There are many great places to visit in Florida if you wish to travel beyond the parks. The following are some of our favourites, and are all within a few hours drive of the villa.


Saint Augustine

 

Visit this delightful city for a taste of history and conflict. It is the oldest cntinuous settlement in Florida, having changed hands between the English and Spanish repeatedly, and as such boasts an unusual mix of architecture. In addition to the Florida styles, there is a distinct Spanish influence on some of the older buildings.

The town also boasts a large fort, which housed soldiers from both sides of the colonial wars, and offers spectacular views of the bay. It is well worth the 3 hour drive north east from the villa. It sits on the Atlantic coast, about an hour north of Daytona Beach.


Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is about 1hour 15 minutes away by car. 

On arriving at Daytona we recommend you head straight to the beach front and make the most of the early sunshine, as it does get very hot later in the day Ė with little or no shelter available.  You can drive the car right down on to the hard packed sand ($5 entry) but we advise you not to make any sharp movements or turn your wheel too hard to either side as you then risk becoming well and truly stuck! 

There are sun loungers and chairs available for rent (around $30) but we took towels and an inflatable air bed which did the trick.  You can also hire quad bikes, jet skis, pedalos and various other things for a small fee, or you can simply lie back and watch the world go by.  There is no shortage of things to look at!  When you tire of the sun, sea and sand there are many other attractions in Daytona well worth a visit.

Daytona Beach Boardwalk
This is located behind Ocean Ave. between Main Street and Auditorium Blvd.
Nostalgic arcades, go-karts, thrill rides, restaurants, souvenir shops, the Clocktower and Speeding through Time racing exhibit.  The historic open-air Bandshell, Main Street Pier and Oceanfront Park lie within walking distance.

Central Daytona Beach, made famous as the "World Centre of Racing" and home of NASCAR, is the best known reason to visit the area. You can visit the speedway circuit and go right onto the track or have your picture taken with some of the cars on display. There are other interactive exhibits that make this well worth stopping in at.

South Daytona Beach Shores was formed in 1960 by a group of moteliers who called themselves "2,000 Cottages. At the southern tip of the peninsula is the scenic fishing village of Ponce Inlet. Local charter fishing boats are located here, along with several of the area's best seafood restaurants.

Family Fun There is something for everyone in Daytona whether it is lazing on the beach, parasailing, go-karting, miniature golf, shopping or just people watching.  We spent the entire day there, having a picnic lunch on the beach then searching out a good restaurant in the evening before heading back to Orlando


Tarpon Springs

 

Tarpon Springs is about 1hr 45minutes away but for those who are all Disneyed out it is worth the drive.  From Orlando take I-4 West until I-75 N Stay on I-75 N until first exit, should be Hwy 56 to Tarpon Springs, New Port Richey, exit Right, turn Left, HWY 56 turns into HWY 54, stay on HWY 54 all the way to US 19 S. about 30 minutes, turn Left on US 19 S until Tarpon Springs.

On arrival you will find historic, picturesque, and unspoiled architecture, Tarpon Springs is composed of delightful residential areas, clustered around beautiful saltwater bayous and other waterways. The community is a mixture of new subdivisions and graceful old mansions. There is plenty to see and do, from the world famous Sponge Docks to deep sea fishing, from antique shops in the historic downtown area to championship golf, from walking around Spring Bayou to watching the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.

With approximately 15 restaurants and more than 100 shops, the Sponge Docks offer something of interest for everyone. You can take a leisurely sightseeing cruise down the Anclote River, enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise to the Gulf, take a 5 hour casino cruise, or experience a live, sponge diving exhibition You can also visit the 120,000 gallon salt water aquarium, tour the sponge museum, or go deep sea fishing.

A mile south of the Sponge Docks is downtown Tarpon Springs, which is listed in The National Register of Historic Places. A mixture of antique shops, art galleries, specialty shops, and restaurants, this area is the vibrant centre of the city.     

Other places to visit in Tarpon Springs include Tarpon Avenue, part of the National Main Street program, with its antique shops and artists' galleries.

The Cultural Centre on South Pinellas Avenue provides art exhibits in its museum and walking/bus tours of the city.

NB very young children will be bored to death here but if you have taken the grandparents on holiday with you they will love this area and find it a welcome relief from the parks. It is easy, however, to overspend in the antique shops so make sure you donít blow the entire holiday budget in the first week.

 


Miami

Miami, and Miami Beach, are famous for the massive expanse of golden sand that borders the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Miami has some beautiful scenery and architecture, but it is the beaches that attract the tourists.

South Beach is world famous for the nightlife and the "beautiful people" who flock to Ocean Drive after sunset. There is a stunning variety of eating establishments, from TGI Friday to chic international cuisine, and many nightclubs and other hotspots. You genuinely can spend the evening just people-watching as the in-crowd pass their time, and spend their money.

A favourite tourist tip is to take one of the water taxi tours that show you to the homes of the rich and famous.

Also in the South Beach area is the Art Deco district, with some of the most famous and luxurious hotels in the state.

 

Miami is about a 4 hour drive from the villa, either due south on US27 or on the Turnpike.


The Keys

 

Discover a city where real estate titles date back to the Kings of Spain. Stroll the palm-lined streets and discover gingerbread mansions, tin-roofed conch houses, the John Audubon House and Ernest Hemingway's home. Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Edison, Lou Gehrig, Harry Truman, and Tennessee Williams. Gaze at the fabled treasure of the galleon Atocha. Discover tomorrow's fine art treasures by Key West's well-known and unknown artists. Key West has it all.

 

Elsewhere on the Keys, you have the best water sports in USA. From fishing and diving to swimming with dolphins and jet-ski hire, there is nothing to do on (or in) the water that you cannot do in the Keys.

 

Food is in plentiful supply at the local restaurants, and order fish if you want to experience it at it's best - right from the ocean.

 

The area also has some of the best sunsets we have ever seen.

 

The Keys are about an hour south of Miami, but Key West is about another hour down the only access road (US1). It is well worth the trip.