We’re always talking about things to do on vacation. But what about the things that require nothing from us but to open our eyes and take notice?
19 Things To See On A Florida Vacation
1. Sunrise on the beach
You can watch the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean off the eastern coast of Florida every morning. Every sunrise is a little different depending on the cloud coverage.
2. Pink flamingos
Pink flamingos aren’t just for lawn ornaments. Nearly every zoo and major park in Florida will have flamingos. In the wild, your best chance at seeing a flamingo is in parts of southern Florida that are less developed.
3. The lights turned on at the castle in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Sure, you have to pay the price of admission to get into Magic Kingdom. But the lights on the castle remain one of my favorite postcard perfect sights.
4. Orange trees
There are citrus groves all over the state of Florida that allow public tours. If you’re interested in seeing this unique agriculture, check out a list of groves that are open to the public.
5. A White Ibis
Unless you’re visiting from somewhere else in the southeast, chances are you won’t see a White Ibis at home. They can be found all over Florida in shallow bodies of water – whether that’s a lake or a pond, or a roadside ditch after a heavy rain.
6. A lifeguard stand on Miami Beach
Many of the lifeguard stands on Miami Beach were designed by local artists. They are a classic representation of the art-deco style that is so prominent in the Miami area. Many of these are being removed from the beaches now, but a few still stand ready to be photographed.
7. Starfish on the beach
On any beach in Florida you’ll find buckets of seashells in all shapes and sizes. Less common are sand dollars and starfish. Of course you can always pick one up in a gift shop, but seeing these in their natural habitat is much more rewarding than anything you can buy in a souvenir shop.
8. Stiltsville – Miami, Florida
Stiltsville is a group of wood stilt houses located just south of Cape Florida on Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County, Florida. They stand on pilings in water that’s 1-3 ft deep (depending on the tide). There’s only 7 of these houses left after recent hurricanes.
9. The Southernmost House in Key West
The Southernmost House in the US is actually The Southernmost House Grand Hotel & Museum. The 1890s oceanfront mansion now offers 13 guestrooms and a museum on the first floor that features a collection of Hemingway artifacts.
10. Portuguese Man O’ War
Portuguese Man O’ War are typically thought of as “really big jellyfish”. There is a very scientific explanation for why that is not the case – but they do look like “really big jellyfish”. It’s not uncommon to see these washed up on the shores of Daytona Beach.
11. A launch at Kennedy Space Center
Although NASA is said to have retired the shuttle program, they’re still shooting rockets into the sky from Kennedy Space Center. It really is a sight to behold – and one that can be seen and heard from miles and miles away.
Yes, they are real. On either coast, you’ll see pelicans scattered along the waterfront. It’s funny, as a local, to hear tourists arguing with each other about whether or not these birds are real or some kind of bizarre decoration. They sit so still and look a little surreal, until they dive bomb for a fish.
13. Palm Trees
Every time I step out of a Florida airport, the first thing I notice are the palm trees. The sight of these unusually shaped trees instantly relaxes me and puts me in a tropical state of mind.
There are endless opportunities to see dolphins in Florida. You can watch them in shows at SeaWorld or pay to swim with them in Destin, Florida. But my favorite way to see them is in their natural habitat. Your best chance of catching a dolphin is on a boat excursion like the SeaLife Safari Eco-Tour in Clearwater, Florida.
They say that every body of water – with the exception of the ocean and the Gulf – has at least one alligator in it. Personally, this is one animal I’d rather not see out in the wild. I much prefer watching them from a safe distance at Gatorland.
Commonly referred to as “sea cows”, manatees are one of the most unique creatures you’ll encounter in Florida. They’re huge, but extremely gentle and open to human contact. Again, you can see manatees somewhere like SeaWorld or pay to swim with them in the Crystal River. I’ve actually seen a manatee in the ocean at Daytona Beach. They also come further inland during the cold months to many of the springs. Blue Springs State Park in Central Florida gets hundreds of manatees a day during the winter months.
You’re most likely to see people surfing in the Altantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern coast. Daytona Beach hosts surfing competitions several times a year and it really is amazing to watch people of all ages ride the waves.
Florida is home to some of the oldest cities in the United States. Many of these coastal cities still have old lighthouses that can be toured. The St. Augustine lighthouse is a popular vacation destination, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it’s supposed to be haunted.
19. Sunset on the beach
Florida is unique in that you can watch the sun rise and set over the water, depending on which side of the state you’re on. If you’re looking to end the day with a beautiful sunset on the beach, make sure you’re on the western Gulf Coast by late afternoon.
When you’re planning your Florida vacation, make sure you bring a camera and plan to spend some time taking in the sights that can only be seen in the sunshine state.