Best Things to Do in South Florida: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Emil Backup
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Are you dreaming of a getaway bursting with stunning natural beauty and a whole lot of adventure? Well, pack your bags and get ready to explore South Florida! Here are some of the most fun, picturesque, and unique things to do in South Florida.

South Florida is a lifestyle. It’s where the sun shines brighter, the colors are more vibrant, and the rhythm of life is just a bit more relaxed. This tropical paradise is a treasure trove of unique experiences. It offers a wide variety of things to do from the glitz and glamor of Miami’s art deco streets to the tranquil beauty of the Everglades, and the sun-kissed beaches of the Keys.

From the bustling streets of Little Havana, where the scent of Cuban coffee fills the air, to the serene beauty of the Everglades National Park, where alligators bask on the riverbanks, South Florida is a place of contrasts. It’s a place where you can dance the night away in a Miami club, then wake up to a peaceful sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in South Florida.

The best things to do in South Florida right now.
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Best Places to Visit in South Florida

Ready for a journey through the coolest things to do in South Florida? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant vacation spot that will guarantee a perfect adventure. So keep reading to discover all these unique South Florida places to visit.

Are you looking for iconic attractions and historical sites? Or are you craving an immersive experience of the city’s diverse culture and vibrant nightlife? Or would you prefer a tranquil vacation away from the hustle and bustle? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in South Florida can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in South Florida  that you should know about.

1. Coral Reef in Key Largo

If you’re wondering about the coolest things to do in South Florida, then consider exploring the underwater world of Key Largo. As the home to the third longest barrier reef system in the world and the only natural coral reef in the continental United States, Key Largo offers an unparalleled snorkeling and scuba diving experience.

Most tours depart daily from John Pennekamp State Park, the first undersea park in the US. Here, you’ll discover coral reefs teeming with marine life. Sightings of endangered coral, rays, sharks, turtles, and Caribbean reef fish are always possible. If you’re not comfortable with diving, no worries! The park also offers a glass bottom boat tour, allowing you to witness the vibrant marine life while staying dry.

So, when you’re thinking about where to go in South Florida, remember that Key Largo offers a unique opportunity to explore one of the world’s most impressive coral reef systems. It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss! As such, I recommend this thing to do in South Florida to everyone I meet.

Exploring the best things to do in South Florida: Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of a thriving coral reef off the coast of Key Largo.
Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of a thriving coral reef off the coast of Key Largo.

2. Fort Myers River District

This is one of the best things to do in South Florida, hands down. For a taste of vibrant nightlife and entertainment, the Fort Myers River District is a must-visit spot in South Florida. Nestled on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, this district is a hub of activity with its well-lit streets lined with Royal Palms. Every first Friday, the district comes alive with an Art Walk, and throughout the year, it hosts some of the city’s best festivals.

Dining options are aplenty in the downtown area, offering a variety of cuisines to satisfy your palate. For those interested in the city’s history, True Tours offers insightful excursions that will take you on a journey through time. The River District is an experience, making it one of the best places to go in South Florida.

From the beautiful riverside strolls to the lively festivals, the Fort Myers River District is a testament to South Florida’s vibrant culture and community spirit. For history buffs, foodies, and those looking for a good time, visiting the River District is one of the best places in South Florida you should know about.

Fort Myers River District: Historic charm, shops, and cafes along the tranquil river in South Florida.
Fort Myers River District: Historic charm, shops, and cafes along the tranquil river in South Florida.

3. Everglades National Park

If you’re wondering about unique things to do in South Florida, then a visit to the Everglades National Park should be on your list. This vast, 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of Florida is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species.

Among the Everglades’ abundant wildlife are the endangered leatherback turtle, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee. The park is a paradise for bird watchers, with more than 300 species of birds. You can explore the park by taking a thrilling airboat ride, which is a fun way to learn about this massive park.

Other activities include kayaking, canoeing, camping, and geocaching. The park offers ranger-led programs at its four different primary entrances, which are usually free with your park admission. If you opt for a guided tour, ensure you choose an approved park tour guide who is committed to preserving the wildlife and environment.

The Everglades National Park is definitely a must-see in South Florida. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance. It’s a testament to its global significance for the protection of rare and endangered species and sensitive ecosystems.

So, if you’re thinking about where to go in South Florida, the Everglades National Park is a destination that offers a unique and unforgettable experience. As one of the top South Florida attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

Everglades National Park: Untamed beauty in South Florida's wetlands
Everglades National Park

4. The Vibrant City of Miami

If you’re wondering what to do in South Florida, a visit to the vibrant City of Miami should be at the top of your list. Miami, a bustling metropolis, is a melting pot of cultures, offering a unique blend of experiences that cater to all types of travelers.

