Sanibel and Captiva islandsLee County CVBWhat’s New

• New Fantasyland: The largest expansion project in Magic Kingdom history features attractions and experiences in an area that will nearly double the size of Fantasyland. Highlights include: flying high with The Great Goofini or with Dumbo the Flying Elephant; and Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, Ariel’s Grotto are scheduled to open by the end of 2012. Orlando.

• Safari Wilderness Ranch: Tour through large herds of exotic game on 260 acres of pristine wilderness in customized safari vehicles, fitted with shade canopies and stadium seating. For a more exotic adventure, view wild game on camel back, but llama back, or by horse-drawn carriage. Indulge your senses in lemur and budgie parakeet encounters. Working game ranch specializes in wetland exotic species, watusi and Irish Dexter cattle, and Austrian Haflinger horses.

• Streamsong Resort: Opens two courses in December. The Streamsong Blue Course is designed by Tom Doak and the Streamsong Red Course is designed by Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw and both are expected top the rankings of the Best New Courses of 2012. The clubhouse will have a restaurant and the lodge will contain 12 guest rooms; The Streamsong Resort will feature 200 guest rooms, multiple restaurants, a spa and conference centre when it opens late 2013.

• The Lotus – A Boutique Inn & Suites: 42-room contemporary oceanfront hotel. Amenities include tile floors, rain-style shower heads, glass shower doors, raised sink bowls, glass-top stoves in the kitchenettes and flat-screen televisions. Daytona Beach.

Attractions

• The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum: This Museum marks the historic battle grounds for Spanish soldiers’ centuries ago. This interactive, educational attraction features archeological finds, replica pirate ships, and pirate artifacts.

• Discovery Cove: A reservations-only tropical paradise where guests can swim with dolphins, rays and thousands of fascinating sea animals. Adjacent to, and managed by, SeaWorld Orlando.

• Aquatica: Features up-close animal experiences, high-speed thrills, 36 water slides, six rivers and lagoons and more than 7,432 square metres of beach area. Orlando.

• Salvador Dali Museum: Showcases works from the largest Salvador Dali collection outside of Spain. St. Petersburg.

• Kennedy Space Center: Visitors explore America’s space program with exhibits of spacecraft, IMAX films, the Shuttle Launch Experience and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Coming soon: the 65,000 square-foot space shuttle Atlantis exhibit. You can even meet an astronaut. Titusville.

• The Museum of Science and History (MOSH): Florida’s largest digital planetarium includes a 18-metre dome theatre offering a total-immersion entertainment experience. Not a science guru? The programming reaches beyond astronomy to include history and natural science, blockbuster films and documentaries. Jacksonville.

• The National Aviation Museum: One of the largest air and space museums in the world. Don’t just look – touch – in Cockpit Trainers, Motion-based simulators and a MaxFliht Simulator. Pensacola.

LegolandChip Litherland Photography
• Legoland: The largest Legoland Park in the world features a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions; plus restaurants, shops and a beautiful botanical gargen. Lego models are found throughout ten themed “Lands” which include The Beginning, Fun Town, Miniland USA, Lego Kingdoms, Land of Adventure, Lego Technic, Lego City, Imagination Zone, Pirates Cove and Duplo Village. Winter Haven.

• Fantasy of Flight: The World’s largest privately owned collection of vintage aircraft. Join a guided tour of the working restoration and maintenance areas; ride a hang glide simulator; climb aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress on a bombing mission. Test your mettle on the Ropes Course, scaling 12-metre heights, meeting 33 challenges and riding a 182-metre zipline. Polk City.

Despicable MeUniversal Orlando ResortAnnual Events

• Art Deco Weekend Festival (January), Miami Beach.

• Big Cypress Shootout (February), Big Cypres Seminole Indian Reservation.

• Florida State Fair (February), Tampa.

• Bike Week (March), Daytona.

• Florida Strawberry Festival (March), Plant City.

• Spring Time Festival (March), Tallahassee.

• Sunfest (May), West Palm Beach.

• Pensacola Beach Air Show (July), Pensacola.

Hemingway Days Festival (July), Key West

• Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (September), WDW Orlando.

• Jacksonville Film Festival (October), Jacksonville.

• Winterfest Boat Parade (December), Fort Lauderdale.

Ringling of RinglingSarasota CVBPlaces

• Catillo de San Marcos National Monument: The oldest standing European fort in the country, the Castillo de San Marcos offers guided tours of the site and cannon fire demonstrations. St. Augustine.

• Fort Matanzas National Monument: Activities include a guided ferry tour around the perimeter of the fort and guided nature walk. South of St. Augustine.

• Fort De Soto Park: Remnants and weaponry remain on the grounds of this century-old fort situated along a breathtaking waterfront. Central Florida’s Gulf Coast.

• Greater Miami and the Beaches: Florida’s largest city is home to the world’s largest collection of Art Deco architecture, and fashionable restaurants, clubs, shopping and accommodations.

