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!
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27 Best Things to Do in South Florida
Snorkel a Coral Reef 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
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
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 or staying in Miami, the Keys, or Southwest Florida, there’s a visitor center offering unique excursions nearby.
Chill Out in Key West
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
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
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
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!
Bask in the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables
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!
It’s such a cool experience that also rates high on our list of the best things to do in Miami, Florida!
Admire the Architecture at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami
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.
👉 Read Next: 15 Fun Day Trips to Take from Miami
Sip a Colada at Versailles in Little Havana
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
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
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
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale
📍 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
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
📍 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
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!
Cast a Line Deep Sea Fishing in Marathon
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
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
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
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
Find Your Inner Zen at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach
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
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
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
📍 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
Discover Historic Places 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
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
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!
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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