13 Great Reasons to Vacation in Florida This Year (2024)

Are you looking for a vacation destination that offers sunshine, beautiful beaches, world class theme parks and great cultural attractions? Than look no further to the State of Florida!

In 2022, Florida welcomed more than 137 million domestic and international visitors to the state.  This broke a previous record from 2019 where 131.4 million travelers visited the state.

With its beautiful beaches, warm climate, and diverse range of activities, Florida has long been a top vacation destination for travelers from around the world. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore theme parks, or indulge in delicious cuisine, Florida has something for everyone.  

So pack your bags and get ready for a sunshine-filled adventure in the Sunshine State!

Reasons to Vacation in Florida

  • Great Weather
  • Outstanding Annual Festivals and Events
  • Historic Sites
  • Outstanding Dining and Nightlife
  • Amazing Golf Courses
  • Nature Experiences and National Parks
  • Great Shopping
  • Home of the World’s Busiest Cruise Ports
  • Unique Sporting Events
  • Fishing, Diving and Water Sports
  • Amazing Hotels and Resorts
  • World Class Theme Parks
  • Some of the Worlds Best Beaches

Now we could have gone on with a top 100 list but we wanted to limit our list to the absolute best reasons to visit Florida.   Our list was based on our personal first hand experience of living in Florida for most of our lives, feedback from out-of-state friends and rankings by several travel services. 

Learn more about each individual reason to visit Florida in the following paragraphs.

13) An Endless Summer of Great Weather

Everyone knows that Florida is HOT with the average annual temperature being just about 80 degrees.  Yes of course the summer months are quite warm but when you are sipping a frozen drink while lounging on a sandy beach when staying at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, you won’t even notice the the heat.

Just about anywhere in Florida the water temperature in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico stays above 80 degrees during the summer months.  So anywhere from Pensacola Beach to Key West, you won’t feel a chill when entering the water.

During the winter months when temperatures are in the low 70’s, you can relax by the pool knowing that snow is falling in the northern states.

12) Annual Festivals and Events

Some of the most exciting annual Festivals and Exhibits are held in Florida each and every year.  From the music fan to the art lover, boaters and bikers, college students and pirates aficionados, Florida has something for just about everyone.  While most of these festivals are family friends, some may not be entirely appropriate for the kids.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival is held every year in Tampa that celebrates the return of the Gasparilla Season to Tampa Bay.   This event draws about 300,000 people to the “Parade of Pirates” and other Gasparilla events include live music as well as an invasion of Pirates in Hillsborough Bay.

Every fall The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show comes to town bringing more than 1,500 boats moored along 6 miles of floating docks along with 3 million square feet of exhibition space.  More than 110,000 visitors from around the world to to this event.  Over the years the show has gotten so big that is spans seven different locations.  The show hosts  number of seminars, special events and has a culinary experience for the foodies.  If your plan on attending, make sure you see the Superyacht Village with features vessels over 300 feet in size.

If you are planning of coming to Fort Lauderdale for a visiting during the show, plan on limited availability and seasonal increases in hotel rates.  Our recommendation would be to stay outside of Fort Lauderdale in the greater Miami area or in Palm Beach County, both of which are less than an hour from Fort Lauderdale. 

Bike Week in Daytona Beach has been called the World’s Largest motorcycle Event with over 500,000 motorcyclists making the trek to Daytona.  First started more than 70 years during, during this 10-day extravaganza there are a number of bike shows, concerts, rallies, street festivals and more.  

Even if you are not a “Biker”, a visit to this Daytona Beach during Bike Week should be on anyone’s “Bucket List”.  

Other annual festivals and events include:

11) Historic Sites

Florida is rich in history and culture boasting the oldest city in the United States (St. Augustine).  St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explores and is the second oldest continuously inhabited city by Europeans after San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The city is home to a number of historic sites which include:

  • Castillo de San Marcos is a Spanish Fort that was declared a National Monument in 1924.  The fort represents the oldest masonry construction in the US.
  • The Fountain of Youth archaeological park was first explored back in the early 1500’s and is part of Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Eternal Hope. 
  • The Lightner Museum was the former Alczar Hotel which was built in 1888 as one of the most luxurious hotels at that time.  
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument was built in 1742 and was used to defend the city from attack by the British.  The fort can only beach reached by ferry.

Our favorite places to stay in St. Augustine include the Casa Monica Resort & Spa and the Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront Hotel.

