single yellow kayak on a sandy shore with a cluster of mangrove trees in distance-Florida Bucket List get close to nature

Your Florida Bucket List will likely have many opportunities to get close to and into nature. 

2024 is the perfect year to explore Florida! Actually, every year is a great time to find new things to do in Florida, so we are making a list and checking it twice to plan our Florida Bucket List for 2024.

Maybe  you’re like me. Simply going through the exercise of finding things to do inspires me to take the next step and add it to my calendar. Plus, once you start writing things down, the Universe somehow conspires to help make that happen!

So, without further delay, here are 24 things to do in 2024 – Our Florida Bucket List:

1. Visit More Florida State Parks

Mangrove forest at sunset-florida bucket list

Mangrove sunset, photo from a National Park in Florida

Florida proudly holds the title of having the best state park system in the Nation, earning a well-deserved Gold Medal.

According to Florida’s Division of Recreation and Parks, there are a whopping 175 Florida State Parks, trails, and historic sites. These natural wonders offer year-round adventure to fill out your Bucket List.

Rather than overwhelming ourselves, we’ve carefully selected 12 state parks to conquer in 2024. Whether you’re a solo explorer, planning a family outing, or looking for a romantic day date, these parks are versatile havens of outdoor enjoyment.

Get Grounded at a Florida State Park

Exploring Florida State Parks isn’t just about physical activity; it’s a holistic experience that benefits your mind, soul, and overall well-being. Time in the park effortlessly makes exercise a part of your routine. It provides opportunities to learn something new, and instills a deep appreciation for nature and our planet.

Plus, investing in a Florida State Park Pass will unlock a world of enriching experiences and a budget-friendly way to enjoy the Sunshine State.

What to do at a State Park in Florida

Florida State Parks offer a wide range of recreational activities, from hiking and biking to paddling and beyond. You can engage in educational programs curated by passionate park enthusiasts who share their knowledge and love for these natural wonders.

We’re thrilled to dive into more Florida State Parks, and we can’t wait to share the adventure with you.

Here are the State Parks we will focus on in 2024:

2. Discover Great Places to Walk

boardwalk through the trees - walking is another Florida bucket list goal

Walking can be as simple as stepping out your front door and exploring the neighborhood, or enjoy a trail in nature.

Research consistently demonstrates that walking for 20 minutes a day can significantly enhance your overall well-being. Now, factor in the mental health benefits like taking breaks, stepping outdoors, and discovering beautiful trails in Florida. Walking becomes the perfect way to elevate your healthy habits in 2024.

Luckily, walking is as simple as opening your front door. Florida weather is conducive to year-round outdoor activities. But since we live in a naturally stunning state filled with exploration-worthy spots, from scenic hiking trails to miles of sandy beaches, why not find new places to love?

Slip into your walking shoes, journey outside, and immerse yourself in Florida’s captivating landscapes.


3. Disney World…Finally!

Shot of Disney Spring - a waterfront "seaside" style village

Disney World is like a little city and contains much more than theme parks. Disney Springs is just one example of how you can experience the magic of Disney in Orlando, Florida  ©Dawn Damico

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando remains an unparalleled destination. Despite my initial reservations and having enjoyed Disneyland in Southern California growing up, my perception shifted when I took the time to explore Orlando. Even though our kids are now adults, I look forward to experiencing the unparalleled magic of Walt Disney World Resort.

The Disney brand and experience offer timeless magic for all generations. Children love seeing their favorite characters from the big (or small) screen come to life at the theme park. And since every adult was once a child, Disney World is an ideal family vacation spot.

But it’s even more than that. I was surprised to learn that Disney World appeals to adults, even when they don’t have children.

Walt Disney had a vision. He wanted to secure enough Florida property, which now covers 40 square miles, to build all the creator’s plans and dreams. Today, Disney World has transformed into a city-sized entertainment haven. It strives to live up to its reputation as the happiest place on earth.

What To Look Forward to at Disney World

  • Four theme parks
  • Two water adventure parks
  • 24 resort hotels
  • An expansive RV resort on 750 acres
  • Five golf courses
  • Two full-service spas
  • Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney Springs for dining and entertainment

More than Theme Parks

Beyond the theme parks, Disney World boasts an array of world-class resorts with diverse themes and amenities. Whether it’s the luxury of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa or the immersive experience of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, visitors can enjoy a stay tailored to individual preferences.

