Your Florida guide
No matter what you're after Florida will have it covered. World class cuisine, art galleries, or something more active our handy guide will tell you the best places to visit.
If you’re considering a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the sunny state of Florida, we can recommend a visit to popular regions such as Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville and Naples. As one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, Orlando is home to multiple attractions and is well worth a visit. It is especially a great destination for families and golfers with some top-class courses.
The beautiful cultural city of Tampa is great for exploring, dining and checking out the excellent golf courses; or for those looking for a real adrenalin rush, Jacksonville is the perfect place to go swimming, surfing and enjoy the incredible nightlife.
With world-class cuisine, trendy nightlife and amazing art galleries, Miami should be on your Florida bucket list. For high-end shops and excellent golf, Naples is the ideal Floridan city.
Fly from the UK with Virgin Atlantic Airways, Airfrance or British Airways in just over 9 hours if flying directly. Flights with one-stop are around 11-12 hours. If you fly with British Airways you'll receive a free golf club carriage.
When to go
The best time to go to Orlando is between March and May when temperatures are high. The weather is overall quite pleasant and flight prices are fair and agreeable.
Winter weather is typically mild and dry with daytime highs around 21 deg C from December to February, but can drop and become chilly and wet occasionally; temperatures in June to Sept temperatures rise to 32° C. Orlando is the ‘Sunshine State’, so make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, and stay hydrated. It is worth remembering however, Orlando has a subtropical climate and the weather can be unpredictable. Expect sunshine and warm temperatures but remember that afternoon rain is common during summer, from May to October.
Orlando activities, beaches and more
Orlando is, of course, well known for its more than a dozen spectacular theme parks. The most famous being Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, 17 miles from downtown Orlando. It boasts two water parks and four theme parks, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Epcot, an exposition-style park is a future world showcase theme park, with an around-the-world experience that gives visitors a chance to experience a little of different cultures. Universal Orlando offers Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, as well as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Orlando also boasts some spectacular waterparks including Seaworld, an aquatic theme park and the popular Discovery Cove. Volcano Bay and Typhoon Lagoon are heated and stay open year-round. About an hour’s drive away is the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex which is excellent for a day trip and is suitable for adventurers of all ages.
Aside from the theme parks, Orlando offers a range of other attractions including art galleries, live theatre and dance productions, historical sites and architecture, luxury malls and botanical gardens. Ecotourism is popular, with many canal-connected lakes, bald-cypress swamps, saltwater marshlands and other natural attractions, which you can explore. For the golf, we recommend Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club in Orlando, a PGA Tour venue with luxurious accommodation and home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
About an hour from Orlando you will find the closest beaches - Cocoa Beach, Canaveral National Seashore and Daytona Beach. Florida’s beautiful west coast beaches, including St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach and Tarpon Springs, are around 2 hours from Orlando.
We recommend dining on the famous Restaurant Row - this 1-mile stretch offers around two-dozen restaurants, from upscale fine dining to casual family-friendly options.
Escape to Tampa
A diverse city on Tampa Bay, Tampa is considered by many to be the hip urban centre of Florida’s Gulf. Tampa is known for its historic Ybor City neighbourhood, Cuban culture, fabulous beaches and sunny skies. The first cigar was rolled in Ybor 132 years ago, the beginning of a long rich tradition. Cuban influences are strong and are exemplified in the Cuban sandwich which makes up part of Tampa’s cultural history.
Just 20 minutes from Tampa’s International Airport and close to the beautiful Lake Tarpon and Clearwater beach, is the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. With four golf courses designed by Lawrence Packard, including the Copperhead course, host to the Valspar Championship, you will be treated to some exceptional golf.
What to do in Tampa:
Visit the Florida Aquarium with over 20,000 aquatic animals and plants, or head to the Glazer Children’s Museum with its hands-on exhibits for children under 12;
Busch Gardens is an exotic African-themed amusement park with thrill rides and animal-viewing areas
Bike, run and discover the Tampa Riverwalk along the stunning Hillsborough River
Experience nature as you zipline, kayak, tackle an outdoor adventure such as paddle boarding, or head for a hike.
Experience the outdoors in Jacksonville
Jacksonville has an incredible selection of golf courses and resorts for a truly memorable golfing vacation, many designed by world-renowned architects. Central Florida offers some of the best layouts. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass an hour and a half from Orlando is considered to be the ultimate golfing challenge. With plenty of museums and cultural offerings, Jacksonville is awash with so much to see and do.
What to do in Jacksonville:
Visit Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Go Swimming and surfing at Jackson Beach and Neptune Beach
Do a Catty Shack Ranch tour
Discover 4-hours of deep-sea fishing
Visit the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
Explore the Little Talbot Island and Big Talbot Island
Discover the sophisticated dining and high-end shops of Naples
Located along Florida’s paradise coast, Naples is a charming city of romance with brightly coloured buildings, swanky bars and restaurants and unspoiled sandy beaches. Bursting with art, culture and lots of boutique shops, Naples has something to suit everyone. One of its most impressive golf courses recommended by us is the Rees Jones designed Parkland, Naples Grande Golf Club-with water hazards and picturesque views of native Floridian pine hammocks.
What to do in Naples:
Visit the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
Explore the Naples Botanical Gardens
Explore Baker Museum
Enjoy some High-end-shopping
Discover Marco Island
Relax on the golden beaches of Miami
With unbelievable sunny weather all-year-long, posh boutiques and chic, stylish rooftop bars, as well as long golden pristine beaches, Miami is Florida’s cosmopolitan hotspot and perfect for a golf vacation of a lifetime. Experience world-class golf at the PGA National Resort and Spa 5* which boasts 5 excellent courses.
What to do in Miami:
Tour some of Miami’s historic buildings Visit Miami Seaquarium Cruise along ‘Millionaires Row’ Explore Everglades Safari Park Walk around Pérez Art Museum Miami Frost Science museum
Many resorts and hotels in Florida will have complimentary round-trip shuttle services to and from the airport.
A good time to visit is during autumn when the summer holiday crowds have died down and the weather is cooler. This is also when the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and Magic Kingdom Halloween Party takes place.
The ride queues for themes parks are much shorter in the evening when its cooler and the spectacular night parades and fireworks take place!
The current state sales tax rate in Florida is 6%.
Remember to visit Daytona or Clearwater beach for some relaxation, as the parks can be tiring.
Tipping: At full-service restaurants throughout the US, tipping is customary at 15 to 20 per cent.
WEATHER (CENTRAL FLORIDA)
Winter weather is typically mild and dry with daytime highs around 21 deg C from December to February, but can drop and become chilly and wet occasionally; temperatures in June to Sept temperatures rise to 32° C. Orlando is the ‘Sunshine State’, so make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, and stay hydrated.