With about 1,200 miles of coastline, Florida is a year-round travel destination for many on the East Coast. Plus, the diversity of the shores – from family-friendly to party-focused – helps draw all different types of travelers.U.S. News took factors like aesthetics, atmosphere and convenience into account to rank the best Florida beaches. We compiled user votes and expert insight so you won’t have any trouble choosing your next Florida vacation.
St. Petersburg, FL
Why go: The Sunshine City offers the best of both worlds. Visitors get both miles of relaxing shorelines and an urban cityscape – perfect for those looking to escape to the beach without feeling disconnected. What’s more, the city holds the world record for having the most consecutive days of sunshine
Why go: Families flock to Destin for its white sands, gorgeous Gulf waters and frequent sunshine. This Florida mainstay is one of the state’s most affordable beach towns, though temperatures, visitor volume and room rates are at their highest in the summer.
Why go: Overflowing with golf courses, gourmet restaurants and boutique shops, Naples offers travelers an upscale Florida retreat. The luxury resorts and costly activities can make a Naples vacation quite expensive. But luckily, the beaches are completely free to enjoy.
Why go: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place in Florida with quieter and calmer shores than Sanibel Island. Here, the pastime is “shelling” – collecting assorted colorful seashells along the sand – rather than partying, making this beach an excellent choice for families.
Why go: Often overlooked for Miami, Fort Lauderdale’s less chaotic, less crowded beaches are its greatest asset. Fort Lauderdale is both family- and budget-friendly, offering significantly lower hotel room rates than other nearby Florida beach towns
Why go: This tiny island might be at the end of the Keys, but it should also garner a spot at the top of your list. This little refuge will knock your socks off with exciting festivals, laid-back bars and fascinating people. However, the shores themselves can also be a bit overcrowded.
Why go: Fort Myers may lack the see-and-be-seen sands of Miami Beach or the clean coast of nearby Sanibel Island, but it does feature a unique composition of both saltwater and freshwater. Plus, Fort Myers exudes a small-town feel that many vacationers enjoy
West Palm Beach
Why go: Though West Palm doesn’t boast any beaches, staying here will put you within 2 miles of Palm Beach’s sands, plus its ritzy residents. Popular area beaches include Municipal Beach and Peanut Island, a man-made island where president John F. Kennedy’s Cold War bunker resides.
Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter’s museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in San Juan.
Museo de San Juan
English and Spanish language tours are available at this museum located in what used to be a major San Juan marketplace. Paintings, sculptures and an important collection of santos are featured here. A documentary film shown every hour on the hour tells about the history of San Juan from 1521 to the present day.
Museo de las Américas
This museum is located in an old Spanish troop barracks, the largest Spanish-built building in the Americas. All American cultures, genres and time periods are celebrated here with exhibits including archeological artifacts, handmade folk art, fine paintings and sculptures, figureheads carved in New England and Caribbean Indian canoes. One of the best permanent collections is a display of Puerto Rican santos.
Museo de Pablo Casals
Spanish cellist Pablo Casals made his home in San Juan for about 17 years at the end of his long life. This museum is home to his cello, piano, photographs and other memorabilia of the great musician. A selection of videotapes of Casal’s concerts can be played upon request.
Museo de Arte de Ponce
This famous museum, located in Ponce, houses an extensive collection of Puerto Rican and European art including works by Van Dyck, Reubens, Rodin, Delacroix and Gainsborough. Edward Durell Stone, the architect of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art also designed this building with its trademark hexagonal rooms.
Convento De Los Dominicos
On the north side of the old city, you’ll find a convent originally built by Dominican Friars in 1523. Through the years it has served as a religious building, a fortress against Carib Indian raids and the island headquarters of the United States Army. A small museum is located in the chapel. The convent also houses offices of the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. If you are looking for souvenirs of your time on the island, baskets, masks, the famous cuatro guitars, santos and reproductions of Taíno artifacts are for sale here.
Museo del Nino
The youngsters in your party will enjoy a visit to this excellent children’s museum located in a 300-year-old colonial villa. Exhibits are hands-on and include an opportunity to talk to youth in other countries on a short-wave radio, a miniature town square complete with dentist, bank and city hall and an extensive explanation of the benefits of recycling.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s newest museum is a showplace. The neo-classical exterior features Spanish architectural flourishes. Inside, the history of the island’s cultural heritage is explored through its paintings. Local artists are well represented, especially Franciso Oller, Jose Campeche and Angel Botello. There is also an excellent display of mid-20th-century poster pop art that was created on the island. The museum also boasts a 400-seat theater, restaurant and gardens.
