We think it’s safe to say that the state of Florida has something for everyone; exotic, enticing, family friendly and full of hedonism in equal measure, the big F promises to please everyone. From the marine sanctuaries of the treasured coastlines to the paradisiacal beach life, the exciting theme parks spread through the central region and its hip shaking, swaggering cities, Florida is so much more than Mickey Mouse’s favourite place of residence. So much so, in fact, that the paradox of choice may bite when penning your itinerary. Repel that beast with these; our 5 IDEAL places to visit in Florida.
Say the word Miami and immediately a tune of a certain rhythm plays in your mind, all tinged in sepia. Indeed, for lovers of vibrant, happening cities, Miami is the one; the sixth most populated city in the States and one particularly iconic in popular culture. Known as the ‘Capital of Latin America’, its Cuban Quarter is where much of the fun is focused, so pack your dancing shoes if you love to get down. Such Hispanic influences also lend themselves to an eclectic, delicious food culture, with everything from food trucks to fine dining lining the boulevard. What’s more, Miami will soon be home to the largest mall in the U.S.A, allowing you to shop – or search for the exit – until you drop.
For those who love to mix a little mystery with their history, St. Augustine is where it’s at. It lays claim to be the oldest city in the US, founded in 1565. Start at the mysterious Fountain of Youth Archaeological park, where you can see the real fountain of youth and immerse yourself in recreations of what society would have been like when Ponce De Leon (the Spanish explorer who led the first ever expedition to Florida) first landed here. The town of St Augustine is also a cultural hub, with beautiful Spanish architecture housing streets lined with independent shops.
Orlando is firmly imprinted on the childhood imagination as the home of Disney, and if you don’t mind the tourist crowds, then it represents the perfect base for a holiday which puts the kids first. Orlando is famed for family friendly fun and frolics with good reason – check out American Attractions for deals at some of Orlando’s best theme parks. Make sure you don’t only focus on Disneyworld. While certainly the most famous, with four different lands to choose from and an additional two water parks, Universal Studios is perhaps the better offer, with its new Harry Potter landing setting young imaginations alight, bringing everyone’s favourite novels to life. That’s not to say that Orlando doesn’t cater to the adults, with International Drive providing all-night entertainment and Disney Springs providing bars, clubs, and a luxury shopping experience to keep the old folk happy while the kids go wild.
If you’d enough of the throngs and manmade splendour, then the Everglades is your best opportunity to get back to nature and recover a bit of zen. This is a national park where it’s impossible not to see alligators, dolphins, and manatees. Bliss! From Everglades City in the South, which provides a great base for aquatic exploration, to Shark Valley’s bio-diverse plains, it’s little wonder that this is considered one of the best national parks in the States. The fun doesn’t stop with animal spotting; it’s also home to several adrenaline raising water sports, including canoeing, kayaking and white water rafting.
THE FLORIDA KEYS
This is a state which is famed for its beaches, but if you were to ask us to name just one, then it’s the docks of the Florida Keys we’d recommend. There’s a little something to satisfy everyone’s notion of what a holiday by the sea should entail; Key West allows you to indulge in the Cuban vibe of the Keys and explore where Hemingway once lived, while the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a gorgeous park full of swaying palm trees, peaceful docks and golden beaches. Here you’ll see sharks and manatees swimming close by. Now that’s exciting.