Florida attracts almost 100 million visitors a year! That is a lot of people visiting the Sunshine State. To achieve numbers that high you need to have attractions besides Disney World, and this State definitely does.
Due to success of what to expect on each of the Hawaiian Islands post, I got requests to provide a high level breakdown of what to expect in Florida. Florida is a great state for vacationing, but many people do not realize how diverse the State really is. My husband has extensive experience across the entire state, so I relied on him to fill in the details on the places I haven’t been.
This post divides Florida up into regions that are typically characterized by their biggest cities. While almost all of the State has sunny weather and access to beautiful beaches, there are unique elements in each. I do want to add a disclaimer that just because I say you can expect something in one part, doesn’t mean you can’t find it in another! Florida is a phenomenal State that you should make an effort to visit.
Popular Florida cities you have to visit!
Orlando (Central Florida)
Orlando is located smack dab in the middle of the State, and does NOT feature immediate access to a beach. Even though there aren’t beaches, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a ton to do. The biggest attraction of them all is located in Orlando, Disney World! Not only does Orlando have Disney, but there are plenty of other amusement parks, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Legoland to name few. See my post on Top Non Disney things to do in Orlando to read more.
Overall you can expect a great family environment, lots of tourists, top notch shopping, and the biggest McDonalds in the World.
Jacksonville (Northeast Florida)
Overall think Georgia with a beach. You can expect to see a slower paced beach life mixed with Southern charm.
Miami (Called South Florida)
Overall you can expect a more international feel in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, especially from Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Haitians. Also, expect to see excessive showings of wealth, whether it is the multi-million dollar homes of Star or Fisher Island, or Lamborghinis cruising in front of night clubs on A1A.
Overall you can expect an experience defined by life on the water. Whether it is fishing, scuba diving, or even searching for bioluminescent marine life on a glass bottom boat, it can be done in the Keys.
Pensacola (Panhandle/Emerald Coast)
Overall you can expect more affordable environment with great beaches and a little bit of Southern style coming in from Alabama and Louisiana.
Tampa (Southwest Florida)
Overall you can expect exquisite beaches (no waves again because it is located on the Gulf of Mexico) with a slower vibe characterized by the retirees. Many of these cities dramatically increase their populations each winter as the snowbirds come south to avoid winter.
Florida is a great state that our household is intimately connected to. In fact, as I write this post my husband is on a trip to Florida.
What parts of Florida are your favorite?