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Things to Do in Florida - page 2

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Ten Thousand Islands
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The Ten Thousand Islands archipelago covers more than 35,000 acres (14,164 hectares) of Florida’s southern tip. The eponymous national wildlife refuge lies in the northern portion, while the southern part is in Everglades National Park. The islands—which number in the hundreds, not thousands—are a perfect place to decompress in nature.

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Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum
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The Key West Lighthouse is one of the island's oldest structures. It was first built in 1825 to help ships navigate the dangerous reefs of the Lower Keys. The lighthouse that stands today dates back to 1847, and the 92-foot (28-meter) building offers some of the best views in town, as well as a maritime museum in the keeper’s house.

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge
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This iconic Florida bridge is a testament to humankind’s architectural prowess and mother nature’s sheer beauty. Officially known as the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge (named after the former Florida governor), it was built in 1954 and spans Tampa Bay with a 1,500-foot cable-stayed main span. The bridge’s height, expansive views of the surrounding bay and modern design landed it the No. 3 spot on the Travel Channel’s list of top bridges in the world. Those traveling to Tampa shouldn’t miss the chance to be impressed by this architectural wonder and the amazing views of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico it provides.

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Key West Cruise Port
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The Key West cruise port is the gateway to America’s southernmost city, where pristine nature meets quirky culture and history. The cruise terminal is walking distance from many top attractions in the compact center of Key West and is a convenient starting point for exploring the city’s neighborhoods, beaches, and nightlife.

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Clearwater Beach
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With expansive white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater Beach is a waterfront Florida community known for its aquatic activities and warm, turquoise waters. Clearwater Beach is an ideal launching pad for kayaking, parasailing, boating, and biking. It’s known as being more low-key than its southern neighbor, the bustling St. Pete Beach, and many consider Clearwater Beach to be among the best beaches in America.

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Mission Nombre de Dios
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It is believed that the Mission Nombre de Dios of St Augustine, Florida - the oldest city in the continental United States - may be the first mission established in America. The Franciscan mission dates back to 1587 when it served nearby villages and was a center of chiefdom in the area. Today it is a well-recognized spiritual site and a large part of the history of St. Augustine (its church is also recognized as the oldest in the United States.)

A visit to the small, ivy-covered stone church is often a peaceful, spiritual refuge. A massive steel cross stands 208 feet tall beside wide walkways and manicured gardens. The shrine dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Le Leche’ dates back to the 1600s when it was built by Spanish settlers. There’s also a historic graveyard and Mission museum containing artifacts and documents found during the original excavation of the grounds. The entire site remains a pilgrimage site for many, and an important part of early U.S. history.

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Oldest Wooden School House
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St. Augustine is a city rich in American history and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is the ideal place for travelers and families to take a step back in time. According to locals, this small structure made of wooden slats with an American flag waving high nearby is the oldest of its kind in the U.S. The building is made of aging bald cypress and red cedar and is chained to the ground to protect it from hurricanes.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of this unique attraction every day, and listen in as a robotic professor and student share historical information, stories and little known facts. In addition to the school house, travelers will see well-kept gardens, a traditional outhouse and an historic kitchen.

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Kennedy Space Center
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The Kennedy Space Center has been hurtling humans and shuttles into space since 1968 and is still a primary site for NASA launches. Parts of the sprawling campus are open to the public with daily tours offering opportunities to interact with real astronauts, test your skills with a simulated space flight, and see artifacts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

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Southernmost Point of the Continental USA
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The Southernmost Point of the Continental USAmonument is a quick but must-do photo op while vacationing in Key West. The iconic buoy-shaped concrete marker indicates that you’re in the southernmost point of the continental United States, just 90 miles (145 kilometers) to Cuba. Snap a pic and then get busy enjoying island life in this legendary Florida destination.

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Polynesian Fire
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Experience the culture of the Polynesian islands in Daytona Beach at the Polynesian Fire show, suitable for the whole family. The Polynesia Fire cultural show includes a luau-style buffet dinner and live entertainment: music, hula dancing, and a fire knife performance.

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More Things to Do in Florida

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

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Tampa’s Busch Gardens combines the thrills of a theme park—replete with myriad roller coasters, ziplines, a white rapids ride, and other rides—with the wonder of a zoo, including more than 12,000 animals from 300 different species. Across its 335 acres (136 hectares), the Africa-themed park also hosts live performances for the whole family.

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Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach

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A far cry from the busy beaches of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, this 7-mile (11-kilometer) expanse of pristine Florida coastline has managed to preserve its sleepy charm. Beachgoers can enjoy the sprawling sky and white sand dunes of the Gulf Coast, all while staying in a nearby resort town that offers a relaxed vibe and upscale amenities.

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Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

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Step back into old Florida, and explore the estates of two of the United States’ most prominent men. Registered as National Historic sites, the buildings and beautifully landscaped lawns of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates tell stories of early Florida as well as the lives and times of the inventors.

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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

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Miami is often called the Magic City, and if it truly is, this opulent Italian Renaissance-style villa, the housing equivalent to a Fabergé egg, is its most fairy-tale residence. Built for industrialist James Deering in 1916, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens brims with 15th to 19th century furniture, tapestries, paintings and decorative arts.

The poetic seaside grounds, which front Biscayne Bay, are full of splendid gardens (including a secret garden), beautiful fountains, sculptures, elegant pools, a charming Florentine gazebo, canals running everywhere and lots of trails. The landscape and architecture were influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance models and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style.

Nearly 200,000 people visit Vizcaya each year including some of the world's leading dignitaries such as President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth of England and King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. In 1994, the historic Summit of the Americas was held at Vizcaya with President Clinton and the 34 leaders of the Western Hemisphere.

