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Captiva Island Resorts in Florida

15 Best Places To Vacation In Florida

Discover one of the best places to vacation in Florida: where wild beauty meets pristine shores

18 Best Places to Vacation in Florida

Whether you love the East coast, the Gulf coast, or the Panhandle,  you’ll find some of the top places to vacation in Florida, whether you love beaches, theme parks, history, or food.

Escape to a sun-drenched paradise, with gorgeous tropical landscapes, white sand beaches, and ocean waters that lap the shore. Whether you just want to relax and sunbathe on the beach, or hit the water and surf, kayak, swim, or snorkel, you’re sure to find just the right slice of beach to fit you.

Florida Panhandle

Destin

Destin, Florida on the Florida Panhandle is a popular beach destination located on Florida’s Emerald Coast. There are plenty of activities and attractions for everyone to enjoy in Destin.

Destin is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, with soft white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. You can relax in the sun, swim, or hit the water sports and go kayaking, paddle boarding, or parasailing.

 

Things to Do in Destin

Fishing

As home to one of the widest varieties of fish that call the waters around Destin home, the destination is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” With direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, fishing is a top activity when visiting Destin. You can go deep-sea fishing, bay fishing, or even fish from the shore.

Golfing

Destin has several golf courses with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. Be careful however…those stunning views may distract you from your game.

Boat tours

You can take a boat tour to explore the coastline, see dolphins, watch the sunset, or just relax as the wind gently blows your hair and the salt air refreshes you.

Henderson Beach State Park

This state park has a beautiful beach, nature trails, and picnic areas, but it is the massive snow white sand dunes that will leave you breathless. The giant dunes anchor the shoreline and the warm waters of the Gulf beckon you in. You’ll just want to spend the day on the beach! Bring your umbrella, chairs, and picnic lunch and make a day of it at Henderson Beach.

Dining

 

Destin has a thriving culinary scene with plenty of seafood restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from. Be sure to try the local specialty – Gulf seafood. Most of the seafood is fresh – literally hook to table!

Panama City Beach

 
Panama City is a fascinating coastal city located in Florida Panhandle. It is known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and warm weather. Top activities include swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and boating.

One of the most popular attractions in Panama City is St. Andrews State Park, which offers hiking trails, fishing spots, and a beautiful beach for swimming and sunbathing. The park is pet friendly, so don’t leave your favorite four-legged pal at home.

Another must-see spot is Shell Island, a barrier island that can only be accessed by boat, which features white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Don’t miss Panama City’s cultural side, with a visit to the Man in the Sea Museum. This little museum is packed with diving exhibits and artifacts. There are treasures that have been recovered from ships that date back to 1500, commercial and military equipment, and more. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Gulf World Marine Park is another must-see in Panama City. This open-air aquarium is fantastic! With interactive exhibits, shows, and animal encounters, it is a fun experience for the whole family. You’ll see dolphins, sea lions, birds, sharks and more.

Where luxury meets shoreline: Destin's beachfront hotels rank among the best places to vacation in Florida (photo credit: istock.com/ghornephoto)
White sand beach with fenced walkway leading to turquoise water
Some of the Sunshine state's best beaches can be found in Florida's Panhandle, which is one of the best places to vacation in Florida

Best Beaches

There is certainly no shortage of beaches in Panama City! Panama City Beach & Pier is one of the most popular. This eight-mile stretch of gorgeous white sand beach is centrally located, and one of the most active beaches in the area. The water is clear and blue, ideal for a day of beach fun.

Shell Island Beach is for nature lovers! Walk around the island and explore, searching for ghost crabs, deer, and sea turtles. Both loggerhead sea turtles and green sea turtles live on the island and they are endangered.

 

Overall, Panama City, Florida is a great destination for anyone who loves the outdoors, culture, and entertainment, and one of the best places to visit.

Pensacola

Pensacola is a Florida vacation destination that is sure to charm you with its sunny beaches, warm hospitality, and a wide range of fun activities to keep you entertained throughout your visit. Pensacola has been a favorite Florida destination for many years.

It has a rich cultural history, dating back to the 16th century when the Spanish first arrived on its shores. Fort Pickens, the Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum, and more await history buffs.

 

For military history lovers, a visit to the National Naval Aviation Museum is a must! Showcasing the rich history and legacy of naval aviation in the United States, it is located on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola, home of the world-famous Blue Angels.

