Top Winter Destinations in Florida
A little vitamin D is good for the soul, and a week of warmth in the Sunshine State should leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face the cold front on the home front.
Nature enthusiasts will want to check out the Florida Everglades National Park. The park encompasses over a million acres of rivers and grassy wetlands and is designed, in part, to protect Florida’s fragile ecosystem. Here you’ll find several endangered species of plants and animals. Whether you’re a conservationist interested in a pet science project or a photographer looking for new, organic subjects, the Everglades is a must-see, especially for people who live in the city.
Hit up Ocean Drive for shopping and nightlife. Or try South Beach for the hottest nightclubs in the U.S. Dance the night away or grab a spot outside to watch the Beautiful People walk by. During the day, shop til you drop. There are several shopping centers that cater to every budget and style. Browse through the shops on Ocean Drive, or for a more upscale experience, head to Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile, one of the top U.S. shopping destinations, and put a real dent in your pocketbook. Be sure to make room for the Design District where the home décor and furnishings will brighten up your pad.
If you have kids,or are just a kid at heart, head to Orlando, home of Walt Disney World. Even if you only visited theme parks during your stay in Orlando, most likely, you still wouldn’t get to them all. Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld Orlando, and Islands of Adventure, to name a few, will keep you amused for days.
If amusement parks aren’t your thing, take advantage of being on the “Space Coast” and tour the Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station -all within reach. Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center is one of the country’s largest and attracts groups from all over the world. Plan a weekend seminar or corporate retreat in Orlando. Rent a vacation estate large enough to comfortably fit your whole company or department – an excellent idea for team-building both on and off the clock.
Getting close to the equator without stamping your passport is no small feat – unless you hightail it to the Florida Keys. With eighty-degree temperatures in the fall and plummeting to 70 degree weather during the winter, Key West is where you want to be to escape the snow in your town. Don’t get too worried about overheating – the cool ocean breezes make up for the constant sunshine.
Key West is a haven for people who like water sports. Charter a fishing boat or yacht for some deep sea fishing. Catch a glimpse of the underwater world with a snorkeling trip or tour nearby shipwrecks if you’re a seasoned scuba fiver. And of course, don’t forget more low key activities like jet-skiing, sailing, and swimming by the beach. The Southernmost Point– a huge buoy marking the 90 mile point from the exiled island of Cuba – makes for a great photo op.
Have you often wished you could discover the Fountain of Youth? Travel to St. Augustine, America’s oldest European city founded in 1565, and see if Ponce de Leon’s fabled waters can really wash away those extra years. If you’re still feeling spry, check out the several golf and tennis courts in the area and play a game or too in Northern Florida’s perfect year-round weather.
St. Augustine was also an important site during the civil rights movement of the 60’s. Take a break from the city’s beaches to visit the unique Lightner Museum. The museum features several whimsical items, from shrunken heads and mummies to and extensive collection of crystal and stained glass.
While perhaps not as exotic as its Italian counterpart, Naples, Florida makes a great escape from the winter chill. Naples is known for its challenging gold courses, its diverse selection of upscale shopping and a thriving local art scene. A town that relies as heavily on tourism as Naples has plenty of activities to keep the average traveler occupied.
Play a round of golf in the morning on one of the challenging and well kept golf courses and find out why Naples has been called the Golf Capital of the World. During the afternoon, get started on some shopping at the Village on Venetian Bay, an upscale open air mall located downtown. To soak up some local culture, browse through the art galleries that dot Gallery Row and learn about the area’s emerging artists.