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  • Overview

    The Sunshine State of Florida is a vacationer's paradise 365 days a year. Its climate, pristine beaches, and theme parks are all geared towards the leisure and pleasure of the millions of vacationers who flock in from around the world. Consisting of a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of the United States, Florida's uneven coastline is indented with estuaries, bays, inlets, lagoons and rivers, creating ideal enclaves for holiday resorts. Right in the south the peninsula ends in an arc of islands resting on coral reefs, known as the Florida Keys. These islands, which together make up the southernmost part of the United States, are perfect for all water based activities, like snorkeling, kayaking, and dolphin watching.

    After World War II, tourism development took off in Florida, where the industry not only focused on enhancing the state's natural attractions, but to build new man-made ones. The central part of the state, particularly around Tampa and Orlando, has since become a theme park paradise. Enticing venues offer everything from water slides to rollicking roller coasters. Themed animal habitats attract thousands to the accompanying resort hotels on the mammoth sites of Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and other major resort operators.

    The state's biggest city, Miami, echoes the vibrancy of the rest of this holiday paradise, with its soft white sandy beaches vying for attention with the city's numerous attractions and colourful neighbourhoods. Its famous Art Deco district and Latin American quarter are constantly thronged with visitors, many of them passengers from the hundreds of cruise ships that come and go in the bustling port. Within easy access from Miami are the Everglades, a marshy grass plain home to plentiful wildlife and filled with alligators.

    Aptly named the 'Sunshine State', Florida offers anything anyone seeks in a holiday, whether it be fine wining and dining, learning about space exploration, discovering endangered wildlife, riding a roller coaster or bronzing on one of its famous beaches.

    Florida has a wealth of attractions to offer its visitors, promising activity appealing to a variety of interests. Home to some of the most famous beaches in the world, and the incredible resorts that accompany them, Florida certainly earns its name as the Sunshine State. With the beaches of Miami keeping sun-lovers happy and relaxed, there are also loads of activities on offer for those seeking a little more adventure.

    The magical Walt Disney World is one of Florida's major attractions, pulling visitors from across the globe. Sea World is also a firm favourite and a must-see, as is Universal Studios, promising both adults and children alike interaction and fun. Other popular favourites in the state include exploring the Florida State Parks, such as the Biscayne National Park, as well as enjoying the picturesque views of Florida Keys. If culture and art is what you're after, there certainly is no shortage: many museums and galleries across the state compete to occupy those with cultural inclinations.

    With so much to choose from, visitors can happily craft their own itineraries around any one of the three major cities of Florida - Miami, Orlando and Tampa - and can fit it all in with adequate time and planning.

    Norton Museum of Art

    Art lovers should not miss out on one of Florida's major cultural attractions, the Norton Museum of Art in the upmarket West Palm Beach. The museum's permanent collection is internationally renowned, including European, American, Chinese, and contemporary art, from the Renaissance through to the present. The museum regularly hosts travelling exhibitions and offers educational programmes for children. There is a museum shop and cafe serving refreshments. Guided tours are available. Photography is allowed in certain parts of the museum, but not in many of the exhibition areas - be sure to ask permission before taking a photo.

    Address: 451 S Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach
    Opening time: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12pm-5PM; Thursday 12pm-9PM; Monday closed.
    Website: www.norton.org
    Norton Museum of Art Norton Museum of Art Ebyabe
    Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex

    Situated in Boca Raton at Red Reef Park on a barrier island, Gumbo Limbo (named after a species of tree) is an eight-hectare (20-acre) marine and estuarine reserve dedicated to showcasing and preserving a concentration of plants known as a 'tropical hammock'. The Environmental complex includes large outdoor aquariums containing local marine life, including the area's ubiquitous sea turtles. Visitors can also visit a butterfly garden, see visual presentations and interpretive displays, catch the view from an overhead observation tower, and stroll along an elevated boardwalk through the hammock and mangrove swamp. The nature centre is informative and fun for people of all ages.

    Address: 1801 N Ocean Boulevard, Boca Raton
    Opening time: Monday to Saturday 9am-4pm, Sunday 12pm-4pm
    Seahorse at Gumbo Limbo Seahorse at Gumbo Limbo Lisa Jacobs
    St Petersburg

    A picturesque peninsula located on Florida's west coast, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west, St Petersburg is the fourth largest city in the state of Florida and is commonly referred to as 'St Pete' by locals. It offers up 35 miles (56km) of beaches on eight major barrier islands and is home to some of America's award winning beaches, such as Caladesi Beach.

    With an average of 360 days of sunshine each year, it has earned the nickname 'The Sunshine City' and is a popular tourist and retirement destination. This area is diverse and comprises 26 communities, ranging from the Greek influence in Tarpon Springs to the Scottish heritage of Dunedin. St Petersburg's unique melting pot culture has resulted in some eclectic eateries, museums, galleries, and boutiques, all with their own unique charm.

    Some of the many attractions in St Petersburg include the Salvador Dali Museum and the mazes of the Sunken Gardens. The Pier offers a concentration of shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars, a large food court, aquarium, and bayside observation deck.

    Seminole Reservation

    An hour west of Fort Lauderdale, on the road to Naples, travelors can visit the Big Cypress Seminole, where Florida's 'unconquered' Indian tribe still reside. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Khi museum in the reservation features historical exhibits and a living village where visitors can watch artisans at work. There is also a nature trail to explore, and a film on Seminole history shown regularly. Apart from the many interesting cultural artifacts on display, panoramic scenery at the reservation is spectacular, showcasing some of the typical everglades' flora and fauna. The Big Cypress Seminole Reservation is the ideal place to immerse oneself in the American Indian heritage of Florida.

    Address: 6300 Stirling Road, Hollywood
    Seminole Reservation Seminole Reservation CGAphoto
    Miami Science Museum

    The Miami Science Museum, officially called The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, contains more than 140 exhibits, all designed to be hands-on and interactive. Coupled with live demonstrations and collections of rare natural history specimens, the museum makes learning heaps of fun. The Wildlife Center boasts more than 175 live reptiles and birds of prey, and the adjacent Space Transit Planetarium provides even more thrills with projected astronomy and laser light shows. The whole family is bound to enjoy a visit to this science centre.

    Address: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL.
    Opening time: Daily from 9am to 6pm.
    Miami Science Museum Miami Science Museum FarleyKatz
    Miami Seaquarium

    At least half a day is required to fully enjoy south Florida's premier attraction. The Seaquarium is world-renowned for its marine life shows and attractions. Another favourite star is the sea lion Salty and his colleagues, who amuse and amaze with their antics. It is even possible to arrange close encounters with some of the animals. The Miami Seaquarium is set in a tropical paradise boasting wonderful views of the city, an extra perk for those who can drag their eyes from the animal shows. Visitors should be sure to check the official website for a schedule of show times before planning their day.

    Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway
    Transport: CitySightSeeing Miami has a new route from Brickwell to the Miami Seaqurium. Miami-Dade's bus service route B provides bus service from Brickell Station to Miami Seaquarium.
    Opening time: Daily 10am-6pm (box office closes at 4:30pm).
    Miami Seaquarium Miami Seaquarium Marc Averette
    Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

    Lovers of antiques will enjoy visiting the magnificent 34-room Vizcaya bayfront villa, built in the Italian Renaissance style in 1916. The grand mansion took hundreds of artisans five years to complete, and the formal gardens, which surround the villa fronting on Biscayne Bay, took even longer to lay out. Today visitors can tour the villa and grounds, enjoying the original furnishings and décor in a variety of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococco, and Neoclassical styles. Vizcaya Villa gives visitors a taste of the best of Europe right in the heart of Miami.

    Address: 3251 South Miami Avenue
    Transport: Metrorail to Vizcaya station
    Opening time: Daily (except Tuesdays) 9:30am-4:30pm.
    Vizcaya Museum, Miami Vizcaya Museum, Miami Tom Schaefer
    Spanish Monastery

    Miami boasts the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere, but cannot claim to have actually built it. Dating from 1141, the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux in North Miami Beach is a hugely popular tourist attraction. The monastery stood originally in Segovia in Spain, but in the early 1950s the medieval building was bought by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, disassembled, shipped piece by peice to Miami, and rebuilt on its present site. Time Magazine called the project the 'biggest jigsaw puzzle in history'. The fascinating medieval complex is a joy to explore, and the fact that it seems out of place in Florida only makes it more magical. Guided tours are available for groups of 15 or more.

    Address: 16711 West Dixie Highway
    Opening time: Monday to Saturday 10am-4.30pm; Sunday 11am-4.30pm.
    Monastery of St. Bernard de
Clairvaux Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux Daderot
    Everglades National Park

    The vast Everglades National Park that spans the tip of the Florida peninsula, 35 miles (56km) southwest of Miami, is a 40-mile-wide (64km) slow-moving river of grass, interspersed with shallow wetlands. It is the only subtropical preserve in North America, containing both temperate and tropical plants. It is also the home of dozens of endangered species, like the swallowtail butterfly, American crocodile, leatherback turtle, southern bald eagle, and West Indian manatee. The best way to explore the park is by canoe; although private operators also run rapid airboat tours, which are popular with thrill-seekers. The park has been accorded several honours including its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.

    Website: www.nps.gov/ever
    Alligator, Everglades National Park Alligator, Everglades National Park Rodney Cammauf
    Ybor City

    Ybor City in central Tampa, is a National Historic Landmark District that beckons visitors back to an era when this Latin Quarter was the cigar capital of the world. The historic enclave, founded in 1886, has been fully restored. The old cigar factories now house shops, restaurants, clubs, and art galleries drawing large numbers of visitors. It is still possible to watch locals demonstrate the ancient art of premium hand-rolled cigar making, or spend a wild night applauding Spanish Flamenco dancers.

    Website: www.ybor.org
    Ybor City Ybor City Bobak Ha'Eri
    Busch Gardens

    Busch Gardens is an extraordinary adventure park: a combination between massive zoo and theme park. It predates Florida's more famous Walt Disney World and offers an equally exciting and entertaining experience for visitors. The park is based on an overall African theme, divided into numerous different areas with thousands of animals living in naturalistic environments. At Busch Gardens it is possible to come face-to-face with some of the world's most endangered animals, including Bengal tigers and orangutans. The site also contains thrill rides, live entertainment venues, shops, and restaurants, all overseen from the Skyride cable car that crosses high above the park. In one day it is possible to visit Tutankhamen's Tomb in Egypt, cross the plains of the Serengeti, and watch snake charmers in a Moroccan sultan's tent. Popular rides include the Cheetah Hunt rollercoaster, that travels up to 60miles per hour (96 km per hour), and the Falcon's Fury drop tower. Opening times vary according to season so be sure to check the official website when planning your trip. If you plan to visit any other theme parks in the region it is well worth investigating the combination tickets on offer for deals.

    Address: 10165 N McKinley Drive
    Opening time: Monday to Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday 10am-8pm; Sunday 10am-7pm.
    Cobras Curse at Busch Gardens Tampa
Bay Cobras Curse at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Busch Gardens
    Museum of Science and Industry

    The hands-on Tampa Museum of Science and Industry, affectionately known as MOSI, is designed to educate, amaze, and amuse both young and old with more than 450 interactive exhibits. Visitors can experience what it is like to be in a Gulf Hurricane with winds of up to 74 miles per hour (200km/h), or defy the laws of gravity in space. The biology section features a unique way to explore the human body, and visitors of all ages will enjoy strolling through the butterfly garden. Also at the museum is Florida's first IMAX dome theatre, and the museum building is set in a 47-acre nature reserve which features walking trails. The museum can easily occupy the whole family for at least half a day.

    Address: 4801 E Fowler Avenue.
    Opening time: Open daily 10am-5pm
    Website: www.mosi.org
    Wind generator Wind generator Tampa MOSI
    Tampa Museum of Art

    The Tampa Museum of Art's stunning facilities is located along Gasparilla Plaza. The 66,000-square-foot building houses a collection of 20th-century and contemporary art, as well as a renowned collection of Greek and Roman antiquities. There is also a changing special exhibitions programme. From the innovative translucent ceilings to walls covered with LED lighting, the seven interior galleries and one exterior sculpture gallery offers visitors a world-class experience. Visitors will appreciate the museum's setting and should take the opportunity to stroll along Hillsborough River while in the area.

    Address: 20 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa
    Opening time: Monday to Thursday 11am-7pm; Friday 11am-10pm; Saturday to Sunday 11am-5pm.
    Tampa Museum of Art Tampa Museum of Art Zeng8r
    Henry B. Plant Museum

    The Henry B. Plant Museum, in the heart of downtown Tampa, is designed to transport visitors back to the turn of the century. The ornate building is Moorish in design, featuring 13 silver minarets which is said to be a copy of the famed Alhambra Palace in Spain. Railroad tycoon Henry Plant built the edifice in 1891 as the 511-roomed Tampa Bay Hotel. Today it houses period art and furnishings from Europe and the Orient, and details via exhibits the history of the resort and the early days of the tourist industry.

    Address: 401 W Kennedy Boulevard.
    Opening time: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm, Closed Monday.
    Henry B. Plant Museum Henry B. Plant Museum Ebyabe
    Florida Aquarium

    More than 5,000 aquatic creatures live at the three-storey Florida Aquarium, where it is possible to explore the underwater world in air-conditioned comfort. The Florida Aquarium is home to an impressive array of the animals found in the famous waterways of the state, including crocodiles and moray eels, as well as many of the favourites found in aquariums the world over. The aquarium offers behind-the-scenes tours, dive shows, audio tours, close-up animal encounters, and touch-tanks for an immersive the experience. There is a little waterpark and play area for young children needing some extra entertainment.

    Address: 701 Channelside Drive.
    Opening time: Open Daily 9.30am-5pm
    Florida Aquarium Florida Aquarium adobemac
    Walt Disney World

    Orlando's most familiar landmark is undoubtedly the turreted Cinderella Castle that stands in the centre of the original Disney Florida theme park, the Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World opened in 1971 and has been making dreams come true ever since. Today it is just one of four Disney parks that cover more than 28,000 acres of Orange and Osceola counties in central Florida, with accompanying resorts, shopping complexes, hotels, and waterparks. Apart from the Magic Kingdom, Disney World now includes the Epcot centre, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It also contains two water parks; Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.

    The Magic Kingdom is where the most famous Disney attractions are located. Little girls can visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to receive princess makeovers, while boys can become ferocious swashbucklers at the Pirates League. Rides at the Magic Kingdom include classic favourites like Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and It's a Small World.

    Disney's Hollywood Studios gives visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the workings of the glitz and glamour of the movie industry, with rides and attractions dedicated to the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the Twilight Zone, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even American Idol.

    Animal Kingdom is a wildlife park home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species. Visitors can go on an Expedition to Everest, or a Kilimanjaro Safari, or through Avatar's Pandora. The iconic Tree of Life towers over conservation exhibits and dinosaur boneyards, with bird shows, thrilling rides, and live musicals.

    Address: Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando
    Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney
World Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World cd.harrison
    SeaWorld Orlando

    Spread out between the Disney parks at Lake Buena Vista and downtown Orlando area is the renowned SeaWorld attraction. The park is designed to give an interactive look at the sea, featuring themed animal habitats from tidal pools to iceberg lakes. Visitors can hug a dolphin, kiss a killer whale, and watch the famous aquatic SeaWorld stars go through their paces in various entertaining shows.

    SeaWorld is not only well-known for its exciting animal encounters and epic rides. Be sure to enjoy Mako, the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in Orlando. It reaches speeds of up to 73 miles per hour (117km per hour) on an impressively long steel track, leaving riders feeling both breathless and weightless.

    Neighbouring Discovery Cove offers visitors a chance to swim with dolphins, view wildlife, sunbathe on gorgeous beaches, and snorkel among the coral.

    Address: 7007 Sea World Drive
    SeaWorld, Orlando SeaWorld, Orlando David R. Tribble
    Universal Studios Florida

    The delights that the Universal Orlando entertainment complex has to offer are so numerous that it takes at least two days to fully appreciate. There are two theme parks: the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Universal Studios is a movie-themed park with thrilling, innovative rides, production studios, and film sets where visitors can go behind the scenes and see the tricks used to create movie magic. Islands of Adventure offers thrilling rides, shows, and villages on five different islands all based on hit film classics. On-site are three superb luxery hotels, so that the fun never has to end at Universal Orlando.

