Friday, 21 September 2012

Flitting our way around the sunshine state - Florida.

We were finally in the Sunshine State and here we planned to hit 3 destinations. There are so many things to do in Florida and as it was approaching Christmas we decided to have a little respite from the hectic travelling and base ourselves here for a few weeks, 10 days of which would be spent in Orlando for Christmas and New Year.

First up was West Palm Beach. Drenched in sunshine and situated on the Atlantic coast in Southeastern Florida, some beach time was long overdue!

On the way to the beach, an older guy stopped on his golf cart and offered us a ride the rest of the way. We gladly accepted and sat back while he regaled us with stories of his life in West Palm Beach.

Next was the tropical Florida Keys where we based ourselves in Key Largo. An island in the upper Florida Keys, Key Largo is 33 miles long and calls itself 'Diving capital of the world.' Whilst there, we went on a snorkelling trip which was well worth doing as there were lots of colourful fish to see.

We met some great people there including a diving instructor who took us for a night out in Key West where we hit up Duval Street and had a great time! Check us out at the most sourthenmost point in the US:

We moved on to Miami, home of sun soaked beaches, happening nightlife and beautiful people! Miami has hot and humid summers and warm winters - pretty perfect in my book! We took a land and sea tour in Miami to give us a good overview of the city before we went out to explore on our own. The tour drove us all over the city and pointed out the stunning art deco buildings such as the hotel from the movie 'Scarface':

And Gianni Versace's mansion where he was tragically shot on the front steps:

Exploring Little Havana was fascinating as we stopped for a Cuban sandwich and watched the old guys play dominoes and cards. Little Havana is home to a large number of Cuban immigrants as well as residents from Central and South America.

The tour continued to the Fountain of Youth and the Venetian pool, a historic public swimming pool. Created from an old coral rock quarry, it derives its name from the Venetian Lagoon in Venice, Italy. It looked so inviting for a refreshing dip.

Next was the historic Biltmore hotel. It was designated a national historic landmark in 1996 and has appeared in the media in the film 'Bad Boys' and the television series 'CSI: Miami.'

For the 'sea' part of the tour we transferred to a boat and sailed around Star Island, a celebrity hotspot. Star Island is a man made island in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Celebrities who own houses here include Will Smith, Shaquille O'Neal and Sylvester Stallone.

South Beach, also known as SoBe is a major entertainment destination with boutiques, nightclubs and restaurants filling the area. Ocean Drive is the easternmost street in South Beach and is home to several prominent restaurants including 'Mango's.'

The sunshine state offers so much diversity from the tropical oasis of the Keys to the urban metropolis of Miami, there really is something for everyone here.

Next post will reveal the second part of our stay in Florida celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve.

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