Museo de Historia, Antropologia, y Arte
Located on the campus of the University of Puerto Rico, this museum seeks to present a balanced view of the history, archeology and fine arts of the island. Special exhibits highlight the indigenous inhabitants of Puerto Rico, the colonial era and the institution of slavery on the island. There is an excellent collection of fine arts including many paintings by Puerto Rican talents Francisco Oller and Jose Campeche.
La Casa del Libro
[The museum is open at the temporary location at Callejon de la Capilla #199 during renovations.] Quartered in a restored 19th-century house, this cozy museum celebrates everything about the book. Over 4000 volumes teach visitors about printing and book making. Some of the most impressive displays are illuminated manuscripts dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Museo Del Indio
Located on the first floor of the Cuartel de Ballaja, this museum showcases artifacts from several of the island’s native cultures. Stone tools, pottery and instructive dioramas teach visitors about island life before the arrival of Columbus.
Warmer temperatures bring new life to the flora and fauna of the Ozarks and give an early start to the summer travel season with a bevy of events and activities the whole family will enjoy.
From festivals designed to ignite your inner sense of wonder and one of the biggest Elvis-inspired events this side of Memphis to a golf tournament featuring some of the sport’s greatest players, you don’t have to look far to find fun in Branson this April.
Here’s a look at some of the can’t-miss events running from April 1-30:
Festival of Wonder at Silver Dollar City
This new event, running April 6-30, at the 1880s theme park will leave you awed with performances by the Earth Harp Collective, featuring the world’s largest playable instrument, and the Flamenco Kings. Your taste buds will be treated to The World of Bacon and other far-out festival fare.
Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge
Legendary golfers from around the world have made this annual event one of the biggest happenings on the PGA Champions Tour. Played at Buffalo Ridge Springs and Top of the Rock, the tournament also incorporates outdoor activities, such as shooting sports and fishing. Pro-am activities take place April 19-20, with tournament play running April 21-23. New for 2017 is a Championship Sunday Skins Game beginning at 10 a.m. on April 23.
Gold Star Families Memorial Dedication
A stirring tribute to American service members and their families, the Gold Star Memorial Monument honors Gold Star families – those who have lost immediate family members killed while serving their country. The dedication ceremony is 2:30 p.m. on April 19 at the College of the Ozarks’ Veterans Grove.
Branson Music Fest
Check out two fun-filled days (April 21-22) of crafts and music during this rollicking event at Welk Resort Branson. Excellent food offerings and vendor booths add to the fun.
Branson Car Auction
This event for auto collectors and those who appreciate cool cars brings two days of auctions to the Branson Convention Center, April 21-22. During the auction, you’ll see vehicles ranging from a 1919 Cadillac Type 57 Coupe to a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to a 2002 Aston Martin.
Southern Bred Cyclefest
You don’t have to be a biker or bike owner to have fun at this first-ever event, which celebrates all things motorcycle. Held at Branson Cedars Resort near Ridgedale on April 26-29, Cyclefest features live music, magic, food and drink vendors, stunt shows, and activities for children.
John Hagee Ministries Gospel Rally
Services and special music highlight this two-day event, April 27-28, at the Branson Convention Center. Featured speakers are pastors Matt, Diana and John Hagee, with music provided by Canton Junction, Aaron and Amanda Crabb, and the Cornerstone Church Choir.
Make sure to check out these events and so many more on your next Branson getaway.
The Junkanoo Parade pays tribute to an important period in Bahamian history. During the days of slavery, slaves were permitted three days off; January 1st, December 25th and December 26th. The Junkanoo Festival would take place on December 26th and January 1st, while the 25th of December was dedicated to exchanging gifts and visiting friends.
Today, the Junkanoo celebration includes a vibrant parade with the accompanying traditional sounds of goombay drums, copper bells and mouth whistles. The parade also features men and women wearing hand-made Junkanoo costumes, competing for cash prizes. If you miss your chance to see this high-spirited parade during the holidays, there is also a Summer Junkanoo Festival. To sample Junkanoo year-round, check out the Junkanoo show at the Port Lucaya Marketplace, every Thursday night.
Port Lucaya Marketplace – Count Basie Square
For a great selection of nightly events and popular Bahamian music, set your sights on the Count Basie Square in Port Lucaya Marketplace. Keep your feet moving to the traditional sounds of Rake ‘N Scrape, the folk music of The Bahamas and explore the deeper meaning of Calypso music. Out with your family? Port Lucaya Marketplace offers tons of fun to visitors of all ages. Try a game of BINGO or Bahamian line dancing.
The Regency Theatre
The Regency Theatre presents a collection of original and classic dramas, musicals, comedies and many other types of live performances, staged by the Freeport Players Guild. This Bahamian performing arts center can entertain a crowd of up to 500 people.
Bahamians love karaoke! While you search for late-night entertainment, you’ll find an abundance of venues and bars hosting karaoke nights. Go ahead – step up to the mic and expand your vocal horizons during your Grand Bahama Island vacation.
