The state of Florida in the USA has some of the best beaches in the world. It is known as the sunshine state. This is because apart from a few months of the year the sun is always shinning. Florida is one of the best states for holidays.

It’s the 3rd most populous state in the US with 22million inhabitants, boasts the longest coastline in the US, is flanked by 2 Oceans and in 2019 saw a staggering 126.3 million tourists, the highest in the United States of America, I was one of them! Most of these tourists head for Orlando and the Disney Theme Parks. We did visit Orlando so you can jump right onto that section. However, just hold on before you do. St. Peters Beach is not to be missed if you want a beautiful beach not too far from Orlando. Due to the staggering amount of tourists Florida sees each year they are so accustomed to tourists. They have everything all figured out meaning for you and me everything is so much easier. That means Florida is stress free when going on holiday here, more on that a little later in the post.

For us, we wanted to see a little more than just Orlando this time. I mean we had to visit some of our favourite parks again, it’s custom to do so. But we wanted to check out somewhere not on the tourist destination list. So we stayed in St. Peters Beach and we also went down to Miami for the first time. As always I have broken down the trip we took into three sections. I hope this will make it easier in-case you only wanted to read about one or the other.      


St. Peters Beach or St. Petersburg Beach as it was originally known is a coastal city. It sits on the Gulf of Mexico. Making it the perfect location for holidays although not many people have heard of it. I had not heard about it before. It was only because a family wedding was taking place here that I got the opportunity to stay. I urge you explore this side of Florida as not many people do. Your nearest International Airport is Tampa and it’s about a 40 minute drive. Making it an ideal location to rest up and enjoy the Florida beach vibe. There are loads of hotels dotted along the beach front with restaurants, shops and entertainment places. I even recommend a day trip from Orlando if your staying there.

Florida State Beaches

Google maps says it should take approx. 2 hours, 11mins. However it didn’t take me that long so it will depend on traffic. For example if you plan to travel during a US holiday it will be busier. It may take longer but on average it took me about 1hour 15/30mins to get to Orlando. You only use 2 inner states so couldn’t be easier. So the question is what did we get up to during our stay in St. Peters Beach?


St. Pete’s Beach

There is the stunning beach itself that goes on for mile upon mile of white sand and warm water. As this coast is on the Gulf of Mexico the sea is always warm. This brings a slight relief from the hot sun. Like I said we went in peak time around mid-august so the daily temperature was never far below 35 degrees. After a long hot humid day exploring it was lovely to come back and have a dip in the sea.

The beach itself has everything you need. It doesn’t have many eating or drinking places on the beach itself. If you do plan on going for the day from Orlando I would recommend taking some of your own food and drink. Although a shop is never that far away. Most of the hotels that line the beach front have cabana’s for guest to use. Non-paying guests must pay to “rent” the cabanas which I did think was a little pricey. I would recommend just taking a few towels and set up camp on the sand. But please don’t forget to bring something like an umbrella for shade, the sun is relentless. There is plenty of sand and beach around so getting a spot shouldn’t be to difficult.

Things to do

There are loads of water sports on offer too. You can hire out jet skis (which we did). It worked out about $100 for 30mins per Jet Ski and was loads of fun. They also had water skiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding and parasailing along the beach. It really is a lovely place to just chill out, relax and spend some beach time with the family. Now I do agree that there are many amazing beaches in Florida. It’s famous for them but if you are in Orlando and fancy a day at the beach, St. Pete’s Beach is one I highly recommend. In fact in 2021 TripAdvisor annual rankings, St. Pete’s Beach was voted No.1 beach in the entire USA and 5th best beach in the world.     

A few Tips –

  1. Bring your own food and drink to this beach. Don’t rely on it being here because it wasn’t unless you are a guest of the hotels.
  2. Make sure you bring something for shade. It gets so hot during the day that you will need a little shade here and there
  3. Bring flip flops – because it gets so hot the sand is like walking on larva. If you bring some footwear it will make your journey to the sea or to the car much more comfy. 

Johns Pass

Florida State Beach Boardwalk

As we were staying for a few days in the area. We thought we would check out what else was on offer. Some of the locals we meet in the hotel told us about a little place about 15mins north. Along the coast called John’s Pass. So, one afternoon after lunch we got into the car and took off to see if we could find it. Locals are never wrong, they always know the best places.

Things to do

This place is something like an entertainment complex and a shopping centre over the water! Sounds a little odd but it was a really great place. We had a walk around some of the shops. I stopped for some early dinner in one of the many restaurants. We got talking to some of the locals and we even stopped by a Tabaco store. We watched them making huge cigars and the skill involved.

The area is over the water, so it’s a lovely place to hang out and eat. There are pubs here as well for some drinks. At night it comes alive with drinkers and people socialising and hanging out. The walkways are all made from wood and they cross over the water connecting all the buildings. There was also water activities here which was a little cheaper than on the beach. It was $85 for 30mins per Jet Ski. They also had live entertainment in street performers with a band and a magician. This is a lovely place to visit for an afternoon or evening. If you are at a loose end and staying in the area i recommend a visit.

Florida State Johns Pass

A few Tips –

  1. Parking is not free. It cost me around $20 for approx. 5 hours we were there so remember to bring some dollars with you.
  2. Make sure you explore all the little pathways and shops, and make sure you buy some Taffy! It’s amazing if like me you have a sweet tooth. 

Clearwater & Clearwater Mall

Another cool place to visit along the coast is Clearwater. Its a little further up the coast past John’s Pass and another 20mins away but it’s worth it. This place was extremely busy when we got there. It took us about 12 minutes to find a parking spot so bare that in mind. There are tons of hotels, shops, restaurants here. There are loads of tour operators offering day trips out on boats and sunset cruises (we didn’t take any of these but it’s there if you want it). We had a walk around and went to the beach. It’s a huge beach as most of them are in Florida but was extremely busy, loads more busy than St. Peters Beach a little further down the coast which I was thankful for.

Clearwater Marina

They do have a pier and Marina to walk around at Clearwater. It cost $2 to get onto the pier and walk to the end. This is extremely popular at sunset and sunrise due to the breath-taking unspoiled views across the ocean. It’s a lovely spot for an extremely romantic sun setting picture but incredibly busy. The Marina is free entry to walk around. This is where most of the day trips were.  

After the pier we stopped and had Ice Cream. Which was wonderful and also stopped at a restaurant and had some food.

Clearwater Mall

After the beach front we headed a little further into Clearwater. Another 10/15mins or so and headed for Clearwater Mall. It’s a pretty big Mall but if I am being honest once you have seen one you have seen them all. There is nothing amazing about this Mall. Just a Mall but huge so if shopping is your thing then please check it out. In all I definitely think Clearwater is a place that should be visited if you staying in the area. However if time isn’t on your side I would give it a miss this time around.          

A few Tips –

  1. It gets BUSY! Extremely Busy, so bare that in mind if thinking of coming to Clearwater.
  2. All the car parks are pay and display, it cost about $20 for the 4/5 hours we were there.
  3. The Pier is certainly a place to head to. But if you want that sunset picture then you are going to need to get there early. You will need to get a good head start and spot.  


Tampa in Florida State with beach

Tampa is the largest city from your destination, it has a population of 3 million residents making it the 3rd largest city in the State of Florida and it sees approx. 14 million tourists each year visiting the city. We were only in this part of the state for a few days so didn’t really have time to stay or check out Tampa itself. I did pop into the city for the day and I wish we could have stayed a little longer, Tampa is certainly on the list to visit next time.

We did have a wonder into the city, we checked out Tampa Bay and went into the Florida Aquarium. I stopped along the boulevard and had some food and then had to travel back to St. Pete’s Beach but there was still so much I wanted to explore and see.

Things to do

Tampa is a huge metropolitan city with excellent transport routes, car parking and hundreds of places to visit. I drove into Tampa from St. Pete’s beach and it took 45mins, we parked the car then got the tram into the city centre. I was blown away with how clean it was, but also how busy it was. It’s a major US city make no mistake about it. But it is a nice looking city with a beautiful waterside to walk around. With plenty of great places to stop along the way and take some pictures. The locals told us we might be lucky enough to see the dolphins that live in the bay. Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins that day. But we did have a great day out and added another adventure to the list.

The Florida Aquarium is a pretty cool place, it’s massive (most things in America are to be fair). There is also a heap of stuff to do for example there is a boat ride to see the dolphins in the bay. You can swim with sharks, you can feed the rays and even pet a penguin. Now all of these are NOT included in your entrance ticket. You can upgrade to any of these activities once you get there for extra $$. Like I said we didn’t really have the time to check any of these other activities out. It was a shame because I would have liked to but it gives me something to do next time.

Even without all the extra’s we still had a lovely visit. We had a great time visiting the aquarium but if money is a little tight you can still have a great day out. If you’re in Orlando anyway Sea World is a much better choice. 


It is the second most visited City in the state of Florida behind Miami and the 4th most visited city in the entire United States of America boosting 75 million tourists in 2019 – this means for you and me it’s a tourist dream because Orlando has everything you need and the city is well set-up for tourists meaning it’s easier to travel around, it has an abundance of places to visit and for the cherry on top, it’s warm and sunny all year around.

Most tourist visit Orlando for the theme parks owned by Disney and Universal. They are the busiest in the world and tourists flock in their millions each year. It isn’t at all surprising. We were no different, however this time we didn’t check out all of the Disney parks. Time just was not on our side. We stayed for 6 nights in Orlando and did 6 parks. Now I would be lying if I said we weren’t completely knackered at the end of it. We were but we had the most amazing week and did some pretty incredible things, take a look….


Disney Animal Kingdom

It was the first of 6 parks we visited. One of the parks I had never been to. The last time I was in Orlando it was being built. Disney know how to do everything well and share the magic like only Disney can. Animal Kingdom is no different in regards to all the other Disney Parks. There are animals to see, rides to get on and countless shows, shops and eating places all over the park. If this is your first time in Orlando then I do recommend you follow some of the tips below. I hope you find them useful, they are things I wish I knew before I went.

We arrived and checked out some rides first (to beat the queues). I went on the “Kilimanjaro Safari” which is a bus you get on and it takes you around to see all the different animals they have in the park. We then went on the “kali river rapids” where I got soaked through to my underpants! It was actually pretty refreshing because it was a very hot humid day when we visited the park. The ride itself is like a big water flume ride that you get on. It takes you around the rapids. You will get pretty wet but it’s a really fun ride for all the family.

Things to do

We did the “Maharajah Jungle Trek” which is a walk through to see more animals. We saw the Tiger and Gorilla’s and then we went on the “Expedition Everest” ride. Which is a pretty fast roller coaster, it flies you forward then backwards. It’s a cool ride and very intense, maybe not so much for young children. Some of the ride is also in complete darkness. We checked out the “Lion King” show which was a favourite of mine. “Navi River Journey” which is in the Avatar world (part of the park). This entire area is made to look like the movie. You really feel like you are there, the sights, the sounds and the atmosphere they really have done a brilliant job.

Florida State, Animal Kingdom

We stopped for some lunch and drinks through-out the day. I mean really the park has a considerable amount of eating and drinking places so the choice is overwhelming. We stayed until it got dark for a few reasons, we wanted to see the “Tree of Life” all lit up. I’m not going to spoil this surprise but you really do need to see it to believe it. There is also a firework display at the end of the evening. We got to the park about 9am (it opens at 8am) and we left at 10:40pm. We also managed to squeeze in a little shopping in the stores. It was a very long day but a day I loved and would certainly do it all over again!

A few Tips –

  1. It gets BUSY! Extremely Busy especially during the US holidays. When we visited some of the rides, queue times were 3 hours! That means it will take approx. 3 hours just to get on the ride so this is where “fast passes” are really useful. I got ours with our tickets which I bought from the UK before we left. I am so glad I paid the little extra for these. Without them we might have only been able to get on 3 or 4 rides instead of the many we did. I’ve got more info on “fast passes” at the end of the blog and helpful links.  
  2. All Disney Parks are NON SMOKING Parks meaning you cannot smoke ANYWHERE within the park. You have to leave the park entrance, smoke your cigarette and then come back in. This doesn’t seem like much of a chore but believe me these parks are huge. If you are all the way over the other side with your family it could be a 30 minute walk back to the entrance again.
  3. Disney Parks are expensive. It’s one of the prices you pay. Unfortunately there is nothing anyone can really do about it, once you are in the park everything is highly priced. From food and drink to optional extras but this is Disney and this could be a once in a lifetime trip so what the hell, GO FOR IT!

Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay is a park owned by Universal Studios and is the newest of their parks. It’s a water park and has one of the fastest single person water slides in the world. I wasn’t going to miss out on that opportunity!

Because we stayed in a Universal Resort Hotel we were able to make use of the free shuttle service. This is a bus service directly from the hotel to the park entrance. All Universal Resort Hotels offer this service. Its first come first served so you can imagine it does get pretty full up on a daily basis. We did get picked up from the hotel and taken directly to the entrance, we checked in and went in.

Things to do

It’s a pretty cool park, there are countless slides and flumes to have a go on. A huge main pool with a wave machine and 3 other smaller pools. We had a go on all the slides in the park including the fastest single person slide. Which runs directly through the volcano in the middle of the park and also erupts with water through-out the day. You do have to be a certain size and weight to ride this slide. The reason it’s so fast is because it’s on an 85 degree vertical drop! It’s a pretty cool, intense slide and something I loved. I actually went on 3 times in the end but the others would only ride once.

Florida State, Volcano Bay with Beaches

There are eating places once inside and places to just chill out and relax. If you wanted complete relaxation and privacy you can hire out your very own cabana within the park. We didn’t opt for this as we didn’t need to but it’s an option if you want it when booking. The part around the main pool is all sand, that’s a cool added bonus. It gives a feel feeling you are on holiday. There are places all over the park to wash your feet off if heading elsewhere around the park. Lockers and showers are available but again they get extremely busy. There wasn’t any showers free when we left so I just waited until we got back to the hotel.


For me the highlight about Volcano Bay is the technology they use to ensure you have the best day possible. Each guest is given a smart watch. Waterproof of course and the idea is, if you wanted to get on a ride you walk up to the entrance, scan your watch on the scanner and it tells you how long the wait will be to get on and adds you into the virtual queue so you don’t have to wait around in line.

If you want to wait you agree and can move on elsewhere to do something else. Then your watch will vibrate to tell you, you can now join the queue for the ride. Meaning you are not spending most of your day waiting around in queues. It’s a brilliant idea and something I wish other parks use in the future. It just made the day hassle free giving you more time to enjoy the park with your family and friends.

