Destination Graduation: Florida

The results are in, and it’s no surprise here, Florida is officially the state to go for your big graduation celebration vacation. There are a few very simple reasons the Sunshine State rules this competition, and those involve the weather, the beaches, and the unique entertainment opportunities. Here at Adventure Student Travel, we like to provide our students with the very best travel options and present them in the simplest way possible, so for this Wanderlust Wednesday, we have broken down the major Florida cities for graduation celebrations into five major categories: Tropical Eateries, World-Class Museums, Natural Oases, Sand and Surf, and Unique Entertainment. Take a quick peek at what you and your student group could be missing out on this spring!


Panama City Beach -

  • Tropical Eateries: Try the Saltwater Grill while in PCB. Not only are the crab legs and catch of the day consistently amazing, but you will have the unique opportunity to eat with a fully stocked 25,000-gallon tropical tank as your backdrop.
  • World-Class Museums: Check out one of the most visited museums in the whole state while here, the National Naval Aviation Museum. This is a great place to learn about our military history as well as how it affected Florida culture.
  • Natural Oases: You definitely won’t want to miss the opportunity to head over to St. Andrews State Park, one of the most pristine beautiful places in the city, containing hardwood hammock forest and sandy beaches all in the same park.
  • Sand and Surf: Of course you’re going to want to hit up Panama City Beach, with over 27 miles of powdery sand and emerald waters bordering the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Unique Entertainment: If you are looking for adventure head over to Gulf Marine Park to let loose and learn a bit along the way, or for a more tranquil option immerse yourself in the nearby Shell Island, a private beach to collect your thoughts and as many shells as you can.

Dreamstime Stock Photos

Miami - Current #1 Graduation Destination

  • Tropical Eateries: There are two great options in this city (well, honestly there are way more) when it comes to great food: one, if you are looking for cheap eats hit up any seaside shack selling fresh seafood, you won’t regret it. Two, if you are looking for a more formal affair head downtown to Jaguar Miami, the Latin inspired Ceviche Spoon Grill impressing all.
  • World-Class Museums: Freedom Tower has been established as one of the most distinctive historic buildings in the city and today holds within its walls the Cuban American Museum, a truly interesting history of the culture influencing the Sunshine State.
  • Natural Oases: It’s no question, the best place to observe the great outdoors in Miami is the Everglades National Park, full of hardwood hammocks and wetland wonderlands.
  • Sand and Surf: South Beach, or the American Riviera, stretches from Biscayne Bay to the Atlantic and will provide your group with over 15 miles of Miami Beach bliss.
  • Unique Entertainment: For more laid back fun head to Monkey Jungle experience being the caged one for once while watching the monkeys eat, sleep, and play, or for more interesting history head over to the historic art-filled Villa Vizcaya.

Daytona Beach-

  • Tropical Eateries: There are two great options here as well, one being to head to the culture-filled Riverfront Market District to find your own picnic fares and the other to stop at the highly popular downtown eatery Bay Street Seafood, boasting some of the freshest seafood in town!
  • World-Class Museums: The Marine Science Center in Daytona serves as both the museum and natural wonderland, a large nature center encompassing many great nature trails, an observation tower, wildlife watching classes, and a reef filled aquarium full of fish and fun marine life facts.
  • Sand and Surf: Daytona Beach and Boardwalk is where it’s at in this busy city. Soak in the sun or try to stand up paddleboarding on the beach or head over to the boardwalk to ride the coasters and grab some shaved ice, it’s up to you!
  • Unique Entertainment: You absolutely cannot leave town before checking out Speedpark, the ultimate Daytona 500 experience. The Jackie Robinson Ballpark and Statue are also in Daytona if you are more of a traditional sports fan.

Orlando -

  • Tropical Eateries: One of the biggest up and coming eateries in Orlando that is catching both locals and tourists by storm actually has nothing to do with seafood but is all about sandwiches at Hot Krust Panini Kitchen. Find truly fresh and unique sandwich combinations inside these colorful hot pink walls!
  • World-Class Museums: Choose between the interesting Mennello Museum of American Art while in Orlando, or the Holy Land Experience, a sort of biblical theme park mixed with an immersive learning experience.
  • Natural Oases: Wekiwa Springs State Park has it all for your group in Orlando, from hiking and biking trails full of local scenery you can’t miss to cool springs almost too photogenic to believe.
  • Sand and Surf: The beach to be at here is hands down Cocoa Beach, the surfing capital of the east coast. This sandy spot rules the Space Coast, and for obvious reasons. Participate in any water recreation sports or just relax and get your tan on, this is the "cocoa brown" beach after all.
  • Unique Entertainment: When it comes to entertainment you almost have too many options in Orlando, from Universal Studios to Magic Kingdom to Islands of Adventure. Trust me, you won’t have a hard time finding something fun to do.

Sarasota -

  • Tropical Eateries: Head to Pinecraft Market for a more natural, local eating experience in "snowbird territory" or head to Crab and Fin, the eatery receiving absolute top reviews located within St. Armand's Circle.
  • World-Class Museums: History buffs will love the South Florida Museum, a great way to learn local history and culture all in one, while entertainment seekers will much prefer the amazing Sarasota Classic Car Museum.
  • Natural Oases: Immerse yourselves in Myakka River State Park, the natural wonderland in the midst of Sarasota considered to be one of the oldest and largest parks in the state. This is a great place to bird watch!
  • Sand and Surf: For the best sun and sand hit Siesta Key Beach, one of the nation’s best beaches hands down! Enjoy the white quartz sand and tranquil turquoise waters, as well as the heart pumping nightlife and shopping experiences!
  • Unique Entertainment: For a wild ride head to Jungle Gardens and ride the train around the fun and immersive outdoor park, or perhaps get a little wilder at the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary.
Sunrise over the ocean in Miami Beach, Florida.

Miami Beach Shutterstock

Tampa Bay -  

  • Tropical Eateries: Though this option is a bit pricey, we don’t think you’d want to miss out on the opportunity to eat in a floating eatery ranked as top 28% of restaurants in the entire world. Yacht Starship has received a three diamond AAA rating and never fails to impress guests with its absolute mouth-watering meals and entertainment.
  • World-Class Museums: For a great museum experience your group can head to the Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Bay Historic Center, or the Henry B. Plant Museum, the museum dedicated to local influential railroad tycoon and philanthropist.
  • Natural Oases: Naturally speaking you’re going to want to head to Weeki Wachee Springs for a good time, the large outdoor wonderland that combines nature and performing arts in a completely unique way. We just have one word for you: mermaids.
  • Sand and Surf: Tampa Bay Beach is a great and unique as any other in Florida, but you can certainly count on the great sand, surf, and sun being the same!
  • Unique Entertainment: For entertainment, you are going to want to head over to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the nature and theme park all in one that can entertain your group for an hour or an entire day!