In addition to the all the history and culture in St. Augustine, Florida boasts a huge number of historic and military sites including museums, buildings and places to explore.  Several of our favorite include:

  • The Truman House, Key West
  • Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, Fort Lauderdale
  • The Ringling Museum, Sarasota
  • Key West Lighthouse
  • The Ford and Edison Estates, Fort Myers
  • Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas (Key West)
  • The Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Placid
  • Villa Vizcaya, Miami
  • The Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa
  • Flagler Museum, Palm Beach

One part of Florida history that can’t be ignored is located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral.  From the original Apollo program, the space shuttles to the modern day rocket launches, the Kennedy Space Center is a place like no other. 

Located about an hour from Orlando, you can see the space shuttle Atlantis, go for a ride in the Shuttle Launch Experience, train like an astronaut and possibly even see a rocket launch.  CLICK HERE to see a schedule of rocket launches.

When visiting Cape Canaveral for a tour or rocket launch, we recommend the Home Suites by Hilton or the Residence Inn by Marriott when traveling out of Port Canaveral. 

10) Outstanding Dining and Nightlife

Dining – From some of the finest seafood to the best steaks & chops as well casual dining by the waterfront, there is the perfect place for any foodie.  There are thousands of great places to eat in Florida and some of our favorites include:

  • Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami Beach
  • Bern’s Steak House, Tampa
  • Columbia Restaurant Ybor City, Tampa
  • Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Hotel, Orlando
  • Baleen at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort, Naples
  • Flagler Steakhouse at The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach
  • Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, Orlando
  • Twisted Shrimp, Islamorada
  • Clark’s Fish Camp, Jacksonville

If desert is your thing, then you definitely need to head south to the Florida Keys for a slice of Key Lime Pie.  Our recommendation is to go to Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar in Islamorada and watch a sunset while enjoying a cocktail and a slice of their famous frozen key lime page topped with mango sauce and whipped cream.  You can take a hole pie home for $25 – trust us, you will be glad you did.

Nightlife – Florida has some of the most sizzling night spots from Ybor City Tampa to the world famous South Beach Miami.    South Beach is the perfect spot for the party goer with some of the states top dance clubs to dive bars, cocktail lounges and everything in between.

Several of South Beach’s most popular night spots include LIV in the Fontainebleau Hotel Miami Beach, Mango’s Tropical Cafe, the Rose Bar at the Delano Hotel South Beach and Lost Weekend on Espanola Way (a great dive bar).  However, if you are the west coast of Florida then Ybor City Tampa is the place to party with a number of clubs and bars include Coyote Ugly Saloon, Crowbar, the Ritz Ybor City, Liquid Lounge and The Bad Monkey.

  • Key West’s Mallory Square
  • Universal Orlando’s CityWalk
  • The Landing Jacksonville
  • Panama City Beach area
  • Clematis Street, West Palm Beach
  • Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale

9) Amazing Golf Courses

Florida is considered to be the golf capital of the world with more than 1,100 courses throughout the entire state from Key West to Pensacola.  And you can play the same courses as the pros with Florida being home to a number of PGA tournaments including the Players Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Honda Classic. 

So if playing on amazing golf courses is your thing, go ahead and explore the many courses that Florida has to offer.  Following is a short list of some of our favorites.

PGA National, Palm Beach GardensHome to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the PGA National Resort and Spa features five 18- hole championship golf courses including the Jack Nicklaus redesigned “Champion” Course which is home to the world famous Bear Trap.  The resort is also home to an award winning destination spa, a private state-of-the-art sports& racquet club, and a private membership club.

TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra – As the home of The Players Championship, the TPC Sawgrass is one of the most famous courses in the State of Florida.  There are two championship courses including the Stadium course where the 17th hole is one of the most recognized in the game of golf.  

Recommended hotels near the TPC Sawgrass include the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa and the Lodge and Club at Ponte Vedra Beach.

Innisbrook, Palm Harbor – Innisbrook has four world-renowned championship golf courses including the famous “Copperhead” course which is spread across 900 acres of rolling hills.  Innisbrook is a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort and was one of just six resorts to receive Golf Digest’s “2018 Best Golf Resorts in Florida” designation.  The resort includes a full service spa, numerous restaurants and dining venues and has a full array of rooms, suites and villas.

Tiburon Golf, Naples – The Tirbuon Golf Club is located in Naples, Florida at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples and has two 18-hole Greg Norman designed golf courses (the Black and the Gold).  This course is home to the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Champion and the PGA Tour’s QBE Shootout.  Tiburon is typically rates within the top 20 golf facilities in Florida as ranked by Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine.

8) Nature Experiences and National Parks

Everglades National Park is one of Florida’s crown jewels and is the largest designated wilderness in the eastern United State and the only subtropical preserve in North American.  The park is home to thirteen endangered and ten threatened species as well as it is the most significant breeding grounds for tropical wading birds in this area.

