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Things to Do in Florida - page 4

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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Universal Orlando's Harry Potter attraction is spread across two parks at the resort: Diagon Alley on the Universal Studios Florida side and Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure. The two are connected by Hogwarts Express train, and each features shops, dining, and attractions inspired by the young wizard.

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Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
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Florida’s Gulf Coast is haven for all kinds of interesting and exotic wildlife, and the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve near St. Petersburg offers the chance to explore unique ecosystems, including hardwood hammocks, sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, swamp woodlands, willow marsh and lake shore. The 245-acre park has six miles of trail and boardwalk along the shore of Lake Maggiore, where you can spot alligators and lizards, myriad birds, butterflies and much more. The park also has an aviary for birds of prey, picnic areas, a playground and overnight camping.

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Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center
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The first opportunity for information and assistance when you arrive in Everglades National Park, the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is worth a stop when visiting the park. With educational exhibitions and plenty of maps, the Coe Visitor Center is the perfect place to get an overview of the extensive offerings in the Everglades. Be sure to stay for a showing of River of Life, a 15-minute film that provides an excellent park overview. The Coe Visitor Center also provides information on park ranger-led activities (mostly talks and some walks) as well as details about boat tours and canoe rentals.

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Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
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The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which spans 80 acres (73 hectares) of land, is a ruggedly beautiful park in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There’s something for everyone here: paved paths for bicyclists, several nature trails for hikers, and more than 200 plant species. A freshwater lagoon is a great place for canoeing or kayaking, and you can fish here, too.

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Madame Tussauds Orlando
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Orlando has a new immersive celebrity hotspot where one can walk down the red carpet and step into the world of fame for an afternoon. At Madame Tussauds, guests are able to find out exactly how tall those sports icons really are, strike a pose with a pop princess, shake hands with a smiling Barack Obama and take a selfie with Einstein. The museum poses TV and film celebrities next to pop icons, the most well-known faces from the arts and science and throws plenty of history and pop culture personalities into the mix as well.

The details of the wax replicas are on the usual Madame Tussauds level of incredible. Creating a wax statue requires taking hundreds of body and face measurements with calipers and measuring tapes, after which artists sculpt the perfect mold for the wax out of clay. Gluing on each hair individually, painstakingly painting facial features and recreating every last wrinkle ensures that the wax figures end up achieving a astonishing realism. So, what star are you dying to meet?

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North Straub Park
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Right on the waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg, North Straub Park offers a quite respite from the city. The small 4.8-acre park features trails, picnic spots and a stage where community events are held. Locals recommend visiting the park during holidays, like Christmas, when it’s lit up with lights and decorations, or on the Fourth of July and New Years, when it offers a great vantage point for fireworks shows. At the southern end of the park, you’ll find the local Museum of Fine Arts and the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and nearby Wheel Fun Rentals is a good spot to rent a beach cruiser or surrey.

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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 and the North Atlantic Ocean for almost 20 years, before it was caught in a hurricane off Saddlebunch Keys in 1856. Visitors are invited to discover the perils of shipwrecking and to climb the 65-foot lookout tower—where they can alert the authorities in case of a wreck and watch out for Spanish galleons!

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Art Deco Historic District
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Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is a colorful, vibrant section of the trendy South Beach neighborhood. The area includes about 900 unique buildings—from nautical-themed hotels to pastel-colored mansions—and was the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

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WonderWorks Orlando
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A firm departure from the everyday, WonderWorks Orlando offers what most attractions cannot – a spin on this thing we call reality. Built to resemble an upside-down laboratory, this science museum offers over 100 hands-on exhibits built to test your belief of what is real and what is illusion. Filled with “oh, wow” moments that include rope obstacle courses, zip lines and laser tag, WonderWorks Orlando is an engaging step into science and discovery – one that will leave the whole family full of wonder.

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Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum
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Created on the site of what was once a miniature golf course, the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum is now home to more than 500 palms and cycads, representing more than 150 different species from around the world. Starting with just 60 palms representing 10 different species, the two-acre park has continuously expanded since its 1977 dedication. From massive specimens that are too big to fit in private yards to popular types that can be found along Florida’s beaches, the Palm Arboretum is an ever-changing, never-ending project that grows and expands organically. Take the time to stroll down the pathways, learning about the specimens, or simply perch on one of the conversation benches and enjoy the peace of the palms.

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More Things to Do in Florida

Ybor City

Ybor City

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Ybor City has been known for over a century as Tampa's Latin Quarter. Founded in the 1880s by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, the neighborhood is now one of Florida's most distinct areas, thanks to its diverse immigrant communities and vibrant culture.

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Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida

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Go behind the scenes, beyond the screen, and jump right into the action of your favorite movies at Universal Studios Florida™, the world's premier movie and TV-based theme park. This Orlando favorite, part of Universal Orlando Resort™, offers rides, shows, movie sets, and attractions that bring to life blockbuster movies likeTransformers,Despicable Me, andHarry Potter.

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Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island

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Honeymoon Island: the name conjures up images of long, romantic strolls down white sand beaches, the sun setting on the water in a pool of melting orange. The island’s original name, Hog Island, doesn’t have the same ring to it! However, thanks for a developer in the late 1930s, the island received a name overhaul when he built 50 thatch-roofed bungalows for honeymooners. The bungalows fell into disuse after World War II, but the name remains, as does Honeymoon Island’s reputation for romance.

