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The Florida Guide - Sunshine, Sandcastles, and Subtropical Shenanigans
Discover Florida's endless sunshine and hidden gems with this ultimate guide! Tips, tricks, and essentials for families, couples, and solo explorers.
Jorden Daffer
8 min read

Florida—the Sunshine State, where oranges are as abundant as retirees and where you can wear flip-flops year-round without a shred of guilt. Whether you're a thrill-seeker off to conquer Disney World or an eco-enthusiast keen on exploring the Everglades, this guide promises to be the key to your Floridian adventure. But we won't just scratch the surface. We'll dig deep, revealing secrets that even some locals might not know. From Tampa's growing art scene to the underground springs of North Florida, we aim to show you a Florida that is as complex as it is captivating.

Where to Drop Anchor?

Florida's varied landscapes and attractions mean your ideal lodging spot depends on your itinerary. Orlando is the hub if you're aiming for a full-blown theme park immersion. Beach lovers might opt for the opulent resorts in Miami Beach or the more relaxed family-friendly vibe of places like Clearwater on the Gulf Coast. And let's not forget the magical Florida Keys, where you can opt for everything from luxurious resorts to quirky bed and breakfasts. But beware, this tropical paradise is a hotspot—especially during winter months—so prices can soar. Early birds who book ahead are likely to snag the juiciest worms—or in this case, the best lodging deals.

What to See

Florida is a smorgasbord of attractions for both families and those less encumbered. For the family-focused, Orlando's Disney World and Universal Studios offer experiences that will have your kids (and you) grinning from ear to ear. But don't forget Busch Gardens in Tampa, a unique blend of rollercoasters and wildlife. Adults can explore Miami's Wynwood Walls, where street art transforms an entire neighborhood into an outdoor gallery. And speaking of Miami, the city's nightlife is legendary—think beach clubs, sophisticated bars, and world-class DJs. Nature lovers can also rejoice. Everglades National Park is a must-see, offering unparalleled wildlife viewing from airboats or kayaks

Scouting Deals

Florida is no stranger to tourism, and with that comes an array of deals and packages designed to make your Floridian escapade more affordable. Websites like Kayak and Expedia are stalwarts for accommodation and flight deals, while Airbnb offers a range of options for those looking for something a little less conventional. For the thrill-seekers eyeing the amusement parks, bundled park tickets can save you a bundle of cash. Residents of Florida often get discounts too, so if you've got relatives in the state, it might be worth investigating.


Photo by Felipe Simo on Unsplash

When (Not) to Go?

Florida is undoubtedly a year-round destination. The summer brings high temperatures and high humidity—a cocktail best enjoyed on the beach but less so in a queue for a theme park ride. This season also sees a spike in hurricane activity, so travel insurance is a must. The most delightful time to visit Florida is from late fall through early spring. The air is cooler, the oranges are in season, and the tourist crowds are at a tolerable level. For those seeking a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall.


Photo by Sarah Thorenz on Unsplash

Ideal Stay and Booking Timeframe

Florida is expansive and diverse, meaning an ideal stay can vary widely based on your interests. You could easily spend a week just in Orlando's theme parks or another exploring the Keys. Generally, a stay of one to two weeks allows for a good mix of relaxation and adventure. In terms of booking, the 3-6 months ahead rule is golden, especially for popular spots. This is particularly true during peak seasons like spring break or Christmas, when flights and hotels book up quickly and prices surge.


Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

Spontaneity vs Planning: Last-Minute Adventures

Florida is as flexible as a yoga instructor when it comes to last-minute plans. While you may face higher prices or limited availability during peak season, there are usually options for those with a spontaneous streak. Apps like HotelTonight can be a lifesaver for last-minute lodging. Also, Florida's vastness means there's always something available somewhere—whether it's a hidden beachside cabin or a charming Airbnb in a lesser-known city like Sarasota or Gainesville. Your adventure might end up being even more exciting due to its unpredictability!


