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10 Best Places in Florida to Visit

The Oldest House is a view of living in the 18th century. (St. Augustine)

We don’t like “best”, “top ten” or “most popular” lists. These terms are subjective as to rank or, in many cases, posted according to advertising revenue – not good for visitors trying to find places in Florida to visit.

Florida Travel Blog attempts to give you places we enjoy for different reasons. You may want a sunny beach, a beach chair and a big bottle of sunscreen. The next traveler may want cultural destinations. The next visitor wants the top vacation spots in Florida for families. That’s why we give you the facts – you choose your best places in Florida to visit!

Below is our list with the reasons, attractions, basic surroundings and methods for further review. We also include $ signs from one to five – five being the most expensive. The ratings are based on the cost of hotels, food and neighboring attractions. Budgets vary and so do costs at different places in Florida to visit.

We make one other exception. Disney World is not included in our attraction list. Over 58 million people visit Disney World annually. Orlando attractions are neither a secret or unknown by even the least educated traveler. In addition, there are well over 2000 websites and blogs that cover Disney. We will leave the most visited site in Florida to others.

Our list of 10 places in Florida to visit takes us from the far reaches of the panhandle to the southernmost point in the country. Enjoy the tour in alphabetical order!

Amelia Island, Florida -The Most Fought Over Island in the Country 
There are tens of thousands of islands in the world. But few were –
  • once ruled by a pirate
  • occupied by seven nations at different times
  • defended to protect a whole river basin
  • built by various cultures.
Fort Clinch, Amelia Island - places in Florida to visit
Fort Clinch protected a large river basin.

Amelia Island is unique. The Spanish influences are most prevalent, but French, British, and American settlers left their mark on the architecture.

We like visiting Amelia Island because –

  • there are miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches and breezes.
  • attractions like Fort Clinch, Maritime Museum and Amelia Island State Park where you can walk or drive on the beach.
  • Fernandina Beach is the largest town on the island and offers quaint antique shops, restaurants and the oldest bar in Florida.

Many Resorts and Hotels on the Island

There are numerous resorts on the east side of the island. A couple have a golf course and all have beach access.

In Fernandina Beach, a reasonably priced Hampton Inn is close to the historic downtown area and within walking distance to the shops. Resorts like the Omni and the Ritz-Carlton are beautiful and expensive, but many of their amenities may be worth the expense. Several bed and breakfast locations dot the island.

Spending a few days on Amelia Island can be one of the places in Florida you choose to visit.

$$$ Food Resorts $$$$

Destin, Florida – Jewel of the Panhandle

The Florida panhandle protrudes westward from north Florida. Rt 98 transverses the panhandle offering a spectacular drive along the northern Gulf. The route going from east to west takes you through places like Panacea, Carrabelle, ApalachicolaPanama City BeachDestin, and finally, Pensacola. While there are some great destinations along this scenic road, the star of the trip is Destin.

Destin Florida Boshamps - Destin places in Florida to visit
Boshamps is one of the best seafood restaurants
in Florida.
At one time, Destin was a small town with a big fishing habit. In fact, The Destin History & Fishing Museum chronicles much of the early days in Destin. Fishing is still a major economic contributor, but tourism has overtaken the marine industry. The area east and west of Destin is called the Emerald Coast of Florida. Over 4.5 million people visit the Emerald Coast annually and 80% of them go to Destin.
We like Destin because of the wide range of activities available, the location that allows easy day trips from Destin, the superior selection of great hotels, moderate year-round temperatures, and some of the best seafood restaurants in the state of Florida. Yet the best of Destin can be found in a quarter-mile stretch of Destin Harbor in an area called Haborwalk Village.
Harborwalk has a boardwalk beginning at the Emerald Hotel and going east along the harbor. Strolling the walkway, you will see boutique shops, a zip line, numerous restaurants, charter fishing boats, jet ski rentals, floating tiki bar rentals, parasail boats and tour boats.
All of this fun and the occasional festival keep people from Alabama and Georgia returning to their favorite place in Florida to visit.

One thing we look forward to when visiting Destin is Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House. This is one of the best seafood restaurants in Florida! They have fresh

Harborwalk at Destin places to visit in Florida
HarborWalk has charter boats and many more
water sports activities.

seafood served with a twist on many old classics. Try their “Putin’ on the Grits” appetizer and “Snapper Destin” for dinner. Delicious!

