Florida Official Travel Guide 2019

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10 Family fun 20 Shopping 28 Sports & Activities 36 Foodie travel 44 Culture 50 Going green

33 Accommodation 41 Nightlife & Entertainment 49 LGBTQ 57 Accessible travel


Two-centre holidays 18 Beaches 35 Off the beaten track 42 Romantic spots 56 Festivals


4 Regional Roundup • 6 Iconic Florida • 58 Preferred travel partners • 59 Fact file • 60 Map





re you a foodie fanatic, nature lover, a party animal or a culture vulture? Perhaps you’re a family looking for fun in the sun, a couple searching for romance, or a group of friends in desperate need of some relaxation. It doesn’t matter where you go in the Sunshine State, you’ll find that Florida offers visitors a warm welcome and a huge array of activities and attractions to suit all ages and individual passions. That’s why this year’s official VISIT FLORIDA guide concentrates on the experience rather than the destination – whether that’s wildlife encounters, fine dining or designer shopping. You’ll still find lots of information on where to go in Florida – whether it’s the legendary theme parks, the vibrant cities, the endless beaches or the beautiful lakes and forests – it’s all about what you want to experience. Whether you are a new or returning friend of Florida’s, this guide will help you create memories to last a lifetime.

Proudly published by BMI Publishing Ltd 2019 © 2019. Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK T: 020 8649 7233 | enquiries@bmipublishing.co.uk | sellingtravel.co.uk | Images sourced from VISIT FLORIDA, bigstockphoto.com and istockphoto.com. Publisher: Sally Parker, Deputy Editor: Laura Gelder, Writers: Simon & Susan Veness, Senior Designer: Louisa Horton, Designers: Ross Clifford, Caitlan Francis & Zoe Tarrant, Production Manager: Clare Hunter, Managing Director: Matt Bonner. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.


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44• •REGIONAL Regional FLORIDA Florida

NORTH FLORIDA This is where Florida’s natural charm stands out from the crowd, with Spanish mosssmothered trees, the sugar-white sands of the Emerald Coast, ancient forests of cypress and hundreds of years of heritage and history in Spanish St. Augustine. St. Augustine

CENTRAL FLORIDA There’s nowhere on earth that has a greater array of high-octane attractions, and hugged between two coasts of worldclass beaches. Add to that buzzing and cultural cities like Tampa and green spaces ranging from citrus groves to swamps Tampa

Combine urban chic with barefoot nature in South Florida Everglades National Park


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For Southern charm with a mix of natural & cultural attractions, look to the north

Emerald Coast

Head to Florida's centre if you're looking for fun in the sun Epcot Orlando

SOUTH FLORIDA Right at the tip of the U.S., South Florida epitomises glamour, from Miami to Naples. And if you want to get back to laid-back nature you can kayak the Keys or simply sit still and watch out for wildlife in the Everglades Downtown Miami


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Must-see attractions are never far away in Florida. Here's a brief selection to get you started FORMIDABLE FORTRESS


Built of rare coquina

Ocala National

limestone in 1672, St.

Forest, north of

Augustine’s Castillo

Orlando, is a natural

de San Marcos is

playground for

the oldest masonry

boaters, hikers and

fort in the United

campers. Rent a

States, having survived two British sieges and

cabin or a caravan pitch and enjoy swimming,

the U.S. War of Independence. Tour soldiers’

snorkelling, fishing or a nature drive, or just hike

barracks and prison cells, watch cannon-firing

along a 100-mile section of the spectacular

demonstrations and chat with costumed

Florida National Scenic Trail. Certified for deep-

interpreters. Nearby, the Fountain of Youth

water diving? Plunge into crystal-clear waters of

Archaeological Park continues the city’s

Alexander Springs, which stay at a blissful 22C,

Spanish connection.



and restored


aircraft, the

You can’t hear

National Naval

‘Florida’ without

Aviation Museum

thinking of Walt

With its impressive collection of artifacts

in Pensacola is

Disney World’s four

the largest naval aviation museum in the

theme parks, two water parks and vast array of

world. Take a free tour, or try your combat or

hotels, shopping and dining choices, including

stunt-flying skills on a thrilling multi-sensory

the Magic Kingdom and Epcot’s ‘world in a park’.

simulator. If you're lucky enough to visit on their

But don’t forget the rest! Choices range from

practice days, watch as the world-famous Blue

Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter to

Angels squadron perform manoeuvres from

SeaWorld, which has rollercoasters, a Sesame

nearby NAS Pensacola.

Street area and a host of aquatic creatures.


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HOMAGE TO CITRUS Cultivation of oranges in Florida

SOUTHERNMOST CITY Linked to the mainland by

began in the 16th

Highway 1 and the

century, reached its

iconic Seven Mile

heyday in the 1970s,

Bridge, funky Key

and is still going

West is a snorkelling

strong today. The Citrus Tower in Clermont,

and diving paradise, a food-lover’s dream and

near Orlando, was among the state’s first

party central for Florida’s fabulous sunsets.

attractions and stands as a 220-foot celebration

The Ernest Hemingway Home and superb

to the industry. Its wonderful glass-enclosed

art galleries add a cultural element, but it’s

observation deck affords superb views of the

primarily all about sun, snorkelling and sipping

area, once home to vast citrus groves.

something refreshing as the sun sinks.



Come face to snout

Miami’s Art Deco

with the gentle

District, packed

manatee, one of

with more than 800

the Sunshine State’s

stunning buildings

most iconic animals.

built between

The warm waters of

1923 and 1943, is

Crystal River attract manatees in colder months,

recognised in the National Register of Historic

with the opportunity to swim alongside them

Places. Once the playground for Hollywood’s

on a tour, or view them from land. In summer,

finest, the neighbourhood still oozes elegance.

dive here for scallops, then feast on your fresh-

Swanky restaurants and boutique hotels

caught bounty.

abound, and South Beach is just steps away.


Immerse yourself

Everglades National PETER W. CROSS

ONE GIANT STEP in the thrill of space exploration at Kennedy Space Center, where hazards and

Park boasts the title 'Wetland of International Importance'. It is home to

triumphs in the quest for space speak to the

hundreds of wildlife species, including manatees,

power of human achievement. The Space

bobcats and alligators, plus untold plant

Coast also boasts the superb Merritt Island

varieties. A World Heritage Site, this unique 1.5

Natural Wildlife Refuge and barrier island

million-acre ecosystem offers nature-lovers nine

Canaveral National Seashore, where sea turtles

unique habitats to explore, which are accessed

congregate annually to lay their eggs.

by hiking trails, boardwalks and guided tours.


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TWO-CENTRE HOLIDAYS A break of two halves offers holidaymakers an easy way to double their fun WATERWAYS & BEACHES With over 4,000 restaurants and 160 miles of navigable waterways, you can see why Fort Lauderdale got its nickname. Start here to enjoy shopping, dining and sun-soaked beaches and then move onto smaller Naples which offers chic boutiques and sumptuous sandy beaches, plus a historic Downtown and lots chances to get in touch with nature.


Tampa, FL

State capital Tallahassee is home to


two universities and a college so it

Miami’s big-city vibe is all about

has a variety of cultural, historical, sporting and

indulgence, with world-class shopping

outdoor attractions – plus a serious craft beer

and dining at every turn. When stamina ebbs,

scene. Gainesville is two hours away and offers

head south and put those new summer clothes

more arts, music, sports and brewpubs. From

purchases to good use in Key Largo. Here, the

here, Ocala National Forest is an easy one-hour

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers

drive south.

eco-tours, kayaking and excellent snorkelling or diving.

PARKS & WAVES Action-packed Orlando’s seven theme


parks (although LEGOLAND is actually

Tampa's famous food scene is packed

in Winter Haven), four water parks, and countless

with award-winning chefs, great ethnic

other attractions, shopping centres and

food and farm-to-table restaurants in trendy

restaurants offer non-stop fun. Pair with award-

Seminole Heights. Then go south to Sarasota's

winning St. Pete Beach for its fishing charters,

white sand at Siesta Beach Key, the Ringling art

boating and a vibrant nightlife.

collection and Towles Court Artist Colony.


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10 • FAmiLy FUN

FAmiLy TimE, ALL THE TimE Hassle-free, exciting and diverse – welcome to the state where entertaining the kids is in our DNA


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FAmiLy FUN • 11


nd... relax! The world’s most family-friendly and convenient

destination is within easy reach. Famous for its attention to detail, great value for money, consistent weather and easy navigation, plus restaurants and hotels that really know the meaning of good service, Florida serves up the perfect ingredients for a once-ina-lifetime family holiday. The Sunshine State is an easygoing place that genuinely values its visitors, and richly rewards those who travel with a sense of open curiosity, especially once you get off the beaten track. Your dollars will be valued in cities like Orlando, Miami and the other big centres, but if you visit places like Stuart, DeLand, Gulfport, Fernandina Beach, Pensacola or Lake City, you might become something of a local celebrity – don’t be surprised to be greeted with a hearty “Welcome, y’all!” when they hear your accent. Affordable car hire and fuel costs make it easy to hit the open road. Families looking for great beaches are spoilt for choice around the 1,260 miles of coastline, and even the smallest of local restaurants will be able to offer a kids menu to ensure everyone is catered for to their satisfaction.

miami Beach, FL


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12 • FAmiLy FUN

Flight school, LEGOLAND

And, while Florida is rightly

Watersports are everywhere,

queue to meet Mickey Mouse

world famous for its theme

zipline attractions are

at the Magic Kingdom includes

parks – Walt Disney World,

extremely popular, golf,

plenty of adults!

Universal Orlando, SeaWorld

mini-golf, tennis and horse-

It’s imperative to understand

and Busch Gardens are truly

riding options are sprinkled

that Walt Disney World is a big

second to none – there is

across the state, and wildlife

experience in many ways – it's

a LOT more on offer than

opportunities abound.

47 square miles large... that’s roughly the size of the city of

just those bastions of family entertainment.

Pushchairs are called ‘strollers’ in America and all the theme parks offer them for hire if you forgot to bring your own

The mouse’s house

Manchester. It encompasses

Orlando, and its neighbouring

four full theme parks, two

city of Kissimmee, have

water parks, 22 elaborate hotel

rightly become symbolic

resorts, four full golf courses,

of outstanding theme

boating, fishing, horse-riding

park entertainment on an

and biking, as well as its

unprecedented scale. There

impressive Disney Springs

are certainly other Disney,

district of restaurants, shops,

Universal and SeaWorld parks,

entertainment and nightlife.

but only Orlando has this unique mix of all three – with an attention to detail that takes your breath away. These are family attractions par excellence, but there are plenty of ‘grown-up’ kids who appreciate great rides, water parks, live entertainment and character meet-and-greets too. So don’t be surprised if the

Dinosaur World


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FAmiLy FUN • 13

The sheer enchantment

Park life

is hard to beat. There is the

Universal is a three-park

Magic Kingdom, featuring the

experience these days, with

adventure of Disney’s classic

the new Volcano Bay water

films and characters; Epcot,

theme park added to the two

with its futuristic style, plus a

staples of Universal Studios –

global journey via its World

film adventures from the likes

Showcase section; Disney’s

of the Fast and the Furious,

Hollywood Studios, offering

Men in Black and Transformers

movie magic, from Star Wars

– and the thrills of Islands of

to The Little Mermaid and Toy

Adventure, with the Marvel

Story Land too; and Disney’s

Super Heroes, King Kong and

Animal Kingdom, which adds a

Jurassic Park, among others.

naturalistic style in lands based

The park also boasts a

around Asia and Africa, as well as the dazzling Pandora: The World of Avatar area; and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, from summer 2019.

DiD yOU KNOW? Orlando was a modest city of 80,000 in 1966, when Walt Disney announced his ‘Florida Project’ that became Walt Disney World. Today, Greater Orlando is home to more than two million people.



Real time. Family time. Your time. On the brilliant white-sand beaches of Siesta Key, downtown or off the beaten path, connections here are always strong. VisitSarasota.com


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14 • Family fun

Child's play Panama City Beach’s Gulf World is a can’t-miss opportunity for lovers of dolphins, sea-lions, penguins and other sealife and is ideally suited for kids. Adventure Landing in Jacksonville features a winning combination of waterpark, rides, mini-golf and laser tag. Head south to Tampa and Busch Gardens, which is a major draw for all ages, with its collections of animals and growing choice of coasters that appeal to the real adrenalin-seekers. Families with children in the 2-12 age range should have Legoland Florida on their To Do list thanks to its excellent variety of rides, while Fort Lauderdale boasts the high-energy Xtreme Action Park, with bowling, go-karting, arcade games and much more.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando

Wizarding World of Harry


enhancements and additions

Potter – an immersive journey

that continues to make the

into the stories of J.K. Rowling’s

home of One Small Step For

boy wizard – which is boosted

Man a great family choice.

by Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a new

Diverse delights

ride opening this year and

Heading north from Orlando,

taking fans on a ride through

the choices are smaller-

the Forbidden Forest.

scale but equally enjoyable.

Completing Universal’s

Historic St. Augustine offers a

line-up is its dining and

terrific line-up of child-friendly

entertainment district,

possibilities, from Ripley’s

CityWalk, plus no fewer than

Believe It Or Not museum

six themed hotels including

and Potter’s Wax Museum to

the retro Universal Cabana Bay

the Alligator Farm and Pirate

Beach Resort.

& Treasure Museum. Nearby

Orlando’s array of compelling

A w

Marineland was the world’s

theme parks is completed

Round things out with the Miami Children’s Museum, where youngsters can play, learn, imagine and create, and you have a wonderful selection for all the family.

by the marine extravaganza of SeaWorld, now with an impressive collection of coasters to go with its animal exhibits, plus the new Infinity Falls raft ride. Its near neighbour, the Kennedy Space Center remains in the front line of Florida attractions thanks to a five-year programme of

Chewbacca in LEGOLAND


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Learn more about our new rides at seaworldagents.co.uk Book our 3 for 2 Ticket to experience the latest attractions at SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens. This is our best-value ticket and only available in the UK and Ireland before your guest travels. This ticket provides 14 days access plus FREE unlimited parking at each park. With 52 weeks of events planned at our parks in 2019, your guests will want to pop back to enjoy these after-hours extravaganzas. VISIT SEAWORLDAGENTS.CO.UK FOR MORE INFORMATION

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© 2018 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. ™/© Sesame Workshop.

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16 • FAmiLy FUN

Swimming with sharks, Tampa's Florida Aquarium

DiD yOU KNOW? Miami was originally going to be called Flagler after the railroad baron who opened Florida up to tourism in the late 19th century, but he insisted on it taking a Native American name. education programmes and

have children firmly in mind,

ago and still a research centre

‘Toddler Tuesdays’, while

notably with the Everglades

for dolphins, turtles and sharks.

the Florida Aquarium offers

Airboat Adventure and cute

up-close encounters for kids

Otters at Play exhibit.

first oceanarium 80 years

Gulf World in Panama City

While Bradenton is famous for

Beach is another Floridian

including a Penguins Backstage

feature, boasting dolphin

Pass, and the engaging

its beaches and gorgeous Anna

and other animal encounters,

Museum of Science and

Maria Island, families should

including sea lions, stingrays,

Industry, which has interactive

make a note of the South

sharks and turtles.

exhibits like Slippery Science.

Florida Museum, including as

For little ones, Dinosaur World

it does the Parker Manatee

in Fort Walton Beach goes full

is a great introduction to all

Aquarium, Bishop Planetarium

throttle for all kinds of activities,

things prehistoric.

and Natural History Museum

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone

from dinosaur-themed mini-

Heading south, the Key West

with its iconic megalodon (giant

golf and a ropes course to a

Shipwreck Treasure Museum

prehistoric shark) mouth –

4-D movie experience, laser

offers a fascinating hands-on

guaranteed to make any kid sit

maze and bungee trampoline.

look at 400 years of coastal

up and pay attention! •

Tampa should also be on

history and Key West Aquarium

the radar for families, and not

features child-friendly exhibits

just for the obvious lure of the Busch Gardens theme park, with its breathtaking array of rollercoasters and animal exhibits. ZooTampa at Lowry Park includes guided encounters,

and shows, including the chance to feed sharks. At Key Biscayne, the 38-acre Miami Seaquarium has been a major attraction since 1955, while all the activities at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale

Anna maria island, Bradenton


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Experience the magic and wonder of the Walt Disney World® Theme Parks and then come home to the wonderful luxuries at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. With newly redesigned guest rooms that feature Westin’s Heavenly® Bed, 17 world-class restaurants and lounges, 5 swimming pools, jogging trails, two health and fitness centers, and the recently renewed Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa.


Not to mention SPECIAL Disney benefits for resort guests including complimentary Disney transportation, on-site Disney character dining, Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, and exclusive Disney Fastpass+ service for resort guests that gives you the ability to reserve access to some of the must-do experiences — attractions, shows, parades, and more up to 60 days in advance! With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that we were voted North America’s Leading Resort. For reservations contact us at 001.800.227.1500 1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd. Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830

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IT'S A SHORE THING The only problem with Florida’s beaches is there are just too many to choose from!


Sections of the beach offer disabled-friendly

St. Andrews Beach’s white-quartz sand

beach wheelchairs, and an artificial reef formed

and an average of 320 rain-free days

on the SS Inchulva ocean freighter wreck site is

provide the perfect backdrop to a Panama

shallow enough for exploration by snorkellers

City Beach outing, with as much lounging or

and beginner divers.

water sports as desired. Divers can explore the area’s 50 artificial reefs while families with little


paddlers can splash about in a warm-water tidal

Beaches don’t get any better than

basin. Shell Island is just a ferry ride away.

those on Caladesi Island off Dunedin. The barrier island’s bay side offers birding,


hiking and kayaking through mangroves while

Soft sugar-sand, warm Gulf waters,

the Gulf side’s calm, clear waters are shallow

and near solitude, especially on

enough for young ones to paddle in. Seeking a

weekdays, make Grayton Beach, part of the

family-friendly paradise or couple’s retreat?

