Florida boasts 360 days of sun a year and remains as popular as ever with the British holidaymaker, which is hardly surprising when you look at all that is on offer. There are, of course, the thrills and spills of Orlando and all its fantastic theme parks, yet to experience the true Florida, you’ll need to discover some of the destinations further afield.
A journey through the ‘Sunshine State’ will star reveal the true Florida, from the delightful tropical islands of the Florida Keys to the wilderness and wildlife of the Everglades, historic cities such as St. Augustine – the oldest in the US – and the eclectic mix of restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then there are the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, brimming with wonderful beaches, world-class shopping and some of the country’s finest resort hotels. All this in a climate which defies staying indoors and which combines with all the many attractions – both natural and otherwise – to make true Florida the unique holiday destination that it is.
Naples & Marco Island are the crown jewel of Southwest Florida, it’s hardly surprising that so many affluent Americans choose to settle in Naples. Boasting a beautiful climate and uncrowded beaches, visitors will discover high-end shopping, fabulous golf courses and an enviable choice of dining. Whether staying in Naples or, basking on its own peninsula, Marco Island, waters sports and the beaches are on your doorstep and a short drive away, Everglades National Park.
Whether your craving is for sports, shopping, culture or sheer indulgence, the Sarasota area will surely satisfy. St. Armand’s Circle is a mecca of high fashion shops and award-winning restaurants, the Ringling Museum is an impressive collection of European paintings and tapestries, whilst the sophisticated resort of Longboat Key boast some of the most prestigious golf and tennis facilities in the USA, all set alongside its stunning beaches.
In the south west of true Florida on the Gulf of Mexico you’ll find the beaches at Fort Myers & Sanibel. This family-friendly resorts are made up of more than 100 islands dotted around Pine Island Sound just north of the Florida Everglades. Renowned for their laid- back appeal, the islands conjure up barefoot getaways and abound with wildlife and nature on both land and water to explore on foot, by peddle, by kayak or by boat. While in the area, a recommended visit is to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.
90 minutes west of Orlando and set at either end of the sun-drenched peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Tampa Bay are the popular resorts of St. Pete and Clearwater. 35 miles of spectacular award-winning white sand beaches beckon sun worshippers and water sports lovers alike, whilst away from the beaches, you could visit the Salvador Dali museum, Fort Desoto Park or make the 30-minute drive to exciting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
So make sure you take the time out from the theme parks to really experience the true Florida, and all that it has to offer.