Most tourists visit Florida for its picture-perfect white-sand beaches and five-star no-holds-barred nightlife scene. However, there is more to Florida than its boardwalks, nightclubs, and casinos. There’s also experiential travel!
While a relatively new concept, many travel companies are giving rise to experiential travel for Florida enthusiasts. As they say, the best way to experience what Florida has to offer is to look in unexpected places. Instead of theme parks and poker rooms, you can enjoy a slice of the Sunshine State in ways you didn’t think possible.
In this guide, you’ll learn all about experiential tourism, upcoming transformative experiences in Florida, and how to plan them.
What Is The Experiential Travel Trend?
Nowadays, Florida isn’t just a tourism destination for those looking to relax or retire. In recent years, travel trends have strayed from visits to Disney World to local culture, culinary destinations, and other unique experiences.
This type of immersion is called experiential travel, which entails experiencing a particular place more deeply through its local cultures and culinary roots. As with any new era, an increasing number of Gen Z and millennial travelers want to engage more deeply with locals in a less conventional environment.
To create this sought-after travel experience for tourists, travel marketers focus on novel ideas and collaborate with locals. Companies like Airbnb have hopped onto the trend by launching initiatives like Adventures to satisfy travelers looking for immersive experiences.
Through immersion travel, the tourism industry hopes to inspire inter-cultural acceptance and eco-tourism to support local economies.
Why Choose Florida For Your Authentic Experiences?
We already know that Florida is home to some of the most sought-after tourist attractions in the United States – Universal Studios or Busch Gardens, anyone? However, this beautiful southern state is just as ideal for adventure-seeking tourists looking to jump on the latest experiential travel trends.
If you’re considering a visit to the Sunshine State, here are a few reasons why it’ll satisfy your experiential travel needs.
Unforgettable Local Cuisine
Florida cuisine is a combination of cultural influences from different regions. For instance, you won’t find any shortage of Latin influences and southern food, such as barbecue, shrimp and grits, and noodles. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a slice of Floridian key lime pie on a food trip!
Unique Wildlife Populations
Busch Gardens and Animal Kingdom aren’t the only wildlife-centric tourism destinations for animal-loving travelers. Florida is also home to a unique set of species, including panthers, otters, bears, bobcats, and the well-loved manatee! If the local fauna is on your experiential travel itinerary, you can visit numerous research centers and sanctuaries.
Outside of its recreational opportunities, Florida has a rich and exciting history responsible for its Spanish-style architecture and European roots. Historical travel destinations you won’t want to miss are St. Augustine, the oldest European-established city in the United States, and Tampa, with ties to the cigar industry. Don’t forget to book a tour operator!
Naturally, Florida is the site of some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Whatever your local travel destination, you’ll find a beach to unwind on at the end of the day. However, you may not be aware of the unpredictable sights along some of these shorelines. You never know when you’ll come across bioluminescent organisms when kayaking at night!
Do you have a travel bucket list of must-see national parks? Florida is home to about a dozen of them! Beyond the sea and sand is the Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wildlife destination in the country. You might also come across Sarasota’s Myakka River Park, where you can enjoy biodiverse wetlands and prairies.
Top Quintessential Florida Travel Experiences
Florida has always been a key player in the travel industry. However, experiential travelers are also eyeing it as a go-to tourism destination for unconventional and culturally rooted attractions. If you’re interested in traveling “off the beaten path”, here are a few experiential travel destinations to add to your itinerary.
Crystal Springs National Wildlife Refuge
Wildlife and nature fanatics will have a ball indulging in the Crystal Springs National Wildlife Refuge’s manatee snorkel. These friendly “sea cows” can grow to become 3,500 pounds but are far from aggressive – you might even be able to pet one!
On this same archeological site, travelers can explore ancient Native American mounds and artifacts and peep at the Coastal Heritage Museum. If you’re a cycling enthusiast, the Fort Island Gulf Beach has a trailhead with spectacular views.
Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral has seen some of the most significant breakthroughs in NASA’s history. If you’re exploring Orlando or the Daytona Beach area, you won’t want to miss out on the travel opportunity to witness a night launch.
The site’s Space Shop also sells freeze-dried astronaut ice cream in flavors like mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream. Feeling it dissolve on your tongue will surely make for a unique tourism experience!
Florida Everglades National Park
The Florida Everglades National Park is full of endless possibilities for adventure-hungry visitors that you can book through numerous tour operators. Here, you can hike a 99-mile wilderness trail or get up close and personal with Florida gators on an airboat.
We recommend taking an airboat ride with Love the Everglades Movement for a culturally immersive experience. Founder Houston Cypress and his colleagues, are all descendants of the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. They are also LGBTQ! Skip the standard tourist trap airboat ride and learn about the Everglades as only a native could teach.
If you want to take it slow, there are many different things to do that don’t involve close encounters with reptilian beasts. Fans of local cuisines can instead chow down on frog legs and ‘gator tail or stop by the historical Miccosukee Indian Village.
Postcard Inn On The Beach
When in Florida, you don’t have to meticulously plan experiential travel journeys on your own, nor do you have to go far for an immersive Florida experience. Many resorts and hotels now offer experiential travel experiences on property, such as those at the Postcard Inn. This popular St Pete Beach property hosts daily activities for travelers so guests can stay on site all day long or continue the vacation fun back on property.
The Fun and Sun team offers daily activities that include garden yoga, sandcastle-building championships, pool games, dine-in movies, and happy hour on a complimentary basis for hotel guests! Those with an affinity for music and LGBTQ socializing can indulge in the Second Sunday LGBTQ Pool Parties on the last Sunday of each month – it’s an excellent way to unwind and let loose on the weekend.
The Postcard Inn on the Beach also hosts several events available to the public:
- Every second Sunday of each month – Second Sunday LGBTQ Pool Parties
- Last Sunday of every month – SUNtastic Sunday Pool Parties
- July 4th – Sand Dance Festival – 3 day music festival on the beach
Book your stay for an experience-filled vacation.
Daytona International Speedway
The Daytona International Speedway hosts one of NASCAR’s premier annual events: the Daytona 500. Fans of world-famous drivers can embark on the VIP Tour, which features an exclusive stop to the NASCAR Archives and Research Center and Press Box.
Visiting tourists can step foot on the speedway itself before a trip to the Motorsports Hall of Fame America. Are your kids visiting the city with you? There are tickets available for children aged 5 to 12!
The Wild Game Feast
If a food destination is on your Florida tourism bucket list, Gainesville is the place to be. Every March, brave travelers can take on the Wild Game Feast and satisfy their exotic cravings that you won’t find in typical Florida restaurants.
Here, you can enjoy bottomless helpings of venison, frog legs, wild boar stew, fried rattlesnakes, and pulled pork – all for an excellent cause! The proceeds of your warm (and slithery) meal benefit local non-profit organizations that support educational and cultural causes.
St. Augustine Guided Ghost Tours
In the heart of Florida is St. Augustine, the oldest region in the United States. Founded in the 1500s, St. Augustine harbors many haunted places and unexpected visitors.
If you’re brave enough to connect with the undead, guided ghost tours are always in demand! For example, many a traveler has sensed the presence of ghosts in hotels like the Casa De La Paz and Toque Place. Those who enjoy the idea of a horror-centric trip can even tour the Huguenot Cemetery for some company beyond the grave.
The Bottom Line
Experiential travel has allowed world tourism to flourish and holds a very promising future. If you’ve been making regular trips to Florida but haven’t quite scratched the surface of what it has to offer, you should consult with a travel company.
For more information on what Florida has in store for your experiential travel plans, check out OutCoast.com! On our website, you can access dozens of travel resources and collaborate with online travel communities.
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).