A fun-filled itinerary for loves of theme parks, beaches and the Sunshine State

Days 1 and 2: Orlando

Despicable Me ride, Universal Orlando Resorts

The Florida adventure begins with high-octane thrills in Orlando. While the rest of the itinerary will be all about taking it easy and blissing out in the sun, this first leg in the theme park capital of the world will get your juices pumping. Universal Orlando Resort thrusts visitors behind the silver screen, giving you a starring role in iconic blockbusters. From the apocalyptic Transformers ride to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this is a trip into the realm of pure fantasy – with a little help from state-of-the-art technology.

Walt Disney World Resort is the other major draw around these parts, with classic rides like Big Thunder Mountain, as well as a safari park and an immersive Avatar-themed odyssey. On sunny days you can take the kids to splash around in Orlando’s water parks, or show off your swing at one of the sumptuous golf courses in the region.

Day 3: Miami

South Beach, Miami

After a few days of high adventure in Orlando, it’s time for some serious R&R in Miami. It’s just an hour by air, or you can get up early and drive down to the glitziest slice of the Florida coast. South Beach is the Miami you’ll know from movies and TV shows, and Ocean Drive is its most glamorous hotspot, with its pastel-hued Art Deco hotels and the emerald swathe of Lummus Park sitting alongside the pristine sands.

You can bask in the sun, have a game of volleyball with the locals or take a wander along the promenade. But there’s a lot more to a Miami beach escape than South Beach. You can head to Oleta River State Park, nestled on Biscayne Bay, where you can take a ride along the meandering miles of off-road bike trails, or go kayaking through lush forested areas, before going for a dip on the sandy beach. Another must is Sunny Isles Beach, with its wide sandy stretches and its famous fishing pier.

Day 4: Everglades National Park

Monet Alligator, Everglades

Just an hour’s drive from Miami is the other-worldly domain of Everglades National Park. This isn’t so much about beaches as it is about nature at its most untamed. A rich, subtropical wilderness with rivers of foliage, dense mangroves and ancient wetlands that stretch for endless acres. Little wonder that it’s a haven for wildlife watchers, with rare tropical birds, manatees and crocodiles all to be found here.

There are many parts to explore. One of the most popular is Shark Valley, where you can take a guided tram tour along a loop road and get insights into this region, before enjoying soaring vistas from the tall observation tower. You can also take an airboat tour amid the tall grasses, or go kayaking in the thickets.

Day 5: Key West

After delving into the wilderness in the Everglades, it’s time for more beach adventures – this time in Key West, the southernmost part of the state. Getting here is a pleasure in itself, as you’ll be driving on a highway connecting different islands. The route includes the iconic Seven Mile Bridge, with views of the sun-speckled ocean as far as the eye can see.

Once you’re in Key West you can head for one of the beaches. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park has a popular slice of the coast, while South Beach – though small – is also a top spot to hang out and let the sun’s rays do their thing. Key West isn’t just about snoozing on sands, though. You can also enjoy prime diving locations, amid intricate reefs and wrecks, or go for a wander to historic landmarks like the Ernest Hemingway House.

 

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