Theme parks, beautiful beaches, and nice year-round weather are some of the things Florida is famous for and reasons why Florida is so popular among travelers.
This article explores some of the most famous landmarks in Florida, both natural and human-made. We will discuss Key West, South Beach, Walt Disney World, the Everglades, and many other Florida Landmarks. They are some of the destinations you can’t miss in Florida.
We invited a few fellow bloggers to contribute to some of the most famous Floridian landmarks to produce the best information possible.
Florida Landmarks – The Keys
By Charles McCool from McCool Travel
One of the best scenic drives in Florida and one of the most popular drives in the world is the Overseas Highway. The phenomenal 125-mile drive through the Florida Keys and ending in Key West crosses 42 bridges—and Seven Mile Bridge is the longest and most popular. Naturally, the Florida Keys Seven Mile Bridge is one of the most famous Florida landmarks and has appeared in countless movies, television shows, and advertisements. In fact, on one drive, I was among thousands of people delayed for about an hour while filming occurred for a major film on the Seven Mile Bridge (but the film crew was really nice and passed out food and drinks).
Indeed the Seven Mile Bridge is seven miles long. At its highest point, it is 65 feet above sea level. That is also the highest elevation in the Florida Keys. The Old Seven Mile Bridge runs parallel in two sections and serves as an entry to Pigeon Key on the north end.
The southern end of Seven Mile Bridge is MM 40.0 (MM is the mile marker), so 40 miles from the start of US 1 in Key West. The northern end of Seven Mile Bridge is MM 47.0, about 56 miles south of Key Largo.
Custom House, Key West
By Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad
It’s hard to miss the huge red brick Custom House, one of the most unique sites to see in Key West, Florida.
Built in 1891 in the popular Richardsonian Romanesque style typical of the time, the building towers over Mallory Square and the cruise ship dock, easily seen from the surrounding streets and even from the sea. The building originally housed the Key West post office and district courts. With the advent of very lucrative maritime industries that included wrecking, Key West became quite wealthy.
The Custom House was built in response to this growing wealth. At one time, the Key West Navy Base was right next door, and the Navy officially took over the building in 1932 as a headquarters for Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean operations. The building was later abandoned by the Navy and stood empty for decades.
In 1991, the State of Florida Land Acquisition Council purchased the property and leased it to the Key West Art & Historical Society to create a museum. “Old 91” is now a national landmark with a fascinating award-winning museum run by the Key West Art & Historical Society.
You can fly into Miami on and scenic Miami to Key West road trip, or fly directly into the Key West airport.
Cape Florida Lighthouse
By Vicky of Buddy The Traveling Monkey
The Cape Florida Lighthouse is located southeast of Miami on the southern end of Key Biscayne. Established in 1825, it is one of the best lighthouses on the east coast. You can get to it easily by car or even bicycle. The lighthouse doesn’t have an entrance fee, but it is inside Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, which costs $8 per vehicle.
The lighthouse and the land it’s on have been historically significant for centuries. Before the lighthouse was built, Cape Florida was where slaves and Black Seminoles would board ships and escape to the British-held Bahamas. Unfortunately, once the lighthouse was built, the light compromised their escape route.
After it was built, the lighthouse guided sailors around nearby dangerous reefs. Over the years, it has been decommissioned, restored, and returned to active service. In 1970, the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
After climbing 109 steps, visitors will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, and Miami. Visitors can explore the lighthouse from Thursday to Monday, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The lighthouse is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
By Victoria J. Yore from Florida Trippers
If you are looking for famous landmarks in Florida, you have come to the right place! Fort Jefferson, located in Dry Tortugas National Park, offers a unique and historical experience! Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote National Parks in the USA, and Fort Jefferson is the most recognizable location here!
Fort Jefferson looks pretty, but as with many things in the American South, it has a dark history. The Fort was named after Thomas Jefferson and was built between 1846-1875. It was a large military fortress and was used by the USA to protect a lucrative shipping channel. Now, all that remains is the shell of the fort. Still, it has been designated a protected monument in Florida for its history and the underwater marine ecosystem it has created over the decades.
To visit here, you must take either a 3+ hour boat ride from Key West or a seaplane ride! There are only 66,000 visitors that come every year, so you can rest assured that it won’t be too crowded and you will have an enjoyable experience!
By Cami Neves from travel Cami
The Southernmost Point Buoy is located at the end of Whitehead St in Key West, the last of the Florida Keys.
