I have been lucky enough to visit Florida on 19 occasions so you could say I know plenty about it. Orlando is the big attraction of course and why should it not be with the range of Theme Parks it has to offer. There is though another side to Florida and this is the wonderful beach areas which can be found on both the West and East Coast of the state. You will note I have not mentioned the ‘Keys’. This is because there are not a tremendous number of beaches on the Keys. Key West has some of the larger beach areas but other than that you will only find beaches on a certain number of the islands.
Most holidays usually start with time in Orlando and they usually end there because people run out of time and they never get to travel to other areas which is such a shame. It is understandable as there is just so much to do in Orlando that you can quite easily fill two weeks’ holiday. Over the years I have always stayed in Orlando just so I can keep up to date with the Theme Parks and experience any new rides etc. Some attractions within the parks themselves come and go as new things come along to replace the old. Gone have the days of ‘King Kong’ and ‘Back to the Future’. New thrilling rides have replaced these on a different theme.
The Magic Kingdom is at present undergoing work which will increase its size. It is a never ending story of expansion and change in order to keep those 50 million plus visitors coming every year to Orlando.
Head West from Orlando and you come to the Pinellas Suncoast – an area where each resort area merges in to the next. St Petersburg, Clearwater, Treasure Island and Reddington Beach to name but a few on this stretch of coast. Cross over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and you first of all come to Bradenton. You can head to the beaches straight away and follow the coastal road all the way down to Sarasota. Now I am lucky enough to have travelled to a lot of places on this planet and believe me I have seen some beaches but I have never seen one as nice as Siesta Key in Sarasota. Only last year it was voted ‘best beach in America’ and this is an award it has received on several occasions as well as the award for ‘whitest sand’.
Venice, Englewood, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples, all lovely beach resorts within their own right as you travel South. A two hour drive East from Naples will take you accross the Everglades to either Fort Lauderdale or Miami. The sea is not usually as calm here as the sheltered waters of the Gulf of Mexico and it can be a few degrees cooler but it does not stop the beach lovers whose numbers swell on a typical Florida sunny day.
I have made the trip down to the ‘Keys’ on three occasions and along with my wife, Sam and our son Charlie, we have always eneded up in Key West. It really is such a laid back place and so different from mainland Florida. If you headed North as opposed to the Keys then you could pass through all the Atlantic coast resorts. The affluence of some of the resorts is there for all to see with 7 bedroom houses backing on to the waterway and luxury yachts tied to the mooring. Six lucky numbers and I will be back!!
Travelling North you eventually come to Cape Canaveral, the site of numerous Space Shuttle launches. The vistitors centre is well worth a call but you will need most of the day to get around everything. If time and money was not an issue, and it is for most people, then you could travel even further North up to Daytona and even Fort Augustus but it is usually a westward direction back to Orlando to be there in time for the return flight home.