All the major hotels have properties in Destin. However, The Emerald Grande is at the west end of Harborwalk. It is expensive for Destin, but on the other hand, you won’t need to travel to get to the major attractions around Harborwalk Village.
Destin is high on our family’s list of places in Florida to visit.
Food $$$ Hotels $$$
Jupiter, Florida – Home of the Stars
Jupiter Florida lighthouse
A must-visit is the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.

On Florida’s east coast, north of Miami and south of the space coast is a growing city along the Atlantic Ocean. That city, Jupiter, is the town of superstars. We can’t find any other places in Florida to visit that has more famous names that were born in Jupiter or have resided there.

People like Burt Reynolds, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Michael Jordan and Alan Jackson. Dozens more actors, sports figures and musicians have called Jupiter home. In fact, one sport for tourists is star watching. Tourists go to beaches, restaurants and places where the stars are known to frequent. That is not why we like Jupiter.

We like Jupiter because –

  • the city is clean and fresh.
  • the location has both Intracoastal activities and oceanfront beaches.
  • the homes and condos along A1A are magnificent and worth a drive.
  • within a few miles are many attractions from the Everglades to famed locations around the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.
  • for east coast beaches, they have some of the best.
    Riverwalk Jupiter Florida
    Riverwalk in Jupiter will give you a glimpse
    of both Intracoastal areas and Ocean views.

Jupiter has a famed lighthouse that has been protecting mariners since 1856. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum provide visitors with the challenges of keeping a lighthouse operating for over a century and a half. This attraction and the Riverwalk along the Intracoastal are two of our favorite things to do in Jupiter.

Jupiter is fortunate with a vibrant restaurant scene. Several eateries are owned by the stars living in the area. One of our favorites is right on the inlet. The Square Grouper has stunning views, great food and a quirky atmosphere welcoming to everyone.

Hotels and Yachts Line the Waterfront in Jupiter

There are lots of hotels in Jupiter. Our preference would be something on the water. Along the Intracoastal are several hotels that have views of the yachts cruising up and down the waterway. We could suggest the Wyndham Grand Jupiter or the less expensive Jupiter Waterfront Inn. Both also offer a place to dock your boat and views of the Intracoastal. All the major brands have hotels throughout the Jupiter area for less than $200 per night.

If you are looking for something different in places to stay in Florida, Jupiter may be the place for you. This is also one of the top vacation spots in Florida for families.

Hotels $$ Food $$

Key West – The International Destination

We have watched cruise ships unload thousands of passengers on the docks of Key West. Those ships were from all over the world. The passengers would go home and extoll the adventures they had on this island.

Over the last two decades, Key West has grown an international reputation as compelling as the British Virgin Islands and American Caribbean holdings.

Sloppy Joe's Key West famous places in Florida to visit.
Sloppy Joe’s Key West may be the icon destination
and top of the list of things to do in Key West

We must be honest and let our readers know that Key West is our favorite road trip in Florida! We have written extensively about this island and all of the Florida Keys. This may not be the destination you want for a very young family, but it certainly can provide plenty of entertainment for adults of all ages.

First-time Key West visitors will most certainly choose from places like Hemingway’s HomeSloppy Joe’sIrish Kevin’sMallory Square, and Mel Fisher’s Atocha Treasure. All of these are classic Key West. No self-respecting tourist can refuse to go to this list of attractions or they may become an outcast by their friends after returning home.

History Makes Key West One of the Best Places in Florida to Visit

The “real” Key West is much more complex than the most popular bars, attractions and restaurants. For instance, why would one man risk his entire vast fortune to bring a railroad to Key West? Find out how a band of Union soldiers held Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West despite Florida’s secession and Confederate alignment.

Did you know that Key West was once the richest city per capita in the country? At one time Key West’s largest industry was known around the world as the largest city in Florida. Did you know that just a few miles offshore is a prison that was built in the 1850s that was called an “historic engineering marvel”?

Fort Jefferson Key West Dry Tortugas
The must-see Fort Jefferson off Key West in the Dry Tortugas.

As you can see, Key West is far more than the “biggest party in the world” as one writer stated. The influences of the Calusa Indians, the Spanish and Caribbean immigrants are still evident today in the architecture, food and culture of Key West.

To see more of the real Key West try visiting Fort Jefferson, the Key West Cemetery, the Museum of Art & History, Fort Zachary Taylor and much more detail in Key West and the Florida Keys.

Key West is more than one of the best places in Florida to visit. This city must be on your bucket list of places in the United States to visit and one of top vacation spots in Florida for families.

Food $$$  Hotels $$$$ Attractions $$$

Continue exploring

This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.