The city is divided into several distinct neighborhoods, each with its own charm and character. Miami Beach, for instance, is a hub of activity with its Art Deco District and trendy pedestrian mall that runs parallel to the beach, filled with outdoor restaurants and entertainment. It’s a hotspot for those seeking a lively beach experience and is also a popular honeymoon destination in South Florida.

Downtown Miami’s Flagler Street is a treasure trove of historic attractions, while the Brickell neighborhood and the Design District are home to high-end stores and posh eateries. The city’s Caribbean influences are palpable in the ethnic neighborhoods of Little Haiti and Little Havana, offering a taste of the vibrant local culture.

The Overtown neighborhood, known for its rich African-American history, offers hearty soul food that will delight foodies. The Vizcaya Museum and historic homes made of coral rock in Coconut Grove are a must-visit for history buffs. Here, peacocks strut freely among street entertainers and sidewalk cafes, adding to the area’s unique charm.

In Miami, you’ll find a mix of the old and new, the laid-back and the bustling, the historic and the trendy. It’s a city that never fails to surprise and delight, making it one of the best places in South Florida to visit. So, pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and exciting activities that Miami has to offer.

The Vibrant City of Miami: Where culture, art, and energy converge in South Florida.
The Vibrant City of Miami: Where culture, art, and energy converge in South Florida.

5. Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

Yearning for a getaway like no other? This thing to do in South Florida has got you covered. If you’re looking for unique places in South Florida, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach should be on your list. This tranquil oasis offers a glimpse into Japanese culture right here in South Florida. The museum and gardens span over 16 acres, showcasing a variety of Japanese art, a bonsai display, traditional architecture, and even a taste of Japanese cuisine.

The Morikami Museum is a testament to the enduring friendship between Japan and Florida, established by a small group of Japanese farmers known as the Yamato Colony in the early 20th century. Today, the museum and gardens stand as a tribute to these pioneers, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in Japanese culture without leaving South Florida.

The gardens are designed in the style of various historical periods and styles of Japanese gardening, providing a serene environment for contemplation and relaxation. As you stroll through the Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew, you’ll encounter everything from a peaceful rock garden to a romantic early 20th-century stroll garden.

The museum hosts rotating exhibitions of traditional and contemporary Japanese art and culture. You can also participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, learn about the art of flower arrangement (ikebana), or take a class in sushi making.

Visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is one of the most unique things to do in South Florida as it offers a journey into a different culture, a chance to learn, explore, and experience the beauty of Japan in the heart of Florida.

Exploring the best things to do in South Florida: Find serenity and cultural richness at the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens.
Find serenity and cultural richness at the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens.

6. Sailing Along the South Florida Coast

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, sailing along the South Florida coast is one of the coolest activities in South Florida. The waters are pristine, the weather is usually cooperative, and the scenery is fantastic. 

You can charter a sailboat and captain on Sailo. They provide many charters with knowledgeable Captains included, ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable journey.

Imagine feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin as you glide over the crystal-clear waters. You’ll have the opportunity to see South Florida’s stunning coastline from a unique perspective. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the region’s diverse marine life.

So, if you’re wondering what to do in South Florida, why not try sailing? It’s a fantastic way to relax, enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and create unforgettable memories. Is this one of the coolest things to do in South Florida? You bet!

Sailing Along the Coast: Embark on a nautical adventure where azure waters meet endless horizons.
Sailing Along the South Florida Coast: Embark on a nautical adventure where azure waters meet endless horizons.

7. Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach

Looking to visit one of the best places in South Florida? Add this to your bucket list! If you’re looking for a unique and adventurous experience, Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach is a must-visit. This one-of-a-kind drive-through safari is home to over 1000 animals including giraffes, lions, zebras, ostriches, and rhinos. The guided tours embarking through the safari could easily be mistaken for the heart of Africa. It’s a fantastic way to spend a day in South Florida, especially if you’re a wildlife enthusiast. Plus, visiting West Palm Beach is one of the top day trips from Miami. So, if you’re wondering about the best places to go in South Florida, don’t miss out on this thrilling safari experience.

Remember, the early bird gets the worm, so make sure to arrive early to make the most of your day. And don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture the incredible wildlife encounters you’re sure to have. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in South Florida!

Roaming the Wild at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach
Roaming the Wild at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach, among best things to do in South Florida.

