The Best Places to Visit in Florida by Floridians

Need to know the best places to visit in Florida? Find the Florida travel bloggers advice here.

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Florida is a fantastic place to visit. It’s an even better place to live. The Sunshine State has a lot to offer, so it’s no wonder millions of people look for the best places to go in Florida. Fortunately, we live here and try to explore our home state as often as we can. However, it’s impossible to see and do it all. I reached out to my fellow Floridian bloggers to see what they think are the best places to visit in Florida.

Need to know the best places to visit in Florida? Find the Florida travel bloggers advice here.

If you want a Florida local’s perspective, we’ve got you covered. In this article, you’ll find where to go, hidden gems, and favorite destinations in Florida, by the people that live there. Just don’t expect to find the Florida Man here! I’ve set this up by region to help you find the best places to visit in Florida easier.

North Florida

Navarre Beach

“Florida’s Most Relaxing Place” is calling your name for a long weekend trip. Navarre Beach has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Located between Pensacola and Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Florida’s Most Relaxing Place — whose communities include Navarre Beach, Gulf Breeze, historic Milton — is an easy drive from most anywhere in the Southeast. Santa Rosa County features Florida’s most relaxing beaches that have soft, pearl white sand and emerald waves, breathtaking sunsets and inland waterway adventures to savor at an unrushed pace in a laidback atmosphere. Pensacola International Airport is just 30 miles away with air service provided by American, Delta, United, US Airways and Southwest, while Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is 25 miles away and is serviced by Allegiant Airlines, American and Delta.

American pride is alive and well in Milton, FL, a quaint “throw back” community just inland from the Panhandle’s popular Navarre Beach.  Here the high school ROTC marches in Veteran’s Day parades, the Fourth of July features a festive fireworks extravaganza, and year round a highly decorated sea turtle soars on display above the County Courthouse lawn, emblazoned with the American flag and insignias of the five branches of the U.S. military.  If you’re planning a Florida trip over President’s Day Weekend Feb 15-17, 2020, put Navarre Beach and Milton on your short list. There’s plenty of good old fashioned fun to be had, from kayaking to zip lining, wet suit surfing and even the Navarre Beach Mardi Gras Parade (Feb 15), along with great local seafood to feast upon and unbelievable lodging deals in what’s affectioately referred to as “Florida’s Most Relaxing Place.”

 FamilyVacationCritic.com ranks Navarre Beach #2 of “10 Best Family Beaches for 2019,” and included it in their 2019 ranking of “10 Secret Florida Vacation Spots You Never Knew About.”  

For more information, please visit www.GetRelaxing.com

Central Florida

St. Pete

One of the best places to visit in Florida is St Petersburg.  This area has so much to offer and it isn’t overly crowded. Downtown St Pete has become a main attraction with tons of hip bars, restaurants and cool things to do. Central Ave is the heart of downtown, while Beach Drive has an upscale vibe.  I recommend renting a bike ( from the bike share program Coast Bikes) or walking to explore both areas. One of the must-see attractions is the Salvador Dali Museum, also located on beach drive.   

St Pete has a great selection of restaurants and bars, it’s a foodies paradise!   For some good beer visit Green Bench, which is a local brewery. If you like rooftops and nice waterfront views, then you should check out the Canopy located at the birchwood on Beach Drive. For another romantic spot, swing by Che at Ceviche.  Che is a Latin underground bar at Ceviche and is perfect for dinner or just drinks. Be sure to try the sangria at Ceviche. 

While visiting St Pete, you must check out the beaches.  St Pete Beach is great if you like populated beaches with bars and restaurants within walking distance. The Don CeSar is located on St Pete Beach and is a great place to stay or have a spa day. Visit the Grand Plaza Hotel for the best rooftop in St Pete beach at Level 11 or Spinners Bistro.  Check out Fort De Soto if you prefer more of a secluded beach. 

Hi, I’m Andra a travel blogger from St Pete, Florida.   I share travel tips and help you travel smarter on a mid-priced budget.


Winter Park

Nestled near busy downtown Orlando is The Harry P. Leu Gardens, a peaceful oasis that is enjoyable for visitors of all ages.  The botanical garden spans 50-acres and is the perfect spot for kids to run and explore, photographers to find inspiration or for anyone who just needs to escape the stress of crowded theme parks and take a stroll.

The formal rose garden is one of the largest in Florida and just one of several areas at Harry P. Leu that provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding ceremony or unique formal event. The idea garden features the sculpture works of Florida artist Peter Oftinoski, and a revolving schedule or special exhibitions ensure that every visit is unique.

