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Sights, Florida

There are captivating sights everywhere you turn on Florida holidays, from the stunning Everglades National Park to the intriguing Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (and not forgetting the enchanting Amelia Island). Whether you’re after vast views of lush forests, immersive history trips or the chance to explore the great outdoors – Florida truly has it all.

Amelia Island

Those looking for a holiday in Florida away from the hubbub of Disneyland should consider a stay on Amelia Island. Amelia Island is one of Florida’s Sea Islands (a chain of tidal and barrier islands on the south-eastern coast of the United States); it’s a popular destination amongst holidaymakers because of its high volume of luxury resorts and sandy beaches.

There are plenty of places where visitors can unwind, by lying down on the soft sand and soaking up the sun, all while being serenaded by the peaceful sound of the sea washing up against the shore. This island is also popular amongst golf enthusiasts, being home to five separate golf courses, each of which provides a series of suitably challenging holes to work through, while taking in the spectacular backdrop surroundings.

After a relaxing day, holidaymakers can head back to their luxury hotel and have a dip in the pristine swimming pool and spa, before enjoying a divine meal and an uninterrupted night’s sleep in their luxurious bedroom.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is a natural paradise in northern Florida Keys, home to exotic wildlife and picturesque scenery. Travellers who visit this beautiful park can expect to find a chain of green islands which are home to a large, dense mangrove forest. However, 95% of the park is water and its main attraction lies beneath the surface: The Florida Reef, the third-largest coral reef in the world, making this an excellent scuba diving spot.

Book yourself a guided diving or snorkelling session with one of the many diving schools available here, to get up close to the reef’s vibrant colours and natural beauty.

You could marvel at the magnificence of these reefs for the entirety of your diving session, as many people do, but there is so much to see here that you shouldn’t miss, including a fascinating trail of shipwrecks, which makes for remarkable diving. There is a host of wonderful wildlife here, too, including sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, crocodiles and manatees.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is a spectacular, remote group of islands off the south-west coast of Florida, sitting in the Gulf of Mexico. There are seven islands in total, with plenty of spectacular views and remarkable wildlife to see. The most prominent feature of Dry Tortugas National Park is Fort Jefferson: an enormous, yet incomplete, hexagon-shaped fort, which was used in the Civil War. Guests can enjoy a guided tour of the fort to learn about its fascinating history and construction.

Dry Tortugas National Park is also a popular site for snorkelling and scuba diving, home to several spectacular coral reefs and vibrant sea life. Stories and legends of shipwrecks and their lost treasures give divers plenty to look out for, too.

The park is also a prime spot for camping, saltwater fishing and kayaking, while the array of birdlife also makes it a hotspot for birdwatchers. Alternatively, make use of the islands’ many sandy beaches to soak up the hot Florida sunshine.

Duval Street in Key West

Named after William Pope Duval, a former governor of Florida, Duval Street lies in the Key West area of Florida and is a cultural hotspot for both tourists and locals.

Having been designated as a “Great Street” by the American Planning Association in 2012, it is home to a range of cultural attractions, including a chain of spectacular, carefully preserved Victorian mansions, which date back to as early as the 1860s and make for excellent photo opportunities.

There is also a full range of lavish hotels here and a series of fun, quirky bars, which form a lively and popular bar crawl known as “the Duval Pub Crawl.” Many of the bars on the crawl are famous, with some of the most popular including The Bull and Whistle and The Flying Monkeys Bar. Duval pub crawls can even be booked through tour outlets, who provide an informative guide of the bars on the crawl.

If you want to avoid a boozy holiday, consider visiting the many boutiques and art galleries which line this spectacular street. Or, head to the historic Mallory Square, where there are more famous restaurants and shops, and a spectacular sunset celebration.

Everglades National Park

With stunning, irreplaceable landscapes and rare, precious wildlife all waiting to be explored and discovered, Everglades National Park is the ideal place to take the nature lovers of your family.

The park protects the southern tip of the Everglades, and as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the United States’ largest tropical wilderness and third-largest national park. The park is also home to the incredible Ten Thousand Islands; a series of islands and islets which make for incredible viewing.

The natural beauty of this protected area lends itself perfectly to outdoor activities, such as camping and walking. There are hundreds of campsites within the park, too; a number of which have services available for campers. There are also multiple walking trails available, which vary in difficulty. Trails pass through beautiful pineland and coastal lowlands, leading you to notable sites in the park, such as an observation tower, a marina and visitor centres like the Shark Valley Visitor Centre and Flamingo Visitor Centre.

