Top 10 Florida Vacation Destinations

Everyone is familiar with Florida's top vacation destination — Disney World. However, the Sunshine State has a lot more to offer than just Mickey and his crew. There are several other destinations that draw millions of visitors to Florida each year. If you're looking for a can't-miss place to go on vacation, you should consider one of these tried-and-true Florida vacation destinations

01 of 10

Disney World

Disney World
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Who can resist the fairy tale? Not many. Disney World is Florida's most popular vacation destination. Why shouldn't it be? Where else can you vacation at a magical and happy place? Where else can you exchange your simple life for a few magical days of castles, princesses and characters taken out of story books and your favorite Disney movies?

Unfortunately, Disney World can easily be the most expensive vacation you'll ever take too, but it doesn't have to be. Disney provides hotel resort accommodations for every budget — including value, moderate and deluxe — as well as a wide range of ticket choices and lots of different food options. 

02 of 10

Orlando

Lake Eola view in Orlando Florida
Gina Pricope / Getty Images

There is more to Orlando than just Disney World. Universal Orlando is a popular destination resort with its own hotels and theme parks. Nearby, SeaWorld Orlando anchors the popular International Drive area that plays host to over 100 hotels and 150 spectacular restaurants.

The fun in Orlando doesn't stop there. Plenty of options abound for both the budget minded traveler as well as the discriminating vacationer. Additional resort opportunities, golf, themed and dinner theater experiences and plenty more attractions are conveniently located within a few miles of the major theme parks. 

03 of 10

St. Augustine

St Augustine Lighthouse at night.
Richard Cummins / Getty Images

Whether you're looking for romance or a family destination, you'll find it all in St. Augustine, America's orders city. Located on Florida's east coast, St. Augustine's Old-World charm, historical monuments, unique attractions, world-class shopping, and beaches just minutes away make it an ideal vacation destination for couples and families alike.

 

04 of 10

The Keys

USA, Florida, Key West, Brightly painted shop on Duval Street
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Although they are becoming increasingly touristy, the Florida's Keys only draw about a million visitors a year. It may sound like a lot but when you think about the over 19 million that visit Disney each year, it's just a drop in the bucket.

This string of islands bound together by the Overseas Highway have become a diving and sport fishing mecca. Each island has its own ambiance – from Key Largo's suburbia, that serves as a bedroom community to Homestead and Miami, to Key West's Old Town that oozes with peculiar Key West charm that has made the town famous for decades.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a wealth of things to do and see – world-class snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and camping. Others will enjoy the history and endless entertainment.

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05 of 10

Amelia Island

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida
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Florida's northernmost barrier island, Amelia Island, boasts 26 square miles of rich history and incredible natural beauty. Whether you're looking for an all-inclusive resort or a quaint oceanfront cottage, a sea-side villa or an ocean-view hotel... you'll find all that and more — dining, shopping, golf, and tennis — on Amelia Island.

Although the all-inclusive resorts in the area can be a bit pricey, there are alternative accommodations for the budget-minded traveler — from camping at area state parks to affordable hotels. While this may mean you might not enjoy oceanfront views, there is plenty of public beach access for a sand-sational vacation.

06 of 10

Miami

Miami's Art Deco District
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While the mention of Miami may conjure up visions of a tropical paradise — beaches, palm trees and ocean surf — it is also one of the world's centers of commerce, fashion, and entertainment. Greater Miami offers visitors the cutting edge of urban-modern chic. Miami has evolved into an international destination for celebrities, artists, and aristocrats, and the world's most famous fun-in-the-sun playground. Visitors are lured to the area year round with perfect weather, award-winning beaches and a celebrity-driven, sizzling nightlife scene that grooves to an only-in-Miami beat. 

07 of 10

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach Florida amusement park.
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Twenty-three miles of sparkling white sandy beaches and beautiful blue-green waters make Daytona Beach an irresistible playground for kids of all ages. This popular family vacation spot pretty much makes child's play out of having fun.

If you and your family can manage to tear yourselves away from the beach, you'll discover the Daytona Beach area is full of fun activities and attractions.

08 of 10

Panama City Beach

Kids marching to the water along the white sands of Panama City Beach
Courtesy of the Panama City Beach CVB

The hub of what's often called the Redneck Riviera, Panama City Beach is not just a spring break hot spot, but a top beach destination for families. Panama City has over 27 miles of beach, emerald green waters, and sugary white sands along the Gulf of Mexico.

Panama City is also filled with lots of ecotourism adventures like tours of Camp Helen State Park, Gayle's Trails greenways, and the pristine Shell Island. Don't be turned away by the city's party-life reputation, this is a great family-place as well. 

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09 of 10

Ft. Myers/Sanibel Island

White sand beach at sunset on Sanibel Island, Florida, USA
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Fort Myers and Sanibel Island offer visitors some of the most pristine beaches in the country. If you're looking for a relaxed getaway where the only thing on your agenda is relaxing, this is a great place to visit. Most of the accommodations on Sanibel and its sister island, Captiva, are small and located directly on the water. 

The area is also known for its great shelling, but also holds a few surprises — the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge and some unique shopping and dining experiences among them.

10 of 10

Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Beach hammock
GPR Photography / Getty Images

This tri-city area, better known as Tampa Bay, is a favorite among those that prefer the white sand and gentle surf of the Gulf of Mexico. While Clearwater Beach is seemingly in transition — losing many of its quaint mom-and-pop motels to the queen-like condo towers — it still boasts one of the best beaches in the area. 

St. Petersburg not only offers a great beach, but a downtown waterfront wonderland featuring The Pier (currently closed due to re-design). The Pier's almost $80 million renovation is set to open up later this year.

While Tampa can't brag about its beach, it has a busy cruise port and attractions like Busch Gardens and The Florida Aquarium, as well as Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Bucs.