8. Naples Botanical Garden

If you’re looking for a change of pace from the beach, visiting the Naples Botanical Garden is one of the most fun things to do in South Florida you should definitely try. This 170-acre property is a favorite among nature lovers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of South Florida. It’s one of the best places in South Florida to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. The garden features a variety of different ecosystems and plant collections. This includes a tropical rainforest, a Caribbean garden, and a Florida garden.

You can stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens, enjoy the vibrant colors of the tropical flowers, and marvel at the variety of plant species. The garden also offers educational programs and hosts special events throughout the year. After exploring the gardens, you can relax at the café and enjoy a meal with a view of the stunning landscapes.

Visiting the Naples Botanical Garden is an experience that engages all your senses. It’s a unique place in South Florida where you can connect with nature and learn about the importance of conservation. So, if you’re wondering what to do in South Florida, consider a trip to the Naples Botanical Garden. It’s a refreshing and educational experience that’s worth your time. As such, this South Florida attraction is one of the most popular sights in the state.

Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari

9. Historic District of Fort Lauderdale

If you’re wondering about the best places to go in South Florida, don’t miss out on the historic district of Fort Lauderdale. This city is a home to some of the most fascinating historical sites in the region. One such place is the Murphy Burroughs House, the only Georgian Revival Architecture left standing in Fort Myers. Join a guided tour that takes you back in time, showing what life in southern Florida was like 100 years ago.

For nature lovers, the Calusa Nature Center is another great place to visit in Fort Myers that offers environmental education and eco-tours. And if you’re looking for a change of pace from the beach, consider touring the Botanical Gardens in Naples. This 170-acre property is a favorite of nature lovers and those just seeking a change of pace from the beach.

So, if you’re looking for unique things to do in South Florida, the historic district of Fort Lauderdale should be on your list. It’s a blend of history, culture, and nature that will leave you with unforgettable memories of your South Florida adventure.

Calusa Nature Center: Immersing in Nature's Beauty in South Florida.
Calusa Nature Center: Immersing in Nature’s Beauty in South Florida.

10. Venetian Pool, Coral Gables

For an experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in South Florida. The Venetian Pool is a unique attraction in South Florida. Once a rock quarry, this area was transformed into a spring-fed pool in 1924. The Venetian Pool is open to the public for a fee, and on a hot day, it is worth the price of admission! In fact, the Venetian Pool is the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic site offers a refreshing and unique swimming experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Both for local residents and visitors,  the Venetian Pool is a must-visit destination. It’s a great place to relax, swim, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The pool is filled with 820,000 gallons of spring water from an underground aquifer and features two waterfalls, grottos, and a sandy beach area.

The Venetian Pool is a piece of living history. It’s a testament to the creativity and vision of Coral Gables’ founders, and it continues to be a beloved part of the community today. So, if you’re looking for a unique and memorable experience, visiting the Venetian Pool is one of the coolest South Florida things to do. It is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Venetian Pool, Coral Gables
Venetian Pool, Coral Gables

11. Biscayne National Park

Experience Florida in style at this unique place to visit in South Florida. Biscayne National Park is your gateway to a marine adventure unlike any other. This park, with 95% of its area covered by water, offers a unique perspective on South Florida’s natural beauty. It’s a must-visit for those seeking unique things to do in South Florida.

Your journey begins at the Biscayne Bay visitor center, where daily boat tours set sail for various attractions. These include the Boca Chita Key and Lighthouse, the historic Stiltsville, and the hiking trails of Elliott Key. For those with a love for the water, Jones Lagoon offers paddling opportunities, and nearby coral reefs are perfect for snorkeling.

Biscayne National Park caters to all adventure levels, from seasoned sailors to first-time snorkelers. It’s a cool destination in South Florida that offers a variety of experiences. With so much charm and personality, Biscayne National Park is one of the top places to visit in South Florida.

Don’t forget, this park is mostly water, so pack your swimsuit, sunscreen, and a sense of adventure. The wonders of Biscayne Bay are waiting to be discovered!

Biscayne National Park: Exploring Marine Wonders in South Florida.
Biscayne National Park: Exploring Marine Wonders in South Florida.

12. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Looking for the best things to do in South Florida? Don’t miss this one! If you’re seeking a serene escape from the bustling city, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is your haven. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, this park is considered the “Central Park” of Fort Lauderdale. It’s a place where you can reconnect with nature. Moreover, it’s one of the best places in South Florida to visit if you’re a fan of outdoor activities.

The park offers a variety of recreational activities, from boating and fishing to hiking and picnicking. There’s even a pedestrian tunnel under A1A that leads directly to the beach. This makes it a perfect spot for a day of sun and sand.

