Things to Do in Florida
Disney's Hollywood Studios puts you center stage in the only place where big-screen thrills, TV fun and the best of Broadway come together. Tires scream, flames burst, motorcycles fly, and moving cars split in half. It's intense, behind-the-scenes movie-making magic at its best - and it’s also a working studio!
Hands-down the most exciting rides are the spooky and unpredictable hotel elevator in the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, where your stretch limo races through the streets of LA after dark. A must-see attraction is Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, a 35-minute show that looks a lot like the movie. Scream as you zoom through 13 floors of fear on a radically random elevator ride, or blast 0 to 60mph (96 kph) in 2.8 seconds as the music of Aerosmith rocks you through a wild, twisting rollercoaster road trip. Then, sit back and let the magic and music of Disney's Beauty and the Beast take your breath away.
The SKELETONS exhibit of Orlando is the first specialized museum of its kind, with more than 400 complete animal skeletons in its collection. It examines the function and form of the skeletal system with specimens from all over the world.
The museum is family owned, having begun with one child’s fascination with a skull he found in the woods. Over the years he collected bones, including those of very rare species, and then decided to make them available to the public to see (and even touch!) The family has cleaned and articulated every single one of the hundreds of skeletons on display, which can take months at a time depending on the intricacy of the skeletal structure. Some of the larger animals of the world offer the most impressive skeletons, as demonstrated by the whale and elephant skeletons at this fascinating museum. Visitors can both learn about the lifecycle of the animals and appreciate the complex composition of nature.
The De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space contains works from the personal collection of Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz and covers 30,000 square feet with art. Before moving to this site in 2009, the original space was an extension of the couple’s home of 25 years and focused on international contemporary art.
The art space includes various rooms with rotating exhibits, including one dedicated to showcasing local Miami artists’ works. Look for lectures designed to increase public awareness of art history and modern-day art practices. To help further promote the local art scene, Miami creative often submit proposals for site-specific installations, and classes and workshops designed with local schools take place as well. The De la Cruz family has also developed internship opportunities and a scholarship program for high school and college students. The De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space is privately owned and funded by Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz.
Also known as the Orlando Odditorium, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando is on normal attraction, a fact you’ll discover as soon as you walk up. Designed to look off kilter, the appearance of Ripley’s is the first of many interesting oddities you’ll find here.
This wild and wacky world is filled with wonder, and families can experience it all without leaving the city of Orlando. Filled with bizarre exhibits and mesmerizing optical illusions, Ripley’s includes life-size Terracotta warriors, a real shrunken human head, a two-headed dog skeleton, a shooting range and much more. Perfect for a step outside of the ordinary, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando has got the market cornered on quirky Florida attractions.
Right on the waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg, North Straub Park offers a quite respite from the city. The small 4.8-acre park features trails, picnic spots and a stage where community events are held. Locals recommend visiting the park during holidays, like Christmas, when it’s lit up with lights and decorations, or on the Fourth of July and New Years, when it offers a great vantage point for fireworks shows. At the southern end of the park, you’ll find the local Museum of Fine Arts and the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and nearby Wheel Fun Rentals is a good spot to rent a beach cruiser or surrey.
Created on the site of what was once a miniature golf course, the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum is now home to more than 500 palms and cycads, representing more than 150 different species from around the world. Starting with just 60 palms representing 10 different species, the two-acre park has continuously expanded since its 1977 dedication. From massive specimens that are too big to fit in private yards to popular types that can be found along Florida’s beaches, the Palm Arboretum is an ever-changing, never-ending project that grows and expands organically. Take the time to stroll down the pathways, learning about the specimens, or simply perch on one of the conversation benches and enjoy the peace of the palms.
More Things to Do in Florida
Florida’s Gulf Coast is haven for all kinds of interesting and exotic wildlife, and the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve near St. Petersburg offers the chance to explore unique ecosystems, including hardwood hammocks, sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, swamp woodlands, willow marsh and lake shore. The 245-acre park has six miles of trail and boardwalk along the shore of Lake Maggiore, where you can spot alligators and lizards, myriad birds, butterflies and much more. The park also has an aviary for birds of prey, picnic areas, a playground and overnight camping.
