Space Age launch pads, sky-high roller coasters, world-class beaches and championship golf courses make Central Florida a gateway to nonstop, year-round fun. Tour Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center to see how men were put on the moon, then buckle in for an adrenaline ride or two yourself with stops at theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida and Busch Gardens. If you’re traveling with kids, then Disney’s Animal Kingdom (dedicated entirely to conservation and currently the largest Disney park in the world), SeaWorld Orlando and Legoland are musts.
They say the farther north you go in Florida, the farther south you get. From Tallahassee to Gainesville to Jacksonville, the Dixie spirit and down-to-earth charm of the American South is stronger here than anywhere else in the state. But this is also home to the largest collection of natural springs in the world, as well as a stunning abundance of freshwater rivers and well-groomed backcountry trails—so be sure to pack your swimming trunks and hiking boots. Don’t miss St. Augustine (the oldest continuously occupied European-settled city in the country) for a chance to visit Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth.
Florida’s panhandle is famous for its white-sand beaches and barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, it’s also a major spring-break attraction for college students, so plan accordingly. The area is home to an extensive amount of history, with influences from Spanish, Native American, French and English evident in the architecture and culture. Pensacola Beach is home to Quietwater Óeach Boardwalk, which offers visitors retail shops, restaurants, nightclubs and a large stage where concerts are held throughout the year. For a more natural experience, Falling Waters State Park and Florida Caverns State Park allow visitors to view the power of water first-hand.
If you can’t decide on where to set up camp in South Florida, just throw all of your major options into a hat and pick one at random—any one of Tampa Bay, Miami, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie or Fort Myers will do just fine. The embarrassment of riches is overwhelming, and you won’t have to stray very far to find yourself on a soft, sandy beach astride crystal-clear tropical waters. At the extreme southern tip, head for the incomparable Florida Keys for some of the best boating, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving in the country.