Florida – Say Hello to the Sunshine State

Best theme parks of the world in Orlando, pulsing night life in Miami, historic streets in St. Augustine, pristine white sandy beaches and island life of the Keys. This is Florida.

The Sunshine State has something to offer to everyone. I went from old city charm to action packed events to total serenity and I totally understood when they say variety is the spice of lifeKeyLargo(2)

Orlando is synonymous with theme parks. Period. It is a tourism mecca of theme parks with Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Legoland, etc. Disney World itself has four parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and two water parks.

It is said that the true essence of Disney can be experienced simply by stepping foot inside the Magic Kingdom so naturally, I went there. You have to understand that I have been a Disney kid, watching the classic films, drawing my favorite characters, asking my parents to get me Disney merchandise that I still have as memorabilia. So going to Disney World was a long time awaited dream come true for me. DisneyWorldOrlando (2)

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DisneyWorldOrlando (3) DisneyWorldOrlando (4)Magic Kingdom is divided into six themed lands – Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. You better have a game plan ready because it is impossible to do EVERYTHING in a day. But whatever you choose, DO NOT MISS Celebrate the Magic and Wishes; your Disney vacation will be incomplete until you get a chance to see these.

Celebrate the Magic is a night time show where the Cinderella Castle transforms into a piece of living art followed by Wishes, a spectacular fireworks display with vignettes and music from beloved Disney films. This extraordinary show is sure to make the magic come alive even for the non-Disney enthusiasts. DisneyWorld

If you prefer thrills and rides more geared towards adults, there are other theme parks in Orlando like the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I skipped Universal Studios having covered in different cities earlier. (Click to read more about my Universal experience)

MIAMI…I have never been anywhere like Miami. We all know about the glittering South Beach and the vibrant night life of this city. The beach scene is on a totally different level and it is natural to feel a little jealous of Miamians. Bay Front Park in downtown Miami is great for some leisurely stroll, live music and ocean view. If you want a glimpse of the quieter side of Miami, go to Coral Gables which has Spanish styled mansions and quaint neighborhoods lined with trees. A popular attraction is the Venetian Pool, a freshwater public pool which is a respite in the warm weather.

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From Miami drive to the Florida Keys for a change of pace and experience one of America’s great scenic drives. The Florida Keys span some 110 miles and are connected by bridges and causeways, including the popular Seven Mile Bridge which has been featured in movies like 2 Fast 2 Furious and Mission Impossible III.

We stopped by John Pennekamp Coral Reef Underwater State Park in Key Largo to enjoy kayaking in the clear ocean water. There are other water activities like snorkeling, diving, glass-bottom boat tours and camping. KeyLargo (1)

KeyLargoAs you go island hopping, take as many pit stops and enjoy the route. Remember, you are on island time now. You will end your journey at Key West, the southernmost city in the United States where the key lime pie originated. Watching the sunset is actually an attraction here and you will have to witness it to believe it. Locals and visitors gather at Mallory Square not just to watch the sunset but to celebrate it. You can also take a sunset cruise while watching the glowing orange and red sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico. At Duval Street you can shop, eat, listen to live music and walk around with your drink. The only reason I bought myself a Mojito!

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To witness a place entirely is a herculean task. No matter how much I pen down the nitty-gritties of a place for all my readers, I still feel I have missed something crucial. But sometimes we experience things not from our eyes but from our hearts. And that is often difficult to express digitally. I do hope that after reading this post, the wanderlust inside you kicks in; once again. (Read the travel post on St. Augustine here)

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