Florida Bucket List: Best Things to do in Florida (2023)

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Want to plan your Florida bucket list? You’re in the right place!

Florida is the type of vacation destination that some people save up their whole lives for. The beaches and landscape, the vibrant cities, and the delicious food, there are so many bucket list boxes to check off when exploring Florida. 

With so much to see and do, it’s helpful to have a narrow list of the Sunshine State’s best attractions. Here’s a group of beaches, cities, and national parks to consider when planning a Florida bucket list! 

Best Things to do in Florida


A clear beach under a blue sky.

So many travelers come to Florida for one reason and one reason alone, the beaches. Lucky for them, there are so many gorgeous beaches just waiting to be ticked off the travel list! 

The 24-mile stretch of 30A in the Florida panhandle is noted for some of the most beautiful and enjoyable beaches in the state. Santa Rosa Beach, Seaside, and Alys Beach are some of the most picturesque places to stop along this gorgeous route. 

Destin, though not a part of the 30A stretch, is also an amazing beach area not to be missed when traveling through this part of the state. 

Clearwater Beach is routinely listed as one of the best beaches in the United States. The striking white sand and gorgeous, warm gulf waters bring visitors from all over the globe. This spot certainly wears the crown for Gulf Coast beaches, but there are other amazing options to consider in this region of the state too. 

Siesta Key is a barrier island in the Gulf, just off the coast of Sarasota. The beach here is phenomenal. The white sand is soft, and the water is as clear as can be. This is an excellent place for a varied beach experience as it features party areas as well as more peaceful areas, like Turtle Beach.  

For those visiting the eastern side of the state, consider a stop at Delray Beach or Palm Beach. These beaches are, of course, gorgeous, but they are also some of the best spots for water activities like snorkeling. And don’t forget a boogie board while making the rounds through the beaches in Florida. Beach toys like those will definitely increase family fun while enjoying the sun! 

A hand holding seashells with sand behind.

Another fun fact about Florida that many people may not be aware of is that it’s an amazing place to travel with pets. There are some stunning dog-friendly beaches in Florida! There’s nothing quite like getting to behold your canine best friend live their best life while running up and down a pristine beach. 

While many of the dog-friendly beaches require pets to remain leashed, some beach locations do not. This type of setup allows the dogs to enjoy the whole beach experience uninhibited. Perdido Key River Road Park in Pensacola is one of the best pet-friendly beaches that features an unleashed stretch of sand for pets to enjoy fully. 

Bonita Beach Dog Beach, Davis Island’s Dog Beach, Fort De Soto Dog Beach, and Key West Dog Beach are the best dog-friendly beach location when making your way through the Gulf Coast. 

For travelers who are exploring the Atlantic side of the state, Jupiter Dog Beach, Walton Rocks Dog Beach, and Performance Pups Freshwater Dog Beach are other phenomenal stretches of beach where dogs can play unleashed. 


View of multiple foods on plates, including burgers, fries, tacos, and corn.

Beaches may be responsible for a big part of tourism in Florida, but some of their cities offer a great escape as well. Destin, Pensacola, and Panama City are some of the most fun coastal cities along the panhandle. 

Destin has become a very popular beach vacation destination, thanks to its soft sandy beaches and warm gulf waters. It’s an amazing place to vacation because the beach is right there, and the city itself is stacked with lots of restaurants and entertainment features. 

The town center is full of colorful and fun restaurants while also being a hub of activity. It’s the spot where tours depart, and tourists can rent water sports equipment like jet skis or kayaks. Or for the thrill-seeking types, Destin also offers fun excursions like parasailing. 

This city is home to the largest fleet of fishing boats in all of Florida. So, as you might imagine, it’s a wonderful spot to score some seafood. When in Destin, visitors can count on enjoying the sunshine as well as being well-fed and never bored. 

Pensacola shares a close border with Alabama and is in part influenced by the southern comforts of that state. Contrary to its significant military presence, it is, in fact, a laid-back and relaxing place to visit. Keep in mind that this is a very popular spring break destination, so for travelers who would rather bypass the college party atmosphere, be sure to plan your trip accordingly. 

Panama City is a unique and interesting place to visit. It’s a popular retirement spot and is definitely one of the more budget-friendly places to vacation in Florida. The city features some amazing beaches as well as St. Andrews State Park.

St. Andrews State Park is an excellent place to take a family to tide pool, snorkel, and fish. It’s also an amazing place to spot wildlife, including sea turtles and various species of birds. Travelers can camp here as well! 


Where should you travel next?

Clearwater Beach, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, and Marco Island highlight the gulf coast. Clearwater, of course, has a stunning beach, but not all travelers know about the city’s family-friendly pier area. Pier 60 is such a fun place to explore. This city also features top-tier shopping and some of the best dining options. 

St. Petersburg is the laid-back alternative to the glitz and hyperactivity of Clearwater. This is a wonderful place to explore for travelers looking for a little peace during their Florida adventure. The St. Pete Pier is one of the most fun places to visit while spending time in this city. 

