Florida offers a wide range of attractions that cater to diverse interests and preferences. Here are some of the main types of attractions you can find in Florida:
Theme parks in Florida are major tourist attractions known for their immersive entertainment experiences, thrilling rides, and a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages.
Florida is home to some of the world’s most renowned theme parks, drawing millions of visitors each year. Here’s an overview of the most prominent theme parks in the state:
Disney World: officially known as the Walt Disney World Resort, is a massive entertainment complex and theme park located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando, Florida. It is one of the most famous and visited vacation destinations in the world and is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company.
Islands of Adventure: Known for its thrilling rides, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Jurassic Park River Adventure, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.
SeaWorld Orlando: Combines marine life exhibits with thrilling rides like Mako, Kraken, and Journey to Atlantis. Features animal shows, including the famous Shamu show, though the park has shifted its focus away from orca performances in recent years.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Offers a unique blend of thrilling rides and wildlife experiences with a focus on animals from around the world. Rides like SheiKra, Montu, and Cheetah Hunt are known for their excitement.
Legoland Florida Resort: Geared towards families with younger children, it features LEGO-themed attractions, rides, and a water park. Offers a variety of interactive and creative experiences for kids.
Aquatica Orlando: A water park by SeaWorld with water slides, lazy rivers, and animal exhibits.
Fun Spot America: A smaller amusement park with go-karts, roller coasters, and arcade games.
Universal Orlando Resort: Offers immersive experiences based on popular movies and TV shows, including Harry Potter-themed areas and rides.
These theme parks offer a wide range of experiences, from character meet-and-greets to heart-pounding roller coasters, immersive storytelling, and themed dining.
Visitors can enjoy family-friendly attractions, shows, parades, and seasonal events throughout the year. Florida’s theme parks are a major draw for tourists and provide unforgettable memories for people of all ages.
Florida boasts a diverse range of natural attractions, thanks to its unique geography and climate. From lush wetlands to crystal-clear springs, beaches and diverse ecosystems, the state offers numerous opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Here are some of the notable natural attractions in Florida:
Everglades National Park: Often referred to as the “River of Grass,” the Everglades is the largest tropical wilderness of any kind in the U.S. It’s famous for its unique ecosystem of sawgrass marshes, cypress swamps, and mangrove forests.
Visitors can explore the park by taking airboat tours, hiking trails, or paddling through its waterways to observe alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife.
Florida Keys: This coral cay archipelago is a paradise for water enthusiasts. It offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities in the United States. The Florida Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America, making it a hotspot for marine life and underwater exploration.
Wakulla Springs State Park: Located near Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. The park offers boat tours that allow visitors to see manatees, alligators, and various bird species in their natural habitat.
Ocala National Forest: A vast forested area in Central Florida with over 600 lakes, rivers, and springs. It’s a popular spot for hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
Alexander Springs and Juniper Springs are two well-known natural springs within the forest, offering crystal-clear waters for swimming and snorkeling.
Big Cypress National Preserve: Located adjacent to the Everglades, this preserve is known for its unique freshwater and estuarine ecosystems. It’s a haven for birdwatchers, with opportunities to spot the elusive Florida panther, as well as other wildlife like manatees and black bears.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park: Famous for its pristine blue spring-fed river, Ichetucknee is a popular destination for tubing, snorkeling, and picnicking. The park is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, lush surroundings, and abundant wildlife.
Apalachicola National Forest: Known for its impressive longleaf pine forests, this forest offers hiking, camping, and birdwatching opportunities. It’s home to the Bradwell Bay Wilderness, a protected area with pristine wetlands and rare plant species.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary: This Audubon-owned sanctuary in Southwest Florida is a prime spot for birdwatching, particularly during the winter migration season. Visitors can walk along a boardwalk that winds through ancient cypress swamps, where they may spot herons, egrets, and the elusive wood stork.
