We have such good memories of our trip to Florida a couple of years ago, in fact my son keeps suggesting we go there again and I must admit I’m very tempted. There’s so much to see and do there. With so many choices to make and one of the most important to get right is your accommodation. Location is key, but for us it’s all about flexibility and being able to do our own thing which is why we are looking at villas in Florida rather than hotels for our next trip. Having your own villa means it’s easier to fix your own food to take along with you or even just have exactly what you want for breakfast. You have a lot more flexibility if you do decide to eat out and you can please yourself. You’ll also have more room to spread out and relax than if you were in a hotel room.
Visiting the theme parks is a lot of fun, but there’s a lot more to do in Florida and you don’t need to go near a roller coaster if you don’t want to. One of our favourite attractions is the Kennedy Space Centre. Last time we went to Florida it was our first trip out and it was the best value of all the things we did. In fact, I think to do it all you’d really want two days. I’d suggest going on the coach tour of the complex early on in the day, before the crowds get too much and you have to queue for ages. It’s a great way to get an idea of the scale and the layout.
Make sure that you take in some of the talks and shows through the day. We particularly liked ‘Meet the Astronaut’ and my son was chuffed to be able to answer the question the astronaut asked the audience. It’s great to see some of the rockets and a space shuttle up close as you really get a good idea of the size of the craft. The other part that sticks out in my memory of the day is seeing the control centre for the moon landings and finding out a lot about the history of that time.
One highlight of our trip was taking in a top-class baseball game. In the spring a lot of the teams from across the USA are based in Florida, so that they can do their training and get a little match practice. Many of the teams have training facilities there to take advantage of the better weather and even baseball grounds so they can play competitive matches. You can pick up a ticket for not a lot of money and see one of the big name teams. We took a little while to get to grips with the rules, but we soon got into it and picked a team to cheer on. A hotdog or two along the way adds to the atmosphere and it’s a way of feeling like you’ve had an all-American day out.
Another stand out memory was our air boat trip. We booked up with a guide that came highly recommended and he knew all the best places to see wildlife. We set off and soon spotted some large alligators, both males and females, and were able to get close enough to get a good look. Binoculars are a great way to get an even better view though. Because you are connected up to each other with headphones and microphones, it’s easy for one passenger to let everyone know what he has spotted without causing a disturbance and frightening off the animals. Our boat man was also able to find some baby alligators with their mother for us to take a closer look at. It’s not just alligators too as we spotted other creatures, in particular quite a few different types of bird. We learnt about the history of the site (it was a man made lake) and found out about the local ecosystem.
There are plenty of places that you can find out more about the wildlife and ecology of Florida. We visited a couple of different information centres up and down the coast line and found out more about turtles and manatees. To see manatees, I’d suggest going to Lee County Manatee Park in Fort Myers. This is located opposite Florida Power and Light and the manatees like to take advantage of the warm water discharge canal in the colder winter months.
Whatever else you do in Florida, be sure to get to the beach. We spent time on the Atlantic coast and loved our trips to the ocean. As we were visiting the Treasure Coast, there was the added bonus of being able to enjoy looking for Spanish gold as there have been lots of finds off the coast there as a Spanish treasure ship sank nearby. We didn’t find any sadly, but the thrill was in the thought that we just might stubble across a treasure trove. One way to create some excitement is to visit the McLarty Treasure Museum ahead of your trip to the beach to find out all about the history and the finds that have been made over the years.
As you can see there is plenty to do in Florida without going to a theme park, but I’d recommend going to one or two even if that isn’t usually your thing. You can easily occupy a day in Epcot or Animal Kingdom without going near a scary ride and you’ll have a very enjoyable day out.