Where to vacation in Florida
While Northern countries are known from a cold winter, weather in the state of Florida, in the USA, is an exception as it maintains a fair temperature all year round. During winter, lowest temperature is 10°C on average, and maximum can reach up to 22°C, approximately. That being said, this is one of the reasons 60.7 million people visited the state in the first six months of 2017. It is true not only a good weather brings travelers to this area; also, a variety of attractions are spread throughout its 65 square miles area. Just to make your life easier when deciding where to vacation in Florida, we divided the state in four areas (Central, West, South and North Florida) with main cities as destinations with additional nearby attractions, a mini guide to help you to travel through the American sunshine state.
Before we start, check it out the distance between the main cities and you will realize it is possible to add one or more places to your visit. In some of them, we have already give this possibility, but if choosing just one you will sure have plenty of things to do, as you will notice each itinerary have 4 main cities but uncountable destinations.
*Distance between cities in miles (1 mile = 0.62 km).
Orlando: Parks, Sun and Space in Central Florida
Orlando needs no introduction as it is home of the most famous theme park complex, Walt Disney World, but their parks are not the only ones available, as Orlando is also home of Universal complex and Sea World. Together, they offer 7 different parks and additional water parks options. It is almost impossible to check all parks in just one trip as most of them require two or more days to explore each. Four theme parks are part of Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom is where, literally, the magic happens. Here is the place that Disney’s characters are brought to a life and the famous magic castle is located. It is the most visited park in Orlando and where the phrase “where the dreams come true” was created. Epcot focuses on bringing the nations together, a highlight to cultural diversity is what you will see here. For movie lovers, Hollywood Studios is where movies become a reality and you become a character to enjoy it. As the name already states, Animal Kingdom brings nature to its brightest. Each one has its own characteristics and attractions, it is highly recommended to plan ahead where to go and which attractions are a must go to you. Whichever park you go, make sure to check out the Fastpass as it offers some benefits what will help you save time while having fun.
After knowing about Walt Disney World theme parks, don’t forget to check Universal complex with Universal Studios Park, where movies are also the main theme and, Island of Adventure with the Harry Potter theme as the main attraction. Sea World explains itself showing the life under the water. A good planning is essential when deciding to explore the parks, make sure to allow enough time to see the attractions and don’t visit two parks on the same day, you will not be able to do it.
Almost 50 miles away from Orlando is where you will get closer to the space. NASA have the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and travelers can visit this working space facility discovering the US Space Program. Before you go, make sure to buy the tickets in advance and download the Kennedy Space Center Official Guide App, free at App Store and Google Play. For a break in between busy fun days, a visit to Cocoa Beach can be a great idea. Only 60 miles from Orlando and yet a different atmosphere is presented, the beach lifestyle is everywhere in Cocoa and after a day by the sun, a walk by its riverside wraps up a relaxing day.
Why Orlando? Go if you are looking for a fun vacation time among family and/or friends. Be prepared for long days in an excited environment, chances are high that you will walk a lot and wearing comfortable clothes is mandatory. Bring your better self and get ready to have one of the best times of your life.
Miami: City, Water and Nature in South Florida
Miami is a cosmopolitan city in South Florida where art deco, Latin culture and crystal-clear water beaches get along really well composing one of the highlights of this destination. South Beach is often featured in TV shows and are worth spending a day on its sands, don’t forget to snap a classic picture from lifeguards stands, so popular in Miami. Head for North Beach in case you are looking for a quieter day, or when in doubt try both and let us know which one you prefer best.
In Southern Miami is located the Art Deco Historic District, go to get a glimpse on this architectural style that makes the city so special. If you are into art, Wynwood Walls bring the colorful street art, which is nowadays often stamping Miami in advertisements. Also, famous for its nightlife and Latin culture, don’t skip a visit to a Cuban restaurant in Little Havana or a visit to any nightclub available in the city, you will not regret it.
Going a little bit North Miami, Fort Lauderdale is another beach destination in the East Coast of Florida. It gets the atmosphere of a city with a boulevard and an entertainment district, but still maintaining the beach vibe in its riverfront. It makes this city a great getaway just 30 miles from Miami. In the opposite direction, 42 miles South of Miami, another Florida expects you, nature filled with swamps and activities is what you will find in Everglades National Park located in Homestead. Here it is possible to see the wildlife of amphibians, mammals and reptiles in a different environment, but considered common animals in a swamp area. If hiking is among your favourites things to do when travelling, adding a stop in Homestead will be a great surprise.
