Ultimate Florida Travel Guide (Travel Tips & Itineraries)

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Sunset at st. Augustine beach

Ultimate Florida Travel Guide

While I dub myself a New Yorker since that is where I spent a large portion of my life, I was actually born in the Sunshine State of Florida and have lived as South as Ft. Lauderdale and as North as Jupiter! So, as you can imagine, I have been all over Florida. In this Florida Travel Guide, you will find tons of travel tips, practical information to know for visiting, travel itineraries, and more!

Located in the Southeast of the United States, Florida borders Georgia and Alabama. Nearby states include North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

This makes Florida a popular state for road trips, and it actually is not uncommon for New Yorkers to road trip all the way down to the Sunshine State!

Sunrise at Vilano Beach in St. Augustine
Sunrise at Vilano Beach

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Florida Travel Guide Tips

When traveling to Florida, there is some practical information and travel tips you should know before visiting, especially if you’re from outside of the United States. In the below section, I will cover some quick facts, stats, and travel tips to know.

Florida Population:

The Florida population is 21.22M, and the 22nd largest state in the US.

Capital of Florida:

Tallahassee is the capital of Florida, and it is located in the Panhandle of the state (top left portion of the state).

Tallahassee Population:

There are approximately 197,000 people in the capital of the state.

Credit Cards/ATM:

Credit cards are widely accepted in Florida. Some of the major banks are Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America. If you’re not from the US, you may be surprised to learn that many establishments still don’t have the tap and pay option or mobile pay option, so make sure to have your physical card.

Currency:

Like the rest of the United States, the currency is the US Dollar. 

Florida Airports:

Florida is a rather large state, so the airport you go to is very dependant on what part of the state you visit.

The largest airport in Florida is the Miami International Airport (MIA). Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) is also a popular South Florida airport. Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Jacksonville Airport (JAX) are good options if you’re traveling in Central or Northern Florida. Find flights here.

Florida Safety:

Florida is generally safe to visit, especially in touristy areas. Practice normal caution when visiting – especially in crowded areas. Make sure to always lock your car and never leave valuables in it. 

Power Outlets in Florida:

If you’re from outside the States, the USA uses 110-120V (60 Hz). This is the Travel Converter I use that works across the Globe.

Popular Places in Florida:

It takes about 9 hours with no traffic to drive the length of Florida, so as you can imagine, there are tons of popular and beautiful places to see.

Florida is divided into South Florida, Central Florida, West Florida, Northeast Florida, and the Panhandle. With that being said, some of the most popular areas to visit include:

  • Miami
  • The Keys
  • Orlando
  • West Palm Beach
  • Ft. Meyers
  • Daytona
  • Tampa
  • Saint Augustine
  • Jacksonville

Famous Dishes Across Florida:

While in Florida, there are definitely some dishes you should try. If you love seafood, Florida has some of the freshest fish.

Mahi Mahi, Grouper, Snapper, Sailfish, and Yellowfin Tuna.

Key Lime Pie, Stone Crabs, Cuban Sandwiches, and fresh oranges. Make sure you tip your waiter/waitress. Tipping is expected, and usually 15-20%.

Getting Around Florida

A car is needed when visiting Florida unless you’re traveling to Miami. There is some public transportation, but it would make your vacation more annoying than it’s worth.

Uber and Lyft are also available in Florida. Find Florida Car Rentals here.

Cell Service in Florida

If this is an International trip, you will need cell service. It is not really a thing to get sim cards in the USA, plus cell service is expensive. If your carrier does not offer international plans, look to get an esim.

I use Holafly for esims, which works with the majority of smartphones. You will have service from the moment you land. Check plans here.

Saint Augustine beach pier
Saint Augustine beach pier

Weather in Florida

The majority of Florida experiences two seasons; hot summer and mild summer, lol. Although it has happened, seeing snow in Florida is extremely rare.

South Florida tends to have more of a tropical climate, whereas Northern Florida experiences more seasons. 

Spring is known as Florida’s dry season. From November through to April cooler air can be experienced; however, the further south you go, you will begin to experience hotter days. The temperatures range from 70°F to 88°F.

Summers throughout Florida are very warm, and high humidity will be felt. Some people may find this weather uncomfortable and choose to visit outside of the summer months. The temperatures range from 75°F to highs of 95°F.

Fall is considered Florida’s wet or rainy season. In Central and North Florida, you will start to experience cooler temperatures and have a break from high humidity, whereas in South Florida, you may only experience a few days of this. The temperature during fall is very varied and can range from 70°F to 91°F. 

It is also important to note that June – November is hurricane season for Florida. If you plan on traveling during these months, having travel insurance is a good idea.

Winters are described as a spring/winter combination. Warm weather will still be experienced, especially in south Florida but towards the north, it can get pretty cold for Floridian standards and see temperatures in the 30’s. On average, Florida has the mildest winters in the Continental United States. The temperatures begin at 65°F and go up to 62°F.

Views from Castillo de San Marcos Fort
Views from Castillo de San Marcos Fort

Brief History About Florida

Florida, also known as the Sunshine State is home to what is considered the oldest city in the USA; St. Augustine. As you can imagine, Florida has a ton of history. Way before Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded Florida in 1565, Native Americans thrived in Florida. They believe people have been living in Florida for at least 14,000 years.

Once the Spanish, British, and French started building in Florida, many of the indigenous tribes died from disease or were displaced from their home. Because of this, many tribes were diminished by the 18th century. The Seminole tribe was one of the last remaining tribes and is now Federally protected in the State.

