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10 Florida Experiences You Probably Missed On Your Vacation

Florida is so much more than the Florida Man memes and Disney brochures would have you believe. As arguably the most geographically endowed state in the country, the list of worthwhile activities to do while in Florida is longer than the lines at the Magic Kingdom.

1. Key West

Aerial shot of U.S. route 1, Key West , Florida
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If you have yet to travel from Miami to Key West on United States Highway 1, you have a prominent item left un-scratched on your bucket list. This road is what dictionary writers meant when they added “views” to the book.

Key West is a tourist trap, but I’ll be darned if it’s not the best-looking tourist trap you’ll ever see.

2. West-Coast Beaches

Aerial View of Surfside Beach Florida
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Bringing Florida’s beaches into a list of Floridian vacation attractions is like bringing sand to the seashore. Even so, all would not be right in the world if we didn’t mention Florida’s world-class beaches.

From Siesta Key’s cool, white sand to Marco Island’s abundant coastline, there is plenty of reservation along Florida’s Western Coast calling your (and your cooler’s and sun umbrella’s) name. Bring plenty of ice, heavy-duty SPF, and your comfiest beach chair.

3. Deep-Sea Fishing

A small recreation boat in the blue Florida waters. Port coastline in the background with a small island protecting a port inlet.
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Even if you’re not an avid angler, a day on the deepest of Florida’s coastal waters is a must-do. You can only understand perseverance once you’ve battled a Goliath Grouper or Bluefin Tuna and won.

4. Natural Springs

WAKULLA SPRINGS, FLORIDA, USA - APRIL 2, 2016 A world class cave diving destination, the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is located near Tallahassee. Boat tours are popular with visitors.
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The Gulf of Mexico gets all the love when most visitors and locals discuss Florida, but the natural springs are a natural wonder you must behold. Whether kayaking, tubing, snorkeling, diving, or riding on a glass-bottom boat, Wakulla Springs, Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs, or any other Windex-clear Floridian spring is worth the visit.

5. Ringling Museum

SARASOTA, USA - SEPTEMBER 03: Ringling Museum complex on September 03, 2014 In Sarasota, USA. Built by circus magnate John Ringling in 1924.
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Sarasota lies on Florida’s West Coast, about an hour and a half South of Tampa. The Ringling Museum is a must-see attraction when you’re in the area, and you can reliably expect timeless artwork, new exhibits, and a half day’s worth (or full day’s worth, for the Art History majors) of culture.

John Ringling was one of five brothers who operated the famous circus, and he left this mansion on Sarasota Bay as an enduring legacy for visitors to enjoy.

6. Kennedy Space Center

MERRITT ISLAND, FL - FEB 12: NASA in Kennedy Space Center on February 12, 2012 in Merritt Island, Florida. It is the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968.
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The John F. Kennedy Space Center is just due East of Orlando, on Merritt Island. NASA’s primary launch center is also open to the public through the Visitor Complex. Check out memorabilia, IMAX shows, exhibits, and a bus tour around the facilities. You might even sneak off and try to hop on a rocket ship if you’re into adventure tourism.

One NASA buff explains that you’re in for a spectacle if you can synchronize your trip with a shuttle launch. It’s like live sports for nerds. Houton, we have a space center in Florida, and it’s a galactically good use of a day.

7. Castillo de San Marcos

St. Augustine, Florida at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
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If you’re going to visit Florida, why not get in touch with its history? Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. The Spanish defended the Atlantic trade route from Castillo de San Marcos, which they began building in 1672.

8. Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens, Florida's foremost botanical gardens, St. Petersburg, Florida
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St. Petersburg is a geographically advantageous city near Tampa, Clearwater Beach, and the Gulf of Mexico. If you vacation in this area, check out the Sunken Gardens. This 100-year-old botanical garden is noted for its tranquility, native wildlife, and plants—a metric ton of plants.

If you appreciate local and exotic foliage, check out the Sunken Gardens.

9. Gatorland

Orlando, Florida, USA - January 31, 2022: Gatorland welcome sign is shown in Orlando, Florida, USA. Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve in Florida.
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Gatorland doesn’t quite qualify as a theme park, as it’s a “gator park.” Albino gators. Baby gators. Full-grown gators. Ziplining over Nile crocodiles. The gator-centric attractions at Gatorland know no limits.

The park also has shows, nighttime activities, an aviary, and several other attractions that ensure Gatorland isn’t a one-croc pony. There’s just one thing we need help figuring out: How’d they come up with the name?

10. Everglades National Park

Cloudscape landscape in Everglades National Park in July
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Few locales in the United States emanate the mangrove-shrouded mystery of Everglades National Park. Go fishing, walk the wooden bridges, and eat some fresh gator bites. Make a trip out of the ‘Glades. Whatever you do, though, don’t get lost.

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