View of the historic, mysterious sculpture garden carved into 1,100 tons of coral rock by Edward Leedskalnin with people enjoying the gardens in Homestead near Miami Florida

Florida Hidden Gems

Florida is known for the weird, wacky, and wild. There are so many unique things to do in Florida that you can ONLY do when traveling to Florida. Between the climate, history, and diverse natural landscape, Florida is a one of a kind destination to visit. Florida is of course known for the attractions in Orlando (Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, Universal Orlando) the hot nightlife in Miami Beach, and all the spring break beaches. However, what most people don’t know is Florida offers a rich variety of hidden gems and things to do off the beaten path. Some of these places are historically important to Florida, others can only be found in Florida, and some are just plain cool or unusual. These attractions and things to do can’t be found anywhere else in the world because there truly is no other place like Florida.

We hope you ENJOY this list of the top bucket list items to do in Florida.

red bridge through bamboo forest

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a stunning 68 acre facility located in Gainesville. The gardens feature 24 major collections visually accessible from a 1 1/2 mile paved walkway. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is home to Florida’s largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast. Other stunning collections include a pond with giant water lilies, hummingbird garden, and rock garden. Bring a picnic and enjoy a meal amongst the beautiful scenery, or enjoy wandering through the lush and peaceful atmosphere. June through September offer the most colorful blooms for gorgeous photography opportunities. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens hosts many special events throughout the year so there is always something to do. The gardens have an exceptional gift shop which offers a unique and unusual array of items. Dogs are always welcome and Kanapaha Botanical Gardens are pet friendly.

Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine is known as the place where Ponce De Leon discovered magical, healing waters that keep you young. Take a fascinating, informative, entertaining tour of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida, the original site of the Nation’s oldest city. Located in the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Mendez de Aviles in 1565, historic St. Augustine is the oldest successful European settlement in the United States. Whether you visit for an hour or take all day, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park’s 15 waterfront acres will provide you with hours of enjoyment.

Large archway gate with sign leading into Fountain of Youth property
exterior outdoor photo of dezerland park orlando with a curved red roof and tall windows with a variety of antique historic classic collectable cars parked out front

Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex located brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun and educational activities. The Kennedy Space Center was the launch site for the first person to launch into space, the launch site of the first moon landing, and the beginning of Space Exploration as we know it.  Today the Kennedy Space Center is home to the visitors complex, administrative offices for NASA, and the vehicle assembly building where rockets were made. Take a Kennedy Space Center Tour featuring the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket. Experience the Shuttle Launch Experience. See 3D IMAX® space films. Meet and greet a real life astronaut with the Astronaut Encounter. Learn about the history and current status of space exploration in Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and many other interactive exhibits. Experience a satellite, rocket, or spacecraft launch. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located about an hour east of Orlando / Walt Disney World near Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.

Gatorland

Known internationally as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” Gatorland Orlando provides affordably priced family-fun with thousands of alligators and crocodiles. Gatorland is Orlando‘s first and longest running attraction, opening in 1947 – 24 years before Walt Disney World – and has been delighting guests ever since. Walk along the swamp boardwalk and climb the observation tower to see over the breeding marsh. Watch birds, wild cats, reptiles, and get up close to the animals at the petting zoo. Learn about conservation and reptiles during the many educational programs. Ride the infamous Gatorland train, the longest operating theme park ride in Florida.  watch their famous Gator Jumparoo Show, and Up Close Encounters show, and Alligators: Legends of the Swamp Gator Wrestling show. Cool off in the Gator Gully Splash Park. Looking for excitement? Try the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, the area’s only zip line to race above giant alligators or the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure  monster-style off road ride, or the Gator Gauntlet, the only wheel chair accessible zip line in the Southeast U.S.. Up for adventure? Venture beyond the gate into the swamp to hand feed hungry alligators.

people stand under giant alligator mouth entrance to gatorland orlando the alligator capital of the world in 1949
arial view of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse with an American flag in front, surrounded by trees, people walking on brick paved pathway with lights illuminating the lighthouse at dusk with a pink purple and blue sky and big puffy blue colored clouds

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum

Located in Lighthouse Park in the Palm Beaches, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum offers climbing tours of the historic lighthouse built in 1860, before the Civil War. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lighthouse grounds are part of a 120 acre federally designated natural area. Explore indoor and outdoor historical exhibits featuring 5,000 years of information about the Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River area, its past and its present. Learn about the area’s cultural, historical, and natural significance to the development Florida. Visit the fascinating museum located inside a restored WWII building which was code named Secret Station J. The site was one of the first Weather Bureau and Signal Stations, as well as a U.S. Navy wireless Station, successfully tracking German U Boats during World War 2.

Lion Country Safari

Lion Country Safari in the Palm Beaches is Florida’s largest drive-through safari and walk-through adventure park. See over 1,000 animals including southern white rhinos, lions, giraffes, birds, primates and more on 300 acres of land at their drive-through safari. Enjoy two parks for one price – the 4-mile drive through safari as well as the walk-through Safari World adventure park. After you drive through the safari, continue to explore in the Safari World adventure park where you can enjoy the carousel, water park, giraffe feeding, paddle boats, flying elephant ride, mini golf and more!

A male lion pants while sitting beneath a tree at Lion Country Safari
historic statues

Coral Castle

Nestled between the Florida Keys and Miami is the Coral Castle Sculpture Garden and Museum in Homestead, Florida. The Coral Castle was singlehandedly built by Edward Leedskalnin from 1923-1951. Ed moved and carved over 1100 tons of rock mysteriously alone at night to create what is often referred to as the Stonehenge of America. No-one ever saw him build the Coral Castle. Scholars, engineers, and scientists to this day are unable to figure out how a five foot tall, 100 pound man could singlehandedly create such amazing sculptures without machinery. The Coral Castle Museum and sculpture garden offers audio and guided tours of the museum. Open every day, the Coral Castle Museum welcomes visitors from around the world to explore this enchanting South Florida destination.

Theater of the Sea

Theater of the Sea Marine Mammal Adventure features live shows, tours and animal encounters. Theater of the Sea is located on 17 acres of lush tropical gardens and lagoons on Islamorada Island in the Florida Keys.  Theater of the Sea is home to sea lions, birds, crocodilians, alligators, sea turtles, and dolphins plus a spectacular arrangement of native and exotic plants and orchids. Theater of the Sea was established in 1946 and is the second oldest marine mammal facility in the world. Watch in wonder the live dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows, take a guided tour of the marine life exhibits, enjoy the lagoon beach, and take a trip through their natural salt water lagoon on a bottomless boat included with general admission. If you want to get up close and personal with the animals, book an interactive animal encounter experience with rays, dolphins, sharks, turtles, sea lions and more!

a woman motions while a sea lion jumps out of the water with palm trees in the background

For information about additional hidden gems, check our SEE AND DO page for more information on Florida’s Unique things to do.

Get the latest news in your inbox!
Subscribe Now

Subscribe to EnjoyFlorida's Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!