What You Should See in Florida Besides Theme Parks


For our honeymoon, we knew that we wanted constant sunshine, a safe environment, excellent food and luxurious hotels with plenty to visit nearby. Florida fitted the bill perfectly! Whilst we would have loved to have time to visit the theme parks, this was a relatively short trip, so I’ve put together a guide of what to see in Florida besides theme parks.

The Biltmore

Our first hotel of choice was The Biltmore Hotel, in Coral Gables. It’s a luxury resort set in 150 acres of land, including an 18 hole championship golf course. It was constructed in 1926 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. Coral Gables itself was one of the first ever planned communities, with a Mediterranean Revival style, wide tree-lined avenues and ornate fountains.

The Biltmore Coral Gables review
At one point the Biltmore’s pool was the largest in the world and it’s swimming instructor was none other than Johnny Weissmuller before starring in Tarzan.

Biltmore Coral Gables swimming pool
A few minutes walk from our hotel, The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables has to be the nicest public swimming pool that I’ve ever come across. If we hadn’t have had such an amazing pool at our hotel, I would definitely have come for a dip. You can pay a small fee and just walk round as we did.

Venetian Pool Coral Gables
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this sign above a factory, that we spotted whilst walking around Coral Gables.

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And now for a bit of culture – Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a truly beautiful museum in the very trendy area of Coconut Grove, Miami. It’s an Italian Renaissance mansion built in the 1920s, with a stunning jetty overlooking Biscayne Bay – one of our favourite cultural attractions to see in Florida.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens exterior
Originally owned by James Deering, the tractor industrialist, it’s now run by Miami-Dade County.

Vizcaya Florida review
Moving on to the Downtown area of Miami, if this striking building looks familiar, that’s because it featured in the opening credits of Miami Vice. The Atlantis Condominium on Brickell Avenue has a spiral staircase, jacuzzi and palm tree in its middle.

Miami Vice building
Little Havana is another interesting area to visit. It’s known for it’s Walk of Fame featuring Latin artists such as Gloria Estefan and Julio Igelsias.

Little Havana Miami visit
Miami’s Art Deco buildings look even more spectacular by night and this one was particularly distinctive. I’d love to return to capture their splendour on film, now that I have a camera that works really well in low light.

Miami Art Deco lighting
The place really comes to life and the many beachside lounge bars are at their best – we went to the Delano, the Shore Club and also popped into the Loews.

Lowes South Beach bench
The next day we spotted this stunner sunning himself by the shore, Florida is such a great place to see wildlife.

Florida lizard in sun
 The Everglades
There are quite a few tours of the Everglades out there – we chose the one in Sawgrass as we’d read good reviews about it. We certainly managed to see quite a few alligators and crocodiles. Just bear in mind that the air boats can’t go right into the heart of the Everglades, since they’re noisy, so if you really want to get up close to the wildlife, a canoe trip is best. I’ve always wanted to go on an airboat, having seen so many films featuring them, and it was great fun. I’d advise that you take a waterproof, we got drenched at one point.

Sawgrass Everglades air boat
The Everglades National Park is actually the only eco-system in the world where alligators and crocodiles live side by side. Alligators only thrive in fresh water because they can’t digest salt, however crocodiles can live in both salt and fresh water. In the Everglades, fresh water from the Florida Bay meets the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico so both species live there together. Do remember to cover yourself in anti-mosquito repellent, we used some but I still got lots of bites!

Everglades Sawgrass alligator
Driving back to Coral Gables, we made a pit stop at the quirky Pit Bar-B-Q – thankfully we didn’t encounter any panthers along the way!

The Pit Bar-B-Q Florida
The Breakers Palm Beach was our next port of call. It’s another historic hotel resort, in fact you can even take a guided tour if you’re not staying there. Decorated in an Italian Renaissance style, it was the brainchild of oil and railroad magnate Henry Flagler. In 1896, Flagler built a hotel called The Palm Beach Inn and guests started to request rooms “over by the breakers.”  When Flagler redoubled the hotel’s size, he renamed it The Breakers.

