FLORIDA – Where Dreams Come True
Florida, as a part of the U.S. state, lies between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean in which make the nation has many beaches along the coastline. The city of Miami may be the most touristy area among the others thanks to their lively high-end nightlife and the Miami beach that stretched along more than 9 miles from the North to the Southside while the Orlando city centre is known for their amount of huge theme park. All of that is the reasons why Florida is family-friendly but good for a group of friends as well. Considering Florida as the best holiday destination is a deception if you haven’t added these most popular tourists attractions below in your bucket list.
1. EVERGLADE NATIONAL PARK AND DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK
Located in the southernmost side of Florida, the Everglade National Park is a wetland preserve with an area of 1.5 million acres as a home for hundreds of wildlife along with mangroves and swamps. The park offers you a close view of alligators (including crocs), snakes, manatees, the endangered leatherback turtles, dolphins, sharks, ospreys and the other kind of fishes and birds. Book an airboat tour for about 2 hours to experience get lost in nature and the atmosphere will not let you go with disappointment. You can book the boat tour online with a price starting from $25. From there, you can also search for eco-kayaking tours to spend more time at the Everglade. This national park opens 24 hours a day with an entrance fee of $15 per person.
If you’re not satisfied enough for what you’ve just seen at Everglade National Park, then you have to visit the Dry Tortugas National Park. Unlike the Everglade, Dry Tortugas exquisitely located in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico so the only way to reach the island is by a ferry or seaplane! This national park is a bit different from the others as you’ll be amazed by an old historical fortress that was structurally made by red bricks along with its 65ft lighthouse, cannonball furnace and a beach as a gateway for snorkelling. There, you’re likely to see marine life more than tropical wildlife. Some of them are sharks, colourful lined-up reefs, sea turtles, stingrays, dolphins and more. You should try this brand new experience in exploring a national park just like the locals do! This tourists attraction costs you $15 for the entrance fee and it’s usually included in your ferry tickets (seaplanes passengers need to pay for the fee upon arrival at the island).
2. WALT DISNEY WORLD AND UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
Step back to your childhood and indulge in these famous and full-of-joy theme parks: Walt Disney World & Universal Studios Florida! Those places are where you will let your dreams come true. This is one of the most popular reasons to visit Florida. At Walt Disney World, you’ll get to experience The Magic Kingdom, have a journey to Star Wars Land and try the Avatar simulation as well as meeting with your favourite Disney’s characters while the Universal Studios gives you chances to enjoy an island of adventure and join the journey of Harry Potter.
Besides, you can also find fun rides such as The Transformers, The Simpsons, The Mummy and if you visit during Halloween season, you may find The Halloween Horror Nights event as well. Bring your child or friends and rejoice in these wonderlands! The Walt Disney World opens daily from 9 AM – 7 PM while Universal Studios opens from 9 AM – 6 PM (Friday & Saturday) & 9 AM – 5 PM the other days. Prices for entrance fee start from $115 (Walt Disney World) and $123 (Universal Studios) for adults during weekdays.
3. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
Have you ever wondered what is it like to see the rocket launch right in front of your eyes? And you think that you will never try such an experience? Then you’re wrong because The Kennedy Space Center will take you closer to the rocket launches! At the very place, you will also see some showcases of NASA shuttle launch simulation, space travel IMAX films and some objects used for astronauts in the past. See the spacecraft that are still in use for a journey to Mars and watch the space 3d movies. The Kennedy Space Center is certainly worth a visit especially if you love everything about space programs and you want to learn more. You may also meet space experts if you’re lucky! Get in their visitor complex that is open from 10 AM – 4 PM with an entrance fee of $57 per adult and join the journey! it is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Florida.
4. MIAMI BEACH
Miami Beach is another compelling reason to visit magnificent Florida. Visiting Florida without going to Miami Beach definitely can’t be considered as a complete trip. Why? Because everything is there, right at the island city. From the long wide beach to the bustling nightlife and shopping centre. Besides, you’ll also find the famed Art Deco Historic District that is an exception for architecture lovers, the 4 acres Miami Beach Botanical Garden, the tranquil North Beach Oceanside Park to the well-known South Beach with celebrity-chef eateries, chain of shops, cafes, clubs and bars around the district and of course, a beautiful beach.
Spend a night or more at the waterfront hotel and attune with locals to leisurely enjoy your holiday. Don’t forget to visit South Pointe Park Pier during a sunrise that is good for biking, jogging, exercising or even just for a stroll. Bring your camera, find the best view and clicks! Time to relish your holiday!
5. SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM AND VIZCAYA MUSEUM & GARDENS
Located in the St. Petersburg district, stand a famous art museum amazingly covered by more than 900 glass panels right in front of the Tampa Bay. This museum named after it’s a wide collection of surrealist arts by Salvador Dali that’s now being shortly called as The Dali. You’ll find more than 2000 pieces of accumulated artworks including the unique melting clocks, spindle-legged horses and the others. You may also see a temporary exhibition being held inside the building, such as Frida Kahlo’s or Rene Magritte’s showcases. Go for a virtual reality tour to see the paintings from a different perspective and use the provided headphones and iPod to learn more about the exhibition and finally, when you go out from the building, stop by at the garden and look for the iconic Dali moustache sculpture (you can even play with your child at the garden giant maze). Admire the architecture and have fun at the attractive museum!