A few Tips –

  1. The earlier you get there the better it will be. Some Universal Resort hotels allow early entry to paying guests. This means you get into the park 1 hour before everyone else. If you don’t have this like we did make sure you are on some of the first buses to arrive. By mid-morning it’s pretty busy. 
  2. You will need some change for the lockers. But they are huge lockers and will keep all your stuff.
  3. Unlike the Disney parks there are smoking area’s through-out Volcano Bay. They aren’t very well signed posted but they are there. There was one area in each corner of the park.
  4. If your resort has a free shuttle, make use of it. It makes it an easier day out because you haven’t got to worry about driving or finding a parking spot. Or the added worry about the queues coming out the car park at closing time.
  5. Foot wear is essential. The sand and path-ways get extremely hot with bare feet. The park do hose down the paths but the heat is so intense in the summer months this only lasts a few minutes.

Sea World

Florida State - Sea World with man made beaches

Despite coming under constant battles with how they train and keep your animals they do a fantastic job. Educating and allowing you to experience wildlife in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see. The park has a huge array of animals and rides. They also have some fantastic opportunities to get up close and personal with some of these amazing animals. We had the chance to feed sting rays and sea lions which was really cool. You can pay extra for more, you will need to check out the website for more information.     

Things to do

When we arrived we had a little walk about. We went and saw some of the other animals within the park. I saw the sea turtles, Empire Penguins and went into the “lost world” Aquarium. We headed for the Dolphins and Sting Rays and got to feed the Sting Rays. Then we headed for the Shark encounter area which is really cool. It’s a tunnel you walk through right to the heart of the shark tank.

We then thought we would go and check out some rides. So went on the “Mako” which is a rollercoaster that gets up to the speed of a Mako shark, approx. 40mph. It was high and it was intense and pretty fast. I was getting hungry but wanted to try out another rollercoaster before lunch so headed for “Manta” which again was extremely fast and took us upside down. This did make my stomach turn but I guess that’s the point! Glad we did this ride before lunch otherwise someone could have been wearing it. Sea World like all the other parks in Orlando has plenty of food and drinking places on offer. We stopped for hot dog, fries and drink.

So much more..

Then we wanted to get back exploring again so we checked out the “Arctic Adventure”. Which was really cool, we saw fur seals, walrus and even two Beluga whales. I had never seen Beluga whales before in real life. They are beautiful animals and really fun to watch. After that we wanted to check out another ride so went on “Infinity Falls”. This is without a doubt the fastest, wettest, craziest water ride I have ever been on. Make NO mistake about it, you are going to get soaked! When I came off I was wet through to my pants, socks and shoes. We needed to dry out a little bit but there is another water ride in the park so while we were soaked we did that as well “journey to Atlantis”.

After that we went and got another drink and sat in the sunshine for about 25/30mins to dry off. The Florida heat can be intense so it’s doesn’t take long.  We had a brilliant day but the best was yet to come. We managed to get into the last evening showing of “Ocean Discovery Show” which is the killer whale show. It was spectacular, with lights, fireworks and the amazing whales themselves. A real moment that I felt honoured to be a part off. 

A few Tips –

  1. The earlier you get there the better it will be. I know it’s a repeated tip but it really can make a difference to your day. By lunchtime the queues can be 2 hours long.  
  2. Lockers are available within the park. If you want to go on “Infinity Falls” I strongly recommend you use one. We did and I don’t think my camera would have worked afterward because it wasn’t waterproof. Lockers were $10 for 1 hour and that is enough time.
  3. Unlike the Disney parks there are smoking area’s through-out the park. They aren’t very well signed posted and tucked away but they are there. 
  4. Take advantage of the educational talks and shows. They are fascinating and you get a real close up view of some of the amazing animals they have at Sea World. I highly recommend the Manatee, Beluga Whales and Orca talks. Also, if you have a little extra money and really want a once in lifetime opportunity book up the “close encounters”. Check out their website for more info.  

Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure

There is no question this is my favourite park in Orlando. Words really don’t and won’t do this place justice. You really have to see it to believe it but I will do my best.

Universal Studios is one of the most popular parks behind Disney’s Magic Kingdom in all of Orlando. They cater for such a huge array of movie goers. Now I am not a movie expert, far from but the Universal experience is like nothing you will experience elsewhere. They put you in the heart of some of the biggest movies of all time. You can feel them, touch them and even taste them all over the park.

Things to do

Go on a quest and help the Autobots in Transformers. Get transported to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express. You can visit Jurassic Park or go on a quest to find Kong. Help Spiderman and even see the mighty Jaws or ride a bike with ET! It’s all here in the same place in the same park and that is why I love it so much.

On top of all of that, you can see stunt shows. See how Hollywood train some of the most famous animals. Meet some movie characters like Harry Potter, Beatlejuice and Bumblebee. On top of that there are water rides, rollercoasters and theatre shows. There is something here for everyone. To truly get the full package and fit everything in I do recommend 2 days in this park if it’s your first time.

