Miami is one of the southern United States' top cultural meccas, known around the world as one of the nation's most diverse, avant-garde cities and a top tourist destination for international and LGBT visitors. Area visitors and residents alike can explore the attractions of nearby Miami Beach, including its famed South Beach district, which is home to Art Deco architecture and some of Florida's most acclaimed restaurants. Natural preserves such as Everglades National Park protect sensitive habitats and endangered species, while nearby metropolis Orlando is home to theme park resorts like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. The beautiful Florida Keys islands are also home to top white sand beaches, snorkeling destinations, and historic attractions.
Bimini is one of the Bahamas' loveliest island chains, located just 50 miles off of Florida's southern coast. The picturesque island destination, which is split into two main islands and a number of surrounding cays, is the closest Bahamian island to the mainland United States, best known for its unique underwater structure Bimini Road, which is said to be connected to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. Visitors can get to the island via plane, boat, or ferry from Miami and can enjoy opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, diving, or up-close underwater experiences with deadly bull sharks through the Bimini Bull Run cage experience company. Unique local foods such as conch salad are served up at a variety of regional restaurants, which are also known for their drink specials and waterfront seating.
2.Blowing Rocks Preserve
Blowing Rocks Preserve was originally founded in 1969 after the donation of 73 acres on Jupiter Island to the Nature Conservancy. Today, the preserve protects a one-mile section on the island spanning from its Atlantic Ocean coastline to the Indian River lagoon along its western shores. It has fully returned to the historic landscape of a south Florida barrier island a century ago, before the state's pioneer era. Visitors can explore an intact Florida dune habitat populated by sea oats, sea grapes, bay cedar, and beach sunflowers, which make a home for threatened species like green, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles. A native plant demonstration garden is also showcased, along with ?-mile interpretive trails spanning boardwalks and beautiful photo overlooks. Swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling are permitted throughout the park during select hours.
575 S Beach Rd, Hobe Sound, FL 33455, Phone: 561-744-6668
3.Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens preserve one of Fort Lauderdale's most beautiful historic homes, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984. The home was originally constructed by Hugh Taylor Birch in 1895, named in honor of the Bonnet Lily and presented to his daughter and son-in-law as a wedding gift. The home was used as a winter residence by members of the Birch family until 1997, when it was deeded to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation for use as a living history museum. Today, visitors can explore the home via guided tour throughout the year and learn about its legacy of creative expression and environmental preservation in the south Florida community. Annual special events include the weeklong Holiday Magic Festival of Trees and a summer concert series.
900 N Birch Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, Phone: 954-563-5393
4.The Walt Disney World Resort
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The Walt Disney World Resort is one of the world's most renowned theme parks, spanning more than 25,000 acres throughout Orlando, more than twice the size of the island of Manhattan. The resort, which was opened to the public in 1971, is home to four famed theme parks, including the original Magic Kingdom theme park, known for attractions like the futuristic Tomorrowland world and the famed Pirates of the Caribbean dark ride. Epcot, themed after a futuristic planned urban community, showcases pavilions and attractions related to world countries, while Disney's Hollywood Studios recreate the atmosphere of Hollywood's Golden Age. Newest park Disney's Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998, is home to zoological parks and high-thrill rides like the Expedition Everest roller coaster. 27 Disney-operated resort hotels are also located on the complex, along with attractions like the Disney Springs shopping and dining center.
5.Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park protects over 1.5 million acres of sensitive South Florida ecosystem, including pine flatwoods, sawgrass marshes, and coastal mangroves that provide a natural habitat for rare and endangered animals such as the Florida panther, West Indian manatee, and leatherback turtle. The UNESCO World Heritage Site park attracts over a million visitors each year, known for its stunning opportunities for bird and wildlife watching. Visitors can observe the park's terrain at its two-story observation deck at the Shark Valley Visitor Center, explore sections of the Great Florida Birding Trail, or embark on eco-tours showcasing the park's alligator, shark, and crocodile populations. Sections of the park are also preserved for dark sky viewing, including regions like the Ten Thousand Islands and Flamingo.
40001 State Road 9336,Homestead, FL 33034, Phone: 305-242-7700
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Fort Lauderdale is one of the world's top yachting tourist destinations, known for its stunning coastal beachfront and acclaimed Strip promenade, which showcases a wide variety of upscale boutiques, luxury high-rise hotels, and renowned al fresco dining destinations. Visitors can explore the city's beautiful Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk and enjoy Arts and Entertainment District attractions such as the Fort Lauderdale Historical Center, the family-friendly Museum of Discovery and Science, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. 90-minute amphibious tours traverse the city's hip Las Olas Boulevard, known for its unique shopping and dining options. Along the city's beachfront, lovely Hugh Taylor Birch State Park stretches for 180 acres, known for its excellent canoeing opportunities and nature trails.