And speaking of preferences, Disney World hosts a variety of annual special events, enhancing the experience. From seasonal celebrations like the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival to character-filled extravaganzas, these events add extra magic. This ever-evolving destination allows guests of all ages to customize their visit, making each trip unique.


4. Garden Better

rows of strawberry plants poking through a weed barrier

Garden clubs and classes can give you the tools to grow the right produce for Florida all year round.  ©Dawn Damico

Florida’s year-round sunshine transforms it into the perfect winter garden. This winter garden shows up in places like Plant City renowned for their delectable winter strawberries.  Consistent sunshine positions Florida as a pioneer in harvesting various seasonal crops, often leading the way for other states.

Garden clubs and classes are plentiful across the state. Each one provides opportunities to delve into the world of gardening. Even when your thumb is not naturally green, you will discover resources with valuable insights into creating your own backyard oasis specific to our Florida climate. Growing your own food and absorbing essential nutrients from the sun and soil is a lifestyle choice with all kinds of health benefits!

Furthermore, Florida’s gardening culture is more than just a pastime. It’s a way to connect with the land, embrace sustainable practices, and enjoy the fruits, vegetables, and flowers of your labor. We look forward to diving into the thriving gardening community.  Imaging discovering the joy and fulfillment of nurturing our own piece of green paradise. Care to join us?


5. Visit More Farmers’ Markets

baskets of strawberries on a table

You can get freshly-picked produce at your local farmers market. ©Dawn Damico

Farmers markets offer more than just fresh, seasonal produce. They’re vibrant hubs where the joy of shopping meets the pleasure of supporting local farmers, and the aroma of farm-fresh, freshly baked goodness mingles with the spirit of community.

And community is good for you! Consider this: while the average distance food travels to reach grocery stores is around 1,500 miles, items at farmers’ markets travel an average of less than 60 miles to get to the stand. Opting for locally grown and produced food ensures you get the freshest ingredients, often harvested just days or even the same day, before reaching your hands. Studies show that some nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants degrade quickly after harvest, so the quicker the turnaround, the better the nutritional value. Farmers Market freshness can’t be beat!

Support the Local Community

Beyond the quality of produce, choosing local means supporting small, family-run farms in your area and neighboring rural communities. I love knowing the farmer who cares for the chickens that lay the eggs I buy!

Moreover, many farmers’ markets now accept SNAP benefits and food assistance programs. Some even have matching programs to make local, nutrient-dense food more accessible. If that’s helpful for you, check with your local market for details.

If the idea of supporting small businesses, boosting the local economy, and fostering a sense of community appeals to you, explore your local farmers’ markets. It’s more than a shopping trip; it’s a fun weekend morning routine filled with colors, aromas, and music. Doesn’t that sound better than another trip down a grocery store aisle?


6. Gulf Coast Road Trip

image of paved road disappearing into the sunset - everglades national park florida bucket list

Miles of road along the coast and through nature are part of the attraction of a Florida Bucket List Coastal Roadtrip!

Take a road trip down the Gulf Coast, and the Florida peninsula becomes your playground, from sugar-sand beaches to city lights and funky fishing towns. We are excited to drive from the Panhandle to the Everglades on a Florida coastal road trip!

The Gulf Coast’s allure lies in its diverse offerings. From the iconic Blue Angels soaring above the sand and sea in Pensacola to vibrant city life in Tampa and St. Petersburg to the tranquil beauty of the Paradise Coast in southwest Florida, you can create your own adventure. This journey unveils the striking contrast between urban sophistication in Sarasota and the laid-back charm of coastal villages like Apalachicola.

One of the major highlights of this journey is the scenic drive along the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. Nature enthusiasts can indulge in bird watching, mangrove forest exploration, and glimpses of alligators in their natural habitat.

Coastal Views and Peaceful Back Roads

Pristine Gulf Coast beaches are irresistible. From the white sands of Clearwater Beach to the emerald waters of Destin, each stop provides an opportunity to unwind, soak up the sun, and enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding.

