Best Places to Visit in Florida
With more than 8,000 miles of shoreline, the Sunshine State is prime vacation territory. But with so many diverse destinations in Florida, it can be hard to pick which place is right for your next getaway. That's why U.S. News considered factors, such as the number of attractions, availability of accommodations and the opinions of everyday travelers to pick the Best Places to Visit in Florida. Vote for your favorite spot below to help determine next year's list.
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Holding the record for most consecutive days of sunshine, St. Petersburg appeals to all types of travelers. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy St. Pete Beach and the 7 miles of waterfront parks. Away from the shore, downtown St. Petersburg offers plenty of distractions, including the Sunken Gardens and a museum dedicated to the works of Salvador Dalí.
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Few places in the world compare to colorful, vibrant Miami Beach. From the art deco architecture along Ocean Drive to the scantily clad beachgoers on South Beach, this Miami offshoot attracts everyone from relaxed retirees to night owls. But you'll want to bring along your credit card, those fashionable dance clubs and chic, trendy restaurants don't come cheap.
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While the cast of Disney characters draw families to Orlando year after year, there are endless attractions and activities outside of the theme parks. Families can shop till they drop at outlet malls and get up close and personal with animals at Gatorland or Discovery Cove. Those without little ones can explore Orlando's revitalized nightlife and restaurant scenes in the downtown area.
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If you consider yourself a nature lover, you've come to the right place. Here you can explore one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks (Myakka River State Park), soak up the sun at Lido Key Beach or admire the butterflies at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Make sure you save some time to learn about some of the city's most famous residents at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art or Ca' d'Zan.
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Travel to this island in the Florida Keys to see the southernmost point in the continental United States. Key West is known for its free-spirited locals, conch-style homes and coral reefs ripe for snorkeling and scuba diving. Between boat tours and margaritas, bibliophiles will enjoy visiting the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.
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History buffs should make a beeline for St. Augustine. Founded by the Spaniards in 1565, this town in northern Florida is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the U.S. The city's seaside buildings and monuments, from the pedestrian-friendly St. George Street to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, act as a living guide to history.
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Low-key and quaint are two words often used to describe this Gulf Coast island. Sanibel Island offers a casual beach environment that's popular with families for its reasonably priced vacation rentals, wide, uncrowded beaches and variety of seashells. When the little ones tire of the beach, visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge to spot birds like herons and ospreys.
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This spot along the Florida Panhandle is a home away from home for thousands of summer vacationers. Its unique, postcard-perfect white sands made from Appalachian quartz help Destin stand out from other Florida beaches. And its small-town feel, manicured golf courses and optimal fishing conditions continue to attract travelers year after year.
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You could easily spend your entire vacation along Jacksonville's three main beach areas, or even use the city as jumping-off point for exploring nearby communities like Amelia Island or Point Vedra Beach. But don't neglect downtown Jacksonville's cultural attractions, such as the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and the Riverside Arts Market.
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