The Sunshine State is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. With more miles of beach than any other state, it’s no wonder so many people flock here from colder climates to soak up the sun. With that in mind, what are the best Florida bucket list ideas for all ages?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Florida Bucket List Destinations
- Florida Bucket List Activities
- Florida Bucket List Food
- Florida Keys Bucket List Ideas
A bucket list is a way to highlight the things you’re most excited about doing in your lifetime. While it’s not hard to understand how to make a travel bucket list, you might be looking for activities and destinations that inspire you. Florida is a wide place, and you might be surprised how much you can discover beyond the beaches.
In this guide, a native Floridian lists the greatest Florida bucket list ideas for everyone in your life. From adventure-seeking to relaxation, there’s something in Florida for everyone to enjoy.
Florida Bucket List Destinations
First, there are a lot of places in Florida that are worth exploring. Some of these are off the beaten path, while others you’ve likely heard of. Though you could spend years exploring the best cities in Florida, here are your Florida bucket list destinations.
1. Sightsee in Miami
One of the most well-known cities in the world is Miami. Located at the southernmost tip of the continental United States, Miami is known for its roaring nightlife, Latin culture, and sandy beaches.
2. Find thrills in Orlando
Another Florida must-see is the city of Orlando. While mostly known as the theme park capital of the world, Orlando has many of its own charms to discover. The biggest city in Central Florida, this is a sprawling metropolis beyond the theme parks.
Tip: While Disney World, Universal, and Seaworld are great, don’t be afraid to explore other parts of this city. Recommended neighborhoods from a local are Celebration, Mills 50, and Winter Park.
3. Explore history in St. Augustine
Did you know Florida is home to the oldest city in the continental United States? It’s true. St. Augustine is located just south of Jacksonville, and it was founded by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1565.
Tip: Though it’s always a great time to visit St. Augustine, visiting during the winter Night of Lights festival is truly magical.
4. Soak up the sun in the Florida Keys
One of the top worldwide spots for fishing, diving, and sightseeing, the Florida Keys are a string of islands off the southern tip of Florida. Come explore what makes these islands so magical.
5. See nature in action at the Everglades National Park
For a different side of Florida, you can’t miss the Everglades National Park. The Everglades is a million-acre wetland in South Florida. With abundant wildlife like alligators, turtles, manatees, and Florida panthers, this is the wild side of the Sunshine State.
Tip: There are a lot of great ways to explore the wetlands of the Everglades, but a truly action-packed way is through an airboat ride.
6. Experience the intercoastal in Tampa
While most people think of the east coast of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico side also has a lot of things to discover. Tampa is known as a cultural epicenter, and there are so many things to do here.
7. Swim in Ocala National Forest
Lastly, experience laid-back Florida at Ocala National Forest. Located in Central Florida, this is where you’ll find Florida’s natural springs, perfect for swimming or diving.
Florida Bucket List Activities
No travel bucket list is complete without activities. When in Florida, do as the locals do with these ideas below.
8. Visit a theme park
It’s called the thrill-seekers paradise for a reason! With major theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Seaworld, Busch Gardens, and Legoland, there’s something for everyone here.
9. Go to the beach
The beaches are also one of the major draws in Florida, and there are few places in the world like it. You can find beaches along the entire coast, and it’s hard to pick a favorite.
Tip: If you’re looking for white, smooth beaches, choose the east coast of Florida. For shell-filled, calm beaches, choose the Gulf Coast side.
10. Snorkel or dive
Another popular pastime in the Sunshine State is snorkeling or diving. With miles of reefs, offshore shipwrecks, and natural sea life, there are so many cool things below the surface.
Tip: Up for a real adventure? Check out Devil’s Den in Gainesville for an out-of-this-world dive in a subterranean river.
11. Take a boat ride
The best way to see this coastal state is by water. Take a boat ride from anywhere to take in the Atlantic and the endless shoreline.
12. Kayak in a swamp
Another classic Florida pastime is kayaking. Better yet, kayak through a river, springs, or mangrove swamp to see some of Florida’s wildlife up close (yes, even gators).
13. Spot a manatee
Manatees are gentle, adorable creatures that are native to Florida. Though you can see them in the ocean, you’re more likely to see them in the winter season in Florida’s waterways.
14. See a rocket launch
Head to the Space Coast to see a rocket launch with your own eyes. Home to NASA, you can regularly see rockets heading to space from most of Central and South Florida.