Navigate peaceful back roads through sleepy fishing villages. Capture the essence of picture-perfect historic town centers with mossy oak trees and vintage tin-roof cottages. Stop to taste freshly caught grouper sandwiches or charter a boat to reel in your own catch of the day.

A Florida Gulf Coast road trip is the remedy for “what should we do this year?” Go for a season, or experience it in chunks. With so many stops to choose from, planning is part of the fun!


7. Taste of Florida Food Events

samples of bread and meet appetizers on wooden board

Culinary food events help you sample flavors that may be new to you  ©Dawn Damico

Florida overflows with year-round culinary events, from world-renowned seafood festivals to locally-grown fruit and vegetable celebrations. Why not make it your mission in 2024 to experience these tasty happenings first-hand?

Annual events like the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City and the Key Lime Festival on the Gulf Coast pay tribute to locally grown berries and citrus. Homegrown favorites like avocados, mangos, and tomatoes also have their time in the spotlight. Tasting them at their freshest is the greatest reward. You’ll find yourself exploring creative ways to prepare, freeze, and preserve your favorite harvests to enjoy all year long.

Of course, living near the ocean means Florida knows how to showcase fresh-from-the-dock wild shrimp and finfish as no other location can. The Steinhatchee Fiddler Crab Festival even honors the scrappy crustaceans that local fishing families have caught for generations. From Fort Lauderdale to Pensacola, seafood celebrations abound, featuring buffets brimming with smoked mullet dip, grilled grouper sandwiches, and boiled peel-and-eat shrimp by the pound!

Touring these community food festivals lets you sample a fantastic array of local specialties and supports small businesses while giving you an authentic taste of Florida culture and hospitality. With so many choices, you could easily make a tradition of festival-hopping. Where will your Florida food adventure take you.


8. Make Self-Care a Priority

Spending a lot of time in the Florida sunshine inspires a natural desire to prioritize self-care. We want to be well so we have the energy and health to mentally and physically enjoy this beautiful world in which we live.

That can look like pampering yourself with a weekend spa getaway, a wellness retreat, or doing yoga on the beach. It can mean making a new habit of getting a facial treatment every month, getting regular massages, or going to a day spa. It’s embarking on a consistent exercise routine that doesn’t have to feel like “work” as you ride your bike on one of Florida’s trails, walk through a new-to-you downtown city, or take an exercise class.

Whatever self-care means to you, Florida offers abundant opportunities to nurture a healthier life—mind, body, and soul.


9. Run 5K/10K Races In Various Cities

Speaking of self-care, we eagerly anticipate participating in a quarterly 5K—whether running or walking. Beyond the physical benefits of training and building endurance throughout the year, it offers the added bonus of traveling to different Florida destinations to join the run and explore the area afterward. It’s a multi-goal approach combining fitness, adventure, and the joy of discovery all in one! What better way to achieve several new year’s goals at once?

Here are just a few 5K and Half Marathons in Southwest Florida Run the first few months of the year.


10. Explore Florida’s Freshwater Springs

Florida springs beneath a blue sky with white clouds-Florida bucket list

Even when Florida Springs are close to city, like this one near Orlando, you’ll feel as if you are a world away.  ©Dawn Damico

Florida’s crystal-clear freshwater springs rival the magic of some European destinations. They are a hidden gem right in our own backyard.

While these freshwater springs offer a captivating and rejuvenating escape from everyday life, their beauty is more than skin deep.

They are a diverse ecosystem, teeming with fish, turtles, and aquatic plants. Witnessing the delicate balance of nature in these pristine environments is a unique and educational experience, making them an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

Beyond their ecological richness, the consistent temperature of the spring waters provides a refreshing escape from Florida’s climate. They are enjoyable year-round destinations. Whether you seek a cool dip on a scorching summer day or a warm retreat during the winter months, the springs offer a natural oasis.

These charming natural wonders are scattered across the Florida landscape. The lush vegetation, diverse wildlife, and tranquil atmosphere encourage you to unwind and connect with nature. You likely have one within a day’s drive (or closer) to you! Which Florida freshwater spring will you add to your list for 2024?


11. Taste More Craft Brews

craft beer flight - florida bucket list

With so many craft beers to choose from, you could have a different flavor every day of the year!  ©Dawn Damico

It’s been said that the problem with the world is that they are one beer behind.