7.Hobe Sound National Wildlife Preserve
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Preserve is a gorgeous natural refuge on Jupiter Island, originally established in 1969 on a 1,035-acre tract of land near the Indian River Lagoon. The preserve is split into two sections, including the 735-acre Jupiter Island tract, which is home to some of the nation's most popular sea turtle nesting habitats, and the 300-acre sand pine scrub mainland tract, which protects one of the state's few remaining sensitive sand pine scrub habitats. Visitors can view populations of endangered green sea and loggerhead turtles throughout the year or explore nature exhibits at the Hobe Sound Nature Center, which presents environmental education programming for visitors of all ages. The 173-acre Reed Wilderness Seashore Sanctuary is also located within the preserve, designated as a National Natural Landmark.
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Homestead is a beautiful city in Miami-Dade County, located adjacent to Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. The city, which is located approximately half an hour south of Miami, was incorporated in 1913, making it the county's second-oldest existing town. Visitors can explore the gorgeous 172,000-acre Biscayne National Park, which is home to more than 20 endangered marine life species and offers opportunities for swimming, scuba diving, and water skiing throughout the year. Famed glass-bottom boat tours are also offered throughout the year, along with tent camping on beautiful island Elliot Keys. The Coral Castle preserves a unique structure by sculptor Edward Leedskalnin, considered to be "America's Stonehenge," while Fruit and Spice Park offers 37 acres of rare fruit, nut, and spice tree plantings. Each year, the city hosts the annual Homestead Championship Rodeo, known as America's southernmost annual rodeo.
Islamorada is a charming Florida Keys village stretching across six separate islands near Everglades National Park and the beautiful Florida Strait. The village, which is commonly referred to as the "Sportfishing Capital of the World," is a hub for water sporting activities throughout South Florida, including opportunities to dive at beautiful coral reef sections within the Keys. Visitors can get up close and personal with dolphins at the Theater of the Sea, learn about the technologies behind human diving techniques at the History of Diving Museum, or learn about the region's indigenous, pioneer, and industrial history at the brand-new Keys History and Discovery Center complex. Beautiful natural areas include the converted quarry site Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, the lushly-forested Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, and the archaeological remains at Indian Key Historic State Park.
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10.Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Jonathan Dickinson State Park is named after the famed Quaker merchant of the same name, whose journal detailing his experiences with local indigenous populations following a shipwreck gained national attention in the 17th century. The park, which is located near the cities of Hobe Sound and Tequesta, is known for its excellent kayaking and canoeing opportunities along picturesque rivers that meander through majestic forests. Visitors can enjoy opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, and biking throughout the year or make use of the park's eight-mile equestrian trail system and facilities. Boating tours are offered aboard the park's lovely Loxahatchee Queen pontoon boat, letting passengers observe native and threatened Florida species. At the Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center, visitors can learn about the region's ecosystems through nature exhibits or embark on ranger-led programming.
11.John F. Kennedy Space Center
John F. Kennedy Space Center is one of the official field centers for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, opened in 1968. The center, which is located along Florida's southeastern coast near the city of Titusville, is best known as the site for launch operations for NASA's Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs. Visitors can explore the center's Mission Zones, which feature exhibits related to NASA's iconic programs, operations, and space technologies. Its Heroes and Legends center honors program pioneers, while its Race to the Moon exhibits showcase the midcentury Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Behind the Gates tours offer access to historic launch sites and working space flight facilities as part of guided group bus tours.
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Key Biscayne is one of the most easily-accessible Florida Keys destinations from downtown Miami, located just across the Rickenbacker Causeway on a beautiful barrier island. The key is best known as the home of Hobie Beach, Miami's top windsurfing destination. Off the island's coast, a nearby barrier reef is home to the nation's only federally-recognized underwater archaeological trail, which offers opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving and snorkeling experiences. The 808-acre Crandon Park is home to attractions such as a family amusement center, a marina, a tennis center, and a public 18-hole golf course. Nearby at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, visitors can ascend the beautiful 19th-century Cape Florida Lighthouse, one of southern Florida's most-photographed landmarks. A 1.5-mile biking trail spans the key, with bike lines offered on all of its main roads for safe exploration. Famed restaurant Rusty Pelican offers up one of Miami's most delicious Sunday brunch specials, known for its tomatillo-infused bloody marys.
