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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Holiday Choices in Florida by Mark Bartley

There is no doubt that the majority of travellers flying to the destination hubs of Orlando, Florida intend to visit one or more of the huge theme parks in the area. A few days at Disney's World Resort, Epcot or Universal Studios is certainly an exciting event for all family members, young or old. Even if you think your age makes a chance meeting with Mickey Mouse a little too childish, then there is always the amazing visitor experience at the Kennedy Space Centre which is open all year round except on Christmas Day and certain days when a launch is underway. Most of the main Disney parks are located to the south west of Orlando city, whereas the Kennedy Space Centre and the nearby Cape Canaveral are situated over 40 miles to the East. Regardless of the ultimate destination, the airports in Orlando and nearby Sandford both provide options, with daily flights from various departure points arriving from the UK.

From 1963 Cape Canaveral was renamed Cape Kennedy in memory of the former US President who had supported the space programme that brought renewed industrial and tourist activity to the area. However later on the local residents objected to the loss of their previous name, which had identified the region for the past 400 years, and, ten years after being given the Kennedy name, the Canaveral name was reapplied. The actual NASA Space Centre did however retain the Kennedy name.

Most tourists stick to the East coast but in the West you can explore areas like the hillscapes around San Antonio for cycling or walking activities. More adventurous sportsmen and women may want to take to the skies for some freefall parachuting. Clear skies and reliable fine weather have made Florida the perfect location for parachuting and skydiving, with numerous clubs, schools and experience companies operating in the state. Why not make your trip to Florida a truly memorable one by signing up for a tandem freefall jump. Florida is one of only a few places in the world that offer high-altitude jumps. One company even offers jumps from 18,000 feet (that's 8,000 feet higher than a normal UK jump) overlooking the Kennedy Space Centre. Now that's something to write a postcard home about!

For a real Florida getaway why not take a short onward to flight to the islands of Little Abaco or Great Abaco. Officially part of the Bahamas, these islands lie less than 130 miles off the Florida coast and provide perfect places to find a little solitude and relaxation. The islands are renowned for their reef-protected sandy beaches, shallow waters, gentle breezes and laid-back lifestyle. Most tourists will remark on the friendliness of the islanders as a primary reason for wanting to return. The small airports of Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour serve the islands, although a short boat trip is required to get across to Little Abaco.

Other Florida cities include Tampa and the glitzy Miami, home of the typical Florida beach holiday, with miles and miles of Atlantic coastline to enjoy. A trip to Miami would not be complete without a cruise down Ocean Drive, Miami's most famous road. Drive through the Art district to appreciate hundreds of well-preserved Art Deco buildings. Hotels like the Leslie, the Crescent and the Shoreclub revive memories of a post-war revival Britain, that the legacy of poor construction techniques and the ravages of the UK weather have all but destroyed. Those with a generous budget will want to stay at the famous Delano Hotel which was built in 1947 and features an interior designed by Philippe Starck.

Each year Miami hosts the Winter Music Conference, a week-long dance music festival that aims to put Miami right up there with the dance scenes of places like Ibiza in Europe. Many of the world's top dance music acts, DJ's and producers attend the conference, which now incorporates the industry's International Dance Music Awards. Miami is an all year round resort and even during October you can expect around six hours of daily sunshine, amazingly the lowest of any month during the year. Daytime temperatures remain at an average of 29 degrees Celsius, something nowhere in Europe can claim.

About the Author

A wide selection of flights to Sanford and Orlando are offered by many UK airlines. Florida is a year-round resort so Mark Bartley's review of destinations and flight options also highlights alternative Florida attractions.

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