View of the author paddling in Key Largo

27 Fun Things to Do in South Florida (By a Local)

With a year round tropical climate, the time is always right for so many of these fun things to do in South Florida. Beach days, museum visits, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures –  you name it, South Florida has it.

I’ve lived here for four years now (in Fort Lauderdale, to be specific). But my weekends are typically spent scouring over the region to find the best activities. With so many of the best things to do in Florida located in the southern part of the state, there’s a lot to choose from! That’s why I’ve compiled a list of my favorites so you can explore more on your visit!

So whether you’re staying in Southwest Florida, Southeast Florida, or the Florida Keys, there’s sure to be something in this list you’ll love to do! Enjoy!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

27 Best Things to Do in South Florida

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Miami | Fort Lauderdale | Florida Keys | Palm Beach | SW Coast

Snorkel a Coral Reef in Key Largo

View of the author snorkeling

📍 Address: 102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037 | Website  | 👉 Book a Snorkel Trip in Key Largo

South Florida is home to the third longest barrier reef system in the world and the only natural coral reef in the continental United States. Seemingly, the prettiest section of this 360 linear mile reef is in Key Largo. The best way to enjoy it? Jump in!

Most snorkel or scuba diving tours depart daily from John Pennekamp State Park, the first undersea park in the US. Within the park, you’ll discover coral reefs teeming with marine life. Sightings of endangered coral, rays, sharks, turtles, and Caribbean reef fish are always possible. 

🐟 Nervous about jumping in the water? No problem! John Pennekamp State Park also offers a glass bottom boat tour so you can witness all the marine life down below while staying dry.

Climb a Lighthouse on Key Biscayne

View of the author's wife in a Lighthouse on Key Biscane

📍 Address: 1200 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149 | Phone: 786-582-2673 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 8 pm daily | Entrance: $6 per vehicle up to 6 people; $2 pedestrian; $4 single occupant vehicle

100+ year-old structures are a rare sight in southern Florida but they do exist. A gleaming example is the 19th century lighthouse in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne. 

This is one of the only lighthouses you can climb in Florida and this popular Florida attraction is well worth the trip. The scenery atop is astounding with views of downtown Miami, South Beach, the Atlantic Ocean, and Biscayne National Park (one of three national parks found in South Florida).

After your climb, Key Biscayne has fun things to do throughout the island like paddleboarding at Crandon Park, cycling around Bill Baggs Cape State Park, visiting marine life at the Miami Seaquarium, or grabbing a drink at the Rusty Pelican.

Ride an Airboat in Everglades National Park

View of an airboat in Everglades

Website | 👉 Find the Nearest Airboat Tour to Where You’re Staying

Airboat tours are the top attraction in Everglades National Park – and rightly so. But the park is more diverse in its activity than you’d think: Shark Valley is one of the coolest cycling loops in the country with an epic view at the end; the Flamingo Visitor Center offers dolphin cruises into the Florida Bay; and the Gulf Coast Visitor Center is one of the best paddling destinations in the world.

👉 PRO TIP: Everglades National Park is massive with the visitor centers sprinkled throughout the region. So whether you’re staying in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Keys, or Southwest Florida, there’s a visitor center offering unique excursions nearby.

Chill Out in Key West

View of a pathway to the beach and some palm trees
Pathway to Smathers Beach!

Website | 👉 Hop Aboard a Key West Sunset Sail

Key West is the last of its kind: an 18th century pirate town caught in the modern world. The town’s main strip, Duval Street, reflects this history with the colonial architecture lining the streets. Highlights include Hemingway’s Home, Smathers Beach, year round festivals at Mallory Square, and Fort Zachary Taylor

But the best way to chill out in Key West? Take advantage of the pristine, crystal blue water aboard a snorkel trip, sunset sail, or booze cruise.

👉 Read Next: 23 Top Florida Beaches

Search for Shells in Marco Island

View of the author's wife holding a shell on each hand
Find sand dollars like this at Marco Island!

👉 Find Intact Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

The early bird gets the worm on Marco Island when it comes to shelling. That’s why, if you’re searching for a shell of epic proportions, you need to get to a remote island! This highly rated tour will get you there so you can bag that one seashell your fireplace mantle has been calling for!