Tip: If you have the time, visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral is a must-do.
15. Watch the sunrise or sunset
Finally, the perfect way to start or end your day in Florida is watching the sun slip under or over the horizon at the beach. For a challenge, try to see both the sunrise and sunset in one day.
Florida Bucket List Food
Florida is also a foodie paradise, especially for those who want to try something a bit exotic. Combined regional and Latin flavors make Florida’s food truly out-of-this-world.
16. Try real gator tail
Gators don’t just wander the Florida swamps. They also are filleted or fried, making them a true Florida delicacy. No food bucket list would be complete without this adventurous favorite!
17. Taste fresh fish tacos
If you’re looking to try the catch of the day at any coastal spot, make sure you try local fish tacos. These are sure to be flavored with some kind of citrus sauce, making them a refreshing afternoon treat.
18. Experience a real Cuban sandwich
Florida has the best Cuban sandwiches in the world outside of Cuba. With a strong Cuban presence in the state, you can grab one of these sandwiches at just about any cafe.
Tip: For an authentic experience, it doesn’t get more Florida than the Columbia Restaurant. The original is based in Ybor City, Tampa, but another favorite is in St. Augustine. Named the best sandwich in the state, you can’t beat the Columbia.
19. Sip Cuban coffee
Speaking of Cuban food, don’t leave Florida without trying a Cuban coffee. A Cuban coffee (or Café Cubano) is a type of espresso that’s been sweetened. You can also order a café con leche for less of a buzz.
20. Try Atlantic oysters
As you might expect, you can find just about every type of seafood in Florida. Slurp up some oysters with saltine crackers and horseradish to enjoy this treat like a true local.
21. Mix a Florida Mule
Rain or shine, a Florida Mule is always the perfect drink. Created with ginger beer, lime juice, mint, and vodka, this is a common drink found across the state.
Tip: the best way to enjoy a Florida mule is with vodka straight from Florida's very own St. Augustine Distillery.
22. Drink a local beer
Florida is also home to a thriving local beer culture. Though not quite as big as other states, you’ll find more than your fair share of Florida breweries throughout the state.
Florida Keys Bucket List Ideas
Lastly, one of the most iconic Florida places is the Florida Keys. This string of islands offers more than meets the eye, so you could spend days exploring what they have to offer.
23. Visit Dry Tortugas
Step back in time by visiting Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles west of Key West. This remote island is accessible only by boat or plane, and it’s home to the famous Fort Jefferson.
24. Paddleboard amongst the mangroves
For a fitness-focused activity, try your hand at paddleboarding. Though you can paddleboard on the beach or in the springs, try a mangrove paddle board experience.
25. Ride the African Queen
Made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in the 1950s, this steamboat was used in the film under the same name. Today, you can book a relaxing canal cruise at Marina Del Mar.
26. Drive along the Seven-Mile-Bridge
As the name implies, you have to take the seven-mile bridge to get between the Middle Keys and the Lower Florida Keys. One of the largest bridges in the world, it’s hard to explain how stunning these views are.
27. Step into the Ernest Hemingway House
If you’re a lover of American literary history, you have to visit Ernest Hemingway’s House in Key West. This home still has his eclectic collection of furniture, and the grounds act as a haven for wildlife.
28. Delight in a slice of key lime pie
Would it even be a trip to the Florida Keys without key lime pie? This world-famous pie can be enjoyed just about anywhere on these islands.
Tip: Though it’s hard to pick a favorite, the best place to get key lime pie in Key West is at Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe.
29. Pose at Mile Marker 0
For a quintessential photo opportunity, pose at Mile Marker 0 at the end of US Highway 1. This quite literally means you’ve reached “the end of the road.”
30. Stroll down Duval Street
Lastly, Duval Street is the center of all the action in Key West. Filled with bars, restaurants, shops, and boutiques, this is the epicenter of Key West culture.
Tip: While Duval is great, it’s not the only place to explore on Key West. Also, check out Front Street and Caroline Street.
Enjoy the Best of Florida
With the help of this local’s guide to Florida, you’re ready to create your Sunshine State bucket list. No matter if this is your first trip or you’re a frequent visitor, make the most of your time in Florida. Known for its warm weather and tropical scenery, this is America’s very own coastal paradise.
What’s on your bucket list? When we create goals based on experiences, we take real action to build memories with those we love. Where will you discover next?