Santa Rosa Beach community, one of Florida’s

This is it. Access is by boat or the 20-minute

most natural seasides. Soak up the rays along

ferry ride.

the one-mile coastal expanse, take a hike on the Grayton Beach Nature Trail, or try bird


watching. This is prime territory for adults

Few tourists discover this narrow

seeking a quiet get-away.

strip of sand at the edge of Fort De Soto State Park, close to St. Pete Beach, but the


locals know North Beach as one of the most

Delray Public Beach’s two miles of

Gulf waters attract dolphins in their multitudes,

untouched beaches in Central Florida. Warm

wide, clean sand border the city of Delray

while graceful stingrays and sea turtles glide

Beach, where Atlantic waters provide a

by. Bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the tables

refreshing counterpoint on hot summer days.

shaded by pine trees.


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during its busiest seasons. Active beachside pursuits include surfing, parasailing and fishing excursions, and 23 miles of hard-packed sand make daytime or evening strolls easy. Visitors can even drive their car on designated sections of the beach.

SEE AND BE SEEN More interested in being seen than in lounging? South Beach is the number one choice for its hip, high-life vibe, especially during America’s annual Spring Break holiday. It has family-friendly appeal, too, along with excellent beachside restaurants sure to entice serious foodies and plenty of water sports for adernaline junkies.

THE SANIBEL STOOP Seaborne treasures are so plentiful along Sanibel’s Bowman’s Beach, they’ve spawned the phrase ‘Sanibel stoop’ for the bent-over beach-goers picking up shells.


And that’s about as active as this wide, white-

Clearwater Beach is one of Florida’s

sand barrier island beach gets. Tranquility is

most popular beaches, boasting

the watchword along this several-mile stretch,

dozens of activities, both on water and land.

with next to no development and real sense

Restaurants, shops and hotels are plentiful,

of peace.

many mere steps away from the sand. Fishing


charters, dolphin-spotting tours and the fabulous Clearwater Marine Aquarium are a small handful of options, but complete relaxation is encouraged, too!

ACTIVE ATLANTIC ADVENTURE Cross the peninsula to the Atlantic coast, where wide, walkable Daytona Beach has plenty of room to spread out, even

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples gives Sanibel a run for its money in terms of the number of shells scattered along the beach, but it wins hands-down for seclusion on weekdays and in the off-season. A one-mile stretch offers safe swimming, with a sandbar that provides kidfriendly waters on one side and snorkel-worthy depths on the other.


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SHOP ’TIL YOU DROP Spectacular malls, fabulous independent retailers and some serious designer labels... in Florida, it’s easy to indulge your inner fashionista


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f there’s one thing Florida can guarantee (along with the great weather, beaches and theme parks), it’s the

quality of the shopping. Main cities feature eye-catching

shopping centres, and the likes of Prada, Gucci, Armani and Rolex headline most of them. Outlet shopping – with big brands at bargain prices – is another favourite, while art galleries and local artists abound in St. Augustine, Naples, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, as well as artsy communities like Gulfport, DeLand, Stuart, New Smyrna Beach, Cocoa Village, Siesta Key and Mount Dora. You will typically find great deals on shoes and trainers, jeans, cosmetics, sports gear, luggage and jewellery. In fact, it’s not unknown for visitors to arrive with next to nothing and fly back with cases full of clothes, gifts and souvenirs! Seashell products are a speciality, best found in resorts such as Venice Beach, St. PeteClearwater, St. Augustine, Panama City Beach, Sanibel, Cocoa Beach and throughout the Keys.

Mega malls The big malls remain a prime attraction and they don’t come any bigger than Miami’s

Aventura Mall


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Meanwhile, Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, has a boutique and art gallery style mixed in with great restaurants, such as Hillstone, Zucca, Salumeria 104 and Fleming’s Steakhouse. Orlando is another mall mecca, with several indoor centres including the largest – the 270-store Florida Mall – and the smartest, the Mall at Millenia. Both provide a dazzling array of shops in airconditioned comfort, as well as stylish design and innovative

Umbrella Sky in Giralda Plaza, Coral Gables

Shop for vintage clothes in Ybor City and soak up the echoes of its multicultural history, with Spanish, Italian and Cuban vibes

touches like the child-friendly Aventura Mall, a three-

Crayola Experience at Florida

storey colossus anchored by

Mall and high-tech Grand

five full department stores. It’s

Court at Mall at Millenia (which

not the only choice in town,

becomes a dazzling winter

though! There are another

wonderland at Christmas).

six malls, plus purposebuilt shopping centres like

Home of value

Bayside Marketplace, the

This is also the place for an

Shops at Merrick Park and

outlet shopping blitz. Sister

The Falls, where browsing

developments Orlando

is supplemented by some

Vineland and Orlando

memorable dining options.

International Premium Outlets

Another upscale option, Bal

can be found at either end of

Harbor Shops, is arguably

world-famous International

the city’s most chic choice

Drive, with almost 350 stores

for the likes of McQueen,

– including brands such as

Bulgari, Chanel, Fendi and Dior.

Nike, Calvin Klein and Under


COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH - THE PREMIERE CHOICE FOR FAMILIES, COUPLES, AND BUSINESS TRAVELLERS Minutes from the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airport, two miles from Port Everglades and the Convention Center, this contemporary hotel offers an array of dining, shopping and entertainment venues - all within walking distance. The hotel features floor to ceiling windows with spectacular Ocean and Intracoastal views, an Oceanfront sundeck, plus free Wi-Fi. Best of all, there’s no resort fee!

S fo y 4 H m a a

H COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH 440 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale Beach | marriott.com/fllco | +1 954 524 8733

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TROPICAL OASIS LOUNGING | ICONIC ENTERTAINMENT | ENDLESS SURPRISES Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is South Florida’s ultimate destination for fun and entertainment. If you’re ready to escape, we’re ready to customize your rock star experience. Our AAA Four-Diamond rated resort offers 469 rock star suites, signature and award-winning restaurants, a 3,500-seat Hard Rock Event Center featuring performances from today’s most popular musicians and comedy acts, a 4.5 acre tropical pool oasis & Beach Club, a full-service Rock Spa, fitness center, high-energy nightlife, and meetings & convention space.




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Palm Beach

Outlets), St. Augustine, Miramar

boutiques, while its big-city

Vista Factory Stores has a

Beach (Silver Sands Premium

neighbour boasts a vibrant

relaxed, open-air style with

Outlets), Palm Beach, Estero

downtown area, historic

another 50 shops.

(Miromar Outlets), Sanibel

shopping and dining in the San

Outlet shopping can also be

Outlets and Florida City, south

Marco and Avondale districts,

found in Tampa, Ellenton (just

of Miami. The grand-daddy of

and a fully-fledged mall at St.

outside Bradenton), Daytona

them all, though, is Sawgrass

Johns Town Center.

Beach (the new Tanger

Mills, the mega-outlet just

Armour – while Lake Buena

Visit the guest services desk at Florida’s major malls and ask if they have a coupon booklet. These offer money-off vouchers at lots of stores

Tampa is the biggest

outside Fort Lauderdale.

shopping centre on the west

With more than 350 stores,

coast, with several major malls

14 places to eat, a cinema

and its own boutique style,

multiplex and an elaborate

and you simply can’t go wrong

Games Room to keep kids

at any of Westshore Plaza,

happy, it’s hard to know

International Plaza and Bay

what Sawgrass doesn’t have.

Street and Hyde Park Village,

BrandsMart USA, Super Target,

as well as the individual style

TJ Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond

of historic Ybor City (the former

and Marshalls are among the big names.

Boutique bargains St. Augustine and Jacksonville make for an ideal combination in the northeast. The former offers unique, historic St. George Street, with a long pedestrianised section of gift shops, galleries, cafes and

St. George Street, St. Augustine


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Cigar Capital of the World)

Drive of Florida, a gorgeous

and originality boasts two

and The Shops at Wiregrass in

avenue of designer fashion,

distinctive shopping districts

nearby Wesley Chapel. Oxford

boutiques and fine dining,

in pedestrian-friendly 5th

Exchange is a delightful mix of

punctuated by the likes of

Avenue South and Third Street

home décor, bookstore, coffee

Jimmy Choo, Tiffany & Co and

South, the heart of old Naples.

shop and café.

Ralph Lauren, all in a classic

Both areas feature stylish

Italianate style. CityPlace

boutiques, galleries and cafes

shopping to uber-chic levels

in downtown provides a

and add real sparkle during

with its sophisticated Galleria

complementary experience, a

the festive season. More retail

mall (don’t miss the chance

thriving lifestyle development

delights can be found at The

to dine at Seasons 52 or Blue

of shops, restaurants, condos

Village Shops at Venetian Bay

Martini) and the wonderful

and offices.

and Waterside Shops, while

Fort Lauderdale has elevated

boutique vibe of Las Olas

Naples also makes a

rustic Tin City is a recreated

Boulevard, the “style mile”

feature of its high-end stores.

1920s marketplace of shops,

bursting with restaurants, art

This bastion of excellence

restaurants and attractions. •

galleries and one-off shops. Need something even more upmarket? Worth Avenue in West Palm Beach is the Rodeo

DID YOU KNOW? Disney not only has great theme parks, it now has its own self-contained upscale shopping district at Disney Springs, full of names like Uniqlo, Pandora, Kate Spade and Lilly Pulitzer.

