Er zijn maar weinig plekken ter wereld waar je echt lang naar lamantijnen kunt kijken. Deze zeer ongebruikelijke zeedieren met vinachtige poten zouden model hebben gestaan voor de mythologische zeemeerminnen. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, langs de Golfkust van Florida, is waarschijnlijk de beste plek op aarde om deze dieren te zien. Dit toevluchtsoord van bijna 19 hectare is opgericht om lamantijnen te beschermen die hier tijdens de wintermaanden in grote getale naar toe komen. De unieke locatie heeft een netwerk van ondergrondse bronnen die uitkomen in de hoofdwateren van de Crystal River. Een serie van negen eilanden biedt perfecte beschutting voor de langzaam bewegende dieren, die gewond of gestrest kunnen raken van motorboten.
Featuring over 23 miles (37 kilometers) of pristine beach, visitors will have plenty of opportunities to swim and sunbathe. The Fort Lauderdale beachfront offers a wide number of experiences, like wind surfing, jet skiing, boating, snorkeling, deep sea fishing and scuba diving. If you’d rather stay on land, jogging, cycling, rollerblading and beach sports like volleyball and Frisbee are worthwhile beachfront options.
Spend some time in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, known for its scuba diving offerings and pier where you can watch fishermen reeling in fresh catch. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is another top experience when exploring Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront, and can be accessed via the pedestrian tunnel under A1A. This park has a tropical-feel and offers chances to kayak, fish and cycle. And of course, visiting the beaches themselves is a must, like the family-friendly Deerfield Beach, trendy Fort Lauderdale Beach and adventure-focused Hallandale Beach.
For thousands of years, people have journeyed the earth in search of a so called "Fountain of Youth," hoping that a single sip from the spring will restore them to full health and vitality.According to legend, the famous Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon came to Florida in the 16th century in search of this miraculous fountain. He claimed the land for the Spanish crown, and soon afterward, another explorer arrived and founded St. Augustine- the oldest continuously occupied European settlement within the continental United States. It wasn't until 1901 that an enterprising woman bought an estate in St. Augustine and began to charge people to drink from the fountain located on the property. She claimed that it was Ponce de Leon's fountain of youth, and patrons immediately began flocking to the site. Whether or not you believe in the legend, it can't hurt to to see what happens if you take a sip from the fountain.
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.
Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is located in the historic downtown district by the New River. Experience Florida's most beautiful mile, showcasing rich tropical landscape and winding walkways linking downtown Fort Lauderdale's best attractions on the Riverwalk. Take a river bus along the canals and see elaborate homes and yachts if it suits your fancy.
The Riverwalk is composed of a park and a collection of shops, restaurants, clubs bars, and a movie theatre. It also includes important Fort Lauderdale attractions, such as the Broward Center for Performing Arts, the Museum of Discovery and Science, the Florida Grand Opera, Old Fort Lauderdale. The Riverwalk is a lovely place to go for stroll, grab a bite to eat, enjoy outdoor entertainment, or revel in Fort Lauderdale’s exciting nightlife.
Few things are as beautiful as a Florida sunset, so while you are in Key West, be sure to celebrate the sunset in true Key West style - at Mallory Square. Every night, starting two hours before the sunset, the square hosts its "Sunset Celebration." Arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers and food carts descend on the square providing you with fun entertainment to enjoy in the last daylight hours.
During the daytime, Mallory Square offers numerous attractions at its many restaurants and shops. While you are there, you should also check out the famous Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden. Open since 1997, the garden contains 36 bronze busts of the men and women who have had the greatest impact on Key West. The most famous of these are renowned writer Ernest Hemingway and President Harry S. Truman.
The Ten Thousand Islands are a chain of islands and mangrove islets that stretch from Everglades City to Flamingo at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. The northern area is part of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge; the southern part lies in the Everglades National Park. Ten Thousand Islands is a misnomer—the islands actually only number in the hundreds—but semantics aside, the area embodies the serenity and complexity of the Everglades. The islands are mostly uninhabited now, but evidence of Native American inhabitants can be found underwater and on some of the islands.
The best way to see the area is by boat, either on a guided tour or by canoe. There are guided eco tours led by naturalists or you can rent a kayak or a canoe and strike out on your own. The 99-mile (159 km) long Wilderness Waterway is the longest canoe trail in the area, but there are shorter trails near Flamingo if you’re looking for an easier paddle.
Touring the Intracoastal Waterway, you’ll understand why Fort Lauderdale is nicknamed the “Venice of America.” Made up of beautiful canals lined with palm trees, restaurants, hotels and attractions, the Intracoastal Waterway is both a means for transportation and an experience in itself.
