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Things to Do in Florida - page 5

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Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center
2 Tours and Activities

The first opportunity for information and assistance when you arrive in Everglades National Park, the Ernest Coe Visitor Center is worth a stop when visiting the park. With educational exhibitions and plenty of maps, the Ernest Coe Visitor Center is the perfect place to get an overview of the extensive offerings in the Everglades. Be sure to stay for a showing of River of Life, a 15-minute film that provides an excellent park overview. The Coe Visitor Center also provides information on park ranger-led activities (mostly talks and some walks) as well as details about boat tours and canoe rentals.

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Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum
2 Tours and Activities

Created on the site of what was once a miniature golf course, the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum is now home to more than 500 palms and cycads, representing more than 150 different species from around the world. Starting with just 60 palms representing 10 different species, the two-acre park has continuously expanded since its 1977 dedication. From massive specimens that are too big to fit in private yards to popular types that can be found along Florida’s beaches, the Palm Arboretum is an ever-changing, never-ending project that grows and expands organically. Take the time to stroll down the pathways, learning about the specimens, or simply perch on one of the conversation benches and enjoy the peace of the palms.

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Duval Street
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11 Tours and Activities
Your ultimate destination for a tasty bite to eat or a night on the town while in Key West is Duval Street. Running north and south from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, Duval Street is home to many famous restaurants and bars. Among the most notable of these establishments is Sloppy Joe's, the haunt of Ernest Hemingway while he stayed in Key West. He helped select the bar's name. Now, Sloppy Joe's pays homage to its most famous patron by holding an annual Hemingway look-a-like contest. You can also check out the Southernmost House, a huge pink Victorian mansion that currently operates as a museum and inn. Its name comes from the fact that it is located on the southernmost end of Duval Street in Key West, the southernmost city in the continental U.S, making it, in theory, the southernmost house in the U.S. On certain nights, Duval Street hosts a carnival that lasts well into the wee hours of the night.
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Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
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5 Tours and Activities

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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Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
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6 Tours and Activities

A veritable ode to a bygone era, the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum helps visitors step back into time and immerge themselves in the nautical and maritime heritage of what once was the richest city in the United States of America. Unusually so—Key Westers became extraordinarily wealthy by savaging treasures and luxury goods in the numerous and frequent wreckages, a questionable habit that provided for the livelihoods of the early pioneers on the island. Wrecking masters would then control the salvage operation and later on auction off their finds in wrecking courts, with each good being awarded a profit depending on how long or dangerous the salvage operation had been. Actors, films and artifacts tell the story of the treacherous Florida Keys reef and the many wrecks it caused, including the infamous 1838 Isaac Allerton vessel. The ship was 137 feet long and weighed 594 tons and served as merchant ship in and around the Caribbean Sea.

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Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
4 Tours and Activities

Encompassing 180 acres (73 hectares), Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is located near the Fort Lauderdale beachfront, although it holds a very tropical feel. Begin your day at the Terramar Visitor Center, which allows visitors to learn more about the park’s ecology and heritage through displays and exhibits. This will give you a good base of information so that when you’re exploring the park you can better understand the flora and fauna you’re looking at.

The major draw of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is its plethora of outdoor activities. While paved roads offer opportunities for cyclists and skaters, nature trails allow hikers to immerse themselves in organic beauty and see over 200 plant species. There’s also a freshwater lagoon for canoeing and kayaking. For those who enjoy fishing, the park features designated areas where this can be done. Also make sure to bring your camera to photograph the wildlife.

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Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
8 Tours and Activities

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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More Things to Do in Florida

Econlockhatchee River

Econlockhatchee River

2 Tours and Activities

Known as the Econ River for short, Econlockhatchee flows from Lake Conlin through three counties in central Florida. Its name originated from “river of many mounds,” named for the Indian mounds located along its waterfront. The area has a unique, densely forested landscape. Water levels vary based on rainfall, but there’s usually plenty of wildlife to see. The upper section of the river is swampland, and resident alligator sightings tend to be frequent. Canoe and kayak padding is a common way to enjoy the natural beauty of the river.

Other wildlife that calls the river home includes bald eagles, sandhill cranes, ospreys, and other wildfowl, as well as deer, turkey, and river otters. The river was deemed an Outstanding Florida Waterway and is one of few unspoiled rivers in Central Florida. Flowing through moss-covered cypress and palm forests, it comprises some of the state’s most beautiful natural scenery.

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Walt Disney World®

Walt Disney World®

8 Tours and Activities
Walt Disney has four main parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. In the Magic Kingdown you will find the iconic Cinderella Castle and plenty of thrilling rides to enjoy. The Animal Kingdom offers a unique blend of creatures real and fantasy, with a large dose of Disney characters, storytelling and magic. At Epcot Center, a world culture taster awaits, whilst in Disney’s Hollywood Studios you can experience movie-making at its best from flames bursting to cars splitting in half. Walt Disney World also has three water parks, a shopping district, 22 hotels, countless eateries, and transport systems.
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Disney Springs™

