If you think a long vacation in Florida will get boring, think again. There is much more to do and see than wait in line to visit Mickey Mouse and come home with a sunburn. How exactly should you pass your time in the Sunshine State? Check out the following ten suggestions for a unique trip you will never forget.
One of the wonderful things about being so far south is the ability to swim year-round in almost every type of water imaginable. You can choose from salt water, to crystal-clear springs, to luxurious facilities created by locals. If you plan on staying in Florida long term, you can even search for pool builders near me to create your own place to relax.
2) Compare All 12 Coasts
No two beaches are the same in Florida, and the differences are even greater among the 12 areas that residents have given distinct names. From the white sand of the Forgotten Coast to the crashing waves of the Space Coast, each has its own unique features to compare and enjoy.
3) Play at Lesser-Known Theme Parks
Is Disney overrated? You be the judge after visiting some of the little-known and less expensive theme parks. At attractions such as Gatorland, Dinosaur World, Legoland, Holy Land Experience, and Marineland, you will save money and spend more time having fun than standing in line.
4) Get Back to Nature in 175 State Parks
If you want to see what Florida looked like before becoming the third most populated state in the U.S., spend some time getting to know some of its 80 ecosystems preserved in 175 state parks. Most have campgrounds and cabin rentals to make your stay more comfortable.
5) Hike the Florida Trail
Almost everyone has heard of the Appalachian Trail, the 2,190-mile path from Georgia to Maine; but did you know there is also a Florida Trail? This 1,500-mile long walkway stretches from the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the north to Big Cypress National Preserve in the South.
6) Enjoy International Cuisine
Florida is home to immigrants from so many nations that you could sample a different cuisine almost every day of your vacation. Central Florida is famous for food from the islands of Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, and in the Tampa area you will find authentic Cuban fare.
7) Visit Places Mentioned in Books
Fans of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey will have fun visiting scene locations all over the state. Central Florida is the place to go on a pilgrimage to see what inspired Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and those who love Zora Neal Hurston can even attend a festival in Eatonville dedicated to her.
8) See the Sun Rise and Set Over the Ocean
No matter where you are in Florida, you are never more than 75 miles from the ocean. Plan to start the day on the east coast, where you might witness a rocket launch or baby sea turtles hatching as the sun comes up. Then drive to the west coast, where you will arrive in plenty of time to applaud the setting sun with the locals.
9) Observe Marine Mammals Up Close
Sea World is not the only place to see dolphins. You are likely to encounter these curious animals anytime you are in a calm coastal area or out on a boat. Winter is the best time to see gentle manatees, who congregate in springs around the state as soon as ocean waters turn cold. Homosassa Springs is the ideal spot to watch them.
10) Watch Things Glow in the Dark
If you visit Florida during spring break, be sure not to miss the synchronous fireflies that put on a show in natural areas during March and April. During other times of year, visit New Smyrna Beach for a nighttime excursion to witness bioluminescent jellyfish and plankton. For a small fee, a guide will take you out in a clear-bottom kayak for an unforgettable paddling experience.