Explore Florida

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CRYSTAL RIVER & FLORIDA’S CITRUS COUNTY, THE MANATEE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD Home of the Manatee Crystal River and Florida’s Citrus County are within an easy drive from Orlando and Tampa but are a world away from Florida’s busy theme parks and glitzy beaches. This is Florida in its natural state and nothing quite defines the wonders of natural Florida like the manatee. It is the only place in North America where you can legally swim with manatees in their natural habitat. More manatees gather in the waters of Crystal River and nearby Homosassa than anywhere else in Florida giving it the name The Manatee Capital of the World. As many as 1,000 manatees-one-sixth of Florida’s manatee population – shelter in the 23°C springs here each winter. Since some manatees even stay throughout the summer, you can even have this amazing experience year round.

Mexico to dive for scallops living in shallow water seagrass beds just offshore. Diving for scallops is often described as an underwater Easter Egg Hunt. Guides provide everything you need and afterward enjoy the day’s catch at one of Crystal River and Homosassa’s many Seafood Restaurants where chefs are happy to prepare your fresh caught dinner with a distinct regional flare.

A Premier Florida EcoTourism Destination Crystal River and Florida’s Citrus County stand out for a wide array of true natural Florida experiences. Whether it’s cycling, hiking, birding or fishing, you’ll find inspiring and restorative natural settings and

Diving for Scallops

welcoming small towns where the pace

In summer, the delectable Florida bay

is easier and there is room to roam.

scallop draws hungry visitors to the Gulf of

Discover Crystal River Florida.

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CALLING ALL THE HEROES Whether you want to see the biggest stars in action or go for gold yourself, Florida offers plenty of opportunities for sports-loving visitors


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f you’re coming to America, you want some typical experiences, right? A great way is to take in a game, be

it baseball, basketball, ice hockey or American football – each one provides guaranteed Americana. When you add in the fact that Florida is a world-class playground for golf, tennis, motorsports, fishing and scuba-diving, and tack on the myriad opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, biking and hiking, you can see the Sunshine State is very much ‘Activity Central’. Taking in a game is one of the most enjoyable and family-friendly things you can do, and it comes with plenty of pizzazz. American sports are a genuine event, and you don’t need to know all the rules to enjoy them. Just sit back in the modern stadiums and soak up the atmosphere.

Join the crowds Miami, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Jacksonville all have major league teams, and you can find at least two of the Big Five sports at any time of the year. Baseball runs April to September (with training games across Florida in March); basketball and ice hockey from October to April; American football from September to January; and soccer from March to October.

PGA National Golf Course, Palm Beach Gardens


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IMAGE CAPTION Kayaking, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

in Miami, Tampa (USF), Orlando

obligatory golf carts and GPS

football, basketball, ice hockey

(UCF), Gainesville (UF) and

systems. Practice can also

and baseball; Orlando has

Tallahassee (FSU) – also

make your swing perfect at

both basketball and soccer;

feature American football as

one of the five TopGolf driving

Tampa and St. Petersburg

well as national champion

ranges in Miami, Orlando,

offer baseball, ice hockey

women’s programmes in

Tampa and Jacksonville, which

and American football; and

tennis, gymnastics, softball

offer a high-tech way to tee off

Jacksonville has American

and football.

and a lively day out.

Miami boasts American

football. The big universities –

Want to buy new golf clubs? Head to any of the 17 discount Edwin Watts shops around the state, or visit Tampa's Golf Locker superstore

Golf’s big Florida

If golf isn’t your thing, fishing

tournaments are held in

may well be. Florida is home

February and March in Orlando,

to the best bass fishing in the

Palm Harbor, Palm Beach and

world on its rivers and lakes.

Ponte Vedra Beach, the latter

There is inshore fishing and

of which stages the ‘Fifth Major’

deep-sea varieties, too, with

of The Players Championship.

the waters off south Florida


For tennis, there are top

renowned for sailfish, marlin,

events in Delray Beach and

tarpon, grouper, snapper and


Miami in February and March,

other challenging varieties. The

attracting some of the best

Keys offer some of the best


players in the world.


In the swing



If you want to play as well as


watch, Florida has hundreds of championship-quality courses. You don’t even need to bring your clubs, as each course can provide rentals to go with the

Bass fishing


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The Keys are your best bet

charter fishing expeditions, but you will also find opportunities

for memorable undersea

at St. Augustine, Port

adventures, and there are

Canaveral, West Palm Beach,

several sites you should

Fort Lauderdale, Marco Island,

definitely make a note of. One

Sarasota, Clearwater Beach,

of the prime examples is John

Panama City Beach and Destin.

Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, home to the

Go on, dive in

only living coral reef in the US. The park extends three miles

Hand-in-hand with the great fishing areas are chances to go

offshore, is almost 25 miles

snorkelling and scuba-diving,

long and it varies too, from

especially with the reefs and

beach and mangrove swamp

islands in the south being

to one of the world’s most

home to a welter of tropical

diverse reef ecosystems.

Take a dive in Florida Keys

fish of all kinds, from sharks and barracuda to snapper and

DID YOU KNOW? Orlando has one of the best-supported teams in Major League Soccer (MLS), with a new stadium in the downtown area, while David Beckham’s Miami team will join the league in 2020.

stingrays, as well as several types of sea turtle.











Panama City Beach has so much family fun, heart-pounding action, eco-adventure and romance, the memories you make here will last a lifetime. Come make Panama City Beach your REAL. FUN. BEACH.



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Back to earth Hiking and biking trails can be found in all state parks, and the 70-mile stretch of the Florida Trail through Ocala National Forest is one of the most scenic. If that's too sedate then how about an ATV or ‘Mucky Duck’ tour with Revolution Offroad in Lake County? Horse-riding is a great way to get you up close with nature at the Kelly Seahorse Ranch on Amelia Island, and C Ponies Beach Horses in St. Petersburg and Bradenton Beach. Those looking for highadrenaline options will not Shipwrecks add to

Just about everywhere along

be disappointed in Florida.

the underwater scene at

the coast can offer kayaks and

Sky-diving is big business in

Islamorada, Marathon and Big

paddleboards, and several

Lake Wales, Clewiston, Tampa,

Pine Key, while former Navy

operators feature kayak tours

Plant City and DeFuniak

warship the General Hoyt S.

inland, on the lakes and rivers.

Springs, as well as Key West,

Vandenberg was sunk a few

Central Florida’s St. Johns and

with both tandem and solo

miles south of Key West in

Wekiva Rivers are extremely

jumps on offer most days. And

2009 to create an artificial reef.

popular, while the Paddling

Wallaby Ranch, just north-

For somewhere even more

Center in Kissimmee takes

west of Orlando, is the largest

exotic, a plane or boat tour to

visitors into the headwaters of

aerotow (glider) flight park in

the Dry Tortugas National Park

the Everglades.

the world. •

will set up memorable scuba or snorkelling, with another notable reef system that is teeming with fish.

DID YOU KNOW? While Florida’s Gulf Coast is typically calm, the Atlantic coast offers great surfing, with consistent waves and warm waters in places like St. Augustine, Sebastian Inlet and Melbourne.

Crane’s Beach House is a personal, boutique get-away for out-of-town guests that seek coastal comfort in a lush, verdant setting. 82 Gleason St, Delray Beach, Florida, USA 33483 TF (001) 866-372-7263 W cranesbeachhouse.com Sports_R.indd Untitled-2 1 32

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ACCOMMODATION FOR ALL Luxury lover or outdoor type? Florida stays can meet every taste and budget  HOTEL HEAVEN


The range of hotel choices across Florida is truly massive, from the five-star Four Seasons to mid-range Holiday Inn Express and budgetfriendly Motel 6. Whether you require butler service or just need a place to lay your head, there is a hotel or resort to suit all travellers.

Florida’s boutique hotels reflect each owner’s style. Go for Art Deco, choose a registered historic inn, indulge in a Nantucket-style cottage or bungalow close to the sand – or sleep where the rich and famous have laid their heads.

 HOME COMFORTS The luxury of spreading out in a condo, villa or cottage is hard to beat, and most will also feature a private pool. They not only represent terrific value for larger parties (some villas have up to 23 bedrooms!), they allow you to fully live like a local.

Florida has more than 100 historic inns and B&Bs. More than a dozen are listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of their significance

 WILD AT HEART Whether you’re tent camping - rustic style, ‘glamping’ in outdoorsy comfort, or in a fully-loaded 45ft RV, Florida’s 400-plus campgrounds offer an array of amenities. Sleep on the beach, or have the theme parks in your back garden.


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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Five places you didn't know existed – but wish you'd found out about sooner! MARITIME MAGNIFICENCE Tucked into Florida’s northwest, humble Navarre teems with fascinating experiences, especially for nature lovers. Visit the Sea Turtle Conservation Center, snorkel over the Marine Sanctuary’s artificial reef, or explore the Marine Science Station. Take a dolphin-spotting cruise, go deep-sea fishing or simply chill out on Navarre Beach. Natural Sponges, Tarpon Springs

GET YOUR WINGS From eco-tours to craft beer, river


kayaking, charming Main Street shops and cutting-edge restaurants, DeLand has a

The sponge-diving heritage of

small-town ambiance with the panache of a big

Tarpon Springs is still evident, as are

city. Stetson Mansion offers tours in summer and

its Greek roots. More than two dozen Greek

a spectacular open-house tour at Christmas.

restaurants and bakeries serve up traditional

Don’t leave DeLand without a selfie against

cuisine, and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox

the famous ‘DeLand Wings’ wall in historic

Cathedral’s marble-laden chapel and works of


art are a must-see.



