For many of us seasoned travelers, experiencing a destination as much like a local as possible is the ultimate aim. While visitors can never truly feel what it’s like to live somewhere, they can make an effort to see any destination through the eyes of the local people. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the US is Florida. While it’s strongly associated with theme parks, there’s a lot more to explore outside of the large parks too. If you want to experience Florida like a local, there are many places to see and things to do.
Pick One City
Florida is 160 miles wide and 500 miles long, which means there are plenty of different places to visit around the state. It can be tempting to try and squeeze in as many destinations as possible, especially when you’re on a long-haul trip. However, this will mean you don’t really have time to take everything in. It can often be better to pick one place to stay and spend your time really getting to know it. If you want to see anything else, there’s still the option of taking day trips. Pick a town or city that looks right for you, whether it’s Miami, St. Augustine, or Tampa. If you’re having a hard time picking just one city, consider a region like the Nature coast where you can swim with manatees in crystal clear waters.
Choose the Right Accommodation
The first thing you can do if you want to experience Florida like a local is to choose the right accommodation. One option is to travel by recreational vehicle (RV) as we’ve often done. This gives you a wide range of affordable state parks, as well as high-end RV resorts. Here’s a list of our favorite campgrounds in Florida.
Other options for extended stays are rental homes. You can find great deals at Ocean Florida for villas, which provide more amenities like kitchens. You won’t feel like you’re isolated from the real world and you can even cook for yourself too.
Ask for Local Recommendations
Who can help you to experience Florida like a local better than the locals? Asking local people for recommendations can help you to find the best places to eat, drink, or have fun. There are several ways to do this and discover the best places to go. One option is to ask the concierge at your hotel if you decide to stay in one. They can offer advice on where to go and what to do. Alternatively, consider looking online (we like TripAdvisor) for the best tips. You can ask on online forums or look for websites recommending local attractions, events, and businesses.
Try Local Food
Enjoying local food and drink is often the best way to experience somewhere new like a local. Florida has some great food scenes in various places, from delicious Cuban food to beautiful seafood. Whether you’re trying a Cuban sandwich or tucking into a slice of key lime pie, you can explore the state through your taste buds. You can discover some great breweries in places like Tampa too, and you can also discover some wineries that produce great wines. Get recommendations for the best places to go from local people if you want to make sure you eat and drink the right things.
Attend Local Events
Local events can be one of the best ways to get to know somewhere new. It gives you a chance to see a destination at its best, often with the local community coming together. If you’re looking for fun events in Florida, you can find amazing options all year. There are events celebrating all kinds of things, from food and drink to music and history. We love the annual pirate invasion of Gasparilla in Tampa each January! Anywhere you visit in Florida is likely to have something happening, but what exactly is available will depend on the time of year.
Go to the Islands
Florida has some great cities and towns, but sometimes you want to get away from it all. Florida’s islands are a great place to get some peace and enjoy the slower pace of life that many local people experience. Some of the top-rated Florida islands include Anna Maria Island, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Sanibel Island. The islands can offer opportunities to spend hours on the beach, go kayaking, fish, and much more.
Get to Know the History
Your average Floridian might not know a huge amount of local history, but they may know more than you. Getting to know the history of the state is a way to get closer to the culture of Florida and how it has become what it is today. Visiting museums is a good way to explore the state’s rich history, and there are some great ones to choose from. You might like to visit the Museum of the Everglades, the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, or the Kennedy Space Center.
The options to experience Florida like a local really are unlimited. Choose what works best for your interests and you are bound to have a wonderful time!