Now it is time to take the road and discover the Florida Keys area. Only 159 miles separate Miami from Key West and, despite being a destination worth visiting, the route to Key West is breathtaking, being a trip itself. Overseas Highway is a 113 miles long road passing through Florida Keys, archipelagos in South Florida, and ending on Key West, the southernmost point in USA, and only 90 miles away from Cuba. The charming city was once called home by Ernest Hemingway and is where key lime pie was created, both are must dos while visiting the city. Allow sometime to discover the city and enjoy the beauty of this tiny place on South of Florida. On your way to Key West, don’t forget to make some stops to see the beauty of cities like Islamorada and Key Largo, where fishing and diving, respectively, are a big deal.
Why Miami? Go for Miami if beach is what you are looking for on your next vacation, but if you like the city atmosphere. It is a good destination to discover the combination of city, beaches and nature, not necessarily in this order. Adding Key West will not disappoint.
Tampa: Relax, Fun and Beaches in West Florida
Tampa is already a known destination for travelers who have researched about Orlando as Busch Gardens theme parks are an attraction people add to their trip to Disney. They are also the owners of Sea World and Aquatica in Orlando and, in Tampa they offer two more theme parks options: Busch Gardens and Adventure Island. While the first is a paradise of adventure in roller coasters, the Adventure Island is an outdoor water park. At Busch Gardens you will find adventure in its rides, but it is also possible to add more fun with its upgrades, like doing a tour in a safari. Make sure to check the dates as Adventure Island closes during cold months, opening usually from March to October. In order to save some money, a deal is offered if visiting both parks. If travelling with kids, visiting Big Cat Rescue can be a fun experience discovering more about the wildlife of big cats.
Beaches are also a big deal in this part of the state and in the West Side of Florida, water from Gulf of Mexico are waiting for you. Only 45 minutes from Tampa is Clearwater Beach and all its small beach town charm. Continuing 40 minutes down South, you will arrive in St. Petersburg which due to its location holds the title of “most consecutive days with sunshine” and, after a day at the beach it is worth visiting the interesting Salvador Dali Museum. Sarasota is the next stop after 39 miles, being home of Siesta Key, one of the top beaches in the USA, where white sands mix with clear waters. Additional activities include a stop at the Ringling complex, a famous travelling circus company founded by Ringling Brothers, during your visit make sure to ckheck the brother’s mansion called CA’D’AZAN.
It is also a good idea to drive from Tampa to Miami stopping at the destinations above, and adding at least two more options: Naples and Fort Myers. Watersports lovers will like to know that Fort Myers is a popular place for kayaking and parasailing. Naples brings the sophisticated atmosphere to this trip offering shopping in its Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South along with beach lifestyle. This road trip idea is a 430 miles route, but involves the beach attraction of the sunshine state, where the sun is the star.
Why Tampa? If looking for a place in the sun, this is the trip for you. Ideal for groups in which sun and fun are the ideal combination of a successful trip. Good destination for kids at all ages.
Jacksonville: History, City and Beach in North Florida
Compared to any popular destination in Florida, Jacksonville can be an affordable surprise. While still a big city, beaches like Neptune and Atlantic are a must stop for travellers not only for the water and sand, but also for shopping areas. For adventure with kids, Adventure Landing can be a great option for entertainment offering water and in land options. Water is a big deal for Jacksonville as it offers 20 miles of beaches, 40 miles of canals and the St. Johns River all in its area. Nature enthusiasts will like to know that the city has the largest urban park system in the USA, and here are some options to go for: Treaty Oak Park, Tree Hill and Cary State Forest. A must-do while visiting Jacksonville is walking around its Riverwalk area, where downtown meets St. John River.
Beach destinations continue in this area of Florida and two of them are worth your attention. It is true St Augustine can be a beach destination, but the most important fact about this city is that St Augustine (40 miles away from Jacksonville) is the oldest occupied European-establishment settlement in the USA. An historic aspect is encountered in this town and visiting the National Historic Landmark District will present buildings and landmarks where history was made. Daytona Beach (95 miles away from Jacksonville) is the next big deal around Jacksonville and even though a popular beach destination, Daytona International Speedway is home of the Daytona 500 NASCAR race. If interested, visit during February is when the race happens.
Two road trips from Jacksonville are interesting: Orlando and Tallahassee. Orlando is already familiar to you, but the capital of Florida, Tallahassee (165 miles west of Jacksonville), is still away from most traveler’s bucket list. A visit to this city will present the college atmosphere and history in a cosmopolitan city. Tallahassee is home of Florida State University and Florida A&M University and, it is where historical plantations farms are located. As the case of Pebble Hill and Goodwood Museum & Gardens where you will feel in a movie set, but actually will be stepping into American history.
Why Jacksonville? If it is your second time in there and you are looking for a relaxed way of spending your vacation. This is an area to discover a new Florida while still enjoying the sun in beautiful beaches.