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Things to Do in Florida - page 3

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ZooTampa at Lowry Park
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3 Tours and Activities

Home to a vast array of animals ranging from native Florida species to African wildlife, the Lowry Park Zoo is a must see for all animal and nature lovers. Rated the number one zoo in the U.S. by Parent's Magazine, and the number one child friendly zoo in the U.S. by Child Magazine, the Lowry Park Zoo is an ideal place for family's with young children.

The zoo features numerous exhibits including several hands on attractions. Children and adults alike can share in the experience of petting sting rays, feeding giraffes, or riding a camel. The zoo also recently expanded to include several children's rides including a merry-go-round.

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The Florida Aquarium
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The perfect place to take the entire family for an afternoon, the Florida Aquarium offers exciting views of nature within the comfort of an air-conditioned building. Home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals, the aquarium offers 200,000 square feet (23,000 square meters) worth of fun and adventure.

If walking around the expansive building and enjoying the amazing wildlife wasn’t enough, the aquarium also has additional opportunities for more in depth exploration. Some of these family friendly attractions include a Swim with the Fishes Tour, Penguins: Backstage Pass opportunity, and a Wild Dolphin Ecotour.

If you ever want to head outside, the 2-acre "Explore a Shore" water adventure zone provides opportunities for the kids to cool off with water games while parents can relax under the shade of the Tampa Tribune Cantina bar and grill.

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Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
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The ideal destination for curious people of all ages, the Museum of Science & Industry offers numerous exhibits and attractions designed to pique one's scientific interest.

With over 450 hands-on attractions, MOSI offers a unique interactive experience to its visitors. Feel free to lie down on a "bed of nails," allow a butterfly to land on your shoulder in the "Bioworks Butterfly Garden," enjoy an astronomy show in the Saunders Planetarium, or take a ride on the famous "High Wire Bike," suspended on a cable 30 feet (9 meters) above the ground. No matter how daring you are or how interested in science, the museum offers engaging opportunities designed to draw in visitors of all ages. "Kids in Charge!,"the largest children's science center in the United States, is the perfect place to bring those in the 12-and-under crowd. The attractions there emphasize the value of learning through play by bringing together science and creative thinking, and inspiring the imagination.

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Shark Valley
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Located in heart of what many call the ‘true Everglades,’ a river of grass that stretches 100 miles (161 km) from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico, Shark Valley is part of a unique freshwater ecosystem that is home to a wide variety of wildlife. There are several ways to explore this area, either on your own or with a guided tour.

The Tram Road, a 15-mile (24 km) round-trip, is flat and paved, perfect for walking or bicycling; it’s possible you’ll see alligators, deer, turtles and several types of birds while traversing this road. The Bobcat Boardwalk, which meanders through the tropical hardwood forest, is accessible from the Tram Road, as is the Otter Cave Hammock Trail. An observation tower, located halfway along the Tram Road, provides an aerial perspective to the sawgrass marsh. Bicycling the loop is another popular option, which takes between two to three hours; bikes are available for rental from the visitor center if you don’t have your own.

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Universal's Islands of Adventure
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Take an unforgettable journey through uniquely themed islands where your favorite adventures come to life. Soar above Hogwarts™ in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Hogsmeade™, help save the city on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®, and escape the jaws of a T-rex on the Jurassic Park River Adventure®.

Plus, with a Park-to-Park admission ticket you can ride between both lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ on the HogwartsSM Express.*

HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)

*Additional restrictions apply. © MARVEL. Jurassic Park River Adventure ® Universal Studios/Amblin. Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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Universal Orlando's Harry Potter attraction is spread across two parks at the resort: Diagon Alley on the Universal Studios Florida side and Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure. The two are connected by Hogwarts Express train, and each features shops, dining, and attractions inspired by the young wizard.
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Universal CityWalk
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Universal CityWalk™ is where daytime fun and nighttime excitement meet. It’s everything you’re looking for. And anything but ordinary. Here you can enjoy the fine cuisine of Emeril’s Orlando, the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe®, Jimmy Buffett’s® Margaritaville®, and unique eateries like The Cowfish®, VIVO Italian Kitchen™, AntojitosAuthentic Mexican Food™, NBC Sports Grill & Brew™, and The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen™.
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Universal’s Volcano Bay
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Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water park is a tropical-themed attraction located at Universal Orlando™. Attractions draw on South Pacific influences, and the centerpiece of the park is a towering 200-foot (61-meter) volcano called Krakatau™, which is the base for thrilling water slides. Other rides include an aqua coaster and a body plunge.
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Smathers Beach
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This half mile (.8 km) stretch of pristine white sand is the largest public beach Key West has to offer. Located on the south side of the island, against the shimmering turquoise waters of the Atlantic, Smathers Beach is the perfect place to relax while in Key West.

