Florida Holiday Guide | AREA MAP

In 1965, Walter (Walt) Disney started the state of Florida on a path that would transform it into the family holiday capital of America, if not the world. Today, Walt Disney World Resort is the world's largest recreational holiday resort - it's twice the size of Manhattan.

But away from the theme parks, Florida has much to offer, such as the second largest national park in the US (after Yellowstone), the Everglades National Park, where you can skim across the surface of the water at 45mph on an airboat.

For anyone who wants to chill and follow in the footsteps of celebrated novelist Ernest Hemingway, the Florida Keys - hundreds of tiny islands - is the place to be and also home to the only living coral reef in the continental US.

The Sunshine State also has 1,000 golf courses, more than any state in the US.

  • Getting There and Around Florida

    International airports include Tampa, St Petersburg-Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale and Miami International. The bulk of holiday flights go into Orlando Sanford International.

    Florida's road network is excellent and taking to the open road in your hire car will give you so much freedom.

    Greyhound buses offer great middle and long-distance links between towns and cities. In Orlando, the Lynx bus company offers a good service between hot spots, while the Trolley Bus runs along International Drive, the "tourist corridor."

  • Beaches in Florida

    Miami's wide expanse South Beach is lined with hip eateries and funky bars in candy-coloured Art Deco buildings.

    Older visitors on holiday here might prefer Fort Myers and the neighbouring islands such as Sanibel.

    There are 23 miles of golden sands in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, such as Hollywood, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.

    Look out for little loggerhead sea turtles nesting on the beaches of St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. The beaches of Fort De Soto Park - five islands off St. Petersburg - are hard to beat. Nearby Caladesi Island State Park is stunning.

    The Gulf Coast beaches are spectacular too. Tickling the Gulf of Mexico, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is particularly gorgeous.

  • Sightseeing in Florida

    Excellent museums in St Petersburg include the Florida International Museum (affiliated with the prestigious Smithsonian Institute) and the Salvador Dali Museum. There's a Museum Of Fine Arts in St Pete Beach.

    Miami boasts The Wolfsonian, devoted to the decorative, design and architectural arts and the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

    The Orlando Museum of Art is the place to go for 18th, 19th and 20th-century American art.

    Head east to the Space Coast and visit the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

    One of the newest attractions is the retired warship USS Oriskany, now successfully sunk and "reefed" off the Pensacola coast for divers in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The Everglades is a unique eco-system made up of an estimated 10,000 mangrove and cypress swamp islands - a haven for bald eagles, dolphins, manatees and alligators.

    Tampa is host to Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, Lowry Park Zoo, The Florida Aquarium, and MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry.

    A Florida must-see is the pastel palette of Miami Beach where you can take a guided walking tour of the historic square-mile Art Deco District.

  • Eating and Nightlife in Florida

    Don't miss Florida's excellent seafood, from stone crab claws to red snapper.
    There are lots of places to choose from along International Drive in Orlando and "dinner shows" are a popular way to spend an evening.

    Go for lunch down in Key Biscayne to feast on steaks or seafood at some of the ever-popular eateries. Eat out at the lively Coconut Grove area of Miami and the city's other amazing restaurants.
    There are even "clothing optional" bars and restaurants in Key West - don't wander into Garden of Eden or the Naked Lunch Café unless you're appropriately undressed.

    Miami's nightlife scene is buzzing and celebrity-fuelled, with clubs and bars aplenty along Ocean Drive.
    Orlando's nightlife is centred along International Drive, a five-mile stretch of entertainment and hotels.
    Universal Studio's CityWalk has lots of bars, while at Downtown Disney, the after-dark highlights include 8 Trax for retro '70s nights and the BET Soundstage Club for R & B.
    Jazz is popular in the state and you'll often find a decent jazz bar in town.

  • Shopping and Family Attractions

    Orlando has many discount outlet malls offering major bargains. Belz Factory Outlet Mall, off International Drive, is said to be the largest factory outlet centre in America.

    Naples is a fancy town with fancy shops to match - from exclusive designer stores at Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South, to shopping villages like Bayfront and Tin City.
    The Village of Merrick Park in Miami is a new luxury retail emporium and Bal Harbour is where you're likely to see Beyonce or J-Lo doing their browsing. Miami's Lincoln Road, has one-of-a-kind boutiques mingling with favourites like Apple and American Apparel.

    Walt Disney World Resort has eight theme parks and areas; Universal Resort Orlando has two theme parks and Universal CityWalk, a night-time entertainment quarter. SeaWorld is home to Shamu the whale and you can have a dolphin encounter at neighbouring Discovery Cove.
    Busch Gardens in Tampa is an African themed adventure park mixing wild animals with wild rides, such as SheiKra, North America's first vertical dive coaster.
    There are natural attractions such as Gatorland and kids will love an airboat ride in the Everglades.
    Miami's kid-friendly holiday attractions include Parrot Jungle and Gardens, Miccosukee Indian Village and Airboat Rides, Monkey Jungle and the Miami Seaquarium.
    The Kennedy Space Center offers a full-day "astronaut training programme".

Deal of the Day
International Drive, Orlando, Florida

7 nights, Room Only, 
Dep: 04 Sep 2014,  from Heathrow
International Drive, Orlando
7 nights, Room Only, Dep: 04 Sep 2014, from Heathrow
International Drive, Orlando
7 nights, Room Only, Dep: 04 Sep 2014, from Gatwick
International Drive, Orlando
7 nights, Self Catering, Dep: 04 Sep 2014, from Gatwick

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