How to Spend a Week in Florida: Top Attractions and Must Sees
The sunshine state of Florida lies between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean in the south eastern region of America and is one of the most visited states in the whole country. Brimming with gigantic theme parks, designer shopping malls, gorgeous sandy beaches and vibrant cosmopolitan cities, Florida offers something for everyone and is popular with families and tourists from all over the world. During my 4 week tour of the US back in 2016, I was lucky enough to spend seven glorious days exploring Florida and found plenty of things to see and do in this wonderful state. Here are the top sights and biggest Florida attractions that you absolutely won’t want to miss during your visit…
Walt Disney World, Orlando
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If I could just be magically transported back to the happiest place on earth that would be great right now ✨🎆🏰 #Disney #waltdisneyworld #myhappyplace #takemeback #orlando #florida #disneyworld #WDW #waltdisney #magickingdom #cinderellascastle #igers_wdw #beautifuldestinations
No list of Florida attractions is complete without the absolute ICON that is Walt Disney World; the place where all your magical dreams come true (cheesy, I know). I am a huge Disney fan and have wanted to visit ever since I can remember, so I was totally overwhelmed when I entered the Magic Kingdom and saw Cinderella’s castle for the first time! I only had one full day at Walt Disney World so decided to focus solely on Magic Kingdom, but you can of course head to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and the Typhoon Lagoon waterpark to get an added Disney fix and to make the most of all the epic parks on site.
South Beach, Miami
One of the most famous stretches of sand in the world, Miami’s South Beach is an absolute must see during your time in Florida. Perfect for water sports, celeb spotting and sunbathing, South Beach is a great place to chill out in a city which is always buzzing. If you’re looking to escape the sun, why not head to the nearby Lincoln Road Mall? This open air mall is completely pedestrianised and is brimming with big name fashion retailers, luxurious boutique stores and quirky cafes and eateries. The Art Deco scene in Miami is pretty big, so it’s worth checking that out too whilst you’re visiting South Beach. Nightlife in Miami is on par with the likes of Vegas and NYC and, as with any major city, Miami’s glamour comes at a price so be prepared to spend top dollar on drinks and club entry.
Kennedy Space Centre, Titusville
To infinity, and beyond! Nope, we’re not talking about Disney again, this time it’s the Kennedy Space Centre in Titusville. If galaxies, planets and spaceships are your thing you won’t want to miss out on a visit to NASA HQ during your time in Florida. The centre is huge and they have done a great job of preserving real life rockets and other space related artefacts. Some of the talks and interactive exhibitions are super informative, the shuttle buses are handy and the centre is easy to get around, especially if you’re travelling with children. There are some great photo opportunities along the way, and I’d recommend spending at least a few hours here to really get the most out of your visit.
Universal Resort, Orlando
Another theme park has made this post, and this time it’s Universal, which is definitely on the ‘most visited’ list of top Florida attractions. With its big thrill rides, fantastic character interactions and a whopping three theme parks all on one resort, Universal is a hit with visitors of all ages. Kids will love the Shrek and the Despicable Me rides, whilst older ones will find the Transformers and Jurassic Park sections much more enjoyable. Thrill seekers won’t want to miss the Volcano Bay water park, with enormous slides, coasters and rapids. The Islands of Adventure park is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with life size recreations of the Forbidden Forest, Hogwarts Castle and the Hogwarts Express just waiting to be discovered.
Everglades National Park, The Everglades
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“The Everglades is America’s largest subtropical wilderness and the largest protected stretch of mangrove coastline in the Western Hemisphere. There are nearly four million acres of contiguous public conservation lands in the Everglades of South Florida, often quite close to cities like Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Naples. I captured this photography from a Cessna 177 airplane near Everglades City, which is one of my favorite basecamps for Everglades adventure. Its where Everglades National Park meets Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and wild lands and waters extend for dozens of miles in every direction. For those who want to immerse in the Everglades, the 99-mile Everglades Wilderness Waterway included marked paddling trails and camping sites that connect through the mangrove fringe from Everglades City to Flamingo (closer to Miami). Everglades National Park has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.” — Carlton Ward. Photo by @carltonward #EvergladesNationalPark #Everglades #Mangroves
Spending long days at theme parks certainly takes its toll, so it’s nice to break up the intensity with something a little more laid back. I say laid back, coming up close and personal with alligators is not for the faint hearted, but on your visit to the Everglades National Park at least you’ll be swapping rollercoasters and log flumes for boat rides and swamps! Listed as a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance, the Everglades are one of Florida’s best loved natural beauties. Visitors can hop on a tram and ride the 15 mile Shark Valley Loop if they’re on the lookout for gators, or for something a little more tame, why not hike along the 2 mile boardwalk into the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to view the largest collection of old growth Cypress trees in the world.
Home to every kind of marine animal you can think of, and with a whole host of shows, exhibitions, thrilling rides and interactive displays, SeaWorld and it’s neighbours, Discovery Cove and Aquatica, combine to make a huge entertainment complex and are high on the list of top Florida attractions. Thrill seekers can take on the high speed Manta, Kraken and Mako rollercoasters whilst the Infinity Falls rapids are super popular too. For animal experiences, head to the underwater viewing or aquarium areas to see dolphins, sharks, turtles and sting rays up close. Arguably the best time to go to SeaWorld will be when they host their huge events, including their fireworks display on 4th July, or their Halloween Spooktacular which runs on weekends from 21st September – 27th October.
Have you been to the sunshine state before? How many Florida attractions did you visit? I’ve only been to half of the ones on this list, so I think that’s an excuse to go back soon, right?! 😉
NB. This post was brought to you in collaboration with ATD but, as always, all words are of course my own.