When people think of Florida, they are often actually thinking of South Florida. South Florida is really the quintessential Florida experience from the warm, tropical-like weather to the beautiful beaches. The area has a lot to offer, and it draws millions of visitors every year. Miami is the biggest city in South Florida, but if that’s not your scene and you’d like to go elsewhere, there are plenty of options.
The following are some places you might consider visiting that aren’t Miami but are in South Florida.
Fort Lauderdale was long associated with raucous spring break crowds, but in recent years that has changed. Now, Fort Lauderdale has many of the things people love about Miami including culture, dining, and beaches, but it’s more low-key.
So what is there to do in Fort Lauderdale and why should you visit?
The beach is a great reason. The beaches tend to be less crowded and have a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere than in Miami, but you’ll still get the beautiful water and white sand. The canal system in Fort Lauderdale allows you to view homes owned by the wealthy and famous, and one of the best ways to get up close and personal is by water taxi.
Walking along Las Olas Boulevard you’ll enjoy palm trees swaying in the wind, and there are shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants along the way.
Islamorada is really south Florida—in fact, it’s in the Keys, well below Miami. Islamorada is actually six islands that are in the Keys, and the islands are between barrier reefs and Everglades National Park. Islamorada is known as the sport-fishing capital of the world, and there’s also swimming, diving and shopping. The seafood, as you can imagine, is something else Islamorada is known for.
Attractions include the History of Diving Museum and the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. At Indian Key visitors can find the ruins of an early European settlement and there’s Lignumvitate Key Botanical State Park, which is where you’ll find one of the last tropical hardwood hammock forests in the keys.
Other notable things to do in the Keys, aside from visiting Islamorada include:
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is in Key Largo, and it’s often ranked as one of the best places to snorkel in Florida. You’ll see coral reefs and tropical fish, and it’s the only living reef in the U.S.
- If you visit Everglades National Park, you can see diverse wildlife and do an adventurous airboat tour.
- Dry Tortugas National park is located in the Keys as well, and you can snorkel, kayak, dive or birdwatch. The water is shallow and completely clear, so it’s great for viewing sea life.
Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
The Palm Beach area is very high-end and is full of beautiful mansions. There are also great shops and dining. West Palm Beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s the site of the SunFest which is the largest waterfront music festival in Florida. There are retail districts in downtown West Palm Beach for the shopper, including Clematis Street and CityPlace.
Other notable places to visit in West Palm Beach include the Norton Museum of Art and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
Singer Island can be considered part of the Palm Beach area as it is in Palm Beach County, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Singer Island features luxury hotels, as well as a variety of boutique hotels and rental condos.
Singer Island boasts its own state park which is MacArthur Park with four natural communities including an estuary, rock reef, maritime hammock, and a beach.
Peanut Island Park is a popular destination on Singer Island for boating, swimming, and fishing.
Finally, north of Palm Beach but still in South Florida is Jupiter, which is considered part of the “Palm Beaches.” Jupiter is a small beach town with a slow pace of life around an hour north of Fort Lauderdale. There are great golf courses in Jupiter, which is why many of the top PGA tour pros live in the area.
Along with golf, there are plenty of other things that are appealing in Jupiter. There’s the red Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, which was built in 1860. There’s also the Loggerhead Marine Center, which promotes conversation of ocean animals and ecosystems, and in particular, they focus on sea turtles. If you want a taste of classic Florida, there’s the Juno Beach Pier.