Here are some of the best places to visit in Florida (in my opinion!)
Florida is also known as the Sunshine State for good reason: being so close to the Equator line, it really does get a lot more sunlight than the rest of the USA.
With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, there is one thing guaranteed: there are hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches and national parks in Florida. And one good thing for us visiting from Europe: you will find sun loungers on the beach for rent in most places (which isn’t so common in other USA states, for some reason).
With so much Florida to go around, there is something for everyone: from the excitement of Miami and its great hotel scene, shopping and dining, to Orlando (which I have never visited but it is one of the main reasons for visiting the Sunshine State) and its theme parks, to nicer quieter areas which I have been discovering on recent trips.
I have been to Florida over 10 times (I do like the combination of great weather, lovely beaches, shopping and the Latin influence) – but 8 of these trips were mostly to the Miami Area. So whereas I am no expert on Florida travel advice in any way, I believe there is a lot of Florida to discover – but here are some of the best places to visit in Florida (in my opinion and experience!).
Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key (Gulf Keys)
Our stay in the Sarasota area was one of the best surprises in my life – and the lesser-known ‘Gulf Keys’ were one of the few places in the world I actually considered wanting to buy a nice little stretch of beachfront property.
Anna Maria Island is as laid back as it gets, with a bit more excitement and a new hotel or two in Longboat Key – and Whole Foods and Nordstrom deliver, so I would want for nothing. And this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Florida.
This part of the world is a celebrity favourite and when I first visited, I could see why. No one will disturb anyone, and it is simply stunning. I would happily return year after year, and will come back every time I visit Florida.
Marathon, Florida Keys
Marathon in itself wasn’t really worth the trip – and I had never heard of this Florida Key (island) before I heard about Isla Bella Beach Resort (which ironically doesn’t really have a beach but it is a game-changer in terms of hospitality standards in the Florida Keys).
Halfway (more or less) between the mainland and Key West, it is a good example of the new style of Florida Keys hospitality (which was badly needed). There are a few other nice-looking new hotels in the area, and it is worth looking at private beachfront rentals too (something we would like to do on future trips).
One day we hope to visit Key West and the other Florida Keys properly.
Better known for its Silver Surfers and Snow Birds, we had a nice time in Naples and absolutely loved its pier. The beaches were also pristine and the real estate really was to die for.
Naples is one of the most popular destinations in Florida and was a place I thought I wouldn’t ‘fit in’, but as a visitor, I must say, I really enjoyed it. I did feel young (not to say I am old) and I really thought it was a beautiful part of Florida.
There’s plenty more to visit in the area (but we did not have time on this trip, which means we will return one day and I will update this blog post).
Check out my dedicated blog post on Naples, Florida here.
North of Miami Beach and Surfside, Florida
This is where I normally choose to stay when in Miami – I prefer some peace and quiet and North Miami Beach, Surfside and Bal Harbor tend to be where we stay. It is easy to head out to Miami Beach for dinner and elsewhere, but there are also lots of options nearby. And the shopping isn’t bad either! Miami is obviously in everyone’s list of the best tourist attractions in Florida.
Most visitors tend to stay in South Beach, but personally we find it too busy (and in all honesty, I am not travelling for the nightclubs anymore, so I get the same beach and more peace and quiet by standing a few blocks north).
Check out my dedicated blog post on Miami Beach, Florida here.
I had heard of the area as it was the base of Courtney Cox’s show, Cougar Town but never intended to visit – and I am so glad I had the chance to and I know many of my readers would too (and I see why so many spend their holidays in the area year after year).
The city prides itself in its cultural offering (there were gardens to enjoy, as well as some performing arts) and I felt we only scratched the surface during our first visit. We also ate really well – which is something I always value. I will never forget Sarasota as it was the first place in the USA where I was served a grilled seabass on the bone! 20 years visiting and it never happened. I know it is becoming more of a thing and I am here for that!
The Gulf Keys were absolutely stunning (see Anna Maria Island write up above), and where I would seriously consider buying property one day. I visited the area with a friend and hope to return with my family one day.
Check out my dedicated blog post on Sarasota, Florida here.
This isn’t by all means an exhaustive list of the Best Places to visit in Florida, but it is the list of places I have visited and thoroughly enjoyed. I hope you do too.
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