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The Ultimate Florida Bucket List – From Coast To Coast

Florida, often called the Sunshine State, is a treasure trove of diverse attractions and experiences. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, nature lover, history buff, or cultural enthusiast, Florida has something for everyone. That’s why it’s important to create a Florida Bucket List to make sure you see everything to see before heading on vacation.

Florida Bucket List

The Ultimate Florida Bucket List – From Coast To Coast

From the enchanting magic of Walt Disney World in Orlando to the tranquil beauty of the Florida Keys, each location promises a unique adventure. The following list of must-visit places in Florida is your gateway to exploring the state’s most iconic and hidden gems.

The ultimate Florida bucket list includes things to do all over the state. If you are planning a road trip, be prepared to stop many, many times for gas. This list includes some of the most popular attractions as well as some of the best beaches marked on the map:

key west
  1. Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando: The most magical place on earth, offering four theme parks, two water parks, and endless entertainment options. Expect a world of wonder with iconic attractions like Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain. The Magic Kingdom is a must visit and one of the best things to do in Florida. Don’t forget Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. 
  2. Everglades National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this vast wetland is home to unique wildlife like alligators and manatees. Airboat tours offer an exhilarating way to explore its natural beauty.
  3. Miami Beach: Known for its beautiful beaches, Art Deco architecture, and vibrant nightlife. Soak in the sun, enjoy oceanfront dining, and explore the historic Art Deco District.
  4. Key West: The southernmost point of the continental USA, famous for its laid-back atmosphere, historic sites like Ernest Hemingway’s home, and stunning sunsets at Mallory Square.
  5. Universal Studios, Orlando: A theme park that brings movies to life. Experience thrilling rides based on popular films and explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  6. St. Augustine: The oldest city in the U.S., offering rich history, Spanish colonial architecture, and unique attractions like the Castillo de San Marcos.
  7. Fort Lauderdale Beach: Known for its pristine beaches, boating canals, and upscale restaurants and bars. Enjoy water sports or relax on the sandy shores.
  8. The Florida Keys: A string of tropical islands offering fantastic snorkeling, diving, and fishing. Don’t miss the beautiful coral reefs and the laid-back island lifestyle.
  9. Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral: A hub of space exploration history and technology. Tour launch sites, meet an astronaut, and learn about space missions.
  10. Naples: Renowned for its high-end shopping, dining, and white sandy beaches. Visit the historic Naples Pier for a picturesque sunset view.
  11. Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg: This museum showcases the largest collection of Dali’s works outside Europe. Expect surreal art in a stunning architectural setting.
  12. Busch Gardens, Tampa: An African-themed amusement park offering thrilling rides, animal encounters, and live entertainment.
  13. Dry Tortugas National Park: Accessible only by boat or seaplane, known for its crystal-clear waters, historic Fort Jefferson, and fantastic snorkeling.
  14. South Beach, Miami: Famous for its lively atmosphere, Art Deco buildings, and celebrity sightings. Enjoy the beach, chic clubs, and trendy restaurants.
  15. Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales: A serene and beautifully landscaped garden featuring a historic Singing Tower with daily carillon concerts.
  16. Clearwater Beach: Voted one of America’s finest beaches, offering white sands, clear waters, and a variety of water sports activities.
  17. Ybor City, Tampa: A historic neighborhood known for its Cuban and Spanish influences, vibrant nightlife, and famous for its cigar factories.
  18. Sanibel and Captiva Islands: Idyllic islands are known for their shell-covered beaches, wildlife refuges, and relaxed atmosphere.
  19. The Ringling, Sarasota: A cultural hub featuring an art museum, circus museum, historic theater, and the stunning Ca’ d’Zan mansion.
