When planning a vacation to Florida, it can be hard to know where to start. The state has hundreds of miles of beaches, and the cities draw you in with culture, arts, and nightlife (Miami) or a dozen theme parks including the most famous of all, Walt Disney World (Orlando). With so much allure for the whole family, where should you go on your Florida vacation?
We've compiled five of the best cities to visit in Florida: Miami, Orlando, Key West, St. Augustine, and St. Petersburg. Each has something different to offer— a romantic getaway, pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife— that will guarantee a memorable, magical vacation.
Things to do on vacation in Miami
Welcome to Miami! One of the most popular destinations for Florida visitors, this city has tons to do for young and old. Visit the iconic Miami Beach (of course), the zoo and aquarium, or get a taste of Cuban culture in Little Havana. For nightlife, check out South Beach, and for a kid-friendly trip try deep-sea fishing, a water park, and a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich at Ms. Cheezious. One thing's for sure: you'll never run out of things to do when you vacation in Miami, Florida.
Everglades National Park
Don't miss the opportunity to visit Everglades National Park while in Miami. Whether you're boating or taking a guided tour, the Everglades will not fail to wow you. The Everglades are the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, covering 1.5 million acres. You'll have the chance to see hundreds of animal species, including the manatee, crocodile, panther, and leatherback turtle.
Where to stay in Miami
A Miami vacation home with a pool is a treat, especially if you're visiting during the hot summer. Staying in a home that is fully equipped with a stocked kitchen, books, toys and games, and beach gear can make all the difference in having a hassle-free vacation. With plenty of home exchanges in Miami to choose from, you'll be all set to enjoy an affordable, relaxing vacation in the sunshine state.
Miami vacation accommodations with pools
Things to do on vacation in Orlando
Orlando, located in central Florida, has more than a dozen theme parks, certainly a draw for families with kids— and kids at heart. Universal Orlando, with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and SeaWorld Orlando, are two big draws. But there are plenty of things to do in Orlando that aren't theme parks! Stroll through the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, take a hot air balloon ride, or enjoy some great golfing during your Orlando vacation. Make sure to enjoy some seafood, especially the conch fritters the city is known for.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World immediately comes to mind when you think about vacationing in Orlando! The resort is comprised of four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom) and two water parks. Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, giving families endless fun as they go on rides, meet Disney characters, and enjoy fireworks, parades, and shows.
Where to stay in Orlando
When you're looking for vacation accommodations in Orlando, being close to Walt Disney World is a must, especially if you plan to spend multiple days in the parks. After a long, hot day of fun, rides, and being on your feet, return to a home that is stocked with everything you need to be comfortable and relaxed. With plenty of family-friendly home exchanges in Orlando to choose from, you'll be all set to enjoy an affordable, magical vacation.
Orlando vacation home exchanges
Things to do on vacation in Key West
If you prefer coral reefs, diving and snorkeling to beaches, sunbathing and sandcastles, Key West is the Florida destination for you. This island city is part of the Florida Keys archipelago, just 90 miles north of Cuba. Key West is the ultimate destination for a romantic getaway with art galleries, cocktails, and boating, or for the whole family with dolphin encounters, snorkeling, and live music. Key West provides the opportunity to get a taste of Caribbean culture without needing a passport.
Where to stay in Key West
Key West can be an expensive place to stay on vacation, costing around $4,000 for a week at an Airbnb. So choose vacation accommodations that won't break the bank by staying in a HomeExchange. An annual HomeExchange membership is just $220, so you can enjoy a year of unlimited house swaps for the price of one night in a hotel. With plenty of home exchanges in Key West to choose from, you can have a luxurious, tropical getaway and spend your money on pina coladas and dolphin encounters rather than accommodations!
Key West vacation home exchanges
Things to do on vacation in St. Augustine
St. Augustine, known as the Ancient City, is on the northeast coast of Florida and the oldest city in the United States. Its beaches have clear water and sparkling white sand, providing a beautiful place to unwind and sunbathe. St. Augustine is home to Anastasia State Park, boasting pristine beaches, tidal marshes, and ancient sand dunes. History buffs will enjoy a visit to Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States. And if you love golf or tennis, this city is the spot for you!
Where to stay in St. Augustine
A St. Augustine vacation home near the water or in a historic neighborhood is a plus, to make your vacation memorable and hassle-free. Opt to stay in a home that is fully equipped with a stocked kitchen and beach gear, and get tips from locals about the best things to do in the area. With plenty of home exchanges in St. Augustine to choose from, you'll be all set to enjoy a beautiful getaway in the Ancient City.
St. Augustine vacation home exchanges
Things to do on vacation in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Florida, is known as "Sunshine City" because of its beautiful weather year-round, making it an excellent Florida destination for golfing, fishing, and the beach. Located on Florida's gulf coast, St. Petersburg's beaches boast soft white sand and emerald green waters. Downtown St. Petersburg has great shopping, restaurants, nightlife, restaurants, and attractions, and events and festivals are happening in every season. Whether your passion is craft breweries, art museums, or parasailing, St. Petersburg has it all.
Where to stay in St. Petersburg
When looking for vacation accommodations in St. Petersburg, look for a family-friendly home conveniently close to beaches or the downtown area so you don't have to do much driving during your vacation. Make sure to gather tips from locals about the hidden gems in the area so you don't miss out on the best the city has to offer. With plenty of home exchanges in St. Petersburg to choose from, you can enjoy an affordable and comfortable vacation.
St. Petersburg vacation home exchanges
Budget-friendly Florida vacation rental alternatives
Finding vacation accommodations in Florida can also be a challenge, especially on a budget. Hotels or Airbnbs can cost thousands of dollars for just a week. So choose vacation accommodations that won't break the bank by staying in a HomeExchange. An annual HomeExchange membership is just $220, so you can enjoy a year of unlimited house swaps for the price of one night in a hotel. Then you can spend your vacation budget on on pina coladas, theme parks, and dolphin encounters rather than accommodations!
In 2019, a Jacksonville, Florida family of five traveled for for 138 days of the year and saved more than $30,000. The couple accomplished these massive savings using HomeExchange, a home swap website that offers unlimited free accommodations with membership. Read their story to learn more and find out how you can travel the world on a budget too.