One of our favorite spots as a family is the Lake Rowena overlook, where kids can try to spot turtles, fish and possibly even an alligator or two from a safe area. In addition, the Floral Clock, just off of the rose garden, was inspired by the famous floral clock in Edinburgh, Scotland and is a great area to take some family photos. 

Admission is $10 and children are $5.00. However, if you frequently like to explore botanical gardens, the annual membership may be the best deal as Harry P. Leu is a member of the American Horticultural Society. A Harry P. Leu Membership will allow you free access to nearly 300 other gardens nationwide.

Plan about two hours to visit, but you can spend as little or long as you would like taking in nature. It’s important to note, though, that pets, jogging, bicycles, and skating are not permitted.

Keri of FlipFlopWeekend

Keri lives just outside of Orlando, Florida with her husband and two kids. Though she works full-time as a school counselor, she and her family make travel a priority during vacation time and weekends. FlipFlopWeekend was created to share how you can also travel on a budget, regardless of whether your dream destination is Disney World or around the world.


Mount Dora

Named one of the Top 10 Most Charming Small Towns to visit in 2019 by Travel & Leisure, Mount Dora is located about 45 Northwest of Orlando. Though a small town, it’s home to some of the biggest, and best places to visit in Florida. 

Mount Dora has been Nationally recognized for its annual Art Festival, held every February, for the past 45 years. Each weekend, you can hop over to Renninger’s Antique Market, one of the largest antique establishments in the state. The downtown streets are full of shops, restaurants, bakeries, and bars. 

Aside from events, Mount Dora has plenty of everyday things to do and see. There are several ways to see the sights. You can rent a bike, take a Segway tour, a ghost tour, rent mini speed boats, or take a sunset cruise on Lake Dora. 

If you prefer to walk, Palm Island Park has a boardwalk, and trails for nature exploration. You will find lots of large oaks, palm trees, native birds, turtles, fish, and be on the lookout for gators. The Port of Mount Dora is the best place to watch the sunset upon Lake Dora.

Many local establishments host a variety of entertainment daily. For theatrical performances, our favorite place is the Sonnetag Theatre at the Icehouse. 

Be sure not to miss Lakeside Inn, the oldest continuously operated hotel in Florida. No matter when you decide to visit, expect you can find something fun. Mount Dora is a true Florida treasure.

Julie Gazdecki – How We Find Happy – Julie is Michigan Born & Raised, but now Central Florida Living. We are sharing our Happy of Disney, Travel, Food, Beer & Life!


Clermont

Clermont, FL may be a small town but it is a gem of a city.  It puts definition to the phrase “Love where you live.”  Not only can you find the usual shopping, dining, and entertainment in Clermont, but you will find history, culture, adventure, and art. 

Rent a kayak on Lake Louisa and tour the city by the waterways.  Play disc golf at Hiawatha Park.  How about a run or a bike ride on our beautiful and vast trails?  Go for a hike in the Crooked River Preserve and bring a camera because the wildlife is something to marvel.  

Read the full article on Clermont, Florida here.

Christina is a Clermont resident and blogger at Moms in the Trenches. Along with her fellow moms, she takes the worst-case scenarios and turns them into best-case disasters.


Williston

Just an hour and a half north of Orlando, discover the tranquility of north-central Florida with a visit to Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens in Williston, Florida.

This local, hidden gem is worth the trip! If a picnic lunch in a beautiful, lush botanical garden sounds like the perfect weekend jaunt, this excursion is for you.

With humble beginnings in an abandoned 110-year-old limestone quarry, founder and owner Dr. Raymond T. Webber transformed the land into a majestic and unique garden featuring a wide variety of plants and other botanical wonders. It’s become such a haven that now many local wildlife species such as birds of prey, amphibians, and fish call the gardens home. The botanical gardens are perfect for families. Teach young children about conservation, photograph beautiful plant specimens, and keep your eye on their events calendar for fun, family-friendly events occurring year-round. This is certainly a place to relax and have fun and is easily accessible from points north, south, east, and west.

Catie Carey is a Digital Content Strategist for 407apartments.com. Based in Gainesville, she loves exploring the many wonderful of North Florida with her husband and three children.