In addition to the wildlife and all the natural beauty, the park is home to the now retired HM69 Nike Missile Base which was part of the US national air defense system. The base was completed in 1965 after the Cuban Missile Crisis and officially closed in 1979.   To view the, view the park calendar for available dates.

There are so many things to do at Everglades National Park including canoeing/kayaking, biking, fishing, camping, hiking, bird watching and even boating.  There are a number of park ranger guided tours, private guided tours, privately operated airboat rides and wildlife shows.

Other nature experiences and National Parks include:

7) Great Shopping

From Worth Avenue in Palm Beach to the Bal Harbour Shops in Miami,  Florida is home to some of the finest retail shopping districts south of New York City.  There is also a number of regional malls and shopping centers that feature just about every retailer you could imagine.  And if bargains are your thing, Florida has a number of outlet malls.  

Orlando alone has more than 50 million square feet of retail shopping and Miami is home to second largest shopping center in the county (The Aventura Mall).  The Aventura Mall contains approximately 300 stores, has 2.7 million square feet of retail shopping area and is considerably larger than the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota.   Miami has also approved the “American Dream Mall” which when completed will be the largest mall in the US spanning six million square feet.  It was reported that the mall will feature an indoor ice rink, indoor water park, artificial ski slop and up to 1,200 shops and restaurants.  

Featured Regional Malls and Shopping Centers 

  • The Aventura Mall, Aventura (Miami)
  • The Florida Mall, Orlando
  • The Town Center Mall, Boca Raton
  • The Gardens Mall, Palm Beach Gardens
  • St. John’s Town Center, Jacksonville
  • International Plaza, Tampa
  • The Mall at Milennia, Orlando
  • The Bal Harbour Shops, Bal Harbour (Miami)
  • Gulf Coast Town Center (Fort Myers)
  • Governor’s Square, Tallahassee
  • Seminole Towne Center, Sanford
  • Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista (Orlando)

Featured Outlet Malls

  • The Palm Beach Outlets, West Palm Beach
  • The Vero Beach Outlets, Vero Beach
  • Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise
  • Orlando International Premium Outlets, Orlando
  • Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
  • The Dolphin Mall, Miami
  • Tampa Premium Outlets, Lutz
  • Silver Sands Premium Outlets, Destin
  • Tanger Outlets, Daytona Beach
  • St. Augustine Premium Outlets, St. Augustine

6) Home of the World’s Busiest Cruise Ports

Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) 

Port Everglades is the home of the worlds largest cruise terminal and is the third busiest cruise port in the world.  There are nine cruise terminals that accommodate more than 30 different ships from cruise lines which include: Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruse Line, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, the Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Pearl Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises.  There is a shuttle between Port Everglades to Freeport, Grand Bahama island from Baleaira Caribbean. The maximum daily parking fee is $15 and there are multiple parking garages and surface lots throughout the port.

If you need to stay overnight for your cruise from Fort Lauderdale, our recommended hotels are the Embassy Suites 17th Street Causeway and the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. The Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport North Cruise Port is a little farther from the port but is an economical alternative.

Port of Miami

The Port of Miami is the busiest cruse port in the world and is home to Azamara Club Cruises, the Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, the Disney Cruise Line, FRS Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Viking Cruises.  Overnight parking at the port is $22 per day and a variety of public and private transportation options are available.

If you can’t find a cruise from more than 30 individual ships sailing from the Port of Miami, then you are just not trying.

When cruising from the port of Miami and an overnight stay is needed, we recommend the Hilton Miami Downtown, the InterContinental Miami and the Holiday Inn Port of Miami.

Port of Tampa

The Port of Tampa is the west coast of Florida’s largest cruise port and is the home of five vessels from Carnival Cruse Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line.   The port cruise terminals is adjacent to Channelside, a dining and shopping complex, as well as the Florida Aquarium.   Parking at the port is $15 per day and there are there parking options in the immediate area.

If you need to stay overnight, Endless Summer recommends the  Tampa Marriott Water Street or the Hampton Inn Tampa Channel District when traveling out of the Port of Tampa.

Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral is located approximately one hour from Orlando on the east coast of Florida and is ranked as the world’s second busiest cruise port with respect to multi-day embarkations.  With the port being a short distance from Walt Disney World, it is home to the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy which are Disney’s largest ships.  Overnight parking at the port costs $17 per day and is right outside the main terminal within walking distance to the ship.