    Address: 6000 Universal Boulevard
    Opening time: Monday 9am-9pm, Tuesday-Thursday 9am-7pm, Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9am-9pm, Sunday 9am-10pm.
    Universal Studios Universal Studios Robert Linsdell
    Wynwood Walls

    Once a run-down, industrial district, Wynwood has been revitalised by a group of artists, who in the early 2000s, wanted to enrich their streets through celebrating the unrecognised talent of graffiti artists. The neighbourhood is now home to numerous galleries, art studios, art complexes, art fairs, museums and collections.

    Wynwood Walls is the centre of this urban sprawl, an open air gallery that has spilled out onto its neighbours' walls. Art lovers will revel in the entirely unique and unusual pieces around them, created by international artists, ranging from old school artists to new school innovators. Admission to the 'museum of the streets' is free. Be sure to check out the Wynwood Walls shop, kitchen and bar, or the renown Joey's Cafe when visiting. Walking tours of the area are available twice daily.

    Address: 2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami
    Opening time: Monday to Thursday 10.30am-11.30pm; Friday to Saturday 10.30am-Midnight; Sunday 10.30am-8pm.
    Wynwood Walls Wynwood Walls
    Lee County Manatee Park

    A sighting of an endangered West Indian manatee, a shy and lumbering walrus-like creature whose numbers are dwindling, is a must for visitors to Florida. At the Lee County Manatee Park, on the Orange River in eastern Fort Myers, these animals can be viewed in their natural habitat from observation decks. The Park also offers information, walking tours, and workshops, as well as picnic facilities and a fishing cove with a deck and a pier. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available. Some of the facilities are only open between May and November when the weather is hot and pleasant - check the official website to see what is available when.

    Address: 10901 Palm Beach Boulevard, Fort Myers
    Opening time: Daily from 7am to sunset
    Website: www.leeparks.org
    Manatee Manatee NASA
    Orlando Odditorium

    Housed in an odd-looking building that is tipped to one side and apparently sinking into the ground, the Orlando Odditorium contains a remarkable collection of weird and wonderful exhibits, amassed over a period of 40 years by explorer Robert Ripley. Examples of the exhibits are shrunken heads and a scale model of a Rolls Royce made entirely of matchsticks. Visitors can measure themselves up against the world's tallest man and learn about all sorts of odd and surprising records. Ripley's 'Believe it or Not' collection is world-renowned and has been documented in television series and best-selling books.

    Address: 201 International Drive
    Opening time: Daily 9am-midnight
    Orlando Odditorium Orlando Odditorium filippo_jean
    Orlando Museum of Art

    Orlando's Museum of Art is a world of creative themed exhibitions, showcasing its permanent collections of American Art, Art of the Ancient Americas, and African Art. Group tours are made memorable with commentary about art appreciation and the lives of the various artists represented. The museum's collection is extremely varied, covering a number of time periods, artistic schools, and movements. Visitors should note that the museum is closed on Mondays.

    Address: 2416 North Mills Avenue
    Opening time: Tuesday to Friday 10am-4pm; Saturday to Sunday 12am-4m. Closed Monday
    Website: www.omart.org
    Orlando Museum of Art Orlando Museum of Art Ebyabe
    Palm Beach

    Palm trees arrived at Palm Beach in 1878, when a ship laden with Cuban coconuts was wrecked on the offshore barrier island that is only 14 miles (23km) long and half a mile (1km) wide. Palm Beach has long been the traditional winter holiday home of America's aristocracy, the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Trumps, and other society names filling the Gatsby-era mansions on the island. Henry Morrison Flagler put Palm Beach on the map in 1894 when he opened the Royal Poinciana Hotel on the island and promoted Palm Beach as America's premier winter resort. The mansion Whitehall, which he built in 1901 for his wife, is now the Flagler Museum dedicated to his memory. Today there are many more hotels in Palm Beach, and hundreds of restaurants, some of which rank among the finest in the world.

    Palm Beach Palm Beach Michael Kagdis

    The capital city of Florida, Tallahassee is located 191 miles (308km) east of Pensacola on the 'Big Bend', close to the border with Georgia, 14 miles (23km) to the north. The city is more reminiscent of the Deep South than sunny Florida, with its fragrant magnolia trees, and old plantation houses Tallahassee hosts the Florida State University and the state's new Capitol Building, which towers 22 storeys above the downtown area. The city's five Canopy Roads, where trees form tunnels, are lined with sites such as plantations, ancient Native American settlements and mounds, gorgeous gardens, and scenic picnic spots. There is also a Museum of Natural History and Science combined with a natural habitat zoo of indigenous wildlife.

    Downtown Tallahassee skyline Downtown Tallahassee skyline Zverzver
    Marine Life Center of Juno Beach

    Over thirty years ago Juno Beach resident Eleanor Fletcher, affectionately known locally as 'the Turtle Lady', began assembling a collection of turtle artefacts and information that has grown to become the Marine Life Center on the oceanfront at Loggerhead Park, which monitors turtles along the Gold Coast. The Center is essentially a turtle hospital, and visitors can see ill and injured creatures being rehabilitated. The Center has numerous exhibits, including tropical fish and shells, and a gift shop. Evening guided 'turtle walks' are offered during June and July, but bookings must be made in advance. There are a number of other guided tours, hikes and talks available - check the official website for details.

    Address: 14200 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach
    Opening time: Daily 10am-5pm
    Marine Life Centre of Juno Beach Marine Life Centre of Juno Beach Alaina McDavid
    Edison and Ford Winter Estates

    Famous inventor, Thomas Edison, and his friend, automobile magnate Henry Ford, both spent dozens of winters in the city of Fort Myers in the early years of the 20th century. Edison's home is the region's top historic attraction, and has been preserved as it was during his lifetime. The Victorian house called Seminole Lodge still boasts working light bulbs, which he invented. They burn in the laboratory where he worked on more than 1,000 inventions during his winter visits. The house next door, Mangoes, was built by Ford in 1916. Visitors are given guided tours of both houses by costumed guides giving 'living history' accounts. Scenic river rides on board a replica of Edison's electric boat are also offered.

    Address: 2350 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers
    Opening time: Daily 9am-5.30pm
    Website: www.efwefla.org
    Thomas Edison Estate Thomas Edison Estate Fredlyfish4
    Koreshan State Historic Site

    In the dying years of the 19th century, a former Civil War surgeon, Dr Cyrus Teed, founded a pioneer settlement on the banks of the Estero River, south of Fort Myers, where he led the community to practice a religion he termed Koreshanity. Chief among his beliefs was the equality of men and women and that the universe was a hollow sphere containing everything within it. Planning to build a utopian city, the community generated their own electricity, built boats, established a general store, and constructed numerous buildings of which 11 remain today. The last four members of the sect donated the land to the State of Florida in 1961 and it is now preserved as a park with a nature trail, picnic tables, and campsite. Guided tours of the Koreshan buildings are offered.

    Address: 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero
    Opening time: Daily from 8am to sunset
    Herons on the Estero River Herons on the Estero River Mwanner
    Southwest Florida Museum of History

    The Southwest Florida Museum of History chronicles the history of Southwest Florida, from the Paleo Indians through the Calusa, the Seminoles and the Spanish explorers to the early settlers. A pioneer cracker house, a 1926 fire pump and a 1929 Pullman private railroad car are among the exhibits. Pride of place is held by the 'Land of Giants' section depicting the huge animals like mammoths, mastodons and the Bison Antiqus that roamed the area about 12,000 years ago. The museum also hosts regular travelling exhibitions. Guided tours are available and there is an audio guide in both English and Spanish for those who prefer to explore independently.

    Address: 2300 Peck St, Fort Myers
    Opening time: Closed for relocation
    Southwest Florida Museum of History Southwest Florida Museum of History Ebyabe
    Shell Factory and Nature Park

    The beaches along this stretch of the Florida coastline are renown for their seashells. It contains one of the largest collection of seashells, fossils, corals, and sponges in the world. The Shell Factory not only exhibits a fascinating and extensive collection, but the 18-acre complex includes shops selling a range of jewellery, ornaments, lamps, objets d'art, and glassware. The complex also includes a petting zoo, wildlife refuge, eco laboratory, a restaurant, game arcade, a miniature golf course, and boating lake; more than enough to keep the whole family entertained.

