14 Overlooked Florida Towns That Should Make Your Travel List

Pass on the theme parks and check out these hidden-gem destinations.

Smathers beach at Sunrise Key West
Updated May 28, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

When you think of visiting Florida, you likely imagine theme parks in Orlando or ritzy beachfront stays in Miami. But the Sunshine State is host to many hidden gems from the panhandle to the Atlantic coast.

Ready to step up your travel game? Here are a few great towns in Florida worth visiting that you may not have heard as much about.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Lake Wales

Nick Fox/Adobe The Singing Tower Lake Wales Florida

This small inland town is home to Bok Tower gardens, lush citrus groves, and rodeos. It’s also the location of Spook Hill, a magnetic hill where a car put in neutral will be mysteriously pulled uphill.

Seaside

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe modern home by beach Florida

This picturesque small town in northwest Florida is next to Grayton Beach State Park. It’s a small resort town with pastel-colored homes and white picket fences that border sugar-white sand beaches. It hosts the 30A Songwriters Festival each year.

Cedar Key

Margaret Burlingham/Adobe American flag in street Cedar Key

This old-fashioned fishing village is home to several famous seafood restaurants and the Fall Seafood Festival. It’s next to Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, where you can find bald eagles, manatees, and grizzly bears. The Cedar Key Museum State Park has seashells and 19th-century Native American artifacts on display.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Crystal River

Sunshower Shots/Adobe Crystal River Archaeological State Park Florida

This city in western Florida is next to Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to many manatees year-round. Once you’re done viewing the wildlife, check out the pottery, jewelry, sculpture, paintings, and photography offered by the Franklin Anderson Gallery of Arts, which represents local Florida artists.

Titusville

Photoman/Adobe Indian River Titusville Florida

Just a short drive away from the Kennedy Space Center, Titusville is home to the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the Spacewalk Hall of Fame. It provides an ideal view for rocket launches. You can also sample the local delicacy, rock shrimp, at one of its seafood restaurants.

Cassadaga

SR Productions/Adobe Volusia County Courthouse DeLand Florida

This small town is known as the “Psychic Capital of the World” as it has an outsized share of psychic mediums, healers, and spiritualists. The Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp resides here and offers spiritual healing and communication with spirits.

If spiritualism isn’t your thing, you can also enjoy the Horseshoe Park and Fairy Walk Trail, which has whimsical fairy houses and sparkling beads along the way.

Mount Dora

Creative Studio 79/Adobe Aerial view of Mount Dora Florida

This charming small town features many antique shops and historic sites. Mount Dora’s Modernism Museum focuses on the studio art movement, which blends the arts with furniture.

Mount Dora is also home to Lighthouse Park, which has a 35-foot brick lighthouse and is the only inland freshwater lighthouse in the state. There are also several festivals, including the annual Scottish Highland Festival, Jane Austen Fest, and the Mount Dora Blueberry Festival.

Gainesville

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Gainesville Florida USA Skyline

This might not be the first city you think of as a tourist destination, but as the home of the University of Florida, there are plenty of sporting events, concerts, festivals, and other events to draw you to Gainesville. Visit the Butterfly Rainforest or the Florida Museum of Natural History if you’re into science or the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art if you’re the creative type.

Davie

Sunshower Shots/Adobe pathway through southern live oak trees

Just west of the more famous Ft. Lauderdale, Davie is home to the Flamingo Gardens Botanical Garden and Wildlife Preserve. The Bergeron Rodeo Grounds are also a big attraction, featuring circuses, monster trucks, horse and dog shows, and car shows, along with a professional rodeo.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Brooksville

Sunshower Shots/Adobe Brooksville water tower and Country Depot

This town is at the center of several agritourism attractions, such as Frazier and Sweetfield Farms. If you’re a golfer, you’ll enjoy visiting one of the area’s many golf courses and country clubs.

Jupiter

SailingAway/Adobe Loxahatchee River from Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Located just north of Palm Beach, Jupiter is a great place to explore the various beaches and parks or take a scenic bike ride along the riverwalk. Its unique location on the Jupiter Inlet allows visitors to kayak through freshwater or scuba dive the coral reefs just off the shore.

Cortez

Adriana/Adobe Pelican at old Florida fishing village

One of the last fishing villages in Florida, Cortez is home to the Florida Maritime Museum and a pirate adventure ship. Situated on the Gulf Coast, many other attractions center around the water, including parasailing, kayaking, and deep-sea fishing.

Ponce de Leon

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe Ponce De Leon Lighthouse inlet Florida

Named for the famous Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon is near a beautiful state park that shares its namesake. Visit the park to see gopher tortoises, alligators, otters, and beavers. You can also camp at the nearby Vortex Spring, which features an underwater adventure zone.

Destin

Paul Hakimata/Adobe Destin Florida Emerald coast

Though it’s far under the radar of Miami and Orlando, Destin is a tourist destination that has something for everyone. Enjoy hip eateries and shops along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk or a day in the white-sugar sands at Henderson Beach State Park or James Lee Beach. In October, the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo and Seafood Festival delight myriads of visitors.

Bottom line

Anthony Giarrusso/Adobe View from apartment condo in Florida

Sometimes a trip off the beaten path is rewarded with new experiences. Taking a chance on some of these lesser-known destinations could be exactly what your Florida vacation needs.

Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with manatees, scenic views at a historic lighthouse, or a festival with unique antiques and amazing seafood, discover your next incredible adventure in one of these overlooked Florida towns. Just make sure to bring your favorite travel credit card.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

+

Why we like it

Author Details

Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.