Summer can be a great time to take advantage of all there is to do in Florida, especially if you are a family of school age kids that have the summers off of school. If you are looking for things to do in Florida, this will be a great bucket list for you this summer.
Florida is quite a large state and it can be hard to know where to even begin. Sometimes that can make me feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. That’s why I created this Florida summer bucket list. I find that having a goal helps me stay accountable without getting overwhelmed and I’m hopeful that it provides the same to you.
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Go to a Florida Spring
Depending where you are located in Florida, which spring you want to visit may vary. But no matter where you are located in Florida, there is always a spring in driving distance. Here are some ideas:
Jackson Blue, Pitt, Morrison, Ponce de Leon, Vortex, and Cypress Springs in Florida’s panhandle.
Crystal River, Weeki Wachee, Homosassa Springs in Florida’s Nature coast (a short drive from Tampa or St. Pete).
Blue Spring State Park, Rock Springs Run, Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and Juniper Springs in Central Florida.
Pick an Adrenaline Rush Activity
There are several ways to get an adrenaline rush in Florida. Disney and Universal get a lot of attention, but Florida is also home to Busch Gardens, home to some amazing roller coasters. Adventure Island is a water park with some thrilling water rides in Tampa.
You can also check out a NASCAR race in Daytona Beach.
Many cities in Florida now have axe throwing.
If you’re by the beach, you could rent a jet ski or go parasailing.
An airboat ride in the Everglades will get you up, close, and personal to the wildlife, including gators.
Indoor skydiving with iFLY has locations in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Jacksonville.
There are several places around the state to go ziplining, such as The Canyons in Ocala, Empower Adventures in Odessa, Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park Zip Line in Orlando, and Daytona Beach Zipline Adventure in Daytona Beach.
You can also rent a slingshot all over the state.
Try Out a New Hotel or Unique Florida Accomodation
There are a lot of resorts and nice places to stay in Florida for a wide range of budgets. Staying somewhere new can be an excuse to relax and unwind or explore a new area.
For some relaxation and a little more of a high end experience, some options are:
- Hutchinson Shores Resort and Spa in Jensen Beach
- Isla Bella in Marathon
- Cheeca Lodge and Spa in Islamorada
- Don Cesar in St Pete Beach
- The Pearl in Rosemary Beach
- Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa
- Casa Monica Resort & Spa in St Augustine
- Opal Sands in Clearwater Beach
- Gaylord Palms in Orlando
- Baker’s Cay in Key Largo
- Omni Amelia Island Resort
- The Breakers Palm Beach
- The Miami Beach EDITION
But if you want a bit more of an adventure, you can go glamping. There are several places in Florida to go glamping. Airbnb has this yurt glamping option. You can also glamp at many state parks, including:
- Alafia River State Park in Tampa
- Colt Creek State Park in Lakeland
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach
- St Andrews State Park in Panama City
- Lake Kissimmee State Park in Lake Wales
- Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont
Finally, for something totally unique, consider staying on a houseboat! There are various options throughout the state. This modern houseboat is in Stuart; this tiki bar-looking boat is in Key West; this sailboat is in Miami; and this yacht is in Panama City.
Go Camping in Florida
Admittedly, camping might be more of a challenge during the Florida summer than other times of the year due to Florida’s heat and summer storms. But with a nice portable fan and some bug spray (and the ability to cool off at the beach), camping in the Florida summer is completely doable. Plus, many popular Florida campsites are completely booked out for summer months months in advance, so you’ll be in good company.
Some Florida camping options:
- Ocala National Forest
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach
- Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key
- Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon
- Gulf Islands National Seashore in Okaloosa Island
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound
Have a Beach Day
A Florida summer bucket list is not complete without at least one beach day. Maybe you can challenge yourself to try a new beach but either way, you can’t go wrong with a beach day. Some of my favorite Florida beaches are Siesta Key, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Marco Island, Miramar Beach, Clearwater Beach, and New Smyrna Beach.
Explore one of Florida’s Forts
There is a lot of history in Florida and part of that history is old military forts. Explore an old fort as part of your Florida summer bucket list. The most popular forts in Florida include:
- Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine
- Fort DeSoto in Tierra Verde
- Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas outside of Key West (accessible only by boat)
- Fort Pickens in Pensacola Beach
- Fort Clinch on Fernandina Beach in Amelia Island
- Fort Zachary Taylor History State Park in Key West
Explore an Island
There are a few islands in Florida that are accessible only by boat or kayak. Some might take a little more work to get there while others are easily accessible by a short kayak ride.
