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Destination Focus

February - Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is a wonderful blend of the easy beach lifestyle and world-class arts and entertainment events. With a variety of small and large festivals, spectator sports, racing and natural beauty, you'll never run out of things to do when visiting Daytona Beach. Indulge yourself with visits to distinctive boutiques and outlets. Discover the burgeoning restaurant scene and vibrant social atmosphere of microbreweries and wine bars. The area is bursting with flavors to savor! With the wide variety of accommodations, including oceanfront hotel rooms, that the Daytona Beach area has to offer you’ll find just what you’re looking for. What’s more, you won’t have to wander far to catch a view. Your hotel room veranda is the perfect venue to soak in the sun rising over the Atlantic. Grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and sit back to enjoy the scene. While Daytona Beach is known for its 23-miles of beautiful Atlantic beaches and sunny weather, there’s so much more. Discover the endless adventures that await you on your next Florida vacation in Daytona Beach. Come and experience it for yourself!

Adventure awaits in Daytona Beach! Explore 23 miles of relaxing, white sand beaches, world-famous Daytona International Speedway, the new Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, the iconic Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier, 20 exciting golf courses, 50 annual events and festivals, dozens of museums and galleries, family attractions, an eclectic selection of unique dining options, fishing, wildlife -- and plenty of watersports and outdoor fun. It’s just an hour’s drive to Orlando and other Central Florida attractions.

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Daytona Beach

 1.  'World Center of Racing'
There are plenty of things to be proud of and fueling the need for speed is an accomplishment we don’t mind bragging about. Legends of the sport began racing on our beaches in the early 1900’s and they continue racing towards championships today at Daytona International Speedway.

Race fans are rejoicing over a $400 million overhaul that created a world-class facility with premium amenities and unparalleled conveniences and experiences.The mecca of motorsports is the world's first motorsports stadium and is also home to a family-fun attraction, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

2.  Festival Capital of Florida
One big thing that makes Daytona Beach stand out is the flair for festivals. Daytona Beach takes claim to the title of Festival Capital of Florida for good reason with festivals and events taking place here year round.

Make the pilgrimage for one of our large legendary events like BikeWeek and Biketoberfest®, Halifax Art Festival, or Turkey Run. During Speedweeks is also a great time to visit several of the 60 smaller cultural festivals put on throughout the year. Festivals are constantly being added to the line-up, so please visit FestivalCapitalofFlorida.com for the most up-to-date information.

In the summer, weekly live entertainment fills the historic Daytona Bandshell as their Summer Concert Series entertains with fireworks on Saturday evenings. And celebrating Independence Day Weekend is always popular with the fan favorite Coke Zero Sugar 400.

3.  Rich History
Daytona Beach is full of history beginning with our native ancestors the Timucuan Indians, Spanish and French settlements, sugar mill plantations and the man who put Florida on the map as a tourist destination, Henry Flagler. Today, you can learn about and even see our humble beginnings in some of our parks, preserves and historic sites. Take a walk through history while you tour Rockefeller’s Ormond Beach home, The Casements, or visit the ruins of old sugar mill plantations at Bulow Creek State Park, Sugarmill Botanical Gardens, Sugarmill Ruins or DeLeon Springs State Park.

4.  Ponce Inlet
This southern part of our beach destination is full of activities and dining options for all to enjoy. More than just an inlet, this area is home to the tallest lighthouse in Florida, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum. Open for tours, the lighthouse also hosts special events throughout the year. While you’re here, learn about the wonders of sea life at the Marine Science Center or go for an aquatic adventure with Ponce Inlet Watersports.

5.  Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier
There’s something nostalgic about a boardwalk beach experience. The boardwalk and pier is focused on two important parts of every vacation – fun and food. Take snack time to the next level at the Main Street Pier – enjoy lunch with a view from Joe’s Crab Shack located towards the end of the pier directly over the Atlantic.

Not in the mood for seafood? Don’t worry. They have a pizza place, ice-cream shop and a roof top bar called The Roof where you can indulge in tropical drinks and a picture worthy view of Daytona Beach.

6.  World's Most Famous Beach
A beach trip isn’t complete without one day or five spent at the beach. Choose your place in the sand along 23 miles of beach featuring easy access points for driving on in select areas or parking nearby. And check out the many beachfront splash parks, beach volleyball courses and jungle gyms for fun along the shoreline.

Take a drive on the beach or bring a bicycle for a truly enjoyable ride in the sand. Not all of your fun will happen on dry land. There are plenty of adventures to be had in the Atlantic from paddle boarding and surfing to kayaking and parasailing.