With no roller coasters screeching overhead, no parades, no water rides and plenty of greenery, Epcot Center moves at a slower pace. Here you can smell the incense in Morocco, listen to the Beatles in the United Kingdom, eat sushi in Japan, and get a pastry in France.
An acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” The Epcot Center is divided into two halves. The modern Future World, with its hard-to-miss iconic geosphere known as Spaceship Earth, explores modern technologies through myriad rides and displays.
The other half is the World Showcase, where you can tour the world in a day by taking an intoxicating toe-dip into the cultures of 11 different countries, featuring Mexico, Norway, China, France, Germany, and Italy.
Epcot also offers plenty of activities that appeal to inquisitive tots. The new Soarin' ride is a winner, and Mission: SPACE is good for getting the adrenaline pumping after one too many educational exhibits.
The Miami Children's Museum is not so much a museum as a glorified playhouse, with areas for kids to practice all sorts of adult activities like banking and food shopping, caring for pets, playing TV news anchor in a studio and acting as a local cop or firefighter.
Kids can pretend they’re banking at the miniature Bank of America, shopping at the local Publix Supermarket, or taking a Carnival cruise ship, which even stops in the re-created port of Brazil. One of the more impressive exhibits is the World Music Studio, where budding rock stars can lay down a few tracks and play instruments.
The Miami Children’s Museum also offers educational displays about subjects ranging from Miami architecture to Brazilian culture. There are also hundreds of bilingual, interactive exhibits as well as programs, classes, and learning materials related to arts, culture, community, and communication.
You can enjoy one of the best views along the Space Coast with a visit to Cape Canaveral’s new Exploration Tower. Built in 2013, the curved, sail-like building is a design match with the myriad cruise ships that venture in and out of Port Canaveral, and the viewing platform atop the seven-story structure offers an ideal vantage point for watching the bustle of the port or a NASA rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center, which sits about 10 miles to the north. Exploration Tower also features inside exhibits, including interactive movies in a two-story auditorium, and a simulator where would-be cruise captains can try their hand at navigating Port Canaveral.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has an excellent location along popular Duval Street in Key West, but even without that enviable piece of real estate, the church would be hard to miss. On sunny days, its white exterior stands out brilliantly against the bright blue Key West sky. Inside, you’ll find a peaceful reverie from the bustling vibe of Key West.
The St. Paul Episcopal Church dates back to 1833 and was the first church community in the United States south of St. Augustine; however, the current church structure is actually the fourth one as hurricanes and fires ravaged the first three churches. In 1919 the fourth church was completed following the plan to construct it mostly out of concrete to make it more durable. This proved true until the 1990s when the salt and sand from the nearby beach and ocean accumulating within the walls over the decades resulted in splitting of the walls, leading to a risk of the church caving in.
The newest attraction on the Florida Keys’ wreck diving trail, the Vandenberg was sunk off the coast of Key West in 2009 and rests in 140 – 150 feet (42.6 – 45.7 meters) of water. Originally christened the USS General Harry Taylor, this 522-foot vessel originally served as a transport ship in World War II. The US Air Force acquired the vessel as a missile range instrumentation ship in the 1960s and named it the USAFS General Hoyt S Vandenberg. The ship was reacquired by the US Navy and later retired in 1983. The Vandenberg is one of the largest ships ever purposefully sunk as an artificial reef and is considered one of the best wreck dives in the United States.
Fun Fact: the Vandenberg had a brief moment of cinematic fame playing a Russian science ship in the 1999 movie Virus. Some of the Cyrillic lettering that was added for the movie is still visible on the ship.
Things to do near Florida
- Things to do in Tampa
- Things to do in Orlando
- Things to do in Fort Myers
- Things to do in St Augustine
- Things to do in Fort Lauderdale
- Things to do in Miami
- Things to do in St Petersburg
- Things to do in Sarasota
- Things to do in Clearwater
- Things to do in Crystal River
- Things to do in Cocoa Beach
- Things to do in Cape Canaveral
- Things to do in Grand Bahama Island
- Things to do in Georgia
- Things to do in New Providence Island