People get confused with the two names, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. In fact they are 2 different parks. You can choose to visit just one of them if you wanted. But they are joined by one special thing, the Hogwarts Express. When booking your tickets make sure to include Islands of Adventure and the Hogwarts Express. You won’t be disappointed believe me. For example, if you wanted to take a trip into Jurassic Park, that is in islands of adventure. Whereas the transformers are in Universal Studios so you could miss out if only going to one of them. There isn’t much more to say apart from, YOU NEED TO VISIT this park. Trust me you will NOT regret it.         

Universal Studios, Florida State

A few Tips –

  1. The earlier you get there the better it will be. Some Universal Resort hotels allow early entry to paying guests. This means you get into the park 1 hour before everyone else. If you don’t have this like we did make sure you are on some of the first buses to arrive. By mid-morning it’s pretty busy. 
  2. Unlike the Disney parks there are smoking area’s through-out Universal parks. They aren’t very well signed posted but they are there. There was one area in each corner of the park.
  3. If your resort has a free shuttle, make use of it. It makes it an easier day out because you haven’t got to worry about driving or finding a parking spot. Or the added worry about the queues coming out the car park at closing time.
  4. Take time to catch some of the shows, they are pretty amazing. (I won’t spoil it for you, but check them out)

Discovery Cove

One word sums up this day, AMAZING! It was the first time I had been to discovery cove so wasn’t sure what to expect. I was blown away by the park, the staff and the experience. If I could tell anyone about what is a super special day out in Orlando it would be here at Discovery Cove.

It was an early start. Check in at the park starts at 7am so we got up extra early and headed to the park. Now the first thing I need to say is, your entrance ticket also includes food and drink all day while you are in the park so we already had breakfast at the park once we arrived.

We got there and got checked in. The staff were amazing, extremely friendly and explained everything we needed to know about the day. We got escorted to the breakfast area and the choice was brilliant. They had everything on offer from all over the world and was buffet style so you could help yourself. As much as you wanted and they also had tea, coffee and juices. After breakfast we made our way to the locker rooms and collected our wet suits. Everyone is advised to wear the wet suit they provide. it’s included in the price and made of a special material so doesn’t harm the wildlife. We got changed, made sure everything was in our lockers and headed into the park. The park is laid out like a tropical paradise island. Complete with palm trees, lakes and waterfalls with sandy shores all over.

Things to do

The first order of the day was to try out the snorkelling pool. It’s a pool which is pretty deep in places and has coral reefs. It allows you to snorkel over and see the amazing fish, rays and sharks below all swimming freely underneath you. It’s a really cool experience and you are able to swim here all day if you wanted to. It’s all part of the experience and day at Discovery Cove. Like I mentioned before, all food and drink is free for the day while in the park. It’s included in your entrance ticket, if you want something to eat you just walk up to one of the many food huts and pick something. They prepare it and give it to you.

The ticket comes in 2 ways, a non-dolphin experience and with a dolphin experience. We opted for the dolphin experience and it’s an experience I will never forget. It’s an opportunity to feed and swim with a bottlenose dolphin. You get to understand their name and how they came to be in the park. We were even allowed to tell the dolphin to complete some tricks. We made her jump out the water. Our dolphin was called “Luna” and she was fantastic, so gentle and patient with us.

Dolphin Experience

When she first swam up to us we were all a little nervous. I don’t think I truly knew how big these animals are. I swam up and Luna came along, picked me up on her back and took me back to shore. A true experience to say I have rode a dolphin. We then got to feed her, pet her and even give her a kiss! It really was a magical moment that I highly recommend doing.

After the dolphin encounter we got some lunch and went for a swim. There is a huge swimming pool and lazy river in the park. Which goes around the entire park and was really relaxing to just sit and let the water drift you around. There is a bird Avery onsite full of tropical birds that you can walk into and feed them. If you have the patience and time they will land on you and start to feed from the pots. Just remember be patient!

We had a brilliant day out but for these incredible moments it doesn’t come cheap. It’s nearly £300 per person to visit discovery cove for the day and have the dolphin experience. It’s just under £200 per person to visit the park without the dolphin experience. All in all, this was the highlight of the entire trip so far without a doubt.

Florida State Discovery Cove - man made beach

A few Tips

  1. The park numbers are limited each day so it never gets overcrowded. That is why check in times are provided for when you need to be arriving at the park.
  2. It’s a stress and hassle free day out. The park take control of everything for you which makes this place really special.
  3. Discovery Cove acts as a charity which is part of the Sea World group. They rescue and rehabilitate injured or mistreated dolphins from all over the world. All the money that you spend in the park including your entrance fee all goes toward this special cause.    

Disney Springs

I remember this location from the last time I was in Orlando and I really wanted to check it out again to see if it had changed at all. Disney Springs is a shopping and entertainment complex in the heart of the Disney area and it’s a place full of shops, restaurants, cinema and bowling alley. They have the largest Disney store here in the entire northern hemisphere and if you haven’t been before and you do want to go, make sure your wallet is deep because you will be buying something, how could you not? There is a huge Lego Store here to and it was really nice to wander about and do a little shopping. I drove over one afternoon and the car park is massive and it wasn’t really busy so that was also a really nice touch.  