- North Captiva Island
- Don Pedro Island (also known as Palm Island)
- Keewaydin Island
- Anclote Key
- Caladesi Island State Park
- Wesley’s Island
- Peanut Island
- Cayo Costa and Little Gasparilla are both currently closed due to damage from Hurricane Ian but are also islands only accessible by boat
I’m certainly not a fishing expert, but I do know that there is great fishing in Florida. It’s easy to fish in Florida with so many bodies of water. There are fishing piers, fishing charters, and some people even fish on the side of the road. Just make sure you get a fishing license. You can find information on getting a fishing license on the FWC’s website.
See Floridian Wildlife
There is a diverse range of animals in Florida. How many can you see? Some of my favorite Florida animals are:
- Gopher tortoises
- Key deer
- Sea turtles
- River otters
- Roseate spoonbill
Is there a certain animal you’ve wanted to see but haven’t? You can also experience some fun places in the process of seeing these animals. I love seeing alligators at Deep Hole at Myakka State Park or in Everglades.
If you want to go somewhere with a bit more of a guarantee to see animals, you could visit ___ ZOO. There are also drive through opportunities at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee.
Learn Something New
One of my favorite things about Florida is all of its history, art, and museums. There are tons of learning opportunities in Florida from museums to educational programs and these make great rainy day activities.
Here are some ideas:
Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West
Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island
The Dali in St Petersburg
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota
Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers
Lightner Museum in St Augustine
Orlando Science Center
Frost Museum of Science in Miami
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale
Try Some New Food
There are so many good food options in Florida that I can’t list off all of them. Plus, certain factors such as location and personal preferences would make this quite a large feat to put in one bucket list. However, a few ideas would be as follows.
Try a food hall – Florida has several food halls. I love food halls when I’m with a group of people because everyone can get something different. Here are a few food hall options:
- Armature Works in Tampa
- Plant Street Market in Winter Garden
- Treats Food Hall in Aventura
- Sistrunk Marketplace in Fort Lauderdale
- Grandview Public Market in West Palm Beach
Try a Restaurant that has been featured on TV – Florida has had over 200 restaurants that have appeared on TV, mostly on the Travel Channel. You can find a list of all of the restaurants on the TV Food Maps website.
Find some unique desserts – Florida is no secret to some great places for dessert. Baken Babes in Tampa, __ in Lakeland
“Famous” Florida Restaurants – I started to list some “famous” Florida restaurants but quickly realized that I can’t keep it short enough to include in this summer bucket list. It truly needs its own post, and maybe even several based on location. So for the sake of simplicity, I will provide some ideas on restaurants loved by locals and visitors alike. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Latitudes in Key West
- Columbia in Tampa (with additional locations in Clearwater Beach and Sarasota
- Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami
- Satchel’s Pizza in Gainesville
- Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa
- Versailles Cuban Restaurant in Miami
- The Floridian in St Augustine
- Yoder’s Restaurant and Amish Village in Sarasota
- Bud and Alley’s in Santa Rosa Beach
Visit A Botanical Garden
There are many gardens in Florida and this can be an inexpensive way to spend the day. Some ideas on Florida gardens to visit are:
- Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando
- Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville
- Sunken Gardens in St Pete
- Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville
- Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota
- Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami
- McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach
Explore a State Park
There are 175 state parks in Florida, so you probably aren’t going to get to all of them but perhaps you could challenge yourself to find a new one or re-explore an old favorite.
Here are of my favorite Florida State Parks:
- Topsail Hill Preserve in Santa Rosa Beach
- Caladesi Island in Dunedin
- Silver Springs in Ocala
- Myakka River in Sarasota
- Bahia Honda in Big Pine Key
- Anastasia State Park outside of St. Augustine
- Big Talbot Island in Jacksonville
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne
- Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Weeki Wachee
There are a lot of different options for kayaking in Florida. If you don’t have your own kayak, many companies offer kayak rentals on site. I have some more in depth kayaking guides on my blog if you are looking for inspiration on where to kayak in Florida. I currently have a Florida Keys kayak guide and I’m always working on more!
Any Florida beach is likely to have some seashell treasures. If you’re like me and have way too many seashells, you could still collect seashells but have a contest to see who can collect the most unique shell! Some of the best shelling beaches in Florida are Sanibel Island, Marco Island, Captiva Island, Caladesi State Park, Amelia Island, and Shell Island (near Panama City Beach).
Go Somewhere New
Can you challenge yourself to go somewhere new? Florida is so big that it’s unlikely you’ve been everywhere. If you have, though, choose someplace you haven’t been to in a long time! Maybe some of the ideas on this bucket list will take you someplace new or maybe you have a place you’ve been wanting to check out but haven’t quite made it there yet. My website is full of ideas if you’re looking for inspiration.
Hopefully this blog post gave you some ideas on how to create the best Florida summer bucket list. There is so much to do in Florida, and creating a bucket list can be a motivating way to explore even more. I’d love to hear all about your Florida adventures. Let me know by messaging me on my Instagram, or leaving a comment on my YouTube! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures.