From the historic sites of St. Augustine right down to the calming waterways of Fort Lauderdale, discover all that Floridas fabulous Gold Coast has to offer.St Augustine
St. Augustine is one of the most historically rich cities in the entire US, in fact it’s the country’s longest continually inhabited European-founded city. What was once a small port town, the ‘Nation’s Oldest City’ has now developed into a bustling and thriving destination with an energetic community who are dedicated to preserving its rich heritage. A place of Gilded-Age hotels, narrow cobblestone streets, fascinating archaeological sites and legendary landmarks, St. Augustine offers more than four centuries of history for visitors to delve into. Discover the oldest masonry fort in America, Castillo de San Marcos, take a sip from the ‘Fountain of Youth’ and gaze in awe at the stunning Louis Comfort-Tiffany stained glass at Flagler College.
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Castillo de San Marcos[/caption]
Aside from its countless historical attractions, visitors will find plenty in terms of entertainment and activities. Stroll down famous Aviles Street and browse the quaint art galleries, embark on a swashbuckling adventure at the pirate-themed museum and head to ‘Beachfront Avenue’ in the evening for your pick of the many bars and restaurants. You can’t visit St. Augustine without spending some time at the beach. With 43 miles of gorgeous coastline to tempt you, you’ll find everything from unspoiled, idyllic State Parks to public beaches just steps from oceanfront shops and dining spots.
If mild temperatures, endless activities, great shopping and exciting spectator sports are your thing, look no further than Daytona Beach. Home to the famous Daytona International Speedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, racing is one of the main draws of the city and makes it the perfect destination for petrol heads and adrenaline junkies. But there’s so much more on offer than just motor racing. The beaches span an impressive 23 miles and provide visitors with gorgeous golden sands to enjoy, some which are reserved for beach-goers and some which are dedicated to exclusive driving experiences. There’s plenty going on all year round at Daytona Beach, dubbed the ‘festival capital of Florida’ don’t miss events such as BikeWeek, Daytona Blues Festival and the Summer Concert Series.
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For those looking for a more cultural experience, take a walk through history and tour Rockefeller’s Ormand Beach Home, The Casements, or explore the many old sugar mill plantations which one supplied the city and beyond. A climb to the top of the historic Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse (the tallest lighthouse in Florida) will take you 175 feet above the ground for spectacular views across the shoreline. The Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier offer a nostalgic experience focussed around fun and food…what more could you want? Enjoy amusement rides and go-karts or venture down the newly renovated pier for great seafront dining – there’s even a rooftop bar! If you’ve hired a car to explore the area don’t miss the Ormond Scenic Loop – a 30-mile stretch of driving heaven with unobstructed views of rivers, creeks, beaches and more.
Just an hour east of Orlando lies one of the most affordable beach destinations in Florida, Cocoa Beach. Technically part of Florida’s Space Coast, this is a quintessential beach town with 72 miles of top-notch Atlantic shoreline to discover. An average temperature of 23°C and warm Southern waters make Cocoa Beach the perfect place for fun in the sun or simply a little relaxation. Those who are into surfing will find plenty of opportunities to hang ten along the shores of Cocoa Beach. In fact, the area is amongst the best for surfing in Florida and is also the birthplace of one of the world’s most prolific surfers Kelly Slater.
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Cocoa Beach Pier[/caption]
Cocoa Beach’s numerous oceanfront parks offer something for everyone, from undeveloped stretches of secluded shoreline to beaches perfect for families who want facilities nearby. Visitors can enjoy all kinds of activities like deep sea fishing, eco-adventure tours, watersports and more, or head to the area’s most popular attraction Kennedy Space Centre for an experience that’s out of this world. A trip to Cocoa Beach wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down historic Cocoa Beach Pier with its quaint shops and restaurants lining the way.
The Palm Beaches
A playground for Florida’s wealthy and elite, The Palm Beaches are made up of 15 unique districts, 47 miles of glorious coastline and 29 fantastic beach parks. Central to it all lies West Palm Beach – one of the most exclusive areas in all of Florida. Dotted with elegant resorts, charming waterfront neighbourhoods and exquisite mansions, West Palm Beach is where visitors come to sample a slice of luxury along the coast and explore the streets lined with perfectly pristine palm trees, upscale shopping and chic dining venues. You can’t visit the Palm Beaches without taking a stroll down the shopping nirvana which is Worth Avenue. Full of designer stores and trendy boutiques, this makes a great day out even if you’re only window shopping or want to sip coffee in a sidewalk café and people watch.
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The Breakers Resort[/caption]
The Palm Beaches aren’t just about shopping and luxury resorts though. There’s so much to do here that you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. Those who want to dip into the city’s cultural history should visit the former residence of Henry Flagler. Now a museum paying homage to the man who helped put Florida on the tourism map, you can take a tour of this beautiful Gilded-Age estate. And if you find that interesting, head to the legendary Breakers Resort which is a stunning renaissance-style hotel built by Flagler himself. A trip to the Norton Museum of Art and Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens will top off any day of cultural experiences, or perhaps a day at the Palm Beach Zoo if you’re away with children. One of the most popular winter events is the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival – a real hit with holidaymakers if you’re visiting that time of year, or spend an evening at the Kravis Center of Performing Arts to catch incredible live shows and concerts all throughout the year. And there’s no better way to make the most of the weather than a round of golf on one of the Palm Beaches many award-winning courses.
Welcome to the ‘Venice of America’, with 300 miles of inland waterways Fort Lauderdale is a stunning oceanfront destination intersected by calm canals which wind their way through the city. Using the waterways to get around is a way of life in Fort Lauderdale, visitors can enjoy peaceful gondola rides and even take a Water Taxi to local shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Beach-chic Fort Lauderdale offers 23 miles of gorgeous coastline, most of which features beaches that are Blue Wave Certified meaning they are some of the cleanest in the State. You may even spot a sea turtle or two along the shores of Fort Lauderdale, and if you want to head into the nearby Everglades for a wild adventure be sure to look out for alligators!
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Fort Lauderdale Beach[/caption]
Shoppers should venture to the largest designer outlet mall in North America, Sawgrass Mills, or head to Las Olas Boulevard where you’ll find more than 30 alfresco dining spots, 12 major art galleries, 3 museums and a historic hotel amongst the many fashion boutiques and high-end stores. Take a boat ride along legendary Millionaire’s Row to gaze at the luxury mansions and super-yachts docked outside, and don’t forget to explore Fort Lauderdale Beach’s landscaped promenade with its signature white wave wall. For a day of culture and an evening of celebration, follow the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk through its beautifully kept park to the popular Arts & Entertainment District
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