Florida Beaches: Florida is renowned for its beautiful beaches. The state’s beaches are among the most popular tourist destinations in the United States due to their stunning natural beauty, warm climate, and diverse recreational opportunities. Some famous beach destinations include Miami Beach, Clearwater Beach, Daytona Beach, and Siesta Key Beach.
These natural attractions in Florida showcase the state’s rich biodiversity and offer a chance to immerse yourself in its unique ecosystems, whether you’re interested in wildlife observation, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the Sunshine State.
Cultural and Historical Sites:
Florida is home to a rich tapestry of cultural and historical sites that reflect its diverse heritage and the many influences that have shaped the state over the centuries.
From ancient Native American settlements to Spanish colonial history and the more recent developments of the 20th century, Florida’s cultural and historical sites offer a glimpse into the state’s past. Here are some notable examples:
St. Augustine: Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States. The city is filled with historic sites, including the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress, and the Old City Gates.
Fort Matanzas National Monument: Located south of St. Augustine, this historic site features a 18th-century Spanish fort that protected the southern approach to St. Augustine.
Mission San Luis de Apalachee: A reconstructed Spanish mission in Tallahassee, this site offers a glimpse into the life of the Apalachee Indians and Spanish colonists in the 17th century.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates: Located in Fort Myers, this estate includes the winter homes of inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, offering a glimpse into their lives and inventions.
Deering Estate: Situated in Miami-Dade County, this historic estate includes a Mediterranean Revival mansion, lush gardens, and natural preserves.
Tampa Bay History Center: This museum in Tampa showcases the history and culture of the Tampa Bay area, from its Native American origins to the present day.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument: Located in St. Augustine, this fort, built in the 17th century, offers insights into Spanish colonial history and was a significant military installation.
Miami Art Deco Historic District: This district in Miami Beach features over 800 preserved Art Deco buildings from the 1920s and 1930s, showcasing the architectural style of the era.
Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach: This moving memorial honors the victims of the Holocaust and educates visitors about the atrocities committed during World War II.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum: Situated in Ponce Inlet, this historic lighthouse offers panoramic views and insights into maritime history.
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park: A historic and tourist attraction in St. Augustine, Florida. It is a site that has been associated with the legendary “Fountain of Youth,” a mythical spring that was said to have rejuvenating and restorative properties.
These cultural and historical sites in Florida provide a deep dive into the state’s past, from its early colonial history to its contributions to art, science, and culture. They offer educational and enriching experiences for visitors interested in exploring Florida’s diverse heritage.
Zoos & Aquariums:
Zoos and aquariums in Florida, like in many other parts of the world, serve as popular attractions that provide education, conservation efforts, and entertainment for visitors.
Florida’s unique climate and geography make it a particularly interesting location for these types of facilities. Here’s an overview of zoos and aquariums in Florida:
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Sanford): Located in Sanford, near Orlando, this zoo features a diverse range of animals and beautiful botanical gardens. It offers educational programs, animal encounters, and conservation initiatives.
Brevard Zoo (Melbourne): Situated in Melbourne, this zoo focuses on animal conservation and provides visitors with a chance to see a variety of animals from around the world. It also has a special focus on animal encounters and interactive exhibits.
Zoo Miami (Miami): Zoo Miami is one of the largest zoos in Florida and features a wide array of animals, including many native to the region. It’s known for its open-air exhibits that mimic the animals’ natural habitats.
Gatorland (Orlando): Located in Orlando, Gatorland is a wildlife park dedicated to alligators and crocodiles. It features numerous exhibits, wildlife shows, and opportunities to get up close and personal with these reptiles.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm (St. Augustine): St. Augustine Alligator Farm is a popular alligator farm and zoological park in St. Augustine, Florida. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm was founded in 1893, making it one of the oldest continuously operating zoological attractions in the United States.
The Florida Aquarium (Tampa): Located in Tampa, this aquarium is a popular attraction that not only showcases marine life from the Gulf of Mexico but also features ecosystems from around the world. It’s dedicated to education, conservation, and research.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium (Sarasota): This facility in Sarasota focuses on marine research and conservation. Visitors can explore various marine habitats, including touch tanks and exhibits about local marine life.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park (Fort Walton Beach): Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, this aquarium offers interactive marine experiences and marine animal shows. It features dolphins, sea lions, and various fish species.
