Florida is known as the 'sunshine state' and, having just spent a few days there, I can confirm it certainly was! I love Florida, so much so that this trip was actually my 6th visit!
The sunshine state offers so much, it has hundreds of miles of insanely beautiful beaches and, no matter where you are in this lovely state, you will never be further than 60 or so miles from one of them. When people think of Florida, thrilling theme parks, the Everglades and space stations spring to mind, but putting all those amazing things to one side, this lovely state offers so much more.
My recent visit included a visit to the sophisticated resort of Naples, and the exciting hot spot of Miami South Beach, where even the Police Officers manage to look cool!
Up, up and away!
I jetted off to Miami with British Airways and was lucky enough to sample their business class seats for the first time. Whilst it is beyond many people’s budgets there are often great deals to be had. Seated with a glass of champagne the journey began and, before I knew it, just over 9 hours had flown by (excuse the pun) and I landed in Miami!
After clearing customs (which was actually very speedy), we hopped on our transfer bus and headed to Naples. We decided to take the slightly longer journey and go through the Everglades. The national park of the Everglades covers an incredible 1.5 million acre of wetlands. Being famous for its wildlife, I had my eyes peeled for one of the local inhabitants, and it didn’t take long to spot several alligators sunning themselves on the banks, it was incredible seeing them so close to the road!
The Everglades is home to over 200,000 alligators, and, during a brief rest stop, we got the chance to see a few up close and personal, I even managed an obligatory selfie with one, if you look close enough at the picture below! If you have time, take an airboat ride through the swamps, it is great fun and you will see all forms of wildlife from gators, to racoons and maybe even an armadillo!
The stunning resort of Naples
Just under two hours later we reached the beautiful resort of Naples. This lovely resort is perched on the Gulf of Mexico with an incredible beach, fantastic golf courses and high end shopping. Our home for the night was the lovely Ritz Carlton Beach Resort - this is a luxury resort with great facilities, making it ideal for families, couples and friends alike. The beach at the resort is pristine, as are the resort grounds, so it makes for a hard decision whether you stay on the beach or by the pool! The hotel offers an amazing spa where you can relax, and for children and teens (and adults) there is a great spot called Nature’s Wonders, where you can learn about the wonders of nature. Dining is also a real pleasure at this resort, with countless places to choose from - the hotel offers a choice of fine dining, right through to casual beachside.
During our stay, we enjoyed a lovely boat excursion through the waterways of Naples. Our journey began in ‘Tin City’, home to shops selling all sorts, before we climbed on-board our boat. The houses here were amazing in both looks and price! If I had a spare million pounds or two, it would be a great place to reside and watch the days go by. During our trip, we were greeted by dolphins, happy to swim alongside our boat. It was a great experience to see them enjoying the ocean - just as nature intended.
After our lovely boat trip, we headed for 5th Avenue in Naples - the street was so pristine it could have been off a movie set! This area oozes charm and offers everything from shopping, hotels and a huge variety of dining options. We stopped for a drink at the lovely ‘Inn on Fifth’ hotel, a lovely boutique resort with a great ambience, located in the heart of 5th Avenue.
Our second home was the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort, this property was more laid back than the beach resort and had a lovely relaxed feel about it. If you are a golfer then you may feel like you have died and gone to heaven! The benefits of this hotel mean you still get to use all of the facilities at the beach resort but can return later to a quieter resort if you prefer.
Time to head to Miami
After a good night’s sleep it was off to Miami! I felt like I had been there before as I’d seen the areas so many times on various TV shows. The city offered a vibrant welcome and lots of spots definitely had that ‘Latino’ Cuban feel about it. Feeling like a film star, we headed down into ‘South Beach’, this cool and hip neighbourhood known as SoBe to the locals, is famous for its art deco area. It felt like stepping back in time but at night this part of the city really comes to life! The area looks incredible at night when it is all lit up and there are so many places to see! Personally I would take a night tour and enjoy all this area has to offer.
No stay in Miami would be complete without a visit to the Fontainebleau Hotel. This hotel is incredible! This iconic hotel opened back in the 1950’s when everything was so stylish, and many celebs back in the day (and current) visited this hotel, including Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack and even the ‘King’ himself, Elvis. A staggering 1 billion dollar renovation took place in 2008 and, walking around the hotel, you can see that it was money well spent. This hotels offers everything you can think of but I have to say the trendy bar and nightclub was my personal favourite.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the sunshine state. I flew home with American Airlines and again, was thoroughly spoilt in my business class seat, the flat bed makes such a difference to the ‘red eye’ overnight journeys and I spent my time during the flight realising what an amazing time I had in Florida, without a theme park in sight! This state has so much to offer everyone, go there and enjoy it, I certainly did!