Winter Park may be Florida’s most

The tiny town of Stuart in Martin

European town. Great restaurants

County is now famous as the sailfish

are strung along tree-lined Park Avenue, most

capital of the world. It’s all about crystal-clear

featuring outdoor dining. View mansions from

water here, and the dolphins, sea turtles,

the Scenic Boat Tour on Lake Osceola, enjoy a

and other wildlife that make the St. Lucie

picnic in Central Park, browse chic boutiques,

River and Intracoastal Waterway their home.

stroll pretty Rollins College’s campus, or peruse

Nearby Hutchinson Island is ideal for a blissful

world-class art at the Morse Museum.

beach break.


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36 • Foodie tRavel

Food, GloRioUS Food Wherever you go across the Sunshine State, there are dining options to whet any appetite – so open the menu and then tuck right in!


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Foodie tRavel • 37


ine dining? Check.

green tomatoes, barbecue, shrimp

Signature dishes?

and grits, fried chicken and collard

Check. Award-

greens a modern twist.

winning chefs? Check.

Flourishing brewery and distillery

twice as nice

scene? Double-check. Florida’s

South Florida tends to be seafood-

foodie options continue to go from

orientated, while the north, especially

strength to strength.

the northwest, is more ‘Southern’

Great seafood is a Florida staple

thanks to the influences from

but these days there are fabulous

neighbouring Georgia and Alabama.

Latin influences – Peruvian, Brazilian,

Orlando and Tampa may be the most

Venezuelan and Argentinian as well

cosmopolitan food scenes, but you’ll

as Cuban and Mexican – and Asian

find good, independently-made beer

fusion cuisines, from Vietnam, Japan

across the state.

and the Pacific Rim.

Oysters and shrimp are hallmarks

This profusion of dining delight

of the Panhandle area, with the

hasn’t pushed out traditional

addition of spicy Creole and Cajun

elements. Don’t miss dessert

influences spilling over from nearby

delicacy Key Lime Pie, while stone

Louisiana. Joe Patti’s Seafood in

crabs remain a seasonal sensation.

Pensacola, the rustic food-truck style

In rural areas, you’ll still find

of Navarre’s Shark Bite, and Captain

alligator and catfish on the menu,

Anderson’s in Panama City Beach are

while typical Southern cooking is

great examples.

enjoying a renaissance thanks to top chefs who have given fried

On the other side of the state, Jacksonville and St. Augustine


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38 • Foodie travel

Restaurant (founded 1905, in the historic Cuban district of Ybor City) and Bern’s Steak House (opened in 1956) but it now offers a profusion of inventive choices finding new ways to tempt the tastebuds. The Epicurean Hotel is a shining example, with its high-tech kitchen classroom, elegant restaurant Elevage and chic rooftop bar. Orlando’s innovation has been boosted by celebrity chefs like Todd English, Roy Yamaguchi, Norman Van Aken, Art Smith and Masaharu Morimoto. The

Fort Myers Waterside seafood

Disney Springs district has Food Bistro and Maple Street

become a dining mecca while

experience thanks to a modern

Biscuit Company. St. Augustine

downtown Orlando, Winter

revival of traditional elements.

Distillery is another distinctive

Park, Dr. Phillips and Sand Lake

Spanish and other European

local highlight, with award-

Road (or ‘Restaurant Row’) all

accents are prevalent, hence

winning small-batch whiskey,

have plenty to offer. The city

St. Augustine features plenty

rum, gin and vodka, and free

of local vegetables and

tours and tastings daily.

feature a fine foodie

specialities like pimento cheese and pickles – you can

Restaurant boom

taste the results at places like

Central Florida is a growing

The Floridian, Catch 27 and

source of dining delectation

Michael’s Tasting Room.

thanks to a major restaurant

Jacksonville also has its

boom. Tampa has long been a

share of Southern style,

go-to destination because of

notably at Potters House Soul

iconic venues like Columbia

Clearwater, FL



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19 15:34

Foodie tRavel • 39

even has a new signature

The Waterfront (Anna Maria

dessert, Honey Nougat Glacé,

Island), Baleen (Naples) and

created by Mon Petit Cheri in

Traditions (Captiva).

Winter Park. On the Gulf Coast, pick from

all under one roof

St. Petersburg, Bradenton,

South Florida has been

Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples or

primarily responsible for

Marco Island for a memorable

growing the food hall

dining adventure. Seafood

phenomenon, which provides

remains their stock-in-trade,

an array of restaurants under

and stone crab season from

one roof. Miami has great

October to May is big business,

examples at the long-running

but there’s still plenty of variety,

Latin/Caribbean outlet of El

with Sarasota and Naples

Palacio de los Jugos, the Italian

leading the way. Even relative

style of the huge La Centrale,

art deco Miami Beach

backwaters such as Anna Maria Island, Sanibel and Bonita Springs dazzle, with gorgeous beachfront dining on offer at

did YoU KNoW? Ernest Hemingway was among the regulars at Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West, but that site is now Captain Tony’s. Joe’s was moved, in its entirety, to nearby Duval Street in 1938.

Make Miami Yours Soaring over beautiful Sunny Isles Beach, Trump International Beach Resort is your Miami home away from home. Set directly on the Atlantic Ocean, our upscale resort delights guests seeking a perfect, sun-kissed location for reconnecting and relaxing. Enjoy our new onsite watersports facility that offers daily beach activities, perfect for the whole family. From fine dining to beachfront fun, spa services to stylish and sophisticated guest rooms and suites, discover what makes Trump International a Forbes Four-Star property. Best of all, Miami attractions, nightlife and shopping are mere minutes away. (305) 692-5770

Foodie travel_R.indd 39

18001 Collins Ave, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160


5/17/19 05:09 PM

40 • Foodie tRavel

the historic and popular Sloppy Joe's Bar on duval Street in downtown Key West

Asian-themed 1-800-Lucky and the new Time Out Market. But this Cuba-influenced city is the place for magnificent

variations such as Estefan

Tampa Bay region, dubbed the

Kitchen, Finka Table and Tap,

craft beer capital of Florida and

and swanky Casa Tua.

home to Cigar City Brewing,

Fort Lauderdale’s diverse

Angry Chair and Coppertail.

Latin-fusion cuisine. Three

dining scene features the new

Orlando isn’t far behind

Palms, Sergio’s, La Rosa

Sistrunk Market food hall,

with Orlando Brewing Co.,

and the iconic Versailles all

and it blossoms along Las

Bowigens and The Crooked

feature celebrated traditional

Olas Boulevard, the central

Can. Fort Lauderdale’s Funky

dishes, while there are upscale

avenue that features great

Buddha is fast achieving

burgers (Royal Pig Pub) and

national status while Swamp

steaks (Timpano Chophouse),

Head in Gainesville is another

the freshest seafood (Wild

must-sip. Even smaller cities

Sea Oyster Bar & Grille) and

like Apalachicola, Boynton

Peruvian specialities (Suviche).

Beach and Lakeland (with the

Looking for a good wine? Bern’s Steak House in Tampa is reputed to have the largest cellar in the world, housing more than 600,000 bottles

Similarly, eclectic Key West

excellent Orange Blossom

offers terrific variety, spreading

Brewing Co.) are worth seeking

its wings from seafood to

out for a pint. •

include southern soul and Creole flavours (Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar), fine tapas (Santiago’s Bodega) and Caribbean fusion (Latitudes). Beer drinkers, take note. breweries are all over the state, from small areas like New Smyrna Beach, St. Augustine, Bradenton and Dunedin, to the

the Florida Keys


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NIGHTLIFE & ENTERTAINMENT It might be called the Sunshine State, but Florida has plenty of life after dark!  SMILES AHEAD Local and famous comedians


take the stage at The

Florida’s parks are great for

Comedy Zone in Jacksonville;

fun dining, from jousting at

the Sak Comedy Lab in

the Medieval Times Dinner to

Orlando is a 200-seat improv

the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

theatre full of fun; and

on a galleon or the Murder

Florida's oldest comedy club

Mystery Dinner Train from

is Coconuts on St. Pete Beach,

Fort Myers - a five-course

a tiny space at Tradewinds

whodunnit with live actors.

Sandpiper Resort.

 ITALIAN GEM The Ringling’s Historic Asolo Theater started in 18th-century Italy, was moved to Sarasota by John and Mable Ringling, and served the community Theatre troupe now performs offsite, but the three-tiered venue still hosts productions.

Live music venues across the state host rock, country, jazz, techno, indie, hip-hop, reggae, Latin, punk and more


until 1989. The Asolo Repertory

 DANCE FEVER For hot nights out try LIV in Miami, with its 18,000sq ft dance floor; Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, with its walls plastered in bras and dollar bills; fun Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs; or watching the sun set from a Tampa rooftop bars.


