Florida Adventure

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With its treasure trove of natural wonders, diverse cultures and world-class attractions, Florida is a magnet for destination travelers from all over the world. In South Florida, discover the cultural vibrancy of Miami, the gorgeous beaches of Fort Lauderdale, the unique scenery of the Florida Keys and the awe-inspiring Everglades National Park. Travel to Orlando for the greatest attraction parks in the world as well as the Kennedy Space Center. Spend the days salsa dancing in Miami’s Little Havana, swimming with dolphins in Key Largo, air-boating in the Everglades, and watch a rocket lift-off from Cape Canaveral. Florida gives a new definition to the ultimate vacation.

The suggested itinerary begins in the thriving city of Miami for a taste of Cuba in Little Havana and the sunshine at South Beach before driving through the causeways of the Key West. Explore the lush Everglades National Park on an airboat to see alligators and listen to a chorus of tree frogs. Next, return north to enjoy a shoreline of premium outlet shopping, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, and Fort Lauderdale’s “Venice of America.” Wind down your adventure at the most magical place on Earth: Walt Disney World and go to infinity and beyond at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Since Florida hosts an abundance of destinations, let us tailor a trip that’s right for your tastes and time.

Have a few extra days? Head west to St. Petersburg for a decadent outdoor market and the Salvador Dali Museum. Can’t get enough of the Florida wildlife? Go to Clearwater to see Winter, the famous dolphin who starred in Dolphin Tale. Are you a history buff? Stroll through the narrow streets of St. Augustine — “the Nation’s Oldest City” founded in 1565. Perhaps you didn’t get enough of Miami culture? Witness the energizing contemporary art scene of the Wynwood District before wrapping up your adventure with dinner and a latin dance show at the famous Mango’s Club.

Length of trip:

8 to 15 days

Start-end points: Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Orlando

Best time to travel:

All year-long

Character:

Combination urban, nature and culture

Intensity level:

Easy to moderate

Suitable for
FIT/SAT. Individuals, families and small groups


Highlights

  • Taste the strongest coffee and most aromatic cigars in Little Havana
  • Enjoy an exuberant show and dance the salsa at Mango's in South Beach
  • Explore the hip art scene and eateries of the Wynwood District 
  • Dive or take a glass-bottom boat-ride through the corral reef in Key Largo
  • Drive along the small villages of the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West
  • Glide on an air-boat to discover the wildlife of the Everglades
  • Experience the native culture at the Miccosukee Indian Village
  • Enjoy a sunset picnic at the beach by the Cape Florida Lighthouse
  • Cruise the canals of Fort Lauderdale aboard the Jungle Queen
  • Swim with the dolphins in Orlando
  • Experience the new Happy Potter world at Universal Studios in Orlando
  • Learn about space exploration, past and future, at the Kennedy Space Center

Suggested itinerary at a glance

Day 1-2 • Miami, South Beach, Little Havana

The cities of Miami and its neighboring Miami Beach are a fitting start of your adventure in South Florida. Day or night, their neighborhoods are alive with a vibrant mix of Latin, Caribbean and American vibe. There is the trendy nightlife of South Beach (“sobe” to the locals), the glitzy the Art Deco district, the hip Wynwood neighborhood, and the bustling Calle Ocho along the miles of white sand beaches. Add on the world class museums and a unique music scene with throngs of beautiful people and you know you are in for a good time.

During the perfect two-day visit, be sure to check out the highly caffeinated energy of Little Havana — only a few minutes away from your downtown hotel. The region hosts endless shopping opportunities in places like Coconut Grove where family-owned shopkeepers offer quiet, personal attention.

Take some time to settle in. Sample dark rums while listening to Afro-Cuban music, followed by an evening walk along the beach.

In Little Havana you’ll learn the basics of salsa and merengue. Short of going to Cuba itself, it is a great place to soak in the culture, food, music and smells of the island. Take a leisurely stroll on "Calle Ocho" (8th Street) at the heart of the neighborhood. Experience true Cuban food at the celebrated restaurant Versailles. Immerse yourself in the cigar culture of Cuba, do not miss Jose Montagne's shop, the famous Guantanamera store.

Day 3-4 • Florida Keys, John Pennekamp Park, Dagny Johnson Hammock Botanical Park

Located in the tropical southeastern United States, the Florida Keys are a top destination for visitors of all ages. The drive from Miami to Key West is one of America’s most iconic road trips, passing through charming little towns and natural parks that you’d never find yourself in otherwise. The Florida Keys span some 110 miles and are connected by bridges and causeways.

