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Things to do in Florida and surrounding area

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Jan 21st, 2014, 10:39 AM
  #1
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Things to do in Florida and surrounding area

We are arriving in Miami in April and going to have 2 weeks to do tourist stuff. We were thinking of a week in the Everglades, and a week elsewhere. I was looking for suggestions for a visit /road tour that would fit into the time frame. We are in our sixties, and not fond of theme parks. Looking at a map it looks like New Orleans and Atlanta may be a bit far. I know it's a bit of a value question, but any ideas would be very welcome.
Thanks.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 10:43 AM
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There is really no where to "spend a week in the Everglades.
Just take boat tour for one day to get a feel for the Everglades. You can arrange that when you are in Miami.
When you talk about going other places are you talking about flying, driving, etc. Where are you coming from?
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Jan 21st, 2014, 10:45 AM
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"a week in the Everglades"

A week in the everglades seems like a bit much, there is a lot more to south Florida than just the everglades.

You could do a trip up the coast and see Kennedy Space Center, St. Augustine, and Savannah GA.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 11:19 AM
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A day in the everglades is really all you can do.

It would help to know your interests.

Fl has a host of great beaches - from trendy South Beach to family friendly places. Also the Keys are fascinating. If you want history head to St Augustine - our oldest settlement - or up the coast to visit Savannah or even Charleston.

BUT - when are you coming?

How will you travel - I think you'll really need to rent a car to do much.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 12:21 PM
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And, to counter gmoney's suggestion, you could also drive along Florida State Road A1A to see all the beach towns on the West coast of Florida. But, I think I'd spend a few days in Key West if I was already in Miami.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_State_Road_A1A
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Jan 21st, 2014, 01:20 PM
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Two weeks: look up these places in a guide book or even begin with Wikipedia. Figure out what you want to do and assign a number of days to it. There's your trip. All of these places are a couple or three hours apart, though Key West to Naples is 5 hours behind the wheel

Miami, Coral Gables, Miami Beach
Everglades, Key Largo (if you snorkel) Islamorada, Key West
US 41 across Everglades, Naples, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island
Sarasota, Siesta Key, Sunshine Skyway, St Petersburg, fly out of Tampa

New Orleans is a 12 hour drive, minimum, from Miami assuming you don't stop anywhere. Atlanta is 10, and then where are you?

You are not planning to drive back to Miami to fly home, are you? Even from Tampa, that is a good part of a day. Florida is vast. And highway A1A is on the East Coast.. You need to look at Google or Bing maps with a guidebook in hand and plot out how much you can reasonably expect to do.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 06:25 PM
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Many thanks for all these comments guys. I did realise how vague the question was, but wasn't quite sure where to start (a bit like deciding where to park in an empty parking lot!). I'll investigate all of the great suggestions. For the everglades we were hoping to do a few days cycling and walking - I had heard that this is possible.

Just to fill in a bit, we are from the UK and will have been in the Galapagos islands and then in the Rain forest in Ecuador. We will fly into Miami from Ecuador, then fly back to the UK 2 weeks later (but could be from another city). Driving around or flying would both be OK for us.

Our interests are hiking, doing active things, generally looking around and seeing places, a little history, good National Parks, the arts to an extent (except Shakespeare!), and beaches for up to 2 days. We don't like to spend too long in cities.

This will all take place in late April.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 09:23 PM
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In addition to the above, you can visit John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo (south of Miami). Take the early morning glass bottom boat trip and then you can hike or bike along the trails or kayak. http://www.floridastateparks.org/pennekamp/

Vizcaya Museum in Miami has lovely grounds on Biscayne Bay. Check the site for times/days they are open. http://vizcaya.org/
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:31 AM
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Looking at a map it looks like New Orleans and Atlanta may be a bit far.

Maybe just a bit.

Miami to New Orleans: 863 miles. 12+ hours of driving.

Miami to Atlanta: 662 miles. 9+ hours of driving.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 03:24 AM
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Just for planning purposes, flying internally in Florida is very, very expensive.

As to where you might cycle in the Everglades, look at the entry in Wkipedia, then go to the National Park website. There are three areas of public access, and one of them has a road loop that may allow cycling. You might enjoy going to Everglades City and Chokoluskee, off US 41, as part of your trip in the area. They are end- of-the-line towns at the edge of the Everglades and the Ten Thousand Islands. They have a colorful, to put it mildly, history, very nicely and frankly covered in the small museum in EC and at the store museum at the end of the road.

This area is near Fakahatchee Strand, setting for a fascinating book, The Orchid Thief, made into a film starring Chris Cooper. On a map, this area is divided into streets and roads for towns that were never built. It is wild now and perhaps the last home of the Florida panther. The Turner River, just east of the Everglades City road is wonderful for watching alligators, though they are ubiquitous thereabouts. Do watch for poisonous snakes, of which there is a variety.