The famous Floridian landmark is made of concrete and marks the southernmost point of the United States and the distance of only 90 miles to Havana, Cuba’s capital. It was built in 1983 and has stayed put through natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma in 2017;
The Southernmost Point is today for sure one of the most iconic and photographed places in Key West. Every day, hundreds and hundreds of visitors line up for a considerable amount of time to take a picture with the concrete buoy. You can read about other exciting things to do in Key West.
Pro-tip: On your next trip to Key West, make sure to visit the Southernmost Point as early in the morning as you can to avoid the crowds!
By Alice from Adventures of Alice
If history interests you, then the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach is a must-see place to go. Its development began in 1984 with a small group of Holocaust survivors who formed a permanent memorial in Miami to pay respects to the millions of people that lost their lives during World War 2.
A year later, in 1985, a man named Kenneth Treister was commissioned to design and sculpt the memorial; this work took five years. The memorial allows you to pay your respects to those who lost their lives during the war while offering insight into what happened during this awful time. Although it’s a rather sobering sight, it’s still one of the top things to see in Miami, and it’s important to remember those events and learn from them.
The Memorial is situated in Miami Beach, and you can get there by driving/taxi or get a bus around the city where one of the stops is this memorial.
Famous Landmarks in Florida – St. Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Located in St. Augustine, the oldest continuous European Settlement in the USA, Castillo de San Marcos was built in 1672, 107 years after the Spanish established the city. This ancient defensive fort is an important historical landmark in Florida and the US. It was built to defend Spain’s interests in Florida and the Atlantic trade route.
Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States and the oldest structure in St. Augustine. It’s an educative and fun-to-visit landmark making it one of the most popular destinations in St. Augustine.
Within the complex, it’s possible to visit numerous rooms, particularly walking through the fort’s casements where soldiers and prisoners once lived. It’s also possible to enter the huge interior courtyard and the gun deck. The Castillo also works as a beautiful lookout for the city. If you visit at the right time, you may also catch one of the many cannon and musket firings and other weaponry demonstrations, which are very fun to watch.
Fountain of Youth
By Alicia Richards from Travels With The Crew
The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida, is a must-see place on any trip to Florida. It is more than just a fountain. It is an attraction and one of the things Florida is famous for.
The legend of the fountain of youth has been around for centuries and has been sought by many. It was said that anyone who drank from the Fountain of Youth would become young again and stay that way forever.
Ponce de Leon was searching for the mythical Fountain of Youth when he was exploring Florida, and he believed he found it in modern-day St. Augustine, Florida.
Today there is a tourist attraction built around the supposed Fountain of Youth. You can drink from the natural springs and learn about the quest for the springs.
The Fountain of Youth Attraction is an outdoor living history museum similar to Sturbridge Village, Plymouth Plantation, and many others across the country.
While you are visiting, you can:
- Drink from the natural springs that have supposedly magical powers
- Go back in time and learn about Spanish colonial living
- Learn about weaponry and the defense of St. Augustine
- Watch costumed inhabitants of the early 1600s go about their daily lives.
If you are traveling with kids in Florida, this is a must-see and must-do! They will be charmed by the idea of eternal youth and will learn a lot about the history of Florida.
Natural Florida Landmarks – Others
By Lori Sorrentino from Naples Florida Travel Guide
The Florida Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the USA, formed by a system of watersheds that flow from central Florida down to the southern tip of the peninsula and into the waters of the Ten Thousand Islands. Because of its uniqueness, the Everglades was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and one of America’s Natural Wonders.
The Glades comprises several distinct ecosystems, from the marshy grasslands of Everglades National Park to the hardwood swamp and hammocks of Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, and the thick scrub and trees of Picayune Strand State Forest. Sadly, this fragile ecosystem has been reduced to half of its original size by human activity and remains underrated in the US.
But the Glades is a nature lover’s paradise bursting with unique wildlife, plants, insects, and birds found nowhere else in the US. There is no shortage of outdoor activities to be enjoyed. Hiking, kayaking, and guided airboat tours will all put you in touch with the pristine environment. As for when to visit, pick your season. Summer is hot and wet, but wildlife is most abundant at this time of year. Winter is mild and dry, making hiking trails that are no longer underwater accessible. It’s an easy drive from Miami or your destination in southwest Florida.
Honeymoon Island State Park
By Paula Martinelli from Paula Pins the Planet
Florida offers so many incredible natural landscapes to explore. If you are looking for a less touristy place to visit, the Honeymoon Island State Park is one of these perfect spots. The island is divided into North Beach, Oasis Beach, and Dog Beach, where you can bring your furry friend with you to one of the best islands in Florida.
Honeymoon Island is a perfect place for outdoor lovers, and it offers many options, like soaking in the sun, swimming, fishing, kayaking, biking, and hiking. Honeymoon Island spans 4-miles of pristine white sand beaches and a 3-mile hiking trail through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests. You can spend a day on the island enjoying the scenic beaches and also, do a picnic in one of the designated areas. You can also rent a kayak and visit Caladesi Island, separated only 15-min from Honeymoon Island.
You can find two cafes on Honeymoon Island, where you can buy food and beverage. There is no option for accommodations inside Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island. But it is just a short distance driving from Clearwater or Dunedin, where you can find several options for accommodations. To enter the island is only $8 for a full car or $4 for a single person.
Famous Landmarks in Florida – Others
By Kris from Nomad By Trade
Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is the centerpiece and most recognizable icon at Disney World. Opened in 1971, it’s said to have been based on the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Germany, and you can see similarities in some of its blue-roofed towers. It’s one of the most photographed buildings in the entire world, and millions of families have posted in front of the castle for vacation photos over the last half-century. As the first of the Disney theme parks in Florida, the Magic Kingdom helped put Orlando and the surrounding area on the map as a tourist destination.
The Walt Disney World Resort is located in Lake Buena Vista, just a few minutes southwest of Orlando. The Magic Kingdom is located at the north end of the Disney property. Guests staying at Disney hotels can take boats, buses, or the famous monorail to arrive. Visitors coming from off-site can park in the massive lot and take a ferry or the monorail for the final leg of their trip. Once you enter the park, there’s no missing the castle. There are great photo locations down the entire length of Main Street. The castle is especially beautiful at night, with dramatic lighting adding to its aura and nightly fireworks overhead.
By Gillian Birch from Escape to the sun
Of all the man-made monuments in Florida, Bok Tower has to be one of the most breathtaking. This 205-foot (62m) high National Historic Landmark sits on one of the highest points in Florida, just 300 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by 50 acres of beautifully maintained gardens in the town of Lake Wales, just south of Orlando.
The gardens and pink marble tower were created in 1929 by Edward Bok, a Dutch immigrant who made his name (and fortune) in the world of publishing. This magnificent edifice was designed by Milton Medary and covered in carvings by Lee Lawrie. The pièce de résisitance has to be the gleaming brass door covered in biblical scenes, which shines like gold in the sun. The tower took two years to complete and was opened by President Coolidge, no less!
Nicknamed the “Singing Tower,” it contains a 60-bell carillon played by a Master Carillonneur. The organ-like keyboard and foot pedals strike the brass bells, playing well-known hymns and classical pieces. Each bell weighs between 16 pounds and 11 tons. They were cast by John Taylor Bellfounders in Loughborough, England, and shipped to Florida!
Bok Tower is a stunning attraction that provides an unforgettable experience for lovers of music, architecture, and gardens. Enjoy!
By Ashley Jansen from Jetset Jansen
One of the most famous names in South Florida history is Henry Flagler, who played a key role in developing Florida’s east coast. He founded the Florida East Coast Railway, which connected all the way from Jacksonville to the Florida Keys. The Flagler Museum is a beautiful estate located on Palm Beach Island and was the home to Henry Flagler and his family.
The museum, once known as Whitehall, was a majestic winter home as per his 3rd wife’s requests, and the home was built as a wedding gift to her. The home is indeed the ritzy vacation home she wanted, as it’s adorned with 24k gold trim, ornately painted ceilings, and crystal chandeliers. The home itself is located on prime waterfront real estate on the expensive island of Palm Beach and within minutes of Worth Avenue, a famous (and pricey) shopping street.
The Flagler Museum is open for touring, and if you have the time, try to jump on a house tour. You’ll learn all about the history of Henry Flagler, his ventures with Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company, and some entertaining stories along the way.
Kennedy Space Center
By Rebecca from whatever packs your bag
Kennedy Space Center (KSC), located in Merritt Island, Florida. The closest city to stay in is Titusville, but Orlando is only an hour away and will have many more options.
KSC is filled with history and so much to see and learn. You should schedule at least a day, but if you have two even better. Tickets are required for entry and can be purchased in advance on their website.
The major exhibits are the space shuttle exhibit, which holds the actual space shuttle used to take astronauts to space for 30 years!
The astronaut talks are also amazing, and listening to their experience and how they became astronauts are always so cool.
You can also take a bus tour to see the actual launch pads from which SpaceX and the Apollo Missions launched. The bus will take you over to the Apollo/ Saturn V Center, where you can see the largest rocket ever flown.
If you plan it right, you could even plan to be there for a launch, be warned, it gets super busy around KSC, and hotel rooms and parking can be difficult to get, but it is an experience you will never forget.
