50 Things to Do in Florida: Fun Bucket List Ideas for Every Traveler
There are so many activities and things to do in Florida for every kind of traveler — the Sunshine State is loaded with beautiful beaches, amusement parks, mystical caves, and endless natural and man-made attractions.
Its sheer size means there are varied climates and ecosystems totally unique to Florida, so it’s easy to imagine the vacation possibilities with family and friends.
With so much to do and see, where do you even begin? Right here, of course! Consider this your Florida bucket list to begin working your way through.
These 50 new additions should not be missed on your next trip to Florida, where great memories are made and tropical dreams really do come true.
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Table of Contents (click to skip ahead)
Things to Do in Florida: Nature and Outdoor Lovers
1. Take a Florida Road Trip
Florida is one of the largest states in America that begs you to slow down and get lost for a while. Why not rent a car, road trip through Florida, and enjoy an off-the-beaten-path experience?
North Florida has an unbelievable mix of woodlands and emerald seashores to explore — the Panhandle of Florida is known as The Emerald Coast! North Florida is also rich with the state’s Spanish Colonial history.
Travel the back roads of central Florida and you're sure to come upon classic diners, great flea markets, fruit and vegetable stands, and red brick court houses.
South Florida offers a world of stunning beaches and coastal towns to explore on a road trip, along with some of Florida’s most unique and local foods to try.
TIP: If you’re in need of a rental car, we recommend Discover Cars, an aggregate company that offers competitive rates and very often the best deals you can find with your favorite rental car brands.
2. Everglades National Park
The Florida Everglades is the second largest national park in the USA encompassing millions of acres of subtropical marshes and swamp. Lake Okeechobee in central Florida is the source of the water for the Everglades watershed system which flow southward and west into Florida Bay, and the park is a perfect environment for wildlife. You can spot turtles, crocodiles, otters and even panthers in the unique ecosystem of the park.
Mangrove kayaking, airboating, and even pole-boating are popular ways to tour the swamps and get up-close-and-personal with different wildlife species. You can easily take a day trip to the Everglades during a visit to Naples, Miami or Fort Lauderdale, a beachside resort city popular with the LGBT+ community.
3. Florida’s Nature Coast
Swim with manatees in Crystal River, go fishing or paddling along the Chassahowitzka River on the Nature Coast, or get rugged with some geocaching in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. This is a part of Florida few get to see outside Disney, but just an hour or so away on the west coast.
On your way from Orlando, cruise through Dade City, and you might even see a few giraffes or a herd of zebra just wandering. Of course, they are all safely behind a nice wooden fence surrounding the 40-acre Giraffe Ranch, about five miles north of downtown, off highway 301. Visit the ranch and then make it an eco-weekend.
About an hour south, the city of Tarpon Springs is the Greek Sponge Diving Capital of Florida and definitely worth a visit.
4. Cycle the Withlacoochee State Trail
The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46-mile long paved, non-motorized rails-to-trail in Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties on the west coast of central Florida. The trail follows the Withlacoochee River passing through the Withlacoochee State Forest, and is perfect for cycling, walking, and even horseback riding.
5. Deep Sea Fishing in Islamorada
Islamorada in the Florida Keys is so close to the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and Florida Bay that it has been dubbed the “Sport-Fishing Capital of the World. Backwater fishing, saltwater fly fishing, and trophy fishing for blue marlin are just a few of the fishing experiences here.
Private charters, party boats, and boat rentals can get you to whatever species you’re targeting. Dolphin, grouper, tuna, sailfish, cobia, and tarpon are just a few of what is found in these waters. If it swims, you can fish for it in Islamorada.
6. Ocala National Forest
The world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest (673 square miles), Ocala National Forest is an outdoor lovers’ dream. Several picturesque springs are here including the Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs and Salt Springs recreation areas, all with natural pools for swimming and canoe runs for paddling.
There are hundreds of lakes and ponds including Lake Kerr and the enormous Lake George. Hikers can follow the Yearling Trail past a sinkhole and the remains of 19th-century homesteads. There’s lots of camping options so you can spend a few days exploring.
7. Myakka State Park
One of Florida’s largest parks, a visit to Myakka State Park in Sarasota is like stepping back in time. This should be on every nature enthusiast’s bucket list. The river meanders through 58 square miles of native woodland, wetlands, and prairies. Wildlife is abundant as well with an array of birds, turtles, fish, and of course alligators.
8. Fossil Hunting
In the town of Acadia along the Peace River, fossil and relic hunters will be in heaven. Each year, Miocene to Early Pliocene-era fossils are uncovered along the Peace River Formation dating anywhere from 23 to 25 million years old!
The layers of sand and gravel hold so many fossils, that the area draws enthusiasts from around the world to walk, and stoop, and sift to their heart’s content.
9. MOTE Marine Labratory
The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota is a non-profit marine research facility dedicated to education and an understanding of the aquatic life found in Florida. The number of exhibits here is incredible.
The aquarium features hundreds of marine animal species, a coral reef, manatees, river otters, alligators, and a 135,000 gallon shark habitat.
10. St. Andrews State Park
Just 3 miles east of beautiful Panama City Beach this park is a mecca for birdwatchers and butterfly enthusiasts. With St. Andrews Bay to one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other make a visit here ideal for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, boating, surfing, hiking, and camping.
11. Lowry Park Zoo
Home to more than 1,700 animals, Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa offers not only animal habitats, but also real chances to interact with the animals, including the opportunity to touch a giant tortoise or feed a giraffe.
12. Florida’s Natural Springs
Orlando may be central Florida’s most bustling city, but just minutes away when the landscape turns more natural, it’s easy to discover the crystalline underworld in central Florida, teeming with cool clear springs and lots of amazing wildlife.
Ginnie Springs, Blue Spring State Park, Devil’s’ Den, Ichetucknee Springs, Gilchrist Blue Springs, Rum Island Springs and several others are located between Orlando and Gainesville and worth a day trip to explore.
13. Scalloping in Homosassa
If you’re wondering what to do in Crystal River in the summertime, now that winter is over and the manatees are no longer huddled up close in the warm springs, go scalloping! Florida scalloping is the perfect summer recreation idea for families and anyone who loves to get in the water and find your fresh seafood dinner.
14. Seacrest Wolf Preserve
This unique wolf preserve on the Florida Panhandle offers visitors the rare opportunity to see real wolves up close. Located in Chipley, a short 1.5 hour drive from Tallahassee and 45 minutes from Panama City, the Seacrest Wolf Preserve has several tours you can take to learn more about these majestic animals.
15. Dry Tortugas National Park
Visit this fantastic historic fort on a history and snorkeling tour from Key West. Dry Tortugas National Park is comprised of 7 islands including protected coral reefs that are perfect for snorkeling. If you love remote camping, there are numerous areas on Garden Key, where 19th-century Fort Jefferson resides, along with deserted beaches, and a lighthouse on Loggerhead Reef.
16. Florida Caverns State Park
This unique park with its awesome caves is situated in Marianna, on Florida’s panhandle. A tour will take you from cave to amazing cave showcasing stalagmites and stalactites along with other formations. A visit here is a taste of Florida’s natural beauty.
17. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The nation’s first underwater State Park in Key Largo is just off the third largest barrier reef in the world. The park is 25 miles in length and extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean — an absolute must for divers and snorkelers.
Things to Do in Florida: Art Lovers
18. Dali Museum
The Dali museum is dedicated to the world-famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The museum, which is located in St. Petersburg, Florida boasts the world’s second most extensive collection of his work. Explore the museum and enjoy looking over 2,400 works of the famous artist.
Guided public tours of the galleries are available to enhance your visit so you can learn all hidden messages, symbolism and history about this one-of-a-kind artist.
19. The Artsy Island of Matlacha
The little spit of land between North Cape Coral and Pine Island off the mainland of southwest Florida lies Matlacha the most unexpected and colorful little town in Florida. Visit local artist Leoma Lovegrove’s gallery and gardens and have a lunch in one of several fun, salty bars on the water.
20. Clyde Butcher’s Gallery in Ochopee
Photographer Clyde Butcher is renowned not just in Florida but around the world for his epic large-format black and white photographs of Florida’s most beautiful natural landscapes. His gallery and former home deep in the heart of the Everglades is worth a visit when you’re on your way to explore the swamp.
21. Coconut Grove
If you’re looking for the fun and funky side of Miami, head to The Grove — Coconut Grove, Miami’s oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood. The Grove is pedestrian and bike-friendly, lined with towering oak trees to help keep you shaded while you stroll from Bahamian cafes to Bohemian shops.
It’s low-key and lax compared with the beautiful people vibe of South Beach, and the art scene here is not to be missed. From sidewalk art festivals to gallery shows, it’s a great place to visit with a modern and family-friendly twist.
