There aren’t many destinations around the world that can match Florida’s populist appeal. Families, couples and solo travelers are certain to have a good time in the Sunshine State, and our latest guide will take you around some of the best places to visit on your next trip to the USA.
Florida is huge. The state, which sits on the southeastern tip of the country has an extensive coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and is home to a great mix of cultural influences. Many tourists head to Orlando, which has rightly earned a reputation as the theme park capital of the world, but we’re focusing on the southern part of Florida for this travel-good guide. Here you’ll find the famous Everglades National Park, a colourful city famed for food and nightlife, and a tropical island paradise ready to explore.
Miami is like nowhere else in Florida, let alone the US. Pastel art-deco buildings are a bewildering sight at first, although they are a regular part of the overall aesthetic here. Once you get comfortable with the laid-back vibe, you’ll eventually notice the distinctive aromas emanating from the restaurants and food trucks along Ocean Drive and in Little Havana. These famous spots are wonderful to visit during the day, but they really come alive at night.
One aspect of Miami that often gets overlooked is the value for money you can get here. Unlike other tourist destinations in America, the city knows it will attract visitors, so it doesn’t have to price up the essentials for outsiders. Locals would rather keep a steady stream of people coming through the city, so you can find affordable places to stay and things to do everywhere you look.
The Florida Keys
You’ve probably heard of the Florida Keys, known to locals as simply the Keys, but what exactly are they? If you head 15mi (24km) south of Miami, you’ll come across a long coral stretch, which arches back to the west. The islands that emerge from the ocean form an archipelago: the Florida Keys.
It’s an area renowned for its outstanding natural and marine beauty, a tropical environment, complete with clear blue seas perfect for snorkelling and diving. The beaches, too, are reminiscent of those you find in the Caribbean. If you end up taking a road trip through southern Florida you can drive to the Keys over the Seven Mile Bridge.
Key West is at the very tip of the Florida Keys, making it the southernmost city of the United States, the last stretch of land you can access by road along the Keys and a popular domestic holiday destination for those looking for a tropical paradise on American soil. Smathers Beach is great for sunbathing, although the quieter Fort Zachary Taylor offers a combination of relaxing sandy hideaways and historical features.
If you want to see more of the marine life in the coral bed just off the coast, you can take a boat tour, or take to the air on a chartered seaplane, biplane or helicopter. Fishing enthusiasts love this part of Florida, too, and it’s not just about the sport – you’ll also find some of the tastiest, freshest seafood around.
Step out onto South Beach with a stay at the Royal Palm, a Tribute Portfolio Resort. As well as the sandy beach and Atlantic Ocean, the area is populated with nightclubs, shops and celebrity-chef restaurants. Inside, the terrazzo lobby floor, green glass reception desk and porthole windows are all part of the hotel’s c1939 art-deco design, which sits amid the modernist styles of the surrounding neighbourhood. Whether you’re looking to relax by the pool, enjoy the pleasures of South Beach or explore the local area, the Royal Palm has it all.
Built in 1937, the Shepley Hotel is a time capsule from the art-deco era, and a design that many flock to Miami to see. There are more than 800 art-deco buildings in Miami Beach – the largest collection in the world. And it’s not just the architecture you’ll fall in love with. High-end shopping, world-class restaurants, museums and plenty of entertainment are all on your doorstep. The main attraction, though, is the year-round sunshine and easy access to South and Miami beaches. When you tire of exploring, lie back on a sun lounger and soak up the Florida rays – holiday heaven.
Cast away to the Barbary Beach House for an unforgettable island adventure. Step out of the hotel straight onto the dreamlike Smathers Beach, or stay poolside under the shade of the surrounding palms. Make the Atlantic your playground with on-site Hobie Cat sailboat, paddleboard, kayak, and windsurfing rentals available. Excursions off-site can be arranged by the concierge – from a tour of the island by seaplane to deep water, tournament-style fishing. Enjoy the catch of the day at the Drifter’s Cove, then sip a freshly pressed margarita at the poolside bar, or you can choose to dine in private with 14-hour room service. Whether your dream holiday is lounging in a hammock by the pool or something more adventurous, you can do it all at the Barbary Beach House.