Disney Springs™

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4 Tours and Activities
Located in Lake Buena Vista, about 25 minutes from Orlando, Downtown Disney is an outdoor complex featuring retail shops, restaurants and entertainment. Unlike the Disney theme parks, Downtown Disney is free to enter and explore. The attraction is separated into three distinct areas including the Downtown Disney Marketplace, Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney Westside. The Downtown Disney Marketplace is where you’ll find the main shopping hub -- including World of Disney, the planet’s largest Disney merchandise store -- as well as restaurants and attractions. Indulge in an ice cream sundae and admire antique chocolate-making equipment at the Ghiaradelli’s Chocolate Shop and Soda Fountain, dine with life-sized wildlife at the Rainforest Cafe or get in touch with your inner child and ride the carousel.
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Wynwood

Wynwood

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30 Tours and Activities

Known as a trendy arts district, Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood is one of best inner-city escapes to be had while visiting the Magic City. With more than 70 arts galleries, a slew of hip coffee shops and dozens of niche museums and artistic collections, walking through “the Wyn” will give you a good understanding of why this little alcove is called Miami’s heart and soul.

Also famous for its Wynwood Walls, the streets of the Wyn are lined with murals created by some of Miami’s famous artists. It’s a source of pride for the neighborhood, as it successfully blends work from the up-and-coming artists with that of those who are already established in the field. And when night falls, the area comes alive with fun-seekers out to grab a bite to eat at one of the many hip eateries and bars. A trip to the Wynwood neighborhood is a sure-fire way to see what makes Miami magical.

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Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

4 Tours and Activities
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Epcot Center

Epcot Center

2 Tours and Activities

With no roller coasters screeching overhead, no parades, no water rides and plenty of greenery, Epcot Center moves at a slower pace. Here you can smell the incense in Morocco, listen to the Beatles in the United Kingdom, eat sushi in Japan, and get a pastry in France.

An acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” The Epcot Center is divided into two halves. The modern Future World, with its hard-to-miss iconic geosphere known as Spaceship Earth, explores modern technologies through myriad rides and displays.

The other half is the World Showcase, where you can tour the world in a day by taking an intoxicating toe-dip into the cultures of 11 different countries, featuring Mexico, Norway, China, France, Germany, and Italy.

Epcot also offers plenty of activities that appeal to inquisitive tots. The new Soarin' ride is a winner, and Mission: SPACE is good for getting the adrenaline pumping after one too many educational exhibits.

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Miami Design District

Miami Design District

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27 Tours and Activities

The Miami Design District is dedicated to innovative fashion, design, architecture and dining. The area juxtaposes design brands with restaurants, international art collections and permanent and temporary art installations, while its new buildings exist with transformed historic ones. Design showrooms fill the area, including Holly Hunt, Knoll, Luminaire Contract and Ann Sacks, while retailers like Christian Louboutin, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Prada also saw the potential for the area and have opened stores here.

The neighborhood continues to evolve, and new renovations continue with additional luxury brands like Givenchy, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani and Van Cleef & Arpels slated to open shop. The long-term dream for the district is for it to exist as a renowned destination for cutting-edge fashion, art, design and culture, while maintaining its commitment to creative experiences.

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Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

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4 Tours and Activities

Get up close and learn about Florida’s wildlife at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Visitors flock here in droves to see manatees, in particular, that can be seen twisting, turning, diving and playing from the park’s underwater observatory. The park provides a safe habitat for black bears, bobcats, alligators, crocodiles and river otters, among other animals, and works to educate the public about Florida’s wildlife. There is a children’s education center on the premises to further this goal, while a specific educational program about manatees is offered three times every day.

In addition to education, Homosassa is a great place for outdoor recreational activities. Bird watching is the most popular activity here, and bird walks are offered, during which guides will point out various species. Families also enjoy picnicking and taking nature walks, and if you don’t bring your lunch, that’s okay—the park has a café and concessions stand on the premises.

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Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach

3 Tours and Activities

Los Angeles isn’t the only place with a famous Hollywood. In Florida, Hollywood is known for its gorgeous stretch of coastline, vibrant boardwalk and people watching. When visiting the area, you can lay down a towel on the soft sand of Hollywood Beach or rent a bike to coast down the boardwalk framing the gorgeous stretch of sand.

The boardwalk is what Hollywood Beach is most famous for. Called the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, it stretches down the coast for two and a half miles and is made up of brick stones in varying shades of red. Walkers, joggers, bikers and rollerbladers are all welcome to cruise down the boardwalk at their own pace while being inches from the white sand beach and the aqua sea water beyond it. Numerous seaside restaurants and a couple of family-friendly parks can be found along Hollywood Beach Boardwalk and there are often free concerts at the Hollywood Beach Theatre.

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Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park

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5 Tours and Activities

Boats glide alongside actual swans on Lake Eola, at the heart of Lake Eola Park. The site isn’t big by many standards – a mile around – but it packs a big punch as an oasis in the middle of bustling, crowded Orlando. Locals and visitors flock here – like the geese they feed out of hand – to take in a little nature. The Orlando skyline rises in the distance, a stunning contrast to the peace and quiet of the park and a beautiful reminder of the nearby city.

There are countless things to do in Lake Eola Park, including a weekly farmers’ market to visit, complete with fresh produce and live entertainment. Children run amok on the Lake Eola playground, and the iconic swan boats are a favorite for all ages. The park also has its own performance space, the Walt Disney Amphitheatre, which hosts events throughout the year. There’s even a restaurant on the premises; the Relax Grill promises to live up to its name.

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