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Top Destination Spots in Florida

Updated on September 5, 2015

Battleship USS Maine Monument

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Smathers Beach

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10. Key West

Located in Key West, an interesting place to visit is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. This National Historical Landmark was built in 1857 and belonged to Ernest Hemingway from 1931-1939.

Hemingway did not live in this home until the day he died but he did own the home at the time of his death. While living in the Hemingway House, Ernest Hemingway raised seven-toed cats and still today there are six, seven-toed cats living at The Hemingway House descended from Hemingway’s cats.

Hemingway is known to have written some of his best work in this house which include; A Farewell to Arms and To Have and to Have Not.

Two flower gardens are on the grounds as well as a tree gallery. This is a popular wedding attraction and tours are available.

Also located in Key West is the USS Maine Monument. The USS Maine was blown up and sunk near Havana Cuba while on its way to America. The sinking of the USS Maine triggered the Spanish American War.

Key West also has beaches with Smathers Beach being one of them. Smathers Beach is the largest beach and a popular spring break attraction. This beach offers volleyball courts, jet ski rentals and a boat ramp as well.

Another great place to stop at in Key West is the Key West Lighthouse which was built in 1847. Today it is a museum after going out of commission in 1969.

The Key West Tropical Forest and Gardens, also located in Key West is the only frost free garden in the state and the native flora and fauna are spectacular.

Established in 1936, these gardens offer two fresh water ponds, bird watching opportunities and the butterfly gardens are wonderful. They even offer yoga and meditation sessions. The focus is on education and conservation and is also a great place for weddings.

Key West Lighthouse

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Universal Studios

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9. Orlando

Lake Eola Park, located in Orlando Florida has a lot of great features. One of those is the fountain which lights up at night. This fountain is located close to Lake Eola itself which is an attraction all on its own.

Also located at the park is the Confederate States of America Monument and there is even a Chinese pagoda which gives Lake Eola Park a different look then other parks. There is also a playground at this beautiful park located in downtown Orlando.

Universal Studios is always a must visit while in Orlando as well as The World of Orchids. The World of Orchids are gardens which include; plants, flowers, waterfalls, birds and even fish.

Don’t forget Gator World or American River Cruises. American River Cruises takes you out on a short cruise while you enjoy the nature and scenery with a nice dinner or lunch. The Cruise ship is three decks and takes you along St Johns River.

Most of these places along with others you will find on International Highway. Stop in for a day visit at Universal Studios and enjoy the rides, booths and entertainment. There are plenty of places in Orlando to shop and dine and there are plenty of places to rent to sleep.

Lake Eola Park

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Tampa Bay Hotel

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8. Tampa

Tampa is full of entertainment and history as well as plenty of places to eat and shop at. One of the main attractions in this great city is the Tampa Bay Hotel which was built in 1891 by Henry Bradley Plant who was a railroad tycoon in the 1800’s.

This historical hotel is by the Hillsborough River which includes gardens along this river. Located on the University of Tampa campus and now part of the university is The Henry Plant Museum formerly known as the Tampa Bay Hotel.

Busch Gardens and Adventure Islands along with the Florida Aquarium are great places to take the family. The Florida Aquarium is a three story glass dome housing a lot of wild life from the Gulf of Mexico.

Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District and was known as the Cigar Capital of the World at one point in time. Founded in 1886 this area was an industrial area with many cigar factories, mostly Cuban cigars. By 1950 all the factories were gone but the history is still there.

Ybor City is also home to El Centro Espanol de Tampa which is a building that was built in 1912 and was used as an ethnic and cultural clubhouse. Today it is used as a shopping complex and is on the Register of National Historic Places. Take a walk down the cobble streets of Ybor City and soak up the history this section of Tampa has to offer.

El Centro Espanol De Tampa

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Daytona International Speedway

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7. Daytona Beach

Take a vacation to Daytona Beach to experience the fishing, deep sea diving, volleyball, sailing, golf and more.