Miami Seaquarium (Miami): A popular marine park and aquarium located on the island of Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida. The Seaquarium is home to a diverse collection of marine animals and offers various exhibits and shows for visitors to enjoy.
Florida’s climate allows for year-round operations for most of these zoos and aquariums, making them accessible to visitors at any time.
These facilities play a crucial role in wildlife conservation efforts by raising awareness about endangered species and supporting breeding programs. Additionally, they offer educational programs for visitors, including school groups, to learn about the importance of preserving wildlife and ecosystems.
Many zoos and aquariums in Florida are also involved in rescue and rehabilitation programs for injured or stranded wildlife, particularly marine animals. This allows them to contribute to the conservation of local ecosystems and protect the state’s natural heritage.
Museums and Art Galleries:
Florida is home to a diverse range of museums that cater to various interests, from art and science to history and culture. These museums offer visitors the opportunity to explore and learn about a wide array of topics. Here are some notable museums in Florida:
The Ringling (Sarasota): This cultural complex includes the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, featuring European and Asian art collections, and the Ca’ d’Zan, the historic mansion of John Ringling. It also houses the Circus Museum.
The Dali Museum (St. Petersburg): Devoted to the works of the famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali, this museum showcases a comprehensive collection of his paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach): Renowned for its collection of European, American, and Chinese art, as well as contemporary works. The museum recently underwent a major renovation and expansion.
Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa): A hands-on science museum with interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater, offering educational experiences for all ages.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Merritt Island): Located on Florida’s Space Coast, this complex offers a fascinating look at NASA’s space exploration history. Visitors can see space shuttles, rockets, and even meet astronauts.
Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville): Offers exhibits on paleontology, ethnography, archaeology, and the state’s natural history. It’s also home to the Butterfly Rainforest, featuring hundreds of live butterflies.
The Salvador Dali Museum (St. Petersburg): Another museum dedicated to Salvador Dali, this one focuses on the artist’s later works and includes an impressive collection of his paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg): Houses an extensive collection of European, American, and decorative arts, with an emphasis on works from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens (Jacksonville): Features an impressive art collection, including European paintings and American art, as well as beautiful gardens along the St. Johns River.
The Lightner Museum (St. Augustine): Housed in the historic Hotel Alcazar, this museum showcases collections of Victorian-era art, costumes, and mechanical musical instruments.
HistoryMiami Museum (Miami): Focuses on the history and culture of Miami and South Florida, with exhibits on immigration, indigenous peoples, and the city’s development.
Orlando Science Center (Orlando): An interactive science museum with hands-on exhibits, live science demonstrations, and a planetarium, making it an excellent destination for families.
Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens (Jacksonville): Combines art and nature with an extensive collection of art, beautiful gardens, and riverfront views.
The Florida Holocaust Museum (St. Petersburg): A somber but important institution dedicated to educating visitors about the Holocaust through exhibits, survivor testimonies, and remembrance.
These museums in Florida provide a wide range of cultural, artistic, scientific, and historical experiences, making them valuable destinations for both residents and tourists interested in exploring the state’s diverse heritage and contributions to various fields.
Florida’s year-round mild climate and diverse natural landscapes make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Whether you enjoy water sports, hiking, biking, or simply soaking up the sun, Florida offers a wide range of outdoor activities to suit your interests. Here are some popular outdoor activities in the state:
Florida’s pristine beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles.
Some coastal areas, such as Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach, offer excellent surfing conditions, especially during certain times of the year.
Explore the colorful underwater world of Florida’s coral reefs and natural springs. Key Largo, known as the “Diving Capital of the World,” is a top destination for diving.
Paddle through Florida’s scenic rivers, lakes, and mangrove forests. The Everglades and Ocala National Forest are popular kayaking destinations. Many coastal towns offer rentals and tours for thrilling water adventures.