 Key Largo is the first of the Keys. It used to go by the names Planter and Rock Harbor — before the legendary Humphrey Bogart’s 1948 film Key Largo brought the location international fame. Key Largo is the Diving Capital of the world thanks to the huge underwater John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. There is something for all levels of activity and accessibility: dive or snorkel in its near reef, paddle a kayak through its mangrove’s waterways or take a glass-bottom boat excursion out to the ocean to view the wonders of this underwater paradise.

Take a hike through Dagny Johnson Hammock Botanical Park Nature Reserve, where an accessible path leads to a famous spot for crocodiles and butterflies. Snatched from the jaws of development, this Nature Reserve land was saved by environmentalists from becoming a sprawling complex of houses, condos, and hotels.

 Continue along the Keys to Islamorada, a fisherman’s dream, for an outstanding feast before continuing along the keys or heading back to the mainland.

Day 5 • Everglades National Park, Shark Valley, Miccosukee Indian Village

Everglades National Park, at the southern tip of Florida, is often described as “a river of grass”, an enormous body of water flowing imperceptibly from the hinterland into the sea. The exceptional variety of water habitats has made it a sanctuary for a large number of birds and reptiles, as well as a haven for threatened species such as the manatee. We promise that you will see many alligators. On rare occasions, one can even encounter a unique specie of Everglade Black Bears.

This half a million hectares of wetlands, rivers, bays and lakes are a wild world where hundreds of species of plants and animals coexist. Explore on a guided tour at Shark Valley (no sharks, but rich in fauna, alligators, crocodiles, snakes and other creatures). There are a number of specific areas to the park, each with its unique character and access entry points. In most parts, wheelchair-accessible elevated boardwalks or paved trails provide easy access to points of interests, but please note that due to the recent storms, some parts may be closed.

Take a ride on a wheelchair  accessible “airboat” —a flat barge-like vessel powered by a propeller plane engine — through the swamps. The experience promises to be as noisy as it is unforgettable; with the whirl of the engine and sounds of tree frogs, egrets, and gulf toadfishes. Gliding on the surface of the shallow swamp waters is a unique way to explore the huge expanse of the Everglades National Park and its particular flora and fauna (and of course alligators ).


Nearby the airboat departure dock is the Miccosukee Indian Village. The Miccosukee, part of the Seminole people, is one of the most prominent tribes in the region. They are proud of having never been conquered by the Anglo settlers. They preserve their heritage, history and culture in the exhibition village at the edge of the Everglades. The village is entirely wheelchair accessible and contains many exhibits, including a presentation of traditional crocodile wrestling.

Day 6-7 • Virginia Key: Miami Seaquarium, Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park & Lighthouse, Crandon Park Beach, Fort Lauderdale

Virginia Key is a gorgeous 82-acre barrier island located on Key Biscayne off the coast of Miami. Spend one more day in southern Florida visiting the famous Miami Seaquarium, famed for being one of the oldest aquariums in the US, featuring shows of Nile crocodiles, giant turtles, sharks, Florida manatees, dolphins, whales and orcas. This small island has two of the most beautiful beaches in the region: Crandon Park beach facing Miami and Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park at the southern end of the island. After a visit to Cape Florida Lighthouse (the oldest building in South Florida), there is one decision left to make: settle in front of the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean or face the Bay of Biscayne with Miami on the horizon?

Driving north, make a stop in Fort Lauderdale to experience its beautiful beaches. The seven miles of sparkling shore offer residents and visitors premier opportunities for recreation, relaxation and enjoyment. The city’s award-winning wavewall and signature beachfront promenade of Las Olas Avenue highlight Fort Lauderdale’s world famous coastline. It is dotted with an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues. Beachgoers can participate in a wide range of activities or, if relaxation is what you desire, simply sit back, unwind and enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.


Embark on a fully narrated, 90-minute afternoon cruise down the "Venice of America." Sail through Ft. Lauderdale's Millionaire's Row on The River Queen, where you’ll see homes of the rich and famous, spectacular mega yachts and sights beyond belief. Or take a longer, 3-hour cruise on the Jungle Queen's Spectacular Afternoon Tropical Isle Sightseeing Cruise. A daily, fully narrated cruise down Fort Lauderdale's historic New River. The cruise includes Millionaire’s Row, but also takes you to a lush tropical isle where you can watch an alligator show, see exotic birds, lemurs and monkeys, and you might even get a chance to hold a baby alligator or a bird.

