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Published Jun 27, 2022

Let's be honest, few places do sunshine quite like the Sunshine State itself.

Forget the mouse for one moment, what images does Florida conjure up for you? It's blue skies, beautiful beaches and palm trees, right?

While this US state is seen by many people as a dream family destination due to its plethora of theme parks and kid-friendly attractions, there's so much more to experience.

You've got natural wonders befitting any bucket list along with some of the most idyllic coastal spots you're likely to find anywhere.

Not far from the bustling cities of Miami, Tampa and Orlando you can find your own slice of paradise in which to soak up that famous Florida sunshine.

Here's your ten-point guide to uncovering Florida's true beauty.

Tour Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park

There's no shortage of 'must-do' experiences in this part of the world.

First off we've got Fort Jefferson, a huge, unfinished fortress comprising no fewer than 16-million bricks. It can be found in the Dry Tortugas National Park on the western end of the Florida Keys, and you can explore it by taking a tour - learning about what life was once like on this remote city in the sea.

Fort Jefferson Florida

Image: Visit Florida

The wider 100-square mile Dry Tortugas National Park is home to seven islands which are only accessible by boat or sea plane. Regarded by many as a fantastic place to go swimming, snorkeling, and diving given the abundance of marine life. Birdwatching is also a popular pursuit here, with around 300 different species recorded.

Sample the fun at Clearwater Beach

One of the most famous beaches in this part of the world.

Clearwater Beach is particularly popular among families with plenty of fun-filled beach activities on the go, while a range of excellent restaurants and hotels are just a short wander away.

While this area is described as having a 'small town feel' people travel from far and wide to holiday here - always a sign you're on to something good.

Be sure to take a short walk across the sand to Pier 60 and watch the sun go down. You won't regret it.

Clearwater Beach is within 25-miles of both St Petersburg and Tampa, so the buzz of a big city is never too far away.

Tick the Everglades off your bucket list

Now here we've got a real wonder. The Everglades tropical wetland is considered the largest of its kind in the USA, and is one of the country's most iconic landscapes.

Everglades Florida

Image: Visit Florida

You can tour the Everglades National Park by boat (airboat tours operate regularly) and see some fascinating wildlife up close - from alligators and turtles to the incredibly rare Florida panther if you're lucky enough.

An ultimate bucket list experience for nature lovers, this place has been declared a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.

Spend time at Cocoa Beach on Florida's Space Coast

Florida's Space Coast boasts more than 72-miles of magnificent shoreline to explore, with Cocoa Beach the most popular section with visitors. Make your way through the city of Cape Canaveral and you'll find this lively spot of sand - buzzing with activity.

Lounge on a sunbed with a cocktail and a good book, or take a surf lesson if you want to do something adventurous. There's also go-kart racing, mini golf, and plenty of ice cream. Perfect for the young ones.

Cocoa Beach pier - Florida

Image: Florida's Space Coast

Other fantastic beaches can be found on the Space Coast if you're looking for somewhere quieter, off the beaten track. These include Sebastian Inlet State Park, Patrick Space Force Base (not far from Cocoa Beach), Indian Harbour Beach, and Canaveral National Seashore.

Try some water sports at Matanzas Inlet

Away from the wetlands, if you're seeking a breath-taking coastline the Matanzas Inlet could be the place. Found where the Atlantic meets the Matanzas Estuary.

St Augustine Matanzas Florida

Image: Visit Florida

This place is a favourite among those who love boating, paddle baording and even kite boarding along the Atlantic shoreline. Why not give some watersports a try?

Marvel at Grayton Beach

Once named the best beach in America, this can be found between Panama and Penascola, along the Gulf of Mexico. Just check out those emerald green waters...

Grayton Beach Florida

Image: Visit Florida

The beach itself is a thing of beauty, while the wider Grayton Beach State Park is not to be missed. Along with 'sugar sand beaches', there's a nature trail and coastal forest - an incredible place to explore on foot.

Experience the Indian River Lagoon

This shallow water estuary has seen more than 4,300 different species recorded, making it one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America. Found on the Space Coast it covers more than 156-miles of Florida's East Coast.

You can explore by kayak or paddleboard, or secure a spot on one of the eco-tour excursions in which you'll likely get up close and personal with some wildlife. In the summer the waters come alive with bioluminescence - glittering dinoflagellates and Comb Jellies create a dazzling underwater light show.

Along with being a wonderful place to explore the Indian River Lagoon is also a great place for a fishing excursion if that's your thing!

Check out your check-in desk opening times at Edinburgh Airport

Watch the sun go down at Siesta Key

Florida doesn't get much more romantic than this. Described as an 'island paradise', Siesta Key is eight-miles of perfection - and you'll struggle to find a better place to watch the sun go down.

This always seems to be in the running on those 'best beach in Florida' lists.

Siesta Key Florida

Image: Visit Florida

The barrier island off the southwest coast is home to an incredible beach with quartz sand, turquoise water and some fantastic beach-side restaurants and bars. Siesta Key is one hour from Tampa, and well worth checking out.

A day at the (motorsport) races - visit Daytona Beach

Many people know this city as the home of racing given its famed links to speedway and NASCAR, and the world famous Daytona International Speedway Complex. As a result it's a must-visit for any car enthusiast.

However, as the name suggests, it's also popular for its beach.

Daytona Beach Florida

Image: Visit Florida

For those who like their thrills away from the race track there's plenty opportunity to swim, surf, kayak or paddleboard. Check out the Daytona Beach pier which stretches 1,000ft into the Atlantic and is home to a great crab shack.

A popular holiday spot packed with fun!

Spend some time in the paradise of Key West

The southernmost point in the United States, Key West always features in discussions around dream holiday destinations. Sample the fantastic beaches, tropical climate, sensational sunsets in the most laid back of surroundings.

While there's plenty opportunity to chill out, there's also a buzzing nightlife scene with live music, entertainment and plenty of cocktails. The Duval Street pub crawl is a very fun way to spend an evening.

Key West is also home to the third largest coral reef in the world behind only Belize and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

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