Stretching 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) between the United States’ Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the main purpose of the Intracoastal Waterway is to provide a navigable route for ships that doesn’t present many hazards. Sightseeing from the Intracoastal Waterway is a special experience, as it allows you to take in Fort Lauderdale’s resort-like skyline, high-end real estate, yachts and attractions like Hollywood and the Las Olas Riverfront complex in a relaxing manner. For those who enjoy wildlife viewing, it’s not uncommon to also see manatees.
The Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale can also be enjoyed on land, mainly from one of the city’s waterfront restaurants.
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Housed in a gorgeous former hotel built in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance style, the exterior of the Lightner Museum is reason enough to visit. The real treats though are the various antiquities located on the inside of this three story museum.
The first floor houses a Victorian village, with shop fronts offering Victorian era wares. Take a look at the Victorian Science and Industry Room and its eclectic array of artifacts including model steam engines, stuffed birds, a small Egyptian mummy, and a shrunken head. The second floor contains samples of cut glass, Victorian art glass and stained glass work. The third floor, housed in the ball room's upper balcony, exhibits paintings, sculpture, and furniture from the time period. Overall, the museum's careful attention to details and rustic recreation of the time period make it a fun place to visit.
South Beach is precies wat je ervan mag verwachten. De 16 kilometer lange strook met stranden biedt een drukke feestelijke atmosfeer. Bekend zijn ook de pastelkleurige gebouwen in het Art Deco District, met de hoogste dichtheid aan Art Deco architectuur ter wereld.
South Beach is met haar Caribische cultuur en hippe, sexy nachtleven een plek waar dag en nacht wat te zien is, vooral op Ocean Drive. Ga naar het mooie Lincoln Road om te winkelen, loop langs de Art Deco gebouwen op Collins Avenue of slenter langs de Strandpromenade tussen 5th en 15th Street.
Als je weg wilt van de zon en de drukte, dan kun je naar het uitdagende World Erotic Art Museum of het juist tegenovergestelde Bass Museum of Art voor 16de-eeuwse kerkelijke kunst. Heerlijk ontspannen met een mojito en kijken naar voorbijgangers is ook een goede dagbesteding.
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.
This iconic Florida bridge is a testament to humankind’s architectural prowess and mother nature’s sheer beauty. Officially known as the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge (named after the former Florida governor), it was built in 1954 and spans Tampa Bay with a 1,500-foot cable-stayed main span. The bridge’s height, expansive views of the surrounding bay and modern design landed it the No. 3 spot on the Travel Channel’s list of top bridges in the world. Those traveling to Tampa shouldn’t miss the chance to be impressed by this architectural wonder and the amazing views of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico it provides.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) was opened in 1972 as a marine biology learning center in Clearwater, Florida, about 40 minutes from both Tampa and St. Petersburg. Over the years, it has grown and expanded into a center for public education and animal care (their motto is "rescue, rehab, release") while retaining its focus on marine research.
CMA is perhaps most famous for one of its residents, a dolphin named Winter who, at three months old, got tangled in a crab trap line and was unable to escape. She was rescued and brought to CMA for rehabilitation, but her injuries were so serious that her tail had to be amputated, along with two vertebrae. The story has a happy ending, though. Through collaboration with a human prosthetics company, a marine veterinarian and the folks at CMA, Winter now has a prosthetic tail and she’s doing well. The film Dolphin Tale (2011) was based on Winter’s story; she still lives at CMA and can be visited at Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure.
Het Miami Seaquarium is een 15 hectare groot zeevaartpark, dat zich bezig houdt met behoud, bescherming en voorlichting over de onderwaterwereld. Er zijn tientallen shows en exposities, waaronder een tropisch rif; het Shark Channel met voederdemonstraties en Discovery Bay, een natuurlijk mangrovebos, waar zeeschildpadden weer op krachten kunnen komen nadat ze gered zijn.
Bekijk de wit-gestreepte dolfijnen uit de Stille Oceaan of de West-Indiaanse zeekoeien, die verpleegd worden. Er zijn regelmatig show met indrukwekkende optredens van de bewoners van het Seaquarium, waaronder een grote orka, dolfijnen en zeeleeuwen. Dolphin Harbor is de plek om zeedieren te zien spelen; daar is ook het populaire Dolphin Encounter te vinden, waar bezoekers de dolfijnen mogen aanraken en met ze mogen zwemmen in de Flipper Lagoon.
Key West is both a city and an island that is part of the Florida Keys and considered to be the southernmost city in the continental United States. With a laidback and slightly offbeat vibe, numerous famous writers, artists and musicians have called it home over the years. Cruise ships have been stopping at Key West since 1969 and today it welcomes nearly half a million cruise passengers every year.