The Breakers Palm Beach lobby
It quickly became popular with the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors and J.P. Morgan. It’s been beautifully modernised and the swimming pool is a great place to take in the sunset…

The Breakers swimming pool
Whilst the view of the “breakers” from our suite was equally amazing – the sea was calm when we took this photo.

The Breakers Palm Beach view
Close by, Worth Avenue is a street lined with luxury boutiques and restaurants in Palm Beach. It’s zip/post code 33480 is the wealthiest in America.

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These life-sized sculptures of children and a pig sticking its nose into a trough are to be found in Gucci Courtyard, just off Worth Avenue. I’d love to know who the artist is.

Palm Beach sculptures
Charming Sea Gull Cottage is the oldest house in Palm Beach and as you can see, it has been beautifully restored.

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Isn’t this church picture perfect!

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A few minutes walk from the Breakers is the Flagler Museum, also created by Henry Flagler as a wedding present for his third wife and completed in 1902.

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The interiors are really impressive, and it is also a National Historic Landmark, well worth a visit.

Flagler Museum interior
Flagler Museum visit
Fort Lauderdale is another Florida city that is well worth a trip, with lovely beaches and beautiful canals lined with palm trees.

Fort Lauderdale marina view
Those canalside houses are quite something!

Fort Lauderdale luxury house
The Wreck Bar at the B Ocean has porthole views through to the hotel’s swimming pool and was featured in a scene from Analyze This with Robert de Niro and Billy Crystal. In fact someone swum past whilst we were having a drink there.

So many fond memories, I can’t believe how much there is to see in Florida.

Have you ever visited Florida – what should we see on our next trip?

Wreck Bar B Ocean Fort Lauderdale

  • Jenessa Sheffield

    beautiful photos!

    XO JNESS
    jenessasheffield

  • Corinne C

    This looks like such a lovely honeymoon 🙂

    I went to Florida last year but had a totally different holiday – we did all the theme parks but I’d love to go back and do the cultural version of the holiday!

    Corinne x
    http://www.skinnedcartree.com

    • You’re definitely the theme park Queen, Corinne! I’d have loved to visit those as I’ve never been and my hubby loved them, so I need to go back and do those!

  • This brings back so many lovely memories of our holiday there!

    • It’s a gorgeous place isn’t it Emma, I’d love to return!

  • Still not sure if this would be my ideal holiday state, but you definitely showed some sides I hadn’t heard of yet!

    • The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the mosquitos but that’s really only in the Everglades and I should have prepared a bit better!

  • Thanks for mentioning me on your post. You picked a great place to come for your honeymoon :-). I love the Breakers in Palm Beach. One of my favorite places to go visit in Miami is Vizcaya Museum and Garden. The gardens are fabulous and so is the house. I try to stay away from the Everglades since I’m highly allergic to mosquitos, but it’s also worth a visit to see some alligators if you’re lucky.

    • So it’s not just me for the mosquitos, I thought I hadn’t put enough spray on! Vizcaya was beautiful, interesting how many buildings in the area are built in an Italian style

  • Wow this looks incredible! Must have been so much fun to go back and look at the photos and write about it!

    Ash | Liakada

    • Yes it was great to see the photos again, always meant to get them made into a souvenir album!

  • This looks like a dream! I didn’t know Tarzan used to be a swimming instructor. :p
    Don’t really know the difference between crocodiles and alligators, I thought they’re one and the same. Hah! I wouldn’t go flat water tubing there. Lol.

    • Crocs and alligators do look pretty similar, I’m not sure what the one in the photo is but would guess at an alligator! I wouldn’t want to fall in the water!

  • We honeymooned in Florida as well and I just wrote a blog post about it a couple weeks ago. Everyone expected us to take some lavish, exotic honeymoon, but Florida was just so easy, relaxing, and wonderful. We flew into Fort Lauderdale, drove the Overseas Highway down to Key West, and then back up to Miami. Sun, sand, and fruity drinks = perfection. And something for everyone: theme parks, sunny beaches, everglades, shopping, seafood, hiking, culture…

    • Ooh I’ll definitely read that one, I agree it was very relaxing except we did cram rather a lot in! My hubbie would have been happy to sit on the beach, I just can’t keep still. My one regret is not fitting in Key West, will have to return for that

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    I love the glamour of Miami…I need to explore more of Florida though. What a fab honeymoon!!