Photo by Luca Campioni on Unsplash

How to Bypass the Crowds

Florida can get crowded, particularly its most famous attractions. To avoid standing in lines longer than a Florida summer day, consider purchasing fast passes at the big theme parks. They're an added expense but can greatly improve your experience. For natural attractions, timing is everything. Many state parks and beaches are less crowded during weekdays or early in the morning. If you're visiting popular spots like Key West or South Beach, you can avoid crowds by venturing a bit further out.

Budget-Friendly Fun: Free in Florida

Florida has plenty of attractions that don't require opening your wallet. Its public beaches are stellar, and many cities offer free trolley services or public events. Take St. Petersburg, for example, which often hosts free music events in its downtown parks. Or the famous Wynwood Walls in Miami, where admission to the outdoor areas is free, offering a gallery-like experience without the price tag. Many museums also offer free admission days, so keep an eye out for those.

wynwood walls, florida, grafitti, tourism

The Best Views

For unforgettable vistas, the Florida Keys are unparalleled, especially during sunset when the sky explodes into shades of orange and pink. Miami's skyline, best viewed from a boat on Biscayne Bay, offers another kind of eye candy. Let's not forget the natural springs in Central Florida, where crystal-clear water offers a window into an underwater world. For a more urban panorama, the observation decks in Tampa and Miami offer incredible city views.

Cultural Highlights

Florida’s culture is an eclectic mix of Native American, Hispanic, African, and good ol' Southern traditions. The Calle Ocho Festival in Miami is a Hispanic cultural feast you can't afford to miss. Meanwhile, the Keys offer a distinct island culture known as "Conch Republic," complete with its own flag and quirky customs. Native American festivals, often held in the Everglades, provide a deep dive into Florida's original culture.


Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

Payments and Tips

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Florida, and ATMs are plentiful. However, it's wise to keep some cash on hand for tipping (15-20% is customary) or for smaller establishments that might not accept cards. Many places also accept mobile payments like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, making transactions even easier.

Transport: To Drive or Not to Drive?

Florida's cities like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa have fairly reliable public transport, but if you're planning to explore beyond the urban areas, a rental car becomes almost essential. With a car, you have the freedom to explore hidden gems like the springs of North Florida or the historic streets of St. Augustine without being shackled to a bus schedule. Just remember that parking in popular areas can be expensive and scarce.


Photo by Felix Fuchs on Unsplash

Hidden Treasures

Florida is more than its headline attractions. Don't overlook historic St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental U.S. Then there's Cape Canaveral, the hub of America's space exploration efforts. Natural springs like Ichetucknee and Weeki Wachee offer crystal-clear waters for kayaking and tubing.

cape canaveral, florida, keys. water.

From Seafood Shacks to Gourmet Feasts

Florida's food scene is as mixed as a well-crafted cocktail. For a true taste of Florida, you have to try the seafood—especially the stone crab claws or Gulf oysters. The Cuban influence is also significant, giving us culinary delights like the Cuban sandwich, which is a must-try in Tampa. Miami offers high-end dining options that reflect its diverse population, from gourmet Latin American to avant-garde Asian fusion.


Photo by UY VO on Unsplash

Electrical Specs

For travelers from outside North America, Florida uses Type A and B electrical outlets, which means you may need an adapter. It's advisable to buy one ahead of time, although many hotels offer them at the front desk.

Additional Info

Sunscreen is not optional; it's a necessity. The Floridian sun is as relentless as a toddler asking "why?", so come prepared. If you're heading into natural parks or swampy areas, bug spray is also highly recommended. While Florida is generally considered a safe destination, it's always wise to stay alert in unfamiliar areas.

Quick FAQs


Florida can be both a splurge and a steal. Think Disney World versus free public beaches.


Florida is generally safe, but common sense should always be your travel buddy.

English Spoken?

English is prevalent, but you'll also hear a lot of Spanish, particularly in the southern parts of the state.

Drinkable Tap Water?

The tap water is safe to drink, but bottled water is easily accessible everywhere.

Emergency Number?

911 is the go-to for emergencies, whether it's a sunburn so severe you're resembling a lobster or something more serious.


Wi-Fi is readily available, especially in populated areas and tourist destinations.

Public Transport?

Public transport is solid in big cities but can be limited in more rural areas.


Absolutely! Florida caters to families as much as it does to college kids on Spring Break.

Jorden Daffer
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