When you think of Florida attractions, you probably think of several theme parks, including the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” While theme parks are fun, there are so many places that are equally magical. From natural beauty to historic landmarks, these authentically enchanting attractions are not to be missed.
1. St. Augustine
There's so much magic in the nation's oldest city. Taking a tour of the historic luxury hotels, the Villa Zorayda, and the Castillo de San Marcos makes you feel like you've stepped back in time. During the wintertime Nights of Lights festival, the city becomes a holiday wonderland.
2. Devil's Den, Williston
This underground spring has a natural window that creates an ethereal pool for diving and snorkeling. Keep in mind that no swimming is allowed here, only scuba diving or snorkeling.
3. Dry Tortugas National Park, near Key West
This is one of the most beautiful and popular natural destinations in Florida. The once-abandoned Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, and it's surrounded by the bright, clear water of the Florida Keys. Part of the magic is in getting there: You must take a boat or seaplane to reach the isolated island.
4. Torreya State Park, Bristol
One of the most challenging and most rewarding hikes in the state can be found in this state park in Northwest Florida. The hike to the top of the scenic bluffs provides stunning views of the Apalachicola River.
5. Dinosaur World, Plant City
For kids (and kids at heart), this fun and educational park located between Tampa and Orlando is an awesome adventure. This park has over 200 realistic dinosaur sculptures, a fossil dig, gem excavation experience, and much more. The park is also less expensive and less crowded than the major theme parks.
6. Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales
Visiting these lush gardens is like walking into a fairy tale, complete with a beautiful 205-foot Gothic Revival "singing" tower. The gardens also serve as a bird sanctuary with 120 different species, so bring your binoculars.
7. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach
Any place that can transport you across the world is pretty magical. This unique museum strives to immerse guests in authentic Japanese art and culture. Experience a traditional tea ceremony, delicious Japanese food, and a serene, meditative garden.
8. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Palm Coast
This park encompasses two different and equally scenic environments. There are gorgeous gardens to explore, and a stunning beach with limestone outcropping that creates a rocky shore with tidepools for kids to play in.
9. Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon
Rainbow Springs State Park has something very rare in Florida: Waterfalls. Though they are manmade, they add a lovely touch to the paths at this park. Other popular activities include tubing down the river and swimming and snorkeling in the crystal-clear water.
10. Coral Castle, Homestead
The magic of Coral Castle is in its quirky charm, and the mystery surrounding its creation. The huge multi-ton monoliths were sourced, moved and carved by one five-foot-tall man. This incredible landmark was created for an unrequited love from his home country of Latvia.
11. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota
John Ringling was a circus magnate who spent many winters in Sarasota and left his art collection and property to the state of Florida. For many years the property was left in disrepair until an extensive restoration in the 2000s. Now, visitors can enjoy thousands of objects of art, a circus museum, historic theater, and the Ringling's private mansion (pictured here).
12. Key West Garden Club, West Martello Tower
The natural beauty of thousands of plants combined with the architectural elements of a civil-war era fortress make this garden a tranquil oasis unlike anything you've ever seen.