    Address: 2787 N Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers
    Opening time: Daily 9.30am-6pm
    Seashells Seashells Manfred Heyde
    Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

    In the heart of Key West's old town is the house where Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway, one of America's most respected authors, lived and wrote for more than 10 years. The rooms and gardens are open to the public, enabling visitors to step back in time to Hemingway's most productive period, and to enjoy the lush garden where more than 40 cats have taken up residence. The cats themselves have an interesting back-story: Hemingway owned a cat with extra toes and almost all the cats that now live at the house have this genetic trait; some of them are said to be direct descendants of the original pet. Entertaining guided tours are offered. There is a bookstore and gift shop where visitors can buy their own Hemingway souvenirs.

    Address: 07 Whitehead St, Key West
    Opening time: Daily 9am-5pm
    Hemingway's Writing Desk Hemingway's Writing Desk squirrelist
    Key West Lighthouse Museum

    The landmark beacon of the Key West Lighthouse was built in 1847 to warn ships of the hazardous reefs lying off the lower Keys. Having been taken out of commission in 1969, it is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can climb the 86-foot (26m) high tower to marvel at the spectacular view. The clapboard bungalow that was the keeper's quarters has been restored and maintained as a museum, providing a glimpse of life in Key West in the 19th century and into the bygone profession of lighthouse keeping. Interestingly, the first keeper of the Key West Lighthouse was a woman, an almost unheard of appointment for the 19th century.

    Address: 938 Whitehead St
    Opening time: Daily 9.30am-4.30pm
    Key West Lighthouse Key West Lighthouse placesaroundfl
    Butterfly Conservatory

    The Key West Butterfly Conservatory is like a trip through paradise, as visitors walk through the tropical wonderland filled with free-flying butterflies and brightly-coloured birds. The conservatory is home to nearly 60 species of butterfly and 20 different species of birds, all contained in climate-controlled glass habitats with waterfalls, streams, and hundreds of flowering plants. In the Learning Center, visitors can explore the butterfly anatomy, physiology, lifecycle, feeding, and migratory world of the Monarch, and get an up-close view of the caterpillars. There is also a gallery showcasing butterfly art and a gift shop selling souvenirs.

    Address: 1316 Duval St
    Opening time: Open daily 9am-5.30pm
    Viceroy Butterfly Viceroy Butterfly PiccoloNamek
    Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

    The restored homestead of Audubon and Tropical Gardens was originally built in the 1840s by Captain John Geiger, a harbour pilot and wrecker. It now contains the works of renowned ornithologist John James Audubon, who visited the Florida Keys in 1832 and completed drawings of 18 previously undiscovered birds in the gardens of this house. Audubon House has been furnished in the typical style of a prosperous Key West home of its era. Audio tours are available. In addition to exploring the house visitors can enjoy wandering through the gardens, planted with orchids, bromeliads, and other tropical plants.

    Address: 205 Whitehead St, Key West
    Opening time: Daily 9.30am - 4.15pm
    John James Audubon John James Audubon Public Domain
    Lincoln Road Mall

    A pedestrian promenade lined with palm trees and colourful art deco buildings, Lincoln Road Mall is a great haunt for locals and foreigners alike. Once called the 'Fifth Avenue of the South', this lively seven-block shopping district serves up big name labels like G.A.P. and Banana Republic but also houses the renowned Regal Movie Theatre and the Lincoln Theatre, home to the New World Symphony. As the street is considered one of the best people-watching haunts in South Beach, visitors can take refreshment at one of the string of sidewalk cafés or soak up some local culture at the many art galleries along the mall. The Farmers Market on Sundays is the best place for fresh vegetables, fruits, juices, homemade breads, and flowers. And on weekends, antique vendors display their wares along the sidewalk. At night, street performers take to the mall, entertaining passersby.

    Address: Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach,
    Opening time: Daily 10am-11pm.
    Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Ed Webster
    The Wolfsonian

    A vivacious collection of art and design pieces depicting popular culture from 1885 to 1945, the Wolfsonian is the amalgamation of a long-term pursuit by eccentric heir and collector, Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Housed in the original warehouse used as a storage facility for the 70,000 pieces, visitors can pick through the origins of graphic and industrial design from the distinctive propaganda art from Germany, Italy, and the United States, and the remarkable industrial design pieces from modern German design to Bauhaus. A haven for lovers of design, the Wolfsonian is full of artistic treasures. Not to be missed is the eccentric Dynamo café and museum shop.

    Address: 1001 Washington Avenue
    Opening time: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 10am-6pm; Fridays 10am-9pm; Sunday 12pm-6pm. Closed Wednesdays.
    Wolfsonian Museum Wolfsonian Museum Acroterion
    Jungle Island

    An offshoot of Parrot Jungle, Jungle Island is a new complex offering an exciting array of wildlife from parrots and macaws to crocodiles and penguins. You can witness over 200 parrots at the Manu Encounter, the world's only aviary replicating the clay cliffs of Manu, Peru. At the Parrot Bowl, a gaping amphitheatre, you can be entertained by the clever antics of cockatoos, parrots, and macaws. Look out for the rare albino alligator and 21-foot crocodile at the Serpentarium. The waterpark featuring the 168-foot Hippo Slide, with an exhilarating 40-degree drop is also a favourite. The theme park is full of fun and interesting animals to marvel and interact with.

    Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail
    Opening time: Daily 10am-5pm.
    Macaw at Jungle Island Macaw at Jungle Island Dick Daniels
    SeaWorld Aquatica

    Look no further than SeaWorld's Aquatica for exhilarating water slides, wave pools, and once in a lifetime encounters with sea animals. There are a multitude of thrill rides to enjoy in this water park as well as other varied attractions, ensuring the whole family stays entertained. Visitors can experience an educational ride through an undersea world to see the sea life below, or they can revel in an adventure-fuelled race against the rapids. With so many rides and slides to choose from, this water world will leave any visitor delighted, and soaked!

    The signature ride, Dolphin Plunge, features slides that shoot riders through a pool of Dolphins. For the real adrenalin junkies the most fast paced ride of all is the Ihu Breakway Falls, a watery free-fall drop slide. Whether you're after relaxation or adrenalin, SeaWorld's Aquatica is great fun for the whole family. The park is open daily all year-round, but opening and closing times do change according to season.

    Address: 5800 Water Play Way
    Loggerhead Lane at Aquatica Loggerhead Lane at Aquatica SeaWorld Aquatica
    Crandon Park Beach

    Aside from providing a beautiful sample of Florida's famed sand and sea, Crandon Park Beach also has an Amusement Center with a carousel, a roller rink, a splash fountain, and a playground for kids to enjoy, making it a very good option for families on holiday. The Crandon Park Gardens are a haven for indigneous plants and animals, with a few picnic spots to enjoy as well. The beach itself is long and spacious, ensuring that it seldom feels crowded, and there are plenty of picturesque palm trees providing shade. The water deepens very gradually so that the shallows are extensive and safe for kids.

    Address: 4000 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne
    Opening time: Daily from 7am-6pm
    Crandon Park Crandon Park Paulkondratuk3194
    Gold Coast Railroad Museum

    Kids will be delighted by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, which offers train rides, toy trains to play with, and interesting model train exhibits. The museum's railroad car collection includes President Roosevelt's historic Ferdinand Magellan carriage. In March each year there are Thomas the Tank Engine rides for children. Model train building sessions take place between 10am and 2pm on weekdays, and between 11am and 4pm on weekends. Tours are conducted at specific times each day and cost a small additional fee - check the official website listed below for details.