Day 8-11 • Orlando, Theme Parks, Kennedy Space Center

It’s true: Orlando is a magical place and not just because it’s home to both Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World and Hogwarts at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There is an incredible mix of fun things to do in this great city that make it an ideal vacation destination. At the Orlando International Premium Outlet, bargain hunters will find astounding deals on worldwide luxury brands like Coach, Guess, and Calvin Klein. Stop and smell the citrus trees, azaleas, bamboo and hibiscus at Harry P Leu Botanical Gardens. Take a breather and paddle around the centrally located Lake Eola in a swan boat. End your day with some laughs and see a show at the award winning SAK Comedy Club in downtown Orlando.

Families, thrill-seekers, and the young-at-heart will experience endless fun at the wide selection of Orlando’s theme parks. Walt Disney World is not just one theme park, but four:

Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you can play with your favorite Disney characters. Gather your magic wand and hop aboard the Hogwarts express to cast charms and tame magical creatures at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Adrenaline junkies, take note of Mako at SeaWorld: Orlando’s tallest, fastest roller coaster at 200 ft high and reaching speeds of 73 mph. Make friends with a real dolphin in SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove where you can feed and pet dolphins on an accessible close-up tour. Choose one of Orlando’s amusement parks or try to see them all!

About an hour drive from Orlando is Cape Canaveral, home to the Kennedy Space Center. Spend a day exploring NASA: the US space exploration agency. See the launch pads for the Apollo Missions and Elon Musk’s SpaceX shuttles. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is organized into Mission Zones where attractions and tours are grouped by chronological era. From the dawn of space exploration to current and ongoing missions, you can get an up-close, hands-on feel for the history of humans in space.


If you have another few days:

St. Petersburg • St. Petersburg glimmers between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. It is known for its warm weather and holds the title of “most consecutive days with sunshine” at 768 days! Downtown St. Petersburg is the city’s heart, home to great shopping, restaurants, bars and attractions. Check out the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum which has the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Spain. Swing by the Chihuly Collection on picturesque Beach Drive to witness mind-blowing glasswork. Want to grab a bite to eat in St. Petersburg? Discover Locale Market, a one-of-a-kind 20,000 sq-foot marketplace offering the region’s freshest and finest artisanal foods.

Clearwater • Located west of Tampa, Clearwater offers visitors a cornucopia of vacation opportunities. You can enjoy Sunsets at Pier 60, a nightly festival featuring music, crafts and street performers. The city also hosts the annual Clearwater Jazz Festival every October. Also don’t miss the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the home of Winter, star of the movie Dolphin Tale. Inspiring people around the world, Winter is a symbol of courage, perseverance and hope; this is the only place where you can see her. The aquarium also offers three animal interaction programs, dolphin photo opportunities and stingray feedings.

St. Augustine • St. Augustine’s rich heritage makes the city and its surroundings a unique getaway for visitors. Founded in September 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain, St. Augustine is the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the United States and commonly called the "Nation’s Oldest City." Visit St. Augustine and dive into more than four centuries of history that owes much to the Spanish, English, Greeks, Native Americans and African Americans. Stroll the narrow lanes where you’ll find many museums, visit landmarks such as Castillo de San Marcos, Ponce de Leon's "Fountain of Youth," and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. St. Augustine is a place for history buffs and sightseers alike.

Miami • Delve deeper into Miami’s cultural hub during your last few days in Florida. Take the Wynwood Art Walk to see vibrant street art by local artists before sampling the hops at Wynwood Brewing Company. Witness cutting-edge art and design at one of Miami’s seven contemporary art galleries such as the Pérez Art Museum or the Bass Museum of Art. Visit Coral Gables or “City Beautiful,” the residential paradise in the heart of the Miami where you can dip into the Venetian Pool designed to feel like a Mediterranean dream. Soak in the famous Miami skyline on a cruise of the Biscayne Bay. This 80 minute tour will show you opulent mansions, venetian islands, and marine life such as manatees and dolphins. Cheer for the mighty Miami Heat basketball team in the American Airlines Arena. Finally, wrap up your Florida adventure with a dinner and show at Mangos where Michael Jackson performers and professional latin dancers will light up the stage.


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