When people visit Florida, chances are their destination is Disney World, especially if they have kids. But there are countless other attractions in the Sunshine State! Florida boasts some of the best beaches in the country -soft white sand dotted with palm trees, inviting clear blue water and 10 months of warm weather. And there are plenty of historical and cultural sites, natural wonders, exotic wildlife, spectacular sunset sand friendly people. Whether you want to spot wild alligators, scuba dive, or just lay on the beach with a ‘tropical drink melting in your hand’, Florida has something for the whole family.
Here are just some of the places to visit
The the150-mile coastal drive from Miami to Key West is one of the most stunning road trips you’ll ever take. The Overseas Highway crosses42bridges, including Seven Mile Bridge, with spectacular views of the Atlantic to your left and the Gulf on your right. Key West is the southernmost point in the continental U.S. and has so much to offer. If you love cats and iconic American authors, pop into EarnestHemingway’shome, and then enjoy the relaxed, party-like atmosphere in and around Mallory Square, populated by friendly chickens and the odd iguana. Check out museums; browse the stalls and shops, and then stop for a drink and some live music. As evening approaches grab an outdoor table at one of the many restaurants where you can enjoy a prime view of that famous sunset. Then stroll down Duvall Street for some ‘Margaritaville’ style nightlife. It’s best to visit between March and May, to avoid hurricane season, summer crowds, and the scorching heat.
To experience a unique eco-system and spot exotic wildlife in its natural habitat –visit the Everglades. This legendary ‘River of Grass’ is the largest subtropical wetland in North America, providing shelter and protection to hundreds of different plants and animal species. It’s the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist and are also home to raccoons, skunk, opossum, snakes, black bears, eastern cottontail bobcat, red fox, white-tail deer and the poster-child of the Everglades -the endangered Florida panther.
You’re almost guaranteed to see a wild alligator during your visit. Many different trips are available, in and outside of Everglades National Park, including airboat rides, kayak trips, and numerous adventure tours. You can also hike, fish, camp, and cycle in the Everglades.
The Kennedy Space Center
Since 1968 the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), has been NASA’s primary launch center of human space flight. And it’s easy to spend the whole day here, as there’s so much to see and do, so plan accordingly. For the family’s budding astronaut this is heaven on earth, with so many fascinating exhibits, films and special events to enjoy. You can meet an astronaut, take a bus tour, visit the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the shuttle launch experience, and explore the space Shuttle Atlantis exhibits and get involved with interactive activities. There may even be a live rocket launch during your visit –just check the schedule for dates and times.
St. Augustine, on Florida’s northeast coast, claims to be the oldest city in the United States and is well known for its Spanish colonial architecture and beautiful, tranquil beaches. Take a stroll down St. George Street to enjoy the historical sites, boutiques, galleries, and cafes. Enjoy some spectacular views from the top of a haunted old lighthouse, and at the museum, learn some pirate lore while exploring a replica pirate ship, and check out an authentic skull-and-crossbones “Jolly Roger” flag dating from the 1600’s. Then head out to the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental USA, built by Spanish settlers in the late 1700’s. Have a great trip!