    Address: 12450 S.W. 152nd Street
    Opening time: Monday to Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am-4pm.
    Website: www.gcrm.org
    Gold Coast Railroad Museum Gold Coast Railroad Museum Micha L. Rieser
    Miami Children's Museum

    The child-sized exhibits at the Miami Children's Museum are both colourful and interactive. Kids can explore the museum's simulated hospital, supermarket, or fire station, playing and moving anything they like. The Mount Michimu rock-climbing wall offers a fun physical challenge for older children, while the Music Makers Studio allows children of all ages an interactive auditory experience. The museum ensures that there's always something going on to entertain visitors and many fun activities and play areas are always available. For safety reasons, children are not allowed into the museum unaccompanied by an adult, and adults are not allowed into the museum unaccompanied by a child. The Miami Children's Museum is the perfect family attraction for a rainy day in the city!

    Address: 980 MacArthur Causeway Miami, FL
    Opening time: Daily 10am-6pm
    Miami Children's Museum Miami Children's Museum Marc Averette
    Kennedy Space Center

    The John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, 46 miles (74km) southeast of Orlando on Florida's east coast, is one place in the state where fact is just as entertaining as fiction. Visitors to the centre follow the story of NASA's exploration of space through interactive exhibits, movies, and tours. Guests can tour a full-size replica of the space shuttle 'Explorer', walk through a giant model of the International Space Station module, and view films about Mars and the Pathfinder exploration. They can also explore historic authentic rockets, like that piloted by pioneer astronaut John Glenn, and marvel at the Apollo/Saturn Centre, which houses all the artefacts from the historic moon landing. The Space Center requires several hours to fully appreciate. On the same site is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, established on the land NASA did not require for its space operations. The 220-square-mile (570 sq km) refuge contains more endangered species than any other wildlife refuge in the US, including the southern bald eagle and Atlantic loggerhead turtle. Be sure not to miss the US Astronaut Hall of Fame, in the nearby town of Titusville, as you leave the area.

    Opening time: Daily 9am-6pm
    Launch of 'Discovery' Shuttle Launch of 'Discovery' Shuttle NASA
    South Beach

    Once known for its high crime rates and 'cocaine cowboys', South Beach is now celebrated for its thriving nightlife, beautiful beach, and art deco architecture. Miami's most popular beach is a hive of activity, with rented lawn chairs, volleyball games, and night time beach parties. Visitors can also enjoy fine oceanside dining or explore the boutiques showcasing South Beach's flourishing fashion industry.

    The eclectic neighbourhood is as diverse as its inhabitants, offering varied entertainment for all. Espanola Way, the historic Spanish Village, with its authentic pink stucco buildings and side walk cafes, is the perfect escape from the bustle of the Washington Avenue. A popular way to explore the area is by bicycle. Visitors can rent bike at the Lincoln Road Mall and buy some South Beach essentials such as jewel studded Havaianas and designer sarongs on the way. Those in search of some evening entertainment have plenty of options; from dance clubs, to cocktail lounges and dive bars.

    Address: From South Pointe Park to 23rd Street.
    Transport: While South Beach has no direct Metrorail stations, it is connected by numerous Metrobus lines. The South Beach Local bus line connects all major points of South Beach to other bus lines in the city costing $0.25.
    South Beach South Beach
    Discovery Cove Orlando

    Discovery Cove is an exquisite tropical island paradise. In recent years, Discovery Cove has supplanted its sister park, SeaWorld, as the premier marine theme park in the state of Florida, but the competition remains steep and many travellers choose to visit both. What makes the experience of visiting Discovery Cove so unique is the level of interaction that it offers: guests can swim with bottlenose dolphins, snorkel alongside a coral reef teeming with exotic fish, unwind on pristine sandy beaches, and hand-feed tropical birds in a free-flight aviary. It is even possible to wade in the welcoming Freshwater Oasis, coming face-to-face with playful otters and curious marmosets in the lush landscaping. The combination of relaxation and adventure is glorious.

    Discovery Cove offers some impressive ticket combination deals which should be considered for those visiting multiple theme parks in the region.

    Address: 6000 Discovery Cove Way
    Opening time: Daily 8am-5.30pm
    Dolphin Swim at Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim at Discovery Cove Discovery Cove

    The sophisticated city of Naples lies on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. The central area preserves its old world charm, while the modern section to the north bristles with high-rise luxury hotels and resorts. Visitors flock here during the winter months to enjoy the magnificent Gulf beaches, world-class shopping and dining, and the challenging golf courses. Naples is also near Florida's top natural attractions, including the tropical wilderness of the Everglades National Park. An upmarket destination it may be, but Naples exudes easy-going friendliness along with its wealthy opulence.

    Naples City Dock Naples City Dock Marc Ryckaert
    Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    We are pleased to inform you that you have been formally invited to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The magical theme park is located at Islands of Adventure and allows visitors to enter their favourite scenes from the films, including the Hogwarts Express, Hogsmead village, Zonko's Joke Shop, and Diagon Alley. It also has thrilling rides such as the Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge. Children can visit Ollivander's to find their perfect wand, or sample chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans at Honeyduke's sweet shop. The attraction is wildly popular and fun for the whole family, but be warned that queues can be exceptionally long at peak times. Harry Potter fanatics give the park rave reviews, but even those who are unfamiliar with the wizarding world will be enchanted by the park.

    Address: 6000 Universal Boulevard
    Opening time: Opening times change according to season
    Hogwarts Castle Hogwarts Castle The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek
    The Holy Land Experience

    Vastly different from most theme parks in Orlando, the Holy Land Experience is a religious attraction designed to recreate pivotal scenes from the Bible. These include settings such as the Great Temple, the Last Supper Communion, and a Jerusalem Street Market. Staff members re-enact stories from the life of Jesus, and large-scale productions are staged in the Church of all Nations auditorium. The park is designed to be spiritually motivating and a visit can be moving for the religiously minded. The Holy Land Experience is far more about the story of Jesus than it is a genuine recreation of Jerusalem, but the replica temples and ancient streets help to bring the story to life and set the scene.

    Address: 4655 Vineland Road, Orlando
    Opening time: Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-6pm; Closed Sunday
    Holy Land Experience Holy Land Experience David Joyce
    Miami Beaches

    The beaches in Miami are world-famous; some for their stunning scenery, and others for their stunning sunbathers. Crandon Park Beach is perfect for children, with playgrounds and carousels as well as picnic areas and restrooms. Haulover Beach Park has great sport facilities like volleyball and tennis courts, a golf course, ample kiosks and picnic tables. However, parents should be aware that the northern end allows nude sunbathing. Hobie Beach is the best place for windsurfing in Miami, while the sandy beach in Oleta River State Park is popular for boating and kayaking. The central Miami beaches have good facilities, like concession stands, showers, lifeguards, walking trails, and beach chair and umbrella rentals, but tend to be crowded at peak times. Free yoga classes at sunrise and sunset are held at 3rd Street Beach every day of the year. Topless sunbathing is allowed in Miami Beach.

    South Beach South Beach Marc Averette
    Gulf Islands National Seashore

    Located on the western end of the Florida panhandle, Gulf Islands National Seashore is a 150-mile (241km) stretch of undeveloped beach. What it lacks in tourist traps, it makes up for in sheer beauty. Camping, hiking, and biking in the isolated regions is a treat for travellers looking to get away from the crowded resorts of southern Florida. The park includes several islands, including Santa Rosa Island (home to the popular Fort Pickens Campground), Perdido Key, Horn Island, and West Ship Island (home of Fort Massachusetts). There are limited restaurants and shops in the Gulf Islands National Seashore region, though most camping sites are near enough to coastal beach communities that visitors don't need to bring everything with them and will find necessary amenities not too far away.

    Address: 3500 Park Road, Ocean Springs
    Opening time: Daily from 8am-9pm
    Website: www.nps.gov/guis
    Gulf Islands National Seashore Gulf Islands National Seashore National Park Service
    Panama City

    Located near Pensacola on the Gulf Coast of the Florida panhandle, Panama City is a popular travel destination. Set along 27 miles (43km) of white sand beaches, the town is a great place for families on holiday in Florida, with plenty of outdoor activities available in St Andrews State Park and Pine Log State Forest, and city attractions like the Panama City Visual Arts Center and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. Panama City is usually a fairly quiet town, but comes alive each spring as thousands of students flock to the town for Spring Break. Concerts, parades, and other events are regular occurrences during this period. Travellers looking for peace and quiet should remember to avoid Panama City at this time.