Thrill seekers can rent out water sports gear, kayaks, and mini sail boats from vendors along the beach. There are also numerous opportunities to parasail and snorkel. If you're looking to just relax on the sand, the vendors also offer beach chairs to help make your lounging more comfortable. There are also three volleyball nets scattered along the beach. All of these attractions make Smathers Beach the ideal sport for either a day trip or to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

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More Things to Do in Florida

Zoo Miami (Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens)

Zoo Miami (Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens)

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Miami boasts an excellent zoo, thanks in part to a subtropical climate that allows for large swathes of natural habitat. Inside Zoo Miami (formerly Miami Metrozoo), more than 200 species roam the cageless surrounds; don’t worry, the animals are kept at bay by cleverly designed moats.

Residents at Zoo Miami include elephants, koalas, colobus monkeys, and black rhinoceroses. You’ll also see a pair of Komodo dragons and Bengal tigers, including a gorgeous white tiger. Over at the Tropical America exhibit, you can see anacondas, giant river otters, jaguars, and sting ray touch tanks. You can even feed giraffes at The Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station. Younger kids, especially, will find much to enjoy at Zoo Miami. There’s a first-class petting zoo and play area, and the zoo offers several programs designed to entertain and educate. For an overview of the park, hop on the Zoofari Monorail.

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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

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If you want to scream your lungs out on a steel roller coaster, only to get off and come face to face with a giraffe, Busch Gardens is probably the place for you. An exciting and surprising hybrid between a zoo and a theme park, Busch Gardens perfectly blends the serene beauty of the wild with the thrilling excitement of amusement park rides. Half of the Gardens offers the attractions of an African safari, where one can see over 3,000 different animals spread out over the park's 335 acre (136 hectare) grounds. Animal attractions range from a bird observatory to a tug-of-war competition with a tiger. Just as diverse as the animal selection are the ride choices, which include huge roller coasters, a white water rapids ride, and a zip line, among many other options. There are also countless other shows, restaurants, and attractions sprinkled throughout the park, making it the perfect place for the entire family to enjoy a day of fun.
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Clematis Street

Clematis Street

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Clematis Street is right at the historic heart of West Palm Beach and is home to some of the area’s best restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Busy by day and perhaps even busier by night, the colorful district is home to twelve historic landmarks that tell the story of the area. Detailed architecture represents centuries of eclectic styles, while the many fountains and gardens (along with oceanfront location) make this an especially scenic spot. Boutiques line the street, which is full of antique shops, restaurants, art galleries, and cafes (Antique Row features 40 specialty shops alone.) Boats dock at the floating pier at the water’s edge, and year-round water sports and activities can be launched from nearby. By night there are often live music performances or music booming from one of many nightclubs. The area is known for its nightlife particularly on Thursday nights, when it transforms into a lively street party called ‘Clematis By Night.’

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Madame Tussauds Orlando

Madame Tussauds Orlando

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Orlando has a new immersive celebrity hotspot where one can walk down the red carpet and step into the world of fame for an afternoon. At Madame Tussauds, guests are able to find out exactly how tall those sports icons really are, strike a pose with a pop princess, shake hands with a smiling Barack Obama and take a selfie with Einstein. The museum poses TV and film celebrities next to pop icons, the most well-known faces from the arts and science and throws plenty of history and pop culture personalities into the mix as well.

The details of the wax replicas are on the usual Madame Tussauds level of incredible. Creating a wax statue requires taking hundreds of body and face measurements with calipers and measuring tapes, after which artists sculpt the perfect mold for the wax out of clay. Gluing on each hair individually, painstakingly painting facial features and recreating every last wrinkle ensures that the wax figures end up achieving a astonishing realism.

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Medieval Torture Museum

Medieval Torture Museum

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Overseas Highway

Overseas Highway

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Considered a marvel of engineering when it was first constructed, the Overseas Highway connects Miami and mainland Florida to the Florida Keys. Originally stretching a total of 113 miles (182 km) with 42 oversea bridges, the highway was constructed over the bed of the Overseas Railroad, which was constructed by Henry Flagler as part of the Florida East Coast Railway. When much of the railroad was destroyed in a hurricane in 1935, the roadbed and bridges were sold to the state of Florida; thus, the Overseas Highway was completed in 1938 and gave motorists access to the multitude of coral and limestone islands that make up the Florida Keys.

