Florida: My 10 Favorite Places

Florida was a place I called home for 4 years. After exploring the state on most weekends, I can truly say I’ve thoroughly exhausted and enjoyed my time there. As I was looking back on some old pictures, I realized there were quite a few places that I kept coming back to and has become my favorites while living there. So I decided to round up my Top 10 things to see in the state for both tourists and those who are new to the state.

#10: Cape Canaveral

Being dubbed as Florida’s gateway to space, The Kennedy Space Center has witnessed several space missions over decades and this is where the first man on the moon mission took off.

Why I like it:

It’s definitely a great place for families with lots of educational and fun things to do and see for both adults and kids.

 

#9: Key West

Key West is known as Florida’s southernmost point and is situated roughly about 90 miles north of Cuba.

Why I like it:

Many people told me you can see Cuba from Key West on a clear day?!  Uhmmm… Nope I didn’t see it! But I did see one of the most beautiful sunsets and had the best time on the catamaran sails.

 

#8: Miami

Most people ALWAYS associate Florida with Miami (and Orlando/Disney) but there is so much more to this city than meets the eye.

Why I like it:

They have a Little Havana where you can try local Cuban restaurants. I recommend trying a Cuban sandwich of course and a cortadito! Another one of my favorite places was the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens which has been featured in many movies. I love its open air courtyard and the numerous antiques found in its many rooms. And if you love music festivals, I would definitely recommend going to the Ultra Music Festival which is held in the city every spring.

 

#7: Everglades National Park

Imagine this! Me walking on a pathway about 2 meters wide and alligators and vultures lining up on both ends. It does give you that eerie feeling of being someone’s dinner! Fortunately, gators are territorial creatures and like the element of surprise when hunting for food. So as long as you don’t intrude in their personal space (and you know how to run just in case), you’re pretty safe!

Why I like it:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Everglades gives you that unique experience of seeing alligators in their natural habitat. It also makes you appreciate and respect how the Indian tribes like the Seminoles have managed to coexist, adapt and survive in this known rough  environment.

 

#6: South Beach

When people in the West Coast ask me what South Beach is like, the easiest way for me to describe it is that it’s like the Vegas of the East Coast with a long stretch of white sand beach.

Why I like it:

This was definitely my go to place for those weekends when I wanted to see my favorite DJ and dance the night away and just lay out in the sun to cure my hang over the following day.

 

#5: Orlando/Kissimmee

Home to probably the most number of  theme parks and water parks in one city. Universal Studios Orlando, one of the most popular, has 2 theme parks and a downtown adjacent to it which is a fun place to hang out on weekend nights. Walt Disney World, unknown to most people, is located in Kissimmee and is a whole city by itself comprising of 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Disney hotels and a Boardwalk. Once in the park, they have complimentary buses, trams and steam boat rides.

Why I like it:

What’s not to like? There’s so many things to see and do for the whole family! After living in Florida for 4 years and going back in the area numerous times, I still haven’t finished seeing them all! I’m definitely looking forward to see the rest when I come back again in the future! Fingers crossed!!!

 

#4: Ca’ d’Zan mansion

The beautiful Ca’ d’Zan Mansion is the Ringling Brothers’ Florida winter home and its architecture was inspired by their travels across Europe.

Why I like it:

It was one of my uniquely favorite places in Florida because of its grandeur and scenic location by the water. Don’t miss The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and its grand courtyard where I like to find my own quiet spot and just marvel at the garden and its delicate sculptures.

 

#3: The Ringling Circus Museum

Located right beside the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, the museum houses the history of this once popular American entertainment.

Why I like it:

I loved going to the circus when I was a kid. This museum gave me that nostalgic feeling. It also beamed me back to a time when life was simple and where everyone in town always looked forward to see “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

 

#2: St. Augustine

St. Augustine and it’s quaint old town was absolutely a pleasant surprise! I never knew the oldest city in the US was in Florida. I recommend taking one of the tram tours to get a glimpse of the history of the city. The very first Ripley’s Believe It Or Not attraction is also found here and worth a visit!

Why I like it:

I very much enjoyed seeing the oldest pharmacy and the oldest wooden school house and just walking through it’s lovely cafe lined streets.

Tip:

I recommend staying at one of the lovely Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) in the area for a more personal and local touch! We had a wonderful stay at the Bayfront Marin House!

 

#1: The Gulf Beaches

Southwest Florida was my home base for 4 years. Overall, I can say that the Gulf Beaches were my favorites.

Why I like it:

If you want endless sun and sand there’s miles and miles of coastline where you can enjoy either a day in the warm water and lay out in the sun or walk along the shores and collect seashells (my favorite were the sand dollars) and shark teeth!

 

My personal advice:

When visiting Florida DO NOT go in the summer! People always have this misconception that since it is the sunshine state, it would be the best place to go in the summer. As a matter of fact, this is entirely FALSE! Summer time in Florida is extremely hot (90F-100F plus degrees) and very humid. Afternoons tend to be poured down with heavy rains and thunderstorms (They have some serious thunderstorms over there!). All kinds of bugs and insects also tend to go out and thrive due to the weather. And it is also hurricane season! Eeeeek!

If you want to have a great time in Florida, go during the winter-spring time (December-April) where the weather is just perfect and the bugs have already gone and no hurricane or thunderstorm will ruin your plans.

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