From white-knuckled fun in theme parks and lazy days on beaches to evenings posing in trendy nightclubs, here's why you should plan a holiday to Florida.
Florida opens its arms to visitors. It boasts some of the largest Hispanic and Latino communities in North America and its tourism industry makes up the largest sector of the state economy. Therefore every effort is made to ensure you'll be charmed by the American's hospitality and bowled over by their manners.
Florida has something for every kind of visitor, whether you're looking for family-focused theme parks, a Kennedy Space Center tour, to explore the many beaches, to take in the vibrant nightlife and movie star glamour, or to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Everglades.
Head down the diner-lined International Drive in Orlando, the gateway to the international theme park capital of the world. This entertainment capital started with Walt Disney's Magical Kingdom and has continued with Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Wet N' Wild, to name but a few. And don't forget to visit the many shopping malls and outlet stores to pick up a bargain.
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Formally the destination of choice for local college kids on Spring Break in search of a party, recent years have seen Daytona Beach make efforts to reposition itself as a family-friendly destination. Activity still centres on the 23-mile stretch of white sandy beach with the Sky Ride cable car carrying visitors over to the Main Street Pier. Car and motorcycle enthusiasts are drawn to the area's hard-packed sands and in particular to the 168,000 capacity Daytona International Speedway, home of the great American race, the Daytona 500.
Head to the East coast and visit the exciting streets of Miami. The “Capital of Latin America” keeps itself busy all year round with a steady stream of theatre and music festivals.
The glamorous Art-Deco district of the city boasts a slew of trendy nightclubs, cocktail bars and designer fashion houses. The broad strip lining Miami Beach is a perfect spot to watch the beautiful people mix with the city's residents. It is also the gateway to visiting the steamy green Everglades an alligator-filled, water-logged plain.
North of Miami is the city of Fort Lauderdale. The “Venice of America” is known for its expansive and intricate canal system as well as an abundance of marinas and boat yards. The stylish café-lined walkways appeal to the yachting crowd and a more sophisticated breed of traveller, far removed from the college crowds the city used to attract. Fort Lauderdale Beach offers three miles of perfect sands and a chic shopping and dining scene.
Located in the south eastern tip of the state are the Florida Keys, a 126-mile chain of islands that skirt within ninety miles of Cuba, linked by one straight road, the impressive Overseas Highway. There are fishing, snorkelling and diving opportunities along the route with the Florida Reef being a particular highlight. The run of islands culminates in the town of Key West, a laid-back paradise that thrives on a community of artists, bohemians and tourists all in search of the easy life.
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Nestled in the West of Florida is “The Sunshine City” itself, St Petersburg. Popular with tourists for its downtown area and dedicated public waterfront, the St Petersburg Pier is one of the area's prominent landmarks and features sporting events and festivals all year round. Also of note is the city's impressive network of museums housing pieces chronicling the history of the US, the history of the Holocaust and the works of Salvador Dali. You are also in easy reach of the beaches of Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and Naples.
If you are planning a trip to Florida this year and need some help, read our fact file below and use TravelSupermarket's search to find the cheapest deals.
Whether you want to avoid the risk of hurricanes or enjoy sizzling temperatures perfect for days on the beach, find out the best time to visit Florida for you.
Florida's weather is influenced by the fact that you are never far from the sea. It is known as the Sunshine State with good reason; Florida is a great destination for year-round sun. The summers are long and warm with comfortable weather flowing into the autumn months. In July, temperatures average 32-34C and seldom exceed 38C. In January temperatures reach an average of 20C. Night-time temperatures settle around 11-16C and shouldn't dip below 4-7C.
Afternoon humidity is broken up by thunderstorms from late spring to early autumn. Its subtropical climate makes Florida the most hurricane-prone US state with mid-August to mid-October being the peak season.
There's always something going on in fun-filled Florida from family parades to food and music festivals. Here's our pick of some of the best annual events.
Gasparilla Pirate Fest; late January; Tampa - In an annual parade for all the family, the Jose Gasparilla, a fully rigged pirate ship, sails into port down Seddon Channel and docks at Tampa Convention Center in preparation to “invade” the town. The scurvy crew follows a marching band parade into downtown Tampa where the celebrations continue with live bands and a funfair.
Florida Folk Festival; last weekend in May; White Springs - Taking place across Memorial weekend each year, Florida's biggest folk festival encompasses eight stages and multiple jam tents and craft stalls. Live acoustic performances are complemented by storytelling, line dancing, children's entertainment and the best choice in local food vendors.
Ormond Beach Seafood and Blues Festival; early May; Downtown Ormond Beach - Showcasing the best of local seafood, the festival gives visitors the chance to try locally sourced blue crabs, seasoned shrimp, mussels, clams and alligator. Live music is performed across two stages with visitors invited to join in and children are catered for in a dedicated kids' area.
Hispanic Heritage Festival; October; Palm Coast - Held every October to coincide with Hispanic heritage month, the event shows off all that is great about Hispanic cuisine, music and performance. Alongside this is the influence of American television and movie culture.
Ultra Music Festival; Bayfront Park, Miami - Held every year ahead of the summer festival season - and always featuring a line-up of the biggest, most well-known DJs and acts - the festival acts as a first showcase for the tunes that are destined to be the soundtrack of your summer months.
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Travelling to Florida with tots, want to completely relax or trying to keep your costs to a minimum? Here's our picks of the best things to do, whatever your situation.
Babies and toddlers: Water babies will love watching colourful marine life at Florida's SeaWorld. All the family will enjoy feeding bottlenose dolphins, getting up-close to sea lions and watching the giant Pacific octopus.
Kids and teens: Dreams will come true and memories will be made at Disney's Magic Kingdom. The kids will be enchanted as they are greeted by their favourite characters and visit the magical lands around the park.
Grown-up families: Shrunken human heads, the smallest car in the world and the lizard man are just some of the weird and wonderful sights you'll be treated to at Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in St Augustine.
Romance: Take a charter boat or catamaran trip out to Dry Tortugas National Park with your other half. Here you'll be able to snorkel among coral reefs, go on scenic hikes or camp out under the stars.
Relaxing: Treat yourself to a relaxing evening by booking a dinner cruise. Admire the views of coastal Florida as you dine and dance under the stars.
Active types: Take to the sky and get a bird's eye view of Florida by parasailing at Key West. Just make sure someone is on hand to capture the evidence on camera!
Free and cheap: With so much to see and do in Florida, you'll want a few days to unwind and relax. Experiencing Miami's stunning beaches won't cost you a penny, so top up your tan or people-watch at famous South Beach.
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