• Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin: The coldest theme park attraction in the world. This is the largest expansion to date across all SeaWorld parks. SeaWorld Orlando.
• Transformers: The ultra-immersive, blockbuster attraction ‘Transformers: The Ride – 3D’ is now open at Universal Orlando. This action-packed ride experience pushes the limits of technology to place guests in the middle of a larger than life battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Orlando.
Visit Florida• Space Shuttle Atlantis: The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has debuted a national treasure, the Space Shuttle Atlantis. In its new, $100 million home, this priceless, historic spacecraft helps tell the incredible story of 30 years of the Space Shuttle Program. The Atlantis attraction is the marquee element of the visitor complex’s 10-year master plan. Visitors can view the spacecraft up close and from 360 degrees – that’s close enough to see in its protective external tiles and the wear and tear caused during its 33 space missions. Orlando.
• Colonial Quarter: St Augustine is bringing its adventurous past to life with its newest attraction, Colonial Quarter. This impressive living history museum features exhibits, shows, taverns and restaurants that will immerse visitors in three centuries of Spanish and colonial St Augustine.
Visit Florida• Legoland Expansion: Legoland Florida has opened its ‘The World of Chima’ exhibit, presented by the Cartoon Network. It centres around a highly interactive water ride, the Quest for Chi. Winter Haven.
• Come Fly With Me: The Trapeze Federation, just south of International Drive in Orlando, is offering flying trapeze classes for wannabe flyers age five and above. This thrilling recreational activity is safe, fun and instills an unparalleled sense of accomplishment. Orlando.
• Dr Beach: Three Florida beaches have been named among the best 10 in America, as ranked by the renowned ‘Dr Beach’, Dr Stephen Leatherman. Receiving special recommendation are: George Island State Park, Cape Florida State Park and Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs.
• Redesigned Website: The revamped www.visitflorida.com website is now live. The epic, quirky and unique vacation stories of Florida visitors are the inspiration for the state’s new ‘Must Be The Sunshine’ campaign, and the website acts as a dynamic journal. It is updated daily with blog posts, articles, videos, photography and informational graphics reported by more than 70 award-winning Florida journalists.
• Walt Disney World Resort: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, plus Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks, themed resort hotels, golf, shopping, fine dining, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex and Downtown Disney. Orlando.
• Universal Orlando Resort: A working movie studio with rides, shows and attractions, including Transformers and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are also five themed areas at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, the CityWalk, an entertainment complex and three Loews Hotels. Orlando.
• Discovery Cove: A reservations-only tropical paradise where guests can swim with dolphins, rays and thousands of fascinating sea animals. The cove is adjacent to and managed by SeaWorld Orlando.
• Aquatica: Features up-close animal experiences, high-speed thrills, 36 water slides, six rivers, lagoons and a beach. Orlando.
• Salvador Dali Museum: Showcases works from the largest Salvador Dali collection outside of Spain. St Petersburg.
Visit Florida• Kennedy Space Center: Explore America’s space program, see historic spacecraft, watch IMAX films, and discover the ‘Shuttle Launch Experience’ and the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. You can even meet an astronaut. Titusville.
• The Museum of Science and History (MOSH): Florida’s largest digital planetarium includes an 18-metre dome theatre that offers 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.
Visit Florida• Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: This National Historic Landmark is a European-style estate that was built by a wealthy American industrialist in the early 20th century. It is full of treasures from around the world. Enjoy the lush subtropical forests, the magnificent fountain, gardens, sculptures and the stunning views of Biscayne Bay. Miami.
• Fort Myers: Near beautiful beaches strewn with shells you’ll find the Olympians, a museum and gallery where Olympic athletes use their creative talents to promote the highest ideals of humanity.
• Palm Coast And The Beaches Of Flagler County: Founded as Marine Studios, this ocean-side facility opened back in 1938 as the world’s first oceanarium and, at the time, the world’s largest aquarium. Built as an underwater filming studio, Marine Studios allowed filmmakers to create a new way of filming by showcasing marine animals in a naturalistic habitat. Today, Marineland Dolphin Adventure offers visitors a variety of interactive and in-water programs that allow them to make physical and emotional connections with animals. It’s also a great place to put a spin on the traditional beach wedding. Guests will squeal with delight as Atlantic bottlenose dolphins dance through the air at the celebrated first kiss of man and wife.
•Visit Florida Architecture and Art: Visitors to Polk County can tour the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world, which consists of 12 completed structures, including a water dome. Both paid and self-guided walking tours are available. The collection is located on the Florida Southern College campus in Lakeland.
• The Polk Museum of Art: This museum offers a permanent collection of pre-Columbian artifacts along with various collections and rotating exhibits on display in eight galleries and a sculpture garden. Lakeland.
• Zora Neale Hurston Festival (January), Eatonville.
• Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival (January), Titusville.
