If you're planning a trip to South Florida, be sure to add these 12 items to your to-do list. I promise you won't want to miss out on these amazing experiences!
1. Go snorkeling in the Florida Keys at John Pennekamp State Park
Located about an hour south of Miami on Key Largo, John Pennekamp State Park is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in South Florida. Numerous companies offer charter boats and rental gear that will take you out to the reefs for this once in a lifetime experience. If you’d prefer to stay dry, check out a glass bottom boat tour which will let you view the beauty of the reefs without having the leave the boat. If you can, make a stop by the Christ of the Deep statue. It's a stunning piece of art in such a unique location!
2. Kiss a kangaroo at Jungle Island
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Included in your admission to Jungle Island in Miami Beach, you can get up close and personal with some kangaroos! These kangaroos are very kind (and oh so soft) and will let you pet them for hours. Feel free to pose with the kangaroo and get some unforgettable kangaroo kisses.
3. Feed a giraffe at the zoo
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There are a few zoos in South Florida that let you experience feeding a giraffe including Zoo Miami (Miami, FL) and Naples Zoo (Naples, FL). For a small fee, you can purchase some leaves to feed the giraffes. Climb up the tour so that your head is level with the giraffes and get your camera ready to capture some amazing pictures. The giraffes love to be fed so they’ll be as happy to see you as you are to see them.
4. Take the walking trails through the Everglades and come close to an alligator
If you enter the Everglades National Park through the Homestead, FL entrance (which costs $25 per car), the first path you will encounter is the Anhinga trail. Along this trail, you will see many alligators out enjoying their sunbathing. Be careful as part of the path is not fenced off and the alligators can cross right in front of you. There’s no better way to become one with nature than being so close to these animals. You can continue exploring the Everglades on any of the 16 walking trails they have or by spending a night camping.
5. Experience the shopping on Marco Island
Known for its upscale shopping, Marco Island, located about 30 minutes south of Naples, FL, is a popular tourist destination. Take in the views of the beaches while enjoying dinner or shopping along the streets. A great day trip with the family!
6. Take a trip to Key West
There are a few different ways you can get to Key West: car, boat, or plane. Whichever way you choose, you won’t be disappointed once you get there. Key West has some of the most unique shopping and dining options in all of South Florida. Be sure to stop by the sign that shows you’ve visited the southernmost point in the continental United States. A great place to go if you enjoy fishing or laying on the beach all day!
7. Spend the day at South Beach
Nothing screams Miami Beach more than South Beach. With a wide variety of shopping and dining options all within walking distance, it’s easy to spend a day down at the beach. The beach goes on for miles ending at the port of Miami. The soft, white sand and clear blue ocean making for a picturesque view. It can get very crowded during the winter months, so it’s best to visit during the off season. Also as a tip, parking is very expensive! Park in the 7th Street garage behind the DASH store for one of the better parking deals I’ve seen.
8. Go paddle boarding in Biscayne Bay
You don’t have to have as much balance or coordination as you’d think for paddle boarding to be an enjoyable experience. Venture out into the bay while getting some great exercise. You’ll be able to see the homes of the rich and famous while enjoying your time out in the water. I suggest using Miami Beach Paddle Board if you’re looking for an awesome experience!
Siesta Key beach, located near Sarasota, FL, is continually rated as one of the best beaches in the United States. The pure white sand goes on as far as the eye can see and it is so soft that you’ll want to spend all day laying in it. The water of the Gulf of Mexico is quite calm making for an enjoyable time in the ocean. This beach should be on every beach lover's bucket list!
10. Take an airboat ride through the Everglades
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One of the best ways to see the Everglades is on an airboat tour. Airboat tours are different from most boat tours as they’re open and lightweight which makes them able to travel through the shallow waters of the area. Most tours will bring you up close to alligators making for great pictures. The boats can be loud and the mosquitos love to be out, so bring earplugs and lots of bug spray.
11. Visit the observation deck on top of the highest point in South Florida
This might be the shortest hike you’ve ever been on to get to a “highest point”. Hobe Mountain, which stands a whopping 86 feet about sea level, is the highest point in South Florida. However, the views from the observation deck are incredible. Florida is actually flatter than a pancake so you can see for miles into the forested areas. You can also look out over Hobe Sound and see to the Atlantic Ocean. Located in Johnathon Dickinson State Park, it will cost about $10 per car to get in, but the views and walking trails available are worth it.
12. Explore the coral castle
Built by a tiny man named Ed, Coral Castle is a fascinating piece of architecture. The small castle is built completely out of coral and has withstood three hurricanes with virtually no damage. There are chairs, tables, a telescope, and cooking area that make this castle the perfect home for a king. Located in Homestead, FL, the fee to enter the castle includes a guided tour which will give you more insight into Ed’s life and why he built this gorgeous coral castle.
Get ready for one of the most amazing trips of your lifetime. South Florida is sure to not disappoint!