Lakeland

There are some beautiful big cities in Florida packed with family fun ideas. Sometimes it can be fun to head off the beaten path a bit and explore some of the other great cities in Florida. Lakeland is a city that is nearly halfway between Orlando and Tampa. This is a fun stop on your way to either place. Check out these 10 things to do in Lakeland Florida that are sure to be a hit! 

Meagan is a Central Florida blogger who loves to share real mom tips, honest travel advice, and recipes anyone can make. Find her content at Meagan Gets Real


Colt Creek State Park

Lakeland is home to so many hidden gems: from an emerging foodie scene with food halls, bakeries, gastropubs, and the greatest coffee shops, to the cutest boutiques, markets, and makers around, and the actual lakes, trails, and nature preserves, this Polk County town is a great place to explore.

One of my top goals of 2020 is to get outside and enjoy nature more! This is easy to do in Central Florida.

Polk County is home to Colt Creek State Park, just a few miles outside Lakeland.

After months of hitting ‘interested’ on events on Facebook, we decided to grab our hiking gear (read: amazon-ing a last-minute pair of hiking boots), we hit the trails for a First Day Hike.

You can absolutely see why people want to spend their first few hours of a brand new year here; Colt Creek is an expansive 5000 acres of pure, natural Florida wildlife.

Trails expand all over this state park. You could quite literally get lost in nature. It is so incredibly peaceful. 

We hiked only a few miles though there are 15 miles of marked trails here to explore.

Though the park is home to many bald eagle, gators (of course), and deer, we didn’t catch any. We did, however, experience the beauty of the cypress trees, flat woods, and creeks that make up the park.

I highly recommend a guided tour- they are offered all the time! And if hiking isn’t your thing- they also offer guided tram tours that drive you around the park.

Definitely add this state park to your list if you want to live like a Florida local!

I’m Jackie, just a #TIUGIRL navigating the mom life through cute clothes, sweaty selfies, clean eats and treats, and figuring out how to balance it all. Follow me at Fresh Fit Florida.


Oveido

Lukas Nursery is a great place to visit to photograph butterflies and flowers. They are a nursery with lots of plants, gardening supplies, and cute garden decorations which would make great souvenirs.  Lukas Nursery has a lot of unique garden decorations hidden throughout the nursery and it’s like a fun scavenger hunt for kids or adults to see how many you can find. Sometimes you can find a ceramic monkey hanging from a tree or little fairy village hidden under some leaves, but I personally love being local since every time I visit I see something new.

It’s a photographer’s dream place to photograph a great variety of flowers plus lots of little garden animals such as lizards, birds, bees, ladybugs, caterpillars and butterflies depending on the season.  You can find great textures to photograph by zooming in close on the flowers and garden decorations with a macro lens. If you not a photographer you can still get great photos with your phone for your vacation scrapbook.    

It’s only $6 to visit the Butterfly Encounter greenhouses or free to just visit the nursery.  In the Butterfly Encounter there is a butterfly feeding room and if you hold still the butterflies will land on you which is very fun for families with kids.  They offer group tours and educational field trips for kids with reservations.  

Amanda Myers from A Style Photography specializes in photographing Pets, Kids, Family Portraits, Events, Product Photography, and lots more.  My 6 rescued cats love to model with pet products and we are always looking forward to our next product photography project.


Weeki Wachee

More than just a cool name, Weeki Wachee is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful destinations that is incredible because of all of the wildlife and almost none of the crowds in some of the more popular destinations. It definitely tops one of the best places to visit in Florida! Plus there is so much to do in this small area! One of the most beautiful parts of Weeki Wachee is the natural spring-fed and crystal clear Weeki Wachee river. It’s the ultimate place to go kayaking where manatee and even otter encounters are pretty regular. 

Apart from kayaking, Weeki Wachee is also famous for being home to mermaids! At Weeki Wachee State Park actors in mermaid tails swim underwater and act out popular shows such as The Little Mermaid, Frozen, and other fun stories. Kids absolutely adore it as well as getting to meet the mermaids after, but it’s fun for adults too. It’s incredible just thinking about how long these actors manage to hold their breath underwater and swim around with a tail rather than legs. 

There are so many other fun things to do in the area as well from go carts and outdoor laser tag at Springleton park as well as the aerial adventure park at treehoppers where you learn to tightrope 30 feet in the area and jump from trees at 20 feet in the air. For a small little town, Weeki Wachee truly has so much to offer!

MyCurlyAdventures is a travel blogger who encourages people to travel locally by exploring the magic in their own backyard. Her goal is that everyone can live a travel lifestyle no matter their situation whether that means traveling around the world or looking for fun and quick weekend getaways. 