As a result, the pub was born. Throughout time, men (and women) have gathered at the local pub to solve the day’s challenges, nurture old and new friendships, and enjoy a respite from the daily grind of life. Craft breweries are our modern-day pubs.

Craft breweries are approachable, creative, and fun. They promote a sense of community and support local businesses. And they provide a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, so most drinkers will find something they like, even if they are not a fan of beer (*gasp).

According to the latest statistics from the Brewers Association, Florida has a staggering 396 craft breweries and ranks 9th in the Nation. There are 2.3 breweries per capita (per 100,000 21+ adults), producing 1,294,174 barrels of craft beer annually. Florida boasts a thriving craft beer culture.

Exploring Florida Communities

What better way to explore a Florida community than by visiting a local craft brewery? Beyond the beer, visiting a local craft brewery means enjoying great food, meeting interesting people, and discovering off-the-radar places to explore. Dive into the Florida craft brewery experience. It’s more than a drink; it’s a flavorful journey into the heart of the community.

We’ve written about craft beer at Keel Farms and shared the experience at Sharktoberfest in Sarasota and craft breweries near Bradenton FL Riverwalk. We plan to continue exploring the Florida Craft Beer Scene, one sip at a time!

Here are some resources to enjoy more Florida Craft Beer in 2024

HopPassport – Fill up your passport and enjoy craft beer at participating Florida Breweries
Florida Brewers Guild – A list of craft breweries that are part of the Guild.


12. Enjoy more Sea-to-Plate Restaurants

large white dinner plate with fresh seafood over couscous

Seeking out restaurants that source from locally fresh catches is a great Florida Bucket List goal…yummy too! ©Dawn Damico

It started with grouper. During our first year in Florida, we rated every seafood restaurant, fancy and casual, by the quality of their grouper. That was the fish of choice.

Because a significant chunk of our lives spent on the water—fishing and boating—we’ve come to realize that once you’ve tasted fresh fish, the kind that was swimming in the sea just hours before gracing your plate, you’ll wholeheartedly agree that dining on fresh fish is an experience worth seeking.

Fortunately, in Florida, fish are plentiful!

With two coasts (Atlantic and Gulf Coast) and numerous inland water bodies for freshwater catches, the state ranks among the top 12 in the U.S. for fresh seafood production, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,

Florida and Fish Go Hand in Hand (Or Reel)

In large part, the state was settled by what people could produce on the land and from the waters. Have you ever seen a vintage Florida postcard showing a visitor posing with a ginormous fish? Yep… that’s Florida.

Today, 84% of popular seafood like grouper, mullet, pompano, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel are brought to the U.S. market by Florida fishermen. In addition, more than 80 seafood varieties are harvested from Florida’s coasts.

When buying or ordering seafood, ask which ones are “Fresh from Florida.” For the freshest seafood, consult a list of local seafood stores—Florida has plenty to choose from. Get started by clicking here for a comprehensive list of seafood restaurants. Dive into the rich world of Florida seafood, where every dish tells a tale of the sea.


13. Enjoy More Farm-to-Fork Restaurants

green beans and fish topped with sliced almonds served on white dinner plate

The colors will pop on the plate and the flavors will burst in you mouth…that’s just two benefits of farm-to-fork restaurants in Florida. ©Dawn Damico

Building on our commitment to enjoy more locally sourced foods, prioritizing Florida restaurants offering farm-to-fork delights is high on the Florida Bucket List for 2024.

Knowing the origin of your food has gained popularity, and for good reason. The food is exceptionally fresh. It doesn’t have to travel far from the farm to the kitchen, and this freshness creates dishes bursting with peak-season flavors.

Additionally, choosing farm-to-fork restaurants supports small local farmers and food producers.
You spend money that goes directly back into the local food system.

Choosing farm-to-fork establishments guarantees exceptional freshness and actively supports small local farmers and food producers. It’s a direct investment back into the local food system.

Beyond the culinary benefits, choosing farm-to-fork is an environmentally conscious decision. By opting for locally harvested ingredients, the carbon footprint of food transportation is significantly reduced.

Ultimately, selecting farm-to-fork restaurants aligns with the values of conscientious consumers who want high-quality, locally sourced meals that contribute positively to local economies and ecosystems. The extra effort yields delicious, sustainable dining experiences.