It’s the most visited city in the state of Florida and the 3rd most visited city in the entire United States of America and it’s not hard to see why. Miami is a city that has everything and if you have the money like anything, anything can be yours for a price. Miami international Airport is massive and you can be grantee to get a flight from any major city to Miami.

As we were already in Orlando I drove down to Miami which was really easy and simple. Driving in general in the US is really easy. All the roads are massive and everything is very well sign posted. Everything is pretty easy going on the roads and driving down to Miami I really got the feeling how big the United States is as a country. We drove for about 4 hours and didn’t see one property let alone a village or town.

We arrived in Miami late afternoon and I dropped off the car and we got a cab to the hotel, the hotel was right on South Beach (Miami Beach) and right next to Ocean Drive (famous sea front road). So the location was perfect, guests had their very own entrance right onto the beach from the hotel grounds and had use of the cabana’s and beach towels, the only issue with Miami was a huge Hurricane was on its way and the city was bracing itself for a hit. This unfortunately meant we didn’t get to see much of the city itself as we were only there for 3 days to end our Florida adventure, but we did see some stuff.


South Beach (Miami Beach)

Florida Miami Beach

As far as beaches go, this was massive. It’s long and wide and was extremely busy with locals and tourists alike. We spend most mornings on the beach when we could, soaked up some sun and swam in the sea. The sea was much rougher then St. Pete’s Beach with waves bigger than me at some point but that made it loads of fun and they got even bigger the day before the Hurricane. The beach itself has showers to wash off, it has toilets and 24/7 security with police patrolling the beach at all times after all it is a hugely popular tourist attraction. It helped as guests of the hotel to have a cabana and drink and food service, all extra money of course! We enjoyed walking along the beach with our feet in the water and watching the sun setting in the background.

A few Tips

  1. This beach is massive so there is plenty of room, there is also life guards on duty during the daytime hours.
  2. Miami police department to patrol this beach so PLEASE make sure you stick to the guidance and signs, tourists are easy pickings for the police so don’t give them an excuse to stop you or fine you.
  3. This beach has showers to rinse the sand off but please note, the water is FREEZING! There are also toilets all along the beach if you need them.  

Wynward Walls

The Wynwood Walls is open to the public and free of charge to enter. It is an outdoor museum of international street art where the buildings have been painted with the most amazing effects. When you stand in the middle of the district and look around, every building has the most detailed and fascinating artwork. We got there mid-morning via a taxi and had a good look around, after we visited the walls and learned about the artists that have their art on display we went for some food in a nearby restaurant and all in all it was a really nice day out. We then had to make our way back to the hotel as all guests had to be back by 8pm otherwise you would be locked out for the next 24 hours during the Hurricane.    

Hurricane Dorian

This is a prime example of seeing how things can change in a flash.

We were in Orlando doing the parks and we got news from the hotel staff that a very large and powerful Hurricane was on its way and looked like it was going to make a hit on Florida. The hotel advised us that we needed to prepare as guests and make sure we had supplies in-case we were locked in the building for a period of time.

Breaking NewsCategory 5 Hurricane

Our problem was we were due to check out in 48 hours and travel down to Miami to finish the last leg of our amazing trip. So, I went and had a word with the hotel manager and she advised that the best thing for us to do was to head to Miami 24 hours earlier to beat the Hurricane as they cut off the main bridges over to South Beach where our hotel was (as it’s an island) when there is bad weather. This stressed me right out, because then I needed to contact the hotel and make arrangements for an extra night but also that cut out a day from Orlando. In any event I was extremely lucky that the hotel did manage to put us up for the extra night so the following morning we checked out and I drove down to Miami.

Hurricane Dorian fast approaching the US mainland

You’ve read all about what we got up to and due to this Hurricane that was all we had the chance to do. We had a day trip booked for the Everglades National Park but it was cancelled due to the alarming risk of the Hurricane fast approaching. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed and upset about it because I really was but there was nothing I could do, we were going to have to wait it out and see what unfolded.

Dorian Approaches Miami

We finally did see some US news on the TV in our hotel room and it became apparent this was a huge storm that had already killed several hundred people in the Caribbean. We got a notice under our door on Saturday night telling us due to the incoming Hurricane all guests needed to be in their rooms from Sunday 8pm because the hotel was being “locked down” for 24 hours to safe guard its guests. So that is what we did, we made sure we were back in our rooms by 8pm with supplies and food we bought from the shop and already we could hear the wind was up and the rain started to fall.

During the night I slept pretty well. The following morning was a complete change to the weather and view from our room on the 9th floor as the hurricane was making its way further in land. However what had happened overnight was that Dorian had changed direction slightly meaning Miami wasn’t going to get a direct hit and instead we suffered sustained wind speeds of 85-95mph and heavy rain with the hotel still locked. The sound of the wind was something else and we popped down to the restaurant for some lunch we even saw the sea crashing over the walls into the hotel swimming pool!