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ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE In search of the ultimate romantic experience? All you'll need to bring is your significant other... BOATING THE BRINY BLUE

and two glasses. Commune with nature during

Hire a pontoon boat in Panama City

the day, then enjoy a Sunset Cruise, complete

Beach, putter over to undeveloped Shell

with wine and cheese.

Island and enjoy a picnic on the beach with a wilderness feel. Swim, snorkel or soak up the


sun while watching the dolphins frolic. Leave the

Palm Beach offers all the glamour of

schedule behind and renew your acquaintance

Rodeo Drive in a romantic, beachside

as the sun sets on a perfect day, way away from

setting. Here, award-winning restaurants,

the crowds.

exceptional designer and boutique shopping and a sumptuous five-star resort, The Breakers,


are just steps from the ocean. Sunbathe by

Henderson Park Inn is Destin’s most

day and enjoy a live theatre, ballet or musical

romantic Bed & Breakfast, in part for

performance by night. Whatever the indulgence,

being adults-only, but also for the chance to dine

Palm Beach has it in spades.

with your toes in the sand at a VIP table for two. Ignite a spark over a bottle of wine or celebrate


an anniversary with award-winning, sumptuous

Well known as a picturesque setting

cuisine. Thinking of proposing? This is the time.

for wedding or engagement photos, McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach offers


pleasant pathways for couples to slow the

Snuggle up in a luxury Honeymoon

pace and focus on each other. Trickling

Cottage at Steinhatchee Landing

waterfalls, thousands of flowering plants and

Resort in Steinhatchee, where the pace slows to

stone bridges over tranquil streams dotted with

a crawl and a hydrotherapy tub with a view of the

water lilies set a romantic tone in this peaceful

fireplace practically begs for a bottle of bubbly

80-acre sanctuary.

Palm Coast, FL


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Thursdays from December through to April for

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

the free evening concerts by local musicians.

is the fairytale spot for a proposal, with

Arrive early and enjoy a Beach BBQ dinner, then

Cinderella Castle as the backdrop to a heartfelt

stay late and watch the sun set.

down-on-one-knee moment. Or pop the question over dinner at Victoria & Albert’s. When romantic settings lead to an “I do,” the Disney Wedding Pavilion is a magical place to start your ‘happily ever after.’

UNDERWATER ADVENTURE Pack a picnic, hop on a morning seaplane flight from Key West to remote Dry Tortugas National Park, hire snorkelling gear


on the island and spend the day exploring

Back in the 1950s, when poodle skirts

the living reef’s abundant life. Return to Key

were in and Elvis was king, date night

West in time to toast the sunset with a glass

in the US meant a drive-in movie. Relive the

of Champagne during the nightly sunset

nostalgia with an outdoor flick viewed from

celebration at Mallory Square.

inside your car at the Ruskin Family Drive-In, south of Tampa. Hook a speaker to your car


window, grab a burger, fries and a soda, and see

All-inclusive and adults-only

where the evening goes.

Bungalows Key Largo is an intimate resort set within a botanical garden and edged


by the ocean, and is the perfect place for

Lovers Key was once a ‘secret’

private verandas with bath tubs looking out

rendezvous point for couples; now it’s a peaceful

to sea and the resort offers a programme of

barrier island State Park with hiking trails, wildlife

activities made for two – from sunrise yoga to

watching, and an unspoilt beach. Visit on select

stand-up paddle boarding.

couples to reconnect. Rooms have luxurious

Kennedy Space Center


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44 • Culture

BrINGING Culture tO lIFe Thousands of years of human activity have made Florida a heady and fascinating melting pot – and its stories continue to be written today


Culture_R.indd 44

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Culture • 45


lorida has almost 14,000 years of human history, is home to more

than 50 major museums and 38 mainstream performing arts centres and is the spiritual home of The Greatest Show On Earth – the circus bought to life in the smash-hit film The Greatest Showman. It has nurtured artists as diverse as Ernest Hemingway, Ray Charles, Tennessee Williams, Gloria Estefan and Albin Polasek, and hosts numerous art and music festivals every year. Down in the Everglades, the culture and history of the Seminole Tribe is alive and well and just waiting to be discovered as one of the most fascinating back-stories to this land of contrasts. In fact, history is something the state has in abundance, from the prehistoric peoples who first inhabited the peninsula to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. After a brief period of British rule, Florida became a US territory in 1821 to create a new chapter in the storybook, sparking the three Seminole Wars (1818-1858), and a major period of frontier settlement. The railroads arrived in the late 19th century, thanks to industrialists like Henry Plant

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine


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46 • Culture

ringling Museum in Sarasota

Gainesville’s Florida Museum

in Miami recreate part of

state was on the fast-track to

of Natural History and

the Gilded Age of early 20th


Matheson History Museum;

century American growth.

and Henry Flagler, and the

All this history is well

Amelia Island Museum of

That development was

documented at places like the

History in Fernandina Beach;

accelerated by the Ringling

Museum of Florida History in

Orange County Regional

brothers, and more particularly

Tallahassee; the Wentworth

History Center in Orlando; St.

John and Mable Ringling, who

Museum in Pensacola;

Petersburg Museum of History

were among the richest people

and Dali Museum; and St.

in the world in the 1920s thanks

Augustine, which is a living,

to circus impresario John’s

breathing repository of the

showmanship and business

Spanish colonial period and the

acumen. It was John who

railway era that followed.

added the Barnum & Bailey

The friendly community of spiritualists and mediums living in Cassadaga, just outside DeLand, has led it to being dubbed ‘the Psychic Capital of the World’

Circus to their own successful

engines of success

circus company – creating a

The railroads were central to

true corporate giant – and that

the state’s development, and

heritage is on display at The

there is much to absorb from

Ringling Estate in Sarasota,

that period at the magnificent Lightner Museum and Flagler College in St. Augustine, the historic Flagler Museum in West Palm Beach and the restored Plant Museum in Tampa - the former 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel. Similarly, the Stetson Mansion in DeLand and splendid Vizcaya Museum

Wentworth Museum in Pensacola


Culture_R.indd 46

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including their stunning art

on Florida’s early settlers

collection, glittering Ca’ d’Zan

and history and there’s also

mansion, the eye-catching

Immokalee Pioneer Museum

Circus Museum and Historic

and the highly-rated Naples

Asolo Theater. Sarasota is one

Players, who make their home

of the state’s foremost cultural

at the Sugden Theatre. VISIT TAMPA BAY

Culture • 47

centres, with the likes of the Florida Studio Theatre, Circus

Museum city

Arts Conservatory, Sarasota

Head north to St. Petersburg,

Opera and State of the Arts

a town offering no fewer than

Fine Art Gallery.

10 major museums and arts

In Naples, just to the south,

Gasparilla Festival, tampa

centres, of which The Dali

art museums also thrive, and

boasts international fame, The

you’ll find some wonderful

Chihuly Collection features a

attractions at Artis–Naples, and Naples Philharmonic. Collier County Museum, meanwhile, has more insight

DID YOu KNOW? Florida has a significant pirate history, and that heritage is paraded at the lively annual Gasparilla Festival in Tampa each year, a Mardi Gras-style celebration held in late January/early February.


VisitStPeteClearwater.com Untitled-3 1 Culture_R.indd 47

Just 90 minutes west of Orlando, you’ll find sugar white sand as far as the eye can see. You’ll also see fiery Gulf sunsets, experience laid back beach towns, view sophisticated arts and culture, and feel the vibration of life, well lived. Welcome to the American Tropics.

home of the Baker Museum

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081373 VSPC_VF International Travel Guide 2019 ENGLISH • 6.5”x4.5” • 11/14/18

48 • Culture

buildings built in the wake of the devastating hurricane of 1926, which can be enjoyed on several walking tours. Perez Art Museum and The Bass (for contemporary art) headline some compelling arts centres, while the unique Wynwood Walls urban graffiti exhibition draws visitors from across the world and the international Art Basel show comes to Miami for four days each December. Jacksonville is Florida’s other big-city art centre, with 18 museums and galleries,

Dali Museum, St. Petersburg

highlighted by the Cummer Mennello Museum of American

Museum of Art & Gardens,

artist Dale Chihuly, the Museum

Art and the new Dr. Phillips

as well as seven performing

of Fine Arts is one of the most

Performing Arts Center. In

arts centres. It is topped off

elegant of the state’s art

nearby Winter Park there is

each Thanksgiving with the

collections, and the Museum of

also the Morse Museum of

Jacksonville Light Parade,

History adds to the chronicle of

American Art, Cornell Fine Arts

an eye-popping cavalcade

Floridian heritage.

Museum, the Albin Polasek

of lights, boats and fireworks

Museum & Sculpture Gardens.

along the St. Johns River.

Cigar Capital of the World, best

Architecture to art

American culture should make

illustrated by the fascinating

South Florida counterpart

a note of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki

Ybor City Museum.

