A trip to the state of Florida is a luxury vacation where you will fulfil all your wishes. Year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches with palm trees, convertible rides, visits to national or amusement parks… and much more. Florida is one of the most luxurious and exotic places in the US where you can please all your senses. However, it is not cheap. Looking for the best tips what to do in Florida? Then read on.

1. Drive on Overseas Highway to Key West

One of the most authentic experiences is undoubtedly driving on the Overseas Highway to Key West. Rent a convertible at Skysnanner.net or RentalCars.com and drive to the southernmost city on the continental US. Key West is the name of an island town, located nearly 200 km (125 miles) from the American mainland. Overseas Highway runs across the sea and connects dozens of islands called the Florida Keys and ends in Key West. A few hours’ drive on this highway will give you an amazing experience as a scenic drive across dozens of bridges with views to the sea, beaches and small towns.

We definitely recommend a stop at Bahia Honda State Park with a beautiful beach.

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A ride through the Florida Keys is an amazing experience

Be sure to stop on the highway and refresh yourself in a fishing bistro. The islands are thriving with very diverse fauna and flora. Here you can find local iguanas, crocodiles, pelicans and other bird species but also Key deer. Watching the sunset is one of the most beautiful in Key West. We recommend staying for at least a few nights. You can take a yacht ride and experience the rich sea life up close. The area is an ideal place to dive or snorkel – we went on a day trip from Fury Key West. During the evening, go to a bar, museum or concert and follow the footsteps of the famous writer Hemingway, who lived and worked here for a few years. Key West offers plenty of activities and experiences that will keep you entertained.

Key West is also very expensive for Florida. We had there the most expensive accommodation of the whole Florida trip. Anyway, it was one of the cheapest in the area – Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. The motel was great, and we don’t regret the money at all.

Plan a few days’ stopover in New York when you go to Florida and see for yourself what makes The Big Apple so popular.

eva_profilUntil the early 20th century, the town of Key West was accessible only by boat. In 1912, a railway was completed that connected the Florida mainland with Key West. Then the whole area was very economically successful. People could trade with neighbouring Caribbean states. The operation of the railway did not last very long and eventually ended badly – a hurricane severely damaged the track. The railway was never restored, and building the Overseas Highway began instead of old tracks. However, the remains of the famous railway still stand there.

2. Airboat tour through Everglades National Park 

Everglades National Park is in the south of Florida and is known for its extensive wetlands and marshes. It is a large river that flows at a very slow pace from north to south. The Everglades is home to alligators and crocodiles, making it the only place in the world where these animals live together. There is also a rare Florida puma and many species of waterfowl, which include various herons, pelicans or cormorants.

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Alligators have been inhabiting the Everglades since ever

The best time to visit the Everglades is rather the winter months, mainly due to zero mosquitoes. It is necessary to arm yourself with a repellent in the summer months and reckon with the wild air raids of these bloodthirsty creatures. There are a lot of alligator farms around the National Park where they will introduce you to these animals up close and explain how they live. You can watch alligators feeding and also compare the sizes of captive and wild creatures.

Reservation Everglades tour

The best way to visit the Everglades is to use the airboat tour with a guide. These airboats with huge wind propellers ride up to 70 km per hour ( around 44 mph), and their big disadvantage is an annoying noise. You get earplugs before the ride, so you don’t damage your hearing. The guides have a well-mapped swamp, so they know exactly where the animals live. Alligators are strictly territorial and have well-defined territories. You don’t have to worry about not seeing any.

3. Walk and swim on the famous Miami Beach 

One of the best tips on what to do in Florida is walking on the beaches of Miami Beach. Florida’s coastline is nearly 2,000 km (1250 miles) in length, with beautiful beaches occupying more than half of that length. The most famous beach is undoubtedly Miami Beach. Who visits Florida and does not walk around the beaches of Miami Beach as if he was never here. Everyone will love the white beaches, luxury hotels, high celebrity concentration and year-round warm weather. Besides, the famous beach can be seen in several American films. After you taste the beaches of Florida, next time, you can head to Hawaii and compare the beaches of Oahu or the Big Island. Which is the most beautiful?

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The beaches in Miami are beautiful

The city of Miami is divided into two parts, including the mainland of Miami and the island of Miami Beach. This island served as a coconut plantation in the 19th century, and it was not until 1913 that the road was built to connect the island to the neighbouring mainland. The place fell in love with celebrities and luxury hotels and resorts began to spring up like mushrooms. The most popular part of Miami Beach is South Beach. The southernmost part of the island is surrounded by a beautiful beach with fine white sand, nightlife and an increased concentration of celebrities.

We did not resist and stayed directly in Miami Beach in a small friendly hotel, Alden Hotel Miami Beach.

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Be sure to rent a convertible when traveling around Florida

While Miami Beach is tempting for swimming and sunbathing, the mainland part of Miami is rich in the Cuban minority who fled here from Castro’s regime. The streets ripple in Cuban rhythms, sip the best cocktails and restaurants offer the finest delicacies. The famous Ocean Drive in Miami Beach is one of the busiest and most popular places. Here, you can admire the houses that were built between 1930-1940 in Art Deco style, which is a mixture of Cubism, Futurism or Art Nouveau. The most famous buildings are Delan, National and Sagamore.