Things to Do in Florida: History and Culture Lovers
22. Ringling Museum and Ca d'Zan Mansion
Located in Sarasota, the Ringling Museum and Ca d'Zan Mansion is an off-the-beaten-path destination for the average Florida tourist. Picking up a rental car will help you to see more of the hidden gems. Ultimately, both are well worth the short drive from other parts of the state.
Once owned by John Ringling of the Ringling Bros. Circus, this mansion and museum was commissioned by Ringling himself and built in the image of a Venetian Palace right over Sarasota Bay. Today, it houses an incredible variety of art owned by the Ringlings that they collected over the years.
24. Venetian Pool
Other than Coral Gables, Florida, you’re not likely to ever see any pool or aquatic facility quite like this. Carved from a coral rock quarry nearly 100 years ago, the 820,000 gallon pool is filled with spring water from artesian wells, and during the spring and summer drained and refilled daily.
Along with the pool are two waterfalls and two large historic towers with views of the surrounding area. Porticos, lots of palm trees, and a signature bridge make this a very pleasant place to visit on a hot Florida day.
25. Miccosukee Reservation
The Miccosukee Reservation is the private homeland of the Miccosukee tribe of Native Americans located in several counties in south Florida. While the reservation is private, the locals operate several small business in the region including casinos, airboats, attractions, gift shops and restaurants.
Many of these are accessible along Alligator Alley, the stretch of I-75 between Miami and Naples, where you can visit, take in an allogator wresting show, and grab some fresh Fry Bread (a Miccosukee specialty).
23. Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is a major attraction that showcases the history of space travel with exhibits on historical space vehicles and various space artifacts. It has an IMAX movie theater within the complex and a rocket launch simulator. You can view exhibits highlighting the Apollo program and even see a piece of moon rock.
There is also a memorial within the space center called the Space Mirror, which honors astronauts who have lost their lives while carrying out their duty exploring space.
26. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
A beautiful Italian Renaissance villa built in 1916 is now a wonderful museum in Miami containing original furnishings and artwork, and surrounded by beautiful formal gardens. Take the guided tour and plan around 3 hours to explore the villa and gardens.
27. St. Augustine
St. Augustine is the first European settlement and the oldest town in Florida. This historic Old Town St. Augustine is another major attraction and is just a 45-minute drive from Jacksonville. Explore the old town and take the “Ghostly Experience” tour to learn the history and spooky legends of the settlement.
The tour will take you through St. Augustine’s cobble stone streets by lantern light to explore the age-old storefronts, old churches, and cemeteries.
28. Tour Flagler College
This private college is filled with exquisite stained glass windows, beautiful architecture, and wonderful history. Plus it’s open to the public and visitors can take tours daily of the campus to learn more about the history of the college and the city.
29. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
This former home and museum of the world-famous American novelist Ernest Hemingway is a must-see in Key West, the southernmost point in the Sunshine State. The modern home is also one of the largest in Key West with beautiful gardens around the house. Visitors can take a tour of the property and discover the impressive interiors as well as interesting details about the life of the Hemingway.
As the famous author was very fond of cats, you’ll find a large number of cats on the grounds. In fact, some of these are even the descendants of the cats owned by Hemingway himself — you can which ones they are by their unusual 6 toes.
You can’t spend the night here, but if your literary wanderlust gets the better of you, there are lots of cool airbnbs and conch house hotels nearby where you can imagine Ernest brushed up against back in the day.
Florida visitors in love with history should make a beeline to the state’s capital city of Tallahassee, a city that’s sure to surprise you. Some of the state’s most fascinating cultural history can be found here, including Florida’s early Spanish Colonial and native American history.
You’ll also find great restaurants, breweries, culture, and a vibrant community of local artisans, thespians, and more to keep your cultural heart strings finely tuned.
Things to Do in Florida: Foodies
31. Eat All the Seafood
We couldn’t talk about unmissable things to do in Florida and not mention one its most important assets — the amazing food! There’s all kinds of delicious sweet treats to try like fresh Florida citrus, soft serve creamsicle ice cream from a Florida orange grove stand, and other great local Florida foods.
But it wouldn’t be a trip to Florida without eating some, or all, of the succulent seafood. From fresh Florida stone crabs, mahi mahi, and Gulf Coast shrimp, to red snapper, conch fritters, and many others too numerous to count, it’s fresh and so delicious.
32. Visit the St. Augustine Distillery
This small batch distillery in America’s Oldest City is known for their fine distilled spirits, using locally sourced ingredients. Tours are FREE and run ever 30 minutes from 10:30am, with the last tour starting at 5:00pm.