Volusia County

One of the most amazing things about Florida is all the natural springs, which are found in the central and northern parts of the state. The water is crystal clear and remains around 72 degrees all year long, making them as refreshing as they are beautiful. They offer a pristine environment for tubing, snorkeling, diving, manatee watching, and more.

Florida offers a variety of springs to choose from, with something for everyone. Those with little kids may want to check out Alexander  Springs, those wanting to float down a lazy river will want to set their eyes on Rainbow Springs, while those who want to see lots of manatees will want to take a trip to Blue Spring State Park, in Orange City, on a cold winter morning.

For the visitors who want a spring and food experience, they should stop by DeLeon Springs State Park, where they can make their own pancakes on a griddle in the old mill restaurant, and then take a dip in the spring.

Florida’s springs are one of the state’s finest gems, giving people a place to have fun, relax, and renew. Spending a couple of hours at one of the springs is a great way to nourish the soul and take in some of the best of what the state has to offer. Many of the springs are located in parks that offer additional opportunities, including camping, hiking, and kayaking. The springs offer a taste of real Florida, which something everyone should see!

Jacqueline Bodnar is a professional writer and blogger who lives in the Daytona Beach area. She runs Volusia County MomsFlorida Family Nature, and VegBlogger, as well as has several published books.


Kennedy Space Center

My family has 2 favorites for the best places to visit in Florida. I couldn’t pick just one and you can’t make me, lol.  Both are affordable and perfect for all ages, grown to little tikes. The first one is NASA. Kennedy Space Center is a phenomenal place to spend a few hours or days. My teenagers actually hold season passes and go down by themselves. No, they are space nerds or really big into science either.  The Space Shuttle Atlantis is one of the best experiences. I cry each time I see it. And yes it’s good enough to do more than once. You will also want to jump on one of the tour buses. You may see a baby bald eagle or a rocket sitting on a launchpad. It depends on the day. I almost guarantee you will see the largest one-story building in the world. I highly suggest a trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center. 

My other very favorite Florida place is really really cheap and again suitable for all ages. You can find it almost anywhere in central to northern Florida. It’s the natural springs around here. I lived in South Florida for a long long time and never knew the most majestic springs we have. The water is crystal clear, 72 degrees year-round and contains manatees in the winter months. I personally love floating down Rainbow Springs and snorkeling in De Leon Springs. Its what we Floridians call the “real” Florida.

Amy Barrett is a Florida mom to a large family that loves food of all kinds. She writes recipes and more at MyWorldSimplified.com 


DeLand

One of my favorite places to visit in Florida is DeLand, located west of Daytona Beach. It isn’t just one thing about DeLand that makes it unique, but a laid-back framework of many things including fantastic art galleries, impressive state parks, spring-hopping, and fish camps.

DeLand has the spectacular 100-year-old Athens Theatre, offering concerts and touring shows, plus the 150-year-old Stetson Mansion, home to the most popular Christmas tour in Florida. 

You’ll also find delicious restaurants and tasty breweries in town, along with the Instagram-worthy DeLand Wings wall murals by artist Erica Group that the town is most proud of. Oh, and did I mention one of the coolest (and safest) places to skydive is in DeLand, along with ecotours of the St. John’s River and Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe and pie factory? 

If you still want more, pay a visit to the intriguing Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp and have a psychic reading or pet the turtles and other zoo creatures at Smooth Waters Wildlife Park.

DeLand eateries to try include BakeChop, Emmy’s Time Out Tavern, and Cress Restaurant, or you can tour a bunch of them with a food tour from Great Tasting Tours. Pay a visit to Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. and The Half Wall Beer House for a tasty stout or IPA, and Abbey Bar for a tasty mead.  

DeLand is a place you’ll fall in love with and want to visit over and over again

Melody Pittman is one half of Wherever I May Roam Blog where she writes with her daughter Taylor about multi-generational luxury travel, culture, and food. She loves cruising, small towns, theme parks, animals, museums, history, and is a proud foodie. 


Lake Wales Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens is the rejuvenating breath of fresh air you need when visiting Florida. Nestled in the heart of Central Florida in Lake Wales, Bok Tower Gardens feels like a secret garden amidst miles of orange groves. This isn’t any ol’ garden to visit; you’re sure to be delighted by it’s Singing Tower, orange trees, wildlife, and a stunning view from one of the highest points of peninsular Florida. 