Key Largo is one of the Florida Keys' top tourist destinations, known around the world as the "Diving Capital of the World" for its proximity to the United States' only living coral barrier reef. The island, which gained international fame following the 1947 feature film of the same name, carries on its Hollywood legacy today via the African Queen dinner cruise ship, which boasts a connection to Humphrey Bogart's esteemed film career. Visitors can access the key via Key West's Overseas Highway and can enjoy excellent opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and offshore swimming as part of guided excursions offered by a number of touring companies. Lovely nature trails meander through Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, while backcountry charter fishing trips offer some of the state's best angling opportunities.
Key West is one of the most famous islands within the Florida Keys archipelago, located at the southernmost point of Florida closer to Cuba than Miami. The lovely island is known for its historic conch-style houses, excellent shopping and dining destinations, and lively nightly celebrations at Mallory Square, which showcase a wide variety of street performers and buskers. Visitors can arrive at the island via cruise ship and embark on diving, snorkeling, and eco-tourism excursions from its picturesque Historic Seaport District. The island is also known for its rich African-American heritage, on display in areas such as its Bahama Village neighborhood and 1860 African Burial Ground, believed to be the nation's only cemetery for African refugees. Other attractions include the preserved Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha and the Oldest House Museum, which preserves the island's oldest conch home.
15.Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens are one of Palm Beach County's top cultural attractions, located near the city of Delray Beach. They are meant to honor Japanese immigrant George Morikami, the only member of the Yamato Colony to stay in the region following World War II. Visitors can explore the museum campus' two beautiful buildings, which feature a 7,000-artifact collection, a traditional Japanese-style tea house, and a 225-seat theater offering periodic cultural performances. Outside on the museum's grounds, visitors can explore the facility's Roji-en Japanese Gardens, which highlight six historical styles of Japanese gardens alongside a beautiful bonsai garden. Traditional Japanese cultural demonstrations are presented throughout the year, along with cultural festivals like the museum's Hatsume Fair Festival and traditional Obon-style Lantern Festival.
4000 Morikami Park Rd, Delray Beach, FL 33446, Phone: 561-495-0233
Naples is one of the United States' wealthiest communities, home to one of the nation's largest concentrations of millionaires along its pristine Gulf of Mexico waterfront. The beautiful Gulf city is known around the world as the "Golf Capital of the World," home to more than 80 championship golf courses, along with a plethora of high-end shopping and dining opportunities. Visitors can fish throughout the year at the historic 1888 Naples Pier or enjoy opportunities for outdoor recreation and eco-tourism at nearby natural landmarks like Everglades National Park, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Lovely public parks such as Clam Pass Park offer direct access to the city's beautiful white sand beaches throughout the year. Families can also enjoy attractions like the Baker Museum and the Naples Zoo.
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Ochopee is a charming unincorporated community in Collier County, originally founded as a tomato farming settlement in the early 20th century on 240 acres of land purchased by area pioneer James Gaunt. Following the establishment of Gaunt's tomato farm property, a thriving community sprung up throughout the region, which included what is now the smallest post office in the United States today. Visitors can explore the post office at select times throughout the year, which is located within a former storage shed facility. The community also serves as the official gateway to Big Cypress National Preserve, which spans 720,000 acres throughout the region's lovely Atlantic Coast terrain and protects native Florida wildlife such as Florida panthers, alligators, and mangrove trees. Preserve visitors can enjoy opportunities for ranger-led swamp talks, canoeing excursions, or airboating adventures overseen by the National Park Service.
Orlando is the largest inland metropolis in Florida, best known as the home of the massive Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme park suites, which attract over 68 million annual visitors throughout their operating seasons. Visitors can stay at luxury hotels on the resorts' complexes or explore the urban center of the "City Beautiful," which is home to over 148 lush public parks and green areas. Just outside of city limits, a number of wildlife preserves protect the sensitive marsh and wetland environments of the central Florida region. The Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk shopping and entertainment districts also showcase nightly fireworks shows and a plethora of name-brand stores, delicious restaurants, and hip nightlife districts.
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Palm Beach is one of Florida's top tourist destinations, known for its stunning Gilded Age mansions, upscale art galleries and boutiques, and delicious fine and casual dining restaurants. The charming south Florida town, which is located adjacent to the state's mainland across the Lake Worth Lagoon, is best known as the home of the former estate of railroading tycoon Henry Flagler. Visitors can tour the impressive estate, which is operated as a living history museum today, or shop and dine at the lavish attractions of upscale district Worth Avenue. A plethora of water sports and beach activities are offered throughout the year at Palm Beach Municipal Beach, stretching along the city's beautiful pristine waterfront. Each year, the lovely city hosts the renowned Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival.
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20.Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
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Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the United States' first underwater park at its establishment, designated to protect sensitive coral reef environments located off Florida's Atlantic Ocean coastline. The 70-square-nautical-mile park is located just off the coast of Key Largo, stretching three miles into the island's Atlantic coast. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of opportunities to explore the coral reef, ranging from guided snorkeling and scuba diving excursions to glass-bottom boat tours operated by the park's ranger system. At the park's visitor center, families can explore a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium facility or learn about the park's ecosystems through interactive exhibits. Popular activities at the park include year-round opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Day-use picnic sites are offered throughout the park, along with a number of full hookup and group campground sites.
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South Beach is Miami Beach's most vibrant district, known around the world as "America's Riviera" for its gorgeous Art Deco architecture, glamorous nightclubs, and celebrity chef-fronted gourmet restaurants. The beach extends for more than two miles along the city's southeastern tip, known for its pristine white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Visitors can tour the city's Art Deco highlights along Ocean Drive as part of 90-minute walking tours presented by the Miami Design Preservation League or tour the district's cultural museums, including the modern art museum Wolfsonian-FIU. Upscale indie fashion shops and name-brand chain stores populate popular pedestrian shopping district Lincoln Road Mall. Excellent al fresco dining destinations include delicious restaurants like Continental, the newest project from famed restaurateur Stephen Star, and Joe's Stone Crab, arguably known as the district's most iconic restaurant.
22.Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida is a delightful theme park resort and production studio in orland, opened in 1990 as a tribute to the entertainment industry. The park attracts more than 10 million visitors throughout the year, making it the ninth most-attended theme park in the world and the sixth most-attended park in the United States. Many of the park's attractions were developed in collaboration with the creator of the film they pay tribute to, including E.T. Adventure, which was developed in collaboration with filmmaker Steven Spielberg. Major thrill rides include the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket roller coaster, which reaches top speeds of 65 miles per hour, the Revenge of the Mummy launched roller coaster, and the Jurassic Park: The Ride shoot-the-chutes water ride. In 2010, the park's Harry Potter-themed Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened to the public, home today to rides such as the acclaimed Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure roller coaster.
6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 407-363-8000
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23.West Palm Beach
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West Palm Beach is a beautiful south Florida city that is connected to Palm Beach across the Lake Worth Lagoon, known for its gorgeous cultural and natural attractions. Visitors can shop and dine in style throughout the city's historic Clematis Street district and hip nightlife hub CityPlace, which are home to national favorite chains like Banana Republic, Sephora, and the Cheesecake Factory. Live theatrical and music performances are showcased at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, while displays of Chinese, European, and American art are presented at the renowned Norton Museum of Art. Visitors can also get up close and personal with native and exotic wildlife at outdoor attractions such as the Palm Beach Zoo, the Lion Country Safari drive-through safari attraction, and the privately-owned McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary.
23 Best Miami Day Trips
- Bimini, Photo: kevin/stock.adobe.com
- Blowing Rocks Preserve, Photo: Allison/stock.adobe.com
- Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, Photo: TasfotoNL/stock.adobe.com
- The Walt Disney World Resort, Photo: Klaus Nowottnick/stock.adobe.com
- Everglades National Park, Photo: warren_price/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Lauderdale, Photo: Simon Dannhauer/stock.adobe.com
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Preserve, Photo: mexitographer/stock.adobe.com
- Homestead, Photo: V. Korostyshevskiy/stock.adobe.com
- Islamorada, Photo: Miguel/stock.adobe.com
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Photo: Phil/stock.adobe.com
- John F. Kennedy Space Center, Photo: picturist/stock.adobe.com
- Key Biscayne, Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/stock.adobe.com
- Key Largo, Photo: lucky-photo/stock.adobe.com
- Key West, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Photo: Ana/stock.adobe.com
- Naples, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Ochopee, Photo: m4ry/stock.adobe.com
- Orlando, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Palm Beach, Photo: Thomas Barrat/stock.adobe.com
- Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Photo: Manuela Manay/stock.adobe.com
- South Beach, Photo: miami2you/stock.adobe.com
- Universal Studios Florida, Photo: TOimages/stock.adobe.com
- West Palm Beach, Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com