16 May 2018
The Sunshine State is aptly named; a summery destination all year round, offering visitors incredible culture, great food, and endless entertainment. Whether you're a theme park thrill seeker or a nature lover, there’s something for the whole family in Florida.
Start your family adventure in Miami - step onto South Beach in the city’s Art Deco District and see what the “American Riviera” is all about. Shop along upscale Collins Avenue one block from the beach and experience Cuban cuisine. For a change of pace, soak up the sunshine on Key Biscayne Beach, just 40 minutes away, but so tranquil it feels like another world. Go exploring in Wynwood Art District and Little Havana for exciting culture, or catch a Marlins baseball game, a Dolphins football game or a Heat basketball game.
Home to more than a dozen theme parks, the Orlando area needs no introduction. Most families know about its largest parks – Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom; and Universal Orlando’s Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. If you're looking for classic American fun, try Old Town Kissimmee for old-fashioned carnival rides, entertainment, and a weekly classic car show. After visiting the major attractions, opt for a spot of shopping at Orlando International Premium Outlets, Mall at Millenia or International Drive’s souvenir shops. At least two nights are needed to experience this amazing destination, and maybe even more.
Continue to St. Augustine, the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the USA and commonly called the “Nation’s Oldest City.” Dive into more than four centuries of history that owes much to Spanish, English, Greek, Native American and African-American influences. Stroll the narrow streets, enter the many museums, and visit landmarks such as Castillo de San Marcos, Ponce de Leon’s “Fountain of Youth” and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
West of Tampa, situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, you will find St. Petersburg, home to award-winning beaches, fine dining, great shopping, Fort De Soto Park and the Salvador Dali Museum. Stay for the Saturday Morning Market that's held every week in downtown St. Petersburg to enjoy live entertainment and diverse international cuisine - from Jamaican patties to Irish pies.
Fort Myers, Captiva and Sanibel Islands
Stop in Sarasota, where you can enjoy culture, beaches and great shopping. At The Ringling, an art museum founded by circus magnate John Ringling, see world-class artwork, be fascinated in the Circus Museum and tour the Venetian Gothic-style Ca’ d’Zan mansion. Continue south to Fort Myers, the perfect location if you are looking for an active beach experience. For a more laid-back atmosphere, the beautiful white sands of the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva are ideal. Swim in warm waters or kayak in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel to see alligators, birds and other wildlife.
Travel south to Naples, known for its art galleries, chic boutiques, fine dining and beaches. Continue to Everglades National Park, a wetland habitat that provides refuge for numerous rare and endangered species such as the American crocodile and the Florida panther. Join a kayak or canoe tour to see manatees, alligators, white-tailed deer and myriad species of wild birds. A short drive away is Key Largo, home to the world’s largest artificial reef, the sunken USS Spiegel Grove, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Underwater State Park and the African Queen. The clear waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary offer unrivalled experiences for divers and snorkelers or glass-bottom boating for the less adventurous.
A short drive from Key Largo is Islamorada, an island paradise with glistening blue waters, fabulous restaurants with water views and the freshest seafood. This is a perfect stop on your way to Key West, the southernmost point in the USA that is famous for its lively nightlife, water sports and being the home of Ernest Hemingway. The best way to explore this island is on foot. On Duval Street, you’ll find an energetic atmosphere of shops, bars and cafes. Don’t miss the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum or reading inventive inscriptions on gravestones in the Key West Cemetery.
Finish your tour in Fort Lauderdale. The area’s many beaches are all worth your time, but Deerfield and Dania are likely to be quieter. Navigate the city by water taxi or take a boat tour past waterfront mansions on “Millionaire’s Row.” Make stops at the best local sites, including Los Olas Riverfront, with its world-class shopping and dining. Not far from the beach is The Galleria, a two-story mall offering luxury brands, or hunt for bargains at Sawgrass Mills outlet mall in Sunrise, eight miles north.
Ready to explore Florida on your next family holiday? Contact your local Travel Counsellor for more information.