27 essential Florida destinations you need to visit before you bite the dust

There's more to Florida than just Disney and Hogwarts. Here you'll find a few spots all around Florida that are a must-see for both residents and visitors. Some of these places are naturally beautiful, some have significant historical value, and some are just so Florida that we couldn't not mention 'em. 

1) Kennedy Space Center 
Kennedy Space Center, SR 405, Titusville, (321) 452-2121
You’re probably never going to fly into space, but this is the next best thing. The center is a hotspot for the entire country, and holds space travel technology and equipment that we used decades ago. Visitors can even sit and watch NASA’s official rocket launches into space. Even though you can’t go with the astronauts on their voyage, the center does have  fragments of moon rocks you can touch.

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2) Peanut Island

6500 Peanut Island Road, West Palm Beach, (561) 845-4445
Enjoy a breezy day on this lovely island that also was close to being the control center of a post-apocalyptic America. A secret bunker was installed underground on this South Florida vacation spot during the Cold War to shelter President John F. Kennedy in case the country was destroyed by nuclear war. The fallout shelter is open to tours for the public, if you want to mix cold war history with your summer vacation. 

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3) Ancient Spanish Monastery
16711 West Dixie Highway North Miami Beach, 305-945-1461
This monastery was built in 1133 AD in Sacramenia, near Segovia, Spain. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the building, and had it deconstructed brick-by-brick and shipped to the United States. It sat in a warehouse for 26 years until entrepreneurs bought it and rebuilt it to the tune of $20 million over 19 months. It was repurchased and now stands in Miami with a loyal congregation. 

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4) Castillo de San Marcos

1 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, (904) 829-6506
The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine is the oldest masonry fortress in the United States and it’s  weathered its fair share of battles. It’s unique star-shaped design comes from 15th century Italy, and was created to withstand newly-created cannon projectiles. The Spanish used the porous coquina limestone to build its walls, which had the benefit of absorbing cannon blasts rather than shattering. Tours are $10 and cannons are fired every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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5) Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West

907 Whitehead St, Key West, (305) 294-1136

Most go to Key West to party, but take the time to visit the home of one of the finest authors of our time. Ernest Hemingway made Key West his home after residing in Cuba, and the house is as interesting as the man himself. It’s full of European furnishings and trophies brought back from Africa, and possesses the first in-ground pool in Key West. A ship captain gave Hemingway a six-toed cat as a present, who Hemingway named Snow White. There are 40-50 six-toed cats on the grounds today, who are believed to be descendants of Hemingway’s original feline.  


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