Florida Travel Guide and the best things to do

Florida is not only about Miami. After my third winter spent in here I can boldly say that there are lots of things to do and see there and Florida is a perfect holiday-touristic destination, not only a place where you can live, surrounded by comfort and beauty.


I write about this, because after talking to my friends I realized, that many people dream to come to Florida but everyone has this stereotypical opinion that it has to be very expensive, unattainable and not for a vacation trip, so in winter they choose Thailand or Bali.

So, I want to show you that Florida is a perfect place to relax, sightsee, warm up and have fun.

When to fly?

In general, you can visit Miami and Florida all year round, because temperatures here are stable and the sun shines all year long, making this area a really warm place. There is a reason why many retired Americans move here, the climate is favorable.

But I’d rather advise you to avoid two periods. Summer (same period as in Europe, so June-August), because not only there is heat (over 30 Celsius) but also a very high air humidity (over 80%), which is not very pleasant.

The other period falls on September – October, because then Florida gets struck by tornados.

The best season is between November and May. Weather is beautiful, it’s warm or even hot (around 30 Celsius), air humidity is lower and there is no tornado danger as well. So a perfect place to break free from the dark and winter Europe.

Flight ticket prices

First thing that scares off the majority right at the very beginning, so the idea that tickets to Miami are very expensive. And you can’t be further from the truth! Florida is a very popular destination from Europe, so the demand made the prices drop in the recent years. A quick example: this year I bought a one way ticket from Europe to Miami (from Warsaw, through Lisbon) with TapPortugal only a week before the departure for 300 USD.

The price of flights from Europe to Miami and to Miami from anywhere in the US does not change significantly during the year.

Here you also have a few pieces of advice, how to lower the cost of flight tickets and buy them as cheap as possible.

>>How to fly cheaper? – 10 tips to decrease travel costs<<

Car rental and costs

Honestly, you won’t do much without a car in the States. Distances are big and public transport is not that well developed. Car and gas prices are very low for Americans, so almost everyone can afford to buy and use a car.

If you would like to go to Florida for more than a few weeks and winter there, it definitely pays off to buy a car there and sell it before the departure. I’ve done it every time when I’ve stayed in USA longer, for example when I was doing a scholarship in Williamsburg, Virginia. I’ve done the same when I had a scholarship in Australia. It really saved me lots of money. Automobile market in USA is well developed and you’d have no problem with buying or selling a car (I’ve done both in about 1-2 days).

But if you’re having just a vacation trip, there is always an option to rent a car. I recommend you to rent it in advance via RentalCars.com. I use it every time and watch price differences carefully. Before my last stay in Miami, I’ve “hunted” for a car for 2 weeks and because of that I managed to sniff out the same model for 250USD less!

The longer the rental period is, the lower the price but it’s a general standard. I’ll share with you a trick, which I always use and it pays off every time. Usually I rent a standard car, which is the cheapest option but you can always see at RentalCars.com how many models are left in the rental company. When it comes to Miami I always rent a car directly at the airport, right after my arrival. If you see that there are only few models left, it usually means that after you arrive, there would be no available car in standard option. What happens then? The rental company automatically upgrades you to the more expensive option as a compensation (it will never leave you without a car at all). This way, paying for standard option, you’d get a standard plus, so a better, more luxurious car. I’ve been to the States 6 times and every time I found myself in this situation (at first, I thought it was a beginner’s luck but later I realized that this situation has tendency to repeat itself). So using this trick in Miami this year I drove a beautiful, black Malibu.

The principle of prices is like everywhere else: the longer the rental – the lower the price. For example, for my car I pay about 600USD a month.

Gas is very cheap in the USA (in April 2020 a gallon cost about 2 USD). Just to give you a  viewpoint on this, here’s an example – I pay 40 USD on average for a month of regular driving in Miami and a few more trips outside the city.

