09 December 2016
If you like the temperature warm and the beaches beautiful then this fun 12 day Enjoy Florida Living tour will hit the spot. Beginning and ending in the colourful and lively city of Miami, you will travel to Vero Beach, St Augustine, Mt Dora, Naples and quirky Key West. Along the way you will encounter pristine beaches, great shops and restaurants and a laid back lifestyle that goes with all that Florida sunshine.
After arriving at Miami International Airport you clear customs and drive to your hotel in the city. Welcome to Miami! Sprawling across 2,054 square miles of land, Miami is a vast, cosmopolitan city that offers year-round warmth and sunshine. Its rich multi-ethnic culture is most apparent in the cuisine and Art Deco style architecture and you can sample some tonight by trying one of the many downtown restaurants.
Warm breezes, swaying palms, and the sound of the waves washing ashore act as a backdrop for pastel coloured, Art Deco buildings making Miami’s South Beach a stunning and often intoxicatingly beautiful place. It has been called the American Riviera by seasoned travellers, but there’s more to this city than fine white sand and turquoise waters. World famous South Beach is home to fabulous shopping, gourmet restaurants, fashion shoots, and the filming of TV shows and movies. Walk along Ocean Drive and enjoy virtually any type of food you can imagine. At night this area comes alive and scores of nightspots cater for all tastes.
Leave Miami Beach this morning and travel north along the coast to upmarket Palm Beach. Along the way consider a stop at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens which houses more than 5,000 Japanese art objects and has gardens reflecting all major periods of Japanese design. Palm Beach is a small island town of palatial homes and majestic gardens and the stores and boutiques are known worldwide for offering the best of the best. There are three major shopping areas within a short drive of each other which are best explored on foot. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch in one of the many restaurants then press on to Vero Beach.
Today is yours to enjoy Vero Beach, a charming, casually elegant town brimming with natural beauty. Known as the “Gateway to the Tropics” Vero Beach forms part of Florida’s Treasure Coast. Here the beaches combine excellent sand quality with significant surf and tidal action. This area is a natural playground for water sports including kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and casual cruising. Shelling is also popular and some real ocean treasures can be found along these shores. Or, you can just relax and enjoy the amenities of this world-class resort surrounded by white sand beaches and lush natural views.
Leave Vero Beach this morning and head for St. Augustine. On the way, stop at Merritt Island which has retained its natural beauty and is well-known for its National Wildlife Refuge. Red and black mangroves line the shores of the Indian River Lagoon and harbour the most diverse collection of plant and animal species in North America. Local wildlife, including manatees and sea turtles can be seen and studied on informative tours. Whether you are interested in outdoor recreation, sightseeing or just relaxation, Merritt Island is a remarkable and rewarding stop. Later drive on to St. Augustine.
Few places in Florida are as instantly appealing as this charming old city. St. Augustine is the oldest permanent settlement in the US with much of its early architecture still intact along its narrow streets. It also boasts two alluring beaches just across the bay. Tour the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and climb its 219 steps for panoramic views. Then set out on foot, as the locals do, to explore the town's delightful historic district, with its cobblestone streets, quaint cafes, and unique shops. For a more relaxed approach, try a wine tasting tour of the San Sebastian Winery before continuing your journey to Mt. Dora.
Today is yours to explore Mount Dora, a tranquil, historic village nestled among orange groves overlooking Lake Dora. At an elevation of 184 feet above sea level, Mt. Dora is considered a mountain-top town by Florida standards. Downtown offers a wide array of shopping, dining, pampering, and entertaining possibilities. This community, brimming with southern charm and hospitality, is famous for its antique shops and if you play golf try 18 pristine holes at the Country Club of Mount Dora. In the afternoon, visit Ridgeback Winery for a taste of their hand-crafted wines. Stroll along the Fourth Avenue Pier and catch an unforgettable lakeside sunset. Or, for a change of pace, visit SeaWorld in Orlando which is just a short drive away.
Leave Mount Dora today and drive south toward Naples. On your way, consider stopping in Sarasota to experience some of the most spectacular sandy beaches on the Gulf Coast. Downtown Sarasota is fairly lively with restaurants, cafes, bars, and eateries complementing the excellent group of bookstores for which the place is known. Most visitors stop by the barrier island beaches, a couple of miles across the bay. Another option is to take a tram tour of Spanish Point, a 30 acre site overlooking Little Sarasota Bay dedicated to preserving and interpreting 5,000 years of history. Then drive on to Naples.
Naples is easily Southwest Florida’s most affluent and sophisticated city. It boasts beautiful beaches and a quaint downtown rich with street cafes and courtyard boutiques making it a Mecca for shopping and dining. Not only is Naples the pinnacle of west coast luxury, but it has earned a reputation of having the most sought-after golf courses in the world with more than 100 to choose from. Take a stroll down the Old Pier and visit “Millionaire’s Row”, the first line of beach-front residences built at the turn of the century and discover local treasures in Tin City’s marketplace which retains the maritime spirit of of Naples’s fishing district.
Today you travel away from Naples through Florida’s waterway wilderness. The Everglades is often called “the river of grass” because of its slow moving waters and the abundance of saw-grass. It is home to unique plant life and a diverse wildlife that includes the famous Florida alligator. Visit Shark Valley and take an airboat ride to discover this splendour firsthand. Then leave the Everglades behind and on your way to Key West you will travel through the Florida Keys where you will have gorgeous views over the waters on both sides. Make stops to see the different points of interest and to take pictures of the lush tropical scenery.
Key West is the last island on the ribbon that trail off the southern shore of Florida. Duval Street, lined on both sides with dozens of shops and restaurants, is the centre of the town's life. Visit the Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum where the author wrote and lived for more than 10 years and meet some of the 60 cats that live there. Take a snorkel cruise or a deep-sea fishing trip for a different perspective of the island and walk down Harbourwalk for great shops and restaurants. No visit to Key West is complete without joining in the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square where performers, vendors, and artists line the water’s edge to bid the day farewell. This is also the perfect time to embark on an unforgettable champagne sunset sail.
Today your wonderful Florida Living tour comes to an end, so make the most of every minute. See some more of Key West and do some last minute souvenir shopping before heading back along the picturesque road to Miami to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home having enjoyed a fun and relaxing holiday in America's sunshine state.
Superior fr £1049pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated