Florida Travel Destinations

FORT MATANZAS NATIONAL MONUMENT: Coastal Florida was a major field of conflict as European nations fought for control in the New World. As part of this strugle, Fort Matanzas guarded St. Augustine's southern river approach. The colonial wars are over, but the monument is still protecting-not just the historic fort, but also the wild barrier island and the plants and animals who survive there amidst a sea of modern development. Info: www.nps.gov/foma
COLONIAL QUARTER, ST. AUGUSTINE: Take an immersive journey through centuries of St. Augustine's rich history, brought to life at the Colonial Quarter-the revitalized two-acre signature attraction in the heart of the downtown historic district. Experience the Nation's Oldest City like never before with interactive activities, living history demonstrations and graphical stories. Take part in a musket drill, climb to the top of a 17th century watchtower replica, dine in a 18th century-style British pub and Spanish taberna and more!
Info: www.colonialquarter.com or 888-991-0933
ST. AUGUSTINE PIRATE & TREASURE MUSEUM: With its unique collection of authentic pirate artifacts dating back to 1563, maritime memorabilla, and priceless treasures, coupled with interactive technology, St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is truly one-of-a-kind. Exhibits include the only surviving treasure chest in the world, one of only two Jolly Rogers flags in existence, the original journal of Captain Kidd's final voyage, and rearely seen artifacts from the vault of the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Within the museum, quests will also find a host of interactive exhibits like touchscreen kiosks and audio chambers created by Disney imagineers. Info: www.thepiratemuseum.com or 877-467-5863
DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK, KEY WEST: Almost 70 miles west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jfferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and a vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area.
Info: www.nps.gov/drto or 305-242-7700
FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR HISTORIC STATE PARK, KEY WEST: Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973, Florida's southernmost state park is popular for recreation, as well as U.S. military history. The fort was one of a series built in the mid-1800's to defend the nation's southeastern coastline. Completed in 1866, Fort Zachary Taylor played important roles in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. Guided tours of the fort are availible daily. Key West's favorite beach, located at the southern end of the park, provides opportunities for picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. Visitors can also enjoy a short nature trail and bicycling within the park. Info: www.floridaparks.org/park/fort-taylor or 305-292-6713
RAINBOW SPRINGS STATE PARK, DUNNELLON: Aarhaeplogical evidence indicates that people have been using this spring for nearly 10,000 years. Rainbow Springs is Floridas fourth largest spring and, from the 1930's through the 1970's, was the popular, privately-owned attraction. The Rainbow River is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Info: www.floridastateparks.org/park/rainbow-springs
or 352-465-8555
BILL BAGGS CAPE FLORIDA STATE PARK, BISCAYNE: Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home of the historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. Visitors come to the park to sunbath, swim, and picnic on more than one mile of sandy Atlantic beachfront, currently ranked #7 on the list of "Top 10 Beaches in America" by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach. Guided tours of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage are given twice daily, Thursday through Mondays.
Info: www.floridastateparks.org/park/cape-florida or 305361-5811
PONCE DE LEON INLET LIGHTHOUSE & MUSEUM, PONCE INLET: Soaring 175 feet above the World's Most famous beach, the historic Ponce Inlet Light station is home to Florida's tallest lighthouse. Visitors can climb 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantc Ocean and inland waterways, discover the fascinating history of the United States Light House Service, tour the many historic buildings, visit the world famous Ayers Davies Lens Exhibit, and browse the Light Station's unique nautical and lighthouse themed gift shop for the perfect souvenir: Info: www.ponceinlet.org or 386-761-1821
FLORIDA CAVERNS STATE PARK, MARIANNA: This is one of the few state parks with dry (air-filled) caves and is the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public. The Florida Cavern has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. The Chipola River and Blue Hole spring provide areas for fishing, canoeing and boating. Florida Caverns State Park is popular for camping, picnicking, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Info: www.floridastateparks.org/park/florida-caverns or 850-482-1228
PANAMA CITY BEACH: Panama City Beach is all about family, its about good times, its about creating lasting memories, its about playing in the sand on the beach and experiencing a beach unlike any other in America. Fun, excitement, relaxation and so much more welcome visitors from around the globe. Though famous for the beach, Panama City Beach is also a haven for familys who seek everything from adventure to eco-fun. You simply won't find a better place to visit than "The World's Most Beautiful Beaches". Info: www.panamacitybeach.com
NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM, NAS PENSACOLA: The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world's largest Naval Museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida. Share the excitement of Navel Aviation's rich history and see more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation. These historic and one-of-a-kind aircraft are displayed both inside the Museum' nearly 350,000 square feet of exhibit spaces and outside on it's 37-acre grounds.
Info: www.navalaviationmuseum.org or 1-800-327-5002
WEEKI WACHEE SPRINGS, WEEKI WACHEE: If you thought mermaids were just the lively imaginings of lonely sailors, think again-and come to Weeki Wachee Springs, the City of live Mermaids, on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Located about an hour north of Tampa at the crossroads of S.S.19 andState Road 50, Weeki Wachee is more than just a mark on a road map. Weeki Wachee is an enchanted spring-- the only one of its kind in the world-- and one of Florida's oldest and most unique roadside attractions. For almost 60 years, the fun, family oriented park has lured in visitors with beautiful mermaids who swim in the cool, clear spring waters. Weeki Wachee Springs is a magical entrance into a mysterious blue underwater world of mermaids, manatees, turtles and bubbles. Sitting in the Mermaid Theater, visiters feel like they are inside the flowing spring, and are transported back to simpler times, before super theme parks and super highways appeared. So come to Weeki Wachee and see a splindid side of Florida lore, where dreams really do come true. Info: www.weekiwachee.com or 352-592-5656
VALIANT AIR COMMAND WARBIRD MUSEUM, TITUSVILLE: Founded in the 1970's The Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum has a continually growing collection of over 45 historic warbirds from the beginning of aviation to the present day. The VAC educational organization dedicated to the preservation of, education about and commemoration of Warbirds from all eras and the men and women who flew, maintained and fought in them. Info: www.valiantaircommand.com or 321-268-1941  
AIR FORCE ARMAMENT MUSEUM, FORT WALTON BEACH; The Air Force Armament Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia associated with Air Force Armament and its platforms of delivery.
Info: www.afarmamentmuseum.com or 850-651-1808
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT, LAKE BUENA VISTA:
 
MAGIC KINGDOM PARK: Fairytale dreams come true for children of all ages at Magic Kingdom park. Delight in classic attractions, enchanting fireworks, musical parades and beloved Disney Charactors across 6 whimsical lands. See fantasy becomes a reality as you explore Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street U.S.A. Zoom through space, become a swashbuckling pirate and watch fireworks light up the sky over Cinderella Castle.
 
EPCOT PARK: Explore exciting attractions, enchanting international pavilions, award-winning fireworks and seasonal special events. Celebrating the human spirit, Epcot has 2 distinct realms: Future World, which features technological innovations, and World Showcase, which shares with quests the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
 
HOLLYWOOD STUDIO'S: Movie magic comes to life at Disney's Hollywood Studios, awash in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age. Step into the action with attractions based on blockbuster movies and top TV shows, and delight in exciting entertainment that puts you center stage. With the vibrancy of a bustling movie set, this park features 8 sections: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Sunset Boulevard, Streets of America, Commisary Lane, Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue and Animation Courtyard.
 
ANIMAL KINGDOM: Encounter exotic animals and exciting adventures at Disney's Animal Kingdom park, one of the largest animal theme parks in the world. Home to more than 2,000 animals across 300 species, the park reflects Walt Disney's dedication to consevation and is committed to animal care, education and research. Explore 6 enthralling lands: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch, Asia, and Dinoland, U.S.A
 
Info: www.disneyworld.disney.go.com or 407-939-6244
LION COUNTRY SAFARI, LOXAHATCHEE: Experience the adventure driving through over 300 acres of untamed wilderness with a variety of animals including many endangered species from all around the world. Your travels may be interrupted by tons of lumbering rhinos and giraffes as the cross the road right in front of you. Just remember, our animals have the right of way. Included in admission is the walk through amusement park, Safari World, including a Giraffe Feeding Encounter, Giant Ferris Wheel, Childrens water sprayground, animal demonstrations, Lory bird aviary, pontoon boat tour, paddle boats & much much more. Be sure to give yourself at least five hours to fully enjoy the safari experience and remember your sure to have nothing short of a wild time! Info: www.lioncountrysafari.com or 561-793-1084
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER: Your journey begins in the Atlantis theater where we bring to life the story of the people who dared to do the impossible. Gaze in wonder at a close-up view of Space Shuttle Atlantis, displayed in the mid-flight glory. With more than 60 interactive exhibits, its a moving celebration of humankind's greatest achievements. SHUTTLE LAUNCH EXPERIENCE: immerses visitors in the sites, sounds and feeling of a Space Shuttle launch, an incredible journey of launching into space and orbiting Earth aboard a Space Shuttle. Guest crewmembers strap in and go vertical for launch in a one-of-a-kind customed desighned crew cabin. APOLLO/SATURN V CENTER: Relive the wonder and excitement of the Apollo era in this one-of-a-kind exhibit that celebrates the unprecedented achievment of putting man on the moon and the joy felt in that moment by all humankind. ASTRONAUT ENCOUNTER: You're invited to meet a veteran NASA astrunaut at the live Astronaut Encounter show. IMAX THEATER: Two incredible, five-story 3D presentations tell stories certain to inspire. One explores the breathtaking images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, and the other details projects that NASA is currently working on. CHILDRENS PLAY DOME:  Imaginations will soar at the Childrens Play Dome, a one-of-a-kind space-themed playground. With the majestic Rocket Garden as a backdrop, children can take off in a spacecraft, climb a moon rock wall, crawl trough rocket tunnels and slide to the surface of the moon. ROCKET GARDEN: At NASA, it is often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Nowhere is that more apparent thanin the Rocket Garden. Behind every rocket you see are great men and women engineers and astronauts, designers and thinkers who turnered dreams into history. It is here you find the first rocket to break free of gravity. ASTRONAUT MEMORIAL: At the Astronaut Memorial, we honor NASA's fallen heroes, those among the elite astronaut corps who gave their lives in the pursuit of knowledge that lies beyond our earth. Info: www.kennedyspacecenter.com or 866-737-5235
SUN 'N FUN AEROSPACE CENTER, LAKELAND: You will want to reserve one to three hours for your visit with Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum visit. Each of the exhibition buildings are accessible and have parking availible. The museum displays a wide variety of vintage aircraft, ultralights, experimental homebuilts, air racers, military, aerobatic and factory-built aircraft from all eras. The museum exhibits include the Howard Hughes Aviation Collection, Florida Aviation History, Florida Aviation Hall of Fame, Lakeland in WWII, Rockets and High Speed Flight, Air Racing and Aerobatics, Charles Lindbergh & Amelia Earhart Artfacts, and multiple Flight Simulators.
Info: www.sun-n-fun.org or 863-644-2431
ARMED FORCES HISTORY MUSEUM, LARGO: Step inside the multi award-winning Armed Forces History Museum boasting the largest collection of military memorabillia in the Southeast. Known as "Where the Smithsonian meets Disney World" by ABC Action News, you will marvel at uniforms worn by esteemed veterans, view ordinances from around the world, and submerge yourself in smoke and gunfire as it seeps through our WWII trench. Watch Pearl Harbor footage on a 20-foot theater screen, and peer through a working 42-foot submarine periscope. Get inside a replica of a partial MASH tent, walk the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and stare upon Saddam Hussein's uniform. Experience a ride on a WWII M8 Reconnaissance vehicle and feel the excitement as you ride in a virtual voyager simulator. You can also climb up to the cockpit of a Russian Mig and hang out in an actual Quonset Hut. With nearly 100,000 artifacts and 50 operational vehicals, its always evolving, educating and electrifying for all ages as we proudly salute the military and its veterans. Info: www.armedforcesmuseum.com or 727-539-8371
CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS. ST. AUGUSTINE: A monument not only of stone and morter but of human determination and endurance, the Castille De San Marcos symbalizes the clash between cultures which ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation. Still resonant with the struggles of an earlier time, these original walls provide tangible evidence of America's grim but remarkable history. The Castille De San Marcos is unique in North America architecture. As the only extant 17th century military construction in the country and the oldest masonary fortress in the United States it is a prime example of the "bastion system" of fortification, the culmination of hundreds of years of military defense enginnering. It is also unique for the material used in its construction. The Castillo is one of only two fortifications in the world built out of semi-rare form of limestone called coquina( The other is Fort Matanzas National Monument 14 miles south). The fortress itself is both a product of and evidence to the multitude of forces both political and technological that created the compitition for empire during the colonial era. But above all the Castillo is an enduring legacy of the craftsmanship and skill of the engineers, artisans and labourers who built it.
Info: www.nps.gov/casa or 904-829-6506
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