To look back on it now, it was pretty cool to say we have now also been in a Hurricane. I must admit the wind and rain was pretty intense for us in Miami. We didn’t get a direct hit so we were thankful. BY the Tuesday Dorian had passed over and everything was back to “normal”, the hotel opened its doors again on Tuesday morning at 7am and the clean-up was under-way.

Day after the Storm

We had local flooding of a few roads and places really close to the beach, there was debris everywhere like branches and palm tree leaves all over the place but apart from that it looked pretty much all OK. Our last day in Miami was Tuesday. We made the most of it as best we could. I headed for the beach one last time and got a few more pictures for the memories and we flew home as expected the following day.

Due to Hurricane Dorian it really left our last leg of the holiday cut short. We were in Miami for a short period and 24 hours of that were cut off. That is why I can’t offer much more then I have already. I do know that Miami remains a destination I will return to someday in the future to really see what this city has to offer and to finally visit the Everglades National Park.


This is the US and the US know how to eat. The one thing I always find amazing is that no matter where we visited or ended up there was an abundance of eating and drinking places in every destination offering cuisine from dishes from around the world and Florida is now different.

The food is amazing because most of it is full fat, full sugar and really un-healthy but you’re on holiday so eating like a pig is totally OK. American’s know how to create burgers, hot dogs and meat, there are meat restaurants in every corner and one in particular that we liked in St. Pete’s Beach was “outback” – this is steak house and the steak was totally amazing, melt in your mouth which came complete with fries, shrimp, onion rings and cauliflower cheese and if that wasn’t enough, free refills on soft drinks and desert.

Some recommendations

Some of the popular places we checked out were IHOP (international house of pancakes) they don’t just sell pancakes, we would often go in for breakfast. “Denny’s” is also a popular choice in the US and so is “Whimpey” and also recommend if it’s your first time to try out “Taco Bell” they do the best Taco’s and they have a $1 dollar menu so really cheap food, but tastes nice.

For me you can’t really go wrong with US food and drink, they have it all and some more, and some more and then by the miracle you are still hungry you can have some more until you can’t even get up off the chair. There portion sizes are also, HUGE! A large here would be a small/medium in the US so bare that in mind to and please be prepared to be double in size on your way back to the UK!

Here are just some of the food/dishes we had during our 3 weeks in Florida.        

Florida Holiday Food and Drink


The US is a vast country and although there are good transport links in all the major cities we visited. For me it’s the time it takes to get there that makes it an issue because the country is huge. For example a bus from our hotel in St. Petes Beach to Johns Pass would have taken approx. 1 hour – but to drive there only took 15mins in the car and that is the only problem with public transport in the US.

Car Hire

I would always recommend hiring a car to get around in Florida. It’s easy once you get used to driving on the other side of the road and tolls. Remember to carry change with you in the car because the US Tolls are in a lot of places.

There is no issue with public transport itself, (we used it in Hawaii) it’s just Florida is a huge place and for me it’s just easier and quicker to drive to the places you need to get to and most Disney Resort or Universal Resort Hotels in Orlando offer free shuttle buses directly to the parks anyway so use them.

I am sorry if you are looking for the answer on public transport as I didn’t use any while in Florida. We used a taxi a few times in Miami but that was really it. Time is important to me so I don’t want time being taken away from my holiday travelling around on public transport. When I can pay a little more for a car to get me there in much quicker times. See below in the summary section I have links to the car hire websites I used, it only cost us £120 for the 16 days which I thought was great but more importantly it saved so much time that we used doing some of the most amazing activities and for me, that will always out weight the cost on public transport in the US.   


I would like to make one thing completely clear in this section, Florida is expensive. It’s a huge tourist hub therefore prices are high but in my opinion that is the price you have to pay to have such an incredible experience. It’s safe to say that the spending limit is as high as you want depending on what you want. For example if you were staying in a Disney Resort you could choose to have breakfast with some of the Disney characters but of course, you pay a higher price for this. You can have early access to the park on your ticket, but again it’s higher priced. The options can add up.

As you have read the above, you have seen what I got up to during my 3 weeks. St Pete’s Beach was the cheapest place and the most expensive was Miami with Orlando coming in 2nd place but again it’s because Miami is more geared up to tourists, food, drink and even getting around was much more expensive in Miami – we had a lunch in a little restaurant on Ocean Drive. We both had a sandwich and 4 drinks (only 2 of which were alcohol) the final bill was $82 and we left a $5 tip which means the final amount was $87 for a sandwich and drinks.

Total Costs

In general the US is pretty cheap for things like Petrol, clothes and electrical goods so make sure you stock up especially in the outlets which there are many in Orlando. For example, the hire car was empty on Petrol and I topped it up and it only cost $17. I could not believe how cheap it was, which is why I recommend driving and hiring a car when in the US.

