In contrast to the more popular and well-known Gulf Coast, known for its peaceful and serene white sand and warm water, Florida’s Atlantic coastline features a rare and wonderful combination of ocean breezes, surf and long palm lined beaches along with both big exciting cities and wide expanses of isolation that all keeps visitors coming back year after year.
For those looking for peace, relaxation, fresh air and outdoor life you’ll find awe-inspiring sunrises, windswept dunes, gentle waves, historic state parks, extensive salt marsh estuaries, coral reefs, fishing piers, lighthouses, national parks, and wildlife refuges. Prefer a livelier experience, head to Daytona Beach, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale or Miami for thrills, attractions, sport, shopping, live music, nightclubs and festivals.
From the quiet family vibe of Amelia Island to the urban appeal of Jacksonville and on to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, the First Coast region on the north east coastline is perhaps the state’s best kept secret, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, clean beaches, laid-back lifestyles, and lively city living.
Very much defined by the water that surrounds it, Jacksonville (or known as Jax by locals) boasts 22 miles of wide sandy beach with a famous quarter mile long fishing pier, a close to 40 mile long intra-coastal waterway network of natural inlets and canals and the magnificent St John’s River with its distinctive black water. Highlights include the famous quarter mile fishing pier, three mile downtown Riverwalk along St John’s River, the bohemian Five Points neighbourhood in Old Jacksonville and, as Jax is home to the largest range of urban greenspace and parkland in the state, any of its three National, seven State and 400+ City Parks.
Amelia Island, located just north of Jacksonville, blends historic culture with modern tourist appeal, its unique downtown area is lined with beautiful boutiques and wonderful seafood restaurants. Perfect for a family getaway or a romantic weekend for two. For an experience that will stay with you forever, take a guided horseback ride along the pristine white sands whilst the sun is setting in the far distance.
Known as the Ancient City, St Augustine was established in 1565 by Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and is the longest continually inhabited city in the whole USA. Stroll through narrow brick paved streets, see the various museums, and learn about the city’s rich history at famous buildings like Castillo de San Marcos, the “Fountain of Youth,” and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
Heading south are the Fun Coast and Space Coast regions home to Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Motorsport fans will already have Daytona on their bucket list, home to the Motorsports Hall of Fame, the world famous Daytona 500 and hundreds more racing events and festivals through the year. Those not drawn by the roaring engines will want to visit the famous seafront promenade with attractions, entertainment, restaurants and shops. Get the adrenaline pumping on a 40-foot-tall slide or the thrill of a lifetime on the 760-foot-tall Wild River Log Flume as you take the family on an adventure at the Joyland Amusement Park. Ride the Space Shuttle and cap the day with pizza, pasta, or a sub from Pizza King on the Boardwalk.
Come and see the ocean almost lapping onto the road at Cocoa Beach, take a stroll along the boardwalk with its quaint old-fashioned candy shops and ice-cream parlours, ride some waves at this surfing hotspot and stock up on your beach goodies at the Ron Jon Surf Shop the world’s largest surf store.
Kennedy Space Center, the nerve centre of the United States’ manned space programme, is located in Cape Canaveral. A one-of-a-kind experience combining an accessible and expansive visitor centre with thrill rides and exhibits that detail the history of NASA, rockets, astronauts and home to both Atlas V launches as well as crew launches on the Falcon 9. If you’re a space aficionado or just have a general curiosity for the cosmos Kennedy Space Center is a great place to visit.
Nature and wildlife lovers won’t want to miss Melbourne Beach, the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to learn about the importance of protecting sea turtles like the loggerhead turtle, a natural resident of this area.
Florida’s Treasure Coast region is a scenic stretch of land along the Atlantic Ocean, running from Indian River County to Martin County, with numerous hidden gems well worth exploring. Vero Beach offers opulent, high-end amenities while retaining a cosy, hometown atmosphere. Jenson Beach is known for great fishing, delicious dining options, charming locally owned stores and its laid-back small town pace. The beaches of Hutchinson Island are unspoiled and stretch for mile after mile, an ideal base for surfing, boating, sailing, kite-surfing, diving, and snorkelling.
Southeast Florida, or the Gold Coast, is known for its tropical temperatures, luxurious resorts and cuisines inspired by Latin America and the Caribbean encompassing a stunning stretch of Atlantic coastline running from the untouched sands of Palm Beach through the illustrious stretch of beaches in Fort Lauderdale and down to the glitz, glamour and outrageous nightlife of Miami.
Palm Beach is a playground for the mega-wealthy, home to billionaires, world famous entertainers and sports superstars. For high-end shopping and star spotting be sure to visit the palm lined Worth Avenue, just steps from the ocean and a landmark retail experience featuring luxury stores, designer boutiques and al-fresco dining.
Fort Lauderdale’s year round warm weather and 24 mile long sandy beach combined with its historic riverfront district and numerous family attractions make this an ideal location both for an active, energetic vacation or a relaxing and rejuvenating escape. Earning it the nickname, the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale is famous for its 300 miles of inland waterways and canals, water taxis, red brick promenade, expensive yachts and extravagant mansions. Why not leave the car at home and let a local expert show you around on a hop-on, hop-off boat tour to view the waterfront mansions and dine at fabulous eateries such as Shooters Waterfront and 15th Street Fisheries.
And finally we give you Miami, as brilliant, vibrant and exhilarating as you could possible imagine, a destination that will leave you brimming with excitement and overwhelmed with options to fill your day. Choose to sunbathe, swim, surf, shop, golf, sip cocktails or dance the night away. Best known for its sensational weather and glorious beaches Miami also offers many more unexpected experiences, a diverse array of neighbourhoods blend together to create a melting-pot of varied culture, history and food. Learn about the history of the Caribbean in Little Haiti, or explore Bahamian roots of the city at West Coconut Grove or immerse yourself in African-American culture in Historic Overtown and experience the thriving Miccosukee Native American community in South Dade.
To truly appreciate the area’s trademark architecture, a tour of Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach is highly recommended, the 800+ protected buildings in the South Beach Art Deco District are an absolute must see.