  20. Daytona Beach: Famous for its motorsports events, including the Daytona 500, and its expansive beaches where driving is permitted.
  21. The Breakers, Palm Beach: A luxurious historic hotel offering opulent rooms, exquisite gardens, and a pristine beachfront.
  22. Blowing Rocks Preserve, Jupiter: An environmental preserve known for its unique limestone shoreline and impressive surf-driven geysers.
  23. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami: A stunning waterfront estate showcasing European-inspired architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens.
  24. Pensacola Beach: Offers sugar-white sands and crystal-clear waters, along with a historic fort and a lively beachfront boardwalk.
  25. Fort Myers Beach: A family-friendly destination with a laid-back atmosphere, offering beautiful beaches and a bustling town square.
  26. Caladesi Island State Park: An unspoiled paradise accessible only by boat, known for its pristine beaches and natural trails.
  27. Silver Springs State Park: Home to one of the largest artesian springs in the world, offering glass-bottom boat tours and serene natural beauty.
  28. Boca Raton: Known for its upscale lifestyle, fine beaches, golf courses, and the vibrant Mizner Park with shopping and dining options.
  29. Coral Castle, Homestead: A mysterious stone structure built single-handedly by Edward Leedskalnin, surrounded by myths and legends.
  30. Anna Maria Island: A quaint barrier island known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and charming small-town feel.
  31. Blue Spring State Park: A winter refuge for manatees, offering crystal-clear waters for swimming, snorkeling, and scenic river cruises.
  32. Mount Dora: A charming small town known for its antique shopping, annual festivals, and beautiful lakeside setting.
  33. Wynwood Walls, Miami: An outdoor museum showcasing large-scale works by some of the world’s best street artists.
  34. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach: A center for Japanese arts and culture, featuring stunning gardens, tea ceremonies, and cultural festivals.
  35. Amelia Island: Offers a mix of rich history, beautiful beaches, and natural beauty, along with historic downtown Fernandina Beach.
  36. Tarpon Springs: Known for its Greek heritage, sponge docks, and authentic Greek cuisine. Explore the charming downtown and waterfront.
  37. Siesta Key Beach: Renowned for its powdery white sand and tranquil waters, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and water activities.
  38. Ginnie Springs: A popular spot for freshwater diving, snorkeling, and tubing, known for its crystal-clear spring water.
  39. Ichetucknee Springs State Park: A natural paradise for tubing, snorkeling, and wildlife viewing along the scenic Ichetucknee River.
  40. St. Pete Beach: Known for its award-winning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a variety of water sports and beach activities.
  41. The Venetian Pool, Coral Gables: A historic public swimming pool built in 1924, featuring Mediterranean-style architecture and natural spring water.
  42. Honeymoon Island State Park: Offers natural beaches, nature trails, and abundant wildlife, making it a perfect escape for nature lovers.
  43. Cape Canaveral: Home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, beautiful beaches, and the historic Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.
  44. The Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota: An active research facility and aquarium showcasing marine life and ecosystems, with interactive exhibits.
  45. Gasparilla Island: Known for its picturesque lighthouse, unspoiled beaches, and the charming town of Boca Grande.
  46. Lion Country Safari, Loxahatchee: Florida’s only drive-through safari and walk-through amusement park, offering close encounters with exotic animals.
  47. Apalachicola: A historic port town known for its oysters, charming B&Bs, and a quaint downtown with shops and restaurants.
  48. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota: Features a living collection of rare tropical plants, with beautiful bayfront gardens and conservatories.
  49. Weeki Wachee Springs: Home to the famous mermaid shows, natural springs, and waterpark attractions, offering unique family entertainment.
  50. The Florida Aquarium, Tampa: A large-scale aquarium offering a journey through Florida’s ecosystems, with interactive exhibits and a focus on conservation.