See how they produce pot-distilled rum, cane vodka, gin, and a special barrel-finished gin that’s extraordinary, then head upstairs to the Ice Plant for a unique cocktail expertly-crafted the old-fashioned way.
33. Eat at Joe’s Stone Crab (Miami)
You can’t visit Miami Beach without experiencing this historic restaurant. Established in 1913 a s a lunch counter the restaurant is now a seafood empire but still has a classic feel about it. Always offering the freshest of seafood, Joe’s can get pretty busy during stone crab claw season, October through May, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
34. Visit the Flora-bama Lounge
Country music fans aren’t the only ones who will enjoy this down-home beachside bar & grill on Perdido Key on the Florida-Alabama border made famous by Kenny Chesney. The prime location right on the Gulf is worth the trip, but it’s the live music, local oysters, and tropical vibe every day that keeps everyone partying long into the night.
35. Ybor City
This lively and historic neighborhood just northeast of downtown Tampa is filled with charming boutiques and vintage shops, but foodies will fall in love with the Cuban food. Founded in the late 1800s by Cuban immigrants, Ybor City is Tampa Bay’s Latin Quarter, still retaining its Cuban roots and preserving some really unique attractions.
La Tropicana Café is good for breakfast or lunch, but for dinner, don’t miss Columbia Restaurant — they’ve been serving exceptional Cuban-Spanish food for more than a century.
Things to Do in Florida: Families
36. Disney World
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is one of the most popular theme parks in the Orlando and its one of the many magical places to visit at Walt Disney World Resorts. Cinderella’s Castle is the centerpiece and icon of the park, located in the center like a wheel with spokes. Passengers can travel around the park on a narrow-gauge steam engine, known as the Walt Disney World Railroad.
The steam engine stops at the Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, and Fantasyland. Explore Magic Kingdom with family or friends and also check out the great variety of themed restaurants and dining options located throughout the park, including a growing selection of vegetarian and vegan food options in various venues.
37. SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando is an aquatic theme park and key marine attraction in Orlando. The park has numerous ocean habitats onsite and offers plenty of opportunities to view marine wildlife. The theme park is divided into different areas called “seas,” and each of those seas highlights different aspects of the ocean.
Families with children will enjoy the live shows at SeaWorld. Visitors can also enjoy different rides and try a variety of different dining and shopping options within the park.
Epcot Center is indeed one of the most magical places on earth and once inside, you will be taken through 12 different unique destinations based on replicas of each country represented. You’ll feel as if you are within the country and can get an authentic experience.
Each country features its own architecture, cast members dressed in traditional outfits, food, drinks and souvenir shops. You can be in England on moment enjoying the fish and chips or gorge on fluffy pretzels in Germany the very next.
39. Murder Mystery Dinner Train
See Southwest Florida from the comfort of your dining car chugging along the historic Seminole Gulf Railway while a live murder mystery show plays out onboard. For over 30 seasons, the unique Murder Mystery Dinner Train dining and theater experience has set out from Ft. Myers on a forty-mile, 3 and half hour round trip of mystery and fun. Try one for dinner or check out their holiday-themed rides throughout the year.
40. Universal Studios
The 800+ acre Universal Studios entertainment theme park and production studio in Orlando features three unique parks: Universal Studios, Island of Adventure and the Volcano Bay waterpark, and more fun than you can imagine. It’s truly fun for kids big and small, but adults will especially love the Universal CityWalk, the destination for shopping, dining, and dancing.
Or take in a performance of the long-running Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba. Ride the Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a favorite of every muggle!
41. Orlando Resorts
Orlando is known as a family destination with kids running around at various attraction parks. But when you’re had your fill of theme parks and even done of few good day trips from Orlando, the city has plenty more to offer beyond just the typical family vacation. The resorts are actually great places to experience some seriously fine dining at a variety of signature restaurants.
If you need even more relaxation besides the delicious food, try out the on-site spas, the outdoor hot tubs, pools and cabanas. In the evenings you can head over to Universal City Walk, which is the place to be when the sun goes down.
There is a mixture of fantastic food, banging bars, crazy clubs, and magical music. Orlando is a great city that deserves a visit. You’re never too old to have a terrific trip to this popular Florida destination.
Another must do when in Florida is a visit Legoland, which is located in Winter Haven and has been specially designed for children under the age of 12. At this theme park you’ll find plenty of rides, shows, and attractions all designed with younger visitors in mind, created for kids who love Legos.