7.  Thrill Rides
Visitors can choose from a surprising list of attractions including a race around Daytona International Speedway with the NASCAR Racing Experience. Explore a dozen water rides at Daytona Lagoon Waterpark Entertainment Center, a Daytona Beach Zipline Adventure or enjoy the calm thrill of up-close encounters with marine life while paddle boarding in the Halifax River.

8.  Golfing
Visitors can soften their spikes at several Daytona Beach area courses popular with pros, experienced players and those still learning the links. Boasting two, four-star courses as rated by Golf Digest, LPGA International leads the pack. DaytonaBeach.Golf is your source for a golf package that fits your budget. Here’s hoping the greens are kind… 

9.  Scenic Cruising Opportunities
Cruising is a tradition in Daytona Beach. Whether you’re cruising down Atlantic Avenue in your vehicle or taking in the sights on your Harley, you’re sure to log some miles taking in all that the Daytona Beach area has to offer. Motorcyclists come from all over the world to ride our streets and our most celebrated stretch of road – the Ormond Scenic Loop or as the locals call it, 'The Loop'. At just over 30 miles long, 'The Loop' has the most diverse natural scenery remaining in northeast Florida with unobstructed views of two rivers, creeks, marshes, beach and the pristine hardwood hammock forest that canopies the road.

10.  Spectacular Accommodations
You’re sure to find the perfect place in Daytona Beach to rest your head after a day of fun in the sun. We have a little bit of everything with a myriad of beachfront and mainland accommodations varying from trusted name brand resorts and hotels to quaint, independently-owned small inns and B&Bs. Those who like to be at one with nature have camping options that range from sleeping under the stars in a pop-up tent to lounging in the comforts of their RV or camper at any one of our campgrounds. No matter your pleasure, Daytona Beach accommodations meet all lifestyles and budgets.

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February - Tampa Bay

The hip, urban heart of Florida’s west coast beats in Tampa Bay.

Located west of Orlando on the Sunshine State’s Gulf coast, Tampa Bay ranks at Florida’s Most diverse vacation destination, with family fun for every adrenaline level -- from thrill rides at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and eye-to-eye encounters with manatees and giraffes at ZooTampa to quiet moments beneath the waves at The Florida Aquarium. Four cruise lines make Port Tampa Bay the key embarkation point for trips to Mexico, the western Caribbean, and Cuba. The Gulf’s sugar sand beaches lie a short drive away. Shopping options range from luxury items to bargain brands.

Food and drink lovers will find Florida’s Most creative chefs, as well as deep-rooted, iconic favorites such as award-winning Bern’s Steak House and The Columbia, Florida’s oldest restaurant and a pillar of historic Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin quarter. Food halls put the destination’s most delicious offerings close at hand in vibrant setting buzzing with activity. More than two dozen tasting rooms have earned Tampa Bay international acclaim as a hub for craft brewing.

For more than 130 years, Ybor (EE-bore) City’s Cuban masters have rolled cigars by hand inside the historic neighborhood’s cigar shops. Outside, Spanish-speaking locals solve the world’s problems over strong Cuban café con leche and authentic Cuban sandwiches. Ybor City is the open and welcoming home to Tampa Bay’s LGBT community, along with exciting nightclubs and funky shopping venues.

Steeped in Florida’s year-round sunshine and warm weather, the 4 km Tampa Riverwalk links downtown’s most popular hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions and parks like gems on a string. As it winds its way along Garrison Channel and the Hillsborough River, the Riverwalk provides beautiful space for a morning jog, after-lunch walk or hand-in-hand sunset stroll. Rental bikes, electric shuttles and the Pirate Water Taxi make moving through downtown simple and easy. The sparkling waterfront offers exciting options for exploring that include self-drive electric boats and self-propelled water bikes.

Tampa Bay also has some of Florida’s Most important cultural institutions. Tampa Museum of Art houses a diverse collection of ancient and modern art in a striking jewel-box building that seems to float above the Hillsborough River. At night, the museum becomes a work of art itself as the colors of Leo Villareal’s “Sky: Tampa” swirl across the façade. Nearby, the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the largest theater complex in the Southeast, hosts Broadway shows, Opera Tampa, and the Florida Orchestra as well as home-grown theater.

Always evolving, Tampa Bay is busy adding nearly 3,000 new or re-invented hotel rooms over the next two years. The offerings include new waterfront properties such as the Current, a Marriott Autograph Collection property opening in 2019, along with luxury brands such as a new JW Marriott opening in 2020 and 5-star Edition Tampa opening in 2021 – the same year Tampa Bay hosts Super Bowl LV!