Cost for the trip; £3,119 (2 Adults Accommodation and Flights)

Plane off to Florida State
Our plane
  • London Gatwick to Tampa International Airport outbound and inbound Miami International Airport to London Gatwick
  • We flew with British Airways on this trip direct.
  • St Petes Beach we stayed at the Grand Plaza Hotel
  • Orlando we stayed at The Rosen Inn (Universal)
  • Miami we stayed at The Royal Palm

The above price included breakfast each morning in Grand Plaza and Rosen Inn but NOT the Royal Palm. We also went in peak season during the August Summer Holidays so prices would be a little higher than at other times of the year. Check your flights to Orlando, Miami or Tampa by clicking the link below.

We took £1,500 Spending money each (so had £3,000 between us) so figured that would be £1,000 per week spending money for the time we were away. As I mentioned, that worked out just about enough. We had to start cutting back on some costs toward the end of this trip. Otherwise we would soon run out of money.

Final Thoughts

Although costs are high there are ways to help cut costs and keep prices down. We needed to do this toward the end of the holiday because our spending money was running low. We started buying 1 meal a day from the supermarket, so we would buy some fresh fruit for example and eat breakfast in our room before heading out for the day or if we were out we would find a local store and buy some lunch maybe a sub and a bag of crisps, this meant that it kept costs down.

I don’t want to put you off this amazing place because it’s so expensive. There are a few things you can do to make sure you have the best time in Florida without maybe having to take a loan out to get there especially if you are a big family…

A few Tips

  1. Buy your park tickets before you get there. There are many holiday packages and websites here in the UK that offer great deals on Florida theme park tickets. I highly recommend getting them before you travel. I have left a few links below for you to check out. Many of them offer deals and multi-buy options which can help bring costs down. Also if time is on your side many of these sites have “Black Friday” deals so you might be able to grab a really good bargain. Check out this website, this is where I got most of our tickets from including the fast passes: CLICK LINK – The UK’s No.1 Orlando Attraction Tickets | FloridaTix
  2. Stay away from the resorts. If you really wanted to ensure keeping costs down stay away from the main resorts like Disney hotels and Universal hotels – these will also be more because you are getting more by staying here in most cases. Rent a holiday home in near-by Kissimmee which is only about a 15/20 minute car journey from the main parks.
  3. Buy food and drink locally. It’s a given that if you buy food and drink from the supermarkets it will be cheaper than any restaurant unless you opt for the fast food option which there are many in the US. You can take certain food and drink items into the parks with you meaning you don’t need to pay the higher prices, check out the list on the link: https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/plan-your-visit/hours-information/policies-restrictions

Best time of Year to Visit

  • Travel off season. It’s true that many places around the world have off seasons and “peak” seasons and Florida is no different. It will always be more expensive to travel here during the “peak” season. It will always be the busiest as well, so if you wanted something a little less busy and a little cheaper make sure you go outside of these times. As a guide: November, December, January, June, July and August are the busiest months in Orlando. Any other months outside these will be better but also check if any US Bank Holidays or Easter Weekends as these can also get extremely busy. Some of the best months to travel are April, May, September and October. 


Florida should be 100% a destination you should get to in your lifetime and although St. Pete’s Beach and Miami are fantastic, no-where will beat Orlando. Millions of tourists flock to Florida each year for a reason. If you are looking at booking a trip to Florida, Orlando should be your first stop. Check out the parks, you will not be disappointed.

Make no mistake about it, Florida isn’t cheap. They know the tourists are coming and they know tourists will spend money so DO NOT expect to find anything cheap and this goes for any of the tourists hot spots like Orlando and Miami, from food and drink to clothes if you are in a park expect to pay premium prices because there isn’t much you can do about it but I will say, you are on holiday and having the time of your life so why not spend a little extra. If you do hire a car and travel a little further outside of Orlando then you will start to see things a little cheaper so bare that in mind if money is an issue but try not to make it the issue, expect to pay more for the things you want in Florida.

Final Thoughts

One other thing I will mention is, if it’s your first time in Orlando then don’t race around all the parks in 3 days, they are extremely long and tiring days in the humid 35 degree heat and it’s tiring. We always do 2 park days and then have a rest day to just chill out, getting up a little later and checking out somewhere else like Disney Springs or Orlando Outlets for example. To get the most enjoyment out of the parks you need to be getting there at 8am and leaving at 10pm so you don’t miss the fireworks and night time parades, they work out very long days so bare that in mind.

St. Pete’s Beach is a much more relaxed side to Florida, it isn’t as crazy or as busy as Orlando or Miami. The beach itself is as good as a beach I have ever been to and I’ve been to a fair few now so if you wanted a day out away from the parks and madness of Orlando then I really do recommend St. Pete’s beach for a day out. Below are a few more useful links to help you with your trip:

https://discoverycove.com/orlando/ – All the information regarding Discovery Cove.

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ – All arrivals must have a valid ESTA (VISA).

Here is the link to my top 10 travel tips to help save you even more time and money when going on holiday: https://www.sticks-world.com/uncategorized/top10-travel-tips/

Florida has and always will have a special place in my heart and it remains a destination I just keep going back to and I am sure once you have experienced the magic you will too.

Until next time…..