Floridians and those who visit enjoy a few common luxuries: no matter which of the Florida cities you're in, you're always within a few hours from the ocean, the winters are generally warm and fresh, and locally caught seafood and homegrown citrus is plentiful.
But that doesn't mean all Florida cities are alike. Each has its own unique history, identity and story to tell, whether its a large urban metropolis or a small community built around its strawberry crops or cattle ranches.
Whether you're looking for big-city excitement and entertainment or small-town quiet and curiosities, the best places to visit in Florida are the ones tailored to your taste in towns.
While Jacksonville is the most populated city in the Sunshine State, tourists often overlook its strengths as a vacation spot next to theme park-heavy Orlando or the beach-blessed coastal cities. But Jacksonville's parks, museums and historic sites are marvelously laid our and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is an amazing attraction for visitors young and old.
There's also Tampa, enjoying a revitalized downtown that includes some of the city's best restaurants, urban parks, bars and a Riverwalk that attracts joggers, bikers and couples out on a stroll. Fort Lauderdale is one of the best places to visit in Florida for those wanting a winning combination of beaches, shopping and dining.
For visitors looking for a more quiet place to visit in Florida that still offers plenty of activities, Florida cities such as Cape Coral, Gainesville, Fort Myers and Pensacola offer the perfect getaway plans. All offer top-notch golf courses, cozy bed and breakfast inns and fabulous restaurants without all the traffic of the big Florida cities. Palm Bay, the biggest city in the Space Coast area, has some of the state's best nature trails at the Turkey Creek Sanctuary but also has beaches and other attractions for both kids and adults.
Some prefer more off-the-beaten-path towns such as Dunedin with its tiny but charming downtown and nearby parks, the historic St. Augustine filled with old stone fortresses and museums or quaint Mount Dora and its fun shops and restaurants.
Tiny Weeki Wachee built its livelihood on its 70-year-old underwater mermaid show and its natural springs, and Arcadia is known for some of the best antiquing around, all concentrated within a few blocks.
Each Florida city has its own collection of places to visit and gems to offer, whether its secluded beaches, Spring Training baseball, roadside oddity attractions or award-winning golf courses. Pinpoint your favorites to create the perfect escape.