Thank you for entering into our contest! While you’re waiting to see if you have won, here is some inspiration for your Florida & Atlanta vacation.
Bursting with arts and culture, nature adventures, various attractions, world-class fare and more, it’s no wonder that Florida and Georgia are both among the most visited states ─ with Atlanta and Orlando specifically ranking as premier destinations. Whether you’re a tourist seeking local fun or a local finally touring your own town… here are ten ways to make new, totally unforgettable memories throughout Florida, as well as in Atlanta, Georgia.
1. Eat Local: Cuisine and culture go hand-in-hand. Perhaps that’s because certain regions have access to particular ingredients and, thus, eating local guarantees unique freshness and flavor. You’ll literally taste the brightest notes of the Sunshine State ordering fresh catch at Catfish Dewey’s in Fort Lauderdale, a Cuban sandwich at La Segunda Central Bakery in Tampa, grass-fed beef tips at Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton, a slice at Key Lime Pie Company in the Florida Keys or a glass of orange juice at Showcase of Citrus in Clermont. Similarly, the favored fruit in Georgia – peach – sweetens menus with decadent cobblers served at award-winning restaurants throughout Atlanta. Iconic eateries specializing in southern comfort food, like Busy Bee Café and Mary Mac’s Tea Room, will leave a lasting impression on your palate.
Hungry for more fun? Savor local sites and bites by embarking on city-specific food excursions, such as the Atlanta Food & Cocktail Tour. This 2.5-hour epicurean experience serves up nine distinct tastings with town tidbits in the Grant Park neighborhood, including a stop at the historic Oakland Cemetery. West Palm Beach Food Tours directs mobile meals featuring tropical flavors, like coconut and tamarinds, with a side of robust street art and history. Of course, don’t forget to drink up local beer, wine and distillery tours too! So many of Florida’s cities, as well as Atlanta, have endless possibilities to quench curiosity and cravings.
If DIY tastings versus guided gourmet sounds more appealing, sample your way through a food hall. Options galore await at Chattahoochee Food Works, which opened in Atlanta’s Underwood Hills district. This 31-stall market is the brainchild of Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern and Robert Montwaid, the foodie behind Gansevoort Market in New York City. Nosh on assorted bowls, sammies, greens, sushi, desserts, coffee and more; plus, shop artisan boutiques featuring garments, trinkets and household rarities. Comparable halls enticing foodies have also popped up all over Florida. Find mouthwatering munchies like brick-oven pizzas, spicy bento boxes, hearty handhelds, flavorful street tacos, ooey-gooey cookies, aromatic beer flights and crisp craft cocktails at Heights Public Market in Tampa, Sistrunk Marketplace in Fort Lauderdale and Plant Street Market in Winter Garden, an up-and-coming Orlando suburb.
2. Take the Plunge: Amidst Atlanta’s bustling streets rests the tranquil Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Spanning 48 miles, coast along in a raft, canoe or kayak; reel in trout, bass and catfish; or pedal cycle-friendly paths within this outdoor oasis.
Florida has more than 900 natural springs, often within state parks, with over 40 open to the public. In fact, Florida has one of the largest concentrations of springs in the world ─ 33 of which are rated first magnitude. Snorkel alongside manatees or hunt for scallops in Crystal River (an hour north of Tampa Bay), lounge in a comfy cabana off Wekiwa springs in north Orlando and see live mermaids perform a whimsical show at Weeki Wachee. This roadside attraction came to life in 1946 when Newton Perry invented a free-flowing air hose allowing humans (well, mermaids) to thrive underwater without a tank!
3. Be King/Queen of the (Sand) Castle: With hundreds of miles of pristine shores along both coastlines – Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico – deep dive into your choice of recreation and relaxation at Florida beaches. Soak up family fun in Siesta Key (Sarasota), cast away off Pier 60 in Clearwater, hunt for shells in the sands of Hollywood beach, doggie paddle in pooch-friendly Key West or jet-ski along luxurious South Beach in Miami. Beach bum status is always in style in sunny Florida – but don’t forget the sunscreen!
