Most people who visit or live in Florida during summer know the popular spots to see, like the white sandy beaches or the major tourist attractions and theme parks. But if you’re looking for truly unique and ridiculously cool ideas for things to do in Florida this season, you may need to think outside the box. Here are 10 great ideas for your summer bucket list.
#1 Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Key West
Everyone who’s ever been to Key West knows about Duval Street, but sometimes the best attraction isn’t where the trendy bars and shops are. For a family-friendly and more down-to-earth option, check out the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Between the 50-60 butterfly species from around the world and over 20 exotic bird species — all in one centralized location — there’s lots to love about this place. No wonder so many people use words like “magic” and “paradise” to describe it!
#2 Manatee Lagoon, West Palm Beach
For another nature treat, check out the Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach! Get up close and personal with real manatees in a 16,000 square foot educational center. There are also tons of hands-on exhibits, observation decks, gifts and learning opportunities for every member of the family to enjoy.
#3 Preston B. Bird & Mary Heinlein Fruit & Spice Park, Homestead
You might have been to other botanical gardens in Florida before, but nothing like this. The Fruit & Spice Park is a one-of-a-kind in the U.S. Featuring 37 acres of public land, you can see over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and nuts from around the world. You can even get a real taste of the seasonal fruit at the tasting counter inside the Park Store or enjoy some of their recipes at the Mango Cafe. It’s sure to be nothing like you’ve ever been to before!
#4 Jungle Island, Miami
Visit a unique, wild side of Miami away from the high-rise condos and warm beaches. The Jungle Island in Miami has been around for 75 years and is only growing in popularity. This place is great for both entertainment and education, since it offers the opportunity to see rare animals from around the world and learn through the many exhibits, attractions and tours available. See why thousands of people visit here every year!
#5 Town of Murals, Lake Placid
Many of the major cities across the Sunshine State have integrated street art and murals into their downtown areas. But have you seen an entire town filled with murals? The city of Lake Placid is known as the Town of Murals in Florida, named after the nearly 50 stunning murals that adorn the buildings in the small town. There’s even a Mural Gallery you can visit with some photos of the original renderings. Nearly everyone who’s been says it’s a “must-see,” so don’t miss out on this one this year!
#6 Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales
Bok Tower Gardens features what is called Iron Mountain, one of the highest points in all of Florida. The tower at the top of the 295-foot hill has some of the most beautiful carillons, a bell-based instrument and the heaviest of all musical instruments. When you visit, be sure to also stop by the library, where you can see books, articles, music scores and photographs that only exist here.
#7 City of Live Mermaids, Weeki Wachee
Starting back in the 1940s, mermaid shows have been enchanting visitors of Weeki Wachee and still attract visitors from all over the world. Come here and be surrounded by 538 acres of some of the most beautifully natural cold springs in North America. The performance of the mermaids (women who have been trained to swim and dance 20 feet underwater) is magical and fun for all ages.
#8 Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West
Dive into a little South Florida history by visiting the 19th century fort at Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is about 100 square miles and is surrounded by mostly open water with only a few small islands nearby. While it’s commonly visited by boat, you can spend a little extra to really get a bird’s eye view and visit by seaplane as well! Featuring blue waters, coral reefs and stunning marine life, you’re sure to love the visit here.
#9 Grassy Waters Nature Preserve, West Palm Beach
Get a little nature walk in by visiting the Grassy Waters Nature Preserve. With free admission and countless natural sights to see, this place has a lot to offer anyone who strolls through. Many former visitors say it’s perfect for families and couples, or great for photographers and writers. See if you can catch a glimpse of some wildlife, like alligators and herons while you’re there!
#10 Venetian Pool, Coral Gables
There’s nothing quite like the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, which is the world’s largest freshwater swimming pool! This one-of-a-kind attraction was built in 1924 out of the remains of a Florida coral rock quarry. The intention of its creation was to bring a little Mediterranean style to the United States — and has been quite successful! With clear shades of blue, a natural filtering system, and natural grotto caves for swimmers to explore, you’ll stay cool and entertained at this unique location all summer long.
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