Miami offers arguably America’s

Museum in the Big Cypress

most creative cultural menu.

reservation on the edge of

overlook Orlando. The

Visitors should begin with the

the Everglades. This historical

theme park capital includes

famous Art Deco district, a

treasure brings the Seminole

unexpected delights like the

collection of lovingly restored

story to life in vibrant style. •

superb presentation of glass

Tampa boasts Ybor City,

Those interested in Native

the former Cuban district and

Culture vultures shouldn’t

A gem of history, frozen in time The Historic Haile Homestead was built by enslaved craftsmen in 1854 on the 1,500-acre Sea Island Cotton Plantation. Its unique 'talking walls' speak of the joys and sorrows of more than a century ago, thanks to the Haile family writing over 12,500 words on the walls. Historic Haile Homestead, 8500 Sw Archer Rd (Sr 24), Gainesville, Fl 32608 (352) 336-9096 / Hailehomestead.org Florida_Gainsville_ad.indd 6 Culture_R.indd 48


Saturdays 10 am 2 pm and Sundays 12 pm - 4 pm. $5 per person, under 12 free; group rates available.

4/10/19 11:25 03:08 AM PM 5/17/19


LGBTQ INCLUDED Florida takes pride in its inclusivity and offers the warmest of welcomes to all visitors  PRIDE LIVES EVERYWHERE


Key West is known worldwide

Jacksonville has a vibrant

for flying the rainbow flag,

LGBTQ community which

but Fort Lauderdale also has

welcomes all and is great

a vibrant community, with

for families. The nightlife

nearly 200 gay-owned hotels,

includes clubs, bars and

clubs and restaurants. Pride

theatres. October’s River City

Fort Lauderdale takes place

Pride Parade and Festival

in February, while the city of

has music, drag shows and

Wilton Manors is the inclusive

cultural performances.

hot-spot year-round.

 WHAT A GAY DAY Walt Disney World is the unofficial spot for the annual Gay Days events, where singles, couples and families visit a designated theme park each day for a week in August. Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando offers cabaret, dining events and Twisted Sisters bingo.

Look out for Orlando United shirts and banners. They originated after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, but are now a symbol of Orlando's inclusivity

 SAY “WE DO!” Resorts and hotels across Florida welcome same-sex nuptials, but one of the most romantic wedding venues is the Indian River Queen paddle-steamer on the water in Cocoa. Specialists assist with every detail, from ceremony to toast.


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50 • GoiNG GreeN

WHere THe WiLD THiNGS Are For all of its incredible man-made attractions, Florida remains one of the best destinations for getting up close to nature


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GoiNG GreeN • 51


any people still think of Florida only in terms of its great theme

parks, beaches and shopping but the Sunshine State is a major eco-destination in its own right, with an astounding array of wildlife, state parks and unique natural habitats For sheer ‘wow’ factor the Everglades National Park is the equal of any theme park and St. Andrews State Park is a great beach destination as well as an example of different coastal ecosystems. Florida’s topography and bio-diversity will also come as a surprise to many, encompassing as it does a sub-tropical climate and landscape that ranges from marshes and wetlands to dry prairies and forests. There are lakes by the thousands, woodland, cattle ranches, major rivers, canals, sandbars and mangrovecovered islands. The wildlife varies from the endangered Florida panther, bobcats and black bears to raccoons, armadillos and white-tailed deer, as well as the ever-present alligator. It is nature at its finest, and there are dozens of ways to enjoy it.

Airboat, everglades


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52 • Going green

Nature's calling Panama City Beach features the unspoiled paradise of St. Andrews State Park, with five ecological landscapes in one location. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve highlights 6,000 years of history and nature just outside Jacksonville while Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, next to the Kennedy Space Center, offers an equally fabulous array of wildlife and a scenic drive. Blue Spring State Park in Central

Florida is a great way to get close to the flora and fauna – notably manatees in winter months – without getting off the beaten track.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Plus, the coastal waters are the playground for dolphins,

and an eco-tourism treasure. River-boat tours are another

manatees and sea turtles, and

way to get close to nature,

the reefs and islands teem with

and can be found on several

fish, including jumping mullet,

waterways – notably the St.

tarpon and sailfish.

Johns River through Central

Ernest Hemingway was


Florida – and airboat rides on

totally captivated by Florida’s

the many lakes are a staple,

natural side, hence he made

a thrilling way to take in large

his home in Key West for more

chunks of the scenery and see

than 10 years.

alligators and other ‘locals’ in


their natural habitat.


Nature calls


Zip-lining is increasingly

There is a multitude of ways

popular – notably at Forever


John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in the Keys boasts the world’s third-largest coral reef system, which can be viewed by snorkelling, scuba-diving or glass-bottom boat. Alternatively, plunge into the blue waters, reefs and marine life of Dry Tortugas National Park, which is only reachable by

to enjoy this wonderland.

Florida south of Kissimmee, St.


Kayak and canoe tours can be

Augustine’s Alligator Farm and

enjoyed in dozens of places,

Canyons in Ocala – while it is

boat or seaplane.

the northwest, one of just 11


from north to south and rivers


to the sea. Hiking trails are


everywhere – even within a few miles of the theme parks – and


biking is massively popular.

of t

The 1,000-mile Florida Trail


stretches from Big Cypress National Preserve in the south to Pensacola Beach in national scenic trails in the USA

Fisheating Creek, Okeechobee


Green Florida_R.indd 52

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GoiNG GreeN • 53

also possible to go snorkelling

the crystal-clear waters of the

with manatees at Crystal River

National Wildlife Refuge, and

on the Gulf Coast.

there are numerous boat tours

In fact, you might want to pencil in Crystal River – and

of King’s Bay, which links the refuge to the open sea.

its neighbouring town of Homosassa Springs – as the

Animal attraction

epi-centre for a complete eco-

Nearby Homosassa Springs

tourism exploration. Manatee

Wildlife State Park adds

‘season’ stretches from

more great Floridian nature,

November to April (although

including a chance to see a

you can see these delightful

panther, red wolves, whooping

sea-creatures year round) and

cranes, black bears, bobcats

this is the only place in America

and, of course, alligators.

where it’s legal to swim with

Combine both with a stay at

them, while you can also go diving for scallops from July to September. Kayak and snorkel trips are an absolute delight in

DiD YoU KNoW? The Indian River Lagoon system, which runs for 156 miles along the Atlantic coast, is unique for its bio-diversity thanks to a rare mix of temperate and sub-tropical zone ecosystems.

Full of natural wonders. Here in Martin County, we know a thing or two about natural beauty. Our warm waters and wave patterns are beloved by surfers, and our soft-sanded beaches are perfect for sunners, swimmers, and snapshots. Prefer something more adventurous? Not only is Martin County the sailfishing capital of the world, but it also plays host to a native coquina reef, perfect for eye-catching snorkeling. And there's no better way to enjoy our breathtaking views than with a morning stroll at sunrise along our beachside boardwalk. It's just one of the many things that make Martin County, Florida naturally quaint.

Untitled-1 1 Green Florida_R.indd 53


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54 • GoiNG GreeN

a semi-urban setting. On the other side of the state, Apalachicola National Forest is the largest in Florida and offers an abundance of rivers, lakes and natural springs where visitors can go swimming (don’t miss crystal-clear Camel Lake), camping and hiking, as well as kayaking and canoeing. The coastal waters hereabouts are some of the most sealife-rich in this part of the world. The ocean teems with Atlantic bottlenose

Fernandina Beach, Amelia island

In the summer months, do the ‘Stingray Shuffle’ on the Gulf Coast. Drag your feet in the sand to move rays out of harm's way

Green Florida_R.indd 54

dolphins, stingrays and sea the beautiful Plantation On

turtles, plus the ever-present

Crystal River resort for a lasting

pelican. A sunset cruise along


the Emerald Coast serves up

You will find a great spread of eco-adventures throughout the state, of course. Head to the

a spectacular display from Mother Nature. As you’d expect, that theme of

extreme northeast and Amelia

great sealife continues as you

Island will enchant you with its

head south into the extensive

chance to go horse-riding on

range of beaches from New

the beach, watch for dolphins

Port Richey all the way to

on the Intracoastal Waterway

Naples and Marco Island in the

and kayak among the islands

southwest. The resort beaches

from Fernandina Beach. Just

of St. Pete and Clearwater offer

south in Jacksonville, the Tree

a multitude of ways to get out

Hill Nature Center is a great

and spot the local dolphin

example of an educational and

communities. A yacht cruise

natural environment nestled in

from Dolphin Landings or the

5/17/19 05:11 PM

GoiNG GreeN • 55

powerboat experience of the Sea Screamer can virtually guarantee dolphin sightings, and there’s no greater thrill here than seeing cetaceans frolicking in your wake!

Nature calls Even in the tourist hot-spots of Orlando and Kissimmee, eco-friendly experiences are never far away. Head to the

Everglades, the 1.5 million acre

also the home of the Seminole

eco-aware Forever Florida

‘River of Grass’ that makes up a

Indian tribe. You can see how

nature conservancy and you’ll

huge part of south Florida. This

they harnessed its natural

be surrounded by some of the

immense wetlands houses

wonders at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki

most unspoiled and visitor-

much of the wildlife and much

Museum and Billie Swamp

friendly countryside for miles

of the natural wonder of the


around, while Wild Florida

Sunshine State, with numerous

features both iconic airboat

opportunities to explore, from

future? The remarkable

rides and its own alligator and

Naples in the west to virtually

Babcock Ranch near Fort

wildlife park for close-ups with

the doorstep of Miami and Fort

Myers is America’s first

these prehistoric beasts.

