As far as vacation destinations go, Florida is among the best in the world. This eventful place is a great place to visit with your friends, family, and little ones in tow. Florida’s versatility lends it to be accommodating to everyone, no matter their interests.
15 Best Things to Do in South Florida
The sheer size of Florida and the bountiful amount of activities mean that even if you were to plan a month-long trip, you wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy every attraction and activity that Florida offers.
We know that most people don’t have the luxury of spending a couple of weeks in Florida, so we’ve narrowed the list of “must-dos” for your next visit to South Florida — let us be your guide!
1. Naples Botanical Garden
If you want to embark on a simulated experience that’s as close to authentic as it gets, check out the Naples Botanical Gardens. It’s a space where visitors can experience plants indigenous to the tropics.
The garden houses over one thousand different plant species, and the land consists of an astounding 170 acres that’s cultivated beautifully to boot. The gardens are arranged into seven sections, and every section is reserved for a particular ecosystem.
Tours are offered year-round at the Naples Botanical Gardens. The facility also accommodates the use of wheelchairs. Before arriving, you should dress appropriately and bring a water bottle to ward off dehydration.
Read Next: Is Naples, Florida Safe to Visit in 2023?
2. Calusa Nature Centers and Planetarium
Perhaps you’re looking for a museum, planetarium, or park; the Calusa Nature Centers and Planetarium are all of these wrapped in one! It’s situated on 105 acres in Fort Myers, and it’s open seven days a week.
This center offers a plethora of exhibits and exciting activities designed to educate visitors about Southern Florida’s natural history.
The museum gives visitors the chance to learn about wildlife native to Florida. Additionally, the museum allows you to take one of three nature trails to witness the wildlife with your very own eyes.
3. Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both have historical homes within the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Guests are permitted to tour these inventors’ houses.
The museum boasts 20-acre of land, which is plenty of room for you to wander. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Estates Museum to learn detailed information about the lives of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
Lastly, this site houses the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory and a spectacular botanic garden, which were influential in Edison’s research.
4. Imaginarium Hands-on Museum and Aquarium
Children can experience marine life and science in a unique way at the Imaginarium Hands-on Museum and Aquarium! Admission into the Imaginarium gives you unbridled access to more exhibits, such as the Touch Tank.
Here, children will be able to see and touch exotic marine life such as stingrays. Your children can see alligators, prairie dogs, Mexican axolotls, and ball pythons at exhibits, such as Animal lab and Dino Dig fossil lab.
The exhibits at the Imaginarium are educational and fun. The museum features educational shows and programs where children can interact and learn about animals.
5. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a stunning establishment with picturesque palm trees and great ocean views.
The real reason to visit this place is hidden beneath the ocean’s surface. Pennekamp Park and its borders reach three miles into the Atlantic Ocean. You can tour the sea inside a glass-bottom boat and witness the teeming marine life.
The park also offers:
- Scuba diving
Those who would rather stay on dry land take advantage of the trails, picnic areas, and parks’ beaches.
6. Jungle Island
If you have a yearning to be up close and personal with tropical plants and animals, Jungle Island is the perfect destination for you. You can get your picture taken with birds of prey, primates, and even tigers.
Interact with creatures, such as two-toed sloths and lemurs, as you learn about their natural habitats and all the conservation efforts made to increase their populations. This interactive island is open every day of the year, and it offers special programs and tours for you to enjoy.
7. Miami’s Children Museum
The Miami’s Children Museum is a destination created to educate children in a fun and innovative way. Activities such as the Ocean Odyssey, Music Makers Studio, and Construction Zone, are engaging and educational.
The idea of this museum was conceived with school curriculums in mind. Consequently, this museum was able to take classroom lessons and package them into an experience that’s fun, lasting, and informative.
8. Miami Seaquarium
The Miami Seaquarium focuses on education and conservation while facilitating fun for your whole family. This place is unique because it’s an entertainment park that’s marine-themed.
Visitors of the Seaquarium can learn about endangered sea turtles and manatees. At the same establishment, you can swim with dolphins.
Here there are eight animal shows, all of which are different from the others.
Some exhibits showcase the sea lions’ humor, or you can watch dolphins somersault into the air as they perform gravity-defying flips. With all the Seaquarium has to offer, we recommend reserving at least four hours to experience all that the facility has to offer.
9. Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science is an excellent location to take your little explorers. They’ll get to dig around for fossils, try their hand in the cockpit simulators, and meet interesting reptiles.
This museum in Ft. Lauderdale is perfect for teaching adults and children about nature and science. The EcoDiscovery Center also allows participants to experience the feeling of hurricane winds, ride an airboat, and play with river otters.
There are plenty of activities that will teach patrons about going green, the human body, and Everglades wildlife. It’s all quite an adventure!
10. Naples Zoo
Built in 1919, Naples Zoo was originally a tropical botanical garden. Eventually, house animals became a part of the establishment, making Naples Zoo a remarkable space. Developers took the necessary precautions to preserve the garden’s natural beauty.
