Soak up the Sunshine State with Florida holidays
Swaying palms, warm sands, miles of blue ocean – no, it doesn't get much better than a trip to Florida.
The aptly named Sunshine State is home to some of the world’s most celebrated theme parks and the idyllic beaches of Miami and the Gulf Coast. You’ll find wetlands brimming with rare and protected wildlife, as well as mangrove islands and semi-tropical swamps. Trips to Florida are a world away from the everyday.
Let’s take a look at some of Florida’s most exciting destinations.
Explore Miami on your trip to Florida
Miami lives up to its reputation for sun-soaked glamour. Time to whip out those glad rags and head to the stylish beach bars. And on Ocean Drive you’ll find a whole range of celebrated cafes, shops and restaurants. Here’s our shortlist of must-sees for your Miami holiday:
- Beaches: Been dreaming of white sand between your toes and the kiss of a warm breeze? Miami is home to some of Florida's most impressive beaches. Pack your swimming gear, sun lotion and a good book and head down to South Beach and Art Deco District for laid-back vibes and famous views.
- Shopping: Miami is a haven for retail therapy. Check out the Miracle Mile (you’ll find it in the heart of the Coral Cables) or Bal Harbour – there’s a luxurious selection of designer boutiques here, as well as some elegant restaurants, so make sure you work up an appetite.
- Nightlife: Couples and groups will love Miami’s nightlife. When the sun goes down, head to South Beach. It’s studded with bars and nightclubs featuring some of the world’s most famous DJs. Or try Nikki Beach Miami on Ocean Drive, which is both a sophisticated eatery and a nightclub.
- Where to stay: The Fontainebleau is the height of celebrity, having hosted Elvis, Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Roger Moore also visited, with the hotel featuring in the 007 film Goldfinger. The ultramodern W South Beach is great for couples, with luxury cabanas, the Bliss spa and award-winning Mr Chow Chinese restaurant.
Discover the Florida Keys
Did you know that the Florida Keys consists of over 1,700 islands? The star of the show is undoubtedly the ocean; embrace a slower pace of life as you take in pristine beaches, protected coral reefs and a range of water sports. Here are a few of the things that are waiting for you with our Florida package holidays:
- Marine life: Key Largo is where you’ll find the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Take a tour on a glass-bottom boat, and spend the day spotting the colourful marine life beneath you. If you want to dip your toe into scuba diving, check out Dry Tortugas and see if you can spot historic shipwrecks.
- Natural beauty: For 360-degree ocean views, you can’t miss the Seven Mile Bridge, arguably the most recognisable attraction in the Florida Keys. Start in Duck Key and drive over the bridge to Key West. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more scenic place to watch the sun go down.
- Lively towns: In Key West, you’ll also find a grid of quaint streets lined with inviting restaurants and bars, as well as one of Hemingway’s former homes. Head to the waterfront to try some local craft beers.
- Where to stay: The Casa Marina Resort and Beach Club, Waldorf Astoria is Key West's original grand resort, with vast swimming pools and the largest fitness centre in the area. Hawks Cay on Duck Key is great for those who love the water – surrounded by the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the resort offers fishing, diving and watersports.
Don’t miss Orlando on your Florida holiday
Orlando is the home of magic. Fun-loving families have the choice of six internationally celebrated Disney theme parks at the incredible Walt Disney World Resort. Get ready for the holiday of a lifetime – the kids won’t forget this in a hurry (and we don’t think you will either). Here’s your definitive list of must-dos:
- Theme parks: Orlando isn’t dubbed the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’ for nothing. At Universal Studios Florida™, the movies come to life – perfect for Harry Potter™ fans and thrill-seekers. At Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, check out adrenaline-fuelled rides like Splash Mountain or introduce the kids to their favourite Disney characters.
- Nature highlights: When you’ve had your fill of rides, take advantage of Orlando’s beautiful natural scenery. The spectacular Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve is ten minutes by car from Walt Disney World Resort, but feels like it’s miles away. The peaceful pine woods and wetlands are perfect for a relaxing day out (extra points if you spot a tortoise!).
- Where to stay: If you want to be in the centre of the action, then staying on-site’s the way to go. At Universal Orlando Resort™ each hotel is within walking distance or a complimentary shuttle ride away from the three Universal theme parks and the Universal CityWalk™ entertainment complex. Over in Walt Disney World Resort, Polynesian Village is just moments away from the Magic Kingdom Park by monorail.
Alternatively, off-site hotels are ideal for a relaxing location with easy access to both the parks and Orlando itself. Vista Cay Resort is situated next to International Drive, meaning you’re a stone’s throw from restaurants, bars and shops. The Red Lion Hotel Orlando is located in Kissimmee, just half a mile from Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park – perfect for little ones who can’t wait to witness the magic.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, you can relax just 30 minutes from both resorts in your own villa at The Balmoral at Water’s Edge, with access to a friendly clubhouse, pool area and even a kayaking lake.
Experience the beauty of Florida’s coastline
For those seeking serenity, Florida’s Gold Coast and Gulf Coast will feel like paradise. As well as some of the world’s most impressive beaches, there are a whole host of outdoor activities to try out. Check out our highlights for some inspiration:
- Beaches: On the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater is the ultimate spot for relaxing. If you fancy trying something new, pump up the adrenaline with a range of water sports, from surfing to diving. Or stretch your legs by exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding area on a hike. Otherwise, head to the Atlantic shoreline for the famous sands of Daytona Beach, known for its boardwalk and pier with numerous arcades, as well as the renowned Speedway NASCAR races in February. For surfing fans, you can’t go wrong with Cocoa Beach, situated just an hour’s drive from Orlando.
- Eating and drinking: Seafood lovers shouldn’t miss Pier 60 in Clearwater. Freshly caught seafood has never tasted so good – especially when enjoyed in the sunshine. Wandering around Wandering around St Almonds Circle in Sarasota with its collection of individual boutiques, family run restaurants and relaxing coffee shops is a relaxing (and delicious) way to spend an afternoon too. Make sure you sample the mangoes.
- Where to stay: The Sheraton Sand Key is made for beach lovers, with a stunning location right on what’s been voted one of America’s top ten beaches. Don’t miss the fresh salads and soups at the hotel’s Island Grill. La Playa Beach Resort Naples is perfect if you want to treat yourself, with stunning views over the Gulf of Mexico and a luxurious in-house spa.
Florida has it all: sun, sea, sand, not to mention the incredible seafood, thrilling theme parks and abundance of natural beauty. Your unforgettable holiday starts here – find out more about Florida hotels with Virgin Holidays.