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Potter's Wax Museum

Potter's Wax Museum

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This iconic St. Augustine attraction is perfect for the whole family. With some 160 wax sculptures that run the gamut from actors and actresses to historical personalities, famous politicians and more, Potter’s is widely recognized as the first wax museum in America.

Travelers who enter this wildly entertaining museum will learn the story of the wealthy George Potter, who ventured to Europe with his family, where he paid a visit to the original Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Fast-forward to 1948, when this quirky institution was opened, and you have the short version of how Potter’s Wax Museum came to be. Visitors can wander the halls, check out top exhibits and marvel at how lifelike these figures truly are!

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Sawgrass Recreation Park

Sawgrass Recreation Park

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Located only 30 minutes outside downtown Fort Lauderdale, Sawgrass Recreation Park offers guided airboat rides through the marshy, humid swamp waters of the Florida Everglades. Visitors can spot alligators and other marshland animals, such as pythons, black leopards, and the endangered Florida panther living in the wild.

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Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

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When visiting the Florida Keys it is hard to miss the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as most of the water surrounding the Florida Keys is part of the sanctuary. Covering 2,900 square nautical miles, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects the incredible underwater world of the Florida Keys, where reefs and animals flourish.

During a visit to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, you have a few different options for how to experience this protected area of nature. The sanctuary is home to the world’s third largest barrier reef and is an excellent spot for scuba diving or snorkeling. There are even a series of shipwrecks you can explore as a diver called Shipwreck Trail.

If you’d rather stay above water, you can rent a boat to explore the sanctuary and possibly do some fishing. When boating it is important to use mooring buoys for your anchor as they won’t damage the reef. In addition, boaters should pay attention to the commands of other buoys in the sanctuary as they are strategically placed to protect the environment.

To learn more about the history and conservation efforts of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a visit to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is a must. Through interactive exhibits you’ll learn about the land-based and under the sea wildlife and plants of the Florida Keys. There is also a living reef tank, which has an abundance of coral and fish living in it.

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Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve—commonly just called Rookery Bay Reserve—is a mangrove estuary in Naples, Florida. It is an important ecological area as it is one of the last undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. Rookery Bay Reserve covers 110,000 acres and is home to over 150 wildlife species. People are able to visit certain sections of Rookery Bay Reserve on guided tours.

During a boat tour, you’ll board a six-person boat that takes you slowly through the reserve. Your guide will point out animal species you come across, which may include birds, deer, raccoons, tortoises and even bottle-nosed dolphins. Another way to tour the reserve is on a guided kayak excursion where you’ll be taken through backwater bays within the mangrove forest. Just like with the boat tour you’ll get the chance to learn about the animals and vegetation you see from a knowledgeable guide.

Before or after your guided tour, visit Rookery Bay Reserve’s Environmental Learning Center. You’ll learn more about the reserve through hands-on exhibits, a large onsite aquarium and films in its auditorium.

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Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

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Nestled among towering palm trees on Key West, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum allows you to see where one of the United States’ most famous writers and greatest thinkers lived and worked. The Hemingway Home is a National Historic Landmark and Literary Landmark, and recorded at the Library of Congress as an Historic American Building.

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Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

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Filled with species from across the world—as well as those native to Florida—the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens are home to everything from leopards and alligators to butterflies and ferns. Take pictures of the majestic animals and delicate plants, or get into the action by feeding a giraffe or meeting a rhino.

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Medieval Torture Museum

Medieval Torture Museum

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Test your mettle at St. Augustine's Medieval Torture Museum, the first museum of its kind in the United States. This trove of recreated torture instruments, enriched by academic research, demonstrates just how much suffering humanity infllicted during the Middle Ages. Uncover how these deadly objects were employed and why they were used.

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Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

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The ideal destination for curious people of all ages, the Museum of Science and Industry offers numerous exhibits and attractions designed to pique one's scientific interest.

With over 450 hands-on attractions, MOSI offers a unique interactive experience to its visitors. Feel free to lie down on a "bed of nails," allow a butterfly to land on your shoulder in the "Bioworks Butterfly Garden," enjoy an astronomy show in the Saunders Planetarium, or take a ride on the famous "High Wire Bike," suspended on a cable 30 feet (9 meters) above the ground. No matter how daring you are or how interested in science, the museum offers engaging opportunities designed to draw in visitors of all ages.

"Kids in Charge!,"the largest children's science center in the United States, is the perfect place to bring those in the 12-and-under crowd. The attractions there emphasize the value of learning through play by bringing together science and creative thinking, and inspiring the imagination.MOSI is also home to Flordia's only IMAX Dome theater. The Dome regularly shows both educational and popular commercial films.

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Little Havana

Little Havana

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Vibrant Cuban culture permeates every aspect of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida—you’ll find it in the colorful murals, the monuments to heroes past and present, the residents facing off in the domino park as they discuss politics, and in the cigar rollers at work amidst the ever-present aroma of Cuban coffee.

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Exploration Tower

Exploration Tower

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You can enjoy one of the best views along the Space Coast with a visit to Cape Canaveral’s new Exploration Tower. Built in 2013, the curved, sail-like building is a design match with the myriad cruise ships that venture in and out of Port Canaveral, and the viewing platform atop the seven-story structure offers an ideal vantage point for watching the bustle of the port or a NASA rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center, which sits about 10 miles to the north. Exploration Tower also features inside exhibits, including interactive movies in a two-story auditorium, and a simulator where would-be cruise captains can try their hand at navigating Port Canaveral.

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