If your travel plans call for an overnight stay, we recommend the Home Suites by Hilton or the Residence Inn by Marriott when traveling out of Port Canaveral. 

5) Florida Sports Events

Florida is home to a number of the world’s largest sporting events and festivals with one of the most famous being the Daytona 500 NASCAR race which is held in February at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.   Even if you are not a race fan the Daytona 500 is an event that you need to experience at least once.

The Daytona International Speedway seats over 100,000 fans and tickets range from about $100 to more than $650 per person.  Hotels in the area typically require a multiple day stay and fans travel from hotels as far away as South Florida. 

If the rates and availability do not work for your travel plans, there are a number of hotels in the greater Orlando area that are a fairly short drive to the Speedway.  We recommend that you stay in downtown Orlando area (or north) to avoid the park crowds.  

Can’t make the Daytona 500, try the Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway or the Ford Ecoboost 400 at the Homestead Miami Speedway.  Race fans will enjoy both of these events.

During the months of February and March the State of Florida hosts a fifteen of Major League Baseball teams for Spring Training teams.  In 2018 nearly 1.5 million fans came to cheer on their teams during pre-season and see the new players as well as watch some of the open practices.

Here is a complete list of the teams and the location of their spring training facilities.

  • Atlanta Braves, North Port (Sarasota)
  • Baltimore Orioles, Sarasota
  • Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers
  • Houston Astros, West Palm Beach
  • Miami Marlins, Jupiter
  • Minnesota Twins, Fort Myers
  • New York Mets, Port St. Lucie
  • New York Yankees, Tampa
  • Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater
  • Pittsburgh Pirates, Bradenton
  • St. Louis Cardinals, Jupiter
  • Tampa Bay Rays, Port Charlotte
  • Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin
  • Washington National, West Palm Beach

In addition to NASCAR and MLB spring training, Florida is host to a number of NCAA Football Bowl Games every December and January.  And every few years the Orange Bowl in Miami is host to the NCAA football national championship game.

Typically bowl games include:

  • The Boca Raton Bowl
  • The Gasparilla Bowl
  • Camping World Bowl
  • The Orange Bowl
  • The Citrus Bowl
  • The Outback Bowl
  • The Gator Bowl

Beyond the annual sports events, Florida is home to three NFL football teams (Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Bucs), two NBA basketball teams (Miami Heat and Orlando Magic), two major league baseball teams (Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays) and two NHL hockey teams (Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning). 

4) The Best Fishing, Diving and Water Sports

From the warm waters in the Gulf Stream on east coast to the Straits of Florida in the Keys along with the Gulf of Mexico, Florida has some of the best off shore fishing in the world.   If you enjoy blue water fishing, there are a number of options from thousands of private charter boat operations to multi-angler vessels that go out on a regular basis.   Common species include Mahi-Mahi, snapper, sailfish, grouper, tuna and mackerel.  You can even go shark fishing if that’s on your bucket list.

And if you are fond of fresh water, there are a number of lakes and rivers that fit the bill including Lake Okeechobee which is the largest freshwater lake in the state and the 8th largest natural freshwater lake in the US.  You can find a number of guides and boat rentals throughout the entire state.

Florida also boasts some of the best scuba, snorkeling and free diving both offshore, natural springs as well as cave diving.  Some of the best places to dive include:

Other great water sports include surfing (when the waves are up), paddleboarding, waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing.   There are a number of places to rent the equipment to enjoy your own adventure or you can visit a number of the water sports parks throughout the state.

3) Amazing Hotels and Resorts

Whether you are headed to the beach, the golf course, a Florida theme park, or just visiting friends & family in one of the states great communities, there is a first class resort for you to enjoy.  Great resorts in Florida have deep roots back to the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s when pioneers like Henry Flagler, Henry Plant and many others created some of best hotels of their time. 

2) World Class Theme Parks

Florida is home to some of the finest theme parks in the country and the central Florida / greater Orlando area is home to the majority of them.  More than 75 million visitors came to Orlando in 2018 and the theme parks are the main reason for it.  This would be the perfect place for your next Florida family vacation. 


The Walt Disney World Resort is the crown jewel of theme parks throughout the world.  The resort is comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, an major sporting venue, more than 30,000 hotels rooms and vast shopping, dining & entertainment complex.

It all started on October 1, 1971 with with the opening of the Magic Kingdom Park which now attracts more than 20 million visitors each year making it the most visited theme park in the world.  The Magic Kingdom has six themed “lands” spread out across its 107 acres with Cinderella’s Castle at its center.  Each land has its own theme rides, shows, shops and eateries and Disney has done an excellent job of keeping its guests immersed in the individual land. 

