Florida is world-famous for its sunny beaches, theme parks, and orange juice. And yes, you’ll find all three aplenty in the Sunshine State, but you’ll also stumble across several cities that are worth paying a visit.
From beach hotspots to theme park wonderlands, passing through historical landmarks and emerging cultural centers, Florida offers a unique variety of cities that deserve a spot on bucket lists for all types of travelers.
Here is a list of the best cities in Florida to consider visiting.
The Best Cities in Florida
Orlando is mostly famous for its theme parks. The reputation is well earned, as there is no other city in the world with as many major amusement parks as Orlando. Of course, Disney’s Magic Kingdom tops the list in terms of world recognition, but there are a few that are only a close step behind. Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Seaworld, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Discovery Cove are only a few of the parks on the menu.
But if you’re wondering if there’s more to Orlando than theme parks, the answer is definitely yes. The city offers a myriad of educational activities, outdoor adventures, and a lively restaurant and bar scene for you to enjoy as well. The Wheel at Icon Park will let you climb up high to see the city from the sky, while Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, Gatorland, and the Orlando Science Center are great learning experiences to name just a few. It is also worth mentioning that Orlando can be a great home base for visiting other central Florida attractions, like Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center and the Daytona International Speedway.
Tampa is another of the best cities in Florida with fun adventures for all types of travelers.
With pretty beaches, theme parks, wildlife adventures, a rich cultural offer, and a bubbling restaurant and bar scene, you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy what this city in Florida has to offer. A good way to start your vacation is to get to know the city itself by taking a walk along the Tampa Riverwalk, strolling through the downtown area, and taking the tram to Ybor City, a must-visit Cuban neighborhood famous for its cigar manufacturing and Latin flavor.
The perfect Tampa bucket list includes some cultural activities, outdoor adventure, and theme parks. As for theme parks, Busch Gardens definitely takes the cake with a wide variety of attractions for the whole family, including exciting roller coasters and gentler rides and the Serengeti Safari for animal lovers. In a cultural vein, take a peek at the Tampa Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the American Victory Ship Mariners Memorial Museum – a cargo vessel built in 1944 turned into a museum.
For nature and beach relaxation, Ben T. Davis Beach is the closest beach in town and a great spot to relax on white powdery sand and watch picture-perfect sunsets. Florida Aquarium, the Manatee Viewing Center, Lettuce Lake Regional Park, and the Tampa Zoo are other popular attractions.
Besides being a gorgeous coastal destination, St. Augustine is filled with almost 500 years of history and heritage. Founded in 1565 by the Spanish, it is the oldest city in the continental USA and full of historical landmarks that silently coexist with beautiful beaches and a lively restaurant and bar scene.
Once inside the city, you can pretty much park your car and forget about it, because the best way to get around pretty St. Augustine is to walk the quaint downtown area and ride the Old Town Trolley. Famous historical landmarks are the Castillo de San Marcos overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Bridge of Lions, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, the Lightner Museum, and the St. Augustine Distillery. Of course, the cobblestoned streets and quaint buildings are other live testimonies of the city’s history.
Miami is a lively smorgasbord of white sunny beaches, multicultural districts, and a bustling nightlife that attracts millions of visitors every year. Whether you’re yearning for some beach relaxation and watersports, a lively bar scene, or a few days of cultural and natural adventure, Miami has you covered.
Hit Miami Beach and South Beach (SoBe) for some beach relaxation and lots of dining and wining. Hop on a rental bike for a tour of famous Art Deco buildings that you might have seen in movies and TV shows. Then, head to Wynwood Walls to take a look at the fantastic street murals that made this neighborhood famous. If you want to see it all from high up in the sky, the Skyviews Miami Ferris Wheel will do the trick for you.
When it comes to nature adventures, Miami is home to the incredible Simpson Park but it is also a great home base for visiting amazing natural wonders like the Everglades, Dry Tortugas National Park, and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park at Key Largo.
Sarasota is known for its lovely beaches as well as its hip artistic vibe.
Home to the world-famous Ringling Museum of Art, the city has built a healthy community of artists, craftsmen, and performing arts companies that continually create unique works.
Sarasota Beach is very close to the downtown area, but there are other cool beach options for every type of beachgoer. Siesta Key is only 6 miles away, while hidden gems like Lido Key and Manasota Key are very close too.
A must-see attraction in Sarasota is the Marie Selby Botanical Museum, a bayside area featuring a waterfall, hanging bridges, an Amazonian village, and an adventure trail full of tropical plants. Here, you’ll find over 6,000 orchids and butterflies among other natural treasures.
Located in the northeast area of the Sunshine State, Jacksonville, or “Jax” as it was nicknamed by residents, offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy off-the-beaten-path beach escapes, incredible outdoor adventures, an emerging gastronomical and craft-beer scene, and lively nightlife.
Boasting more than 20 miles of uncrowded beaches, over 10 state and national parks, and a long stretch of St. John’s River, Jax has plenty to offer in terms of views!
Founded in 1888, the city of Naples got its name because the bay was said to resemble the beautiful bay in the city of Naples in Italy. Today, this upscale destination on the Gulf Coast is a mecca for fishing, golfing, boating, shopping, and dining. Don’t be surprised if you encounter one or more celebrities, as this fabulous beach city has become quite popular with them!
Must-do attractions in Naples include spending a day of beachside fun and relaxation at Lowdermilk Park Beach, watching a sunset at the Naples Pier, and dining and wining at both Mercato and Tin City. For nature adventures, head to the Corkscrew Swamp, the Gordon River Greenway Park, or venture out to Marco Island and the Everglades.