Co i gdzie jeść i na co uważać

Jakość jedzenia w USA do najlepszych nie należy i żeby jeść zdrowo, trzeba się trochę wysilić i wiedzieć, gdzie robić zakupy. Znacie mój styl życia i wiecie, że dbam o jakość tego, co jem. Nie będę Wam zatem polecała śmieciowego jedzenia, którego jest mnóstwo na każdym kroku. Jeśli chcecie się odżywiać fast-foodami, to zapewniam Was, że McDonaldy, KFC, Taco Bells i wszystkie sieciówki tego świata są dosłownie co 400 metrów. Natomiast bardzo, bardzo Wam tego nie polecam, bo to co my w Europie uznajemy za fast food, w Stanach nawet nie zalicza się do tej kategorii. Jedzenie w sieciówkach jest bardzo przetworzone, chemiczne, modyfikowane, pełne cukru i nie dość, że szybko się na nim tyje, to po prostu boli po nim żołądek i psuje się cera. Hitem moich sklepowych odkryć jest np. miód dosładzany białym cukrem (nie pytajcie…) i masa mięsna uformowana w kształt kurczaka, która konsystencją ani kolorem obok drobiu nawet nie leżała. Po co Wam taki syf?

Po pierwsze, gdziekolwiek jesteście – uważnie czytajcie etykiety. Amerykanie są mistrzami marketingowej manipulacji i opakowania mają mnóstwo oznaczeń o byciu „healthy” „diet” „less calories” „no sugar added”. Ale to tylko z nazwy. Kiedy przyjrzycie się składowi to możecie odkryć takie kwiatki jak np. musli, którego skład pokazany jest nie tak jak w UE na 100 gram produktu, tylko np. na 20 gram. Patrzycie na opakowanie i myślicie: „O! nie jest źle – tylko 5 gram cukru”. A potem okazuje się, że to 5 g/20 gr – czyli ¼ produktu to czysty cukier! Szaleństwo!

Polecam Wam robić zakupy w dwóch sprawdzonych sieciach supermarketów ze zdrową i ograniczoną żywnością – Wholefoods i Traders Joes. Jedzenie w nich jest droższe, ale jestem zdania, że akurat na zdrowiu nie należy oszczędzać.

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Favorite restaurants in Miami

Be sure to have a look on the list of my favorite restaurants in Miami HERE 

Miami – what to see in the city

Miami deserved a separate blog post, because there is a lot going on there. Be sure to check out the other guide: Miami – where to sleep, what to eat and the biggest attractions – a practical guide

Only in Miami there are lots of places worth visiting and some attractions to try out, not to even mention the whole state of Florida. I’ve drawn up a list of places and activities, which in my opinion have the “must do” label for a stay in Florida.

Florida - the most interesting places

1. Everglades National Park 
The biggest national park in Florida is famous mainly for the possibility to see alligators from close up in their natural environment. Only in Everglades alone there are over 200 of them and in Florida – about 1.5 million. You can have a walk in the park, rent a bike and some places you can even reach by car. While in Everglades you have to see the photo gallery of the local artist: Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery. You’ll find unbelievable pictures of the Everglades there. For lunch I recommend the Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe, where you can eat famous crab sandwiches or have an alligator salad.
2. Canoeing at the Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach

In order to taste the wild nature of Southern Florida – if you don’t want to drive far to the Everglades National Park – you can also visit the Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach. It’s only 20 minute drive from South Beach and it’s one of the 175 state parks in Florida that are awarded really often. Its main attraction is the possibility to paddleboard or canoe among mangroves. You can also spend some time there on a peaceful lagoon beach or go fishing. It’s also a perfect place to ride a bike – their routes are about 15 miles long and stretch on the surface of 1033 acres.

A hint: you can rent canoes, paddleboards and bikes in the park, in the Blue Moon Outdoor Center. Opening hours: 8 AM till sunset.

3. Key West

Famous Key West in Florida is the most southern continental point of the United States of America. It’s only 171 km north from Havana. You can reach it in 4 hours from Miami but the drive is rich with pretty views and azure water – the Overseas Highway crosses as many as 34 islands and 42 bridges.

On your way to Key West there are a few things worth doing. I recommend you to begin with Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, which saves and cures sick or wounded animals. It is an important place, with beautiful mission and really worth our support. The next point is the Robbie’s restaurant, situated right at the water. It’s so popular because you can feed pelicans and tarpons (huge, predatory fish) there. It’s worth trying but be ready for the adrenaline – pelicans are really huge birds and close contact with them makes a real impression.

For lunch you should definitely drop by to the famous sea food restaurant – Keys Fisheries, which specialty are the fresh lobster sandwiches. 

If you like challenges and you want to try something new, I recommend jumping with a parachute at Key West – the best place to do it in the whole States, because the view over the azure lagoons is breathtaking. This is the place where I’ve done it for the first time in my life and it was brilliant – watch the movie with this jump HERE.