The 205-foot-tall Singing Tower is an architectural and artistic masterpiece. It’s covered in art featuring all kinds of nature and animals. It also boasts a neat sundial. But it’s what’s inside that earned it its name–a carillon, which is an instrument comprised of at least 23 bronze bells played from a keyboard. Bok Tower’s carillon features 60 bells weighing between 16 pounds and 12 tons. There are only 600 carillons in the world and you can enjoy a concert among nature multiple times a day at Bok Tower Gardens. 

You want to miss this peaceful oasis of beautiful landscapes, wildlife habitats and areas for reflection during your next visit to Florida. 

Whitney Gonzalez is the storyteller behind the travel and self-development blog, CityWhit.com. She is a Latina and longtime Orlando, Florida resident who enjoys the outdoors, especially when accompanied by her two pups. 

South Florida

Wynwood

One area of Miami that we always recommend to visitors is the neighborhood of Wynwood. Once a rundown and deserted area, it has been revitalized over the years and is now one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Miami. There are shops, cafes, and restaurants but what people really go to see is the street art. Every inch of Wynwood is covered in art! From the sidewalk, to light poles, and every wall in between, visitors can see all kinds of graffiti and murals.

What we love about Wynwood is that the art is always changing. New murals are created year-round; some paying homage to local icons, some sharing political opinions, and some that simply push you to use your imagination. You could spend an entire day walking the many blocks that comprise the Wynwood area, taking in the street art and murals. And because the art is constantly changing, you could go back months later and see brand new pieces.

Also, don’t be surprised if you see celebrities and other well-known personalities while wandering around Wynwood. Former President Obama has bought tacos from a favorite local restaurant there and there are often movies and music videos filmed on the streets as well.

Vicky Sosa is a Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with her stuffed monkey Buddy. Her website Buddy The Traveling Monkey provides useful travel tips, inspiration, and destination guides. Although she writes about her travels all over the world, she loves to focus on Florida and show how much more there is to the state than the typical tourist attractions. You can follow Vicky and Buddy’s adventures on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. 


Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce on Florida’s Treasure Coast is a true treasure. With over 22 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches and fantastic surf breaks, it’s an outdoor lovers paradise. 

A selection of waterside restaurants and tiki bars means plenty of sunsets over the Indian River as you sip an ice-cold libation and enjoy a pleasant tasty meal. 

Wander downtown on Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning and enjoy the Farmers Market. You’ll find a selection of fresh local produce, seafood, and more waiting for you. 

With so many options, come explore the Treasure Coast!                    

Betsi and Jim Hill are all about living a smart luxury lifestyle & smart luxury travel. They’re passionate travelers who love sharing our travel finds, tips, & tricks with you. No matter where we are, we love snapping pics to inspire you to explore wherever you are!

Find them at Betsi’s World.com


Plantation

The City of Plantation is known for its motto- the grass is greener, and I think that just might be true.

In the heart of the city is a little gem, the Plantation Historical Museum. Surprisingly many residents don’t know it even exists. My family and I found out about the museum when we move to Plantation in 2013 and it has been one of our holiday traditions to visit the museum’s Winter Wonderland. Each year around Christmas time the winter wonderland exhibit displays over 30 beautifully decorated Christmas trees, each one with a different theme. There is a gorgeous Disney tree decked out with Minnie and Mickey, there is also an upside-down tree that is just too cool. The tallest tree is 12 feet and it is a sight to see. There are is a USA Presidents tree, a Star Trek tree, and a snowman tree that has hundreds of snowmen of all sizes. The snowman tree might be my favorite.


My daughters enjoy going multiple times each year and they have literally grown up right before the museum attendants’ eyes. Throughout the year there are also permanent exhibits include artifacts from the Seminole and Tequesta tribes, memorabilia from the Fire and Police departments, and historically significant families. After we leave the museum, we take walks in the beautiful, serene Botanical Gardens Park, which is located right behind the museum. It is a great way to wind down our outing. If you are ever in the plantation area, drop by.

Mae Blooms is a wife, mom of 3, author and a South Florida native. She blogs at Isn’t Life More and loves encouraging others. 


As you can see, there are a LOT of the best places to visit in Florida that we Floridians love. Save this post so that you can refer back to it again and again by pinning it here.

2 thoughts on “The Best Places to Visit in Florida by Floridians”

    1. Thanks Charles! Love the link to Anna Maria Island too! That’s one of those places I keep reading about and still have yet to get there!

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