Bahamian Culture Show
Every Friday night, you can visit Count Basie Square in Port Lucaya Marketplace for an evening of unforgettable native entertainment featuring fire and limbo dancing, live bands and performances by the Grand Bahama Island’s top performing artists. Show starts at 8pm.
From Virginia’s largest winery to the country’s first folk art museum to an authentic meadery, there’s so much more to Greater Williamsburg than meets the eye.
Psssst. Hey, you. Over here. Let us tell you a secret. We sent our modern-day spies into the shadows to uncover Williamsburg’s most surprising attractions, unexpected experiences, and little-known facts for your visit.
Did you know that … Copper Fox Distillery is the only distillery in North America to hand malt barley for its single malt whiskey, rye, and gin — called VirGin because it uses locally grown grain? It is also the only distillery in the world to use apple and cherry wood to flavor its barley, giving the spirits a unique flavor. The distillery is open for tours and tastings from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Spies Like Us
Did you know that … Williamsburg has been infiltrated by “real-life” TV spies from AMC’s Revolutionary War-era drama, TURN: Washington’s Spies? You might catch them when the show films in Williamsburg from time to time. Filming sites include Shirley Plantation, where the barn serves as the show’s jail; Tuckahoe Plantation, which stands in as the home of Judge Richard Woodhull; the Great Hall of the Christopher Wren Building at the College of William & Mary, which appears as the throne room of King George IV; and the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, which substitute for Philadelphia.
Did you know that … you can soak in a salt tank to improve your health at the first salt spa on the East Coast? Fifteen tons of Polish and Himalayan salt create the Salt Cave at the Williamsburg Salt Spa. Clients at the spa can sit in the cave or float in tanks, which helps the body absorb a combination of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and others. The concept is based on the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, where in 1843 a doctor first cited the connection between working in the mine and the good health of workers. So relax, soak, and breathe in deeply for good health.
Raise a Goblet
Did you know that … you can make like a Viking and drink mead, an ancient honey-based fermented drink, at the Silver Hand Meadery? It offers honey and mead tastings as well as light-food pairings, and allows patrons to watch the mead production.
The Secret Garden
Did you know that … you can take home historic 18th-century additions to your garden from the Colonial Nursery? It’s just one of the often-ignored gardens that are part of the houses in Colonial Williamsburg. Only the very wealthy colonists would have had separate gardens for flowers, herbs, and vegetables so wandering the paths of these landscapes reveals riotous masses of color and food, from peas to rosemary to wildflowers.
Did you know that … archaeologists are still unearthing secrets that are transforming the understanding of how the first settlers lived four centuries ago? You can dig into them on a tour of the 1607 James Fort at Historic Jamestowne. William Kelso, director of archaeology, will take you under the ropes to walk in the steps of Capt. John Smith on the site of this active dig.
Did you know that … you can sample award-winning wines at the largest winery in Virginia? Take the winding driveway through fields of vines at the 300-acre Williamsburg Winery compound. There’s a tasting room and store as well as the Gabriel Archer Tavern. Take a tour, try the tasting, then sit outside in the sun at the Tavern to enjoy dishes made with ingredients from nearby farms and waters.
A-Gamboling We Go
Did you know that … you can enjoy Colonial-era gambols at the Josiah Chowning’s Tavern, one of the best-kept secrets in Williamsburg? Play tavern games, sing along (to sometimes bawdy songs), watch magicians, and laugh at jokes from costumed waiters. The “diversions” start at 5 p.m. Sit at tables that recreate the spirit of a Colonial alehouse with candlelight and order light fare from a menu that includes Brunswick stew, a Virginia ham and cheese sandwich, and Welsh rarebit.
Quilts and Instruments and Dollhouses, oh my!
Did you know that … the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is the first of its kind in the country? This unique museum offers changing exhibitions of American folk art highlighting subjects such as quilting, ship paintings, folk music instruments, and dollhouses. The 424 objects originally donated by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the founder of Colonial Williamsburg, remain the core of the collection. But the museum has grown to more than 3,000 objects.
Secret Agent Man
Did you know that… the Marquis de Lafayette recruited a local black slave as a secret agent, who played a key role in the final battle for American independence? During the Yorktown battle campaign, James Armistead got his master’s permission to assist the Continental Army by infiltrating Cornwallis’s camp, posing as a runaway slave loyal to the Redcoats. He funneled phony information supplied by Lafayette and was one of the first to know that the British were gathering at Yorktown during the summer of 1781, vital information for the Revolution. You can visit the Yorktown Battlefield where on Oct. 19, 1781, British forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered to the combined American and French armies led by Gen. George Washington, concluding the battle that led to the end of the fight for American independence.
It’s just another one of the secrets you’ll find if you look hard enough.