• St. Augustine: America’s oldest continually settled European city dates to the Spanish conquistadores of the 16th century. Travellers can step back in time in the Colonial Spanish Quarter, a living history museum that brings to life the world of the early Spanish colonists in a military town; and Old St. Augustine Village, where on one city block nine historic houses are original to the site.

• Daytona Beach: Already famous for auto racing, Daytona Beach boasts 37 kilometres of white-sand beaches perfect for watersports and relaxation, plus unbelievable shopping, dining and nightlife.

• Fort Myers: Often described as an unspoiled island sanctuary, eight neighbouring communities and several islands offer a glimpse of old Florida. Highlights include miles of sugary sand beaches, watersports, wildlife viewing, nature preserves, fine dining and world-class shelling.

SeaWorld OrlandoSeaWorld Parks & EntertainmentOrlando: Known for an amazing collection of theme parks – Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orland Resort, SeaWorld Orland – the city also boasts attractions that range from race driving to space exploration, world-class museums, fine dining, great shopping and a very lively nightlife.

St Petersburg/Clearwater Area: Includes 26 unique communities on Florida’s west coast. Home to several top-ranked beaches, the Salvador Dali Museum, the Florida International Museum, the Sunken Gardens, the BayWalk Shopping district and the Pier, a shopping and entertainment complex.

Hidden Gems

• Tallahassee Museum: Featuring a world of flora, fauna and people as they existed in decades gone by. The museum was founded more than 50 years ago to encourage people to care for their natural world and value the role of history in their lives. Tallahassee.

• Amelia Island: Historic district blends past, present and future. Bricked walkways lined with gas lantern replicas light the way from downtown to the Marina, giving visitors the feeling they’re back in a simpler time.

Did You Know?

State Motto: In God We Trust
State Flower: Orange Blossom
State Bird: Mockingbird

Fast Facts

America’s Byways: A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway, Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway, The Overseas Highway.

Direct Flights from Canada: Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines American Airlines, Continental, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines , United Airlines, US Airways.
Cruise Lines: American Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebration Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruise Lines, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Discovery Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line,  Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line.

Sales Tools: www.universityofvisitflorida.com; 2012 VISIT FLORIDA Magazine, 2012 Travel Guide to Florida, International Tourist Guide in French, CampFlorida, Florida Golf guide, Florida Reunion and Gatherings, Florida State Parks and Florida Transportation Map.

Info: VISIT FLORIDA®
1-877-817-8789. www.visitflorida.org; www.sunshinematters.org

Sidebar

ShoppingVibran Image StudioFlorida is a shopper's paradise, but you don’t have to fight the crowds to find deals, steals and one-of-a-kind buys. Here's a look at some hidden favourites.

Park Avenue, Orlando: Tucked away from all the busy, touristy activities in nearby Orlando is beautiful Park Avenue in Winter Park. This tranquil tree-lined street is packed with local clothing boutiques like Tuni and Violet Clover, full of hip finds for the entire family.

Worth Avenue, Palm Beach: Often referred to as the “Rodeo Drive” of Florida and it’s not hard to see why. Full of upscale jewelry and clothing stores like Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co., this quiet, yet ritzy, street is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the lap of luxury.

Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale: Situated along the causeway in Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas provides views of the lavish houses and grand boats on the sparkling water. Featuring more than 20 galleries and craft stores such as Saba Gallery, it’s also the perfect shopping experience for the art lover.

Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach: Downtown Delray Beach is a shopping area that truly has something for everyone. It features clothing boutiques like Style and Wine, bookstores including the cleverly named Murder on the Beach, gift shops like Theo’s Gifts, and when the sun goes down, a bustling nightlife scene.

St. Armands Circle, Sarasota: Soaking up the sun on Lido Key? Hop on over toSt. Armands Circle, a shopping experience with a unique twist. The area is known for its historical ties to John Ringling, so be sure to check out the Circus Ring of Fame, featuring a brief summary of each circus performer, along with local boutiques such as co-ed clothing store Island Pursuit.

Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South, Naples: Double your shopping fun with these streets in Naples located less than a mile apart. Both areas provide a scenic place to shop for local goodies as well as favourite brands like Tommy Bahama. Be sure to stop by Silver Eagle for Native American jewelry and Marissa Collections for women’s clothing.

Cocoa Village, Cocoa: Has great shopping, and a wonderful regional theatre – the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse – whose performances, some say, rival Broadway. Its Riverfront Park also holds events throughout the year. Don’t miss Miss Bailey’s Curiosity Shoppe, full of carefully curated estate jewelry and furniture.

Historic District, Pensacola: Among the multitude of historic sites in this classic Florida vacation spot, downtown Pensacola features several gift shops and boutiques situated along Palafox Place. You also won’t want to miss J.W. Renfroe Pecan Company just a short drive away, known for their tasty Southern pecans and sweets.

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