Planning a road trip down the east coast of Florida?
Visiting the St. Augustine Lighthouse, Cape Canaveral and the Wright Brothers National Memorial are easily three of the most popular things to do along Florida's east coast, though the good news is that there's lots more cool stuff for visitors to do. A few worth mentioning include:
Take a walk down Daytona’s memory lane
If one thing Florida’s east coast is known for is old-fashioned boardwalks and one of the best places you can go to reminisce "days gone by" is Daytona Beach boardwalk and pier. Daytona’s boardwalk boasts one of the oldest beachfronts on Florida's Atlantic side (built in the late 30’s) and it’s complete with shops, Ferris wheel, game arcades, go-karts, amusement park and a cute old-fashioned candy shop called Zeno’s sweet shop, which sells all kinds of taffy sweets and other old-fashioned candies (saying this, if you want to see how candy is made the old-fashioned you can also visit Angell & Phelps candy shop factory for a tour)
Aside from having a good time on the amusement rides and eating delicious sweets, you can also fish from the pier and catch lovely sunset views from the boardwalk.
Windsurfing at Salt Run
If you’re a fan of watersports, one place you won't want to miss stopping by is Salt Run (tidal salt lagoon) in Anastasia State Park for a bit of wind-surfing, kayaking or paddle-boarding. Salt Run is great for wind-sports and it's one of the best spots in Florida for learning watersports inexpensively. By the way, don’t worry about bringing your own gear because you’ll also be able to hire kayaks, pedal boats and other rentals at the park (rates are roughly between $40 and $75 for 4 hours).
Apart from windsurfing and paddle-boarding, you’ll also be able to do other cool stuff at Anastasia Park like picnicking, hiking and bird watching.
People watch along Hollywood Beach’s promenade
Taking walks along the beaches is sure enough one of the top things to do along Florida’s east coast and the famous Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is one of the best places for this. Unlike the other boardwalks, Hollywood’s Broadwalk is nearly three miles long, made of concrete and it’s a whopping 32ft wide. This means, you can do lots of people watching, rollerblading and cycling. The besy time to visit the Broadwalk is during the Seaside Craft Fair (April 16-17).
Another great thing about visiting Hollywood’s Broadwalk is being able to catch festivals at the nearby Hollywood Beach Theater such as the Boardwalk Friday Fest concert series (Aug 17).
Take a relaxing cruise through “Venice of America”
Exploring Fort Lauderdale’s famous waterways is without a doubt, one of the coolest things to do along Florida’s east coast. Fort Lauderdale (a.k.a Venice of America) is known as the playground for the rich and famous, and the city boasts one of the most beautiful waterfronts on the east coast of America…grand estates, stunning mansions and huge yachts are some of the sights to see. There are several ways to explore the gorgeous canals of Fort Lauderdale and they include taking a gondola ride (~$120) or boat tour cruise (~$22). Most boat cruise tours sail from Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Riverfront in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
However, the water taxi is probably the best and cheapest (only $10 after 5pm) way to explore Fort Lauderdale’s attractions because it offers the opportunity to hop-on-and-off.
By the way, there’s one more reason to stop by Fort Lauderdale and that is for taking day trips to Freeport Grand Bahama (~$50 on the Bahama Express high-speed ferry located at Port Everglades Cruise Port).
Spend the day at Canaveral National Seashore
A trip along Florida’s east coast would not be complete without stopping by Canaveral seashore to take in the pristine scenery and beautiful natural beaches. Canaveral seashore’s beaches are different to other beaches in Florida because they’re naturally beautiful and crowd-free.
Aside from relaxing at the beach, Canaveral is a great spot to surf fish, viewing sea turtles, watching shuttle launches (visit NASA’s website to view the shuttle schedule), and taking day trips to Orlando’s theme parks (around an hour’s drive).
Hangout for the day in Bayside Marketplace
As most Floridians will tell you, Bayside Marketplace is one of the coolest hangouts in Florida and I totally agree! Bayside Marketplace boasts dozens of restaurants and shops and it is a paradise for shopping, eating out and catching live band concerts for free. Miami is seriously touristy but the atmosphere and vibe in Bayside Marketplace is unlike anywhere else in the city. You’ll love spending time there mingling with the locals for sure.
Another reason to visit Miami is being able to take ferry rides to Key West or a snorkeling day trip to Key Largo. You can get to Key West from Miami onboard the Sea Key West Express for around $150 round-trip.
Cast a line in the ocean
Fishing is most certainly one of the top things to do along Florida’s east coast and fishing really doesn't get much better than on the Atlantic side. Two of the best angling spots you can go to cast a line are the Indian River Lagoon (Melbourne Beach) and Sebastian Inlet State Park (near Vero Beach).
Both of these spots boast calm waters and a nice variety of fish that includes tarpon, redfish, trout, snook, and snapper. Where you go really depends on what other activities you also want to do. For instance, Sebastian Inlet state park is best if you want to do surfing, diving and snorkeling, while Indian River Lagoon is great for kayaking and canoeing.