Spanish Florida and the British Colony of George had years of conflict. Many enslaved African Americans found refuge in St. Augustine, Florida, during these times (as long as they converted to Catholicism). They even had the first settlement of free black people in North America in Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose.

Fast forward through the Revolutionary War and two wars with the Seminole Tribe, which exiled most of them, Florida became the 27th State on March 3, 1845. Florida, like most of the South, has a dark history with enslaved African Americans and a lot of race crimes that continued through the early 1900s.

Today, however, Florida is a thriving state with so much to see and do. The locals often refer to themselves as “getting to live where others vacation!” which is likely why you have landed on this page today!


Popular Things to Do in Florida Travel Guide

Florida is known for its pristine coastlines, sunny weather, and theme parks. As you can imagine, most of the best things to do in the state include being beachside or on the water!

Some of the top experiences to enjoy in Florida include:

Key West Florida
Credit: allouphoto/depositphotos

Florida Travel Guides & Itineraries (more coming soon!)


Wildlife in Florida

Florida is a diverse state with tons of nature. While there are hundreds of animals that can be included in this Florida travel guide, here is a list of some wildlife you may encounter while visiting or worth knowing.

Marine Wildlife

  • Sting Rays
  • Manatees
  • Bottlenosed Dolphin
  • Sea Turtles
  • Sharks
  • Manta Ray
  • Florida Alligator
  • A large variety of fish
  • Otters

Land Wildlife

  • Raccoons
  • Rabbits
  • Opossums
  • Key Deer
  • Florida Black Bear
  • Florida Panther (one of the rarest and endangered mammals in the world)
  • Bobcat
  • Iganuas

Florida has a lot of snakes, but the only ones you need to be cautious of are the Coralsnake, the Eastern Copperhead, the Florida Cottonmouth, the Pygmy Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, and the Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake.

Out of the almost 16 years I lived in South Florida, I’ve only seen 3 Cottonmouth snakes by the lake. If you’re visiting any of the city areas, the chances of you seeing snakes are rare.

Florida is also a prime spot for bird watchers, with dozens of birds that migrate over Florida.

Florida Fun Fact: Florida is the flattest state in the USA.

Alligator in Florida
Credit: lightscribe/depositpphotos

Florida Travel Guide: Where to Stay

Where to stay in Florida mainly depends on the attractions you are hoping to explore. Below are some of the most popular areas to consider staying when visiting Florida.

Orlando: Best for those exploring theme parks or visiting Florida with children. Orlando is also close to many of the hot springs.

St. Augustine: Great for those interested in history, art, and coastal vibes.

Daytona: NASCAR lovers, families, and those looking for beach time.

Jupiter: Those looking for something less touristy with beautiful beaches.

Ft. Myers: Beautiful west coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico.

Miami: Art, food, city, and beaches.

The Florida Keys: More laid-back tropical and beach vibes.

Boca Raton: You may know someone who lives here—lovely beaches, nearby the Everglades, luxury shopping.

Panama City: Popular beach destination on Florida’s panhandle – especially for Spring Break.

Tampa: On the west coast and is a city area with beaches and museums. Close to Clearwater.


The Best Time to Visit Florida

The best time to visit Florida is – all year round. Seriously. If there was any time you wanted to avoid, it is when Hurricane season is more active. Usually, these are between the months of September and October.

During the winter, Florida receives a lot of “snowbirds,” as they call it. These people spend their winters in Florida and summer somewhere else (usually up north).

The months of April through July, in my opinion, are the best months to visit Florida.


Florida Travel Guide Tips

Alright, we have already covered a ton in this Florida travel guide, but I also want to give you some additional travel tips for visiting Florida.

Florida Beach Reports

When visiting the beach, always look at the beach report. This is usually at the beach entrance or by the lifeguard stand. You should learn what each flag means. While Florida beaches are absolutely beautiful, they can also be dangerous. Rip currents have taken many lives.

The beach report also lets you know if there is any dangerous marine life. This is usually jellyfish, like Man-O-War. In South Florida, there are also sea lice that are usually reported. Sea lice are microscopic and get under your bathing suit. After a couple of hours, it will feel like you have been swimming in a sea of mosquitos.

Use Caution Around Lakes and Ponds

It is always important to use caution by lakes and ponds in Florida. Alligators are masters at hiding. Alligators make their nests on land and are extremely protective. As a kid, we would go swimming in these lakes, and now I understand why my parents got so mad! Also, this is where cottonmouth snakes hang out.

Hydration and Sunscreen in Florida

This comes without saying, but Florida is very hot and humid. I’ve gotten sun blisters more than I can count. Make sure you have water and sunscreen with you.

Related: Ultimate Beach Packing List

Grocieries and Convience Stores in Florida

If you are looking to go grocery shopping, Publix, Key Food, Whole Foods, Trader Joe, and Fresh Market are all options. Discount shops include BJ’s and Costco. You can also find groceries at Walmart and Target if need be.

Major pharmacies are Walgreens and CVS.

Rain in Florida

Since Florida is a tropical place, it usually rains a decent amount, but they are more like rain showers. Usually, the rain clears up within an hour. But when it rains, it really pours! If you’re driving and feel unsafe, pull off on the side of the road.


Florida Travel Guide Wrap-up

I hope you have found this Florida Travel Guide helpful in planning your trip. I hope you have the best time visiting the Sunshine State!

Have any questions about this Florida travel guide or need additional help? Want to see specific Florida Guides? Let me know in the comments, via email, or on social media!

Found this Florida Travel Guide helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Florida travel guide

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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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