There’s no denying that Florida boasts plenty of natural beauty. From the Gulf coast to the Atlantic, from extensive white sand beaches to the unique Everglades, the diversity of landscapes means the Sunshine State appeals to a wide variety of interests!
If you’re visiting soon and want to see some of the most beautiful places in Florida, we hope our local expertise will provide you with plenty of suggestions. Of course, if you’re keen to explore Central Florida from your Orlando-based holiday, then we’d love to take you to all the best spots!
Top 10 Beautiful Places in Florida
1. Crystal River
Fancy yourself a Doctor Doolittle? Then you’ll fit right at the animal haven of Crystal River.
Crystal River is certainly one of the most beautiful places in Florida for its stunning natural springs. Located half an hour away from Tampa, Crystal River is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, alligators and crocodiles, and river otters.
If that menagerie isn’t enough, Crystal River is also known as the manatee capital of the world!
As well as learning about wildlife conservation, visitors can experience the crystal clear waters first-hand and snorkel with these rare and loveable sea cows (who make for excellent tour guides!). Check out our Real Florida Manatee Adventure to experience it for yourself!
Nearby is the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, nestled on the edge of an expansive coastal marsh, a pre-Columbian ceremonial site for Native Americans. This historic attraction is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, so you’ll be able to spot the difference between whooping cranes and wood storks.
A mere 90 minutes away from Crystal River, we’d be remiss not to mention Homosassa State Park – a real hidden gem in the Gulf of Mexico. This quintessential fishing town is peaceful and offers visitors a choice of several gentle boat-based excursions.
Our second recommended destination in zesty Citrus Country, Homosassa is another wildlife capital for the intrepid adventurer’s map. Homosassa’s eight-mile river flows into the Gulf and is home to dolphins, manatees, and nine-banded armadillos — all of which can be visited on a river safari.
Take a guided boat tour to Monkey Island where spider monkeys can be seen frolicking on their miniature colony that boasts its own scaled-down lighthouse!
Homosassa is also home to another island, Little Tigertail Island, which is named in honour of its native bird population.
3. Key West
Florida’s southernmost point is a vibrant retreat for watersports, maritime history, conch-style architecture, and glittering beaches. Key West more than earns its spot on a list of Florida’s most beautiful places!
Anchor yourself at Duval Street, the city’s central hotspot, which offers great eating (including Sloppy Joe’s world-famous bar), buzzing nightlife, local shops, and live music and art.
From Ripleys Believe It or Not! to the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, this 1.25-mile-long street offers something for every traveller.
Culture vultures can also soak up inspiration at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. The birthplace of some of his most famous works, including To Have and Have Not and Green Hills of Africa, is located at 907 Whitehead Street, just across from the Key West Lighthouse. Keep an eye out for the six-toed cats that roam the property.
4. The Everglades
Florida is teeming with wildlife, but, unlike Crystal River, the Everglades are not recommended for swimming!
The coastal mangrove and marshes that make up this rich habitat are home to alligators, crocodiles, turtles, snakes, and lizards among many other creatures that make up this diverse ecosystem.
Brave-hearted travellers can traverse this wet wilderness at the Everglades National Park on fun airboat rides, feeling the wind in their hair as they greet the local creatures with a “see you later alligator”.
You are entirely safe as long as you remember to keep your hands out of the water!
Elsewhere, visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage Site can also embark on biking, bird-watching, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, and a host of other activities ending with ‘ing’.
The Everglades are a beautiful destination in Florida for travellers of all kinds, including families, solo hikers, and tour groups.
But fear not, if you share Indiana Jones’s fear of reptiles, the park can also be viewed remotely.
5. Clearwater Beach
For a more laid-back but truly beautiful place to go in Florida, Clearwater Beach is ideal almost all year round. Located in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, Clearwater’s white-sand beaches are popular with all types of visitors, from humans to dolphins and turtles!
