiful waters that are located right on the edge of those beaches are the perfect place for watersports like boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and more!

Florida is also a great place to explore, with 175 state parks on over 800,000 acres, including the Underwater Archeological Preserve State Park in Islamorada, which brings us to the next Florida must-see – the Florida Keys. Key West is home to the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum and the unique sunset antics of Mallory Square. In the Florida Keys, you can also take a cruise on the African Queen in Key Largo and dive with the porpoises at the Dolphin Research Center by Marathon.

If your interests lean toward the celestial, go ahead and have a blast on the Space Coast! Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island offers volumes of historic spacecraft memorabilia, simulated rides into space and, if you time your visit right, you may even catch an actual launch first-hand. 

Daytona Beach is our nation’s birthplace of racing and the Daytona International Speedway is “The World Center of Racing”. Since its opening in 1959, the Daytona International Speedway has hosted the most prestigious race in NASCAR – the Daytona 500; and coupled with exciting nightlife and amazing beachside shopping and restaurants, Daytona Beach certainly has something for everyone.

Florida may be considered the Sunshine State, but it also delivers festivals in abundance. There’s Oktoberfest in Lantana, Mount Dora’s February Art Fest, Crystal River Manatee Festival, Tampa Pirate Festival, Plant City’s Strawberry Festival, the Fort Myers Shrimp Festival, the Calle Ocho Hispanic Festival in Miami, Pensacola’s Greek Festival, the Dunedin Highland Games Festival, Venice Shark Tooth Festival, Tampa’s Gasparilla Music Festival, Pompano Beach Seafood Festival, Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival…and those just skim the surface of Florida’s festive events!

If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to visit the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, which is an historic landmark and was home to Henry Flagler – Florida’s lauded pioneer of the railroad industry. Florida also has a rich American Indian history and showcases it in places like the Sugar Mill Ruins in New Smyrna Beach, which was attacked during both Seminole Wars and Turtle Mound, found on Canaveral National Seashore and one of Florida’s largest prehistoric Indian archeological sites. 

Speaking of history, there is no place lovelier to soak it up than St, Augustine. Our nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine is home to everything from Castillo de San Marco, the oldest masonry fort in the United States; to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, a 15-acre attraction where you can drink from the famous springs. St. Augustine also offers Marineland Dolphin Adventure, which is the world’s first oceanarium and where guests can interact with bottlenose dolphins and engage in hands-on exhibits and educational programs. There are also trolley tours of historic downtown St. Augustine, a Medieval Torture Museum, the Black Raven interactive pirate cruise, St. Augustine’s Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, the Whetstone Chocolate Tour, Ritter’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, an Afterlife Paranormal Tour and wine tasting at San Sebastian Winery. If beer is more your thing, there is a Pour Tour which visits St. Augustine’s brew pubs by bus. 

Then, who could forget lively Miami, where people-watching on South Beach is as entertaining as its celebrity home and beach mansion tours. You can also tour Miami by speedboat or helicopter. Take the Little Havana Food and Walking Tour or experience a nature adventure aboard an Everglades airboat. Miami is a place that is world-renowned for its nightlife as well…a place where you can listen to live music or dance the night away.

Velocity Clinical Research is located right in the thick of it all, in the waterside town of Edgewater in Central Florida…and only a convenient drive away from all the Orlando has to offer, historic St. Augustine, “The World’s Most Famous Beach” – Daytona Beach, out of this world Cape Canaveral and right next door to the quaint, beachside charm of New Smyrna Beach.