The Three Best Cities In Florida
If you are looking to visit the state of Florida, and are looking for some recommendations, you have come to the right place! In this post, I have outlined the three best cities in Florida and all you can see and do there! I hope you enjoy it!
When people ask me if I have a favorite place I’ve ever traveled to, I have a hard time picking out a favorite destination. I have so many favorites, for so many reasons. However, if I absolutely had to choose, I would have to say it is one of my three best cities in Florida: The Everglades. My experience there was unlike anything I’ve ever had. I decided to go on an organized 7-day, 6-night, group canoeing trip through the backcountry of the Everglades National Park. We spent days canoeing through the bays of the park and evenings setting up camp on one of the many islands, cooking food using only a small portable grill. It was truly memorable!
- I saw so much wildlife! A manatee (yes, a manatee!) swam right underneath my canoe, two dolphins came pretty close to shore one night and put on quite a show, and there were so many birds!
- The sunsets were unbelievable!
- You could see the entire milky-way at night, it was incredible!
- As someone who loves the outdoors, it was wonderful being outside 24/7!
- The white, fine-sand beaches were absolutely pristine!
- It was a lot of fun meeting new people. This was my very first group trip with complete strangers!
- I became a pro at canoeing, which was pretty awesome!
- It was actually pretty nice being away from society, completely tech-free for an entire week.
- We were taught how to make delicious meals using small portable gas grills by the group leaders.
- I have absolutely no pictures. My camera died on the trip and it couldn’t be revived. I am, to this day, so upset about it!
- One night it stormed so badly it was legitimately terrifying, with nowhere to go besides the tent!
- The bathroom situation wasn’t great. We had to pee in the woods and had to use a portable toilet, which we had to take turns carrying in our canoes, for number 2… because you know… leave no trace.
- No shower for a week… Yikes!
- There were alligators from time to time and we could hear panthers screaming at night, which, while both were cool, was also very scary.
- The mosquitoes at night were not fun.
As will be the case for all of these destinations, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. That is, after all, the reason they are listed in this post! I do, however, want to give you a realistic impression of what this trip in particular was like. Since it’s so “outdoorsy” and “adventurous,” it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you are down to get a little dirty and don’t mind spending your vacation exploring the wilderness, then I highly recommend this trip! Unfortunately, the group I went with back in 2014 is no longer running these trips. Florida Outdoor Adventures is a company that offers multi-day kayaking tours similar to the trip I took. The company has excellent reviews, though I cannot speak for personal experience. Check them out here.
Panama City Beach
I made the mistake of going to Panama City Beach by myself during spring break. I had hoped that since we were in the middle of a pandemic when I went, it wouldn’t be too crowded. To my disappointment, this wasn’t the case. I probably wouldn’t have put this place on my list of the best cities in Florida, especially as number two, but for one amazing experience. This experience alone was the saving grace of my trip and, I kid you not, I would return to Panama City Beach one hundred times over again, just to have this experience again!
- PCB Water Adventures: THIS!! I went on a dolphin boat tour and it was honestly a highlight of my life. Top five material! I took the early tour out, and as a result, there were very few people on my tour, and also very few boats out on the water. The boat captain, Jennifer, knew exactly where to look for dolphins. We probably saw close to one hundred of them! Captain Jennifer even slowed the boat down and let me and another girl put our feet down in the water as the dolphins swam below us. Visit their website here and definitely book a tour!
- The beaches are gorgeous, with their beautiful white sand! I suggest going earlier in the morning when there are fewer crowds and you can have the beach to yourself.
- The Pier is very nice. It’s colorful and photogenic. Any food that I had was absolutely delicious, however…
- The Pier is unfortunately so crowded most of the time that it can be hard to enjoy yourself. I couldn’t get a single nice picture because of that, at least during the time of year I went.
- I went alone, and I do not recommend that for Panama City. Though I didn’t mind it for the dolphin tour, I do wish I had some friends with me to explore and hang out with. It’s certainly a party destination.
- Speaking of partying, it goes on all night. If you stay near the bars, it can get pretty loud.
Honestly, I have no conclusion to this one, except to go just for the dolphins. Take multiple tours, and hang out on the beach. That alone will be an amazing trip.
This city is full of historical beauty that will just blow you away! There were a lot of highlights here and I’m not sure if I’ve even covered them all below. The lowlights, on the other hand, are less about the destination and more about things outside anyone’s control (i.e. weather, COVID, etc.). Take a look and decide for yourself, but I do highly recommend this destination!
- The Saint Augustine Distillery was my favorite spot in the city of Saint Augustine. They distill and age their own liquor, which is then sold and served throughout the United States. You can take a tour of the Distillery and sample a variety of spirits and original cocktails. You can then purchase the liquors and the cocktail mixers that you enjoyed the most at the distillery shop.
- The history of one of the best cities in Florida can be seen everywhere. The historic Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and Old City Gates are situated right in the city center. The streets and buildings look as though they came out of an old-fashioned fairytale. I particularly loved seeing the old, original five-star hotels that have been converted into city buildings, museums, and the fabulous Flagler College.
- Whetstones Chocolates is absolutely delicious! There are shops throughout Saint Augustine, selling chocolates and chocolate gelato. There is also the main location that offers tasting tours, which I recommend checking out!
- The proximity to the beaches is perfect! I stayed in Vilano Beach, which was, at most, a five-minute drive. The Hampton Inn Vilano Beach – Saint Augustine is steps from the most perfect beach, and I loved staying there! Puccini’s Pizzeria is right across the street and I am a huge fan! They went above and beyond accommodating my dietary needs and the cauliflower crust was delicious.
- The Fountain of Youth is certainly worth the visit! I particularly love the fact that there are peacocks all over the property and you can have a glimpse into the lives of the native people who lived in the area.
- Magnolia Avenue is the most beautiful street in the states and I happen to agree!
- I wasn’t able to check out the inside of the Castillo de San Marcos because, due to COVID, it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and I happened to be visiting on a Monday and Tuesday… of course!
- The days I was in the area, the weather was not beach-friendly. The temperature was in the 60’s and it was partly cloudy. So, while it was ideal for exploring one of the best cities in Florida and taking short walks on the beach, it wasn’t exactly beach-lounging weather.
- George Street is a very popular, pedestrian-only street with many restaurants and shops. I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but it was so crowded, I felt claustrophobic. I didn’t get very far before I decided to give up and turn back. I’m sure the shops were very nice, but I didn’t check out too many.
- Don’t attempt to drive around the center city. The roads are pretty tight and traffic can really build up. I also had a hard time with parking. I was very sad to find a nail in my tire one morning and found it totally deflated. I needed to stay an extra four hours before moving on to get my tire changed at a tire shop.
This city is lovely, and it should be on your Florida bucket list for sure! I’m sure you are not surprised as it is one of the best cities in Florida! I am looking forward to coming back and actually having a chance to relax on the beach (hopefully when the weather is nicer!). I do wish I had been able to check out the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the San Sebastian Winery as well, but there is always next time!
If you are looking to visit down south in the USA, these are the three best cities in Florida I would recommend first. While I did list some lowlights for all three locations, the highlights certainly outweigh them. Have you been to any of these places? What were the highlights for you? Are there any destinations in Florida that you would choose to add to the list? Contact me, or comment below, I would love to hear from you!