One of the most prominent landmarks in Daytona Beach is the Ponce De Leon Inlet. This lighthouse was built in 1887 and tours are available to get great views of this historical lighthouse and the beauty around around it. Standing at 175 feet tall, The Ponce De Leon inlet is one of the tallest lighthouses in the whole state of Florida. It is a Historical National Landmark and was formerly known as Mosquito Inlet Light.

This lighthouse is open seven days a week and climbing the tower is allowed as well which is where you will see spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another great spot to visit at Daytona Beach is Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory which has been open since 1925 and everything there is still homemade just like it always has been. You will be in for a treat.

The Daytona International Speedway is a great place to go if you are into car racing such as NASCAR, and the Daytona 500 is hosted here as well.

Ponce De Leon Inlet

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Gumbo Limbo Trail

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6. Everglades National Park

Also known as The River of Grass, The Everglades are home to endangered species such as the manatee and Florida panther and is also home to the American alligator.

These tropical wetlands offer the opportunity to take an airboat out on a tour through the swamps and get closer looks of the flora and fauna in the area.

Gator Park is a popular attraction offering rides and wildlife shows. Shark Valley Tower is a great place to climb and get views of the area. There are many trails in the Everglades and several visitor centers to guide you where you want to go.

Two great trails to explore are Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo. Here you will see plenty of wildlife including gators on the banks and a variety of species of bird. These are just a couple of animals you will see while visiting the area.

A Night time tour is a great experience; a ranger will walk you through a nightly boardwalk tour. On this tour the ranger will shine his flashlight into the waters where you will see alligators prowling in the waters. You will see their shimmery eyes shine off the flashlight making it quite the site to see.

Everglades Swamp

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Sun Life Stadium home to the Miami Dolphins

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5. Miami

There are many places to see while visiting Miami. One of these places is the Downtown Miami Historic District which houses historic buildings dating back to 1896.

There are sixty historic buildings there that include Palm Cottage built in 1897 and Gesu Church built in 1896 and is the oldest church in Miami. South Beach is a popular beach in Miami and Miami also has many museums to choose from.

Sun life Stadium home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, American Airlines Arena home of the Miami Heat NBA team and Marlins Park home to the Miami Marlins are all places to look at for sport entertainment.

The historic Ancient Spanish Monastery is located in Miami and was built in Spain in the 1100’s. The Monastery was purchased, packed and shipped brick by brick which took 19 months to put back together and was completed in 1925. The gardens and statues at the Ancient Spanish Monastery make it a popular wedding attraction.

The Historical Gesu Church

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Florida Theater

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4. Jacksonville

Jacksonville is home to The Maple Leaf Shipwreck Site. Launched in 1851, The Maple Leaf Airship was used during the Civil War to transport union troops to Virginia.

At one point POW’s on the ship overpowered the guards and escaped. The ship was recovered and put back to use as a transport ship until it was hit by a torpedo and sank immediately in 1864. It is a Historical Landmark and was found in the St Johns River.

Another attraction in Jacksonville is the Friendship Fountain. Located downtown, this fountain is ten stories high and lights up at night.

Another great attraction in Jacksonville is the Florida Theater which is a National Register of Historic Places and was opened in 1927. This gorgeous movie palace offers cultural entertainment and events and was even used to play silent films when it first opened. The detail of the interior of the Florida Theater is breathtaking and is worth a visit.

Jacksonville offers plenty of places to eat shop and there is lodging as well.

Friendship Fountain

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Manta

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3. SeaWorld

SeaWorld is located in Orlando Florida and is full of rides, shows, exhibits and tours. One of the rides is the, “Manta”, which is a thrill ride water coaster. It sends you above water and winds you around and down towards the aquarium waters. You may get a bit wet.

The Kraken is a rollercoaster and a popular attraction. And then there is the Journey to Atlantis Water Ride. Some of the exhibits at Seaworld include; Dolphin Cove which houses Manta Aquarium. Manta Aquarium is home to over 3000 marine animals.

Another attraction at SeaWorld is Shark Encounter which will take you through an underground viewing tunnel to view the sharks.

