YES, FLORIDA IS A STATE OF MIND—a land of sunshine and swaying palms where the promise of eternal youth and relaxation has drawn everyone from Spanish conquistadores to today’s retiring baby boomers. But it’s also a big and varied state offering extremely diverse landscapes and experiences. Drive out of Sarasota and in a few hours you can be relaxing on a secluded island beach or houseboating down a lazy river past Old Florida fish camps. You can also introduce your kids to the wonders of space exploration; bike along the banyan-shaded streets of one of the wealthiest enclaves in the country; or discover history, art and fine dining in a charming Central Florida town. Come along with us as we do all that and more.

In This Feature:

Sanibel-Captiva’s Laid-Back Atmosphere Recalls Vacations Past

The Chamber of Commerce slogan for the islands is “250 kinds of shells, 230 kinds of birds, 15 miles of beach, zero traffic lights,” and that should give you an idea of what to expect.

03/01/2018 By Kay Kipling

Winter Park Offers Small-Town Charm and History with Grown-Up Amenities

Winter Park's got Old Florida attractions, excellent restaurants and great shopping.

03/01/2018 By Megan McDonald

Kennedy Space Center Aims to Inspire Future Astronauts

You can plan a trip to Kennedy to coincide with a SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral; videos of takeoffs and landings are breathtaking.

03/01/2018 By Cooper Levey-Baker

Explore the St. Johns River on a Super-Comfortable Houseboat

It's a wonderful river to explore by boat, because there are so many ecosystems—rivers, lakes, creeks and springs—that are all connected.

03/01/2018 By Pam Daniel

For Old Florida Island Idyll, Head to Boca Grande

Boca Grande—that idyllic Old-Florida town on Gasparilla Island south of Englewood—retains its small-town charms while the rest of Southwest Florida has burgeoned around it.

03/01/2018 By Ilene Denton