Year-round sunshine, 825 miles of beaches and world-class family attractions make Florida holidays top of the list for families and couples alike. In fact, it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations on the planet! At the heart of the Sunshine State, you’ll find Orlando; the theme park capital of the world, and the home of some of the region’s best shopping centres. Journey south to experience the famous palm tree-lined boulevards and swanky celebrity hotspots of Miami. Just off Florida’s south coast lies the tropical island of Key West, where you can spot dolphins in their natural habitat. To experience the great outdoors, head for The Everglades national park; it’s perfect for hiking, kayaking and wildlife watching.
It’s called the Sunshine State for a good reason; temperatures range from mid-teens to the low-30s all year round.
8-9 hours from the UK.
If you’re heading to Orlando, you’ll land at either Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is 19km south-east of Orlando, or Sanford Airport (SFB), which is 43km north-east of Orlando.
Experience the magic of Disney by spending a few days exploring Walt Disney World Resort. Magic Kingdom® is the main park; it’s where little (and not so little) ones can fly with Dumbo, meet Disney princesses and ride the legendary Space Mountain. The hot Florida sunshine calls for some cooling off time, and luckily for you Disney has plenty of water parks to its name; head to Blizzard Beach for high-speed water slides, or how about Typhoon Lagoon to experience the world’s biggest outdoor wave pool?
Take your holiday to the next level at Universal Orlando Resort™. With three incredible theme parks (that’s Universal Studios Florida™, Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, and Universal’s Volcano Bay™), plus on-site hotels, endless fun for all the family awaits. An hour’s drive north of Orlando, you’ll discover the Kennedy Space Centre; it’s out of this world. Here you’ll learn about America’s space programme and see where NASA’s rockets are built.
Walt Disney World has four fun-packed theme parks in total, featuring everything from white-knuckle rides to family-friendly shows. Kids won’t be able to contain their excitement in the Magic Kingdom®, where they can get up close to their favourite Disney characters. Meanwhile, older children will have an absolute blast riding the Space Mountain rollercoaster.
Calling all movie buffs: how about a trip to Universal Orlando Resort™? It’s made up of two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), complete with all kinds of attractions and shows based on the studio’s famous movies.
Water slides, wave pools and thrilling rides; you’ll find all this and more at Disney’s Blizzard Beach in Lake Buena Vista. This is not your average water park; in fact, it’s designed to look like a ski resort, with its ski jump-style toboggan runs, melting ice caps and even a skit lift to take you up high. Daredevils won’t be able to resist the 12-storey drop at Summit Plummet and the thrilling raft ride at Teamboat Springs. It’s all ready and waiting for you to enjoy.
Over at Universal Orlando Resort™, you can live the carefree island life at Universal’s Volcano Bay™. Slap on the sun cream and head for this all-new water theme park, which is absolutely drenched in adventure. There are no queues here; the fun starts right away when you head for the swirling waterslides, lazy rivers or the zippy aqua coasts that takes you through the Krakatau volcano. It’s just a few steps away from Universal Orlando Resort™.
Kennedy Space Center
It’s practically impossible to talk about Florida’s history without mentioning the Kennedy Space Center, which you’ll find over at Cape Canaveral. This was the home of the 1968 space race mission, and hundreds of rocket ships have launched from here over the decades including the first successful moon landing.
Your mission starts at the visitor complex, which is a hub of history and a hive of activity. Watch footage from previous missions and hop on board the simulators feel a blast-off for yourself. With plenty of interactive zones for the kids, it’s a fun day out for the whole family.
For access to all areas of the gateway to space, why not take a trip aboard the Kennedy Space Center bus? This 45-minutes tour gives you behind-the-scenes access to NASA’s spaceflight facilities. If you’re lucky enough to visit Florida around the time of a launch, head for the nearby Sidney Fischer Park a prime view of take-off.
Looking for designer pieces at rock-bottom prices? Orlando Premium Outlets® on International Drive will be right up your street. Forget clambering through endless sales racks; here you’ll wander through a peaceful Mediterranean-style village filled with upmarket designer shops. Shopping has never been so relaxing.
Sawgrass Mills near Miami is another place to pick up a bargain or two (or three); in fact, it’s one of the finest places in Florida to find your perfect cut-price pieces. This is the biggest designer outlet in the US, and you’ll have no problem finding beautiful, high-end items across 350 stores.
Just a few minutes’ drive from Universal Orlando Resort™ lies the Mall at Millennia; it’s a super sophisticated shopping centre with a mix of affordable high street names, stylish department stores and high-end designer boutiques. Disney fans should head over to Downtown Disney, where you’ll find everything from unique pieces of Disney art to fantastical Christmas decorations.
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FLORIDA HOLIDAY RESORTS
HOLIDAYS IN FLORIDA
Safety and Security
For up to date advice on travelling to Florida, please visit USA travel advice
Florida is best for
Little ones:Florida holidays really can make dreams come true. 15 theme parks await, including Disney’s Magic Kingdom®, where you can meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse, ride the teacups, and get your picture taken outside Cinderella’s Castle.
Shoppers:Grab a bargain at Orlando Premium Outlets®, or pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir at Downtown Disney.
Teenagers:Experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando Resort™. Ride the Hogwarts™ Express between King's Cross Station in Universal Studios Florida™ and Hogsmeade™ Station in Universal's Islands of Adventure™. It’s just magical.
Kids:With all our Orlando package holidays of seven nights or more, kids aged 11 and under receive their own Kids Eat Free card, valid in over 100 restaurants throughout Orlando. Find instructions on how to redeem the voucher within your travel documents.
Language:The language spoken is English.
Currency:The currency used is the US Dollar ($).
Local time:Florida is 5 hours behind GMT/UK time.
Fly to:Orlando International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport. Transfers to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale are between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours.
Flight time from UK:The flight time to Florida is 9 hours.
Tourist Information: Further Florida tourist information can be found at www.visitflorida.com
Visa and health:Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Florida.
Weather and climate
Yes, the Sunshine State really does remain sun-soaked all year round. Long, hot summers and mild winters make Florida holidays perfect for all seasons, with temperatures climbing to 33°C. Bear in mind that sudden rain and storms are common between June and September, so remember to pack a brolly. To avoid the big crowds (especially in the theme parks), book your visit in spring or autumn.
By hire car:Hiring a car will help you get the most of out your holiday. Don’t forget that Florida has more toll roads (often called turnpikes) than any other US state, costing anything from 25 cents to a few dollars.
By trolley bus: The I-Drive trolley bus is a convenient way to get around the 23km stretch known as International Drive, with its shops, restaurants and attractions.
By resort bus:If you’re staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ll have access to free buses that will take you to all Disney parks. It couldn’t be simpler.
For yachters:The Miami International Boat Show is one of the biggest annual events in the state, with 3,000 boats docking at the marinas every February. It’s your chance to mingle with Miami’s most glamorous citizens as you admire extravagant powerboats and luxurious yachts.
High speed: The historic Daytona 500 takes place early in the year; it’s the most popular motor race in America, and it’s guaranteed to thrill.
Halloween: In October, Walt Disney World Resort holds kid-friendly Halloween parties, complete with spooky parades and spectacular fireworks.
Santavisits Florida: Disney’s Magic Kingdom® feels even more enchanted at Christmas. There’s a snow-sprinkled Main Street USA, festive music to get you in the spirit, and a very special visitor; the kids are sure to remember Mickey Mouse dressed as Santa forever.