The Ultimate Visitors Guide to South Florida
When it comes to planning vacations, Florida is a perennial favorite for fun in the sun. And it’s no wonder! Florida is home to balmy year-round weather and over 660 miles of beach
— but that’s not all there is to love about the Sunshine State!
In addition to gorgeous ocean views and the warm climate, you can find destinations and activities that will take your visit from simply fun to utterly fabulous. You just need to know where to look. If South Florida is your travel target, this guide will be your best friend. It contains the best things to do in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. You’ll find there’s no shortage of things to do in Florida!
Surf & Sand in South Florida
There’s no sense talking about South Florida without mentioning the many beaches that make it such a popular destination. While every vacation could do with a day or two of pure rest and relaxation with the sun up above and the sand between your toes, there’s more to do at Florida beaches than you might think. Here are some active options for those of you who have a bit more get-up-and-go attitude when it comes to beach time.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
There’s more to the beach than meets the eye, as you’ll quickly find out if you choose to go on a scuba diving or snorkeling adventure during your time in Florida. And boy did you pick the perfect place to do that! This state is home to the only natural living coral reef
in America, the bulk of which can be found just off the Florida Keys. Not only is it living — it’s thriving with nearly 1,400 different types of marine plants and animals! If you’re looking to revel in the colorful underwater world of the Florida Reef, consider visiting the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
in Key Largo. From glass-bottom boat tours to paddleboards, this outfit really knows how to make the most of the beautiful Florida water and its ecosystem.
If sporting on the water is more your speed, waterskiing and parasailing should be right up your alley! There’s nothing quite like feeling the surf and sun on your face while zipping along the water. If you feel like taking lessons, you might be able to add some slick tricks into the mix! Looking for things to do in Fort Lauderdale? McGinnis Water Ski
is a must. They’ll have you waterskiing like a pro. If
For an experience that gets you off your behind and onto the water — but with a bit less adrenaline involved — you can sign up to try out sport fishing. Thanks to the ideal location and climate, fishing in Florida is plentiful pretty much all year round, so you can take advantage of the sea’s bounty whenever you happen to be there. There are many options to choose from when sport fishing. Whether you’re an expert angler, or you never got your sea legs, there’s a fishing excursion for you. You can charter a boat
with five to 70 other people, depending on how much you want to spend on the experience. Whether you want a trip that last four hours or overnight, Miami Beach will not disappoint with its myriad of fishing franchises.
Yachting & Sailing
If you enjoy yachting or sailing, you must visit South Florida. It’s great to be on the water any time of year in South Florida, which makes it the ideal spot for yachting and sailing. Whether you live on your vessel or you only use your boat to travel once in a while, you should make plans to visit South Florida so you can explore Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale
. With so much to do and see, you’ll want to stay even longer than you originally planned.
If you’ve never sailed before and you’re over by Miami Beach and want to try your hand at sailing, Miami Beach Parasail
offers a solid option. If yachting is more your style, be sure you check out the Florida Yacht Group when you’re in Miami.
Animal Attractions in South Florida
While Florida’s abundance of unusual wildlife often takes a back seat to the more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants activities, it shouldn’t. The Sunshine State is home to a plethora of animals you don’t get a chance to see in everyday life. When it comes to South Florida sites to see, flora and fauna are where it’s at — especially if you’re looking for family-friendly daytime activities.
Swimming With Sea Life
Sure, scuba and snorkel tours are a great way to take in the coral reef and its inhabitants, but they lack the real impressive wildlife encounters. When you want to get up close and personal with some of the larger forms of sea life, you have many options
. There’s a reason why vacationers can’t stop talking about their experience swimming with the dolphins. It’s almost magical, and it’s definitely exhilarating. Flippers — er, hands — down, it’s something you’ll want to experience at least once in your lifetime. Not only will you enjoy a fun family outing you’ll be talking about for years, but you’ll also be doing these animals a favor. Many operators such as Dolphins Plus
in Key Largo are committed to promoting conservation and awareness for these creatures through experiential learning. Just yet one more reason to feel good swimming with these awe-inspiring creatures.
Zoos & Aquariums
While swimming with wildlife can be a magical experience, not all of us are up for that kind of communion with nature. For the rest of us, South Florida is full of zoos and aquariums where you can appreciate nature without the hands-on element. The non-profit Flamingo Gardens
in Fort Lauderdale offers 60 acres of walkable botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuary as well as a museum showcasing Florida life in the 1930s! On the seafaring side, the Miami Seaquarium
features big-name sea-life attractions such as dolphins and even killer whales.