Explore the Bay at Biscayne National Park

View of the lighthouse on Boca Chita Key
The lighthouse on Boca Chita Key – a remote island in Biscayne National Park 

📍 Address: 9700 SW 328th St, Homestead, FL 33033 | Phone: (786) 465-4058 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily

The boundaries of Biscayne National Park contain 95% water. So obviously, the best way to explore the park is aboard a boat! Tours depart daily from the Biscayne Bay visitor center bringing travelers to Boca Chita Key and Lighthouse, Stiltsville, Elliott Key for hiking, Jones Lagoon for paddling, and nearby coral reefs for snorkeling.

Set Sail Along the South Florida Coast

View of the author's wife sailing in South Florida Coast
Sailing in South Florida is one of the best things to do. 

👉 Charter a Sailboat and Captain on Sailo

As a Captain myself, this is my favorite way to enjoy South Florida: sailing and boating. The waters are pristine, the weather is usually cooperative, and the scenery is fantastic. Looking for things to do in South Florida? Go Sailing!

No experience? No problem! Just use Sailo provides many charters with knowledgeable Captains included!

In and Around Miami

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Miami | Fort Lauderdale | Florida Keys | Palm Beach | SW Coast

Bask in the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables

View of people enjoying on Venetian Pool
(photo: Marco Borghini / Shutterstock)

📍 Address: 2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134 | Phone: 305-460-5306 | Website | Hours: Varies by Season, call for hours | Entrance: $21 adults, $16 under 13

If you’re sick of finding sand in every crack and crevice, consider shifting your beach days to pool days; particularly, the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables. It’s an enchanting place carved from the ancient coral rock bed that South Florida sits on. 

The most amazing aspect, though? The pool is naturally spring fed from the Aquifer below, filling and draining daily!

👉 Read Next: 15 Fun Day Trips to Take from Miami

Admire the Architecture at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami

View of the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens from outside

📍 Address: 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129 | Phone: 305-250-9133 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4: 30 pm daily, Thursday thru Monday | Entrance: $25 adults, $10 for 12 and under

The Vizcaya Museum is one of the more architecturally pleasing relics in Miami. Built in 1912, the museum was once the home of businessman James Deering of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune. 

The villa sits directly on Biscayne Bay where visitors can tour the gardens, the first level of the main house, or wander the protected forests surrounding the estate.

Sip a Colada at Versailles in Little Havana

View of cup of coffees on a table
A colada is commonly served with cafecitos for sharing.

📍 Address: 3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135 | Phone: 305-444-0240 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 12 pm daily 

The world’s most famous Cuban restaurant, Versailles, brews the best coladas (a Cuban espresso) in Miami. Even if you don’t like coffee, Versailles is worth the visit for a freshly baked pastry or dinner inside the vintage dining room.

Stroll the Art Deco District in Miami Beach

View of Art Deco District in Miami Beach at night

📍 Address: 1001 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139 | Website | 👉 Book an Art Deco Walking Tour in South Beach

The sandy beach, glowing nightlife, sidewalk cafes, and live music are just a few reasons to visit South Beach; but for architectural savvy travelers, the Art Deco Historic District might stand out the most.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1920s era architecture provides a warming backdrop to the most electric district in Miami Beach.

Mingle with the Exotic Animals on Jungle Island in Miami

View of a red macaw on a branch

📍 Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL 33132 | Phone: 305-400-7000 | Website | Hours: Temporarily Closed Until January 2022; Contact Jungle Island for more Info

Formerly Parrot Island, the eco-adventure theme park just outside Miami Beach is a great way to spend the afternoon for the entire family. With many exhibits featuring extravagant animals, particularly parrots, it’s a fun way to learn about South Florida ecology and some pretty cool creatures.

👉 Want to save some money? Consider purchasing the Go Miami Pass for travel deals on things to do in South Florida, including outdoor adventures like Jungle Island.

Greater Fort Lauderdale

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Miami | Fort Lauderdale | Florida Keys | Palm Beach | SW Coast

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale

View of the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens from the outside and a pond

📍 Address: 900 N Birch Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 | Phone: (954) 563-5393 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 3 pm Tues-Fri; 11 am – 4 pm Sat & Sun; Closed Mon | Entrance: $20, adults, $8, children 6 – 17, free for under 5

Consistently ranked as one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens takes visitors back in time to South Florida in the 1930s. The house is the former estate of two esteemed artists and the halls, courtyard, and prevailing structures reflect their artistic nature.

