Donna S. Vieira
According to TripAdvisor, Florida is the state with the most things to see and do. Add in hundreds of miles of beaches and the Everglades, and it’s easy to see why the Sunshine State continues to draw visitors to its sandy shores year-round. Every year introduces new attractions, museums and experiences—especially in the Orlando area, the nation’s top destination for fun and adventure. While Disney, SeaWorld and other amusement parks throughout Florida deliver endless excitement, staying at a resort hotel can be expensive. It’s important to find ways to save money. One solution is to book a vacation rental, complete with full kitchen, dining room, outdoor patio and grill and plenty of space for your family to enjoy. It also encourages you to explore the surrounding area in new and exciting ways.
We’re all familiar with Florida’s long list of award-winning beaches, theme parks and golf courses, but the Sunshine State has so much more to offer those who are willing to expand their boundaries and challenge common-held beliefs about this state.
There are 67 counties to explore in Florida and each one offers adventures and opportunities that cannot be experienced elsewhere in the state. As you travel throughout the peninsula, you’ll soon realize each county has its own artistic and cultural soul, often summarized in descriptive monikers, such as the Emerald Coast, the Forgotten Coast, the Paradise Coast, the Historic Coast, the Space Coast, the Cultural Coast, the Treasure Coast, the Manatee Capital of the World and others.
I encourage you to seek out and truly experience the “other side” of Florida. Stroll through local farmers’ markets and talk to the vendors. Take in a college or professional sporting event. Swim with the manatees—an experience you’ll never forget. Paddle through mangroves or along rivers in Florida’s state parks, national forests and preserves. Hike or cycle along countless trails. Attend a stage performance, outdoor concert or festival. Go deep-sea fishing. Visit art galleries and museums. Sample local craft beers and wines. Tour Native American sites to learn more about their history, culture and traditions. Book an airboat excursion through the Everglades. Go horseback riding along a beach. Drive the backroads, stopping in at small towns along the way. Challenge your taste buds with ’gator nuggets and conchinspired dishes.
If you do, I promise you a richer Florida experience and a deep desire to return and embark on new discoveries. There’s no end to what you’ll find.