While The Dali located on the western side of Florida, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens situated not too far from Miami Beach, precisely in South Miami, a well-known tourist attraction. Vizcaya is an estate in the past that was being appointed as a national historic landmark in 1994. The Vizcaya itself was being used for many films and you won’t believe what is one of them. Yes! It’s the famous Iron Man 3 from Marvel Studios production! See some European-style furniture and decorative arts inside the rooms, take a photo in front of the majestic villa that was gorgeously influenced by Veneto, Tuscan Italian Renaissance as well as Mediterranean Revival architecture completed by Baroque elements, admire the orchids at their well-organized orchidarium and wonder at the huge shaped garden.
Due to the good waterfront location, you can even see the Biscayne Bay even if you’re behind the gate! What an awesome tourists attraction! This place is definitely worth a two-hours stop. It is open daily (except Tue & Wed) from 9.30 AM – 4.30 PM with an admission fee of $22 for adults. These museums truly one of the amazing reasons to visit this wonderful place.
Travel tips: Beware of the wildlife as iguanas and lizards are often found around the museum. You can also see manatees at the pool behind the building.
6. WEKIVA SPRINGS STATE PARK
Located 20 minutes far to North Orlando, you’ll find the natural state park with a headwater of Wekiva River. The state park offers you 7.000 acres undeveloped park with some wildlife such as coyote, rabbit, deer, grey fox, raccoon, turtles, gators and even black bear. Just like its name, Wekiwa Springs State Park is known for the crystal clear Wekiva springs that flow along the park, with appealing self-guided activities like cycling, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, snorkelling, free-diving, swimming, fishing, picnicking and camping.
All of that in just one downtown-nearby park. This place is also popular for meetings or retreats as it has a pavilion with charcoal grills and restaurant too. It’s recommended to stay a night at your RV or a built-tent around the campground, hence you are free to enjoy every attraction inside because you have so much time to spend! So what are you waiting for? Let’s get back to nature! The park opens daily from 8 AM to sunset with an admission fee of $2 for pedestrians and an additional of $24 per night for family campground sites. Canoe rental is available at the nature centre.
Travel tips: Beware of wildlife (especially gators) that may emerge from the water. Do water activities only at the suggested spots (people said the water are freezing too, so avoid jumping to the water suddenly).
7. BOK TOWER GARDENS
Unlike Wekiwa Springs State Park that is home to many wildlife animals, the Boktower Gardens will give you a tour of beautiful gardens (including camellias, tillandsias, pollinators and endangered plants), watching the native birds flying around, trailing along with the pine and oak forests, have fun at an attractive garden for children, explore the historical Pinewood estate and lastly, the main reason why people visit this garden: The singing bell tower.
Stands since 1929, the bell tower continuously amazed visitors because of its architecture and the carillon concerts (bell tower sounds) that still play until now. Surrounded by a koi pond with a panoramic view of the gardens make the tower even more remarkable. Find your peaceful spots and retreat for a moment before you go back. Stop by the garden café and its shop to bring back some plants to your home. The gardens open daily from 8 AM – 6 PM with an entrance fee of $15 for adults full day. It is a very famous tourist attraction for the nature lovers.
8. NAPLES PIER
For you who likes fishing, bird-watching, dolphin spotting or enjoying the sunset, you have to visit the Naples Pier. Located in the westernmost side of Florida, headed to the Gulf of Mexico, this pier is mostly known for the scenic sunset view, white sand beaches that have snack bars and also some fishermen going around.
Activities such as fishing or walking along the pier are permitted. From there, you can see pelicans flying across the sea as well as watching manatees and dolphins swimming nearby from the pier. So what else do you ask while you can see them freely 24 hours per day? Bring your fishing equipment and enjoy the sea view closer!
9. PENSACOLA LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM
Home to 30 lighthouses, Florida certainly has it’s own unique icon. One of the lighthouses that are now open for the public is located in Pensacola, a city where European got settled for the first time in America. Built since 1859, the lighthouse tower is an attraction for tourists who’re curious about what’s inside the lighthouse and anyone who wants to climb it to the top. The 177 steep-spiral stairs make the climb more difficult, so it’s important to use a shoe with back strap and make sure that you’re fit enough to climb. But don’t worry, this hard work will finally get paid once you’re at the top because of the stunning view.
As the lighthouse and it’s a museum situated in NAS Pensacola, a naval military base, you can even see the Blue Angels (US Navy Air Show) fly in front of you while you’re at the top! After you finished the lighthouse tour, visit the museum exhibition that was used as a house for lighthouse keepers and their family until 1965. There, you’ll see a coast guard room, showcase of replica lenses for different illumination, experience living at the keeper’s quarters, learn the stories of women who also took a part in the coast guard, history of industries in Pensacola, explore the room to keep oils for lighthouse’s lamp and finally a reading room to relax. This place opens daily (except Mon & Thu) from 10 AM – 4 PM with an entrance fee of $8 per adult. So, dare to climb?
Travel tips: Bring a proper ID card as you’re entering the military complex. Bags and purses are prohibited around the area.
10. DEVIL’S DEN PREHISTORIC SPRING
Formed by a karst window where a subterranean river collapsed, the Devil’s Den cave is now privately owned for SCUBA diving training, snorkelling and a lodge for rent. The cave offers you a breathtaking view from inside the cave, some animals fossils, human remains since thousands of years ago and a cold beautiful spring for water activities. Get to the site and try an activity which suits you best, you’ll no longer feel like in Florida because you’re absolutely in heaven! Stay at their lodge (or build a tent) for a night if you don’t have any plans for the day and have a picnic there! You’ll surely love the cave exploring experience! This place opens daily from 9 AM – 5 PM (Mon – Thu), 8 AM – 5 PM (Fri – Sun)
Travel tips: Diving & snorkelling equipment is available for rent on site. No swimming permitted.
All these magnificent tourist attractions above definitely make Florida one of the most visited holiday destinations in the world.