Top 10 Best West Coast of Florida Vacation Spots:
10. Amelia Island
Amelia Island is one of the southernmost of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands stretching from South Carolina to Florida. Amelia Island is home to Fernandina Beach, a charming shrimp village with 50 blocks of historic buildings, delicious restaurants and unique B&Bs, and six golf courses.
9. Castillo de San Marcos
Located in the city of St. Augustine, the site of Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Given the state of preservation of the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, it is hard to believe that the fort was built in the late 1600s. Its longevity is due to its design: a diamond-shaped rampart at each corner maximized firepower, and the 14-foot thick walls reduced its vulnerability to attack. St. Augustine itself is a small jewel in a city known as the oldest European settlement in the United States, full of romance and old world charm.
8. Universal Orlando Resort
The Universal Orlando Resort is the largest of the Universal Studios Theme Parks. The resort consists of two theme parks: The original Universal Studios Florida and the second theme park, Islands of Adventure. Other attractions include a nightclub and restaurant complex, City Walk, and three resort hotels.
7. Fort Lauderdale Beach
Located on the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” for its extensive and intricate system of canals. The city is most famous for its beaches and boats. Once a major spring break destination, it is now an elegant and sophisticated city. At the center of the beach strip is Fort Lauderdale Beach, with its cool new undulating boardwalk that separates the beach from the beachfront accommodations, restaurants and stores.
6. Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center has been the launch site for every American human spaceflight since 1968 and currently operates as a launch site for unmanned rockets. It is also one of Florida’s tourist attractions and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers museums, films, a rocket garden and bus tours of important spacecraft preparation and launch facilities. Before a rocket launch, the Visitor Complex also sells “launch passes,” but keep in mind that for safety reasons, the closest approach available is at least 4 miles away, and often much farther.
5. Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World, located in Lake Buena Vista near Orlando, is the flagship of the worldwide empire of Disney theme parks and Florida’s most popular tourist attraction. The highlights of Walt Disney World are its four theme parks: Some visitors describe it as a place of fun, magic and fantasy, while others complain about the crowds, artifice and relentless tackiness.
4. Key West
Key West is known as the southernmost city in the continental United States and is closer to Havana than to Miami. For many years Key West was Florida’s largest city, and it thrived on shipwreck values. Improved navigation led to fewer shipwrecks, and Key West went into decline in the late 19th century. Although today Key West has been heavily restored and revitalized for the million tourists who visit the island each year, the city has retained some of its sense of individualism and isolation, somewhat detached from the rest of Florida. Key West’s tourist attractions include Ernest Hemingway’s former home, Southernmost Point, the lighthouse, and several drinking establishments.
For the uninitiated, the Everglades may look like a large swamp, but it’s actually a vast, shallow, slow-moving river of grass that extends from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. During the dry season it dries up, except in the deepest places. And among the mangroves, cypress trees, hardwood hammocks and miles of grass, there are endless opportunities in the Everglades for hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, boating, camping and fishing.
2. South Beach
Before Miami Vice, South Beach was a place where crime kept residents indoors at night and the hotels were mostly empty. In the late 1980s, thanks to the popularity of the television show, a renaissance began in South Beach, with an influx of fashion industry professionals moving to the area. Today, South Beach is Miami Beach’s most popular and affluent area and one of Florida’s top tourist attractions, known for its trendy clubs and wild nightlife, as well as its famous art deco design.
1. Overseas Highway Where to Stay
The Overseas Highway, also known as U.S. Highway 1, connects the Florida Keys with the mainland. It stretches 127.5 miles (205.2 km) into the Gulf of Mexico, from Key Largo, Islam Adora, Marathon, the Lower Keys and finally to Key West, the most distant and famous island. Most of the highway uses a route that was originally a railroad, originally built by the Overseas Railroad which was finished in 1912, but was virtually destroyed by a major hurricane in 1935. The current highway opened in 1938, with a bridge nearly seven miles long.