This list provides a diverse range of destinations, catering to all interests – from natural wonders and historic sites to theme parks and cultural experiences. Each place offers a unique glimpse into the beauty and diversity of Florida, ensuring an unforgettable visit.

What national historic landmark sites are in Florida?

Ernest Hemingway House

Florida is home to a number of National Historic Landmark sites, each with its own unique historical significance and cultural importance. These landmarks represent the rich and diverse history of the state, from ancient Native American sites to architectural wonders of the 20th century. Here are some notable National Historic Landmarks in Florida:

  1. Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine): The oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, built by the Spanish in the 17th century to protect their interests in Florida.
  2. Fort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas National Park): Located on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, this is the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas, known for its role in the Civil War and as a prison for Dr. Samuel Mudd, convicted of conspiring in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
  3. Ernest Hemingway House (Key West): The residence of famous author Ernest Hemingway, where he wrote many of his notable works in the 1930s.
  4. The Breakers Hotel (Palm Beach): A historic hotel known for its luxurious amenities and opulent design, representing the height of the Gilded Age in Florida.
  5. Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens (Jacksonville): This site includes a fine arts museum and historical gardens along the St. Johns River, showcasing a mix of art, history, and horticulture.
  6. Miami Beach Architectural District (Miami Beach): Also known as the Art Deco Historic District, it’s famous for its colorful buildings and unique Art Deco style.
  7. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Cape Canaveral): A key site for the U.S. space program, with historic launch complexes where early space exploration missions began.
  8. De Soto National Memorial (Bradenton): Commemorates the 1539 landing of Hernando de Soto and the first extensive organized European exploration in the southern United States.
  9. Fort Mose Historic State Park (St. Augustine): The national parks site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in the United States.
  10. Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District (Pensacola): A key site in developing naval aviation, including the Naval Air Training Center and the U.S. Naval Air Station.
  11. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (Miami): An early 20th-century villa in the Coconut Grove neighborhood, known for its Renaissance gardens and extensive art collections.
  12. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Jacksonville): Encompasses several sites including the Kingsley Plantation and Fort Caroline, highlighting thousands of years of human habitation in the area.
  13. Mar-A-Lago (Palm Beach): A historic estate built by Marjorie Merriweather Post, now known as a resort and national historic landmark.
  14. Ringling Estate (Sarasota): The estate of circus magnate John Ringling, including his mansion, museum of art, and circus museum.
  15. Bok Tower Gardens (Lake Wales): Known for its beautiful landscaped gardens, the Singing Tower carillon, and as a sanctuary for wildlife.

These landmarks represent just a selection of the rich tapestry of history and culture that Florida has to offer. Each one provides a unique window into the past and a chance to explore the diverse heritage of the Sunshine State.

10 things to know about the Daytona International Speedway

Daytona International Speedway

The Daytona International Speedway is an iconic landmark in motorsports, known especially for hosting the Daytona 500, one of the most prestigious races in NASCAR. Before visiting for the first time, you should take a moment to learn a little about its history. 

  1. Opening and Design: Opened in 1959, the Daytona International Speedway was designed by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. to host racing events that were previously held on the Daytona Beach road course.
  2. Daytona 500: The most famous race held at the Speedway is the Daytona 500, often referred to as “The Great American Race.” It’s the inaugural race of the NASCAR Cup Series each year and is known for its high speeds and close finishes.
  3. Track Features: The Speedway boasts a 2.5-mile tri-oval track with 31-degree banking in the turns, which allows for higher speeds and more dynamic racing. The design was a significant departure from the flat tracks common at the time.
  4. Seating Capacity: After a series of renovations, the Speedway now has a seating capacity of over 100,000, making it one of the largest sports stadiums in America.
  5. Rolex 24 At Daytona: Besides NASCAR, the Speedway also hosts the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a 24-hour endurance race that attracts drivers and teams from various racing disciplines worldwide.
  6. Infield Lake: The Speedway’s infield includes a 29-acre Lake Lloyd, where water skiers performed during the track’s opening ceremonies. The lake also helps with the facility’s water management system.
  7. Renovations and Updates: The Speedway underwent a $400 million renovation project completed in 2016, known as “Daytona Rising,” which modernized the facility with new amenities, expanded entrances, and enhanced viewing experiences.
  8. Daytona International Speedway Tours: The Speedway offers various tours for fans, including a chance to explore the behind-the-scenes, visit the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and even take a lap around the track.
  9. Versatility and Events: Beyond car racing, the Speedway also hosts events like bike races, concerts, and car shows. It has even served as a temporary community service facility, such as COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution site.
  10. Iconic Status: The Speedway is not just a racetrack; it’s a symbol of high-speed motorsports in America. It has a rich history and culture, with traditions and stories that resonate with race fans worldwide.

Visiting the Daytona International Speedway, whether for a race or a tour, offers a glimpse into the heart of American motorsports and its enduring legacy.