14. Explore Culture in Florida

statue of Cuba national in Tampa park

Jose Marti’ Park in Ybor City, Tampa is a little corner of Florida owned by the people of Cuba.  ©Dawn Damico

I once worked with a woman committed to creating a monthly cultural experience for her family. They’d dress up, “get fancy,” as she would say, and explore the theater, attend a symphony, tour museums, or dive into opera and lectures. She said her kids didn’t always embrace these experiences. Still, she believed in the power of regularly trying something new to broaden their horizons. More often than not, what seemed initially unappealing turned into unexpected enjoyment.

That’s the magic of new experiences!

Every region of Florida offers a rich tapestry of cultural encounters—opportunities to learn, savor diverse flavors and appreciate the influences that made Florida what it is today.

It’s easy to find a cultural experience. Engage in guided city culture tours, even in your hometown, where local guides infuse stories and context, breathing life into familiar places. Museums and arts venues provide insights into the history, art, and influential figures that define a locale.

Florida Culture is All Around You

For instance, The Ringling in Sarasota offers various ways to put more art and culture into your year!

In St. Augustine, delve into Spanish colonial history by exploring the historic district, uncovering stories of early Spanish rule, and experiencing architecture and cuisine influenced by Spanish heritage.

Venture to Tampa and Ybor City to embrace the vibrant Cuban community. They share the culture through restaurants, cigar factories, and museums commemorating this dynamic immigrant history. It’s also where you’ll find a corner of Cuban soil. In America!

These are just a glimpse of arts and cultural experiences. Florida cities host year-round festivals celebrating its diverse heritage, have public art, and a host of museums, theaters, and symphonies. Plus, many venues are part of reciprocal programs, so membership at one may provide benefits at others.

Unveiling Florida’s multifaceted arts and cultural scene promises unforgettable experiences. So, go ahead, “get fancy” if you like!


15. Swim with Manatees in Crystal River

closeup shot of manatee underwater eating

They are chunky and slow, but manatees capture your heart when seen up close. Mother Nature’s Sea Cows.

Until you see one of these gentle giants up close in their natural habitat, you may not fully appreciate the thrill of swimming alongside them in a crystal clear Florida spring. Their essence embodies the philosophy of “You Do You,” as they gracefully swim, munch on sea grass, and simply exist.

My first encounter with a manatee occurred in the Florida Keys. Everyone gathered around to enjoy the little guy. It was like Elvis came to town.

With just a little research, you will learn they are large, curious, and vulnerable. Vulnerable because the other thing there are a lot of in Florida is boats. Without the boat captain knowing, their propeller can cut into the hide of a manatee, causing irreversible harm that can be fatal.

Close encounters with manatees provide a thrilling experience and heighten awareness of their habitat and behaviors. This heightened awareness fosters a deeper understanding of conservation’s critical role in safeguarding this endangered species and their living spaces, promoting mindfulness as we play in and enjoy Florida’s waterways.

Responsible Close Encounters

Important: There are several places you can go to view manatees; however, only a few where you are allowed to swim with them. Crystal River, Homosassa, and the waters in Citrus County provide in-water experiences.

If an in-water experience is what you are looking for, head to Crystal River. Consider a tour where all the equipment needed for snorkeling or scuba is provided.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge was created specifically to protect the habitats of the Florida manatee. The manatee must love it there because more than 500 manatees retreat to these warmer waters in the winter months. While you’re there, check out the visitor center!


16. Night Paddle in Bioluminescent Water

water glowing

Imagine paddling or swimming through the galaxy… 

As National Geographic experts describe it, bioluminescence is the enchanting light generated by a chemical reaction within living organisms. When swimming or paddling through waters containing Dinoflagellates, water movement activates them and creates a mesmerizing glow. It’s like navigating through space. Pictures of this phenomenon look beautiful and serene.

Florida has perfect conditions for the phenomenon, including abundant marine biodiversity, ideal tropical temperatures, nutrient-rich waters, and a naturally protected coastline.

There are several hot spots for this light show, with the prime viewing period between July and October. Head to the Space Coast, Tampa Bay, Miami, Florida Keys, Vero Beach, and Sanibel Island. Whether venturing solo or with a guided tour, this is an opportunity to witness the ocean aglow in a captivating display of nature’s wonders.


17. Visit NASA Kennedy Space Center

rocket launch surrounded by smoke - Florida bucket list at cape canaveral FL

When the weather is clear, you can see rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

For an optimal visit to the NASA Kennedy Space Center, aim for a day with a scheduled rocket launch and clear skies. However, even if launch plans aren’t on the horizon, the Center offers a captivating blend of history, interactive exhibits, and educational opportunities to bring the wonders of space closer to home.

Many of us have seen the historic moon landing on television and watched modern-day rockets from private visionaries like Elon Musk blast through the sky. At the Kennedy Space Center, visitors can deepen their understanding of space exploration by exploring the rich history and cutting-edge advancements in space technology.

Whether rockets are soaring through the sky or not, the Center promises an engaging and educational experience, inviting visitors to take a profound journey into the mysteries of space. Who knows? A trip to the Kennedy Space Center might ignite the desire to embark on your own moon-bound adventure!


18. Watch the Sunset at Mallory Square

sunset at florida keys

Sunset on the Keys is magical…  ©Dawn Damico

If you live by a westward-facing beach, you’re likely familiar with the tradition of gathering by the water to witness the sunset. However, Mallory Square in Key West elevates this ritual to a whole new experience.

Locals and visitors alike converge at Mallory Square to celebrate the end of another day. Street performers, artists, and musicians amplify the party-like atmosphere. As the sky transforms into a canvas of watercolors and the collective buzz softens, keep an eye on the horizon for the elusive “green flash” that might grace the moment the sun dips below.

Following this spectacle (or perhaps before), stroll to one of the bars or restaurants lining Duval Street or its vicinity to round off the night. We’ve been to Mallory Square; however, didn’t experience the sunset. I don’t know if roosters still walk the streets after dark, but I’ll let you know!


19. Participate in a Tea Ceremony

close up of green tea spooned into a bowl at a traditional tea ceremony-Florida bucket list

The tea ceremony is known as sado, and the art of preparing and presenting the green tea is called otemae.

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, celebrates a connection between Japan and South Florida.

Beginning more than a hundred years ago, Yamamoto Colony was an agricultural experiment. In the early 1900s, a group of young Japanese farmers traveled the distance from their homeland to Florida with a vision. Although their farming efforts eventually proved unsustainable, and most of them returned to Japan, George Sukeji Morikami chose to make Florida his permanent home.

Morikami’s generous donation of his land to Palm Beach County birthed a new vision. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens opened in 1977 as a living monument. It preserves the memory of the Yamato Colony and inspired a bridge of cultural understanding between Florida and Japan.

They offer many cultural offerings, including events, classes, demonstrations, and workshops. If you are interested in learning skills like sushi making, calligraphy, gardening, poetry, or block art, I encourage you to review the class schedule and try something new.

As enthusiasts of tea’s health benefits, the Sado: Tea Ceremony Workshop has earned a spot on our 2024 to-do list—an experience that promises cultural enrichment and the joy of discovery.
Learn more here

20. Experience Terminal C

sketch rendering of Mary Mary lounge in brightline orlando-Florida bucket list

Mary Mary My Tap Tended Bar is located inside Brightline’s Premium Lounge. 

Orlando Airport (MCO) recently marked the one-year anniversary of Terminal C, a groundbreaking achievement as the first U.S. airport terminal with an integrated train station (Brightline) offering high-speed rail service. With a striking 1.2 million-square-foot design and a $2.8 billion price tag, the terminal boasts an open and bright ambiance.

To experience the terminal without boarding a plane, secure a visitor pass in advance or take a chance by requesting one on the same day. Upon approval, you’ll receive a digital pass (no printouts accepted) and undergo standard security screening procedures upon arrival, just like ticketed passengers. Request your visitor pass here.

Terminal C provides a unique indoor experience, ideal for escaping rain in Orlando or relaxing while waiting for your Brightline train to Miami. Consider arriving a bit early to make the most of this innovative space.


21. Ride the Brighline

Currently, the Brightline high-speed passenger train connects Orlando and Miami, making stops in Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach along the way. Future plans include extending the line to Tampa and adding even more exciting destinations.

