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Florida. The land of sun, sand and something for everyone. Theme parks, beaches, spas, championship golf courses and plenty of open space. It’s all here.
Children of all ages dream of wearing mouse ears and watching their favourite movies come to life at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Here you’ll get to experience classics like the “it’s a small world” ride in Fantasyland and the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride in Adventureland.
Nearby in the Animal Kingdom, young adventurers can learn about animals and bugs while going on safari, visit a man-made rainforest and dig for dinosaur bones at The Boneyard in DinoLand U.S.A. Walt Disney World Resort is also home to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, the DisneyQuest arcade and tons more family fun.
If you have a chance to venture beyond the resorts and theme parks, you’ll find that Orlando has a lot more to offer than just rides and souvenirs. World-class shopping (try the upscale, open-air Premium Outlets), spas, delicious cuisine from around the world and some 176 golf courses can all be found here. In nearby Winter Park, visitors are treated to beautiful parks, art galleries and pedestrian walkways that lead to and from eclectic boutiques filled with art, clothing and antiques.
Then there are the Forts. Fort Myers is the ideal city for a Florida beach getaway on a budget. Here, you’ll find plenty of sand, surf and seafood. And with over 80 km of beach and an average annual temperature of 25 C, it’s not surprising visitors come here year-round for a relaxing retreat. You’ll find a large selection of resorts and cottages in Fort Myers, along with 20 state parks, art galleries and the late inventor Thomas Edison’s winter estate on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. If you have time, make your way to Sanibel or Captiva Island. There, you can go searching for shells and sand dollars or make your way to the Shell Factory and Nature Park just north of the city.
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America and has 266 km of inland waterways, most filled with yachts and gondolas. The shores here are lined with mansions framed to the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades to the west. Swimming, surfing, diving and fishing are a way of life here. But on land, there is also plenty to do. One of the world’s largest outlet malls is here (Sawgrass Mills) as is Las Olas Boulevard – a street with unique shops, restaurants and cafes. You can also explore the Museum of Art, which is home to ceramic art by Picasso as well as Cuban and European works. Travelling with the kids? Book an Everglades airboat ride and try to spot the fish and alligators.
Last but not least is the bustling, multicultural city of Miami. The Latin influence here is abundant, particularly in local neighbourhoods like Little Havana, delicious Cuban restaurants and salsa clubs. Downtown, the sun glistens off massive skyscrapers as business people and travellers mill about. North of the core, the Design and Wynwood Arts Districts are eclectic neighbourhoods filled with galleries, museums and displays of just about every art form. On Miami’s barrier islands, you’ll find the cities of Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach to the east. Home to beautiful white sand beaches and numerous outdoor recreation options, they’re connected to the mainland via causeways. And no matter where you go, you’ll always be able to explore the streets by bicycle, run down beachside boardwalks or swim in blue waters that will make you want to stay in Florida forever.