The city of Key West is perfect for an afternoon walk among colonial villas and for watching the sunset at the harbor. You can also stop off at colonial Ernest Hemingway’s house or the Key West lighthouse, from which you can see the whole archipelago. The trip to Key West can easily be done in one day, if you start from Miami. But if you want to stay there, there are lots of cozy hotels with awesome designs there. However, they are really expensive and in the season it would be hard to find a room (so book them in advance).

4. Crystal River Manatee Swim

Diving among endangered manatees in Florida is an absolutely unique experience, which I always recommend and try focusing on. In the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, as a part of its organized trips, you can snorkel with these giants. The guides watch over safety of both animals and humans (and manatees, even though they are behemoth, are in general really calm and delicate creatures), while explaining in a very interesting manner their behaviors but also actions that we, as humans, must take up in order to save them from extinction. In my opinion it’s a very valuable and important communion with nature. Technically speaking – wetsuit and snorkeling equipment are included in the trip price. You can find more info HERE

5. Orlando and its surroundings

The central part of the Florida state is known for a couple of attractions. First of all, you should visit the Orlando city itself. But the most popular are the Kennedy Space Center, so the NASA space headquarters (absolute must, it’s extremely interesting!) and the Disneyland, the biggest one in the whole USA. Personally, I can recommend you to drop by to a charming, colonial city of San Augustin, which has awesome old movie climate. My trip to Orlando was described in details in HERE.

6. Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center is one of the most exciting, fascinating and educational attractions of Florida. This huge complex is situated nearby Orlando city but more importantly you can see there space rockets and Atlantis space shuttle, talk with NASA employees (who are also the guides there) and learn almost anything about space travels. The whole center is divided in zones with different and interesting exhibitions or interactive exhibits dedicated to a specific topic. You can even take the Behind the Gates bus tour to the historical take-off positions (I recommend it so much!). To be honest, you can easily plan a whole day for the Kennedy Space Center alone.

7. The oldest settlement in Florida – St. Augustine

The historical city of St. Augustine is famous for being one of the oldest settlements in Florida but it’s worth visiting also because of its charming architecture. The top of the must-see list belongs to the Flagler College, built in the end of the 19th century; one of the most often photographed buildings in the city. Originally, it was built as a hotel by a railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler. You can’t miss the Castillo de San Marcos national statue, known of being “the oldest brick fort in North America”, according to the National Park Service. It was built in the 17th century and it’s unusually well preserved and really imposing, even for people who are not interested in history. Besides, you can also drop by the St. Augustine Distillery Company, which sets itself apart with brewing its good from local products in a renovated ice factory, built in 1917. Tours in the distillery are free of charge and include also some tasting.

8. Universal Studios

Visiting Universal Studios in Orlando is a fantastic experience and for many visitors the crowning point of it is often also the visit in the Walt Disney World. This huge theme park offers all kinds of attractions based on popular films and programs. The unbelievable rides on 3D and 4D simulators and the newest Universal’s Volcano Bay theme park are only a couple of the possibilities. The most popular and impressive is the Harry Potter’s World of Magic, in which you can even board the Hogwarts Express. Every Harry Potter universe nerd will surely love it! ☺

9. Butterfly World

Butterfly World is often described as a „result of a peculiar hobby of only one man” and it’s located in the Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek. About 5000 live butterflies live in the building, flying freely in an enormously huge greenhouse. It’s also known as the biggest butterfly park in the world, often organizing campaigns to prevent various plants from extinction, as the butterflies need them to survive. You can take a tour with a guide there, who will show you the Macaw Landing, a tropical rainforest, or an English style rose garden.

10. NASCAR race in the international Daytona track in Daytona Beach, Florida

If you love adrenaline, fast cars and professional racing, this place is definitely obligatory to visit. Lots of NASCAR races take place whole year round in the Daytona International Speedway, the home for the famous Daytona 500 race. You can even go on a tour and the visitors can also buy tickets for a ride with a professional NASCAR driver (three laps at 260km/h speed).

11. Canoeing in Caladesi Island State Park 

Caladesi Island State Park is a state park in Florida, situated on the Caladesi Island, in the Gulf of Mexico. The beach here was hailed as the best beach in Florida in 2008. The Caladesi Island State Park offers warm, azure water, white sand and lots of space to swim, sunbathe, fish, do trekking and watching wildlife. This place is also known for its canoeing possibility, set among untouched nature. Perfect spot for an active 

12. Naples

This city, beautifully situated at the ocean, is one of the wealthiest in the States. It’s inhabited by around 20k citizens and some of the houses are worth over 50 million USD. Many stars took a liking to this place, so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon your favorite actor on the street.