Florida is a fishing paradise, with opportunities for freshwater and saltwater fishing. The Florida Keys and the Gulf Coast are famous for their fishing charters.
Hiking and Biking:
Explore a network of hiking and biking trails in places like Ocala National Forest, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Apalachicola National Forest.
Hike the Florida Trail, a long-distance hiking trail extends over 1,000 miles across the state, offering diverse landscapes and ecosystems to explore.
Known as the “Golf Capital of the World,” Florida has an abundance of golf courses, from championship layouts to public courses suitable for players of all skill levels.
Take an exhilarating airboat ride through the Everglades to get up close to alligators, birds, and other wildlife.
Florida’s diverse ecosystems are home to a wide range of wildlife. Birdwatchers can spot numerous species in various habitats, and alligator sightings are common in wetland areas.
Florida offers an extensive network of geocaching opportunities, with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in urban and natural settings.
Eco-Tours and Wildlife Safaris:
Join guided eco-tours to explore Florida’s unique ecosystems, including the Everglades, mangrove swamps, and wildlife sanctuaries.
Hot Air Ballooning:
Enjoy a serene hot air balloon ride over Florida’s landscapes, providing breathtaking aerial views of the state’s natural beauty.
Florida’s outdoor activities cater to people of all ages and interests, making it an excellent destination for those looking to connect with nature, engage in sports, or simply enjoy the pleasant weather and scenic landscapes.
Amusement and Water Parks:
Florida is renowned for its world-class amusement parks, which draw millions of visitors each year with their thrilling rides, entertaining shows, and immersive attractions.
These amusement parks cater to visitors of all ages and offer a wide range of experiences. Here are some of the most prominent amusement parks in Florida:
Walt Disney World Resort (Orlando): Comprising four major theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as water parks and resorts. Iconic attractions include Cinderella Castle, Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, and Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Universal Orlando Resort (Orlando): Includes Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, along with the Volcano Bay water park. Famous for thrilling rides like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Jurassic Park River Adventure, and The Incredible Hulk Coaster.
SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando): Combines marine life shows, interactive animal encounters, and roller coasters like Mako and Kraken. Focuses on marine conservation and education.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa): Offers a unique blend of wildlife encounters and adrenaline-pumping rides like SheiKra, Montu, and Cheetah Hunt. Known for its immersive animal exhibits and conservation efforts.
Legoland Florida Resort (Winter Haven): Geared toward families with younger children, featuring LEGO-themed rides, attractions, and a water park. Provides a variety of interactive and creative experiences for kids.
Fun Spot America (Orlando and Kissimmee): A smaller amusement park with go-karts, roller coasters, and arcade games. Known for its affordability and family-friendly atmosphere.
Adventure Island (Tampa): A water park with a tropical theme, featuring water slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools.
Aquatica Orlando (Orlando): A water park by SeaWorld with water slides, sandy beaches, and animal exhibits, providing a blend of thrill and relaxation.
Lion Country Safari (West Palm Beach): A drive-through safari park where visitors can observe lions, giraffes, zebras, and other animals in a natural habitat setting.
Wild Florida (Kenansville): A wildlife park offering airboat tours through the Florida Everglades and animal encounters with exotic species like alligators and sloths.
Dinosaur World (Plant City): An outdoor dinosaur-themed park with life-sized dinosaur sculptures, fossil exhibits, and a Fossil Dig attraction for kids.
These amusement parks in Florida offer a wide array of entertainment options, from thrilling roller coasters and water rides to immersive themed lands and family-friendly attractions.
Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a dose of Disney magic, Florida’s amusement parks have something for everyone.
These attractions make Florida a popular vacation destination, appealing to families, adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone looking for a fun and diverse range of experiences.
For more info on travel in the Southeast, check out our Southeast Travel Guide.
“Visit Florida.” Visit Florida, visitflorida.org/
“Florida Theme Parks and Attractions.” Visit Florida, visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do/attractions.html