Fabulous Florida is every bit as magical as you might think! Exciting experiences and amazing adventures await for fun-loving couples and free-spirited families. Dive into a world of imagination at the iconic Walt Disney World Resort or embark on endless fun at Universal Studios™. Go for low-key leisure on the blissful beaches of the Gulf Coast and see how many dolphins you can spot swimming in the spellbinding seas. It's no wonder the Sunshine State tops most traveller bucket lists! With so much to see, here's a look at of some of the best things to do in Florida.
The gorgeous Gulf Coast is all about beautiful beaches, postcard-perfect shores and energetic holiday honeypots. Swimming, seafood and sunsets are the order of the day. Watch in awe as golden rays meet with sand and sea – evening after evening, this show never gets old! A low-key and laid-back atmosphere lends itself to both couples and family holidays, and the Gulf can cater to both comfortably. Caribbean style beaches are the norm, with shores so paradisiacal and pin-drop peaceful you'd be forgiven for thinking you were a castaway on a desert island!
Swathes of powder-white sands are lapped by gentle waves, perfect for little paddlers taking their first steps into warm crystal-clear waters. Bigger towns, like Clearwater (a 30 minute drive from New Port Richey) cater for kids who get a kick out of wild watersports! Thrill-seeking teens can take their pick when it comes to jetskiing, speed boat antics and high-flying parasailing adventures. Family fun ahoy! A dolphin watching excursion is a brilliant way to entertain the brood and see the majestic creatures in their own environment. Set sail for the deeper turquoise tones of the gulf and wait for the playful porpoise to start showing off!
Outdoor enthusiasts have a lot to shout about beyond the buzzing resorts and towns. Gallivanting along the Gulf will bring you up close and personal with mind-boggling natural beauty, and the fun doesn't stop there. Saddle up and head out on a family horse riding trip, or opt for easy-going cycling, kayaking, fishing and hiking. Be sure to swing by the shell-strewn islands at Sarasota and watch the pelicans hunt their dinner too.
It's not all about the beach of course. Sophisticated towns and indulgent resorts offering delightful dining and romantic waterside restaurants alongside exotic, balmy evenings. Often underrated for their culinary creations, there's plenty of gastronomic gems to tuck into up and down the Gulf Coast.
First off, let's address the elephant in the room (or should that be mouse in the castle?) The magical realms of Walt Disney World Resort are most people's first port of call – and with good reason! An enchanting playground for young and old alike, the infectious euphoria of nostalgia and beloved childhood characters are every bit as dazzling as your dreams! Time flies when you're having fun, and words have never rung truer than they do in out-of-this-world Orlando. Four theme parks and two wonderful water parks await at Walt Disney World Resort alone… and that's before you've even had a chance to wrap your fantasy-filled head around the spellbinding spectacles of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios™.
When you're done with meet-and-greets and magical kingdoms, you'll see you've barely scratched the surface! Countless opportunities for dining and shopping come to life as the sun sets, and night-time entertainment districts – like Universal's CityWalk™ – become the epicentre of awesome. Take in breathtaking acrobatic performances, dance along to diverse music acts, dine in waterside cafes and wander through vibrant walkways. If you're chasing a unique foodie experience, travel the world in one day at Epcot. Gourmet globetrotting takes on a whole new meaning as you stroll 11 different countries in the World Showcase.
The magical attractions and creative curiosities of the world-renowned theme parks aren't Florida's only holiday claim to fame. It'd be easy to fill a week or two with back-to-back parades and adrenaline-pimping rides, but don't forget to explore more of what's on offer outside of the bright lights of Orlando…
Away from the beating heart of action-packed Orlando, the semitropical watery wilderness of the Everglades awaits. Revered with a UNESCO stamp of approval, this World Heritage Site packs a whole lot of water, wildlife and wonder into its 1.5 million acres. King of the 'jungle', the infamous Florida alligator rules the Everglades waterways. Expect to spy more than a few as you make your way through the swamps! American crocodiles, turtles, snakes, manatees and deer are all part and parcel of the park repertoire too. Not to mention the elusive Florida panther, 350 different bird species and 300 types of fishy friends.
Exploring the Everglades is heaven for holidaymakers who enjoy the great outdoors. Hikers can hop to it on a number of trails that serpentine through tropical forests and mangrove shorelines, or opt for short walks like the Bayshore Loop or well-known Anhinga Trail. If you're happy setting out with just you and yours, observation towers, cycling routes and kayaking are all wonderful ways to embrace the wild, luscious landscapes. For a more mainstream experience, airboat safaris are a stress-free way of exploring the waterways. Glide across the grassy wetlands in style and traverse swamps, marshes and rivers with a handy tour guide. Be sure to bring your camera for any snap happy moments with the resident 'gators.
Swap the thrills and spills of theme parks for an awe-inspiring visit to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center Complex. Take your wanderlust to new heights as you walk beneath real life rockets and try your hand at astronaut training simulators! Sure to spark just as many imaginations as the attractions of Orlando, enjoy a family-fun day rubbing shoulders with astronauts, getting to grips with past and present NASA missions and exploring the 140,000 acre site with an in-depth bus tour. A holiday highlight for excitable kids, be sure to stop by the Shuttle launch Experience for the sights, sounds and sensations of blasting off into outer space!
Besides the obvious biggies, the Sunshine State has an unbelievable amount on offer. So much so that it's practically impossible to squeeze it all in to one holiday! Between zoological parks, outdoor adventures, drive-in movie theatres, iconic cities, culture vulture art galleries and droves of dining delights – you'll soon realise there's never a dull moment in the Sunshine State.
Floridian golf courses come in all shapes and sizes, with a whopping 170 in Orlando alone. Whether you're taking to the fairways as a day-off treat from family adventures, or your whole holiday is geared around golf itself – a trip to the green should not be missed. Swing into action on world-famous fairways and immerse yourself in a key part of Florida's cultural heritage. Many of Orlando's revered resorts – Champions Gate and Highlands Reserve included – offer premier facilities with stunning scenic views. Golfing academies give less-practiced players a chance to perfect their game and get on par with some of the pros. Who knows? Maybe you'll hit a holiday hole-in-one!
If you're less about hitting a dimpled ball and more about hitting the shops, then Florida won't disappoint. Retail therapy is extra-special when you're surrounded by luxury shopping malls and discount designer outlets. Overflowing with outrageous savings and all your favourite house names, get ready to carry your body weight in bargains! Although packing everything into your suitcase on the way home might prove almost as tricky as trying to pack everything into your holiday itinerary…