    Panama City Beach Panama City Beach j.s. clark
    Fort Myers

    Billed as Florida's tropical island getaway, Fort Myers Beach is a haven for visitors seeking a relaxing family holiday. While it offers endless sport and recreational activities like the destinations of the east coast, this beautiful resort town on the Gulf of Mexico remains affordable, relaxed, friendly, and casual. The prime attraction and centre of activity at Fort Myers Beach is the seven-mile (11km) shoreline which has gained a reputation as the world's safest beach, with no undertow and shallow water ideal for swimming. Popular are the numerous water sports offered all along the beachfront, from jet-skiing to sailing a skiff. The village area clusters along a tree-lined walkway at the north end of the beach, offering shops and restaurants. The south is where numerous beachfront resorts with condominiums and hotels have sprung up around Lovers Key State Park. Between these, the beach is lined with parks, recreation areas, and marinas offering fishing and boating charters, sightseeing trips, dining and dancing cruises, and even offshore gambling jaunts. On the opposite side of the narrow Estero Island, is the Matanzas Pass Wilderness Preserve with acres of mangrove swamps, live oak hammocks, and local wildlife to explore from elevated boardwalks.

    Fort Myers Beach Fort Myers Beach Sanibel sun
    Sanibel and Captiva

    Those who are searching for the tranquillity of the beach will delight in the Florida Gulf coast resort island of Sanibel, and its smaller sister, Captiva. The slow pace of island life rarely heats up where the main event is the magnificent sunset. The families and romantics who holiday here come to enjoy the beaches strewn with seashells, the warm Gulf waters, the huge variety of wildlife, and the fabulous fresh seafood. These islands have no high-rises or honking horns, instead they offer all the amenities to make for a comfortable and relaxing holiday. There are art galleries, award-winning restaurants, live theatre, and the occasional musical performances. The more exclusive of the twin islands is Captiva, connected to Sanibel by a bridge. Captiva is the smaller, characterised by wealth and quiet charm, topped off at its northern end by the luxurious all-inclusive South Seas Resort.

    Sanibel Island Sanibel Island Invertzoo
    Clearwater Beach

    Known for the breath-taking sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico and warm tropical breezes, Clearwater Beach is consistently voted one of the top 10 beaches in the United States. Perfect for family vactions, Clearwater is generally known as a safer, quieter, and more affordable option than other more prominent destinations in Florida. With over two and a half miles (4km) of beautiful tropical beaches, Clearwater Beach has some of the best water activities in Tampa Bay, including jetskis and parasailing, boat tours, diving, fishing, and sailing charters. Pirate ship cruises aboard the 70-foot (21m) three-tiered Pirate's Ransom are a must for anyone up for a little swashbuckling. The Jolley Trolley is a great way to visit some of the surrounding attractions, such as Sand Key and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Holiday makers can enjoy a shopping spree at Pier 60, sample the famous Stone Crabs at Frenchy's restaurant, or visit one of the fifty golf courses around the area.

    Sunset on Clearwater Beach Sunset on Clearwater Beach Waters2100
    Marco Island

    Measuring just over six by four miles (10km by 6km), Marco Island is a bustling full service holiday community on the northern edge of west Florida's coastal wilderness area known as Ten Thousand Islands. Just a stone's throw from the vibrant city of Naples, Marco Island is on the doorstep of nearly 100 miles of protected undeveloped islands, bays, and estuaries. It's hemmed in by the Rookery Bay Nature Reserve to the north, and by the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Collier-Seminole State Park, and the Everglades National Park to the south. Unsurprisingly, the resort waters are stocked with diverse and healthy fish populations, are a magnet for fishermen and anglers. The community also offers top class shopping, recreational, and dining opportunities.

    Marco Island Marco Island MBandman
    Little Havana

    There's no place in Miami where Cuba's influence is more apparent than Little Havana. The historic district just west of Downtown Miami teems with culture, from cigar shops to distinct Latin cocktail bars and cafes. Come to Little Havana for a Cuban coffee with its unique espumita. Visit the Ball and Chain, a legendary jazz club once frequented by Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. And enjoy one of Cuba's national pastimes at the Domino Park, where locals have been playing competitive dominos for years. While the neighbourhood is a worthwhile visit anytime, there are two nights per month that are noteworthy. On the last Friday of each month, the community celebrates Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) by welcoming visitors to enjoy the bars, restaurants, live dance and music, and art galleries until the early hours. On the second Friday of every month, galleries stay open until midnight allowing guests to mingle with artists while admiring their works. Those holidaying in Miami during March must be sure to make time for the Calle Ocho Festival, a one-day fiesta and the biggest Hispanic bash of the year on the streets of Little Havana.

    Calle Ocho Plaza Calle Ocho Plaza Cristo Vlahos

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Sunshine and blue skies are the basic ingredients to the weather in Florida at any time of year. However, the Florida climate is divided into two climatic zones: subtropical in the south, and warm temperate in the north. Summer in the south (Orlando and below) is humid with afternoon storms and the peak tourist season is in the winter, between December and February, when temperatures remain warm but there is little humidity. North of Orlando, the peak season is summer, between June and August, where temperatures are usually comfortable. The hurricane season in Florida is between June and November.

    Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 23 miles (37km) northwest of Panama City, Florida.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November)
    Getting to the city: A variety of taxi and shuttle companies service the airport, and some hotels arrange airport transport for guests. Sunshine Shuttle & Limousine is the premium ground transport provider at the airport. Rental cars are also available.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, Enterprise and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Numerous taxi companies and shuttles operate at the airport.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include computer work stations, copy and fax services, mailing services, an ATM, a lost and found, a small selection of restaurants and gift shops, a service animal/pet relief area, and the Military Welcome Center.
    Parking Short and long-term parking is available at the airport. The first 20 minutes are free and thereafter it costs about $3 per hour, up to a daily maximum of $11 in the short-term lot and $9 in the long-term lot.
    Miami International Airport
    Location: The airport is located eight miles (13km) west of central Miami.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).
    Transfer Between Terminals The three terminals are connected by walkways and trains.
    Getting to the city: The airport is well connected to the Miami Intermodal Center (Central Station) by the free MIA Mover electric train. From here numerous services connect to greater Miami. These include the scheduled, local Metrobus; a mass-transit Metrorail system; a fixed rail system designated specifically for downtown Miami and Brickell; and the TriRail commuter train, reaching Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
    Car Rental: Car rental agents operate at the new Miami Intermodal Centre (Central Station), which is connected to the airport by the the free MIA Mover electric train. Companies represented include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z Rent A Car, Hertz, National, Payless, P&P Family Auto Rental, Royal, Sixt Rent A Car, and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis and shuttles are available from the arrivals level, outside the baggage claim areas. There are wheelchair-accessible taxis and shuttles available upon request. Fares to the city centre are about $27 in a taxi and $15 in a shuttle (shuttle estimate is per person, fares vary with additional passengers).
    Facilities: There are numerous restaurants, bars, cafes and fast food chains available 24 hours. A multitude of shops, including duty-free, are available. The airport also has ATMs, bureaux de change, a chapel, an art gallery, spa services, a yoga room, and a rooftop swimming pool at the airport hotel. Facilities for the disabled are availible.
    Parking Miami International Airport's long-term parking facilities consist of two multi-level parking garages. Short-term parking is available in the same area, near the terminals. Garage parking rates are $6 for the first hour, and $17 for around three hours up to a full day. All vehicles parked in the garage are allowed to stay for a maximum of 60 days.
    Palm Beach International Airport
    Location: The airport is located six miles (10km) west of Palm Beach.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: There is a public bus service, Palm Tran, connecting to various points in the Palm Beach area, departing from Level 1. Shuttles are available to take passengers to West Palm Beach and connect with TriRail, which runs trains to Miami, and the Amtrak station. From there, passengers will find rail services to a number of US cities near and far. Taxis, door-to-door shuttles, and rental cars are available and many hotels provide transport for guests. A few mobile app based taxi services are available, although some are restricted from the airport.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, Thrifty and National.
    Airport Taxis: Taxi companies Yellow Cab, ExecuCar, Imperial Transportation PBC, as well as SuperShuttle are available and can be booked in advance. Ground transportation desks are located at each end of the terminal.
    Facilities: Facilities at the airport include bars, shops and restaurants, a spa, ATMs and currency exchange facilities. The Traveler's Service Center on the second floor offers meeting rooms and business facilities, including fax, internet and photocopying. Disabled facilities are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
    Parking Parking rates at the airport range from $7 a day in the Economy Lot, to $30 a day in the Premium Lot. Parking that is distant from the terminal is serviced by regular shuttle buses. Short-term parking has a maximum charge of $17 a day.
    Website: www.pbia.org
    Orlando International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated six miles (10km) southeast of Orlando.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).
    Transfer Between Terminals Terminals A and B are within the same builiding. The crossing between the terminals is on level 3.
    Getting to the city: Public transport facilities are to be found on the Ground Transportation Concourse on Level 1 of Terminal 1. Lynx buses numbers 11, 42, 51, and 111 depart around every 30 minutes, between 5.30am and 10.30pm, for downtown Orlando, the trip taking about 40 minutes and costing $2. Many hotels provide free shuttles for guests. Taxis are available on Level 1 on both the A and B sides of the Main Terminal, and may carry up to nine passengers with metered rates. Cruise passengers may also check with their cruise line, as some offer direct transfers to the port.
    Car Rental: Numerous major car hire companies are represented at the airport, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar and National. The rental car companies are located on the A-Side and B-Side of the terminal on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1).
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available on Level 1 on both the A and B sides of the Main Terminal, and may carry up to nine passengers with metered rates. On average a one-way trip will cost $14-$18.
    Facilities: Passenger services at the airport include ATMs, currency exchange, information centres, an interfaith chapel, and postal services. There are a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and shops, including duty free. The Kennedy Space Center, Disney, Universal Studios, and Sea World all have their own branded shops.The terminal top parking garage is one of the highest points in Orlando, providing a clear view of downtown Orlando and its nightly fireworks display. Facilities for the disabled are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
    Parking Orlando International Airport has a number of parking options ranging from the cost free North and South Cell Phone Lot used to pick-up/drop-off passengers, to the Terminal Top parking lot and the Parking Garage A and B which have rates of $2 for 40 minutes and $1 for each additional 20 minutes. The daily maximum is $17. The two economy lots, serviced by regular airport shuttles, cost just $10 per day.
    Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
    Location: The airport is located 26 miles (42km) north of Miami and six miles (10km) from downtown Fort Lauderdale.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Transfer Between Terminals Free shuttles ferry passengers between the terminals from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. If changing terminals, travellers may have to go through security again.
    Getting to the city: Shared shuttle vans with GO Airport Shuttle can be booked at the transportation desks located in each terminal. They offer a door-to-door service from the airport to most local destinations. Broward County Transit (BCT) bus services and TriRail feeder buses operate from bus stops outside the terminal buildings. The TriRail train service connects the airport with Miami-Dade County. Taxis are available outside each terminal. Twelve major rental car companies are located at the Rental Car Centre.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies, such as Avis, Budget, Dollar, National, and Hertz are located at the Rental Car Centre. Passengers arriving at Terminal 1 should follow the signs to the Concourse B Pedestrian Bridge. All other terminals have a shuttle bus service located on the baggage claim level that ferries passengers to the Rental Car Centre.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available from the lower level outside each terminal. Rate comparison charts are posted at the Transportation Booths located outside the baggage claim area of each terminal.
    Facilities: There are ATMs, currency exchanges, shops, bars, and restaurants throughout the airport. Each terminal has a business centre, with fax and photocopy facilities available in the Terminal 2 business centre. Disabled facilities are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance. There are also pet relief areas and medical services.
    Parking There is ample short and long-term parking available adjacent to the terminal. Hourly parking is charged at $3 every hour up to $36 per day, and daily rates are similar with a daily limit of $15. The Palm and Hibiscus parking garages are also convenient and connected to all four terminals.
    Jacksonville International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 14 miles (23km) north of downtown Jacksonville.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: All ground transportation services, including rental car agencies, taxi, and limousine services, are located on the lower level of the terminal building, adjacent to baggage claim. Some hotels offer pick-up services, and shuttle companies offer a door-to-door service to nearby destinations. These services should be booked in advance, if possible.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies represented include Avis, Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Gator City Taxi is the official taxi company serving the airport. It is a good idea to book a taxi at the desk in the terminal and enquire about rates beforehand, as the drivers have been known to overcharge tourists.
    Facilities: The airport has numerous ATMs, bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. There is a nursing room, a spa, an art gallery, a pet relief area, and a meditation room available at the airport. There are also fax and photocopy facilities available.
    Parking Parking in all lots is charged at $2 per 30 minutes. Daily rates start from $22 in the Hourly Lot, $18 in the Daily Lot, $11 in the Daily Surface Lot, and $6 in Economy Lots 1 and 2.
    Tampa International Airport
    Location: The airport is located nine miles (14km) west of downtown Tampa.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: Shared passenger van services as well as several city buses travel to Tampa and other destinations. The local HART bus stop is located at the Rental Car Center. Taxi services are available outside the Baggage Claim Level.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Alamo and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis from Yellow Cab and United Cab are available curbside outside all the baggage claim areas. The minimum airport fee is $19 and the flat rate fee to downtown Tampa and the cruise terminal is $29.
    Facilities: The airport has a bank, ATMs, currency exchange facilities, a shopping mall, and several restaurants, bars, and cafes. The Airport Marriott (located in the terminal) has its own business centre and conference rooms. Disabled facilities are good; those with special needs should advise their airline in advance.
    Parking Short-term parking at Tampa International is located above the terminal. The first 60 minutes is free. Then it costs $4 for up to 80 minutes and $2 per 20 minutes thereafter, with a daily maximum of $22. In the long-term lot the daily maximum is $18, and in the economy lot the daily maximum is $10. Walkways, a monorail, or free shuttles connect the parking lots to the terminal, depending on distance.
    Southwest Florida International Airport
    Location: The airport is located 17 miles (27km) southeast of Fort Myers.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: LeeTran provides public transportation between 7.25am and 9.25pm on weekdays, on an hourly basis to a transfer point located at Daniels Parkway and U.S. 41, where connections can be made to the remainder of the LeeTran routes. Many hotels in the area offer a shuttle bus service to and from the airport. Taxis and limousines are also available.
    Car Rental: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty are all represented at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis operate on a fixed fare system and can be ordered from the transportation booths located within the terminal building. Fares are calculated on a zone system and for a maximum of three passengers. A $10 surcharge is levied for each additional passenger.
    Facilities: The airport has ATMs, a currency exchange office and several cafes, restaurants and bars. The business centre on Level 2 offers fax and photocopy facilities, laptop connections and internet access. Disabled facilities are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
    Parking Short-term parking is available directly in front of the terminal and costs $2 for the first 20 minutes (after the initial 20 minutes of free parking), $3 for the first hour and a daily rate of $18. Long-term parking is farther away and connected by a free shuttle service. Long-term parking costs $2 per hour and $11 per day.
    Website: www.flylcpa.com
    Orlando Sanford International Airport
    Location: The airport is located 22 miles (about 35km) northeast of Orlando.
    Time: Local time is GMT -5 (GMT -4 between March and November).
    Transfer Between Terminals A shuttle bus service connects terminals A and B.
    Getting to the city: Lynx bus #33 serves the airport, stopping right outside the terminal buildings.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget and Hertz.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the arrivals area. Expect to pay around $60 to get to downtown Orlando from the airport.
    Facilities: Facilities include ATMs, bureaux de change, restaurants and cafes, Internet access, and the Royal Palm Lounge.
    Parking Short-term parking available, at $2 for every 30 minutes.
    Daytona Beach International Airport
    Location: The airport is located four miles (6km) southwest of Daytona Beach.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: The Votran municipal bus service stops at the airport regularly on weekdays and Saturdays, with a more limited service on Sundays. An adult bus fare is about $1.75.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. Car hire desks are located inside the terminal, opposite the baggage claim area.
    Airport Taxis: There are taxis from multiple companies available at the east end of the terminal, located just outside the baggage claim area.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include shops, restaurants, a meeting room, ATMs, postal services, and a lost and found.
    Parking Short-term parking facilities, located adjacent to the main terminal, offer 15 minutes free parking and thereafter charge $1 every 30 minutes, up to a daily maximum of $15. Long-term parking costs $12 per day. Weekly parking is available for $65. There are free shuttles operating to the terminal.
    Sarasota Bradenton International Airport
    Location: The airport is nine miles (14km) south of Bradenton and five miles (8km) northwest of downtown Sarasota.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: Buses heading into Sarasota and Manatee leave from the west end of the baggage claims area. Taxis and rental cars are also available.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies with desks at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis wait outside the baggage reclaim area.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include an ATM, a lost and found, conference rooms, wifi, restaurants and shops.
    Parking All drivers get 30 minutes of free parking at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Thereafter parking rates are $2 for up to 40 minutes, $2 per additional 20 minutes, and $13 to $18 per day.
    Tallahassee Regional Airport
    Location: The airport is situated seven miles (11km) southeast of Tallahassee.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: Buses, hotel shuttles, limousine shuttles, rental cars, and taxis are available from the airport.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Avis, Alamo, Budget, and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the baggage claim area.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include a food court, a gift shop, and a business centre with comfortable workstations.
    Parking Parking rates are displayed at the entrance to each lot: the first 30 minutes are free in both the hourly and daily parking lots. In the short-term lot, the first hour costs $3 and each additional 30 minutes costs $3, up to a daily maximum of $13. In the long-term lot, the first hour costs $2 and each additional hour costs $2, up to a daily maximum of $11.
    Gainesville Regional Airport
    Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) northeast of Gainesville.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4, from mid-March to the first Sunday in November)
    Getting to the city: Regional Transit System (RTS) Route 25 operates between downtown Gainesville and the airport regularly every day, although the schedule is reduced on Sundays. Adult bus fare is $1.50. Several hotels in the area also offer shuttle services for guests.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies operating from Gainesville Airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National.
    Airport Taxis: Several taxi companies operate from the airport and can be hailed at the curb.
    Facilities: Airport facilities are limited, but include ATMs, a restaurant, a pet relief area, and disabled assistance.
    Parking Short-term parking costs $1 for the first 30 minutes, $2 for the first hour, then about $2 per hour up to a daily maximum of $12. Long-term parking is slightly cheaper, with daily rates of $9 and weekly rates of $55. There is a cell phone lot for drivers picking up passengers.
    Key West International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated two miles (3km) east of Key West.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Transfer Between Terminals Key West International is a small airport and no transport is necessary between the two terminals.
    Getting to the city: Shuttles and taxis can be found at the airport.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Dollar and Hertz.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are the most popular form of airport transport and there are usually a number of cabs lined up outside the arrivals area waiting for passengers. Fares vary according to destination.
    Facilities: The airport has limited services, but a snack counter, a bar and some small shops are provided and there is a lost and found service.
    Parking Free parking is available for one hour in the short term parking lot. Thereafter, parking rates are $3 for each additional hour, up to a daily maximum of $15 and a weekly maximum of $84.
    Website: www.eyw.com
    Pensacola International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated five miles (8km) from central Pensacola.
    Time: GMT -6 (GMT -5 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November)
    Getting to the city: Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) buses service the airport. Shared shuttles, taxis and limousines can also be hired at the airport and cars can be rented. Uber and other similar mobile app based taxi services are also available.
    Car Rental: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Payless, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty are all represented at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the airport.
    Facilities: Pensacola International Airport is a small, simple facility, but does provide an ATM, a lost and found, postal services, free wifi, a gift shop and a restaurant for passengers.
    Parking In the Surface Parking Lot rates are $2 per hour, up to $9 per day; in the Garage Parking Lot rates are $11 per day; and in the Economy Parking Lot rates are $2 per hour, up to $8 per day. The Cell-phone lot is free for the first hour, thereafter it costs $2 per hour.
    Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 16 miles (26km) from Destin, and nine miles (14km) from Fort Walton Beach.
    Time: GMT -6 (GMT -5 from mid-March to first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: No public transportation services the airport, but numerous bus, shuttle, taxi and mobile app based taxi services operate at the airport.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies represented at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, National, Dollar, Enterprise and Hertz.
    Airport Taxis: A list of more than 50 taxi and shuttle companies operating at the airport can be found on the official website. Rates vary according to company and destination.
    Facilities: It is a small airport, but a restaurant, a bar, gift shops, ATMs, family restrooms and baby-changing stations are provided.
    Parking Parking is free for the first 10 minutes, $1.50 for the next 50 minutes, and $1.50 for every hour thereafter, up to a daily maximum of $8.50. Free airport shuttles transport passengers between the parking lots and the terminal. A free cellphone parking area is available.
    Website: www.flyvps.com
    Coral Castle