You come to Naples for two reasons. To walk and admire absolutely impressive mansions and to see the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in Florida. 

You can begin your walk at the main street, which is 5th Avenue South. It has lots of pretty buildings, shops and restaurants. Everything is based on the climate of southern European towns. In Naples all roads lead to a beautiful beach (I really would love to live there!), where the famous pier is. Don’t be late for the sunset, because in this place it looks like the sun was melting in the ocean. Remarkable view. If you want to see pictures of Naples sunset, check them HERE.

13. Sarasota

Sarasota is situated at the west coast, at the Gulf of Mexico. It’s another city, in which you surely live well day by day, but you can easily visit it for a short trip. It’s worth to take a walk in the Bayfront Park and in the Marina Jack harbor, while for lunch you can choose the Blue Sunshine Patio Bar & Grill. Near the Bayfront Park there is also the Marina Selby Gardens botanical garden. You sure have to visit the Siesta Key Beach, which is considered the best in USA.

While in Sarasota, visit also the Myakka State Park, which you can tour on foot, on bike or boat. If after Everglades you are still missing the alligators, you’ll find them there for sure. 

14. Tampa

Tampa has the reputation of a town good for families. And animals lovers. Mostly because of the fact that Usch Gardens and Florida Aquarium are located there. The city also has some historical traits, because Theodore Roosevelt stayed there on his trip to Cuba, during the Spanish-American war. You can also find there a couple of museum you can choose from, including the Museum of Science & Industry. And when you visit everything Tampa has to offer, you can travel about 25 miles south to St. Petersburg or to Clearwater, which is famous for its glorious beach with delicate, white sand.

15. St. Petersburg, Florida

Saint Petersburg, known also as „The Sunshine City”, holds the record for the biggest number of sunny days in the year. This city combines in a unique manner the tradional rest with urban vibes. You can admire spectacular sunsets on its white, sandy beaches, while 7 miles of parks seem to be made for walks, trips, camping and canoeing. There are also some famous museums there you should definitely consider visiting, like the world-class Dalí museum and Museum of Fine Arts. Moreover, every year over 1000 events take place in this city – from St. Anthony Triathlon to Ribfest, dedicated to, no surprise here, barbecued ribs. These events take place in the center of the city, which is filled with shops, restaurants and pubs (which serve craft beer). St. Petersburg and its downtown are famous for the night life as well.

16. Clearwater Beach

The beautiful sand of the Clearwater Beach, the crystal-clear light blue water and the vibe of the city make it a perfect place for family vacations. You can take a Segway or helicopter trip, before you rush to Pier 60 to see the sunset, you can buy local crafts and watch various street shows. Here you can also find one of the biggest attractions in the region, the Clearwater Sea Aquarium, along with its most famous residents: Winter and Hope (stars of the Dolphin Tale movie).

17. Key Largo

Key Largo, known also as the Dive Capital of the World, is the home of the only living coral reef in the continental United States. The first underwater theme park in US is also situated in here – you can dive there only using scuba-diving equipment. This biggest island in Florida Keys is also a perfect place for other water sports, like snorkeling, windsurfing or deep-water fishing. You should definitely drop by to one of the Key Largo restaurants to taste fresh seafood.

The most beautiful Florida beaches

Well, beaches are what instantly come to mind when thinking of Florida and they draw you like a magnet. These beaches are beautiful, wide, tidy, with white sand and water in the ocean is warm and perfect for swimming or water sports. Did you know that Florida has over 1300 kilometers of beaches? In the rankings of the most beautiful ones, the most usual winners are:

• Siesta Key Beach near Sarasota

• Sanibel in the vicinity of Fort Myers 

• Clearwater close to Tampa

• Naples

• I have to add my favorite Hollywood Beach

If you are planning to visit Florida, think about the possibility to see also the Caribbean. Miami is a perfect place for setting off to explore Puerto Rico, Cuba, Bahamas or Jamaica. You can’t get closer than that. Besides, the harbor in Miami is one of the biggest for cruise ships, so you can buy a cruise in the Caribbean and in one trip visit a couple of islands and countries.

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Author picture

Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

< read more >

Author picture

Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

< read more >