While most of the Overseas Highway runs to the right of the original railroad line, some of the old bridges can still be seen as you drive along through the Keys. The portions where pedestrians are allowed are now popular fishing spots; historic bridges like the Bahia Honda Bridge and Long Key Bridge are now fishing piers.

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Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science)

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science)

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The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, formerly known as the Miami Science Museum, is located in Miami, Florida. Their aim is to inspire people to enjoy science and technology in order to better understand themselves and the universe around them. The museum has expanded several times since its inception and currently receives over 250,000 annual visitors of all ages.

Exhibits include a sea lab where visitors can learn about coral reefs and the sea creatures that live in the reefs. You can even touch a sea horse or sea urchin. There are also exhibits about hurricanes and other aspects of weather. These exhibits show you how hurricanes work, how climates are changing, and how humans are affecting those changes. The museum also has exhibits that teach visitors about nano science, energy, movement, health, nature, wildlife, and much more. The planetarium has a 65-foot diameter domed projection screen with 231 seats. Check ahead for show schedules.

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Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

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Pressed in our collective memory, the Titanic means more to us than a giant ship that simply sank—its sinking was the defining moment for an era, the end to runaway idealism while signaling a return to pragmatism for the American people. With 10 full-scale room recreations, over 100 artifacts recovered from the real Titanic (including 21 that have never been seen by the public until now), character actors and tour guides, a dinner show and intense interactive exhibits, Titanic the Experience in Orlando offers what other museums cannot—a gripping, immersive and real-world connection to this defining moment in history.

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Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard

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Beginning from the beach, Las Olas Boulevard is a main thoroughfare of the Fort Lauderdale with numerous upscale shops, restaurants, and galleries. Lined beautifully with tall palm trees, it’s a beautiful hotspot of activity both by day and night. The ten main blocks that run from the ocean through to the city are well decorated with antique lamp posts, olive trees (with twinkling lights at night,) and Mediterranean style architecture. Many of the area’s best restaurants are located here, several offering al fresco dining as a way to take in the fresh air.

Shoppers can find more than 65 retail stores along the boulevard, while art lovers can enjoy the many museums and galleries. Nightlife comes to life every evening as well, when bars and restaurants become especially lively. Those looking for a scenic stroll would do well to walk along the eastern side of the boulevard, which is lined with canals and some of the area’s most beautiful homes.

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Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

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One of Key West's most famous residents, Ernest Hemingway, called the island his home from 1931 to 1939. Nestled among towering palm trees, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is a popular destination that allows you to see where the iconic American author lived and worked. Walk along the narrow pathway through the luscious gardens, overflowing with tropical plants, or look at the round wooden desk where Hemingway typed out his famous works on an old typewriter. The Hemingway house offers an unparalleled glimpse into the life of one of the most complex thinkers in American history. The house is also famous for the sixty cats that roam the grounds. About half of these cats are polydactyl, meaning they have extra toes. Some of the cats are supposedly descendants of Hemingway's own six-toed cat, though this a much a disputed fact.
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Harry S. Truman Little White House

Harry S. Truman Little White House

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Located in what is now called the Truman Annex in Old Town Key West, the Harry Truman Little White House was the winter White House for President Truman for a total of 175 days over the course of 11 visits. However, Truman is not the only president and notable figure to enjoy some respite in Key West.

The house originally served as the base commandant’s house for the naval submarine station at Key West. President Taft was the first to visit in 1912 and Thomas Edison resided in the house during World War I. Over the years, six American presidents have used the residence, but the most important usage was by President Harry Truman from 1946 -1952. Due to advances in technology, Truman realized that he could continue to act on matters of importance outside of Washington, D.C. and thus, the Little White House became his home from November-December and February-March, allowing the president a time of rest and recuperation.

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Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

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No coastal city would be complete without its own shipwreck legends, and Key West is no exception. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum allows you to explore artifacts from some of the most famous ships that went down in the Florida Keys.

The shipwrecks are mostly from merchant and slave ships in the 17th and 18th centuries. The artifacts on board serve as a window to the past, revealing a great deal about trade, colonization, slavery, and even daily life from the time period. One of the most famous ships to run aground in the Keys, the Henrietta Marie, is believed to be the world’s largest source of tangible objects from the early years of the slave trade. A visit to the museum lets you view historical artifacts in an new way, as the shipwreck legacy casts an eerie and exciting feeling over the objects.

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