Essential Experiences in Florida

by Community Manager on ‎06-22-2015 02:58 PM - last edited on ‎06-30-2015 10:57 AM by Lithium Technologies (1,441 Views)

Natural beauty, unforgettable adventures and fascinating pursuits await in the Sunshine State.

 

Florida is a big state with plenty to enchant you, no matter where your interests lie. The Sunshine State’s broad range of activities is impressive.

 

Yet some aspects of Florida are more quintessentially Floridian than others—one-of-a-kind, only-here destinations and adventures that delight visitors and residents alike. Here are a few experiences that offer authentic tastes of this unique place.

 

 

North Florida


FEEL YOUNG: In 1565, Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Aviles established a city centered around a legendary font of longevity. Visitors today can drink from the Fountain of Youth and hear stories about those who settled there.

St. Augustine

fountainofyouthflorida.com

(904) 829-3168

 

GO FISHING: With nearly 1,200 miles of coastline, anglers have plenty of places to land the big one. But the charming beach community of Destin is nicknamed “the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for its frequent record-setting hauls.

Destin

destinchamber.com

(850) 837-6241

 

TRY A KAYAK: With its rivers and beaches, quiet Amelia Island is prized for expeditions allowing visitors to see a side of nature nearly impossible to witness on dry land, with close-up views of birds and various other sea creatures.

Amelia Island

ameliaisland.com

(904) 277-0717

 

DIG INTO HISTORY: A central gathering point for Apalachee Indians and Spanish explorers who crossed paths in the mid 1600s, the 63-acre Mission San Luis preserves centuries of shared history and archaeological finds.

Tallahassee

missionsanluis.org

(850) 245-6406

 

FLY HIGH: The National Naval Aviation Museum traces American military aviation since its earliest days, and also is the best place to watch the Blue Angels precision flying team practice their thrilling maneuvers over the bay.

Pensacola

navalaviationmuseum.org

(850) 452-3604

 

 

Central Florida

 

REACH FOR STARS: Home to America’s space program since the 1960s, Kennedy Space Center is the embodiment of Florida’s passion for discovery. Visitors can see rockets, tour historic Launch Pad 39-A, try simulators and more.

Cape Canaveral

kennedyspacecenter.com

(866) 737-5235

 

LET LOOSE: For some, Florida’s theme parks are the ultimate vacation experience. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios near Orlando, Legoland in Winter Haven, Busch Gardens in Tampa and others constantly evolve with features.

Multiple locations

AAA.com/Fun

(800) 222-113

 

REV YOUR ENGINE: Daytona Beach, a popular oceanfront destination for decades, also is a motorsports mecca. Daytona International Speedway is open for guided tours of the legendary race track most days.

Daytona Beach

daytonainternationalspeedway.com

(800) 748-7467

 

LIGHTEN UP: The 175-foot Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse welcomes more than 140,000 visitors a year, enticing them to climb 203 steps to the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse—a National Historic Landmark.

Ponce Inlet

ponceinlet.org

(386) 761-1821

 

QUIET DOWN: Since 1929, Bok Tower Gardens has provided serenity with its placid, 250-acre landscape in the shadow of its 205-foot “singing” marble bell tower.

Lake Wales

boktowergardens.org

(863) 676-1408

 

HAVE LUNCH: In the late 1800s, immigrant workers in Tampa’s cigar factories needed cheap, quick food. The Cuban sandwich—ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on crusty white bread—remains a good reason to graze down Seventh Avenue.

Tampa

yborcityonline.com

(813) 274-7936

 

 

South Florida

 

SEE SHELLS: Collectors revere Sanibel Island as the ultimate place to find colorful, fragile seashells. Hundreds of species can be found on the secluded island’s shores - and also at the nearby Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, for those who admire rather than collect.

Sanibel Island

sanibel-captiva.org

(239) 472-1080

 

RUN WILD: Everglades National Park appeals to adventure travelers with boat tours and hiking trails throughout its 2,400 square miles. Not quite so adventurous? The 38-mile main road passes through natural habitat, visible by car or at scenic stops.

Homestead

nps.gov/ever

(305) 242-7700

 

HEAD SOUTH: Whitehead Street in Key West is actually closer to Cuba than to Miami. A marker at the end of the road draws more than a million visitors a year to pose at the southern extreme of the continental United States.

Key West

fla-keys.com

(800) 352-5397

 

APPRECIATE THE PAST: Miami Beach is a celebrity playground, yet it’s accessible to all. Its South Beach district has the world’s densest collection of Art Deco architecture, and its history is revealed through walking tours.

Miami Beach

mdpl.org

(305) 672-2014

 

GAIN PERSPECTIVE: Railroad magnate Henry Flagler opened Florida to tourism in the 1800s by running tracks down the east coast. His mansion today serves as a museum that opens visitors’ eyes to a fascinating history.

Palm Beach

flaglermuseum.us

(561) 655-2833

 

CATCH THE SUNSET: End the day with a walk along the municipal Naples Pier, a wooden structure extending into the Gulf of Mexico. With a history dating to 1888, unobstructed views of the sunset make it a Florida icon.

Naples

naplesgov.com

(239) 213-1000

 

 

AAA Travel Resources

AAA.com: Get member-exclusive discounts on Florida hotels, restaurants, car rentals, attraction  tickets and more, and gather online route maps and destination information. It’s a wealth of knowledge, free to explore.

 

AAA Mobile App: Plan your trip with this powerful, GPS-based app for smartphones and tablets. Includes member-exclusive savings tips, maps (including detours), access to roadside assistance and more. Available at AAA.com/Mobile or the app store for your device.

 

TourBooks: Easy-to-read guides with AAA Diamond Ratings for hotels and restaurants, and details about things to do at your destination or along the way. Free to members; available in print from your local AAA office or download at AAA.com.

 

 

A version of this story appears in the July/August 2015 issue of AAA Living magazine.

 

Image credit/source: eStock Photo

Comments
by bjcat39
on ‎08-16-2016 07:31 PM

After you've stolled along the gorgeous Venice area beaches, consider celebrating Florida's version of fall at the 47th annual Sun Fiesta, sponsored by Women's Sertoma Club of Venice, beginning Friday, October 21st, 5-10 p.m., Sat., Oct. 22nd, 9am-10 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23rd, 9am-7 p.m., all in beautiful Centennial Park in downtown Venice.  Admission and parking is FREE.  Something for everyone!  Live music and entertainment, beer and wine tent so lots of food and drink, arts and crafts and many other kinds of booths, raffles and auctions, children's activities, including bounce house, crafts, games, and contests.  Saturday begins with hilarious bed races, "Celebrate America" parade, and Miss Sun Fiesta pageant;  Sunday begins with Young Marines' Pancake Breakfast.  All proceeds benefit local non-profit agencies and provide scholarships to many young women.  Visit www.SunFiesta.net for more information.

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