    Legend has it that unrequited love led a Latvian immigrant to spend 25 years single-handedly carving a castle out of rock between the Florida Keys and Miami, on the South Dixie Highway. The amazing monument to the man's determination is sometimes called America's Stonehenge and has been featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Visitors are awed by the castle, which also contains affidavits from neighbours testifying to the fact that the builder had no assistance with his mammoth task. The creator, Edward Leedskalnin, once proudly showed visitors around the castle himself, but now an audio guide does the honours. This quirky attraction is fascinating to visit and fun for the whole family.

    Address: 28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead
    Opening time: Monday to Friday 9am-6pm; Saturday to Sunday 9am-7pm.
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    Fantasy of Flight

    Midway between Tampa and Orlando, about 20 minutes drive west of Walt Disney World, the Fantasy of Flight resort is billed as the world's greatest aircraft collection. The attraction began as a vision of aviation enthusiast and historian, Kermit Weeks, as a tribute to the pioneers of flight, and today it features many rare and vintage aircraft, which actually take to the skies. Visitors are treated to an 'Aircraft of the Day' flypast, as well as the chance to fly themselves in a simulator. The site also offers tours of the aircraft collection in hangars, a sight and sound presentation detailing the history of aviation, a tour of the 'back lot' where vintage aircraft are restored, and an Exploration Centre.

    Address: 1400 Broadway Boulevard SE, Polk City
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    Biscayne National Park

    The Biscayne National Park can be seen from downtown Miami, but the city and the park offer vastly different experiences for tourists. The coral reefs and tiny islands of this water sanctuary are home to an abundance of wildlife, along with a couple of pirate shipwrecks. Biscayne is a great camping, boating, and swimming spot for families, providing a tranquil sanctuary right on the doorstep of Miami for those who need a break from the bustle of the city. There are a variety of boats and watercrafts available for hire - check out the official website listed below for more details.

    Transport: Access to the park from the mainland is limited to the immediate vicinity of the Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Convoy Point where most tours and activities begin.
    Website: www.nps.gov/bisc
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    Florida is famous for its alligator population, and Gatorland in Orlando is a good place to experience these interesting animals. The park is home to thousands of alligators and crocodiles, with a breeding marsh with boardwalk and observation tower, reptile shows, an aviary, petting zoo, swamp walk, and educational programs. A huge thrill is provided by the Gator Zip Line, which allows brave visitors to the park to zoom about high above the enclosures. Gatorland has several restaurants and even offers a gluten-free menu. Visitors can enjoy the whole park at a leisurely pace in about four hours, but a family can easily spend longer time enjoying the various attractions.

    Address: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail.
    Opening time: Daily 10am-5pm
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    Pompano Beach

    Situated midway between Palm Beach and Miami, the holiday resort town of Pompano Beach is the heart of the Gold Coast. Anglers are understandably drawn to the long municipal fishing pier, hoping to land a big one from the plethora of fish swimming offshore. The resort town is historically a fishing community, named for the area's popular ocean fish species, the Florida Pompano. While the anglers have their fun there is plenty for the rest of the family to do. The beachfront promenade offers playgrounds, grill sites, and picnic tables, while the town contains numerous parks with sports facilities. Golfing enthusiasts will delight in the dozens of top-flight courses within a half-hour of the resort. Then, of course there are the three and a half miles (6km) of golden sands, local attractions, fine dining, and shopping opportunities. The town has a full calendar of special events, including a holiday boat parade, seafood festival, and fishing rodeo.