Looking to get wild? Miami’s Monkey Jungle
flips the script on visitors: The monkeys run free while the humans look on from behind a barrier! Take the Rainforest Adventure, an immersive adventure in a five-acre natural habitat for monkeys — it won’t disappoint. You’ll get up close and personal with spritely capuchin and squirrel monkeys, learning about their natural environments and behaviors.
Are you more into the carnivorous side of things? Lion Country Safari
is the way to go. During this all-day experience, you’ll drive through four miles of simulated savanna, filled with over 900 animals! As if that couldn’t be enough, they also have a petting zoo, water ferry and water park.
Glades & Gators
Florida isn’t all beaches and breeze — get down and dirty with the best of them. If you’re looking for a mucked up adventure, you need to take a trip to the Everglades! For a taste of the untamed, you might want to check out Billie Swamp Safari
, located west of Fort Lauderdale. This preserve, situated on 2,200 acres of the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, has it all: airboat and swamp buggy tours, wildlife exhibits, an exclusive restaurant and, of course, the opportunity to see Florida’s famous gators in person!
Museum Attractions in South Florida
Museums, boring? Not in Florida! Many of the best South Florida sights to see are museums! If you need a break from all of your vacation action, these museums make learning about the rich history of this southern state fun:
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
If you’re looking for things to do in Miami, HistoryMiami
is a good place to start. It features exhibits that span 10,000 years of history in the region. You can take that history in by perusing the museum’s exhibits, or embarking on a historical tour of the city!
Miami Art Museum
What would a trip to Miami be without getting immersed in its colorful and moving art scene? A visit to the world-famous Miami Art Museum
is a must-do. Featuring the work of local artists and globally recognized ones as well, you get a true feeling for the impact this enriching culture is making on the world at large.
Ready to kick your relaxation up a notch? Visit the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
. It’s one of the most relaxing things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Stroll around the grounds of this premier preserved home or peruse the art galleries and exhibits.
South Florida Science Museum
Wondering about things to do in West Palm Beach when you’re towing kids? Take a trip to the South Florida Science Museum
. It’s guaranteed hours of fun thanks to dinosaur exhibits, aquariums of the Atlantic, planetarium shows and the open observatory.
One of the more mysterious historical destinations in Miami is the famous Coral Castle
. This wonderland of coral rock was carved over the span of 28 years by one single man — and the kicker is that no one knows how he did it! Visit the site to reveal some fun facts about this marvel of human ingenuity.
Antique Car Museum
If you’ve got a more mechanical bent, it’s certainly worth visiting the Antique Car Museum
in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. They display 22 Packard cars ranging from 1900 to the 1940s, as well as several exclusive collections of automobile memorabilia.
Space plays a major role in Florida. And when we say major, we’re not exaggerating. Over $4 billion of Florida’s economy
is represented by the space industry. Want to get in on the hair-raising action? Visit the Buehler Planetarium
at Broward University and take in a state-of-the-art stargazing experience in a 40-foot dome!
Art Basel in Miami Beach
Every year, over 250 of the world’s top art galleries participate in Art Basel’s shows, attracting a combined total of more than 70,000 visitors annually. Art Basel in Miami
takes place in the city’s convention center, which is located on Convention Center Drive. During the weeklong show, you can see artistic pieces made by masters of modern and contemporary art displayed beside artwork made by some of the art world’s future stars.
You’ll find paintings, sculptures, photos, installations and more in the convention center’s main exhibition hall. You can experience larger works of art, films and live performances at Collins Park and SoundScape Park, which are located close to the convention center. Art Basel rotates through Miami Beach, Hong Kong and Basel each year — if art is your thing, you can try to time your visit for when the show is in town.
Food & Festivities in South Florida
With all this doing, you’ll need a lot of eating, too. Luckily, South Florida is a burgeoning home for culinary genius, and you don’t have to look far to find a place to sit down and dig in with style:
If you’re on the prowl for four-star fare in Fort Lauderdale, Casa D’Angelo
should top your list. This Italian eatery brings dishes to life with its oak wood oven, and Chef D’Angelo breathes new life into traditional recipes using fresh ingredients with a modern twist.