As soon as you go around Miami, we recommend you stop and shop at your local outlet centre. They are huge, and the prices mainly for clothes are significantly cheaper than in Europe. We recommend the biggest ones – Dolphin Mall and Sawgrass Mills. They are far from Miami Beach, but the detour is worth it.

4. Swimming with manatees in Crystal River

The Manatee, or sea cow, grows to an average length of four meters (13 ft) and weighs up to 600 kg (1320 lb). Manatees are very sensitive to ocean temperature changes and, therefore, migrate throughout the year. They tolerate both seawater and freshwater well. Although these mammals are huge, they have no fat layer, so they can withstand cold very badly. When the water drops below 20 °C (68 °F), they slowly die. When the ocean water begins to cool in the winter months, manatees begin to gather at various heat sources, which are often offered by the proximity of human homes. These also include power plant drainpipes or natural hot springs.

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Manatees are peaceful animals

Winter months are, therefore, best for swimming with these amazing animals. The most famous area where manatees can be seen in Florida is the town Crystal River. There is a natural source of hot water, and hundreds of sea cows survive winter here. These mammals are very peaceful. They have no enemy in nature except for humans, so there has been no single case of a manatee attack.

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Sea cows like crystal clear water

Due to its easy accessibility, tourists from all over the world come to Crystal River to snorkel with manatees. Several agencies offer to take you directly to the place with equipment. We also booked a tour and watched several manatees underwater. Because the manatee is strictly protected by the US government, all tourism here must adhere to strict rules. It is forbidden to stress or annoy the animals in any way. They even have their designated areas where they can rest undisturbed, and tourists are not allowed here.

5. Visit the Kennedy Space Center 

What can you do in Florida if you are a tech fan? You must not miss a visit to the space centre! Kennedy Space Center is an American, still-used spaceport located on Cape Canaveral on the island of Merritt and is divided into two parts. The southern part belongs to the US Navy, and many rockets have been launched from here, including the first spacecraft. The northern part is NASA’s civilian, where you can find the Kennedy Space Center. Thanks to its visitor centre it is a very popular stop for tourists from all over the world. For many, it is a real-life experience. You will need at least one day to visit this place. The centre offers several thematically based expositions that are dedicated to the history of space flights or the future conquest of Mars. You can see the retired Atlantis space shuttle or the huge Saturn V, which was able to carry loads of up to 140,000 kg (310,000 lb) to low Earth orbit.

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The Florida Space Center offers both as education and entertainment

There is a basic price of admission, then it’s possible to buy various add-ons, such as guided tours or even dinner with a real astronaut. We recommend the Early Space Tour about the beginnings of space conquest or the KSC Explore Tour,, which is a guided tour around the active parts of NASA’s civilian complex, including the famous Vehicle Assembly Building. That is one of the largest buildings in the world and the largest in Florida. It serves as a rockets (vehicles) assembly hall, where the finished vehicles are transported directly to the launch pad using a crawler-transporter.

The Space Center is located directly in an important nature reserve, where a diverse number of birds, mammals and mainly alligators live. It is not unusual to see one directly from the window during a bus tour. The visitor centre offers plenty of opportunities to learn, have fun and spend a pleasant day.

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Visit the center is a life experience

6. Visit Orlando theme park 

One of the best tips on what to do in Florida is visiting a theme park. There are dozens of amusement or theme parks near Orlando, and the entrance fee is astronomical. These parks are very typical of American culture and are among the experiences you will long remember. The oldest and most visited park is Walt Disney World, built in the early 1970s. Over 50 million visitors visit it each year, and it covers an area of 12 hectares. The construction completely transformed the character of the formerly sleepy city of Orlando, which could boast of perhaps citrus groves and large farms. The second famous park is Universal Orlando Resort, which focuses on movies, wildlife attractions and various live shows. The park is divided into two parts – Universal Studios Florida, which became a competitor to Disney, and later, the second part of the park was opened – Universal’s Island of Adventure.

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Universal’s Island of Adventure is one of many amusement parks

We bought a ticket for just one day, which we spent just in the Island of Adventure because the park thematically suited us best. Admission to the park means that once you pay a single entry, you have all attractions included. You can buy tickets to both Universal Parks at once, even for several days. You’ll have a lot to do in one day. If you want to save a little, buy food and drink in advance because everything is very expensive inside the parks.

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The whole Hogwarts castle stands here

Be prepared that there will be many visitors in the park, and there will be long queues in front of each attraction – here is the current waiting time for all attractions. Therefore, it is good to make a timely visit with the opening hours and go to the most visited attractions first. Once you decide to queue up, the indicator will always tell you what the average waiting time is, so you can decide whether or not the attraction is worth it. Usually, the waiting time is within an hour, and believe us, it goes fast. If you do not want to waste your time in the queue, you can buy a Skip the Line Pass that entitles you to skip the queue and get ahead. We enjoyed the visit, and we did not regret spending any penny.

There are a lot of places to stay in Orlando – from expensive resorts right in theme parks to cheap motels. The prize won in our case, so we stayed in a cheap motel with a poor rating – the Clarion Inn International Drive. In the end, we did not find it bad, and we saved money.

Have you visited Florida, or do you intend to go? Do you know of any activity to do in Florida and we missed it? Tell us in the comments!