Check out the Lego bricks experience or enjoy variety of VIP offers with your family in this fun theme park that also feature a water park and a factory tour of Lego brick production.
Things to Do in Florida: Beach Lovers
43. Sanibel and Captiva
Southwest Florida travel offers so much for a first-timer to Florida who loves nature and a truly natural coastal experience. And if you love treasure-hunting and beach-combing, you absolutely must go shelling on Sanibel Island.
Not only do Sanibel and Captiva have some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, this part of Florida is known as the Shelling Capital of the US, and it is!
44. Clearwater Beach
Year after year Clearwater Beach with its soft white sand beach has been voted one of the best in Florida. If you can do it on the water, it’s here — stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing, or try parasailing. Equipment rentals are up and down the beach and there’s plenty of beach to stretch out on.
Be sure to catch a fiery sunset at one of the beachside cafes or casual seafood restaurants that line the beach promenade.
45. Hunt for Shark Teeth in Venice
Venice, Florida on the western Gulf Coast offers something truly unique for beach-loving travelers — pre-historic shark teeth by the bucketful! It’s possible to find these shark teeth through Florida and on the Atlantic side of the state as well.
But these little gems, blackened from fossilization, are so abundant in Venice (known as “The Shark Tooth Capital of the World”) — it’s advised that you rent a “Florida snow shovel”, basically a wire basket on a long stick, to sift through the sand, rather than do it with your hands.
And the reward is immediate — you’ll pull up handfuls of fossilized shark teeth with every scoop! Divers can easily go 15-20 yards offshore and find much bigger teeth that will be the envy of relic hunter friends everywhere.
46. Miami South Beach
Most visitors to Miami can hardly wait to soak up the sun at one of the spectacular beaches along Miami's 30-mile stretch of coastline. The very popular and glamorous South Beach is a fun place to people-watch while enjoying beach. South Beach is cool, flashy and a well-known place to see and be seen but watch out for the red ropes. If you do manage to get into the right club, you might even spot a celebrity.
The club scene in the city center is friendlier and lower pressure, with plenty of fun to be had dancing and drinking. With a more inclusive atmosphere and fewer restrictions on entry, it's easier to move from pub to club.
Things to Do in Florida: Garden Lovers
47. Naples Botanical Garden
The Naples Botanical Garden in southwest Florida is spread across 170 acres of beautiful grounds that are well kept and curated. It’s the perfect place to slow travel the Paradise Coast, a natural and quieter part of Florida.
The gardens showcase the different ecosystems of the region and boast more than a thousand different plant species. The Balinese Garden and serene and a perfect spot for meditation and reflection. The Smith Garden is especially fun for families and features a kid-friendly area and other zones within the garden feature ponds, beautiful trails as well as shop and café.
Look for the seasonal exhibitions and celebrations as well as impressive flower shows that are held throughout the year. The Botanical Gardens are just one of the many fun things to do in Naples beside what most travelers come for — a trip to Naples’ best beaches.
48. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
If you’re looking for a slice of vintage Ft. Lauderdale, be sure and visit the Bonnet House. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 35-acre, 1920’s historic estate on Fort Lauderdale Beach is the former winter home of artists Frederic and Evelyn Fortune Bartlett. Yet unlike other lavish show-palace homes of the day, the Bonnet House feels unique — approachable and very whimsical.
Both the home and gardens are well-preserved in their original 1930's and 40's period and retain the home’s intimate feel. Take a guided tour of the house and gardens — the orchid greenhouse is dreamy with 1,500 orchids.
49. Bok Tower and Gardens
One of the most popular and unique places to visit in Florida is the 205 feet tall “singing tower” surrounded by a 250-acre lush garden at Bok Tower and Gardens in Lake Wales — so named because of the carillon bell concerts which are played throughout the day. It’s fun throughout the year, but springtime when all the colorful flowers are in bloom is the ideal time to visit.
50. Explore Sunken Gardens
Walk the hidden paths through Sunken Gardens in St. Pete, with its stunning landscape and sparkling waterfalls in a tropical paradise. The gardens are a living museum and home to some of the oldest and most unusual exotic plants in the area.
There are so many things to do in Florida, but these 50 ideas are truly bucket list-worthy. Can you think of any we missed?
Auston runs the blog Two Bad Tourists and is also a freelance writer. His work has been featured in many publications including Attitude Magazine, Edge Media Network, The Houston Chronicle and ManAboutWorld Magazine.