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South Florida

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Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Florida South Florida

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Introduction

South Florida is home to the populous Miami metropolitan area, the Florida Keys, and other localities. It is the only part of the continental United States with a tropical climate.

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Cities

Miami

Miami Beach, Florida - USA

Miami Beach, Florida - USA

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Divided into two parts, Mainland and South Beach, Miami is one of the most visited destinations in the USA. The busiest part of the city is the Art-Deco district, in South Beach, fully loaded with night-clubs and restaurants; the beach opposite this area is also very popular amongst tourists. In the Key Biscayne area, tourists are offered the chance to visit some celebrities' houses. Shopping lovers would find in Miami a wide variety of shopping malls, such as Bayside, Coco Walk, the Dolphin mall, amongst others. In the end, Miami is the place to be!

Other Cities

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Sights and Activities

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is a national park about 110 kilometres west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The park preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated of the Florida Keys. The archipelago's coral reefs are the least disturbed of the Florida Keys reefs. Fort Jefferson and birdwatching are the highlights here, although there is good snorkelling as well. Visiting the park by private boat is difficult because of its distance, so most visitors come by boat or seaplane from Key West, Florida. Official ferry and transportation services to the Dry Tortugas includes the Yankee Freedom III catamaran and seaplane services. They offer daytrips for US$165 ($120 children), including breakfast, lunch, a tour of Fort Jefferson, snorkelling gear and a great boat trip (usually good weather). Key West Seaplan Charters offers half day and daytrips at (much) higher prices. You can camp at the island for $3 a night but you have to reserve space beforehand, also making sure you book the boatride back.

Everglades Gatorade

Everglades Gatorade

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Everglades National Park

The Everglades encompasses an area of marshland taking up most of the south of Florida. It is a popular tourist destination and the park plays a unique part in local folklore, with legends of moon shiners, smugglers and alligators. The Everglades National Park takes up much of the region. It protects the southern 20% of the original Everglades. In the United States, it is the largest subtropical wilderness, the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River, and is visited on average by one million people each year. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists. There are many things to do, including a tram tour at Shark Valley, boat trips from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center (10,000 islands reserve) and Flamingo and beautiful hikes, including the Anhinga Trail.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are the most southern point of North America, bordering almost with Cuba. Not only they are quite famous for the beaches and wildlife parks, but also for the nature reserves and architecture. The night life is also another good reason to go to the 'keys'. Key West is the most popular island and therefore the most visited one of the string. From Miami, it takes a good five hours by car to get there, crossing by dozens of bridges.

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge

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The Seven Mile Bridge is a famous bridge in Monroe County, Florida Keys, United States. It connects Knight's Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Among the longest bridges in existence when it was built, it is one of the many bridges on US 1 in the Keys, where the road is called the Overseas Highway. There are two bridges in this location. The older bridge, originally known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge, was constructed from 1909-1912 under the direction of Henry Flagler as part of the Overseas Railroad. The current road bridge was constructed from 1978 to 1982. The vast majority of the original bridge still exists, used as fishing piers and access to Pigeon Key, but the swing span over the Moser Channel of the Intracoastal Waterway has been removed.
The total length of the new bridge is actually 6.79 miles, and is shorter than the original. Each April the bridge is closed for approximately 2.5 hours on a Saturday and a "fun run," known as the Seven Mile Bridge Run.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County
  • Biscayne National Park

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Weather

South Florida is the warmest part of the USA, apart from Hawaii. Its tropical conditions mean warm to hot and humid weather year-round and temperatures are mostly around the 30 °C during the day and 20 °C at night, though sometimes colder winds from the north may reach even the Keys from December to early April. June to November, with a peak in August and September, are the wettest months and a fairly high chance of a hurricane.

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Getting There

By Plane

  • Miami International Airport (MIA/KMIA) is the city's main airport and is one of the United States' largest airports. It is located around 13 kilometres from downtown Miami. There are non-stop routes from and to well over 100 destinations worldwide, including cities throughout North and South America, Europe and the Middle East. Miami International Airport is also the largest international gateway for American Airlines, which has nearly 100 destinations served alone!

Some of the main destinations are Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Havana, Düsseldorf, Toronto, Madrid, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Aruba, La Paz, Lima, London, Rio de Janeiro, St. Thomas, Panama City, Manaus, Santiago, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo and Washington, D.C..

By Train

Amtrak offers trains from New York all the way south to Miami.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

You will find most of the big cities with rental offices by one or more of these companies so picking up a rental car in Florida is easy. Prices will vary depending on the time of the year you are booking. Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include SixtHertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 8:19 on Jun 4, 13 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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