With a land mass only slightly larger than Australia, the United States of America is definitely a country worth exploring. While you could go walkabout in the outback in Australia for a few months before you might decide you have had enough, that is not the case in the USA. There is so much to see and do in every state that you could travel there for a few years before you decide you need a break.
Since most Australians don’t have years to travel a foreign country, you might want to focus on a particular state for a short duration. On a US visa you could easily explore one or two states in a few months. For all intents and purposes, Florida is a good example as a state you could explore easily.
Interesting Facts About Florida
Florida is very warm and often humid. Only the northernmost part of this state is cooler and less humid than the rest. Rainstorms are constant most months of the year, and from April through November Florida experiences hurricanes. The “winter” months are still quite warm, although it’s much cooler at night, dropping into negative teens (Celsius). Bring all manner of clothing with you if you are going to travel around Florida for a few months.
Florida is also home to innumerable and fascinating touristy locations. Many of the citizens of the US travel to Florida on vacation because there’s a lot to see and do. The summer months here (June, July, and August) are the hottest, most humid, wettest, and busiest months of the year because Americans give their children all of these months off for summer holiday.
Florida is also where the US grows a lot of its citrus fruits. Lemon, lime, grapefruit and oranges can be seen on citrus groves here. Freshly squeezed orange juice and lemonade are often on the restaurant menus. Roadside fruit stands may sell fresh citrus fruits at certain times of the year.
The Everglades is a big part of Florida. It’s essentially a very large and very protected swamp environment. You may be used to seeing crocs at home, so it may not surprise you to see alligators everywhere you go in Florida! In fact, Florida has “pest control” services that are specifically designed to remove alligators from private property, pools, etc.. Of course, being a very tropical sort of state, there are spiders, snakes, large rodents, and many other animals that may seem similar to those you see back home.
Traveling Around Florida
Most Floridians drive, but you can utilize public transportation. This includes buses, rental vehicles, and airplanes. A train system is limited to certain larger cities and does not connect most of the cities in Florida. If you intend to tour Florida for more than three months and stay here on a visa, you may want to consider purchasing a car.
SCCU auto loans can help visitors to Florida secure a loan and purchase a car. If you do this, it’s wise to purchase a used older model vehicle you can sell right before you leave for home. If you plan to stay in the US even longer and travel to other states, then buying a car is an excellent idea. It is much cheaper than flying, buses, or trains.
If Florida is the only state you plan to visit, you can rent a car as needed, or use one of the other modes of transportation. Short flights here and there are sometimes reasonably priced, but taking a transit bus is cheaper than flying. You will have to decide what mode of transportation is easiest and most convenient for the time you stay here.
Staying in Florida: Lodging
Because Florida has such a strong tourism base, there is no end of hotels, resorts, and lodgings for visitors. The most popular attractions for tourists even have their own resorts and hotels. If you are going to stay in Florida for any length of time, you will need to research the cost of living there short-term versus moving from hotel to resort to motel to bed and breakfast lodgings, etc.
Florida does offer a wide variety of temporary living arrangements. For example, you might consider Florida’s no closing cost mortgage. Applying for a mortgage with these specific terms allows you to purchase property or a home or even a timeshare without incurring closing costs. You could own vacation property in Florida and then apply for dual citizenship or extend your visa a few months.
Of course, there’s always the option of renting a vacation property. It’s a little more expensive than a budget motel, but less costly than actually buying property. If you are a good bargain hunter you may find a vacation property through an online site like AirBnB or Vrbo. Just keep in mind that the closer the rental home is to popular tourist attractions, the more costly it will be. Don’t forget to prepare everything for your trip to Florida. In my experience, availing a free checking account with Space Coast Credit Union saved me from all the hustle.
Things to Do in Florida and Places to See
There’s so much to unpack here that it’s difficult to start! There are at least five very famous places to go when you are in Florida. Each one offers several weeks’ worth of fun and entertainment, making it very difficult to choose. It is the number one reason why tourists from all over the United States.
Tip: For travelers who are always into adventure, having everything with you on the road can make things more manageable. Some travelers opt to purchase enclosed cargo trailers and attach it to their cars while traveling. The trailers can house your motorcycles, bikes and everything to keep everything worry-free.
Walt Disney World
The second Disney theme park to be built in the U.S. and quite possibly the largest theme park of all Disney parks, this one is composed of four separate parks located quite a distance from each other. There is also a shopping and dining “park” and two water parks all located in their own little areas.
