A driving tourist traveling to Florida has two choices when going south. One is to see the Gulf Coast first and the other is to go along the east coast to see the Atlantic side of the state.
On the Atlantic Coast, you will see first the largest city in the United States Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville, although large in land area covering all of Duval County, has the feel and attitudes of small town U.S.A. There are beautiful beaches and lots of churches in Jacksonville. Located on I-95 highway, as soon as you cross the state line, you will be in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Beach is next as you travel down the coast. Duval County proudly displays its historic churches and plantation style homes.
St. Augustine is the next large city as you drive south. St. Augustine has a historic American Indian Village and Ponte Vedra Beach. St. Augustine is known as the nation’s oldest city. In the historic district, you can walk everywhere. See the museums and other historical venues here. You have The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. The Oldest Schoolhouse and Castillo de San Marcos are also historic destinations. You can also visit Marineland and Adventure Island while in St. John’s County. Check out Villa Zorayda an 1883 museum replica of the Alhambra palace in Granada Spain. Nocatee is a housing development located in St. John’s county and worth visiting for some interesting scenery.
Daytona, Florida is the next notable city for tourists. Thousands flock there for the Daytona 500 races every year. This makes it a very popular Spring Break destination. It is known for great deep sea fishing as are most of the towns in Florida. This city is most hospitable during season, so it’s a good idea to get there during Spring Break or during the races. The hotel prices are higher at this time, but the town is friendlier.
The next place of interest on the east coast is Orlando. It is the home of Walt Disney World and Magic Kingdom Park. While there, you can visit the Orlando Museum of Art and the Mennello Museum of American Art. Madame Tussauds Orlando displays lifelike wax celebrities. You have Universal’s Islands of Adventure; which includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, and the Jurassic Park River Adventure. You can visit the Wild Florida Gator Park and don’t forget the beaches and fishing if you have the time. You could spend weeks in Orlando just visiting all the sights.
Traveling down U.S. 1 highway you eventually get to south Florida. Miami and Miami Beach are popular destinations for travelers. The Miami Beach Cinematheque shows art films. The Coral Gables Playhouse always has plays that rival the productions on Broadway. The many nightclubs and bars from Fort Lauderdale to the Key West, including Miami and Miami Beach exhibit entertainers that rival the names in Las Vegas headlines.
West Coast of Florida
You can cross Alligator Alley or Everglades Parkway, to get to Naples. The Spanish style architecture in Naples is evident from a Gulf Coast Boat Ride. You can see Manatee fish just off the coast. Fish in Lake Trafford for a giant catch. You should go on a tour of Marco Island in a Kayak. You also have a Holocaust Museum in Naples.
Headed up the coast Sanibel Island is a beautiful place to linger, bike, or just enjoy the beach.
Sarasota is next on the way north. You can discover the beaches of Siesta Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, Casey Key and Venice. You will become enthralled with the culture of west coast beaches as you travel north.
Drive up I-75 to the tri-city area of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater. Depending on time of year, you have everything in this area. From Harvest Festivals, to theme parks, to Spring Break destinations, this area of Florida always has an influx of tourists going to the many museums, art venues, and performing arts showcases. You have the Tampa Museum of Art. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at their stadium. All three cities have beaches that surround them.
Heading up Highway 19 from Tampa takes you to the capital city of Tallahassee. It is a city of good southern manners and southern hospitality. It has a 10 block historic district of old southern homes with tree lined streets. It has a natural habitat zoo. It has museums, art galleries, and parks.
Florida is a big state and all this guide does is outline the travel destinations and give some highlights and best destinations. Full encyclopedias have been written about this fantastic travel destination state.