One of the best places to vacation in Florida is Pensacola, especially if you crave military history and gorgeous white sand beaches! (photo credit: istock.com/Laura Ragsdale

The Gulf Coast

The beaches of Florida’s Gulf coast are some of the most stunning beaches in the US. With gorgeous while sand beaches, and the warm waters of the Gulf, activites such as kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, and snorkeling are popular pasttimes.

White sand beach with cabanas and a life guard stand
Clearwater Beach, on Florida's Gulf coast, is a top choice for families. Wide white sand beaches, an amazing aquarium that kids of all ages will love, are just two reasons that families often choose Clearwater as one of the best places for vacation in Florida

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is a beautiful and family-friendly destination located on the Gulf of Mexico. With its crystal-clear water and soft, white sand, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.

The main attraction is its famous beach, which boasts soft white sand, turquoise waters, and plenty of space to relax and soak up the sun. Visitors can also enjoy water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding.

The area is home to a large population of bottlenose dolphins, and taking a dolphin-watching tour is a popular activity. Visitors can watch these playful creatures swim and play in their natural habitat.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine animals. Guests can see a variety of animals up close, including sea turtles, otters, and of course, the famous dolphin, Winter, from the movie “Dolphin Tale.”

Clearwater is a great place for fishing, and visitors can take a fishing charter out into the Gulf of Mexico to catch a variety of fish, including grouper, snapper, and kingfish.

Every evening, Pier 60 hosts a sunset celebration with live music, street performers, and vendors selling food and souvenirs. It’s a great way to enjoy the beautiful Florida sunset and soak up some local culture.

These are just a few of the many things to do in Clearwater, Florida. With its beautiful beaches, friendly people, and abundance of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder why it’s a favorite vacation spot for so many.

St. Pete Beach

St. Pete, Florida is a thriving coastal city located on the Gulf of Mexico. St. Pete is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches and sunny weather, amazing food scene and culture.

One of the top draws in St. Pete is the Salvador Dali Museum, which houses the largest collection of the artist’s work outside of Europe. The museum is a must-see for art enthusiasts and those interested in surrealism.

If you love Chihuly glass art work, then a stop at the Morean Arts Center is a a must do! There is a building dedicated to the work of Dale Chihuly that will absolutely leave you awestruck!

In addition to art, St. Pete also has a bustling food and beverage scene. The city is home to a number of craft breweries, as well as restaurants offering everything from seafood to international cuisine.

For outdoor activities, St. Pete’s beaches are popular for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking. St. Pete also has several parks and nature preserves, including the Weedon Island Preserve, where visitors can hike and birdwatch.

 

Overall, St. Pete is a great destination for those seeking a sunny beach vacation with plenty of culture and outdoor activities to enjoy.

Sarasota

Sarasota, Florida is an appealing coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico that offers visitors a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. There are miles of white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning sunsets that are truly breathtaking. And the dining scene is amazing with loads of globally inspired cuisine that will have you craving more. Sarasota is also a cultural hub and home to some of the best art and theater in Florida. Visit the Ringling Museum of Art, catch a show at the Sarasota Opera, or take a stroll through the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

One of the top things to do when visiting Sarasota is to explore its stunning beaches. Siesta Key Beach is a must-visit, with its soft, white sand and turquoise waters. You can also go for a swim or take a stroll at Lido Beach, Longboat Key Beach, or Venice Beach.

For a cultural experience, head to the Ringling Museum of Art, which boasts an impressive collection of art and artifacts. You can also explore the John and Mable Ringling Estate, a stunning waterfront mansion and gardens that date back to 1924.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Sarasota offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and kayaking. You can explore the mangroves and wetlands at Myakka River State Park or take a bike ride on the Legacy Trail, a 10-mile paved trail that runs through several communities.

Overall, a visit to Sarasota is a truly memorable experience that will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and inspired.

Beach with white sand, turqoise water, with condos and lush green foliage
Sarasota is consistently chosen as one of the best places to vacation in Florida. Here you'll find arts, culture, stunning beaches, great shopping and more!

Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a quiet and peaceful destination known for its stunning beaches and wildlife. Located off the southwestern coast of Florida, you’ll discover pristine beaches, lush tropical landscapes, and diverse wildlife. Sanibel Island offers an array of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.

One of the top things to do on Sanibel Island is to explore its stunning beaches. Known for its abundance of seashells, Sanibel Island boasts over 15 miles of beaches where visitors can collect unique and colorful shells or simply relax on the soft, white sand. Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass Beach, and Captiva Beach are popular spots for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets.

Nature lovers will appreciate J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which offers hiking trails, kayaking opportunities, and a chance to see an impressive variety of bird species, as well as dolphins, manatees, and other marine life.

