Beyond the Mouse
15 Nights From €1649 (Per Person)
Fly Drive Holidays
Miami (Florida) - Key West (Florida) - Fort Mayers (Florida) - Tampa and St Petersburg (Florida) - Ocala (Florida) - St Augustine (Florida) - Orlando (Florida) - Cocoa Beach (Florida) - The Space Coast (Florida) - Miami (Florida)
Think of Florida and your thoughts will undoubtedly lead to powdery white beaches and Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney World is truly an American icon, and has brought countless starry-eyed visitors of all ages to the United States since its opening in 1971. Yet Florida is so much more than Disney. Believe it or not, Florida was settled before the English landed in Jamestown. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed in 1513, and St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the United States. The state has been ruled by five countries, making it a real cultural gumbo. The east coast of Florida has recently become populated with “snow birds” escaping the New York winters, while the west coast receives more Midwesterners and Canadians who add to the cultural mix. Northern and southern Florida are dramatically different. The northern part of the state is considered “Original Florida,” and some would say it’s more traditionally “southern” than the south of Georgia. South of interstate I-4, the state is more diverse and has a more cosmopolitan flair, as this is where the mix of many cultures has taken place.
Then, there’s the weather – sunny, sunny weather. On as many as 361 days every year, radiant sunshine toasts the powdery beaches and palm trees sway in a gentle breeze for at least part of the day. The Tampa daily newspaper guarantees that if the sun does not come out on any particular day, the newspaper is free. Now that’s sunshine confidence! Enjoy the diversity of landscapes, cultures and flavors that Florida has to offer. You’ll find scenic drives, historic downtowns, sophisticated cities, and entertainment and attractions to suit every age and interest. Admire lush gardens and great architecture, or spend the day on one of her famous beaches or with one of her most famous residents. Relax, kick off your shoes, and enjoy it all.
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Day 1: Arrive Miami
Welcome to Miami, the swingin’ tropical city that moves to a Latin beat. It’s a young city by Florida standards, founded 300 years after St. Augustine. Miami became a visitor destination as soon as Henry Flagler extended his coastal railroad down the coast and it hasn’t stopped since. Great beaches, never ending nightlife, South Beach, Coral Gables, great food and music await you.
Day 2: Explore Miami
Today you have the option to just relax on the beach or visit Miami’s world class attractions. The Seaquarium at Key Biscayne is unparalleled. The Charles Deering Estate is a fascinating combination of history and nature. Vizcaya, owned by Mr. Deering’s brother, is considered the best historical structure in Miami. Both estates have fascinating stories. And of course there’s South Beach, renowned the world over as “the” place to see and be seen.
Day 3: Key West
On your way between Miami and Key West, plan to visit Biscayne National Park, a rare combination of emerald islands, turquoise water, and coral reefs teeming with fish, all within sight of downtown Miami. Take one of the famous glass bottom boat tours to see the marine life up close and personal. And absolutely don’t miss the sunset on Mallory Square at the end of Duval Street. It’s a tradition here to watch the glowing orange ball cast its glow over the sparkling water every evening.
Day 4: Explore Key West
“We’ll do it tomorrow,” is a phrase you’ll hear again and again on this laid back, bare foot, sun-filled island. Over the past 20 years, as the Navy has moved out, new residents have moved in and the gingerbread houses that line the streets of the historic district have been restored, freshly painted in tropical colors and landscaped with lush vegetation. Plan to spend some time in the historic district where land titles date back to the King of Spain. People-watching is one of the most common pastimes in Key West, a city filled with interesting and unique characters who often look like they’ve stepped right out of a novel.
Day 5: Explore Key West
Depending on your interest, Key West has great beaches and also wonderful nature-based attractions such as the Aquarium, Marine Park and Butterfly Conservancy. The diverse and accepting lifestyle is what attracted Earnest Hemmingway and Robert Frost to Key West as writers. There’s a home and museum devoted to each of them. In addition, the beautiful John J. Audubon House and Tropical Gardens are open for touring. If you want to venture farther afield, visit Dry Tortugas National Park, accessible only by daily ferries from Key West. It is a truly unique environment.