You’ll find exotic animals and rare tropical flora that have been in this environment for close to one hundred years. There’s also a long and winding path where you’ll encounter reptiles, bears, lions, primates, giraffes, and other rare creatures from Madagascar.
11. The Kampong
If you’re into horticulture, you’ve likely heard of Dr. David Fairchild. While this isn’t the typical attraction you might think of when visiting Florida, it’s an extraordinary experience where you’ll learn a lot about agriculture.
The Kampong has fruit-bearing, colorful, flowering plants and trees. A few exotic fruits, such as peanut butter fruit and cocoplums, grow on the property. Additionally, you’ll find over 50 mango varieties.
Admire the fragrance of the Tanzanian baobab tree that weighs nearly 100,000 lbs. Many of the flowers that bloom on the tree can be used to create perfumes. You can take a guided tour from September to June.
12. Sun Splash Family Water Park
The Sun Splash Family Waterpark is a fantastic family attraction in Cape Coral. It offers a welcomed break from the scorching temperatures encountered in southern Florida.
It’s also a budget-friendly activity for less than 20 bucks per person. This water park sits on more than ten acres, and it’s an excellent option for guests of all ages.
There are mini slides for young swimmers, interactive water exhibits and obstacles, a five-story slide, and a tunnel spanning 30 feet for older patrons. Get ready for a steep drop!
13. The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Want something more cultured? Try the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. This historical landmark is the studio and home of American artist Frederic Clay Bartlett.
The gorgeous home sits on 34 acres. This picturesque location is excellent for learning about the historic plantation home.
14. Airboat Rides in Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park allows guests to view some of the most exotic and diverse wildlife species in their natural habitats. Enjoy a day trip with the family while taking in the beauty of the ecosystem around you.
Hop on an airboat and get whisked through the swamps as alligators peek their heads up when you whizz by.
Go for a stroll or a ride down Anhinga Trail, go through Shark Valley, or take some time to explore and venture onto the Mahogany Hammock boardwalk. There are plenty of outdoor activities for you to enjoy!
15. Swimming in the Venetian Pool
In Coral Gables, there’s a beautiful Venetian Pool. Previously an abandoned quarry, developers reconstructed the space and created a four-acre oasis. It’s the perfect place for a date or to lounge around and eat ice cream.
The Venetian Pool is a historical site with a remarkable 820K gallons of fresh crystal clear water that flows from the artesian wells every day. There’s also a grotto and a waterfall to tie everything together. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to consider before you take a vacation to southern Florida:
The climate in Florida is subtropical, and you can expect a lot of rainy weather from May to October. Many people say it rains at least once every day in Southern Florida. So, be prepared!
The weather isn’t too hot, but keep your sunscreen with you. The winters are wet and chilly. Also, beware of lightning, as Florida is the lightning capital in the country.
Lastly, there is a high number of hurricanes in the state. Specifically, from June to November. Be mindful of any hurricane warnings and information before your visit.
Florida has the best tropical fruits and succulent seafood around. Their most famous delicacies are:
- Conch fritters
- Cuban sandwiches
- Florida stone crab
- Apalachicola oysters
- Strawberry shortcake
They also have a signature Key Lime Pie that’s creamy and rich.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the alligator meat, as it’s tender and pleasantly mild-tasting. Wash it all down with a craft beer, and you’re good to go! Roadside carts usually have boiled peanuts and famous street bites down in Florida.
Look Before You Leap
Though it may be tempting, never dive directly into a river or lake to go swimming. It’s essential to look for signs that it’s okay to go swimming before entering any water. There are plenty of poisonous snakes and freshwater alligators.
Go Beyond the Beaches
While Florida is probably most famous for its gorgeous beaches, don’t limit yourself! The beaches are top-notch, but Florida has so much more to offer than golden sand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions regarding South Florida activities, events, and attractions:
What is the top attraction in Florida?
Walt Disney World is the top attraction in Florida. You can find it near Orlando in Lake Buena Vista. This theme park is notable all around the world.
What is the most beautiful part of Florida?
Some of the most beautiful parts of Florida to visit are Key West, the Everglades National Park, and Sanibel Island.
What is South Florida best known for?
South Florida is best known for its cultural scene, performing arts, music, biodiversity, and nightclubs. There are many things to see and do on a budget, including water parks, eating at local cafes, and more.
How is North Florida different from South Florida?
South Florida and North Florida are different in terms of weather, culture, and landscape.
The Northern part of the state has colder winters, more conservative views, and is not as multicultural. South Florida has more nightclubs, hotter summers, and more notable beaches.
Book Your Trip to South Florida Today!
The best thing to do in Florida will depend on your budget, how long you’re staying, and your interests. For some people, the best thing to do in the state is to go to the beach.
The wildlife alone is breathtaking, and when you pair that with the constant festivals, cultural heritage, museums, and the fantastic people you meet along the way, you’ll realize that there’s more to explore than you’ll have time for.
Either way, you’re guaranteed a fantastic vacation with no dull moments. Happy travels!