#59 best destination in the world

 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Bay Lake

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  • Theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort operated by The Walt Disney Company
  • Opened in 1989
  • Dedicated to the imagined worlds from film, television, music, and theater, drawing from the heyday of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s

Epcot, Bay Lake

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  • Park opened in 1982, represented by Spaceship Earth, a geodesic sphere
  • More than twice the size of Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, technological innovation and international culture, and resembles a world’s fair
  • Originally conceived by Walt Disney as an experimental planned community that would serve as a center for American enterprise and urban living
  • After Disney’s death in 1966, the “EPCOT” concept was abandoned as the company was uncertain about the feasibility of operating a city

Magic Kingdom, Bay Lake

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  • Theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters
  • The park is represented by Cinderella Castle, inspired by the 1950 film Cinderella
  • Most visited theme park in the world for the 11th consecutive year

Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando

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  • Theme park opened in 1999
  • Guests depart from a main port to visit 1 of 8 themed islands

Universal Studios Florida, Orlando

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  • Theme park and production studio opened in 1990
  • The park’s theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television
  • The park encourages its guests to “ride the movies” and features numerous attractions and live shows

Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island

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  • Visitor center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, it features exhibits and displays, historic spacecraft and memorabilia, shows, IMAX theaters, and a range of bus tours of the spaceport
  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit contains the Atlantis orbiter and the Shuttle Launch Experience, a simulated ride into space
  • The center also provides astronaut training experiences, including a multi-axial chair and Mars Base simulator

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

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  • Oldest masonry fort in the continental United States
  • Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire
  • Though built in part by Black Spanish slaves, the fort later served as one of the first entry points of British-owned African slaves into the Spanish territories, where they were freed by the Spanish
  • This quickly led to the first free Black settlement in the future United States, Fort Mose
  • The fort was declared a National Monument in 1924, and after 251 years of continuous military possession, was deactivated in 1933, and the site was subsequently turned over to the United States National Park Service

Henderson Beach State Park, Destin

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  • Park that has such amenities as beaches, bicycling, birding, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming, wildlife viewing and full camping facilities

National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola

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  • Museum devoted to the history of naval aviation, including that of the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard
  • More than 150 aircraft and spacecraft are on display, including four former Blue Angels A-4 Skyhawks, the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic, U. S. Coast Guard helicopters, biplanes, and a K-47 Airship control gondola and tail fin

Clearwater Beach, Pinellas County

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  • Resort area and a residential area on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County
  • Clearwater Beach is characterized by white sand beaches stretching for 2.5 miles
  • The area offers shopping, restaurants, and activities such as parasailing, jet ski rentals, boat tours (with a common sighting of dolphins in the Gulf waters), miniature golf, fishing charters, and “pirate ship” cruises

St. Pete Beach, Pinellas County

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  • Beach along a coastal city
  • St. Pete Beach’s downtown contains bars, restaurants and shopping and retail outlets

Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg

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  • Surrealism-inspired museum structure that features a large glass entryway and skylight made of thick glass
  • Walls are composed of 18-inch thick concrete, designed to protect the collection from hurricanes which hit the region from time to time
  • Includes performances, workshops, films, lectures, different types of fundraising, and food & drink events
  • Weekly events have included poetry performances and lectures such as coffee with a curator, and a presentation on a theme-oriented topic that discusses a variety of topics in relation to Dalí

Siesta Beach, Siesta Key

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  • Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach’s sand is 99% quartz, most of which comes from the Appalachian Mountains
  • Over time the feldspar and mica have been removed from the rock, leaving almost pure quartz
  • According to Harvard University geologists, it’s estimated that the sand on Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach on Siesta Key is millions of years old, having its origin in the Appalachians and flowing down the rivers from the mountains until it eventually was deposited on the shores of Siesta Key

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo

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  • Florida State Park located on Key Largo
  • The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, where it has the first underwater park in the United States
  • The primary attractions of the park are the coral reefs and their associated marine life
  • The Florida Keys and the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast are the only living coral reef formations in the continental United States

Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park

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  • Short trail (about 0.4 miles) in the Everglades National Park, that is a paved walkway and a boardwalk over Taylor Slough, a freshwater sawgrass marsh
  • Abundant wildlife is visible from the trail, including alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, and egrets
  • In 2003, tourists witnessed a fight between an alligator and a Burmese python which went on for 24 hours, until a larger alligator joined the fight and the snake escaped

Ernest Hemingway House, Key West

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  • Residence of American writer Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s, on the island of Key West
  • Also famous for its large population of so-called Hemingway cats, many of which are polydactyl.
  • The residence was constructed in 1851 in a French Colonial style by a wealthy marine architect and salvager
  • During his time at the home, Hemingway wrote some of his best received works, including the non-fiction work Green Hills of Africa (1935), and the novels To Have And Have Not (1937) and Islands in the Stream (1970)