Your ship will likely dock at either Mallory Square or the Truman Annex, both of which are just a few blocks from Duval Street in central Key West. If your ship docks further out at the Navy Mole, near Fort Zachary Taylor. In that case, trolleys are available to shuttle you into the Old Town.
Located off the coast of St. Petersburg, Fort De Soto Park is not your average ‘park.’ It’s actually 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys) and is the largest park in the Pinellas County park system. With seven miles of waterfront, including almost three miles of beautiful, white sand beaches, Fort De Soto is a popular destination for both visitors and guests to the St. Petersburg area.
There’s plenty to do in Fort De Soto Park. History buffs can explore the historic fort while cyclists and walkers can enjoy seven miles of paved trails that run through the park. For nature lovers, it’s worth noting that the park is the start of the Great Florida Birding Trail (328 species of birds have been documented over 60 years and new species are being added every year) and offers the one of the greatest diversities of bird, sea life, plant and wild life in Florida. The beach is also a nesting ground for the loggerhead sea turtle between April and September.
Voyage the waterways of Fort Lauderdale's New River on the Jungle Queen Riverboat and stop at a Native American village and experience a stunning tropical island environment complete with extraordinay plants and birds and tussling alligators. For more than 50 years, visitors have traveled on this dignified riverboat to be entertained by the crew and sights of Fort Lauderdale. The Jungle Queen Riverboat Company owns several boats and offers two distinct tours.
The Sightseeing Cruise lasts about 3 hours, and will take you up the New River, including a stopover at the "Jungle Queen Indian Village." The Bar-B-Que and Shrimp Dinner Cruise lasts roughly 4 hours, and also includes a trip up the New River. There is an island stopover for an all-you-can-eat shrimp and ribs dinner and a live variety show amid tropical foliage.
The Key West Lighthouse is one of the island's oldest relics, as it was first built in 1825 to help ships navigating the dangerous reefs of the lower keys. The lighthouse had a rather rough history, as it was often destroyed and damaged throughout the years and had to be replaced and restored. The one that stands there today was completed in 1849, but has undergone several additions throughout the years. It now stands at about 100 feet (30.5 m) above sea level. As the 15th oldest surviving lighthouse in the U.S., its proud history makes it well worth seeing. Climb up the 88 steps of the circular iron stairway to access a lookout area with spectacular views of the ocean and Keys.
One of the most interesting aspects about lighthouses are the stories of the keepers who lived there. The Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum is no exception. Visit the newly restored keeper's home and learn about the perilious job that cost some keepers their lives.
Clearwater Beach heeft zachte witte stranden en ligt aan de warme, rustige Golf van Mexico. Het is een stukje rustiger dan het naastgelegen bruisende St. Pete’s Beach en heeft van alles te bieden op het gebied van kajakken, schelpen zoeken en fietsen. Vooral voor gezinnen is het hier prima toeven, want je kunt prima zwemmen en watersporten door de rustige golven.
Langs de kust ligt Mandalay Avenue, met restaurants, winkels en hotels. De strook is ongeveer 1,5 km lang en dus uitstekend geschikt voor een wandeling. Dagjesmensen moeten beslist Sand Key Beach & Park bezoeken. Dat is een breed strand om te zwemmen of dolfijnen te spotten. Naast het strand kun je zeeotters bekijken in het Clearwater Marine Aquarium of de kunsten van jongleurs en goochelaars aanschouwen op Pier 60.
Er zijn ook boottochten om dolfijnen te bekijken en je kunt zelf een piratentocht doen. Of stap aan boord van de Jolley Trolley, die door het gebied rond Clearwater Beach en Sand Key rijdt.
Popular for both its military history and current recreational opportunities, Fort Zachary Taylor is also the location of one of Key West’s favorites beaches. Spanning 54 acres, Fort Zachary Taylor is worth a visit both for its colorful past and its attractive present. Construction on Fort Taylor was begun in 1845 and the Fort hosted active duty squadrons until 1947. During the period of the Civil War, Fort Zachary Taylor remained one of only three fortresses in Florida to remain under Federal control; it’s now recognized as a National Historic Landmark and contains the largest cache of Civil War-era seacoast cannons in the U.S. Fort Taylor was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Tours are conducted daily and pamphlets for self-guided tours are available as well. Today, Fort Zachary Taylor is best known for its outdoor activities and is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
You don’t have to be a space junkie to enjoy NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the only spot in the United States from which humans have been hurled into space. The plethora of hands-on exhibits, IMAX movies, and sheer magnitude of the shuttles will surely impress the most passive fan.
One of the highlights is the Shuttle Launch Simulator, where budding astronauts are strapped into a cockpit and given high-fidelity ride, which creates the impression of an actual lift-off.
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