For a bit of history and culture, visitors can check out the Sanibel Island Lighthouse, built in 1884 and open for tours, or the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village, a living history museum featuring restored homes and buildings dating back to the late 1800s.

Other popular activities on Sanibel Island include biking along the scenic Sanibel Causeway, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or Pine Island Sound, and sampling the fresh seafood at local restaurants.

 

With so much to offer, Sanibel Island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating beach getaway.

After the 2022 hurricane season, Sanibel has been restored and is again welcoming visitors. This barrier island has always been a favorite, and one of the best places to vacation in Florida.
The Naples Pier is a great spot to catch a snap of the amazing sunsets! (photo credit: istock.com/FilippoBacci)

Naples

Naples is a glamorous Florida vacation destination known for beautiful beaches, high-end shopping, golfing, and amazing dining experiences. This Florida vacation destination draws guests from across the globe, and the most popular season to visit is in the winter.

A must-see attraction is the Naples Botanical Garden, which boasts over 170 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and nature trails. The garden is home to a wide variety of exotic plants and flowers, and is absolutely incredible!

For those who love shopping, Naples offers plenty of upscale boutiques and designer stores, particularly in the downtown area. Fifth Avenue South is a popular destination for shoppers, with the streets lined with cafes, art galleries, and specialty shops.

Naples is also known for its fantastic golf courses, with 90+ courses in the area. Other outdoor sports include kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing.

In the evening, Naples comes alive with its lively restaurant and nightlife scene. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood and more at one of the many waterfront restaurants, or head to one of the city’s bars or nightclubs for drinks and dancing.

 

Overall, Naples is a wonderful destination for anyone looking for a relaxing and luxurious beach vacation with plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy.

Central Florida

Family moments under the sun: Daytona Beach, truly one of the best places to vacation in Florida

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is a lively city located on Florida’s eastern coast, known for its beautiful white sand beaches and exciting attractions. It’s a popular destination for beach lovers, families, and motorsports enthusiasts alike.

One of the top things to do in Daytona Beach is to visit the beach itself, which stretches for 23 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, surf, or simply relax and soak up the sun. The beach is also home to a number of beachfront parks and playgrounds, perfect for families with children.

For motorsports enthusiasts, Daytona Beach is home to the famous Daytona International Speedway, where visitors can watch NASCAR races and other motorsports events throughout the year. The Speedway also offers tours of the facility, including the opportunity to take a lap around the track.

Another popular attraction in Daytona Beach is the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier, which features a variety of shops, restaurants, and games. Visitors can ride the Ferris wheel, play arcade games, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk while enjoying the ocean views.

For a unique and educational experience, visitors can also check out the Marine Science Center, which is home to sea turtle rehabilitation facilities and exhibits on the local marine life. Visitors can even participate in a guided sea turtle walk during nesting season.

 

Overall, Daytona Beach offers a fun and diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. From the beautiful beaches to the motorsports events and family-friendly attractions, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant Florida city.

Stepping into magic: One of the best places to vacation in Florida is Orlando, home to theme parks, nature, and more! (photo credit: istock.com/Credit:JHVEPhoto)

Orlando

Orlando is known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World” and is home to some of the best theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. There’s something for everyone in Orlando, from thrilling rides to family-friendly attractions.

Orlando is always a top choice for families planning Florida vacations. And honestly, when planning a visit to either Disney or Universal, we love staying at their respective hotel resorts. There are shuttles to and from the parks, and each of the resorts offers different but similar amenities.

When it comes to finding the best places to stay near Disney in Orlando for families, there are several options that cater specifically to the needs and preferences of families. Here are my top suggestions:

1. Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Located right next to the Magic Kingdom, this resort offers modern accommodations and convenient access to the park. It features a monorail station within the hotel, making transportation to and from the park effortless.

2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Known for its immersive African-inspired theming, this resort offers a unique experience for families. It features views of exotic animals roaming the savanna, cultural activities, and a large pool with a water slide.

3. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: Perfect for families with young children, this resort celebrates beloved Disney and Pixar animated films. It offers themed family suites with separate bedrooms and a kitchenette. The resort also features the largest pool on Disney property, themed to Finding Nemo.

4. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort: If you’re looking for a luxurious and upscale experience, this resort is an excellent choice. It offers spacious rooms, a lazy river, golf course, and a kids’ club. The resort provides complimentary transportation to the Disney parks.

5. Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Located near Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this New England-style resort boasts a fantastic pool area called Stormalong Bay, complete with a lazy river and sandy bottom pool. It’s also within walking distance to Epcot, making it convenient for families.

6. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: Transport yourself to a tropical paradise at this South Pacific-themed resort. It offers a stunning beach, a fantastic pool area with a volcano-themed water slide, and a variety of dining options. The resort is just a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom.

7. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek: Although not a Disney-operated resort, it is located within the Walt Disney World Resort area and offers numerous amenities for families. It features multiple pools, a lazy river, a kids’ club, and complimentary transportation to the Disney parks.

 

Remember that Disney offers a range of accommodations within its property, catering to various budgets and preferences. Whether you choose a Disney-operated resort or a nearby hotel, these suggestions provide excellent options for families visiting Disney in Orlando.

North Florida

Guiding travelers through history: The St. Augustine Lighthouse, a beacon among the best places to vacation in Florida (photo credit: istock.com/Micheal Warren

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and is home to some of the best-preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the country. Visit the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, take a ghost tour, or explore the quaint shops and restaurants in the historic district.

St. Augustine is an awesome Florida vacation destination for a variety of reasons. It is the oldest continously inhabited city in the United States and is home to some of the best-preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the country.

Visit the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a 17th-century fort that has stood the test of time and offers breathtaking views of the ocean. Take a exploration into St. Augustine’s history with a food tour, ghost tour, or trolley tour.

Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse, which has been guiding ships safely to shore for over 140 years. History buffs will also appreciate the city’s Colonial Quarter, which offers a glimpse into what life was like in St. Augustine during the 18th century. Sample some of the area’s best food, including food trucks, seafood, and more. The historic downtown offers lots of choices for shopping, so grab your walking shoes and hit the streets for some retail therapy.

In addition to its rich history, St. Augustine also offers a variety of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. The city’s beautiful beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, while its numerous parks and nature reserves offer opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking.

With its unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor activities, St. Augustine is truly an awesome vacation destination for anyone looking to explore all that Florida has to offer.

In addition to its rich history, St. Augustine also offers a variety of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. The city’s beautiful beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, while its numerous parks and nature reserves offer opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking.

 

With its unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor activities, St. Augustine is truly an awesome vacation destination for anyone looking to explore all that Florida has to offer.

Amelia Island is full of surprises, from the growing culinary scene, to its natural beauty and stunning beaches. Don't miss the opportunity to visit on the best places to vacation in Florida!

Amelia Island

 

Amelia Island is a charming and quaint destination located in northeast Florida. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, historic downtown, and delicious seafood. Take a horseback ride on the beach, explore the Fort Clinch State Park, or relax and unwind at one of the many spas in the area.

South Florida

Miami Beach

 

Miami Beach is one of the most popular vacation spots in Florida. It has a vibrant nightlife, amazing restaurants, and a beautiful beach. Take a stroll down Ocean Drive and admire the art deco architecture, or hit the beach and soak up the sun. Don’t forget to check out the world-famous South Beach!

South Beach, Miami
Miami....where the fun never ends is one of Florida's best places to vacation
A sand beach with waves breaking and birds flying overhead
Looking for a beach vacation destination for beach lovers, foodies, and history buffs? Look no further than the Palm Beaches - a top contender for the best places to vacation in Florida

The Palm Beaches

Palm Beach is a luxurious destination located on the east coast of Florida. It’s known for its beautiful mansions, high-end shopping, and stunning beaches. Take a tour of the Flagler Museum, visit the Norton Museum of Art, or go for a walk on the iconic Worth Avenue.

 

In conclusion, Florida has something for everyone, from theme parks to stunning beaches to rich history and culture. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly destination or a luxurious getaway, Florida has it all. Book your trip today and experience the magic of these amazing Florida vacation spots.

The Florida Keys

Key West

Key West is a tropical paradise located at the southernmost point in the United States. It’s known for its laid-back atmosphere, stunning sunsets, and rich history. Take a stroll down Duval Street, visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, or hop on a boat and go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters.

One activity that I always suggest, because I love soaring in the skies over the Keys is a seaplane visit to the Dry Tortugas. You can also go by boat, but I love to take the seaplane across because it is shorter timewise, allowing for more time to snorkel the fort, explore the island, and just relax!

So little time, and so much to explore! With so many keys, fascinating history, and hook-to-table fresh seafood, the Keys are one of our favorite Florida destinations that we visit time and time again!

In conclusion, Florida has something for everyone, from theme parks to stunning beaches to rich history and culture. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly destination or a luxurious getaway, Florida has it all. Book your trip today and experience the magic of these amazing Florida vacation spots.

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