Miami is like being in a foreign country to us, but all the road signs are still in English and we haven't got to go through passport control. It is a fascinating place and deserves several days. Do not stay near the airport as it is both unpleasant and potentially unsafe.

Naples is beautiful but quiet, like a tropical Eastbourne. In Ft Myers, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had holiday houses next door to ech other. It is difficult today to imagine such rich men living so simply, though Harry Truman's Winter White House in Key West is also very modest.

Sanibel Island is famous for shelling and otherwise very quiet. It is on a migratory bird route but much of the migration may be over when you get there. When we spent winters in Naples, there was a new crop of birds every couple of weeks.

April would be pretty hot for someone coming direct from the UK, but not if you have been in the rain forest.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 09:07 AM
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If you absolutely feel the necessity of seeing either New Orleans or Atlanta (and believe me, those driving hours above are optimistic at best since it would require an average speed of more than 75 mph in one case) you can fly non stop from Fort Lauderdale to both using a carrier such as Southwest Airlines. However, the further out you book flights on that airline the cheaper the fares will be.

Personally, I would not try to include either of those cities in a trip to Florida.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 09:38 AM
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I like gmoney's idea of driving up the east coast to Kennedy Space Center, St. Augustine, and Savannah or Charleston. Check out the Sea Islands en route. We were just on Amelia Island and loved Fernandina Beach. But I'd add Key West before you start driving north. Concur that one day in the Everglades is plenty, and that Atlanta and New Orleans are too far (we live in Atlanta).

But the Gulf Coast of Florida is also nice. On the whole, better beaches on the Gulf side.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:11 PM
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Second John Pennekamp State Park. Very interesting and not your typical idea of a state park. Vizcaya is lovely. I enjoy walking on South Beach and admiring the Art Deco architecture and eating Cuban food! St. Augustine is a must for 2-3 days.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 05:01 PM
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Your flying into Miami but out of a different city to return home. Orlando would be a good place to fly home from or Jacksonville or even Daytona. I used Daytona last trip to Europe and it was cheaper than Orlando on Delta. Just depends. Miami/Everglades, watch out for the gators walking, just saying from experience. You really would love the drive to Key West. Great natural parks along the way and Key West is perfect. If you want to drive up the coast visit Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Seashore is beautiful and Playalinda beach is pristine and not touristy. You can continue to New Smyrna, great National seashore and then follow AIA to St Augustine for a couple of days. From Kennedy Space Center to St Augustine it is about two hour drive. Jacksonville airport is another hour north. It is about three hours to Key West from Miami mostly because it is two lanes and slower traffic. From Key West to St Augustine it is about 8 hours total so break it up a bit. I think Savannah is another trip because it is another two hours north of Jacksonville. Concentrate on Fl. Wekiva springs is very nice north of Orlando. http://www.floridastateparks.org/wekiwasprings/
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 05:04 PM
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http://www.nps.gov/state/fl/index.htm?program=parks

sorry, forgot the link to the National parks in Florida. We have great state parks and National parks.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 10:52 PM
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"Better beaches on the Gulf side"...a value judgement and it all depends on what you expect from a beach. Let us more objectively say that the beaches on either side of Florida can be quite different from one another in terms of amount of surf, width, number of shells, etc. Some people will tell you swimming in the Gulf is akin to swimming in a lake and even that depends on where along the Gulf coast you are.

You continue to receive, IMO, excellent objective responses for the most part and now some more feedback from you might be helpful.
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 06:16 AM
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Dukey1 said it best. I will take the Ocean over the Gulf any day. I went my first time back in 1972 and there was red tide. I saw the beach covered in dead fish. Back to the Atlantic Ocean please.
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 11:23 AM
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Good idea, flpab, one should always know that with one bad experience you should decide it's always that way. Like "that airline was delayed so I'll never fly them again".

If you had been to the Atlantic in one of the tar ball episodes, I'll bet you'd never go back there either.

But I agree that Dukey said it best -- we all have different values, but I'd hardly think that going once and encountering red tide is a reason to discount an entire ocean (or gulf).
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 11:57 AM
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flpab,

There can be red tide on the Atlantic coast as well. The worst red tide I have ever encountered was on Daytona beach. Couldn't even walk on the beach without coughing and eyes watering.

I too prefer the gulf coast beaches, but then again I don't like waves and rough surf. The water always seem bluer on the gulf coast and I prefer a sunset to a sunrise. Something magical about sitting on the beach at dusk with that special someone and a lovely beverage watching the sun set.
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 11:58 AM
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I would have to say in my humble opinion that the east coast has more interesting sights to see but the west coast has better beaches.
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