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Making a 7 Day Florida Holiday Work...

There is so much to see and do in Florida you could visit for weeks and not scratch the surface. So if you have only got 7 days how can you fit it all in without feeling rushed?

Luckily one of our directors visited Florida with his family for half term week and here are his tips on how to do it....

Airport & Flights

Tip 1 - Later flight times:- Many flights from the USA return overnight and so book a late evening return flight to get a full last day of Florida fun before your return. Both Orlando and Miami airports are close to a number of attractions and there are plenty of places where you can leave your luggage.

Tip 2 - Family Check-in:- When departing the UK, try to find family check-in desks to cut your check-in queue time. During storm Eunice, we turned a 3-hour queue at Heathrow Terminal 5 into just 30 minutes by finding the family queue in desk next to security.

Tip 3:- Airport lounge:- You can get airport executive lounges for as little as £30 per person and they usually come with free food and complimentary alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. This alone means a lounge can pay for itself if you were planning to eat or drink in the terminal. They are also a Godsend if your flight is delayed as you can stay in their peaceful environment for up to 3 hours usually.

Staying/travelling in Florida

Tip 1 - Get an RV:- If you want to see the most of Florida then you need to be mobile. A campervan (or RV as they call them in the States) is the perfect way to achieve this. Not only can you use it to visit all the main attractions, it is economical as it will save on taxi fares and accommodation costs.  We used Cruise America and they were fantastic with a clean, spacious RV and a very easy pick-up/drop off process. We really felt the freedom that we could go anywhere and do anything.

Tip 2 - If staying in a hotel, location is key:- Because there is so much to do in Florida, you probably won’t spend much time in a hotel. So, you don’t need to book anything super-fancy. Instead, you want something that is clean, in a good location and with good service. We booked a couple of nights at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Kissimmee and it was perfect. The hotel was clean with spacious rooms and it had a reasonable gym and pool. More importantly it was only a 15–20-minute taxi ride from the major theme parks and was a 5-minute walk to the attractions in Kissimmee “Old Town”.

Attractions

Visiting Florida is all about the attractions and in my view, you want to get as much variety as possible. At the time of writing, Covid policies were in place at Disney where their UK ticket retailers were only able to sell 7-day park tickets to UK customers. We wouldn't recommend visiting Disney for 7 days as there are so many other things to see/do in Florida. So we experienced these Florida attractions instead: -

Everglades – Only a 20-minute taxi ride from West Miami, the Everglades are pure wilderness on the edge of a sprawling metropolis. We wanted to go on the famous airboats and we used Coopertown airboats because a) they are on the East side of the Everglades ie you don’t have to travel far to get to them; b) they offer both group and private tours (the former can really help with your budget); and c) they have a small wildlife walk as well to see some of the wildlife up close and personal, away from the airboat.

Kennedy Space Centre -  Wow! We took a whole day to visit one of the most perfect attractions for families. We loved the fact that the children felt that they were at an attraction as exciting as a theme park without realising that they were also getting an education and building an interest in science and space. Here you can see the biggest, fastest and most technologically advanced machines ever made, matched by the bravery and dedication of the people who have operated them. Despite visiting theme parks during our trip, the one story that my daughter told her school friends when she got back to the UK, was how she had touched actual moon rock!

Kissimmee Old Town – If you are staying in Kissimmee or south Orlando and you want some fun in the evening after a hard day at the theme parks, then pop down to Kissimmee Old Town. You can experience bars, restaurants and fairground entertainment all set in an old-fashioned Hollywood type old town mock up. There are also modern activities as well such as a Ninja warrior challenge that thankfully my daughter did on my behalf.

Universal theme parks –There are three Universal Theme Parks in Florida:- Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Volcano Bay. You need at least a day at each one and so I wouldn’t bother with tickets to travel between the two parks unless you really want to travel on the Hogwarts Express. To help you decide which park(s) to visit:- Islands of Adventure is the full throttle roller coaster theme park, Universal Studios is more traditional with rides that are gentler and based more around the movies and Volcano Bay is a water park. One tip for all you coaster addicts is to arrive at the theme park an hour before opening time, get to the front of the queue and run to the first ride. Also choose days where the park is open late to squeeze in those extra rides.

Kayaking – We spent a beautiful morning kayaking down Shingle Creek at the Paddling Centre, which unbelievably is only a 15-minute drive from central Kissimmee. Here you can hire single or double kayaks and drift down the slow waterways that meander their way through unspoilt woods and forests. Spotting turtles, alligators and birdlife is guaranteed. I chose a double kayak so one of us could paddle and the other could fend off the alligators!

Miami – We only stayed two nights in Miami and if like us you had limited time, you have to visit the vast expanse of Miami beach and Ocean Drive behind it. Here you will see art deco buildings, stylish bars/restaurants and of course the crazy rich (or pretending to be rich) people who cruise up and down all day.

While we packed a lot into our limited time, we didn’t feel rushed or pressured. Part of this was because we had the mobility of the RV and could just travel to each place easily without having to worry about taxis, buses/trains etc.. The other thing that helped was the fact that we had pre-planned and pre-bought a lot of our excursions ahead of time. You will be surprised how much time it can take to decide what to do and then paying for it and it's much better to do this in the UK rather than wasting time doing it while you are on holiday.

If you are thinking of planning a family holiday to Florida then just place an enquiry today and one of our Florida family holiday experts will be able to provide you with the best possible advice and prices.

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