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
When ambiance is your angle, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
delivers. One of the top restaurants in Miami, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar will dazzle you with the establishment’s expansive warehouse setting, infused with artistic touches at every turn. The delectable dishes match the artistry of the setting, and you’ll get a feast for the stomach and soul at the same time!
In Miami, 34% of residents
are Cuban — and the culture is reflected in the fine ethnic foods you can find in the city. The food at Exquisito Restaurant
is as delectable as the name suggests, and the recipes there have 30 years of family tradition behind them. Exquisito is a must-try for those who are looking to add a little spice to their South Florida experience!
Tap 42 Bar & Kitchen
Combining food and nightlife can be fun, and Tap 42 Bar & Kitchen
does both extremely well. In addition to offering an unbeatable selection of craft beer and booze, Tap 42 kicks things up a notch with their “Gastrogrub” menu — a culinary delight for anyone interested in cutting-edge cookery. Stop by if you’re looking for things to do in Fort Lauderdale and find out why they were voted the Best Bar in Broward County
West Palm Beach restaurants don’t get much more authentic than this! The Havana Restaurant
and cantina offers a family-friendly atmosphere, traditional Cuban fare and a one-of-a-kind, 24/7 pick-up window for anyone who can’t wait for morning to get some of those delicious Havana delicacies.
Clearly, South Florida has a diverse selection of fantastic dining options. Fort Lauderdale is a fine example of a South Florida city with a nice mix of eateries you’ll want to try during your visit. We invite you to learn about the top-rated restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
Hot Nightlife Spots in South Florida
You’ve planned your daytime activities and made a list of places to have dinner—so far so good! But what about afterward? Are you ready to let loose and party in the heart of South Florida’s adrenaline-inducing nightlife?
Take a walk on the wild side at the first authentic South African bar in the United States! This unique establishment offers imported beer and wine, unique international drinks and an unmistakable atmosphere. Sip curated cocktails while taking in the authentic art, artifacts, tools and masks that line the walls. Enjoy Saturday-night karaoke or the occasional rugby game in style.
This Fort Lauderdale spot is the place to go for anyone who loves live music. The Culture Room
offers South Florida’s premier music environment, with top-of-the-line sound systems, masterful lighting and a roomy, multi-level space to relax and enjoy tunes of all kinds. Approach the bar for a good buzz with excellent service.
In downtown West Palm Beach, Copper Blues
is making a big splash. The newly minted “rock pub and kitchen” carries over 50 beers on tap and boasts an impressive full menu and happy hour. Of course, they couldn’t call themselves a rock pub without the spectacle of live music, and acts are usually booked from Wednesday through Saturday — you can catch a show even if you’re not in town for the weekend.
No Florida vacation is complete without a visit to a tiki bar, and Square Grouper
has you covered. This open-air bar features multiple stations where you can order a drink while taking in the sea air and sounds of tropical music, including local reggae. There’s live music every night, and you can even walk down the pier and see the Jupiter lighthouse. It’s a great all-around hangout spot and a brilliant place to take a date!
Ball & Chain
Opened in 1935, this club is a Miami standard. In the past, the Ball & Chain
has played host to leading musical acts such as Billie Holiday and Chet Baker, and they’re hoping to bring more big names back after their recent reinvention. Whether you’re booking a private event or simply dropping by for a night of live music, their tapas menu and imaginative signature cocktails will make you glad you came to Miami.
Find Your Happy Place in South Florida
As you can see, visiting South Florida doesn’t have to be an experience that’s limited to beaches and booze. Whether you’re the outdoorsy type, a history buff or someone who likes a little of everything, there are plenty of activities and destinations that can take your vacation to the next level. With its wealth of marine life, historical sites and cultural experiences, South Florida is a much richer destination than most people realize.
If you plan to visit South Florida, make sure you have the support necessary to get the most out of your experience. Quintessentially People is a leading staffing and recruiting agency with offices in Fort Lauderdale that matches high-quality candidates with our valued clients. Whether you need crew for your yacht
, a personal assistant
, a pet sitter, a nanny
or another position, we can help you find a trustworthy, experienced professional to step into the role seamlessly.
Of course, you don’t need to plan a trip to South Florida to use our staffing and recruiting services. We’ll happily help you find the staff members you need to live your life fully no matter your location or where you head.
For more information about our staffing and recruiting services
, contact Quintessentially People