Florida is a densely populated state in the Southeastern region of the United States. Even though it’s only the 22nd-largest state, it’s the 3rd-most populated with a population of over 21 million inhabitants. This is because it features multiple metropolitan areas with over 1 million inhabitants, including Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Miami.
Regardless, the state features the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, the Everglades, which is home to a large number of wild animals. It also features the largest reef in the continental U.S., the Florida Reef, which is also the third-largest reef in the world.
The southern part of the state has a tropical climate, the only in the country apart from Hawaii which is located far away in the Pacific Ocean. Reason enough to visit the “Sunshine State” and check out some of the best things to do in Florida.
1. Everglades National Park
The Everglades National park protects part of a unique area in the United States. It’s the largest tropical wilderness in the United States and the largest wilderness in the country east of the Mississippi River. The park mainly consists of wetlands, swamps, and dense forests, and is home to a large number of wild animals.
On top of that, the number of mangroves located within the park is the largest number found in the entire Western Hemisphere. Because of the establishment of this National Park in 1934, large parts of the fading Everglades have been preserved. Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Florida with over 1 million yearly visitors. The most popular way to explore the swamps of this national park is by motorboats that feature huge propellers and which are quite noisy as well.
Official website: Everglades National Park
2. Walt Disney World
One of the largest theme park complexes in the United States can be found in the heart of Florida near the cities of Kissimmee and Orlando. Walt Disney World originally opened in 1971, 16 years after the opening of the original version in Anaheim, California. The original park to open in this amazing entertainment complex was the “Magic Kingdom.”
This was followed by a large number of additional parks and entertainment facilities including 3 other theme parks, 2 water parks, over two dozen themed resorts, and even several golf courses. This has resulted in Walt Disney World becoming one of the most famous theme parks in the world, and the version that is located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista is one of the most-visited attractions in the United States.
Official website: Disney World Orlando
3. Sunshine Skyway Bridge
If you’re into technology and engineering miracles, then the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a must-visit attraction while you’re in Florida. This enormous cable-stayed bridge has a total length of 6.7 kilometers (4.14 miles) and spans Lower Tampa Bay. It connects the cities of St. Petersburg with the community of Terra Ceia, just southwest of the large city of Tampa, Florida.
This magnificent bridge was built to replace an older version of the bridge that was completed in 1954, but which suffered two maritime disasters within a few months in the early 1980s. The current bridge was completed between 1982 and 1987 and was officially renamed the “Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge” after the former Governor of Florida.
4. Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island, a relatively small island off the east coast of Florida. It’s the main facility to support human spaceflight and has been since 1968. The entire complex consists of over 700 buildings which cover an area of 580 square kilometers (144,000 acres).
One of the most fascinating structures on the planet is located here as well. This immense building is called the Vehicle Assembly Building, stands 160 meters (525 feet) tall, and is used for stacking NASA’s largest rockets. The entire complex features a visitor center that has numerous exhibits on display and which teaches tourists everything they need to know about space travel and the operations at the Kennedy Space Center, a must-visit attraction while you’re in Florida.
Official website: Kennedy Space Center
5. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Florida is home to the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, a structure known as the “Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.” It’s located in the city of St. Augustine in the northeastern part of the state. This amazing building was constructed in the late 17th century between 1672 and 1695 when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire.
The fort was briefly renamed Fort St. Mark when the British controlled Florida between 1763 and 1783 but was restored to its original name, only to be renamed Fort Marion when Florida became part of the United States in 1821. The structure became a national monument in 1924 and was only deactivated from military duties in 1933. Today, it’s the most important tourist attraction in the region.
Official website: Castillo de San Marcos
6. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is located just west of the Florida Keys, an archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida. The closest city is Key West which is located about 109 kilometers (68 miles) east of the so-called “Dry Tortugas Islands” located in the Gulf of Mexico. Apart from preserving some of the most fascinating coral reefs on the planet, abundant sea life, and the 7 Dry Tortuga Islands, the national park is also home to one of the most fascinating structures in the United States.
This building is called Fort Jefferson and is an unfinished coastal fortification that is considered to be the largest brick masonry building in the Western Hemisphere. The fact that this building was built with 16 million bricks and that it can only be accessed by boat or by seaplane make this one of the most unique tourist attractions in the world.
Official website: Dry Tortugas