Top Tampa Bay Experiences

1.    Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay
Take a white-knuckle ride at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, among the world’s top-rated theme parks. Cheetah Hunt® gives you the feel of chasing prey across the Serengeti. Cobra’s Curse brings you eye-to-eye with the Snake King before hurtling through an amazing ride. In 2019, Tigris opens as Florida’s tallest triple-launch coaster. Tampa Bay CityPASS makes access a bargain.

2.    Tampa Riverwalk
Running 2.4 miles (4 km) along Garrison Channel and the sparkling Hillsborough River, the Tampa Riverwalk provides a pedestrian-only path linking popular hotels, restaurants, museums, and performance venues like gems on a string. It is the perfect place for a morning jog, an afternoon bike ride, or a hand-in-hand sunset stroll.

3.    Dolphin spotting 
Thrill to the sight of a fin breaking the water during The Florida Aquarium’s Dolphin Quest excursion aboard the Bay Spirit II. Tampa Bay is home to bottlenose dolphins, manatees and other sea creatures all year round and an important nursery ground for their young. For a close-up encounter, step inside the Florida Aquarium to discover the connections that unite Florida’s delicate ecosystem from springs and wetlands to reefs and the Gulf of Mexico.

4.    On the Waterfront
Take to the water along Tampa Bay’s sparkling downtown waterfront. Sporty types will want to try out their sea legs atop a rented paddleboard. Captain your own Tampa e-boat for a slow cruise through downtown. Hop on and off the Pirate Water Taxi as it travels up and down the waterfront. Or bring your own crew and brews for a pedal-powered exploration above the Kraken Cycleboat.

5.    Luxury and discount shopping
Shop ‘til you drop among International Plaza’s 200 luxury brands, including Tiffany’s, Hugo Boss and Apple. Tampa International Airport is moments away, so you won’t have far to tote your bags. Bargain hunters will treasure the high-end brands at bargain prices at Tampa Premium Outlets – definitely worth the 20-minute drive north of downtown.

6.    Brew Bus
Join your friends (and make new ones) on an afternoon tour of Tampa Bay’s amazing craft breweries and leave the driving to this crew when you do. They’ll get you from Coppertail to Cigar City to Angry Chair and back with plenty of restaurant stops along the way so you can also soak up the superb food scene here in Florida’s hub for craft brewing.

7.    Tampa Bay History Center
People have called Tampa Bay home for more than 12,000 years, leaving behind a legacy written in wood, steel, and cigar smoke. Hands-on exhibits let visitors trace the history of the region from its earliest days to the 21st Century. Explore the inner working of the factories that make Tampa Bay the Cigar Capital of the World. The newest addition includes a life-sized pirate ship, sunken treasure and exciting tales of discovery. Sample a piece of culinary history when you bite into an authentic Cuban sandwich at the museum’s Columbia Café.

8.    Ybor City
Stroll the brick streets beneath iron balconies that preserve the unique flavor of Tampa Bay’s historic Latin Quarter. Savor Spanish and Cuban favorites at the Columbia, Florida’s oldest restaurant. Stop in a cigar shop to see Cuban masters still rolling smokes as they have for 130 years. Listen for the crowing of Tampa Bay’s wild chickens – a direct connection to the waves of Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants that built Tampa Bay into the Cigar Capital of the World. Step into Cuban territory at the park dedicated to the original Cuban revolutionary, poet and journalist José Martí.

9.    Bern’s Steak House
Florida’s top steak house also houses the world’s largest private wine collection at more than a million bottles. Located in the heart of toney Hyde Park, Bern’s has spent 60 years perfecting the kind of style and service that has lifted it into highest echelons of dining in the U.S. After your sumptuous main course, be sure to step upstairs to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room for their famously decadent macadamia nut ice cream. 

10.    Food Halls
Mix and match the plethora of local pleasures at two new food halls – Sparkman Wharf and Heights Public Market at Armature Works. Located at opposite ends of the Tampa Riverwalk, both eateries offer flavorful combinations of local restaurants created by some of Tampa Bay’s most dynamic chefs. Enjoy your meal while basking in the Florida sun at waterfront Sparkman Wharf. Watch boats bob on the Hillsborough River at Heights Public Market, which has your taste buds covered from Cuban sandwiches to ramen to breakfast and beyond. 