Sometimes, getting there is part of the fun of local travel. It’s fascinating to note that Florida’s historical prosperity was significantly influenced by railroads. Now, with the introduction of its high-speed rail line, we get a taste of traveling by rail with a faster way to reach our desired destinations. I eagerly anticipate hopping on the rails for an exciting adventure in 2024.

22. Explore Pensacola

view of florida water from high vantage point -Pensacola Florida bucket list

Pensacola was originally inhabited by Muskogean-speaking peoples. It went on to be ruled by five different governments, giving it the nickname of “The City of Five Flags”

I’m excited to learn more about Pensacola and visit Florida’s Emerald Coast because it offers a unique blend of historic charm, natural beauty, and vibrant cultural experiences. Perfectly situated on the Gulf Coast in Florida’s Panhandle, Pensacola delivers a different side of Florida.

It boasts the pristine white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and mesmerizing sunsets Florida is famous for. Additionally, the city’s rich history comes alive through the well-preserved Historic Pensacola Village and Fort Pickens. Pensacola’s downtown, particularly along Palafox Street, offers a lively atmosphere with boutique shops, diverse dining options, and a thriving arts scene.

The city’s deep ties to aviation and military pride are unmistakable. The National Naval Aviation Museum and exhilarating Blue Angels air shows provide a unique window into the Nation’s military history. If you or members of your family have served, a special connection may await you here.

This destination offers a unique rhythm. Where else can you explore the Gulf Islands National Seashore by day, step into a local craft brewery in the afternoon, have a shopping and spa day, taste fresh-from-the-sea seafood, then attend a live event at night, and then wake up the next day with a completely new list of things to explore?

In addition, it seems I’m drawn to emeralds. We lived on Emerald Isle in North Carolina for about five years. So naturally, Pensacola on Florida’s Emerald Coast made our 2024 Bucket List.

23. See the Blue Angels in Flight

Why would you want to see the Blue Angels in flight? I think it’s the roar in the sky that reverberates in your chest and the national pride that makes you stand up just a little taller when the Blue Angel Hornets scream above. While they make appearances at special events nationwide, Pensacola is their home.

The world-famous Blue Angels are based in NAS Pensacola. Residents get to see them practice throughout the year; visitors can witness the F/A-18 Super Hornets practice from March through November.

If you can plan your visit to Pensacola in advance, a few experiences promise to be something you’ll remember for a long time.

On the top of our list is seeing the Blue Angels practice from the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse. On its own, the lighthouse and Maritime Museum are great bucket list destinations because you’re always going to get epic views from the top of a lighthouse.

Now imagine having the best seat in the house at the top of the lighthouse as the Blue Angels practice their maneuvers. Yes, it’s an absolute must for your Florida Bucket List!

Note that the Lighthouse and Maritime Museum are located on the military base. There is a special entrance and procedures to follow, so be sure to know before you go (click here for details). You must have reservations to get to the top when the Blue Angels are scheduled to fly.

24. See the Graffiti Bridge

Some say it’s an eyesore; some say it’s art. No matter the opinion, an old railroad pass in Pensacola, Florida, has been the canvas of expression since 1935. The street art on the 17th Avenue Railroad Trestle is fluid. They say the artwork changes almost daily as artists tag the bridge, turning their imaginative visions into reality.

Their website says, “The 17th Ave CSX Railroad Bridge is more than just a common case of teenage vandalism, but is instead a living reminder of the desire of expression.”

The bridge’s vibrant palette reflects the expressions, hopes, and causes of the day, from commemorating the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing to raising awareness for childhood cancer and human trafficking. It also features colorful promotions for events like the Pensacola Beach Songwriters Festival, support for Maui, and festive holiday images.

While cautioning truck drivers about its low clearance, the bridge is worth a visit. Whether you see it as an eyesore or a work of art, the 17th Avenue Railroad Trestle offers a glimpse into the ever-changing landscape of expression in the local community.


What’s on Your Florida Bucket List?

The hardest part of building a bucket list is narrowing it down to what to do first. Luckily, as you experience something on the list and then come up with more to do, your bucket list becomes a fluid roadmap through life.
Looking to build your own Florida Bucket List? Check out these articles:


Save this for later as you plan your own Florida Bucket List for 2024…