Florida is a place where you can tailor your holiday to whatever your soul seeks. Start your day snorkelling among colourful fish and end it by savouring a five-star meal. Come for theme parks and beaches, and leave with memories of salsa dancing and space exploration. There are endless opportunities to make your trip unforgettable. So, pick your starting point and build your Florida dream holiday.
SOUTH FLORIDA ICONS
Key Largo, the gateway to the tropical wonderland of the Florida Keys, also serves as the gateway to Everglades National Park. Boat tours will lead you over coral reefs and into twisting mangrove tunnels, possibly spotting dolphins and manatees along the way. From Miami or Naples, you can zip in an airboat across the ‘River of Grass’, keeping an eye out for alligators, crocodiles and rare birds; you’re likely to see abundant wildlife along the way.
Spend another day wandering among South Beach’s collection of Art Deco buildings. Later, as the neon lights glow, enjoy an al fresco dinner and balmy ocean breezes before heading out for a night on the dance floor.
GULF COAST GEMS
What’s a holiday without the perfect souvenir? Along the pristine, white-sand shores of southwest Florida’s Sanibel Island, you’ll have your pick from thousands of multi-coloured seashells. An underwater shelf allows these gems to drift gently to shore, often in near-perfect condition, making Sanibel and nearby Captiva Island renowned among the best shell collecting spots in the world.
Just a short drive north, you’ll encounter treasures of the art world in charmingly cultured Sarasota. Spend the day among international art, antiquities and circus history at The Ringling, John and Mable Ringling’s estate-turned-museum. In the evening, take in an opera, ballet or theatre performance by one o the city’s celebrated companies.
FAMILY FUN CORRIDOR
From Busch Gardens in Tampa and Winter Haven’s LEGOLAND to Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando (not to mention zoos, aquariums and museums too), Central Florida welcomes families with endless thrills and memory-making moments.
Head northeast to Florida’s golden Atlantic coast to discover charming New Smyrna Beach, then head to the barrier island paradise of Canaveral National Seashore home to wildlife such as shorebirds and nesting sea turtles. After relaxing on quiet beaches, take time to marvel at humankind’s forays into space at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Start your visit to the northeast Florida in the riverfront city of Jacksonville, exploring art museums, trendy restaurants, and a growing craft beer scene. To the northeast, Amelia Island is home to moss-draped oak trees, winding waterways and a 50-black historic district full of Victorian architecture and charm in downtown Fernandina Beach.
No tour of Florida’s history is complete without a trip to St. Augustine, where brick-lined streets are a sign of the city’s 16th-century roots. Here, attractions, shopping and entertainment options complete your holiday And when you’re ready for a beach day, each of these areas is home to welcoming stretches of golden Atlantic shore.
Spend some time with your toes in powder-soft sand (the beaches here are made of Appalachian quartz crystals filtered won to the coast over millennia). Then cruise along scenic Highway 30A through the charming beach towns of South Walton. Along the way, stop at restaurants offering fresh, delicious seafood, shopping districts packed with local artisans and accommodations ranging from cosy cottages to luxurious holiday rentals.
Next, plan to visit another northeast Florida beach destination. Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, Destin/Fort Walton Beach and Panama City Beach offer white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, as well as resorts with excellent restaurants, high-end spas and other amenities to enjoy when you’re not at the beach.