🌴 Staying in Fort Lauderdale? Check out my list of the best day trips around Fort Lauderdale for more fun ideas for what to do in the area.

Flamingo Gardens in Davie

Flamingos in the Flamingo Gardens in Davie, South Florida

📍 Address: 3750 S Flamingo Rd, Davie, FL 33330 | Phone: +1 954-473-2955 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm daily | 🦩 Skip the line at Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens in Davie is a 60 acre wildlife refuge for animals endemic to South Florida. The famous Florida panther, gopher tortoises, burrowing owls, and yes, flamingos, all make an appearance throughout the beautiful landscape of the gardens.

Las Olas Blvd in Fort Lauderdale

View of the Las Olas Blvd and some cars on the street
(photo: kmiragaya / Depositphotos)

📍 Address: E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Las Olas Boulevard is the main entertainment district of Fort Lauderdale with plenty of fancy restaurants, streetside cafes, bars and clubs to keep you busy during your stay. 

One block away is the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk, a scenic walkway along the New River featuring megayachts, sailboats, and the historic Stranahan House.

🌴 Looking for a place to stay in Fort Lauderdale? Las Olas Boulevard is a great spot! It even ranks on our list of where to stay in Fort Lauderdale!

Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor in Dania Beach

View of people buying in Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor

📍 Address: 128 S Federal Hwy, Dania Beach, FL 33004 | Phone: 954-923-4445 | Website | Hours: 11:30 am – 11 pm daily

Visiting Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor is a treat in and of itself, and that’s before you even order off the menu. The food is good, the atmosphere is great, and the candy is sweet. But the real reason people come here is the epic proportions given in their banana split sundae. Let’s just say, be sure to save room for dessert.

🚰 The Whole Kitchen Sink: If the banana split wasn’t enough, Jaxson’s also offers the whole kitchen sink. Literally. A kitchen sink is placed onto your table filled with every flavor and topping imaginable! I hope you like sweets!

Florida Keys 

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Miami | Fort Lauderdale | Florida Keys | Palm Beach | SW Coast

Cast a Line Deep Sea Fishing in Marathon

Aerial view of Florida Keys and a bridge

👉 Browse for Fishing Charters

Often referred to as the sportfishing capital of the world, you’d be remiss if you didn’t cast a line for some Mahi while visiting the Florida Keys. In all of southern Florida, the fishing charters in  Marathon, or up the road in Islamorada, have the best reputation for successful catches.

Paddle Through Mangrove Forests in Key Largo

View of the author paddling in Key Largo
John Pennekamp State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida.

📍 Address: 102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037 | Website | 👉 Book a Guided Kayak Tour in Key Largo

If you’re not snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, or boating in the Keys, you should be paddling. John Pennekamp State Park is the most scenic, and elaborate, network of mangrove channels in Key Largo. Rent a kayak or paddleboard for self-guided tours from the kiosk in the park or book this highly rated kayak tour to have a naturalist show you the way.

Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada

View of a father with his sons feeding pelicans
Feeding the tarpon attracts a few other animal interactions..

📍 Address: 77522 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036 | Phone: 305-664-8070 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 8 pm daily

Feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina is practically a right of passage as you make your way down the Overseas Highway to the southernmost point. These fish are huge and feeding them is certainly heart pumping. After feeding the fish, stroll around the grounds of the marina, stop in the boutiques, and grab a bite to eat at the tiki bar before heading back on your way.

Sail Into History at Dry Tortugas National Park

View of the Dry Tortugas National Park and a blueish sea

Phone: 305-242-7700 | Website | 👉 Sail to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is a group of seven small islands 70 miles west of Key West. The only way to get there is by boat and upon approaching, you’ll feel as if you entered another century. Fort Jefferson, built in 1846 booms over the pristine, turquoise waters. Down below, you’ll be dazzled at how much marine life still exists – a testament to the park’s remoteness.  

