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Getaway Guide
Florida has everything you'd expect in a top destination — great weather, lots of beaches, theme parks, wildlife, gorgeous sunsets, and fresh-from-the-ocean seafood. There are a dozen more compelling reasons why you should pack your bags and head to the Sunshine State for your much-needed getaway, many of which you may not have realized. This is the land of unlimited possibilities for fun and new experiences, no matter what part of the state you choose to explore.

01Arriving there

You'll find plenty of options for traveling to Florida. If you've been dreaming of traveling by train, several Amtrak stations are located throughout Florida, headed to Disney World? Taking the train to Kissimmee is the best option. Once you arrive at the station, it's just a 22-minute car ride to the famous theme park.

For those who prefer to fly, you'll have the option of landing at one of the 130-plus public airports located throughout Florida, from the Panhandle to the southernmost point, Key West. Many of the hotels offer complimentary shuttles to and from the airports.

You'll also discover plenty of other options, including rideshares, chauffeured transportation, and taxis. If you're on a limited budget, consider taking the bus. Or, pack up your car or a rental if you're up for a road trip.

Airplane flying over Miami Beach, Florida, USA.

decorFun Fact

Between March and August, Florida's high season, the weather is hot, and everything is super-crowded. March and April are especially chaotic because it's the spring break season.

If you're not a fan of crowds, it's not a great getaway destination. Expect high humidity between May and September.

The best time of year to go is during the shoulder season, which begins in February. Accommodation prices drop, the lines get shorter, and the weather isn't quite so hot.

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02How to make the most of your time

There's so much to see in Florida; the vast options may seem overwhelming. If you're seeking more of a Caribbean-like experience, head to the southern part of the state, the home of the Everglades, Miami, Palm Beach, Cuban cuisine, and endless shopping and nightlife options. An ever-present sea breeze keeps things comfortable for outdoor recreation. North Florida has a totally different vibe. The climate is milder, the crowds are smaller, and the pace is much more relaxed. Fill your days exploring natural landscapes like Ginnie Springs or the ancient sinkhole at Devil's Millhopper in Gainesville. Or visit some of the state's historical sites in St. Augustine.

How to make the most of your time

03Live like a local

Florida is a big state, and there's much more to it than theme parks and major tourist attractions. Locals know the best spots to catch a sunset, like Walkers Landing in the community of Amelia Island, located just off the coast of northeast Florida. The Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach or the Gordon River Greenway in Naples are popular nature areas where locals head for a relaxing weekend getaway. And as for beaches, people who live in Florida usually avoid the jam-packed tourist sands. Instead, you'll find them relaxing at Santa Rosa Beach, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, the tranquil Playalinda Beach, or one of the many beaches at Bahia Honda State Park in Marathon.

Two bridges conecting Amelia Island and Big Talbot Island, Florida.

decorFun Fact

If you're looking for clothing-optional beaches or resorts, you'll find them in Florida, but disrobe at your own risk. While public nudity is illegal in the state, and many locals aren't fans of allowing beachgoers to strip down, others see the potential for added tourism dollars. Miami's Haulover Beach, one of Florida's oldest nude beaches, took the top slot in a "best of" ranking by the American Association of Nude Recreation in 2021.

04What to avoid

Like any other state, a trip to Florida comes with some less-than-desirable issues that travelers should avoid. Wildlife is abundant here, and some, like crocodiles or alligators, are downright dangerous. They'll boldly wander into just about any locale they choose to catch a snooze in the sun. If you come across one, in or out of the water, know that these are wild animals, they're federally protected, and they can eat you. Back away slowly. Seagulls also come with a warning. Feed one, and you'll attract an entire, greedy flock that will soon be swooping down around your head demanding to be fed. Whenever you head outdoors, don't forget to pack your insect repellant. They're a major problem in Florida.

Tourist kayaking in mangrove forest in Everglades, Florida, USA

05Things you can do without any spending money

While there are plenty of spots where you can spend your vacation dollars, there are just as many entertaining options that you can enjoy for free. Scalloping is a popular pastime in Florida, and there's a long list of places to do it. All you need is a mask and a snorkel. A great place to find scallops is in the Homosassa River, a nine-mile waterway near the west-central coast in a fishing village called Homosassa. Once you've caught your dinner, a local restaurant will cook them for you. It's also a popular spot for freshwater and saltwater fishing and manatee viewing. Tour the Disney Wilderness Preserve, Disney Springs, and Disney's Boardwalk for free, or take a stroll through Miami's Wynwood Arts District neighborhood to view the amazing collection of graffiti art.

MIAMI - JANUARY 21: Stock image of the world famous Art Walls at Wynwood which is a neighborhood north of Downtown Miami and is Miami's central art district January 21, 2015 in Miami FL

06Where to take instagram pics and where to put the phone away

You'll discover captivating and fun photo opportunities no matter where you go in Florida, and all are worthy of an Instagram post. Capture some great action shots at Sebastian Inlet, one of the famous surfing spots just 15 miles south of Melbourne Beach. Surfers from around the world come here to match their skills against the infamous and super-challenging Monster Hole. For the perfect sunrise and sunset photos, try Cedar Key along the Gulf Coast, just an hour away from Gainesville. If you love taking nature photos, you'll find an abundance of blue springs, serene lakes, and lush-green woodlands at Ocala National Forest. Privately owned shops and attractions can limit or prohibit photos, so be on the lookout for signs.

Juniper Spring in Ocala National Forest

decorFun Fact

St. Augustine is the home of many "love trees," an anomaly when two species of trees merge and continue to grow together. According to local lore, if two lovers kiss beneath one of these fascinating trees, they'll live happily ever after.

07Where to eat & drink

Florida's traditional cuisine isn't anything like that of its neighboring states, Georgia and Alabama. Here, there are Cuban influences combined with seafood delicacies, like stone crab and rock shrimp, along with local favorites like boiled peanuts and all sorts of gator fare. Don't miss out on trying grouper, a massive fish that lives along the coast. Grouper sandwiches are considered iconic fare, though some locals prefer this type of fish baked with a squeeze of lemon before serving. If you're not a fish lover, try a Cuban sandwich — slices of roast pork, smoked ham, and swiss cheese, topped with pickles and mustard and served between two slices of toasted, buttery Cuban bread.

Where to eat & drink

08Events and festivals

If you're in the mood to celebrate, there's probably a festival, fair, or expo going on near you in Florida. Put on your eyepatch and head to Tampa for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, a popular gathering that's been around since 1911. Foodies will love the Everglades Seafood Festival in Everglades City, where they celebrate all things seafood. Admission is free. Celebrate one of Florida's biggest exports at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. You'll not only get your fill of strawberry desserts and treats, but there are also carnival rides and musical performances from well-known bands like Lady A and the Beach Boys.

Tampa, Florida/USA - January 25,2020: Gasparilla Pirate Festival

decorFun Fact

Thousands of people gather together for the annual Mullet Toss and Beach Party at the Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar, which straddles Perdido Key, Florida, and Orange Beach, Alabama. Participants stand on the Florida side and throw a fish called a "mullet" across the state line into Alabama. Funds raised go to local charities.

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