EPCOT is Disney’s second Florida theme park which opened on October 1, 1982.  EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and this park was Walt Disney’s vision for a future a 20,000 resident city.   

The other two theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort are Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios expanded to include the addition of a Star Wars land known as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  This  land features all new Star Wars themed rides, shops and dining experiences.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest of all four parks and opened in April 1988. This park is home to more than 1,700 different animals representing 250 individual species.  

The resort is also home to two individual water parks known as Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.  Both are open year round as the temperatures do exceed 80 degrees in Florida during the winter months.  

In addition to their theme parks and water parks, the Walt Disney World Resort is home to a massive 120-acre shopping, dining & entertainment complex known as Disney Springs


Universal Orlando is quickly gaining ground on Walt Disney World and is the second largest resort in the greater Orlando area covering 541 acres of land.  With over 21 million visitors per year, Universal is growing rapidly and expanding its resort with additional hotels and an entirely new theme park.

Universal Studios Florida originally opened in June 1990 as a theme park that lets its guests “Ride the Movies”.  This park was a stand alone theme park for almost ten years and has evolved with a number of new rides, shows and attractions that go beyond the original “Ride the Movie” theme. 

Islands of Adventure was opened in 1999 as part of Universal Orlando’s major park expansion and was named the top amusement park for 2019 by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards.  This park is more of a thrill park with several roller coasters and water rides and is comprised of a number of different themed “islands”.  

Just outside of the two theme parks is CityWalk which is Universal’s entertainment and retail district.  CityWalk was developed as a part of the expansion in 1999 and features a number of restaurants, night clubs, retail shops and a Universal’s Cinemark at CityWalk movie theater. 

In addition to Universal Studios Florida and Island of Adventure there is Universal’s Volcano Bay which is a themed water park that in the summer of 2017.   The park features a number of water rides, slides, two lazy rivers and an “aqua coaster” all surrounding a 200 foot artificial volcano known as Krakatau.

Volcano Bay uses a wearable bracelet type of device known as TapuTapu which guests utilize to hold their place in line.  You can also link TapuTapu to a credit card to purchase food and merchandise as well as interact with a number of features throughout the park.


Universal Orlando recently announced a new theme park called EPIC UNIVERSE.  The park will be located off Sand Lake Road and accessible via Kirkman Road and Universal Boulevard but details about the rides and attractions have not been announced.  Stay tuned for more information…….

CLICK HERE To check rates and availability for all the hotels at the Universal Orlando


The Florida theme parks owned by SeaWorld are growing and expanding the recent announcements of new rides and attractions.  SeaWorld parks has a long history in Florida with original opening of Busch Gardens Tampa in 1959 followed by a number of other Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks throughout the country.

SeaWorld Orlando is one of our favorite parks as you can ride every ride and see every show in just about a full day.  This park has a number of great roller coasters as well as a number of shows including several different Shamu shows.  New for 2019 is the Sesame Street themed kids area which is perfect for the those with younger children.

Aquatica is SeaWorld’s water park that has voted the nation’s top water park in the 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards Poll for 2018.   This park has a number of different water rides highlighted by the Dolphin Plunge where you pass through an underwater pool of Commerson’s black-and-white dolphins.  In addition to Aquatica, SeaWorld offers Discovery Cove which is smaller but interactive water park where you can swim with dolphins, tropical fish and sting rays. 

Just down Intestate 4 in the nearby Tampa area is Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island water park.  Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African themed animal park that in additional to the animal attractions features nine roller coasters and two water rides.  It’s sister park, Adventure Island is a water park that features a number of rides, slides and pool.


One of Florida’s newest theme parks is Legoland which is located in Winter Haven, Florida about an hour outside of Orlando.  Built on the site of the former Cypress Gardens, Legoland is divided into 13 individual areas which feature a number of rides, attractions and shows.  There is also a restored replica of Cypress Gardens and a separate water park.

1) Some of the Worlds Best Beaches

With approximately 800 miles of coastline, the State of Florida has some of the best beaches not only in the US but in the entire world.   With amazing sunrises on the eastern shore to beautiful sunsets on the west coast, you can find a great beach for you in just about any coastal area of Florida.  

Some of our favorite beaches are as follows:

  • Sanibel Island 
  • Clearwater Beach / Dunedin 
  • Naples / Marco Island
  • Miami Beach / South Beach
  • Pensacola Beach
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach
  • Daytona Beach

Each beach in Florida has its own particular characteristics and feel.  Some off that claim & peaceful vibe with a number of beaches being in the “heart of the action”.

For a list of our Florida beaches, CLICK HERE.