A Traveler’s Guide to South Florida

When considering visiting Florida for your next contract, southern Florida has a plethora of things to see and do!  Whether you are wanting sun and sand or even if you are more the indoorsy type, south Florida will keep you well entertained.  Rich in culture and history, Miami Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties are the three most prominent regions, if you will, in the lower part of the state…spanning more than 5,200 miles of the peninsula.  Taking only about 2.5 hours to drive from one coast to the other, a variety of scenery awaits you when navigating the state.

The Culture

South Florida is eclectic and diverse in culture with a strong Latin American and Caribbean influence.  Many parts almost feel like you’re on island time (cue the Jimmy Buffet music!)  There does tend to be a hustle and bustle in the more urban cities and traffic can be an issue, but it is so worth it.  With cities like Fort Lauderdale and South Beach being a mecca for fashion and art there is no shortage of awe inspiring things to see and do.  Being a sportsman’s paradise, outdoorsmen and athletes alike will be right up their alley as the area offers endless opportunities to fish, hike, nature watch and even indulge in extreme sports.  The cuisine is diverse with everything from food trucks to 4 diamond restaurants offering a variety of fresh seafood, street fare, southern comfort food and gastro fare.  You cant visit south Florida without getting an authentic Cuban Sandwich and a slice of Key Lime pie!

The Scenery

In south Florida, water reigns supreme, both salty and fresh.  Thousands of miles of coastline surround a flat landed, limestone based earth riddled with lakes, canals and marshland.  Palm trees are plentiful, tropical flowers abundant and wildlife galore! It’s not a rarity to spot an iguana munching on some foliage or a gator perusing a canal.  Parrots fly overhead, sharks and dolphins dance in the waterways and panthers, deer and black bears spend their time inland.  The many communities within the region reflect small beach town vibes while others are among the grandest of cities.

The Weather

Southern Florida has a tropical climate that is heavy with humidity and can be HOT, especially in the summer months.  The seabreeze will offer some respite, especially as the sun begins to go down.  It is common in the height of the summer to have a thunderstorm every afternoon, and some of them can be just magnificent!  They say it can be raining in the front yard and bright blue skies in the backyard!  Fall temps are much more mild and winter rarely drops into the 60’s, offering a great place to come when the rest of the country is a frozen tundra.

Attractions

There is never a dull moment in the sunshine state when it comes to entertainment and attractions.  From a variety of Zoos and WildLife Sanctuaries to museums and art galleries, there is no shortage of options to fill your days off. Here are some popular attractions to consider:

Palm Beach County

Lion Country Safari – Take a drive through the park and encounter real wild life right from the comfort of your own car!  Animals can even come right up to your windows for a little extra attention.

Rapids Waterpark – One of Florida’s best water parks, Rapids Waterpark offers over 12 acres of water slides, tidal pools and splash pads.  Visit the gift shop or food court for a bite to eat and to escape the hot sun.

Norton Museum of Art – With over 7,000 pieces, The Norton Museum of Art displays a mixture of European, American and contemporary art and photography.  The museum offers several different viewing opportunities including Art After Dark and private tours.

Manatee Lagoon – Head over to the Manatee Lagoon to view and interact with some of Florida’s most adored mammals and marine life.  Visit one of the several wildlife observation decks, a 3D solar exhibit or a real manatee occupied lagoon with incredible views.  November is the best month to see a real manatee in the lagoon as they really enjoy the cooler months.

Peanut Island – Enjoy a day on the beach, grab your snorkel and fins or do some nature watching from the boardwalk.  With over 70+ acres of habitat to explore, Peanut Island is a Florida favorite for either a day trip or even an overnight stay in the camping area.

Broward County

The Swap Shop – Right in the heart of Broward County is a one of a kind shopping experience.  The Swap Shop, located in the city of Sunrise, is an outdoor flea market like none other.  It has a farmers market, carnival rides, vendor rented booths, a garage sale area and an indoor shopping mall.  They also offer services such as car window tinting, nail and hair salons and car security systems.  The food court has a multi-cultural vibe with authentic foods from around the world and a full bar.  There is even a circus daily!

The Las Olas Strip – The Las Olas strip is a world famous street located on Fort Lauderdale Beach with miles of restaurants, shops, night clubs and galleries.  From local vibes to the upscal scene, there is something for everyone on the strip.

Everglades National Park – Enjoy all the Florida Everglades has to offer in a day or camp overnight.  The park offers tours, airboat rides, fishing excursions and more for all levels of outdoorsmen.  Take in the scenery or test your angling skills in one of the most fertile fishing grounds in the US.

Seminole Hard Rock Guitar Hotel and Casino – Come see the brand new, state of the art hotel and casino first hand.  Shaped like a guitar, the hotel is posh and the casino is grand!  Eat in one of the Seminole Hard Rock’s gourmet restaurants, relax and unwind in a pool cabana or get pampered in the luxury spa.  Try your luck in the casino!

Broward Center for the Performing Arts – Take in a broadway style performance or concert in the state of the art auditorium located in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Hungry after the show?  Visit one of their 4 eateries or grab a drink at one of the bars to bring with you to enjoy the show.

Miami Dade County

South Beach – On the southern end of the county, South Beach is located in the city of Miami.  Miles of coastline is met with hundreds of art deco themed hotels, shops and restaurants.  Frequented by celebrities and locals, the strip offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Little Havana – For the longest time, Americans were not allowed to venture over to Cuba.  So the locals brought Cuba to Florida!  Little Havana is about as authentic as it gets when looking for Cuban cuisine and culture.  From the colorful buildings and walk up coffee joints to the bakeries and museums, you won’t easily forget your trip to the island (well, it’s just like the island!)

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens – Built for an escape from harsh winters, James Deering constructed the mansion and gardens in 1914 along the Biscayne Bay.  The home is rich with opulence and history while providing some of the most amazing views in the state.  Its pool alone will astound you.  A popular destination for weddings and events, the grounds are full of antiques and architectural masterpieces.  Take a private tour or stroll through solo, but either way…don’t miss this one!

Biscayne National Park – Another Biscayne Bay attraction awaits you with glistening blue waters, white sand beaches and abundant marine life.  The park is a protected area full of coral reefs and mangrove hammocks waiting for you to explore them via boat, kayak or snorkeling.  It is also a popular fishing and lobstering location for locals and tourists alike as well as a hub for marine biologists and scientists.

Zoo Miami – With over 3,000 animals and acres of gardens, the zoo located in Miami is top notch.  You can navigate the different areas of the zoo via a monorail system, and with it being so large…it is a necessity!  Escape the heat in one of the many gift shops and cafes or even visit after dark during the “Sip and Stroll” events for a unique experience.

Getting Around

Many of the cities and towns in southern Florida offer public transportation via bus or taxi.  Uber and lyft should be available as well.  The larger cities are densely scattered with convenience stores making most areas easily navigated by foot if needed to get where you need to go.  There is even a train that will take you between the 3 counties and abundant bus stations.  While a car is not a must, it is a good idea if you are planning on exploring other parts of the state.  There are many grocery stores, including Publix and Winn-Dixie (both Florida staples when it comes to quality groceries and meats.)

Whether you are looking to escape a harsh northern winter, or you just generally love the warm climate, Florida is a great place to warm up and unwind.  Toes in the water, troubles left behind…we are on island time!  And no state income tax.  What more could you want for your next travel contract?  Enjoy!

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