    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

    • Miami is really changing for the better, those lovely old hotels are all being renovated – I’d love to return and check out some of your restaurant recommendations, Angie

  • Ellie Adams

    This look so perfect Suze. I’m getting married next year and we’ve been thinking about our honeymoon for a while. We wanted to do disney florida (hubby is a massive child) so it would be fab to combine both that and this. Stunning!

    Elle
    http://www.theellenextdoor.com
    xx

    • You’ll have a great time if you do, Ellie. We thought about Thailand but in the end Florida seemed to be a perfect combination!

  • WhatWouldVWear

    Suze, this is perfect! Have a wonderful honeymoon! You guys look so happy – LOVE it! So happy for you both!!

    Have a great weekend, beautiful girl!

    Much love,

    Vanessa

    http://www.WhatWouldVWear.net

    • Oh that’s really kind Vanessa, we did have a brilliant time and it was a pleasure putting this post together. Have a wonderful weekend too!

  • So refreshing seeing something slightly different than the usual Maldives and Thailand for a honeymoon destination. Looks like you had a great time!

    Tahira | http://ramblingsofafoodaddict.com/

    • Ha ha, we almost went to Thailand! As for the Maldives, think I would be twiddling my thumbs after a day! Never say never though

  • Danielle

    I am going to celebrate my wedding anniversary in a couple of months, and your photos make me want to go there for this special occasion. Have a great weekend!

    http://www.spring2spring.com

  • What a fantastic Honeymoon you had, Suze! Fine balance of luxury, local life, nature and the beach. But most of all, the constant sunshine and warmth! Hope you enjoy the weekend!

    • The continual good weather was the best part of it, and the food was pretty good too – I took less shots of the meals back then! It’s a long weekend here with a Bank Holiday on Monday – hope you have a good one

  • Wonderful honeymoon! Congrats! Great place to be.

    http://www.sugarpopfashion.com

  • So cool to revisit Miami through your lens! Florida was a great pick for a honeymoon 🙂

    http://www.LUXESSED.com

    • It was a really fun place for a honeymoon, Anouk – have a fab weekend!

  • You two chose a beautiful honeymoon location! I have relatives out in Florida and from what I’ve seen over the years, it truly is a fantastic area. Worth Avenue looks beautiful by the way, I wasn’t surprised to read it was a wealthy area! Thanks for sharing this ‘throwback’ Suze, it’s prompted some serious daydreaming 🙂

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • I hope you get to visit your relatives there Gabrielle, it is a wealthy and very safe area but it also feels very relaxed too

  • FashionablyShort

    Love the location, the pictures are just stunning. That alligator looks quite scary though!

    xx Hanna| http://www.fashionablyshort.com/

    • He did look a bit scary, but apparently they don’t attack humans unless they feel threatened in some way

  • The Biltmore looks sooo gorgeous!

    District of Chic

  • Wow looks like an amazing HM!! Congrats!!

    ps- following on Bloglovin!

    Sabrina | GYPSY T▲N

    • Thank you Sabrina, it did bring back some great memories of that time! Have a lovely weekend

  • I adored this post! Mr Sunshine and I spent some time in Miami last summer and I have just completely relived it through your (slightly more glamorous!) honeymoon! We did a lot of the same things and I even have the exact same picture of that beach hut on Miami Beach – sunset and all! 🙂

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    • It wasn’t all glam, we were itching from the mosquito bites for a few weeks 😉 That was my fave beach hut, funny you were on the same spot!

  • Lucy

    Looks like a wonderfully honeymoon and agree that it has everything, beautiful hotels, food and things to see and do. Superb pictures, I like Suze wth brown hair too, lucky that you suit both. We loved Florida but the boys were too young to see the wildlife look forward to doing this if we go back Lucy x

    • Thanks very much Lucy, it was a much older camera so I was pleased some of the shots came out alright, we took a lot! It’s definitely worth seeing the wildlife if you do go back

  • Beauty Follower

    The Biltmore Hotel is stunning! Looks like you had the perfect HM 🙂

    Love the colourful top you are wearing under that lovely green arch!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Oh thank you, got that top in Spain – mind you it gives strange tan lines! The Biltmore is gorgeous. Have a lovely weekend too

  • I visited Florida for the first time in June for a roadtrip down through The Keys starting at South Beach, Miami. Stayed at the SLS and loved it!

