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Full-On <strong>Florida</strong>

Full-On Florida

Orlando - Key Largo

Although it’s fondly known as the theme park capital of the United States, there’s a lot more to Florida than colossal coasters. Hop in your hire car for a grand tour of the Sunshine State that takes one giant leap for mankind at the Kennedy Space Center, samples the hippest corners of Miami and explores the untamed beauty of the Everglades and beyond.

Full-On Florida

Stop 1: Celebration, Kissimmee 1/14

Celebration, Kissimmee

Kick off your stay in the Sunshine State with a trip to this larger-than-life slice of American culture. The Town of Celebration was developed during the 1990s by the Walt Disney Company and offers a quaint village experience alongside rows of quirky independent boutiques. Here you’ll find a beautiful lakeside retreat, homes spanning every style from Mediterranean to Victorian and plenty of green space to stretch your legs. And, in the true spirit of Disney, in Celebration every day of December is just like Christmas.

Celebration, Kissimmee

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Stop 2: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2/14

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Experience the magic of the Harry Potter books and films with a trip to Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Take up the Dragon Challenge – the world’s only chasing inverted roller coaster – by defeating the Chinese Fireball and the Hungarian Horntail, straight from the pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Explore Diagon Alley, Hogsmead, and Hagrid’s hut before being greeted by the formidable sight of Hogwarts School – inside whose hallowed halls you can take a tour.

6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

https://site.universalorlando.com/wwohp/

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Stop 3: Three Sisters Springs 3/14

Three Sisters Springs

The Gulf Coast of Florida may have its beach beauty in Sarasota, but further up the shoreline there’s a chance to discover something just as special. Three Sisters Springs is your opportunity to take in the Sunshine State’s wilder side, with acres of marshland and estuaries protecting a wide variety of seafaring species. Cap off your aquatic adventure by taking a swim alongside manatees – gentle marine mammals often known as sea cows – in the warm natural springs.

601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429

https://www.fws.gov/chassahowitzka/

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Stop 4: Fernandina Beach 4/14

Fernandina Beach

The Downtown district of Fernandina Beach features 50 blocks of beautiful listed Victorian-era buildings, while the scenic Spanish Old Town is the most recent of its kind built in the Western hemisphere. Downtown Fernandina Beach packs everything into just a short stretch along the coastline. Take a scenic Segway tour, or a chartered boat ride in search of the catch of the day. Check out Kelly Seahorse Ranch for the chance to enjoy the golden sands of Amelia Island on horseback.

233 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

http://www.ameliaisland.com/

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Stop 5: Castillo de San Marcos 5/14

Castillo de San Marcos

This magnificent fort was built in the 17th century to defend the town of St Augustine while British and Spanish forces fought to stake their claim on East Florida. Take a tour of the 20-acre site and you’ll find a reconstructed section of the defensive walls which includes the original city gate. Visit the fort itself to see the soldiers’ sleeping quarters and enjoy a demonstration of the cannon fire once used to ward off invaders. The view over the ocean alone is worth the admission price.

1 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, FL 32084

https://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm

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Stop 6: Racing’s North Turn 6/14

Racing’s North Turn

A favourite among racing fans and families alike, Racing’s North Turn serves up mouth-watering meals on the spot where racing history began in Daytona Beach. Before NASCAR moved to a dedicated stadium in 1958, Daytona Beach was the place where motorsport legends were born – with the races starting right outside the door of the restaurant. The menu’s packed with tempting seafood dishes, plus there’s live music every week night and all day at weekends.

4511 S Atlantic Ave, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127

http://www.racingsnorthturn.com/

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Stop 7: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 7/14

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Check out the Kennedy Space Center for a truly inspirational insight into Man’s ascent to the stars. Strap yourself in for a virtual recreation of the shuttle launch experience and enjoy a guided tour around one of the hallowed launch sites. There’s also the chance to visit Mission Control, which has overseen some of NASA’s most famous space missions, and witness the preparations that went into launching them. You can even meet some of NASA’s retired astronauts and hear all about their space adventures.

