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Old 03-07-2017, 10:51 AM   #1
cdepew
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What To Do in Florida

I'm taking the girlfriend to Florida over the summer for a surprise birthday and was wondering what there is to do and what's a good city to stay at?

We live in Houston, Texas and neither of us have been to Florida before. I've lived all over the world growing up so I know what it's like to have a nice beach, but I don't think she's ever been anywhere besides Galveston.

We are going mid July or early August and will be there for hopefully 3-4 days. Just want to plan so I can make the trip memorable. Thank you!


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Old 03-07-2017, 11:09 AM   #2
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Diving, if you're a water person. So much nicer when you don't have to be in a 7mil suit.
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Old 03-07-2017, 11:17 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by cdepew View Post
I'm taking the girlfriend to Florida over the summer for a surprise birthday and was wondering what there is to do and what's a good city to stay at?

We live in Houston, Texas and neither of us have been to Florida before. I've lived all over the world growing up so I know what it's like to have a nice beach, but I don't think she's ever been anywhere besides Galveston.

We are going mid July or early August and will be there for hopefully 3-4 days. Just want to plan so I can make the trip memorable. Thank you!


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Florida is really segmented into different sections and here my summary of the State in general. I've been here a while and this is strictly my observation and in no way am I suggesting that certain parts are better or worse. Central Florida: Orlando, Lakeland... lots to see. Disney, Universal world class golf (going to be hot) Southwest Florida: Sarasota, Ft. Meyers... older crowd, beautiful beaches, fishing, great sunsets, generally a little more mellowed. South Florida: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm... lots and lots of different cultures especially the last 10 years which leads to very good if not excellent dining choices. Busy nightlife, lots of traffic, a younger crowd for sure, a lot to do. Space Coast: Melbourne,Titusville and Satellite Beach... technology based area, nerdy, surfers (me soccer moms on the weekends shuttling kids (us) Kennedy Space Center for sure. Northwest Florida: JAX, St.Augustine, Daytona....touristy, old Florida feel (Flagler) been to great B&B's there. North Central: Gainesville, Ocala and North...really neat scenery, college town, young crowds, Silver Springs for insane canoeing. The Panhandle: Panama City, Ft.Walton, Destin.... Probably the nicest beaches I've seen anywhere, Navy crowd, Pananma gets crazy others pretty tame. So depending on your age and wait your looking for it's pretty cool.
But remember it's Africa hot here during the summer especially central Florida. Maybe on par with Houston.
Cheers,
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Oh, I forgot the Keys. That's really a different part of Florida all together. Definitely a place to visit.
Hope this helps.
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Old 03-07-2017, 11:20 AM   #4
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Diving, if you're a water person. So much nicer when you don't have to be in a 7mil suit.


I have my diving license, but she does not. I've always wanted her to try scuba diving because I think she'd enjoy it. I did most of diving primarily in Asia and the rules were a little different, can she dive without a license here?


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Old 03-07-2017, 11:24 AM   #5
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Florida is really segmented into different sections and here my summary of the State in general. I've been here a while and this is strictly my observation and in no way am I suggesting that certain parts are better or worse. Central Florida: Orlando, Lakeland... lots to see. Disney, Universal world class golf (going to be hot) Southwest Florida: Sarasota, Ft. Meyers... older crowd, beautiful beaches, fishing, great sunsets, generally a little more mellowed. South Florida: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm... lots and lots of different cultures especially the last 10 years which leads to very good if not excellent dining choices. Busy nightlife, lots of traffic, a younger crowd for sure, a lot to do. Space Coast: Melbourne,Titusville and Satellite Beach... technology based area, nerdy, surfers (me soccer moms on the weekends shuttling kids (us) Kennedy Space Center for sure. Northwest Florida: JAX, St.Augustine, Daytona....touristy, old Florida feel (Flagler) been to great B&B's there. North Central: Gainesville, Ocala and North...really neat scenery, college town, young crowds, Silver Springs for insane canoeing. The Panhandle: Panama City, Ft.Walton, Destin.... Probably the nicest beaches I've seen anywhere, Navy crowd, Pananma gets crazy others pretty tame. So depending on your age and wait your looking for it's pretty cool.
But remember it's Africa hot here during the summer especially central Florida. Maybe on par with Houston.
Cheers,
Bill
Oh, I forgot the Keys. That's really a different part of Florida all together. Definitely a place to visit.
Hope this helps.


Where would you recommend staying? We're both in our 20's and enjoy being outside. I definitely want to take her to one of the nicer beaches, but I don't think we want to go to universal or anything. Is there anywhere that's kind of in the middle of everything? Or at least allows a wide variety of things to do?

We're used to the heat, typically is 100+ mid July to August here


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Old 03-07-2017, 12:10 PM   #6
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I'd stay in Miami but there's not really 4 days worth of stuff to do. You could take a side trip to the Keys.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:31 PM   #7
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I'd agree on Miami. Nice breezes all day long. The side trip to the Keys is perfect advice from ORB because you could go snorkeling (inexpensive and safe) which is a great intro to diving.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:32 PM   #8
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I have my diving license, but she does not. I've always wanted her to try scuba diving because I think she'd enjoy it. I did most of diving primarily in Asia and the rules were a little different, can she dive without a license here?


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Probably not. It's not a hard rule but a lot of shops still won't take you because of the liability. Some even go so far as to ask you to provide pictures of previous dives if the dive is a deep, drift or wreck dive. I can see why.

Unless you enroll her in an introductory class. It might be more money but at least you have an instructor to take you around and show you what to do. Takes the instructor load off you too. But I guess it depends on how much time you're willing to spend on the activity.

Unless she shows interest I wouldn't do it to be honest.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:50 PM   #9
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I'd stay in Miami but there's not really 4 days worth of stuff to do. You could take a side trip to the Keys.


Quote:
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I'd agree on Miami. Nice breezes all day long. The side trip to the Keys is perfect advice from ORB because you could go snorkeling (inexpensive and safe) which is a great intro to diving.


How far is the keys from Miami?


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Old 03-07-2017, 12:50 PM   #10
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Probably not. It's not a hard rule but a lot of shops still won't take you because of the liability. Some even go so far as to ask you to provide pictures of previous dives if the dive is a deep, drift or wreck dive. I can see why.



Unless you enroll her in an introductory class. It might be more money but at least you have an instructor to take you around and show you what to do. Takes the instructor load off you too. But I guess it depends on how much time you're willing to spend on the activity.



Unless she shows interest I wouldn't do it to be honest.


Yeah that's what I was thinking. She'd probably never do it again anyways. I haven't dived since I moved to the states. It's kind of hard to living in Texas haha


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Old 03-07-2017, 12:51 PM   #11
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the space coast is a good time. I think it was better years ago. Orlando is very touristy, not sure if you guys will like it or not but the space coast isn't far from there. I retired from Orlando EMS. Still a great place to visit. With that said, lots to do in the Orlando and surrounding areas. Diving is definitely a good time. But a lot of shops have become quite strict. Really lots to do and see from west coast to east coast, central Florida and down. Take your pick.

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Old 03-07-2017, 12:52 PM   #12
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+1 on South Beach in Miami and a side trip down to the Keys... snorkel in Key Marathon, and then head down to Key West and hang out. Snorkel boats are fun, you'll see lots of barracuda and maybe a small nurse shark or two (+1 on Bull sharks, get out of the water if you see one)... Key West is another world, fun to hang out at the bars, and check out the Hemmngway House and catch up on some of the history of the Keys....

https://www.bestonkeywest.com/ernest...-west-florida/

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Old 03-07-2017, 04:22 PM   #13
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If you never want to visit FL again, stay in Miami. If you want to have a chill time and have plenty of things to do, visit the Bay Area. Loads of stuff to do, more than one beach that make 10 beaches in the US, great food, totally relaxed.

One day in South Beach or Key Biscayne is about all you'd want to handle in South Florida.

If you stay in the bay area, you can scoot down to Ft Myers and take the Big Cat express to KeyWest for the day. Skip the boring ass 4-5 hour drive down there from Miami.

