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Florida Coast

Florida, with its subtropical sunshine and thousand miles of golden sandy beaches, not to mention some of the best theme parks ever, make it one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.  Daytona Beach, a daytrip from Orlando is perhaps Florida’s most famous beach and certainly the largest. Palm Beach is the winter home of the rich and famous, here you will find large mansions with tropical gardens with often their own private beach and plenty of up-market shops to explore. Also well known is the South Beach section of Miami Beachwith its Art Deco backdrop, boardwalks, trendy cafes and super-chic clientele including film and fashion superstars.  South of Miami lies the Gold Coast with superb beaches at Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale – the latter having achieved the coveted Blue Wave award for cleanest sands.
 
Surf dudes should head west to the Space Coast and then south of Cocoa Beach to Sebastian Inlet which undoubtedly gets the best and most consistent waves. Cocoa Beach itself is a good choice for long boarders. Visit the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop or take a break and head for the cafes on Cocoa Pier, a great place to view a space launch from should you be lucky enough. The Space Coast itself offers the amazing Kennedy Space Centre. (See Attractions)
 
The Florida Keys, a chain of islands linked by a highway at the regions most southerly point, offer some of the best opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming with dolphins. The best places for scuba-diving and snorkelling are Sombrero Reef off Marathon, San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Park off Islamorada and Looe Key Marine Sanctuary.
 
There is no shortage of beach side activities for children such as sandcastle building competitions, play areas, volley-ball, waterslides, aquariums and marine centres. Many of the coastal towns have child friendly interactive museums should you need a break from the sun such as Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry or the Florida Aquarium. Pier 60 Park nearby at Clearwater Beach, St Petersburg is a popular family recreation complex offering covered playgrounds, fishing and every water sport imaginable. Every day ends with a wonderful display of magicians, jugglers and entertainers at sunset. The Marine Aquarium based there rescues and rehabilitates injured marine mammals – a great place to take children.
 
If you are looking for something altogether quieter and uncommercialised then head north for St George Island State Park surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay (famous for its oyster beds). This is an ideal place for bird watching amongst its sandy dunes and pine woods– ospreys in particular. Alternatively head south west for Fort Myers and the Lee County Islands. Here you will find tiny unspoilt beaches with fabulous shells, boat trips, dolphin watching and memorable sunsets.  Happy beachcombing!