SR 405, Titusville, FL 32899, USA

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

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Stop 8: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge 8/14

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

When NASA built Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s, the leftover land was signed over to preserve and promote the area’s natural habitat. The Merritt Island refuge boasts 140,000 acres of marshland inhabited by countless different breeds of bird and fish. Six hiking trails run through this protected area, and there are frequent ranger-led birdwatching tours. Take your car on the Black Point Wildlife Drive for seven miles of wildlife spotting including local waterfowl and waders as well as native Floridian alligators and bobcats.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32782

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/

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Stop 9: Silverball Museum 9/14

Silverball Museum

Take a trip down gaming’s memory lane with this Delray Beach collection of more than 100 classic pinball machines and arcade games. Rediscover the joy of racking up points on the pinball table or blowing enemies to smithereens on the best-known blasters. Grab a bite to eat at the upstairs bar and diner, and recharge your batteries ready for another game. Pay one price and play all day – no need to fill your pockets or struggle with change when it’s time to hit Continue. (Image credit: Steve Zuckerman)

19 NE 3rd Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33483

http://silverballmuseum.com/delray-beach/

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Stop 10: Blowing Rocks Preserve 10/14

Blowing Rocks Preserve

Named for its tendency to send waves as high as 50 feet soaring into the air, Blowing Rocks Preserve is the east coast’s largest outcrop of Anastasia limestone, a stunning rock made up of distinctive shell and coral fragments. Blowing Rocks is also home to a host of protected sealife – expect to see pelicans and ospreys planning their next meal, alongside several species of native sea turtles.

574 S Beach Road, Hobe Sound, FL 33455

https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/florida/placesweprotect/blowing-rocks-preserve.xml

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Stop 11: Wynwood Warehouse Project 11/14

Wynwood Warehouse Project

The Wynwood neighbourhood of downtown Miami was given a fresh lease of life when the world’s leading graffiti artists were invited to make their mark on the surroundings. A block of old warehouse buildings has received a complete facelift, with its blank canvas becoming a permanent exhibition of cool colours and exciting sketches from the biggest names in street art. With regular art walks and the presence of some very cool bars and boutiques, Wynwood has become one of Miami’s hippest art and nightlife spots.

450 NW 27th St, Miami, FL 33127

http://www.thewynwoodwalls.com/

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Stop 12: Marlins Park 12/14

Marlins Park

Celebrate America’s national pastime by taking in a baseball game at the new Marlins Park stadium, formerly the world-famous Orange Bowl. It was here that the Miami Dolphins produced their perfect NFL season in 1972 and JFK made his historic speech about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Marlins’ commitment to the cutting-edge makes the new eco-friendly stadium one of the city’s greatest technological feats, and the retractable roof means there’s always a game – even when it rains. (Image credit: Roberto Coquis)

501 Marlins Way, Miami, FL 33125

http://miami.marlins.mlb.com/index.jsp

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Stop 13: Everglades National Park 13/14

Everglades National Park

Sunny status and theme parks aside, Florida’s perhaps best known for the mysteries of the Everglades – a massive stretch of swamp and marshland which spans the Southwest. Home to all manner of birds, lizards and, of course, alligators, the Everglades is the subject of ongoing work to preserve its fragile ecosystem and remains one of the States’ most important natural landmarks. Set sail on the shallow waters to enjoy a guided boat tour or bike, hike or kayak your way round. For the full Everglades experience you can even camp overnight.

40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL 33034

https://www.nps.gov/EVER/planyourvisit/index.htm

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Stop 14: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park 14/14

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Cap off a memorable drive through the Sunshine State with a trip to the island chains which run south off the coast. At the southernmost tip of the drive down Highway 1, Key West is best known for its spring break credentials. However, those in search of a more relaxing time will find it in spades on Key Largo, where preservationists at Pennekamp State Park are keeping a close eye on the coral reef which runs just off the coast. Conditions here are perfect for snorkelling and a refreshing dip in the ocean.

102601 Overseas Highway (MM 102.5) Key Largo, FL 33037

http://pennekamppark.com/

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