If you like paying too much for everything and not being able to speak english everywhere you go, stay in Miami. If you want to have all the same attributes as miami but more laid back and more reasonably priced, stay in Clearwater beach. From Clearwater you're less than 2 hours from Orlando (if you were forced to go there) You're close to Crystal River where you can swim with Manatees, less than 2 hours from Ft Myers and the Big Cat, 40 min from Tampa, 30 min from St. Pete, 20min from Tampa airport, few min from Dunedin and honeymoon island. There are mangrove caves to kayak though, paddle boarding everywhere, boat rentals for cruising the intercostal, fishing charters, museums, aquariums, clubs, micro breweries, etc...

http://www.beachchamber.com/attractions.html
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Old 03-07-2017, 04:49 PM   #14
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I love the cali guys telling you what to do in Florida

Listen to MPOWER, he hit the nail on the head. Miami is definitely a visit-for-a-day, not stay place. One thing he missed that I would HIGHLY suggest if you stay in the St. Pete/Clearwater/Tampa area, go to Busch Gardens if you're into that kinda thing. It's like a giant Safari zoo and a 5 star amusement park in one. I prefer it over trying to fight the sh*t show in Orlando(disney/universal/etc.), and if you are into beer, the Yuengling factory is literally 5 minutes away from BG and they do tours daily.

There is also the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa that is really nice and has a restaurant in called Council Oak that is absolutely amazing! Bring your monies for that though... Easily $200 for a dinner for 2.
There are also TONS of great restaurants in the what we call the tri-county area(basically clearwater/tampa/st.pete)

If you stay on Clearwater or St. pete beach, make sure you make your way down to John's Pass for a couple hours night or day. Quiet little boardwalk with shops and all kinds of stuff to eat and do. You can also rent jetskis there.

I dive all the time in St. Pete/clearwater, but we do it for the spearfishing... You're not gonna find diving there very nice, honestly. If you wanna dive and that's your main thing you wanna do, you need to go to West Palm Beach or Keywest... Just a really really long drive down there--I'd go with MPOWERS suggestion to stay in clearwater and drive to Sarasota and take that day trip down to key west. There is no better diving than Key West in Florida, I've tried it all...I wouldn't stay in Key West though.


Edit: Sorry for the suggestions about stuff you already dismissed, I went on a type-fest before reading your responses.
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Old 03-07-2017, 04:55 PM   #15
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few min from Dunedin and honeymoon island. There are mangrove caves to kayak though, paddle boarding everywhere, boat rentals for cruising the intercostal, fishing charters, museums, aquariums, clubs, micro breweries, etc...
Again...^this

Dunedin brewery... If you go... Get the wings. You won't have better, ANYWHERE. Get them with the ranch, they make it there. IMO there are better places for the beer, but if you're not a beer snob, you'll like it. There are tons of micro-brews in Dunedin(pronounced DONE-E-DIN)
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:06 PM   #16
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:06 PM   #17
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One day in South Beach or Key Biscayne is about all you'd want to handle in South Florida.

If you stay in the bay area, you can scoot down to Ft Myers and take the Big Cat express to KeyWest for the day. Skip the boring ass 4-5 hour drive down there from Miami.
This, except I think the drive down the keys is pretty awesome. Particularly for a first timer. You get a real sense of all of the various places on that stretch. The BIg Cat is a lot of fun, too, though.
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:11 PM   #18
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Busch Gardens is a legit zoo/adventure park. Some of the rollercoasters have made it into top 10 lists in the US.

If you want to stay dead center with easy access to everything, stay in Rocky Point. It's pretty much at the crossroads of every major highway in Tampa. Yet still has beach front views.




It's the red dot on this map. Easy access to Clearwater/St pete via HWY 60 and I275. Easy access north to Crystal River via Vetrans/Suncoast expressway. Easy access to I75 south to Ft Myers.
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:13 PM   #19
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I fvcking love Tampa
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:19 PM   #20
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This, except I think the drive down the keys is pretty awesome. Particularly for a first timer. You get a real sense of all of the various places on that stretch. The BIg Cat is a lot of fun, too, though.
It can be if road tripping is part of your itinerary. But if you're visiting the keys for a day, i think i'd prefer to avoid that drive. One bad accident and your day is shot.
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