Now part of the Florida State Parks system, Honeymoon Island welcomes nature lovers, active adventurers and those simply looking to soak up the sun. Rent a bike or a kayak and traverse the nature trails across the island or paddle through the mangroves. Bird lovers will enjoy watching osprey, terns and plovers while animal enthusiasts can keep an eye out for the gopher tortoise, armadillo and raccoons. Or, simply put down a blanket or beach chair and enjoy the view.

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NSU Art Museum

NSU Art Museum

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The NSU Art Museum is located on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard, a key part of the vibrant art district. Visitors can view more than 6,000 works in the museum’s international collection, which has a strong focus on South Florida and Caribbean culture, with artwork by Cuban artists, William Glackens, and northern European CoBrA artists.

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Chokoloskee Bay

Chokoloskee Bay

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Located on Florida’s southernmost Gulf Coast, Chokoloskee Bay is about ten miles (16 km) long and two miles (3 km) wide and is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands. A popular destination for fishermen and water sports enthusiasts, the waters of Chokoloskee Bay offer a vast assortment of saltwater fish such as grouper, flounder and red fish for anglers. The sheltered mangrove islands of Ten Thousand Islands offer plenty of areas for kayakers to explore.

In the heart of Chokoloskee Bay is Chokoloskee Island, a small area that is considered the last great frontier in the Everglades. Settled by Native Americans two thousand years ago, modern settlement began in 1874. If you visit the island, check out the Historic Smallwood Store, which is housed in Ted Smallwood’s general store. Now a museum, it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places and is an authentic glimpse into the colorful—and sometimes bloody—history of this region.

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Wynwood

Wynwood

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Break away from the throngs of tourists crowding Miami Beach, and discover the revitalized district of Wynwood. Once nothing but run-down warehouses, the now-hip neighborhood is known for its mural-lined streets. Visitors also enjoy the numerous art galleries, coffee shops, craft breweries, and Puerto Rican–influenced eateries.

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Memorial Presbyterian Church

Memorial Presbyterian Church

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This stunning contemporary church is widely considered one of the eight religious wonders of the world. Perhaps that’s because its stunning façade with towering spires, royal arch and smooth white stone are truly a sight to behold.

Visitors who appreciate breathtaking architecture and attention to stonework detail with find a stop at Memorial Presbyterian Church worth the trip. Trained docents can unlock the art and history of the interior during a free tour, and religious travelers can participate in a Sunday morning worship where all are welcome.

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Everglades Holiday Park

Everglades Holiday Park

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Everglades Holiday Park is a classic (if a bit kitschy) introduction to the Florida Everglades and its wild inhabitants. Geared toward the whole family, the 29-acre (11.7-hectare) park has been entertaining and educating visitors for almost 40 years and is also the home of Animal Planet’sGator Boys TV show.

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Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

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Set on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is best known for its population of West Indian manatees. The park is primarily a rehabilitation center for the creatures, which swim in the freshwater spring while they are treated. On land, native Florida wildlife thrives in the dense surrounding forest.

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Walt Disney World®

Walt Disney World®

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Walt Disney World®, the world's biggest amusement park, is a self-contained city, covering an area twice the size of New York's Manhattan. Four main parks comprise the bulk of Walt Disney World®—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom®—each with its own themed areas, shows, rides, and attractions. More than 50 million visitors pass through the gates each year into the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” and home of Mickey Mouse.

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Duval Street

Duval Street

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Duval Street, running from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, is Old Town Key West’s main strip, offering a mix of restaurants, bars, boutiques, live music, kitschy souvenir shops, and theaters. Walk the street at your leisure, or plan to attend a Duval Crawl; the street hosts some of the wildest pub crawls in the United States.

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Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

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Go back in time to the night of April 14, 1912, when the “unsinkable” ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. With full-scale room replicas, hundreds of objects recovered from theTitanic, and immersive interactive exhibits, Orlando’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition offers a real-world connection to a defining moment in history.

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Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument

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Fort Matanzas was built in the mid-1700s to protect the Spanish colony of St Augustine. St Augustine was vulnerable by river access to the south and Fort Matanzas helped the French protect it from the threat of British attacks. At the time, Florida was a much sought after area of the world due to being a profitable shipping lane from the Caribbean. The fort successfully protected St Augustine on multiple occasions and eventually became property of the United States. In 1924, it was declared a national monument.

The construction of Fort Matanzas is interesting to behold as it’s made from coquina, a type of limestone that is made of tiny pieces of shells and sand – a likely choice considering the geography of where Fort Matanzas was constructed, but one that can also be quite fragile. Despite that, it has upheld and today visitors can take a ferry to the fort, which is located on Rattlesnake Island and tour the grounds. The ferry has a guide who will tell you about the history of the fort on your way over. Once at the fort, be sure to climb the ladder to the observation level for excellent views of St Augustine and the ocean.

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Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

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Picture a pristine island beach complete with mangroves, sand dunes, palm trees and—most remarkably—no development. Such a place exists off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of the town of Dunedin and near the city of Clearwater: it’s Caladesi Island. One of the few completely natural islands on the Gulf Coast, Caladesi Island is part of Florida’s park system and is home to a wide variety of activities.

Bask in the sun on the white sand beaches, or search for shells along the water’s edge. Fishing is plentiful, either by boat or off of the shore. Explore the three mile nature trail across the interior and keep an eye out for some of the island’s aviary denizens like sandpipers, blue herons and black skimmers. Paddlers will enjoy the three mile kayak trail through the mangroves and the bay. There is a snack bar and gift shop, plus a few picnic tables and shelters, but despite the modern conveniences, Caladesi Island retains its wild and unspoiled allure.

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