What is there to do in Key Largo?

kayak

Key Largo, the first and northernmost of the Florida Keys, is a popular destination known for its stunning natural beauty and variety of outdoor activities. Here are some of the top things to do in Key Largo:

  1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: This underwater park is famous for snorkeling, scuba diving, and glass-bottom boat tours. It’s home to a diverse array of marine life and the famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue.
  2. Diving and Snorkeling: Key Largo is renowned for its spectacular diving spots, including the Spiegel Grove and Molasses Reef. It’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers looking to explore vibrant coral reefs and abundant sea life.
  3. Fishing: Known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World,” Key Largo offers exceptional backcountry, flats, and deep-sea fishing. Anglers can catch species like tarpon, bonefish, and mahi-mahi.
  4. Everglades National Park: Just a short drive away, the Everglades National Park offers a chance to experience Florida’s unique wetland ecosystem. Guided airboat tours are a popular way to see alligators, manatees, and a variety of bird species.
  5. Kayaking and Canoeing: The calm, clear waters of Key Largo are perfect for kayaking and canoeing. Paddle through mangrove forests and around small islands to enjoy the serene natural beauty.
  6. Dolphin Encounters: Several facilities in Key Largo offer the opportunity to swim with dolphins and learn about these intelligent marine mammals.
  7. The African Queen Canal Cruise: Experience a piece of movie history on the original African Queen boat, made famous by the 1951 film of the same name.
  8. Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center: This sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of wild birds. It’s a great place to learn about local wildlife and see the birds up close.
  9. Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park: Explore one of the largest tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States. The park offers several trails for hiking and wildlife viewing.
  10. Local Dining and Shopping: Key Largo offers a variety of dining options, many featuring fresh seafood and local specialties. The area also has unique shops where you can find art, souvenirs, and handcrafted items.

Key Largo’s mix of underwater adventures, natural beauty, and relaxed island atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Florida Keys. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just looking to unwind, Key Largo has something to offer.

florida gift shop

When visiting Florida, numerous unique and popular gift items capture the essence of the Sunshine State. These souvenirs serve as a reminder of your trip and make great gifts for friends and family. Here are some popular gift items to consider buying while in Florida:

  1. Citrus Products: Florida is famous for its citrus fruits, especially oranges and grapefruits. You can find various citrus products like fresh fruit, marmalades, jellies, and candies.
  2. Key Lime Products: Key lime pie is a Florida staple. Look for key lime-flavored items like candies, cookies, sauces, and key lime pie itself.
  3. Beach-Themed Items: With its extensive coastline, beach-themed gifts like seashells, sand dollars, beach towels, and nautical decor are popular.
  4. Cuban Coffee: Reflecting the rich Cuban influence in Florida, especially in Miami, Cuban coffee is a unique and flavorful gift.
  5. Alligator Souvenirs: Alligator-themed items, from quirky to practical, including alligator jerky, are a nod to one of Florida’s most famous wildlife inhabitants.
  6. Florida Oranges and Orange Blossom Honey: These are classic Florida gifts showcasing the state’s rich agricultural heritage.
  7. Art and Crafts by Local Artists: Florida’s vibrant art scene is reflected in local artwork, crafts, and handmade jewelry, often inspired by the state’s natural beauty and cultural diversity.
  8. NASA or Space-Related Merchandise: With the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, space-themed gifts like models of rockets, astronaut ice cream, and NASA apparel are unique to Florida.
  9. Sports Team Merchandise: Florida is home to many sports teams. Jerseys, caps, and other merchandise from teams like the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or Miami Heat make great gifts.
  10. Florida Wines: The state has several wineries producing unique wines, often made from local fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and even citrus.
  11. Florida-Themed Apparel: T-shirts, hats, and other apparel featuring Florida themes – like palm trees, flamingos, and sunsets – are always popular.
  12. Sponge Products: Tarpon Springs, known for its sponge docks, offers natural sponges and related products, reflecting an important part of Florida’s history.
  13. Hemingway-Inspired Gifts: For literary fans, items inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who made Key West his home, can include books, posters, and even Hemingway-style beard oil.
  14. Shark Tooth and Fossilized Coral Jewelry: The Gulf Coast beaches, particularly around Venice, are known for shark teeth, making for unique jewelry pieces.

When shopping for souvenirs in Florida, consider visiting local markets, souvenir shops, and artisan boutiques to find these unique items. They not only serve as a reminder of your Floridian adventures but also support local businesses.

Whether you are visiting Central Florida, South Florida, North Florida, Southwest Florida, or anywhere in between, you are bound to find some of the best places for memory-making with the kids. There are so many different places to choose from it would be impossible to do it all during one run.

Your best bet is to make your own list using the suggestions above and build off the main events by using your surrounding area. The perfect place to start is … anywhere off the Atlantic Ocean, the Florida Panhandle or the Gulf. The world is yours! 

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