Florida is a popular destination for Northeasterners. Whether you are a snowbird seeking warmth in the midst of winter or are looking forward to planning your next summer vacation, Florida offers a variety of activities for all ages.
Note: Please practice CDC-recommended precautions when traveling. Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, see official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
You can’t visit Florida without making a splash in the water. Snorkeling and scuba diving are perfect ways to take advantage of the beautiful fresh and saltwater bodies.
Dive with animals like sea turtles around West Palm Beach, manatees in Crystal River and freshwater fish at natural Florida springs like Ginnie Springs. Try snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park, which is home to tropical fish, starfish, queen conchs and more.
Explore amazing underwater wonderlands like historic wrecks at Pensacola, Destin and Panama City, geological caves like Devil’s Den and Blue Grotto, and reefs around Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Looe Key. Or, find your own souvenirs while snorkeling around Venice Beach, which is also known as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.”
On a beach by the sea, at a natural spring or under the canopy of a lush forest, relax at one of the campgrounds and RV parks while visiting Florida.
Limited camping is available at several of Florida’s State and National Parks, including Fort Clinch State Park, Ocala National Forest and Bahia Honda State Park. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort in Orlando also offers unique camping opportunities, including fun outdoor activities like kayaking, biking and hiking.
Feel closer to nature while igniting your sense of adventure by going horseback riding on the beach or a special nature trail.
Whether it’s trotting across the award-winning Cape San Blas, laid-back Amelia Island or going on a Fort Pierce beach tour on horseback, there’s plenty of outdoor activities featuring these majestic animals. In Bradenton, there’s “horse-surfing,” where visitors can ride on the beach before going into the water with the horses.
Away from the ocean, there are also horseback riding trails – like at McCulley Farms in Jasper – where riders can enjoy more scenic views.
Fishing and Boating
Being a peninsula, Florida boasts access to both freshwater bodies and the ocean – and great fresh and saltwater boating and fishing by proxy.
Head out on the open sea or settle on a pier, and you’ll have an opportunity to catch fish. From red snapper, grouper and mackerel to spotted sea trout and largemouth bass, there are many fish species to be found within just 100 miles of Tampa Bay. Anyone over 16 years old will need to purchase a Florida fishing license in order to partake.
There’s also boating and sailing options, including sailing clubs and schools, houseboating, sunset cruises, boat charters, marinas and sail ports.
For views of nature with a thrill, soar over Ocala Canyons by zipline. In Kissimmee, kids can zip across the treetops. At Forever Florida in St. Cloud, there’s the new “The Rattlesnake” EcoSafari – a zipline rollercoaster that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping.
Florida’s wide array of plant and animal species make it the perfect location for nature photography. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance, Florida’s Everglades are especially photogenic.
Find plenty of plants at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, along with the largest stand of old-growth cypress trees on the planet. Visit Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and keep an eye out for an elusive Florida panther or black bear. On the other hand, you’re bound to see alligators at Big Cypress National Preserve.
Check out these tips on Taking Amazing National Park Photos.
You may not think of surfing when it comes to the east coast, but Florida lays claim to a list of choice surfing spots.
Located south of Cocoa Beach, you’ll find the east coast’s own surf city. There’s also New Smyrna Inlet, which is referred to as “the wave magnet.” On Florida’s northwest Gulf coast, you’ll find surfers riding the waves at Perdido Key, Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City Beach.
Golfing is a great activity for improving both physical and mental health. This leisure sport gets you outside, in the sun and fresh air, all while keeping you moving.
“The Sunshine State has more golf courses per capita than any other place in the United States,” according to Visit Florida.
Watersports like canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding are a must-try when visiting Florida.
From the gentle waters of Destin Harbor to the jetties of New Smyrna, there’s a stand up paddle boarding adventure for every experience level. See how many animals you can spot while paddling, like dolphins at Naples Beach, sea turtles and sharks at Blowing Rocks Preserve and crabs, sea stars and tropical fish around Stock Island.
If you prefer kayaking, there area number of creeks and hidden bays to explore in Southwest Florida. For a truly memorable and magical experience, try a nighttime bioluminescent kayaking tour on Florida’s east coast, including the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon, where the water glows thanks to tiny bioluminescent plankton.
What is your favorite thing to do in Florida? Tell us in the comments.