Southern Florida, a glorious coastal area lined with a host of famous cities along its eastern seaboard, is a highly popular, entertaining destination with a number of unique and affordable activities.
Fort Lauderdale is a Popular Destination
Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of Florida, is a popular destination for many visitors to this area. There are numerous hotels along A1A (Fort Lauderdale Boulevard) that offer the best location for easy walking access for beach and night life activities. The beaches here are perhaps the city’s true gem. Twenty three miles of pristine, sandy beaches stretch along the Atlantic seaboard, offering chaise lounges, umbrellas, volleyball sites, basketball courts and even workout areas.
Night life along Fort Lauderdale Boulevard has plenty of action and entertainment for those so inclined. Both young and old are attracted to the music, restaurants and festive atmosphere.
Sun Trolleys provide transportation around the city sites, allowing riders to embark and disembark at will.
Excursions in Southern Florida
No trip to S.E. Florida is complete without an excursion to the Everglades. Numerous outings are available, with the Alligator Farm being a top draw. Affordability makes this excursion truly enjoyable. Entry fees include all exhibits and an exhilarating airboat ride through the Everglades. Only a short distance away is Everglades National Park – well worth the jaunt for a hike or bike ride.
While here, consider finishing the day with a trip to Key West, only a two hour drive south. Plan on spending at least one night in this historic, mesmerizing small city. A stroll along the famous Duval Street will take one from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic. En route, a stop can be made at the Southernmost point in the continental U.S.
Tour Ernest Hemingway’s captivating house while here, and visit Hoover’s “Little White House” and other historic sites. Both landmarks are easily accessible on foot, only one block south of Duval Street. There will be too many sites to visit in just a day, which will leave most visitors planning another trip to this fascinating, festive area.
Many people who vacation in this area plan a day excursion to Grand Bahama. Reservations for this trip aboard a Discovery Line vessel can be made at most hotels or online. The roundtrip tickets include meals and entertainment aboard the small ship. State rooms are also available if needed.
Other Attractions in Fort Lauderdale Area
Naturally, there’s a zoo, Jungle Island, Monkey World, Flamingo Gardens, malls, flea markets, and a host of other attractions, like Hugh Taylor Birch State Park where visitors can rent canoes, bikes or just walk paths through the dense, lush vegetation. Tourist maps clearly show these locations, most of which will require vehicular transportation to get to.
There are many interesting museums in the area, from the Bonnet House, which was artist Frederic Bartlett’s estate, located on Fort Lauderdale Boulevard, as is the Internation Swimming Hall of Fame, to the Vizcaya House located in Miami.
Golf courses, casinos and fishing excursions are readily available, so everyone will be able to find something entertaining to do in this area.
Best Florida Vacations are in Panama City Beach
Although the t-shirt shops, seafood dives and bars advertising beer and daiquiris still line Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach on the Northwest Florida gulf coast has taken a decided turn toward the family vacation market. With many tourist attractions that hearken back to old-time Florida vacations, including Gulf World Marine Park, and new upscale shops and hotels, this beach resort town is actively seeking family vacationers.
Panama City Beach Tourist Attractions
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum – 9907 Front Beach Road, 850-230-6113. Looking like a shipwreck in the middle of Front Beach Road, the U. S. S. Ripley has the usual displays of Ripley oddities and offers two 4D movies that have viewers reeling down a mine shaft or tearing through the cosmos at breakneck speed.
Gulf World Marine Park – 15412 Front Beach Road, 850-234-5271. For decades, Gulf World Marine Park has been a Florida vacation staple, offering daily shows that include the dolphin show, the sea lion show, the All-American High Diving Show and the Magic of Noah Wells show. Gulf World also offers swim with dolphins programs and serves as the area coordinator for the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
Shipwreck Island – 12201 Middle Beach Road, 850-234-3333. This is the place for water park fun. Dive into the “shipwreck” pool, float on the lazy river, or hang on for dear life on the “white knuckle river.” The Ocean Motion Wave Pool, Tree Top Drop and the Pirate’s Plunge are just the beginning.
Coconut Creek Family Fun Park – 9807 Front Beach Road, 850- 234-2625. Two 18-hole miniature golf courses wind their way over bridges and around waterfalls of the man-made “Good Luck Lake.” Explorers can test their navigational skills in the Gran Maze, themed after the South Pacific explorer Captain Cook.
Upscale Shopping at Pier Park
Across Front Beach Road from the Gulf of Mexico and the Dan Russell Pier is the newest shopping venue on the Northwest Florida gulf coast. Pier Park offers one million square feet of upscale shopping and entertainment venues. Stores include Dillard’s, JC Penny, Sunglass Hut, Target, Hollister’s, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Victoria’s, Secret Coldwater Creek and Ann Taylor Loft.
Restaurants include Guy Harvey’s Island Grill, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Olive Garden, Gugliemo’s Italian Grill, Red Brick Pizza, and Back Porch Seafood and Oyster Bar. There are also rides and activities over near the Grand Theatre including the refurbished 1964 30-horse carousel that once graced the Miracle Strip Amusement Park.
Panama City Beach Hotels and Resorts
Holiday Day Inn SunSpree Resort – 11127 Front Beach Road, 850-230-4080. Family friendly and right on the beach, this hotel offers supervised kids’ activities and a free kids club as well as grown-up activities like a martini lounge, and a poolside tiki bar.
Beachcomber by the Sea – 17101 Front Beach Road, 850-233-3600. This beachfront hotel offers a heated, gulf-front pool, gulf-front accommodations with private balconies and fully-equipped kitchens, and is within walking distance of the Pier Park shopping and entertainment complex.
Tidewater Beach Resort – 16819 Front Beach Road, 850-636-8000. Beachfront and near Pier Park, this resort offers one, two and three-bedroom condo units, all with fully equipped kitchen, walk-in closets, washer/dryers and spectacular views of the Gulf.
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