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Things to see and do in Florida

Tourist offices

Florida Tourism Office

Address: 2540 W. Executive Center Circle, Suite 200, Tallahassee, 32301
Telephone: (850) 488-5607
Website: http://www.visitflorida.com/

Florida Tourism Office UK

Address: Westminster, 28 Eccleston Square, London , SW1V 1NZ
Telephone: 020 7932 2406
Website: http://www.visitflorida.com/uk

Attractions in Florida

Everglades National Park

Florida's Everglades make up the largest sub-tropical wilderness on the United States mainland, and were designated a national park in 1947. Both temperate and tropical plant communities are represented in the park's 610,684 hectares (1,509,000 acres), including cypress swamps, pinelands and sawgrass prairies. Florida Bay, the largest body of water within the park, covering 2072 sq km (800 sq miles), is home to fish, shellfish, coral and sponges. The park is particularly well known for its abundant birdlife. Other endangered species protected in the park are the Green turtle, the Key Largo Cotton mouse, the American crocodile and the Schaus swallowtail butterfly. The park's five visitor centres provide information on the flora and fauna in the Everglades, as well as details of various park trails. Hiking and canoeing trails start at Flamingo Visitor Center, Gulf Coast Visitor Center and Shark Valley Visitor Center. Shark Valley Center also hires out bicycles and visitors can take a narrated tram ride or a boat tour of the park.

Everglades National Park

Venture into the tangled wildness and sweeping sawgrass prairies of Florida's subtropical Everglades National Park (www.nps.gov/ever) by airboat tours, nature trails and safari vans. The Everglades is the USA's third-largest national park and home to wild alligators.

Go fishing

Cast out your line at the 'World's Luckiest Fishing Village', Destin's East Pass, for the best selection of deep-sea fishing excursions on the northern Gulf Coast. Join sportfishermen and anglers in The Keys (www.fla-keys.com) for some of the best fishing off America's coast. Compete with world records for catches of sailfish, marlin, kingfish, snapper, barracuda and grouper.

Head south

Drive south of Miami to the Florida Keys, a long chain of coral reef islands linked by highway US-1 from Key Largo (www.fla-keys.com/keylargo) to Key West (www.floridakeys.com). The keys offer diving, fishing, swimming with dolphins, eco-tours and birdwatching.

Hit the heritage trail

Tour St Augustine (www.floridashistoriccoast.com), the USA's oldest city, originally settled by the Spanish. The town is a time capsule capturing nearly 500 years of fascinating history.

Island living

Explore Marco Island (www.marco-island-florida.com), an area of stunning beauty and a retreat for the wealthy on the Gulf Coast. The exclusive island is nearly nestled among the Ten Thousand Islands, a maze of mangrove isles that stretch from Naples to the Florida Keys.

Jewish history

Walk through the Florida Holocaust Museum (www.flholocaustmuseum.org) in St Petersburg, one of the largest museums in the country and dedicated to the memory of millions of innocent Jews who died or suffered in the Holocaust.

Life's a beach

Swim at New Smyrna Beach (www.nsbfla.com), billed as the 'World's Safest Bathing Beach' and 'Best Beach in Florida'. Enjoy backwater fishing, fresh seafood, historical sites and museums, and long seasons of sunshine.Get away to Fort Myers Beach, ideal for family holidays with its safe, gently sloping shoreline and numerous activities.

Master strokes

Visit St Petersburg, home to world-class museums, including the Salvador Dali Museum (www.salvadordalimuseum.org), which contains the world's most comprehensive collection by this famous Spanish surrealist. See the Ringling Museum Complex (www.ringling.org), the official State Museum of Florida. It is a major attraction with superb old masterpieces and a fine contemporary art collection.

National parks

Take a glass-bottomed boat ride through mangroves and islands and out to tropical coral reefs rising 8m (25ft) in Biscayne National Park (www.nps.gov/bisc).

Outta this world

Coincide a visit to Cape Canaveral with one of NASA's space shuttle launches from the Kennedy Space Center. See launchpads, astronaut training centres, museums and exhibits (www.kennedyspacecenter.com). IMAX presentations give visitors the illusion of space travel.

Play golf

Tee off at one of southwest Florida's beautiful golf courses, where there are more golf holes per capita than any other destination in the USA.

Potter around

Experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or the terrifying attack of a great white shark on the Jaws Ride at Universal Studios, Orlando, (www.universalorlando.com).

Presidential paraphernalia

Explore the Florida International Museum (website: www.floridamuseum.org), home to the largest private collection of John F Kennedy memorabilia, including a recreation of JFK's Oval Office.

Seaside visit

Relax in Naples (www.naples-florida.com), a charming city of understated elegance, cosy beach cottages and 5-star resorts. Naples is also known for its pristine shoreline and abundant wildlife.

Speed demons

Thrill to the sounds of thunder at Daytona International Speedway (www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com) which hosts the famous Daytona 500 race and the Winston Cup series each year.

Swim with the dolphins

For an unforgettable experience, head for Key Largo or sign on for Dolphin Camp (www.dolphinsplus.com) and learn about these amazing mammals from a resident marine biologist and trainers.

Take a spin

Drive down Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road in Miami's South Beach past over 800 candy-coloured art deco buildings in the Art Deco Historic District (www.visitsouthbeachonline.com).

Take the plunge

• Dive in and experience the different watersports offered at Miami Beach (www.miamiandbeaches.com), including kayaking, windsurfing, boogie-boarding and scuba-diving.

Walt Disney World Resort

Take the family to Walt Disney World Resort (www.disney.go.com), the biggest amusement park in the world. Visit Magic Kingdom; explore science at the Epcot Center; take a safari adventure through Animal Kingdom; see the world of movies at Disney MGM Studios.

Waterways

Cruise Fort Lauderdale's canals and the Intracoastal Waterway by local water taxi past luxurious homes of the rich and famous. Discover the city's Riverwalk (www.goriverwalk.com), a linear park linking hotels, restaurants and attractions along the banks of the New River.

Wild encounters

Venture to Busch Gardens (www.buschgardens.com), a huge amusement park in Tampa Bay featuring African wildlife. Giraffes, zebras and antelope roam freely through the park's 24-hectare (60-acre) plain, next to thrilling rides such as the Kumba.

Wings Over Miami

Catch an air show at Wings Over Miami (www.wingsovermiami.com), a museum with an extensive collection of military and classic aircraft on display.

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