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Things to Do in Florida

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Intracoastal Waterway Fort Lauderdale
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13 Tours and Activities

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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Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum
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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.

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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
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7 Tours and Activities

Miami is often called the Magic City, and if it truly is, this opulent Italian Renaissance-style villa, the housing equivalent to a Fabergé egg, is its most fairy-tale residence. Built for industrialist James Deering in 1916, Vizcaya Palace brims with 15th to 19th century furniture, tapestries, paintings and decorative arts.

The poetic seaside grounds, which front Biscayne Bay, are full of splendid gardens (including a secret garden), beautiful fountains, sculptures, elegant pools, a charming Florentine gazebo, canals running everywhere and lots of trails. The landscape and architecture were influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance models and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style. Nearly 200,000 people visit Vizcaya each year including some of the world's leading dignitaries such as President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth of England and King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain.

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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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Miami Seaquarium
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The Miami Seaquarium is a 38 acre (15 hectare) marine park that excels in preserving, protecting and educating visitors about aquatic creatures. There are dozens of shows and exhibits including a tropical reef; the Shark Channel, with feeding presentations; and Discovery Bay, a natural mangrove habitat that serves as a refuge for rehabilitating rescued sea turtles.

Check out the Pacific white-sided dolphins or the West Indian manatees being nursed back to health. Frequent shows include dazzling performances from the Seaquarium’s finest residents, including a massive killer whale, dolphins, and sea lions. Dolphin Harbor is an especially fun venue for watching marine mammals play and show off; it also offers the popular Dolphin Encounter, which allows visitors to touch and swim with dolphins in the Flipper Lagoon.

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More Things to Do in Florida

Oldest Store Museum

Oldest Store Museum

3 Tours and Activities
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Edward B. Knight Pier

Edward B. Knight Pier

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When visiting Key West there is one spot you must visit to see the sunrise: White Street Pier. Even if you're not a morning person, White Street Pier is worth a visit at any time of day.

White Street Pier is a long concrete pier that stretches out far into the Atlantic Sea. Walk or ride your bike to the end where you'll find the pier greatly widens, providing ample space for you to find a spot to relax for a bit and take in the view. Facing outward from the pier you can enjoy the wonder of the vast ocean, which is quite clear below the pier. Turn around and you'll have a wide angle view of Key West. White Street Pier is known for its excellent location to watch the sunrise, but thanks to the angle of the pier you can see the sunset from it as well. During your walk along White Street Pier you'll likely encounter several locals fishing off the side of it. There is also an AIDS Memorial at the entrance to the pier.

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International Drive

International Drive

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24 Tours and Activities

One of the most exciting and flashy strips in America, I-Drive is packed with restaurants, hotels, shopping, and dinner theaters. And if that’s not enough, six of the world’s greatest theme parks make their home on I-Drive: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Wet 'n' Wild, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Aquatica.

I-Drive winds past Big Sand Lake, and part of the road is lined with palm trees and a pleasant walking district. Also here is Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Skyventure. Head to Pointe Orlando or Prime Outlets International for mega-mall shopping, or browse the quirky independent shops on Antique Row.

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The Florida Aquarium

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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ZooTampa at Lowry Park

ZooTampa at Lowry Park

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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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Old Florida Museum

Old Florida Museum

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1 Tour and Activity
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Icon Orlando 360

Icon Orlando 360

9 Tours and Activities

I-Drive 360 is a new entertainment complex on one of Orlando's main drags, International Drive, commonly known as I-Drive. Opened in May 2015, I-Drive 360 includes a variety of restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions – including an aquarium, a Madame Tussaud's, and the 400-foot observation wheel called the Orlando Eye. You'll find popular eateries like Shake Shack and Outback as well as hopping nightlife at Cowgirls Rockbar, with the only mechanical bull in the city.

The centerpiece is the massive observation wheel. It has 30 passenger compartments, each one air-conditioned, and each one can carry up to 15 people. Your ticket to the Orlando Eye includes a 4D movie experience and a ride around the wheel.

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Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum

Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum

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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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Duval Street

Duval Street

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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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