Lauderdale in the east. Airboat

solar-powered town. This

rides are plentiful and a superb

planned community works

of Melbourne, the 900-acre

way to get a scenic overview,

hand-in-hand with agencies

Archie Carr National Wildlife

but there are hundreds of miles

like the Florida Forest Service

Refuge is a great repository for

of hiking trails, plus kayak and

and Florida Fish and Wildlife

endangered sea turtles, saving

other boat tours that will take

Conservation Commission to

hundreds every year while

you deep into this mysterious

ensure it remains in harmony

also highlighting the growing

wilderness that for years was

with the surrounding ranches. •

Over on the coast just south

Ready for a taste of the

plight of the animals and their dwindling habitat. No discussion of wildlife would be complete without the

Untitled-2 1 Green Florida_R.indd 55

DiD YoU KNoW? Florida is the only place in the United States where you can find both alligators and crocodiles, with the latter inhabiting parts of the Everglades in brackish and saltwater areas.

07/11/2018 09:55 5/17/19 05:11 PM


LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL Looking for an excuse to let your hair down? In Florida, there is always a reason to party EMBRACING TRADITIONS The Florida Folk Festival in White Springs has been a Memorial Day weekend tradition since 1953. Set along the banks of the Suwannee River, it’s a three-day celebration of Florida’s cultures, crafts, foods and music. Meanwhile, the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam is a country music festival over Labor Day weekend in Panama City Beach.


Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam

Manatees seek the warmth of Florida’s


rivers each January and Crystal River, on the Central Gulf Coast, hosts two festivals

Key West, birthplace of Key Lime Pie,

to celebrate them. The Blue Springs Manatee

celebrates its famous dish for four days

Festival offers ‘sea cow’ viewing in Three Sisters

in July, with a pie eating contest, scavenger hunt,

Springs and boat tours in Kings Bay, and the

cocktail samples, fireworks and the hilarious

Florida Manatee Festival has a Kids Zone and

Key Lime Pie Drop. Seafood festivals abound

animal education area downtown.

in Florida, too. Highlights include Marco Island Seafood Festival in March and Key West Lobster


Fest in August.

Florida embraces the festive season,


even if snow is in short supply! Light Up Mount Dora in November sees the town

Art mediums spanning 18 categories

northwest of Orlando decked in fairy lights; Key

are on display, and for sale, at the

West Holiday Fest offers the Harbor Walk of

annual Naples National Art Festival each

Lights and historic inn tours; and the St. Augustine

February. Artists compete for 13 awards and

Christmas Parade has floats, vintage cars and

festival also features live performances, food, and

bands – plus Santa, of course!

great wintersun weather.


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ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL Want a holiday without limits? Florida is geared up to assist guests with special needs  WILD AT HEART Among Florida’s state and


national parks with

Island Dolphin Care in Key

accessible museums and

Largo unites guests with

boardwalks are the beach

dolphins in a natural lagoon.

and Discovery Trail at

Participate in a one-day

Perdido Key State Park, the

private therapy programme,

fishing pier in Fort Pickens,

in the water or dockside, or a

and the boardwalk along

30-minute Nature Swim for

Brackenridge Trail at Naval

the whole family.

Live Oaks Nature Preserve.

 FUN FOR ALL Walt Disney World offers mobility assistance, lowsensory areas, and TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). SeaWorld’s Aquatica is a Certified Autism Center and Universal’s staff are well trained in helping guests with disabilities.

Florida visitors with hearing, speech or visual disabilities can access specially-trained Relay operators by dialing 7-1-1 on standard phones

 INTO THE BLUE The wildly popular Blue Man Group offer a sensoryfriendly version of their show at Universal Orlando. Lowered lights and sound, less intense interactions, and a purposely low-key lobby create a wonderfully inclusive environment.


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Here's a list of experienced UK operators with everything you need to create that perfect Florida holiday.

0800 977 5248

0344 493 0124



Pre-book with the UK’s No. 1 for Florida theme park tickets and enjoy great deals, discounts and free gifts! Not forgetting great advice from our expert team of 17 years.

We never forget, your Florida holiday is something you’ll never forget. That’s why we offer a great selection of accommodation, exclusive car hire from Avis, 24hr holiday helpline and low deposits.




0141 222 2223

020 7749 9235

020 7939 7775




With 76 locations and over 1000 travel specialists, Barrhead Travel are well placed to provide the very best advice and inspiration for our clients and find their perfect Florida getaway.

For over 40 years, we’ve specialised in great-value getaways to the Sunshine State. Our destination experts combine local knowledge with personalised service to make your Florida fairytale come true.

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0844 871 6650

020 3542 8888

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From Orlando’s magical theme-parks to the romantic beaches of the Keys, Florida has something for everyone. And with us, you can tailor-make your perfect holiday.

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We’re the UK’s No.1 travel group to Florida, having won Best Holiday Company to the USA for 6 years. With 30 years experience, no one knows Florida better than us.


Tour ops.indd 58

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A full UK licence is required to hire a car. Drivers must be 21 or over; 25+ with some companies.


Personal exemptions may be brought in free of duty. This includes personal effects, one litre of alcoholic beverage if you are 21 or over, 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 2kg of tobacco.




Two-pin plugs are used so adaptors are required. U.S. Goods may not work correctly in the UK.

ESTA application: esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ esta Entry information: uk.usembassy.gov

Treatment in the U.S. is high, so Travel insurance of at least £2million is recommended.

Money & tipping

Major credit cards are accepted. Travellers’ cheques in U.S. dollars are recommended. A minimum 15% tip is suggested when dining in restaurants or $1 per drink in bars.


Visitors must book their first night’s accommodation in advance, providing an accurate address


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Alabama Georgia i i


Pensacola Int'l Airport

i i

Destin Northwest Florida Beaches



Wh Spr


Int'l Airport

Fort Walton Pensacola Beach Santa Rosa Perdido Key Beach Beach Seaside Beach Panama City Beach

Panama City Apalachicola National Forest

Mexico Beach Port St. Joe

Apalachicola St. George Island



Gulf of Mexico

Cedar Key

Crystal River

i 75 98 50

Official FL Welcome Center

Numbered A-road within a county


Dual Carriageways


Toll roads*

National numbered A-road


Dual Carriageway junction

Numbered A-Road within a state

Clearwater Beach



Indian Rocks Beach Redington Beach Madeira Beach

Major airports

St. C I

St. Petersburg Anna Maria Island

* Some Florida highways are now cashless and tolls should be pre-paid or paid on completion of the hire. Your car hire company will have full details. Visit www.visitflorida.com/articles/florida-toll-road-changes-what-you-need-to-know or www.floridasturnpike.com

Longboat Key Saraso

Siesta K


Map.indd Untitled-1 11

West Palm Beach







Key West


Fort Lauderdale


Fort Lauderdale












































Key West









































West Palm Beach













Dry Tortug National P


5/16/19 11:45 AM

Georgia i i

Fernandina Beach Amelia Island


Jacksonville Int'l Airport

White Springs


Ponte Vedra Beach

Lake City Green Cove Springs

St. Augustine

St. Augustine Beach



Palm Coast Flagler Beach

Daytona Beach


Cedar Key

Ocala National Forest

Crystal River

New Smyrna Beach

Orlando Sanford Int'l Airport


Clearwater Beach



ndian Rocks Beach Redington Beach Madeira Beach


St. Petersburg/ Clearwater Int'l Airport

St. Petersburg

Longboat Key Sarasota Siesta Key


Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach


Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park Winter Haven

Melbourne Melbourne Int'l Airport

Brandon Sebastian Vero Beach


Anna Maria Island

Winter Park Orlando Int'l Airport

Lake Buena Vista Tampa Int'l Airport

Atlantic Ocean


Fort Pierce

Sarasota/Bradenton Int'l Airport

Port St. Lucie


Jensen Beach Stuart

Venice Punta Gorda

Port Charlotte

Lake Okeechobee Palm Beach Int'l Airport

Cape Coral Captiva Island Sanibel Island Fort Myers Beach


Palm Beach

West Palm Beach

Fort Myers

Lake Worth Boynton Beach Delray Beach Boca Raton Deerfield Beach Pompano Beach

Southwest Florida Int'l Airport

Bonita Springs

Big Cypress National Park

Marco Island

Everglades City

Fort Lauderdale

Ft. Lauderdale Int'l Airport Miami Int'l Airport

Miami Everglades National Park


Miami Beach

Coral Gables Key Biscayne Coconut Grove


Key Largo Islamorada Dry Tortugas National Park

Key West Int'l Airport

Marquesas Keys

Untitled-1 1

Marathon Big Pine Key

Key West

5/16/19 11:44 11:47 AM

More Than Your Typical

Florida Holiday

Here you can find your own place in the sun. Where palms cast cooling shade on an island beach that’s gently caressed by warm, soothing waves of the Gulf of Mexico. No towering hotels. Just cosy, family-friendly places to stay that will give you memories forever. And the serenity you’ve been looking for less than two hours from Orlando.


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