State Guide: Florida

February 2020 was spent in Florida because I love the sunshine and British winter weather is not my thing. Whist I have been to Miami before, I hadn’t been on a chillaxing holiday to the rest of Florida. Miami was spent at Ultra festival, so yeah partying! This was a very relaxing trip before the world shut down.

How many nights: 14

How we got there: Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester Airport to Orlando International Airport

Where we stayed: We stayed in an Airbnb in the gated community Providence, Davenport. The good thing about Airbnb’s in a gated community means you usually will have access to the facilities such as the golf course, larger pool, activities, included in your Airbnb cost.

Car Hire: Hired a car via Alamo (I use Alamo when I go to the States – California included – as they are reputable, the cars are good and they don’t add any extra costs on arrival. I usually book my car hire via Expedia. Parking is easy and mostly free.

Weather: We were there from the 1st February until the 15th February and it was on average about 26 degrees. Some days hotter. I spent most of the trip in cycling shorts and tees. Didn’t really need a jacket – it even stayed warm in the evenings.

Things to do

Firstly, if you are planning on going to Disneyworld then I would recommend you book it before you get to Florida. You can get really good deals where you get the park tickets included in your hotel stay, which is much cheaper than buying tickets when you arrive in Orlando. You could do a week at the parks and then get an AirBnB in Orlando and go explore the beaches.

Beaches, Walks and Nature

Kissimmee Lakefront Park was really close to where we stayed in Davenport so it made for a nice day visit. There’s a lot to do there if you want to get some fresh air but still relax – there’s really nice areas for picnics, a fishing pier, a lighthouse, plenty of places to walk and of course really nice lake Toho views.

Shingle Creek Regional Park is a great walking area, especially if you are driving through the larger shopping area in the area. It is largely a woodland area – watch out for the lizards as there are plenty about!

Disney Boardwalk is a must even if you don’t go to Disneyworld. There is a lot to do here such as taking a nice, long relaxing, and scenic walk along the broad walk – there is an arcade, Disney mini-museum and plenty of shops and restaurants – Ample Hills Creamery is a must-visit for some lush ice cream! There are live street entertainers during the day and you can take a nice boat ride which is fun and free to do.

Sarasota is somewhere to visit if you fancy venturing further afield and outside of the Orlando sphere then you can make the 2 and a half-hour drive to Siesta Key beach. I would recommend staying in Sarasota for a weekend and spending more time here. We did a day trip to Siesta Key beach so didn’t really make the most of it. Siesta Key is probably one of the nicer beaches in Florida, although I don’t agree with it being ranked the #1 beach in the United States – I’ve been to Hawaii and the beaches there are 10 times better. It’s still nice though if you want to have some beach time. Parking at Siesta Key beach is free and easy to find.

Tampa Bay is another area of Florida that you hear a lot about and we made the drive there. Again, it’s about 2 hours from Orlando so perhaps better to get an Airbnb there and spend a few days – Busch Gardens is in this area, so there’s quite a bit to explore. We went a few times, for various reasons, including visiting New Tampa, some of the walking trails, and the Hindu Temple of Florida – which even if you are not religious is worth a visit, the architecture is amazing and it’s really peaceful.

Shopping

I love shopping in America, I usually buy my clothes and trainers from the States as you get way better styles and you save money. Naturally, I had to make time to shop, I went to various shopping areas in and around Orlando but if you are looking to get some bargains I would recommend you make a visit to Orlando’s International Premium Outlet Malls – the Adidas and Nike outlet here was great. I got some great trainers at bargain prices!

Another place to visit is Disney Springs. It’s great to go in the evening or if you have a few hours to spare in the afternoon. There are loads of cool shops and a great pop gallery, as well as plenty of entertainment.

So yep, that’s most of the main things I got up to in Florida. It was a very relaxing holiday, compared to my usual jam packed trips and I would 100% go to the state again. I can see why it’s called the Sunshine state – the weather is great, people are friendly and it’s just an overall nice relaxing trip.

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