Not to worry; Disney World has created multiple transportation options between parks and the numerous resorts. You can ride a Disney bus, use a Minnie van sponsored by Lyft, travel by water taxi, take the monorail, or check out the latest Skyliner, a series of cable gondolas that travel between a couple of the parks and a few of the resorts. If you are not staying in the parks and you drive there, you can drive between parks or take one of the modes of transportation.
Most visitors to any Disney park find that there’s just no way you can do everything in one day or three days or seven days. That is why you may want to revisit parks or plan for a much longer vacation here.
Universal Studios Florida
This theme park comprises two parks and a water park. There is also a dining and shopping “wharf” for guests. Five luxury resorts are located on park grounds, including a Hard Rock hotel. Driving to Universal is the only way to get there. Once you’re there, you can walk into the parks, take water taxis, or take a human-powered rickshaw. (The rickshaws are not free and only run during certain hours of the day.)
The biggest draw at Universal Studios is the Harry Potter Worlds. There’s two, linked by a train ride that goes back and forth and is its own entertainment. You could make an entire day’s trip out of this alone. All of the other attractions and thrill rides have their draw too, so it’s worth wandering around for a few days to about a week to take it all in.
When Busch Gardens first opened, it was all about wildlife conservation and having dozens of amazing animals roaming freely about habitats built for them. Now it is much more than that. There are lots of rides and attractions, restaurants and shops to explore. Easily another couple of days could be spent here.
Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center
More than just the home of America’s many space shuttle launches, Cape Canaveral boasts a space museum, fishing and diving tours, The Wizard of Oz museum, and the departure point for many Disney Cruises. If you are lucky enough to be in Florida during a space shuttle launch, you can purchase watch tickets and sit in a crowd of space exploration enthusiasts to watch a shuttle blast off. Flights are scheduled a few months in advance, but you will have to check the website to find out when.
SeaWorld Orlando combines one of the largest underwater exhibits of ocean life with a theme park. Most of the rides are roller coasters while the remaining rides are theme-based on a children’s television show, Sesame Street. The characters and other attractions are also based on this show, so unless you have kids or just really enjoy Muppets, this may only be interesting to you in terms of a day trip.
Legoland Resort and Park
Located in Winterhaven, FL, this Lego-themed brick world has a few rides for adults and even a few attractions that might prove interesting. The real attraction is the resort where the Lego theme is taken to extremes and the themed rooms are based on different Lego sets. It’s akin to stepping into a toy-filled world where everyone just plays all day with Lego bricks. The two restaurants inside the resort are rather pricey, but the food is very good.
Perhaps the most interesting feature about this park is the fact that it was built on an old nature preserve. In order for the Lego company to build the resort, they had to agree to preserve most of the old nature park on the property. You are able to take self-guided walking tours of the grounds and the remaining nature preserve. However, be careful as alligators have been spotted on the paths of the nature preserves.
Everglades National Park and Airboat Tours
The Everglades originally stretched across massive swaths of territory in Florida. Because it is filled with so much swamp and developers sixty years ago could not build in most areas, parts were drained to make room for humans. The government stepped in to save parts of the Everglades and turn it into a national park.
You can visit the national park and take tours by boat. Best of all, there are companies running massive airboats that tour the watery park. Airboats are wide-bottomed boats with huge cyclonic fans on the back that cut through water and swampland faster than a car at Florida’s Daytona 500 races. You can see a lot of the wildlife in the Everglades by airboat. Night tours to spot alligators and nocturnal swamp creatures are also available.
Over 100 fully interactive exhibits are present in this unique structure. It is immediately striking in that the exterior looks as though a massive earthquake and a hurricane turned the building upside down. If you spring for the VIP ticket, you’re also treated to dinner theater with an improv comedy show.
That’s Just the Short List
The aforementioned places are just a sample of everything to see and do in Florida. If you lived here you would have an endless supply of choices for entertainment and fun. These options are just the tip of the iceberg when you consider that Miami Beach, the Florida Keys, and so much more are not listed.
One thing you definitely should keep in mind is that Florida is not cheap. There are places you can visit for less, and there are discounts to be found. Still, because of the tourist attractions, prices here for a lot of things are high. It helps to plan ahead long before you decide to visit and roam around Florida.
If you took a six-month holiday in Florida you may just have enough time to see almost everything. It would cost you a fortune, but you would have the most in-depth experiences of your life. If you can tolerate the heat and humidity well, you might even consider living here to receive discounts on everything Florida residents already enjoy.