Traverse the boardwalk at the world-famous fishing spot Pier 60, where you can dip your toes into marine biology at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (which is also a working animal hospital!) or have your timbers shivered on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise.
Both locations are a great day out for kids, from touch tanks and a wide variety of animals to a two-hour sea odyssey chock full of swashbuckling activities, including a treasure hunt and storytelling.
If you do want to shake up your experience of the three miles of coastal bliss, the city also offers escape rooms and helicopter journeys over Clearwater Beaches. Prefer to stay closer to the surface? Then enjoy a ride aboard the world’s largest speedboat (72ft-long!) – the aptly named Screamer.
Whatever you choose to do at Clearwater Beach, you’ll love the beauty of this coastal paradise!
6. St. Augustine
For a historic experience like no other, St. Augustine is a must-visit. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, the oldest city in the US is studded with colonial-era architecture and palm trees.
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a 17th-century masonry fort, which stands as a monument to Spain’s almost 300-year occupation of Florida. The longevity of the fort’s walls offers a rich vault of historical information for its visitors.
To continue the trail, visitors can experience the colonial quarter (and its jail), a distillery, the city’s beautiful cathedral, and pirate and treasure museum – but perhaps not in that order!
If that doesn’t satisfy you, the Archeological Park is home to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth – while results aren’t proven, this open-air Spanish settlement museum is a great place to reflect on life’s big questions.
7. Fort Lauderdale
Ah, Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of America. With over 3,000 miles of rivers, canals, and bays, the waterfront is famous for its beaches, arts, culture, and events.
Ride the waves of Las Olas Boulevard, where there are 10 international galleries, the Museum of Discovery and Science, an IMAX, and over 30 al-fresco restaurants.
While you may not be in Italy, a slice of European glamour is available on gondola rides available to explore the canals, including an amazing vista of the seemingly floating houses and large yachts.
8. St. Petersburg
Offering the best of the beach and the city, St. Petersburg is connected to lower Tampa by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
As the name suggests, this destination is guaranteed to make any traveller smile, particularly as it has won the top spot for “most consecutive days with sunshine”. It managed 768 days!
From award-winning beaches to the new 26-acre St. Pete Pier, this waterfront escape is a wonderful destination for families, friends, and couples.
Nearby, the botanical brilliance of the Sunken Gardens showcases more the 50,000 tropical plants and flowers dotted through a manicured and magical habitat that is easy to access and home to a flock of flamingos.
St. Petersburg is also a must-visit for arts and culture lovers, as it is home to the Salvador Dali museum, the Imagine Museum of fine glass, and the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art. So, if dripping clocks and cowboys are your thing, this one’s for you.
9. Miami’s Art Deco District
Thanks to Ryan Murphy’s TV show The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Miami’s South Beach is most popular for the scandal that rocked the fashion world, but also for the opulent home in which it took place. But The Villa Casa Casuarina is not the only building of note in this area.
Home to the largest concentration of art deco buildings in the world (yes, the world!), Miami’s art deco district is a pastel-coloured paradise that is both historically rich and incredibly Instagrammable.
The architectural style spread from the 1920s to hotels, theatres, and apartment blocks, and visitors can traverse the streets and learn more about this artistic movement in the Art Deco Museum just down the beach.
Just one mile south of Cape Florida, a group of seemingly floating houses populate Biscayne Bay.
These houses of tomorrow originated in the 1930s, when “Crawfish Eddie Walker” constructed his first stilt house above the water.
As more and more properties joined his pioneering vision, stories of speakeasies, illegal gambling, bootleggers, and other shady dealings hung around the homes like a sea mist.
Today, Stiltsville has gone straight and is preserved by a non-profit organisation called the Stiltsville Trust. Featured in films including Miami Vice and Bad Boys II, these architectural anomalies are no longer invitation only and are accessible by many companies offering boat tours.
What do you think? Are you ready to visit all these beautiful places in Florida now? We hope so! We’d love to show you some of our favourites, so take a look at our tours from Orlando and choose your next adventure! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all.