Dry Tortugas

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  • Small group of islands, located in the Gulf of Mexico at the end of the Florida Keys, about 37 miles west of the Marquesas Keys, the closest islands
  • The first Europeans to discover the islands were the Spanish in 1513
  • Some of the smaller islands have disappeared and reappeared multiple times as a result of hurricane impact

Walt Disney World, Bay Lake

  • Entertainment resort complex in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista
  • Opened in 1971, the property covers nearly 25,000 acres, of which half has been used
  • The resort comprises four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon), 31 themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, several golf courses, a camping resort, and other entertainment venues, including the outdoor shopping center Disney Springs

Universal Orlando

  • Theme park and entertainment resort complex based in Orlando
  • Universal Orlando is the second-largest resort in Greater Orlando, after nearby Walt Disney World Resort
  • Universal Orlando consists of two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure), an on-site waterpark (Volcano Bay), an on-site entertainment district (Universal CityWalk), eight Loews Hotels, and it will soon add a new theme park (Epic Universe) with an accompanying hotel

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami

  • Former villa and estate of businessman of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune, in Miami
  • The early 20th century Vizcaya estate also includes: extensive Italian Renaissance gardens; native woodland landscape; and a historic village outbuildings compound
  • The landscape and architecture were influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance models and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style, with Baroque elements
  • Miami-Dade County now owns the Vizcaya property, as the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which is open to the public

Fontainebleau Miami Beach

  • Luxury hotel in Miami Beach, opened in 1954, known for its architecture and ocean view suites and penthouses
  • Amenities include hip boutique shops, trendy bars and lively nightclubs, plus several upscale dining options, including a steakhouse, a Chinese restaurant and an Italian eatery
  • There’s also a spa and three ballrooms

Naples Pier

  • Beach on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico that goes on for more than 10 miles and is known for its cleanliness and pristine white sand

Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island

  • State park located near the northernmost point of Amelia Island
  • Its 1,100 acres include the 19th-century Fort Clinch, sand dunes, plains, maritime hammock and estuarine tidal marsh

Fort Lauderdale Beach

  • Seven miles of sandy oceanfront featuring water sports and a promenade plus access to shopping and dining

South Seas Island Resort, Captiva

  • Resort located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in the community of Captiva on Captiva Island
  • The original resort, South Seas Plantation, was opened in 1946 as a fishing resort
  • Now it is a oceanfront resort with 2.5 miles of white sand beach, three pools, six dining options, a marina, a spa, and two golf courses
  • Other amenities include a property-wide trolley service, tennis courts, and a fitness center

Panama City Beach, Bay County

  • Resort town in Bay County, on the Gulf of Mexico coast
  • Panama City Beach’s slogan is “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches” due to the unique, sugar-white sandy beaches of northwest Florida
  • Panama City Beach is a popular vacation destination, especially among people in the Southern United States
  • The city is also a popular spring break destination, due to its beach and proximity to most of the Southern United States

South Beach, Miami Beach

  • Neighborhood in the city of Miami Beach, the area was the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, starting in the 1910s from farmland
  • The area has gone through numerous artificial and natural changes over the years, including a booming regional economy, increased tourism, and the 1926 hurricane, which destroyed much of the area, and the city’s subsequent recovery
  • South Beach is a major section of Miami Beach and is a major entertainment destination with hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques, and hotels

St. Augustine Beach, St. Johns County

  • St. Augustine Beach is a small city on Anastasia Island known for its wide, Atlantic Ocean-facing beaches
  • St. Johns County Ocean Pier offers fishing, plus a beachfront park with volleyball courts, a playground, and a children’s splash zone
  • A sea turtle nesting site, Ocean Hammock Park has a nature trail and picnic areas
  • A1A Beach Boulevard is scattered with ice cream shops and casual seafood and Mexican eateries

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne

  • State park on the island of Key Biscayne
  • This park includes the Cape Florida Light, the oldest standing structure in Greater Miami
  • The park was named in honor of Bill Baggs, editor of The Miami News from 1957 until 1969, who worked to protect the land from development and to preserve some of the key in its natural state
  • In 2004 a large historical marker was erected at the site to mark it as part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail, as hundreds of Black Seminoles, many fugitive slaves, escaped from here to freedom in the Bahamas, settling mostly on Andros Island

Black Creek Canal, Biscayne National Park

  • National park in southern Florida that preserves Biscayne Bay and its offshore barrier reefs
  • Ninety-five percent of the park is water, and the shore of the bay is the location of an extensive mangrove forest
  • The park includes Elliott Key, the park’s largest island and formed from fossilized coral reef
  • The offshore portion of the park includes the Florida Reef, one of the largest coral reefs in the world
  • The keys are covered with tropical vegetation including endangered cacti and palms, and their beaches provide nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota

  • Official state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota
  • Established in 1927, the institution offers 21 galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art
  • The museum’s art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world
  • The most celebrated items in the museum are 16th–20th-century European paintings, including a world-renowned collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings

Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers

  • Historical museum and botanical garden on the adjacent sites of the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, in Southwestern Florida
  • There is also a garden center with hundreds of plants and trees available for purchase