• Florida State Fair (February), Tampa.
• Bike Week (March), Daytona.
• SunFest (April), West Palm Beach.
• Florida Folk Festival (May), Live Oak.
• Pensacola International Billfish Tournament (June), Pensacola.
• Digital Graffiti Festival (June), Alys Beach.
• Swamp Stomp Music Festival (July), Tallahassee.
• Lobsterfest (August), Key West.
• NKF Pro-Am Surfing Festival (September), Cocoa Beach.
• Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (October), Fort Lauderdale.
• Florida Seafood Festival (November), Apalachicola.
• Art Basel (December), Miami Beach.
• Castillo De San Marcos: This national monument is the oldest standing European fort in the US. The waterfront castillo, built of sculpted coquina from nearby shell beds, offers guided tours and cannon fire demonstrations. St Augustine.
• Sarasota: The Gulf Coast city of Sarasota offers visitors an eclectic blend of culture and fine dining, circus thrills and pristine beaches, and a wide array of shopping opportunities. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art pays homage to the Ringlings, the family behind America’s most famous circus. Check out the old costumes, wagons, and the world’s largest miniature circus. Art lovers can appreciate the largest collections of Rubens canvasses in the world, plus works by Old Masters. You can also tour Ca' d'Zan Mansion, the magnificent 56-room Venetian gothic palace that was the Ringlings' old family home.
Visit Florida• John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: America’s first undersea park features mangrove swamps, tropical hammocks and coral reefs teeming with marine life. A landmark is the underwater bronze statue, ‘Christ of the Abyss’. Key Largo.
• Palm Beach: The Palm Beach area – with its longstanding reputation as a playground for the rich and famous – has earned its designation as ‘The Gold Coast’. Stroll along the famed Worth Drive, celebrated for its Addison Mizner architecture and fabulous shops, duck into a trendy restaurant, or drive past mansions – including Henry Flagler's former residence that is now a museum that showcases the Gilded Age.
• Daytona International Speedway: Home of the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400, this famous speedway is an icon of Florida. Visitors can not only watch a race and hear top performers in concert – they can also get behind the wheel. Daytona.
• Port St Lucie: Located in the heart of Florida's Treasure Coast, Port St Lucie offers hikes around environmental preserves, paddles down lush rivers, horse riding along the beach and rounds of championship golf.
• Westgate River Ranch Resort: Visitors can ride an airboat, shoot, golf, whoop it up at a sanctioned rodeo, enjoy a hayride and kick back in private cabins. Polk County.
• Martin County: Martin County, a jewel on the treasure coast, has long been an inspiration to artists. With endless stretches of breezy beaches and expanses of wetlands, this area’s natural environment provides muses of all colors and shapes.
• Tampa Bay: Arts, culture, sports, boating, beaches, fine dining, fine lodging, history, Busch Gardens and a spicy mix of international accents.
• Jacksonville And Amelia Island Area: Situated along the St Johns River, Jacksonville offers cultural and sports entertainment, as well as some fabulous white sand beaches. Jacksonville's historic significance dates back to its prehistoric residents and early French and Spanish colonists. Near the river's mouth, the Fort Caroline National Memorial, a recreated French fort with stimulating indoor exhibits, flashes back to the days when the French Huguenots settled in with the Timucuan Indians to combat the Spanish. The river splits downtown in half and lively river walks cling to both sides. The Jacksonville Landing, on the north bank, pulsates with shopping and entertainment value. And if you're looking for a tranquil getaway, take a look at Amelia Island. Just 48 kilometres from Jacksonville, it is a world apart. There you’ll find golden hued sands, dolphins and ospreys.
Visit Florida• St Pete Beach: With its blend of cosmopolitan sensibility and beach bum appeal, St Pete Beach is the place to kick back as the balmy waters of the Gulf of Mexico lap at your toes. With an average of 361 days of sunshine per year, this strip of beach is guaranteed to please visitors year-round. Warm in summertime and temperate during the winter, close to the attractions in Orlando and even closer to the cultural and cosmopolitan attractions of St Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa, St Pete Beach strikes the perfect balance for the casual, laid back beach bum and the active attraction seeker alike.
• Mission San Luis: Spanish missionaries and Apalachee Indians co-existed peacefully at Mission San Luis, where a Catholic church, Apalachee council house and fort stand today as a living history museum in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city.
• Fort Pierce: The reinvention of downtown Fort Pierce has won it the award for ‘Great American Main Street’. Stroll along its brick-paved sidewalks and riverfront, and see a show in the beautiful Sunrise Theatre.
• Bok Tower Gardens: Voted ‘Florida’s Best Garden’, this National Historic Landmark was dedicated in 1929 as a gift to the American people from Dutch immigrant and world peace advocate Edward Bok. Conservation lands and gardens surround a neo-gothic and art deco ‘Singing Tower’ carillon and the Pinewood Estate, a Mediterranean-style 1930s winter retreat. A haven for wildlife, Bok Tower Gardens is home to more than 120 bird species, the threatened gopher tortoise and rare plants found nowhere else in the world. Lake Wales.
• The Florida Keys and Key West: Divers and those curious about the underwater world can immerse themselves in the history of man’s quest to explore beneath the sea at the new Bauer Diving History Research Library, located in the History of Diving Museum. The new library is named for the museum's founders, Doctors Joe and Sally Bauer. Like the items in the museum, its contents are part of the Bauers’ extensive collection of extraordinary dive artifacts amassed over the past 40 years. The Bauer Library holds one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of books relating to undersea exploration. It includes more than 2,500 rare books, prints, woodcuts, catalogs and photographs illustrating diving history, treasure hunting, submarine warfare and natural history. The oldest book in the collection dates back to 1535. The museum’s exhibits encompass 4,000 years of diving history. Highlights include an exhibit of dive helmets from around the world, including one dedicated to Upper Keys treasure hunter Art ‘Silver Bar’ McKee. Islamorada.
• Fort Lauderdale Dining: In Greater ‘Fork’ Lauderdale, dining aficionados and foodies can rediscover the top restaurants that make dining in Fort Lauderdale so ‘Lauderlicious’. New luxury hotels and top names in culinary delights are bringing a windfall of elegant eating to Greater Fort Lauderdale. Those who want to enjoy a uniquely Fort Lauderdale approach to dining can take a boat or water taxi to a dockside restaurant of their choice.
• Hidden Gems In Miami: Miami is overflowing with hidden gems. The beach’s Art Deco District contains the world’s largest collection of Art Deco architecture. Miami is also the ‘Wreckreational Diving Capital of the World’, with over 50 diveable wreck sites, including ships, oil platforms, army tanks and the Spirit of Miami Boeing 727 jet. Miami is home to the largest concentration of boutique hotels in the world, too.
• Shark Tooth Capital: Discover a little bit of peaceful Old Florida in Venice, where quaint shops line tree-lined streets – and sharks teeth abound! Nicknamed the ‘Shark Tooth Capital of the World’, Venice is a favourite destination for treasure hunters seeking to collect the prehistoric teeth that continually wash up on Venice’s shores.
• Everglades: Located just South of Naples and Marco Island Everglades National Park, lies the only subtropical preserve in North America. Part of the largest wetlands ecosystem in the US, the Everglades is one of 21 World Heritage Sites in the country. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center, one of three main entrances to the park, is located in Everglades City. It provides access to the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands and Wilderness Waterway sections of the park. Alligators and crocodiles aren’t the only wildlife you might spot. Bottlenose dolphins, manatees and sea turtles, along with a large variety of birds of prey and wading birds, are on display in the Gulf Coast Everglades.
• Big Bend: With its pine forests, hardwood hammocks, grasslands, streams, rivers, salt marshes, bays and beaches, Florida's Big Bend Scenic Byway is the natural place to be. Trace the footsteps of Apalachee and Creek Indians, Spanish conquistadors, British and American troops, settlers and Hollywood producers through historic markers, interpretive displays, parks, museums, forts, depots, lighthouses and historic buildings.
Did You Know?
• State Motto: In God We Trust
• State Flower: Orange Blossom
• State Bird: Mockingbird
• Park Avenue: Tucked away from all the touristy activities in nearby Orlando is beautiful Park Avenue. This tranquil tree-lined street is packed with local clothing boutiques. Winter Park.
• Worth Avenue: Worth Avenue is often referred to as the ‘Rodeo Drive of Florida’. It is quiet yet ritzy, and the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the lap of luxury. Palm Beach.
• Las Olas Boulevard: Las Olas provides views of the lavish houses and grand boats on the sparkling water. Featuring more than 20 galleries and craft stores, this is the perfect shopping experience for the art lover. Fort Lauderdale.
• Atlantic Avenue: Downtown Delray Beach features clothing boutiques, bookstores and gift shops – and when the sun goes down – a bustling nightlife scene. Delray Beach.
• Fifth Avenue South And Third Street South: Double your shopping fun with these streets that are located less than a mile apart. Naples.
• Cocoa Village: The Village not only has great shopping, it also has a wonderful regional theatre – the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse – where the performances, some say, rival Broadway. Cocoa.
• 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. Pensacola.
• America’s Byways: A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway, Tamiami Trail/Gulf Coast Waters Scenic Highway, Big Bend Scenic Byway, Florida Keys Overseas Highway.
• Direct Flights from Canada: Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, American 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: Trade site at www.universityofvisitflorida.com, Visit Florida Magazine, Floride L’État Du Soleil, travel guide, international tourist guide in French, CampFlorida, golf guide, Florida reunion and gatherings, Florida state parks and Florida transportation map.
• Info: Visit Florida