By Stephanie Craig from History Fangirl
American Beach is a historic Black resort beach in Amelia Island, Florida. During the era of Jim Crow in the South, Black people were not allowed to swim anywhere on Amelia Island. To remedy this injustice, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida’s first black millionaire, created a resort community for Black travelers.
Today the beach is preserved as part of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, one of the US National Parks in Florida. The National Parks Service maintains control of the 8.5-acre sand dune, and the Trust for Public Land owns the “Evans Rendevous” building. Another spot at American Beach where you can get a glimpse at the site’s history is the house called “Ervin’s Rest,” which was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Unfortunately, neither of these buildings are open to the public.
While here, make sure to visit the American Beach Museum, which was started to honor the unique culture of the American Beach community. Since the beach lacks many historic buildings or businesses, a stop in the museum is the best way for you to understand the history and importance of American Beach. To get to American Beach, book a trip to Amelia Island, just north of Jacksonville. You can fly into Jacksonville and rent a car or get at on your own Florida road trip adventure. Once on the island, you find American Beach on the coast south of Fernandina, Amelia Island’s main town.
By Terri Markle from Female Solo Trek
No trip to West Florida is complete without a visit to historic Ybor City outside Tampa, Florida – AKA “Cigar City.” A popular Ybor City slogan says it all—“Cuba without a passport.” The Latin quarter offers an easy stop on a one-day tour of Tampa.
Ybor City Museum State Park is an urban park and historical museum in the heart of Tampa’s National Historic Landmark District.
Arrive early in the morning before the tourists. You will be serenaded by the roosters who live here.
The first stop is the Ybor City Museum. Admission is $4 per person. Children 5 and under are free. The museum is located in the 1923-era Ferlita Bakery. Roam its Mediterranean-style garden and CLUCK back at its feathered residents. Explore the “casita” for a typical cigar worker’s family home.
You will learn about the area’s history as a melting pot at the museum. It is the primary interpreter and conservator of Ybor City’s rich history and heritage. It also promotes Tampa’s identity as the “Cigar Capital of the World.”
Also, visit the Tampa Baseball Museum. Located in the Al Lopez House, it celebrates Tampa’s role in baseball history from major league to Little League. Travel through 125 years of baseball heritage via the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits about local baseball culture—Factory, Inter-Social, Municipal, Cigar City, and Negro leagues.
Art Deco District of South Beach
By Talek Nantes from Travels with Talek
Regarding Florida landmarks, you can’t do better than the iconic Art Deco District of South Beach in Miami, designated a National Register District since 1979.
Art Deco is an art style that originated in France in the early 1900s. The style’s popularity grew around the world, influencing everything from ocean liners to glassware to the Empire State Building. This is more evident than in the Art Deco District of South Beach, the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the United States.
The district lies between the 5th and 23rd streets along Ocean Drive and consists of over 800 buildings painted in the fabulous tropical pastel colors of sea blue, canary yellow, flamingo pink, and lime green. Strolling the area makes for the perfect South Beach walk.
The Miami Design Preservation League gives tours of these beautiful buildings explaining their history and showcasing their graceful beauty. These tours can be booked at the Art Deco Welcome Center on Ocean Drive.
It’s easy to get to the Art Deco District. The area lies about 20 minutes from the Miami International airport. It’s on Miami Beach, an island, so you must cross one of the bridges connecting Miami Beach to Miami’s mainland. Once there, there are many entertainment options including dining, museums, and, of course, the beach.
By Ashley Jansen from Jetset Jansen
A visit to Miami wouldn’t be complete without exploring South Beach. This famous section of Miami Beach is iconic and has been the setting for countless movies. When you picture Miami, you probably visualize South Beach because it’s known for its beach, nightlife, and restaurants.
South Beach comprises the southern tip of Miami Beach, typically from around 22nd street and south. This area is full of the art deco buildings mentioned above, giving Miami its character. Art and culture are a big part of the city, seen throughout the decor in the hotels, the culinary fusions, and the architecture in buildings.
There’s a beautiful, wide beach with colorful lifeguard stands, a boardwalk along South Point to watch the cruise ships and unbeatable sunsets from the bayside with views of Downtown Miami and Brickell. For shopping, you can head to Collins Avenue or Lincoln Road, which is also a fun place for outdoor cafes. Ocean Drive is another famous area to see, with its long boardwalk and art deco hotels lining the street. You’ll even find the former Versace Mansion tucked into the hotels along Ocean Drive. South Beach is a crazy, fun part of Miami with plenty of things to do!
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