There is so much interesting history to explore in Fort Myers. Both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford retreated to the comfortable weather of Fort Myers during several winters throughout their lives. Tourists can visit their estates and learn about the work they did while spending time in Fort Myers. 

Fort Myers also offers alternatives to the beach in their plentiful parks and preserves. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and Manatee Park are some of the best outdoor places to visit in this city. 

Marco Island, like so many spots in Florida, showcases some amazing beaches, but they are also known for their top-tier golf courses as well. After spending some time on the beach or wrapping up a round on a beautiful course, be sure to check out some of the amazing Marco Island Restaurants.

Sale E Pepe serves some of the best seafood pasta around, and Sunset Grille offers one of the most fun sports bar atmospheres. Sample around and enjoy the flavors of the island! 

Miami and The Keys are also very popular and lively locations to consider if you’re looking for a tropical-infused experience in Florida. 

Travelers looking for the most luxurious and opulent Floridian experience possible should head to Miami. This city is all about the glitz and glamour. Gorgeous hotels and over-the-top romantic restaurants are waiting to be enjoyed! 

Shopping is amazing in this city as well, with all of the top designers represented. It’s also a beautiful melting pot with slivers of so many different cultures on display through languages, food, and music. 

The Florida Keys are located just off the southern coast of the state. Key Largo and Key West are some of the most fun spots to explore in this area. These locations offer amazing snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. Sports fishermen should definitely stop by Islamorada for an amazing experience aboard a fishing charter!

And, of course, you can’t talk about Florida without mentioning Orlando. Orlando is the theme park mecca of the world! For travelers looking for a change in scenery from the beach or for those chasing after a thrilling adventure ride, be sure to check out the lively city of Orlando and all its entertaining attractions! 

National Parks

Swamp under a blue sky.

National Parks aren’t necessarily the first thing people think of when dreaming about a trip to this region of the country, but Florida is full of them! 

Everglades is one of the best national parks in Florida. This park is massive, and it offers a wide variety of different landscapes to behold and activities to enjoy. One of the best things about Everglades National Park is that it is easily accessible, with three different entrances throughout the state. There are entrances in Homestead, Miami, and Everglades City. 

Hiking and Slough Slogging (veering off-trail through wet grounds, typically with a ranger) are popular activities to consider at this park. Travelers can take a safari boat tour or a kayak tour to experience the park up close too! There are some amazing biking trails and opportunities for bird watching in the Everglades as well!

Biscayne National Park would be a convenient extra stop for travelers who visit the Everglades near the Homestead entrance. Also located in Homestead, this park is 95 % water, which means it is mainly explored via boat. There are some amazing tours that carry travelers to the perfect spots to snorkel and explore the coral reefs. Canoeing, kayaking, and hiking the limited trails are other popular activities to enjoy at this park.  

For travelers who happened to visit the Everglades City portion of Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve would be a convenient addition to their itinerary. This park is a dream come true for any travelers interested in ecology. The park consists of a freshwater swamp, alive with tropic and temperate vegetation. It’s a beautiful sight to behold. 

Take to a canoe or kayak to explore the Lefthand Turner River and Sandfly Island Loop paddling trails for an easy time on the water. Or consider Turner River and Halfway Creek paddling trails for a more challenging experience.  

For those who would like to stay off the water, a scenic drive is another way to thoroughly enjoy the sights of the preserve. Stargazing is a fun way to spend some time in the evening here as well. 

Dry Tortugas is one of the least visited national parks in the country, most likely due to its remote location. The cluster of islands is 70 miles off the coast of Key West, so getting there alone is an adventure. 

Fort Jefferson is an interesting place to explore while visiting this park. Snorkeling is amazing here, and it’s also a wonderful place to camp overnight as a family. The stargazing from this secluded location is phenomenal. 

Aerial view of a fort shaped like a star next to water.

For those looking for more history-based adventures in Florida, a visit to Castillo de San Marcos will make for a fun outing. This national monument pays homage to the Spanish who built this fortress in St. Augustine in the 1600s. 

It’s an amazing experience to walk through the monument. Park Rangers dressed in period costumes often put on presentations and weapons demonstrations for visitors of all ages to enjoy. 

Fort Matanzas, located on Rattle Snake Island located off the coast of St. Augustine, offers a similar experience. This aged fort is fascinating to explore as well, with the added bonus of the free ferry ride from St. Augustine out to the fort on the island. 

Final Thoughts: Florida Bucket List

Truth be told, Florida is full of so much wonder. No bucket list will truly cover all of the highlights of this great state. All in all, the beaches, cities, and national parks are just a portion of what makes Florida an amazing state to visit. 

A visit to this state offers travelers the opportunity to relax one day and jump into a new adventure the next. It’s the perfect place to take a deep breath and reconnect with nature while also pushing yourself outside your routine and comfort zone. Here’s to the memories to be made on an epic Florida bucket list adventure!

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