4. Seek Thrills: Experience even more magic at Walt Disney World Resort, which unveiled new additions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a technologically super-charged attraction; Disney Skyliner, an aerial gondola providing alternate between-park transportation; and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the first ride-through attraction solely dedicated to the beloved couple. Far from mouse squeaks, prepare to roar on the new Jurassic World Velocicoaster at Universal Islands of Adventure, where daring dino riders catapult 70mph along 4,700 feet of track. Crocodiles are all the rage at Busch Gardens in Tampa with the highly-anticipated Iron Gwazi, a coaster zooming 76mph with a 91-degree drop. And, tiny tots will squeal when LEGOLAND Florida in Lakeland debuts the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park! Plus, plan to take in a bird’s eye view of Miami by rounding the Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel at Bayside Marketplace.
For another adrenaline rush, swing by Six Flags (open seasonally) in Atlanta to rock the record-breaking swinging experience, Pandemonium, which boasts gravity-defying swirls upwards of 70mph!
5. Act like an Animal: Cherished memories, for all ages, are made at exhilarating zoos. Don’t miss Hot’Lanta’s hot pink flamingos at the Atlanta Zoo, the Indian Rhino Feeding at ZooTampa at Lowry Park and zip-lining over chompers at Gatorland Orlando. If you’re an animal lover eager to dig your claws into immersive ventures, brave a wild car ride at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee near West Palm Beach, howl with your wolf pack at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve in the Panhandle, cage dive with sharks in the Florida Keys and live out your alligator wrestling dreams at the Alligator Farm south of Miami. At Atlanta’s newest attraction, Illuminarium, visitors experience the great outdoors within the comforts of air-conditioned indoors. Powered by 4K laser projection, this unique animal safari wildly engages the senses.
Animal-themed fitness is an evolving trend. For example, flow beside majestic marine creatures during Yoga by the Water, an hour session held at the Georgia Aquarium; or, have a tail-wagging time paddleboarding with a pooch partner with Lake Life Paddle in Orlando!
6. Go Green: Memories will surely bloom surrounded by the unmatched beauty of perfectly groomed gardens. At Atlanta Botanical Garden, stroll greenery-lined trails, watch budding horticulturists flourish within the Children’s Garden and inhale fragrant floras while appreciating breathtaking city views from the Skyline Garden. Within the lush landscape of Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, hear birds chirping, palm fronds swaying and carillon bells ringing from a grand 205-foot neo-gothic tower. Constructed with ADA-compliant boardwalks and paths overlooking native and exotic plants, Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden sprouts the only frost-free, sub-tropical botanical garden in the continental United States! Also consider soaking up sun-kissed foliage at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, wandering the petal paradise at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach and fluttering around Butterfly World in Coconut Creek north of Fort Lauderdale.
7. Transport Yourself: The journey can be as good as the destination itself! Perhaps take to the skies beyond the southernmost point to tour the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson with Seaplane Adventures Key West, get a splash of Miami’s landmarks from a duck boat waddled by Duck Tours South Beach, glide atop the water’s surface by airboat through the Everglades near Fort Lauderdale, feel like royalty in a horse-drawn carriage roaming the Disney-inspired town of Celebration (Orlando), pop a wheelie on a Segway touring Hollywood Beach, make waves riding in a gondola boat in Fort Lauderdale or test technology in an autonomous vehicle advantage (AVA) shuttle in the charming town of Dunedin (neighboring Clearwater). When exploring Atlanta, jolt about downtown in an ATL-Cruzers electric car, feel jolly on the trolley, put your best foot forward with Peach Roll Pedal Tours and climb aboard a 1940s locomotive for peak views of Stone Mountain
8. Be Artsy: Paint the town red appreciating masterpieces in memorable spaces. Maybe find a snapshot of surrealism at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, featuring a gigantic collection of imaginative works by painter Salvador Dali. Time may appear to melt away as you awe Dali’s famous creations featuring dripping clocks. And despite also being a household name, Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota is far from a circus tent. It’s an impressive mansion with lavish grounds housing 21 galleries of sculptures, paintings and photographs. Other sensations to visit include Backus Museum & Gallery in Fort Pierce, Perez Museum in Miami, Orlando Museum of Art and Tampa Museum of Art.
Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, art aficionados with eclectic preferences may enjoy interactive “edu-tainment” at WonderWorks in Orlando, family-friendly exhibits at Children’s Science Explorium in Boca Raton, six-toed cats and author perceptions at Ernest Hemingway House and Museum in Key West and hands-on character play at Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta.
Also, an imaginative way to view art is through stroll events. City art districts invite patrons to saunter (and sometimes sip wine), as with the Castleberry Hill Art Stroll in Atlanta, Art and Ambiance Walks in Key West, ArtWalk in St. Petersburg and Celebration Art and Wine Strolls near Orlando. Of course, plenty of artsy districts inspire picture-perfect ambling at one’s leisure. Why not window shop your way down the gallery-packed Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale or the pretty studios nestled with the quaint downtown of Mount Dora (Orlando)?
9. Trail Blaze: Uniquely paving the way to get off the beaten path, Florida Trail is one of only eleven National Scenic Trails in the country. It spans about 1,500 miles, stretching just about the entire length of the state from Pensacola Beach to Miami. The landscape fluctuates greatly, thus presenting ample options for varying skill levels of biking, hiking, horseback and camping.
Fast-paced city slickers may prefer the flat 61.5 miles of the Silver Comet Trail, extending from Atlanta’s suburbs to the Georgia-Alabama line. While adorned by runners and skaters, the route grants plenty of memorable stops. Wander the nature preserve along Nickajack Creek at Heritage Park in Mableton, cross the restored 1901 Pumpkinvine Train Trestle rising over the creek in Dallas, roam the historic Brushy Mountain Tunnel in Rockmart, play on the Wildhorse Trail in Powder Springs connecting to Seven Springs Water Park and a BMX bike track, and see a signature caboose while mountain biking in Hiram.
10. Itch Your Niche: The best way to enjoy your own town and/or your bucket list destination is to tap into your special interests, from space to history to racing and beyond. Those attracted to space exploration will find out-of-this-world adventures at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Take flight with simulators, astronaut encounters, views of Space Shuttle Atlantis, space technology exhibits and the brand new Planet Play. This multiple-story learning launchpad will have kiddos feeling over-the-moon, as parents enjoy coffee, beer and wine in an overlook lounge. If possible, time your voyage to coincide with the remarkable rumble of a rocket launch.
History buffs can study up at the Atlanta History Center, which now houses the immense Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting, restored to its intended size at 42 feet high by 358 feet long. Appreciate more significance at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, which reopened to the public. This museum showcases documents, photographs, heads of state gifts and other items associated with the Carter presidency. Across the Florida-Georgia border, political fans can find more spots. In Clermont, the Presidents Hall of Fame roadside attraction showcases wax figures of leaders and first ladies, a 60-by-20-foot replica of the White House and authentic artifacts, including seats from the Oval Office and Ford Theater (where Lincoln was assassinated). And the Truman Little White House, which six presidents used for both government business and personal pleasure, remains a hotspot in the Florida Keys.
Construction has revved up at Atlanta Motor Speedway to increase turn banking and implement new pavement technology that’ll make this track exceptionally designed for close, competitive racing. You don’t have to wait to put the pedal to the metal at Daytona International Speedway, thanks to the NASCAR Racing Experience pairing riders with professional drivers. Bonus: All Daytona tours now include a digital photo package to commemorate epic checkered flag fun. You can also dare to buckle up in race or exotic cars at Xtreme Xperience in Palm Beach and BLAST-Supercar Driving Experience in Miami.
Now that your newfangled itineraries for Atlanta and Florida are underway, book your Hilton stay, pack your bags and make memories!
Pssst… don’t forget to create new memories by revisiting old favorites too! In Atlanta, include worldly stops at Centennial Olympic Park (downtown Atlanta’s centerpiece), World of Coca-Cola and CNN Center. And top notch adventures are guaranteed in Florida thanks to world-famous titles ─ i.e. Cigar Capital of the World (Ybor City/Tampa), Sportsfishing Capital of the World (Islamorada) and Theme Park Capital of the World (Orlando).