Everglades National Park is also popular amongst astrologers, as the parts of the park with low light pollution provide spectacular dark sky observations of the milky way.

Museums

Culture buffs will be spoilt for choice when visiting Florida since there is such a wide range of fascinating museums scattered across the state, all just waiting to be explored.

Art connoisseurs should head straight to the Florida State University (FSU) Museum of Fine Arts. This museum is home to a number of provocative paintings and installations, including work by FSU students and ever-changing exhibits, so there will always be something new to peak your curiosity.

If you’re holidaying with the kids, consider making a trip to one of the many family-friendly museums in Florida, such as the Glazer Children’s Museum or the Miami Children’s Museum. All of the installations at these museums are designed with your little ones in mind, such as the mini interactive bank at the Glazer Museum and the Castle of Dreams at the Miami Children’s Museum.

If your young ones are budding scientists, ensure that you take them to the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa or the SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology in Orlando. Regardless of your interests, families of all sizes must visit WonderWorks Orlando, where there are over 100 educational and interactive exhibits about physics, space and maths to experiment with.

Ocean Drive – Miami

Located in the South Beach area on the trendy island of Miami Beach, Ocean Drive is considered one of the most famous streets in Florida. Comprised of swaying palm trees, flashy cars and attractive art deco buildings, there is plenty to see when taking a leisurely drive or stroll down this iconic road, which has featured in a number of films and TV shows, including Dexter and Scarface.

The street is also famed for its lively nightlife, with a series of fashionable hotels, restaurants and bars being located here, such as Mango’s Tropical Café – a Caribbean restaurant with live singers and dancers. Other world-famous restaurants include Larios on the Beach, Prime 112 and A fish called Avalon.

After grabbing a bite to eat, head to one of the many exciting pool parties hosted here, where you will likely find celebrity DJs playing a special set. Or, if you’re looking for a more family-friendly day out on Ocean Drive, consider visiting the Art Deco Welcome Center to enjoy a walking tour of the area.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

From the early 1930s, 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida was the home of the revered author and journalist, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway, who would win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, wrote many of his stories here, making it a spot of historical significance; it was even declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1968.

Image source: Wikimedia. Copyright Andreas Lamecker.

Today, the house is a museum, so holidaymakers in Florida can visit and learn about its history. Guided tours are on offer, allowing visitors to see all of the rooms in the house and the 18th-century Spanish furniture within them. Guests are also free to wander the luscious green gardens in the grounds, where you will find Hemingway’s luxurious private swimming pool.

The house has also featured in a number of Hollywood films, including James Bond: Licence to Kill and The Leisure Seeker, adding to the cultural value of this historic site. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum truly is a must-visit site for those travelling to the Key West area of Florida.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Art and culture enthusiasts will be eager to visit The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art during their holiday to Florida. The Ringling is the official state art museum for Florida, containing twenty-one art galleries and over 10,000 individual artworks.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons. Copyright Mableringling.

The art housed here ranges from European paintings to Cypriot antiques and contemporary art, from both Asia and America; with world-class paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs to enjoy. Work by many famous artists can be found in this large museum, too, including pieces by Benjamin West, Diego Velazquez and Peter Paul Rubens’ 16th-20th-century European paintings.

The museum itself is one of majestic beauty; having been built to be the home of a wealthy entrepreneur in the 1920s, it boasts rows of royal arches and a luscious green garden square, with picturesque patios and grand statues. This relaxing setting is an ideal spot for visitors to take a timeout between exploring exhibits, to simply sit and admire the beauty surrounding them.

Universal Studios Florida

One of Florida’s most iconic theme parks and entertainment complexes, Universal Studios, offers visitors an abundance of attractions to enjoy. There is so much to do here, that you could quite easily spend your entire holiday exploring this enormous and exciting complex of entertainment.

The complex’s original park features an array of rides based on famous films and TV shows, all of which are fully licensed. Shoot aliens with The Men in Black, enjoy a 4D Shrek film and even visit Springfield – the home of The Simpsons. You can meet all of your favourite film and TV characters throughout the park, including the Transformer Optimus Prime, SpongeBob Square Pants and Homer Simpson.

Universal’s second park, Islands of Adventure, is comprised of several themed ‘islands’, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon and Marvel Super Hero Island, each of which contains thrilling themed rides and attractions. Alternatively, if your family is looking for a more splash-tastic day out, head to Universal’s water park – Volcano Bay, which opened in 2017.