Day 6: Fort Myers
As you cross southern Florida from Key West to Fort Myers, you’ll be traveling the Tamiami Trail National Scenic Byway through Everglades National Park. The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the world, populated by rare and endangered species such as American crocodiles, Florida panthers and West Indian manatees. You can take a boat tour out into the swamp or the Florida Bay, where 10,000 islands make up about a third of the land area of the Park.
Day 7: Tampa / St. Petersburg
Before you leave Fort Myers, plan to visit the home and laboratory of Thomas Edison, the city’s most famous resident. In Tampa, one of America’s great cities, you can have breakfast at a waterside cafe, visit Busch Gardens African Safari, tour the Florida Aquarium, and ride the streetcar to Channelside for great shopping. And don’t miss Ybor City, where the Cuban sandwiches are hot and crisp, the cigars are hand rolled and the streets are filled with fun all night long.
Day 8: Explore Tampa / St. Petersburg
You should have plenty of time today to explore Tampa’s sister city, St. Petersburg, which is home to some truly great museums. The Salvador Dali Museum has more of the painter’s originals than any other venue. The Florida Holocaust Museum presents an incredibly inspirational perspective of this world event. The Florida International Museum is filled with South American artifacts. The St. Petersburg Museum of History has been collecting artifacts since 1920. The Museum of Fine Arts has a worldwide collection of special objects. And, of course, you have to spend at least a bit of time on St. Petersburg’s beaches!
Day 9: Ocala
A unique journey awaits you today, as your drive to Ocala takes you into “Original Florida,” which is distinctly different from the rest of the state. In addition to being authentic and more lightly populated, Ocala is horse country. You can get acquainted with the area on a horse-drawn trolley or carriage ride through some beautiful horse farms. Also, plan to spend some time at Silver Springs and Silver River State Park where you can ride on a glass bottom boat again to see the vibrant marine life. Florida’s third largest spring originates in Rainbow Springs State Park. You can even take a side trip to Gainesville to visit the University of Florida, home of the Gators and the birthplace of the famous sports drink!
Day 10: St. Augustine
Scenic roads through the Ocala National Forest take you to St. Augustine today, which has the distinction of being the oldest continuous city in the United States. It was founded in 1565, 42 years before John Smith landed at Jamestown. When you tour the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine’s original fort that was constructed in 1565, you’ll marvel at how well it withstood attacks by the Spanish, British and French that went on for decades. The downtown historic district in St. Augustine is phenomenal. More than 60 sites and attractions are located in 144 square blocks of historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Day 11: Explore St. Augustine
As you stroll through St. Augustine, you’ll find the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, Spanish Quarter Village and the legacy of Henry Flagler, who brought the railroad and Flagler College to town. for lunch at the Casa Monica Hotel, and then discover the historic Basilica Cathedral of St. Augustine amidst modern commercial buildings. The St. Augustine Museum and Government House also date from the early days of settlement. The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum are located on Anastasia Island, just a short drive from the city.
Day 12: Orlando
For those who thought Orlando was just about Walt Disney World, there are more than 200 other fantastic things to do here that range from antiquing to enjoying a meal at the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe. There’s Sea World Orlando, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, phenomenal shopping, theme parks, wineries, orange trees and just about every other kind of entertainment you can imagine. Enjoy whatever you choose to do!
Day 13: Explore Orlando
You can’t come all the way to Orlando and not visit “The Mouse,” so enjoy a fun-filled day of rides, attractions and entertainment at Walt Disney World!
Day 14: Cocoa Beach
You’ll need a full day at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral to experience and absorb it all. There are many different tours available, including the ‘NASA Close Up Tour’ and ‘Cape Canaveral Then and Now,’ each guided by a space program expert. You can even experience the total “weightlessness” of space. That’s everyone’s favorite.
Day 15: Explore Florida’s Space Coast
Today, explore some of the 250 square miles of protected wildlife refuges located on Florida’s gorgeous “Space Coast.” Enjoy spectacular landscapes and a rich diversity of rare and endangered plants and animals. The Southern Bald Eagle, West Indian Manatee, Wood Stork, White Pelican, Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin and Roseate Spoonbill represent just some of the more than 20 rare and threatened species on the protected list. You can also enjoy the pristine beaches of Canaveral National Seashore.
Day 16: Cocoa Beach to Miami / Depart Miami
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