Florida isn’t known as the Sunshine State for nothing! It boasts a fantastic climate, hot during the summer months and warm in winter. From May to October the weather is pretty predictable with temperatures in the high 80’s along the coast, dropping to the high 70’s at night. Humidity can be very high but this drops significantly during the winter although temperatures still remain in the 60’s! Snow is very rare in Florida but tropical storms are not with short outbursts of afternoon rain a regular feature from June through to November and to some a welcome opportunity to cool off!
The water sports
Florida’s warm waters are perfect for sailing and boating all year round with watery adventures including diving, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing, wake boarding, kite surfing and windsurfing (the latter particularly good at Daytona). Key Largo is known as the ‘Diving Capital of the World’ and features North America’s only living coral barrier reef complete with colourful marine life and shipwrecks. Dolphin encounters are another popular pastime or you can swim with manatees at picturesque Crystal River. Indeed, with 7,800 lakes, 320 springs and 35 rivers as well as 8,500 miles of coastline, you can’t really get away from the blue stuff! If you’re interested in surfing, the Atlantic coast is your best option. The Gulf coast, however, is warmer, so, if the weather’s slightly cooler, that’s the place to be!
Eats and drinks
All Florida’s coastal resorts and cities boast a fantastic range of restaurants to suit every taste and budget. Being close to the sea, fish and seafood is of course always on the menu, with catch of the day including yellow fin tuna and dolphin – don’t fret if you see the latter though, it’s the fish, not the mammal and is also known as mahi-mahi! In Key West, don’t forget to try the Key West Pink Shrimp followed by a slice of Key Lime Pie, their most famous desert!
The Suncoast Beach Trolley is ideal for touring the Gulf beaches and runs from Clearwater to Passa- Grille – up to 3 children aged 5 or under ride free with an adult and trolleys arrive every 20-30 minutes between approx 5am-10pm. If staying in Naples, the Naples Trolley Tour is also highly recommended, exploring 100 points of interest and swiftly helping you get your bearings! Fort Lauderdale is known as the ‘Venice of America’ with 85 miles of navigable waterways, so what better way to explore than by water taxi with an all day pass? If you’ve hired a car, Florida’s roads are wide and relatively simple to navigate with a sensible speed limit. One of the sights to see whilst on the road is the 7 mile bridge to the Keys, flanked on both sides by the ocean, it’s unforgettable!
The sunsets in this part of the world truly are spectacular, so much so that in Key West and Clearwater there are nightly parties to celebrate them! The crowds gather a couple of hours before dusk to enjoy live music, craft stalls and street performers. As twilight approaches, everyone pauses to enjoy Mother Nature’s scene stealer, then it’s back to partying into the night!
Some resorts boast nightlife that is hot, hot, hot, whilst others are decidedly more low-key. As you might expect, Miami sizzles at night with some achingly hip bars, restaurants and nightclubs in downtown and South Beach, where you can dance the night away to a Latin beat! Daytona also comes alive once the sun sets with plenty of venues to tempt you, including Razzles with its huge dance floor and Ocean Deck, playing live reggae right on the ocean front. There’s plenty of dining, dancing and fun to be had after dark in Clearwater and St Pete’s but if you want a more relaxing evening, lingering over a cocktail and a delicious meal, Sanibel, Naples and Marco Island are ideal.
Pardon the pun – but we think Florida’s Gulf coast should be renamed the ‘Golf Coast’! Resorts such as Clearwater, St Petersburg, Sanibel, Naples and Fort Myers boast an incredible number of golf courses from world-class resorts to affordable municipal courses. At resorts such as Raptor Bay Golf Club – set between Naples and Fort Myers and boasting 200 acres of wetlands – you’re also treated to some fantastic scenery and wildlife whilst playing. Atlantic coast beach resorts have plenty to offer too with Daytona home to at least 20 public access courses including the Legends Course at LPGA International and Grand Haven at Palm Coast. Miami and Fort Lauderdale also have courses galore and on the Keys, Key West Golf Club enjoys a setting that is second to none.
If you can tear yourself away from the ocean, Florida’s beach resorts have some great shopping to get your teeth into. At Clearwater and St Pete’s you could spend your entire time shopping and not manage it all! As well as malls aplenty there are quaint waterfront villages such as Baywalk and the Pier with antique shops, speciality boutiques and local artwork to admire. Historic St Augustine also has an eclectic range of shops to browse in whilst further down the coast in Daytona, Beach Street is home to Angell & Phelp’s Chocolate Factory, where they’ve been making goodies for 75 years! Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami are renowned for fabulous shopping and between them is Sawgrass Mills – the world’s largest designer mall – where you’re bound to find a bargain or two!
Great for families
Everywhere in Florida welcomes families but some beach resorts have the edge when it comes to keeping every age range entertained. Clearwater and St Pete’s are two such resorts, they’ve got top-rated beaches, fun nature outings, great museums and the added bonus of being only 2 hours from Orlando and the theme parks. Sanibel also has wonderfully unspoilt beaches with shallow waters great for tots – other activities include biking, boating, weekly crab races and shelling. Daytona has no shortage of beach fun for all the family with the Atlantic Ocean great for swimming, especially in spring and summer when it warms up to around 80 degrees! It’s also just an hour away from Orlando and closer still to the Kennedy Space Centre which will fascinate budding astronauts!
Virgin Holidays is truly worldwide so as well as USA and Caribbean we offer holidays to Canada, the Far East, South Africa, the Middle East, Indian Ocean, Mauritius, New Zealand and Australia, plus a well-established ski programme, so we can find your ideal destination.