In Palm Beach County

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Miami | Fort Lauderdale | Florida Keys | Palm Beach | SW Coast

Find Your Inner Zen at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach

View of a lake in Morikami Garden and a bridge

📍 Address: 4000 Morikami Park Rd, Delray Beach, FL 33446 | Phone: 561-495-0233 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: $15 for adults, $9 6 thru 17, Free for 5 and under

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach are a window into Japan right here in South Florida. The culturally enriching destination is a tranquil step into Japanese life manifesting through art, a bonsai display, architecture, and cuisine.

Meet Sea Turtles at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach

View of a sea turtle in a water
Turtle undergoing rehab at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center

📍 Address: 14200 US-1, Juno Beach, FL 33408 | Phone: 561-627-8280 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: Suggested $5 donation per visitor

One of my favorite things to do in South Florida is to visit Loggerhead Marinelife Center. It’s jaw dropping to see the sheer size, resilience, and cuteness of the turtles as they rehab from injuries and illnesses. 

After spending an hour or two in the center, be sure to stop at the playground for the kids before heading down to one of the most beautiful beaches in South Florida for the afternoon. Oh, and if you have extra time in the area, be sure to check out any of the awesome Jupiter area activities on my list of the best things to do in Jupiter, FL.

Snorkel at Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach

View of a fish under the Riviera Beach
Blue Heron Bridge is one of the world’s premier snorkel sites for biodiversity.

📍 Address: 900 Blue Heron Blvd, Riviera Beach, FL 33404 | Phone: 561-234-4885 | Website | Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

The snorkel trail surrounding Blue Heron Bridge is home to the greatest range of biodiversity I’ve ever witnessed. Snorkelers often encounter manta rays, sea horses, spotted eagle rays, garden eels, and a wide array of Caribbean reef fish. The activity is perfect for a windy day or cloudy day that would otherwise be spent on the ocean or on the beach.

🤿 Need snorkel gear? A self guided tour is easy to do at Blue Heron Bridge – all you need is your own gear. I often recommend Cressi’s Palau Snorkel set for travel and beginner snorkelers!

Depart on a Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach

View of different kind of animals in Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach
(photo: mariakray / Depositphotos)

📍 Address: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470 | Phone: 561-793-1084 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $29 – $35

Over 1000 animals including giraffes, lions, zebras, ostriches, and rhinos, makes this one of a kind drive through safari a special day trip in South Florida. The guided tours embarking through the safari could easily be mistaken for the heart of Africa.

Florida’s Southwest Coast

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Miami | Fort Lauderdale | Florida Keys | Palm Beach | SW Coast

Discover Historic Places in Fort Myers

View of the Murphy Burroughs House from the outside at Fort Myers
The Murphy Burroughs House in Fort Myers is the last of its kind. (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

Website | 👉 Find Awesome Things to Do in Fort Myers

The Murphy Burroughs House, a member of the National Register of Historic Places, is the only Georgian Revival Architecture left standing in Fort Myers. Join a guided tour as they take you back into time, encapsulating what life was like in southern Florida more than 100 years ago.

🌳 Looking for nature instead? The Calusa Nature Center is another great place to visit in Fort Myers that offers environmental education and eco-tours!

Visit the Botanical Gardens in Naples

View of flower arch in Botanical Gardens in Naples
One of the more romantic things to do in Naples

Website | 👉 Find a tour in Naples

If the sugar-white sandy beaches in Naples weren’t enough, visitors might consider touring the Botanical Gardens. The 170 acre property is a favorite of nature lovers and those just seeking a change of pace from the beach. Another Naples museum worthy of visiting is the Baker Museum, one of Florida’s premier art galleries.

Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral

View of a water slide on a outdoor pool
Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral is a perfect way to spend the day.

📍 Address: 400 Santa Barbara Blvd, Cape Coral, FL 33991 | Phone: 239-574-0558 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, depending on season| Entrance: $21 for adults, $19 under 13 |

Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral is the best water park in southern Florida. With mini slides for the kiddos, larger attractions for the adults, snack and drink concessions, it’s easy to spend an entire day trip within the water park. 

👉 Keep Reading: Want more fun activities in the Sunshine State? Check out my list of the best things to do in the state of Florida!

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What’s your favorite thing to do in South Florida? What have you done before that we forgot on our list? Scroll down to leave us a comment below and let us know!

And, if you’re headed up to Orlando, be sure to check out Katie’s list of the top stuff to do in Orlando.

Enjoy your travels in Florida!

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