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Florida is known as the land of the Marshes. What comes to mind when I think of my vacation to Florida – the drive down to the Keys with the an amazing breeze through out the drive, the sea grass filled beaches in the Keys, closely grown lush green vegetation , creepy iguanas , the beautiful world famous Miami beach, coconut trees, the thrilling ride on an airboat through the Everglades, the incredible pre Christmas deals at the Sawgrass Mills outlet, Butterbeer, amazing Pizza in Marathon, delicious Cuban Chicken in Miami, and  the Disney and Universal amusement parks with incredible firework displays, amazingly designed rides/park ground and Harry Potter !! As an adult I can appreciate the amount of thought, design and work that went into build the parks!

Some photos from the trip.

Disney Amusement Park – Hollywood Studios
Disney Amusement Park – Magic Kingdom
Drive to the Keys
Snorkeling in the Keys
The Middle Keys
The Keys
Sunset in the Keys
Airboat Tour through the Everglades
Baby alligator in the Everglades
Miami Beach
Hemingway House in Key West
Universal Studios – Harry Potter

I will do my best to capture the various experiences in different posts .

If you enjoyed the photos and want to visit Florida here is some information about shelter/transportation and food!

  • We booked most of our hotels using Expedia/Booking.com for Orlando, Miami, and the Keys. We found the Disney resort to be overpriced. It may make sense to stay at one if you have kids with you. Things to keep in mind while booking a hotel – most of them will have resort fee, some will charge you for parking and Florida seems to have multiple layer of taxes. Try to find one with breakfast, no parking fee and no resort fee. We had trouble finding one without resort fee and trouble finding one near Ocean’s drive in Miami that didn’t charge for parking. We tried to pick one that charged a reasonable price !
  • Transportation – We booked a car for our trip out of Orlando Airport with Thrifty.  We were planning to visit multiple cities – Orlando, Miami and the Keys and we wanted flexibility for going to different parks at different times. The price was reasonable for 10 days and the gas price was also good value. If you don’t stay at a Disney resort – you can use the shuttle offered by the Hotels. Most hotels will offer free shuttle to the park. This will only work if you are comfortable going at predefined times. If you don’t want to rent a car a good option might be to stay at a Disney Resort. These are connected to some of the parks through Disney’s own monorail and you can use Disney shuttles to other parks ( runs frequently) !
  • Tolls – The rental companies usually offer toll pass for all the tolls for a set price. We bought this option since we were traveling between cities. You dont need this if you are in Orlando alone. It is a good value if you decide to go to Miami / Keys from Orlando.
  • Disney and Universal tickets – We booked these directly from the website for Disney and Universal. We choose a 5 day ticket for Disney with the water park and park hopping options. I found the park hopping option to be really useful. It gives you the ability to travel between parks on the same day , otherwise you can only go to one park at a day. Canadians also get discounted prices so make sure to pick that option when buying the tickets. You can add two water parks for additional $20 USD. For $20 the waterparks were worth it. If I had to plan again, I would pick more days and buy a ticket for longer time frame. The incremental cost of the ticket is small and if you do the parks over a long time period you can do it at a nicer pace, especially if you have kids ! We also bought the Universal ticket from the Universal website. We bought a two park to park ticket so we can write the Hogwarts Express! We mainly focused on Harry Potter at Universal. Again would be worth it to do a longer ticket duration and visit other areas as well.
  • Food – We did grocery shopping  for breakfast, snacks and lunch. We alternated between making our meals and eating out. I found the grocery items to be expensive compared to Toronto, however still cheaper then eating out for all meals !

Very memorable trip !

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