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These 6 Florida Cities Are Among The Top Tourist Destinations In The U.S. This Year

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America's favorite vacation spots aren't where you think!

Forget California and New York, a whopping SIX Florida cities just topped the list of must-visit U.S. destinations.

From beach bums to theme park fanatics, here's the inside scoop on why Florida has everyone packing their bags:

Aerial View Of Fort Lauderdale Beach In Florida, United States

Florida is the go-to domestic destination for Americans: occupying the southernmost peninsula of the mainland U.S. and situated nearer the Tropics, it is naturally warmer year-round, and its world-class city breaks and iconic theme parks make it a global hotspot for tourism.

In 2023 alone, it hosted 135 million tourists, so it's perhaps no surprise, then, that this year, as many as 6 Florida destinations have charted inside the AAA, American Automobile Association's ranking of the top 50 most visited cities in America.

Including casual beach breaks, a vibrant metropolis with a distinct Latin flair, and a literal fantasyland, these are officially Florida's biggest triumphs, listed from lowest to highest charting:

Jacksonville

girls walking on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida

The most populous city proper in the state, with a population of just under a million residents, Jacksonville is a cosmopolitan hub, as well as an unsung cultural hub full of niche museums that just exude cool and bedecked in edgy urban art.

Downtown Jacksonville is cut through by the scenic St. Johns River, where jumping dolphins are not an unusual sight.

As the urban sprawl unfolds along the bright-blue Atlantic shoreline, there are a number of pristine beaches a short bus ride away, perfect for beating the spring heat.

Conversely, it is a city of vast green spaces and historic parks, the most famous of which is the nationally protected Timucuan preserve.

It comprises over 46,000 acres of wetlands and is inhabited by rare species of birds, white-tailed deer, and even manatees.

West Palm Beach

west palm beach, florida skyline

A well-planned mid-size city that, despite its name, is located on the east coast of Florida, West Palm Beach is a popular stop for vacationers, with its verdant, palm-lined boardwalks, club-packed Clematis Street, teeming with nightlife after sundown, and riotous entertainment scene.

There are plenty of gorgeous beaches to relax on, but other than basking in the sun, culture-hungry visitors can visit the Norton Museum of Art.

It includes over 8,200 pieces of American, Chinese, and European art and is a playground for photography lovers.

The 23-acre Palm Beach Zoo, offering a haven to several endangered animals, is yet another popular attraction, particularly if you're passionate about wildlife, and there's no way you're coming to the Palm Beach area without trying the best burgers and wings in town.

Miami

view looking up at blue sky and palm trees on miami south beach

With a majority of residents claiming Hispanic background and Spanish being widely spoken in the streets, Miami is where Americans go for experiencing some of that warm Latin American culture without having to leave their own country.

It is where they find a well-frequented South Beach, hugged by a turquoise Atlantic, the scenic Miami Riverwalk, the glamorous, neon-lit shopping hub that is Ocean Drive, the food mecca and Cuban stronghold that is Little Havana, and the most beautiful Art Deco district in America.

Miami is also every sunseeker's go-to destination in spring, especially if they're reluctant to go south of the border now that a new travel warning for Mexico has been issued: temperatures rarely, if ever, drop below 68°F, and the city has an average 248 sunny days per year.

Fort Lauderdale

View of Atlantic intracoastal waterway and ocean at beach Florida, Fort Lauderdale

Traversed by more than 300 navigable canals, Fort Lauderdale is the ‘Venice of North America‘, and what it lacks the ancient appeal of its European counterpart, it makes up for in entertainment, as the list of activities is truly quite extensive:

You can go on a gondola ride through the busy waterways, lined by million-dollar houses and perfectly-arranged rows of palm trees, visit Butterfly World, the world's largest butterfly park, or embark on an immersive adventure at the Museum of Discovery & Science.

Fort Lauderdale can be relatively affordable, too, with overnights in local hotels ranging between $113 and $141 this season, as seen on Booking.com, and travelers spending an average $49 on meals for one day, according to Budget Your Trip.

Tampa

Tampa Skyline, Florida, United States

At the runner-up slot, Tampa is Florida's bottomless trove of natural treasures, with Caribban-like, powder white-sand beaches extending for miles on end while licked by a turquoise-blue Atlantic, yet at the same time, this is a well-equipped coastal hub known for its culinary delights and Latin heritage.

Ybor City is arguably the best spot for immersing yourself in the latter, as it hosts a number of Cuban restaurants, vintage shops, and charming, colonial-inspired low houses. If you're exploring the area, the landmark Ybor City Museum is a must-visit:

It chronicles Tampa's world-renowned cigar industry and the history behind the local immigrant communities.

For all you sun-loving folks out there, you'll be glad to know that temperatures in Tampa range between 65 and 95°F year-round.

Orlando

A crowd of visitors walking towards the entrance of the Universal Orlando Resort theme parks

Home to some of the world's most visited parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida, monumental shopping and leisure centers, and the surprisingly peaceful Lake Eola, Orlando is the number one destination in Florida.

It is the largest conurbation in the state, occupying large swathes of the Central Floridian inland, and as AAA reiterates, there's never a shortage of sights in the unlikely event you've tired yourself of the Disney thrills.

Orlando visitors love visiting the Kennedy Space Center, one of NASA's 10 field centers, and even go on day trips to the beach, most notably Honeymoon Barrier Island, a state park with 4 miles of pristine white beach.

Why Is Florida So Popular?

Lifeguard Tower in South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida

Though there is no doubt Americans would find greater cultural variation traveling abroad, they don't necessarily need to go to a foreign country to marvel at natural wonders, sample exotic cuisine, or world-class cities.

They might as well go to Florida: last year, it hosted a record-breaking 45.9 million tourists, the largest figure reported since 2016, indicating tourism in the resort-dominated, park-dotted Sunshine State remains on an upward trend.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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