    • We really wanted to go to the Keys, we could have done with at least another week to fit that in and the theme parks! I’ve heard that the SLS is great

  • Yes – that church pic is perfect! I am so jealous you saw that huge lizard too! I went to Florida ages ago and now we don’t live too far away and we could road trip there in two days so I definitely want to make a trip back there!

    • I can’t remember exactly where we spotted the huge lizard but hopefully you get to see one if you do make a return trip – didn’t realize you were so close to Florida

      • Not super duper close – about 12 hours away, but ok for a long road trip right through the states!

  • Linzi Clark

    Loved the public swimming pool – slightly different to the ones here in Britain! Very envious of the Everglades trip – wildlife looks amazing!

    • We can only dream of such an amazing public pool in Britain. The Everglades was a dream come true after seeing them in so many films

  • Canoe trip? Getting close to the wildlife? That wildlife is crocodiles? Nope nope nope nope nope. I can’t imagine the amount of alcohol I’d need to drink to agree to that! Haha, that lizard is a total babe though! x

    • Luckily I hadn’t thought about it too much beforehand or I’d probably have been a bit freaked out too!

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  • Kelly Michelle

    The Biltmore Hotel looks gorgeous, love old grande dame hotels like that and the colonial architecture is just beautiful. Looks like you had a wicked honeymoon Suze!

    xx

    Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

    • It was brilliant Kelly, could have done with a little more down time but it’s my own fault as I can’t stay in one place for long!

  • ♫ Alison M ♪

    What a wonderful adventure, the hotel looks gorgeous and loving that lizard

  • Catherine Lux

    I absolutely love Florida, I’m hoping to get back next year. Fab photos, and the hotel looks beautiful!

    C x | Lux Life

  • I’ve only ever been to the typical touristy Disneyworld in Florida so I’d love to go and see this part of it. Looks like the perfect spot for a romantic honeymoon.
    PS. I love your cute orange dress!

    • Oh thank you, I wear that dress a lot! I really want to visit Disneyland, my hubby had a great time there

  • Last summer my children and I were in Fort Lauderdale and we visited Miami and drove down through the Florida Keys. Though I loved the beaches and visiting, my heart was completely grabbed when we visited the Florida Keys, it’s like America’s hidden gem. A gem that everyone knows is there, but few actually go visit.
    So breathtaking! The next time we are in Florida, I would like to actually stay on the Keys for a week or two, and truly check it out! I’ve been looking into the hatching of Sea Turtles and I’d like to catch them nesting, of course you have to go with a specific group… but it would be so fantastic to see!!
    Tammy

    • We were debating going to the Keys but it was quite a long drive – hearing this I wish we had done!

      • You know, I guess being from Texas we are used to driving very far to do anything!! The beaches aren’t as sandy, but the water is crystal blue and the 7 mile bridge is extraordinary!!

  • What a great introduction to Florida – looks like there is far more than I knew and plenty of lovely hotels! Looks like a fab honeymoon!

  • JustGoPlaces

    How gorgeous! I didn’t realise that parts of Analyse This were filmed in Miami (obviously Miami Vice). Both were favourites of mine in their day. Carmen’s Luxury Travel is a great blog and I’m looking forward to reading more of her Cuban hotel ventures.

  • We did a gator tour in the Everglades too when we visited Florida several years ago. But we didn’t stay at the Biltmore or the Breakers! It looks like you had a fabulous honeymoon :-). You two make a sweet couple…

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  • Kirkland Robers

    I myself am a Florida boy living in NY and this article just made me miss South FL so much more! I’ve gotten into Real Estate and I think another thing that goes unnoticed in South FL are the absolutely gorgeous homes! I’m always on corcoran.com/florida and checking out how the new homes are shaping up to be!

    Can’t wait to move back and have me a cortadito!