It may be known as the Sunshine State but Florida has a lot more to offer the visitor. There is the hedonism of South Beach in Miami, of course but a short journey south brings you to the Florida Keys, a 100-mile string of islands known for coral reef diving, sport fishing and Key West beloved of Ernest Hemingway. And west of Miami are the Everglades, tropical wetlands home to alligators.
Explore Miami’s Art Deco district. Count down to a trip to Cape Kennedy Space Visitor’s Complex at Cape Canaveral. Take the family to great days out at Disney World – the biggest theme park in the world – or the Universal Studios. Hike or backpack through some of Florida’s many state and national parks and forests, swim with the Florida Manatees, or take a helicopter tour.
Things to see and do
Florida is a haven for watersports including scuba diving, snorkelling, water-skiing, fishing, sailing and windsurfing, among many others. Step back in time at Fort Pickens, on Santa Rosa Island, a historic military fort which may have seen the first shots of the American Civil War.
Strap on a parachute and experience the ultimate adrenalin rush with a 60-second freefall while tandem skydiving in Miami. Polish up your tennis at some of the many courts in Miami. Tour South Beach by bike or put on a Stetson and watch some bucking-bronco action at Homestead Rodeo, Miami. Splash the cash with some serious clothes shopping in Naples and Ybor City.
Arts and culture
For a truly surreal experience visit the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg which has the largest collection of the artist’s work outside Europe. Or explore the Key West home of Ernest Hemingway where he lived and wrote for ten years. Catch some opera or a concert at the Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts, the biggest performing arts centre in Miami. And for fine art visit the MDC Museum of Art and Design which has works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall.
Eating and drinking
The cuisine in Florida reflects the indigenous Spanish and African influences, to which have been added Latin and Caribbean flavours. The restaurants to be found in Florida reflect its huge range of input including Cuban, Mexican, Brazilian, Haitian and Jamaican eateries, with many world-class chefs now making a home in the Sunshine State. Try Pubbelly in Miami for fusion cuisine, with Asian and Latin American influences among others. Or Osteria Del Teatro, one of the oldest and best Italian restaurants in Miami, while Graziano’s will be seventh heaven for steak aficionados.
Miami Beach is said to be one of the best spots in the world for nightlife. Sample first-class DJs at Cameo, South Beach’s legendary nightclub. Go stargazing at Mansion, a favourite hangout for models and Hip-Hop celebrities. Or dance on the tables and bars with the locals at Set Nightclub.
See and be seen along Lincoln Road in Miami, a shopping mall with style. For vintage style fashions go to C Madelaine’s. Macy’s is a classic southern department store.