For those who prefer to stay on land, the park’s picnic areas overlook the water. It provides a picturesque setting for a leisurely lunch. And if you’re into birdwatching, you’re in luck. The park is home to a variety of bird species, making it a paradise for ornithologists and casual birdwatchers alike.

In short, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a must-see in South Florida. It offers a tranquil retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. For nature lovers, beach bums, and picnic enthusiasts, this park is one of the top places in South Florida that offers something for everyone.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in South Florida

Looking for more content on the top things to do in South Florida? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to South Florida:

What is the best time to visit South Florida?

The best time to visit South Florida is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. During this period, the weather is warm, sunny, and less humid, making it perfect for outdoor activities and beach visits.

Is South Florida safe for tourists?

Yes, South Florida is generally safe for tourists. However, like any other tourist destination, it’s always important to stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas. Always keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings.

What is South Florida known for?

South Florida, encompassing the southernmost part of the state, is known for a variety of unique characteristics and attractions:

  1. Beautiful Beaches: With miles of coastline, South Florida is famous for its sandy shores. Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, and West Palm Beach are just a few of the many popular destinations.
  2. Vibrant Nightlife: Miami’s South Beach is renowned for its trendy nightclubs, upscale bars, and a bustling nightlife that draws party-goers from around the world.
  3. Cultural Diversity: South Florida is a melting pot of cultures, especially with strong Latin American and Caribbean influences. This can be seen in the region’s cuisine, music, festivals, and neighborhoods like Miami’s Little Havana.
  4. Art Deco Architecture: The Miami Beach Historic District is also known as the Art Deco Historic District. It showcases one of the largest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world.
  5. Everglades National Park: This unique ecosystem is the largest tropical wilderness of its kind in the U.S. It’s home to rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.

With so much to see and do in South Florida, it’s no wonder millions of visitors come here every day.

What are the must-see attractions in South Florida?

South Florida is home to a variety of attractions that cater to different interests. Some of the must-see attractions include the vibrant city of Miami, the beautiful beaches of the Florida Keys, the natural beauty of the Everglades National Park, and the historical sites in St. Augustine.

Discover the allure of South Florida with its vibrant blend of sun-soaked beaches, captivating art scenes, and lush natural wonders.
Discover the allure of South Florida with its vibrant blend of sun-soaked beaches, captivating art scenes, and lush natural wonders.

What activities can I do in South Florida?

South Florida offers a wide range of activities for all types of travelers. You can enjoy water sports like surfing and snorkeling, explore nature trails in the Everglades, visit museums and art galleries, indulge in local cuisine, or simply relax on the beautiful beaches.

What does South Florida include?

South Florida typically refers to the southernmost part of the state of Florida, encompassing a mix of urban areas, coastal regions, and natural landscapes. Here’s what’s generally included:

  1. Miami-Dade County: This is the most populous county in Florida. It includes the city of Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and many other municipalities.
  2. Broward County: This county includes Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and other cities. It’s known for its boating canals and stunning promenades.
  3. Palm Beach County: The largest county in Florida by area, it includes cities like West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach.
  4. Monroe County: Sometimes included in the definition of South Florida, Monroe County comprises the Florida Keys.
  5. Collier County: Collier County, which includes Naples and parts of the Everglades, may be considered part of South Florida as well.
  6. Major Natural Features: This region is home to the Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, and Big Cypress National Preserve.
  7. Cultural Districts and Neighborhoods: South Florida includes well-known neighborhoods like Little Havana and Wynwood in Miami.

How can I get around South Florida?

South Florida has a well-connected transportation system that includes buses, trains, and taxis. However, renting a car is the most convenient way to get around, especially if you plan to visit multiple destinations.

What makes South Florida unique?

This region’s unique charm lies in its blend of diverse cultures, vibrant nightlife, stunning natural beauty, and world-class beaches. It’s a place where you can experience a lively Latin American vibe in Miami, explore the untamed wilderness of the Everglades, and relax on the pristine beaches of the Florida Keys, all in one trip.

Is South Florida worth visiting? 

Absolutely, South Florida is a must-visit destination. With its diverse cultural experiences, stunning natural parks, world-class beaches, and vibrant cities, it offers a unique blend of attractions that cater to all types of travelers.

Parting Thoughts on Exploring South Florida

South Florida is a region that truly has it all – from stunning natural beauty and vibrant cities to rich history and diverse culture. You’ll always find something to love in this sunny paradise. So pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore the best that South Florida has to offer. You’re in for an unforgettable journey!

Best Things to Do in South Florida.
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