There are plenty of places to eat and shop at SeaWorld along with shows and entertainment such as the Shamu show which is probably the biggest attraction at SeaWorld.

SeaWorld is kid friendly and a fantastic place to spend the day with the family.

Shamu at Seaworld Orlando

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MGM Tower Terror

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2. Disneyland Parks and Resorts

The Magic Kingdom is the first Disney site in Orlando and the icon that represents this theme park is Cinderellas Castle. The Magic Kingdom was opened in 1971 and has many attractions within the park.

Frontierland is a section of the park and home to some of the popular rides such as; Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain. The liberty Square area is where you will find the famous, “It’s a Small World” ride.

Another theme park through Disneyland Parks and Resorts is the Epcot Center. The Epcot Center was constructed in 1982 and is the 3rd most visited theme park in the United States. The landscaping offers views of flowers, lakes, trees and grassy slopes.

A popular attraction at Epcot are the theme based areas which include pavilions representing different parts of the world. There you will find different kinds of food and shopping as well. Illuminations: Reflections of the Earth is a show with fireworks, lasers, sounds and music as is also located at Epcot.

MGM is another park related to Disneyland Parks and resorts. The Disney MGM was opened in 1989 and completely dedicated to showbuisiness. The wizard hat from Fantasia is this parks icon. Inside the park you will find show based themed areas along with other forms of entertainment. Some of the sections at Disney MGM are; Hollywood Blvd., Echo Lake,Streets of America, Animation Courtyard, Pixar Palace and Sunset Blvd.

The final theme park in Orlando related to Disneyland Parks and Resorts is Disney Animal Kingdom which opened in 1998.

Cinderella Castle at Disneys Magic Kingdom

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Castillo De San Marcos

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The Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine

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1. St. Augustine

Founded in 1565 by Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez De Aviles, St. Augustine is home to many historical structures. Castillo De San Marcos is an old masonry fort and is the oldest in the continental United States.

Construction on this fort began in 1672 where it was held by the Spanish. Then it was taken by the Britain, went back to Spain who signed it over to the United States. Tours are available at Castillo De San Marcos.

St Augustine Light is a popular landmark in St Augustine. This Lighthouse was built in 1874 and is rumored to be haunted. The Dark of Moon Tour is a spooky tour to take if you want a scare. This active lighthouse is open to the public and is also a museum.

Located on Fragler College campus, and built in 1888, The Ponce De Leon Hotel was ran by generators supplied by Thomas Edison and is open to the public.

The Lightner Museum is located in St Augustine and is the national register of Historic Places. The Lightner Museum was built in 1887 and was formerly known as Alcazar Hotel.

The Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine is a popular historical attraction and the final touches were done in 1797. Basilica of St. Augustine was built and founded by Spanish Conquistadors.

St Augustine Lighthouse

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A road map to help you get around Florida

show route and directions
A markerKey West -
Key West, FL 33040, USA
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B markerOrlando -
Orlando, FL, USA
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C markerTampa -
Tampa, FL, USA
get directions

D markerDaytona Beach -
Daytona Beach, FL, USA
get directions

E markerEverglades National Park -
Ernest Coe Visitor Center, Everglades National Park, 40001 State Highway 9336, Homestead, FL 33034,
get directions

F markerMiami -
Miami, FL, USA
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G markerJacksonville -
Jacksonville, FL, USA
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H markerSeaworld -
SeaWorld Orlando, 7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, FL 32821, USA
get directions

I markerDisneyworld -
Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA
get directions

J markerSt Augustine -
St. Augustine, FL, USA
get directions

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    • April Dawn Meyer profile image
      Author

      April Dawn Meyer 4 years ago from Belle Fourche, South Dakota

      Thanks for reading. Have a fun trip!! :)

    • point2make profile image

      point2make 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed this hub....well done. On my next trip I plan to visit Tampa and then head on down to Key West. I am counting the days. Thanks for giving me a look at what is to come on my next visit.