11.    Tampa International Airport
We know, it’s exceeding rare than an airport makes the list of memorable experiences. But, trust us on this. With flights from Europe on British Airways, Icelandair, Norwegian and (soon) Delta, TPA consistently ranks among the best airports in the U.S. for efficiency and all-around experience. A recent $1 billion expansion has added even more local restaurants, the country’s only in-airport brewery, and a new rental car facility that gets visitors on to their holiday in record time. Coming or going, it’s something to text home about.

12.    Tampa Bay CityPASS
As the only Florida destination in the CityPASS system, Tampa Bay gives families the perfect way to explore everyone’s favorite attractions without breaking the bank. For a single, steeply discounted price, CityPASS provides access to Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and MOSI – the Museum of Science and Industry. Take your time – each booklet is good for 9 days.



Tampa Premium Outlets® 
Tampa Premium Outlets® is located 20 miles north of downtown Tampa. Shop more than 110 designer and name-brand outlet stores at savings of 25% to 65% every day in a relaxed, contemporary “Key West”-style complete with palm trees throughout common area and water features to enhance the outdoor shopping experience. Relax and enjoy lunch in the Food Pavilion offering multiple dining options. 

Area Attractions include Adventure Island, Busch Gardens, Glazer Children’s Museum, Lowry Park Zoo and MOSI - Museum of Science & Industry.

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January - February - Bradenton, Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key

Bradenton is a laid-back, local Florida town, experience Florida like a local with its farmers markets, arts village, riverwalk, science and nature museum and an award-winning local brewery. Less than 10 miles beyond Bradenton lies the 7½mile stretch of Anna Maria Island, where the pristine beaches and laid-back lifestyle are the perfect tonic. Here, you’ll find cosy family homes and apartments, beautifully decorated, on or near the beach, catering to all budgets.  There are splendid oceanfront restaurants serving delicious fare throughout the day, with plenty of independent and authentic eateries to choose from including al-fresco options to catch those stunning sunsets. As with most people, you’ll find it difficult to visit Anna Maria Island and not fall in love with the unspoiled vibe of the area. 

 

 

The Bishop Museum 
The Bishop is a museum of science and nature and the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Home to fascinating exhibits, as well as a digital state of the art planetarium and the manatee rehabilitation centre, where you can get up close to the manatee which are rescued and brought back to health before being released back in to the wild. The Bishop has also recently opened an interactive section of the museum where kids can dig for fossils and look through the microscopes in the science shed. 

“The Greenest Little Mainstreet in America”
Florida’s first LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy Retail Park 
On the quaint island of Anna Maria, history is being made with the first platinum LEED and Zero Net Energy Commercial Park. On Pine Avenue, a collection of Historic 1920’s bungalows have been retrofitted into boutique shops and cafes with a green twist. The historical relics are completely powered by solar energy and geothermics.

Village of the Arts
If you’re an art lover, the Bradenton Area is the place to visit! A national arts magazine has listed Bradenton as one of the nation's top 10 small cities for art. A stroll through our colourful streets has something for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, a vinyl enthusiast or a quilt lover, you will discover a range of services that range from knife sharpening to yoga.

Bradenton Riverwalk
As Downtown Bradenton’s showpiece, the Riverwalk serves as an outdoor gathering place and host for many diverse events and activities. The stretch is a mile and a half and is one of the longest public riverwalks in Florida. Running alongside the Manatee River, the Riverwalk includes a Family Fun Zone with a splash fountain and playgrounds, a great lawn for picnics, kayak launch, a day dock for boaters, a botanical walk, public artwork and the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater.

Eco Tourism and Agritourism
When our visitor’s need a break from the sun and sand, there are several agri-tourism treasures for them to explore, offering entertainment and education for curious minds of all ages. All they need to do is head inland. Here are just a few of the many great places to start:

  • The Bradenton Area boasts not one, but two world-class wineries:
    • Bunker Hill Winery - is a "GREEN" Environmentally Responsible Winery and offers complimentary tours and tastings of their handcrafted wines. 
    • Rosa Fiorelli Winery - has a 10-acre Muscadine vineyard and their wines have won more than 100 awards. Tours include your choice of an authentic Italian lunch and wine in a complimentary souvenir glass to take home.
  • Dakin Dairy Farms - A visit to Dakin Dairy Farm is not only fun; it’s good for you! The farm is one of only three dairy farms left in the Bradenton Area.
  • Mixon Fruit Farms - has always been famous for its plump, juicy citrus, its gift shop and Groveside Café. But now, visitors can take a ride on the Orange Blossom Express through the groves past the Children’s Magical Maze and Wildlife Rescue, where the family will delight in an interactive show with rescued Florida animals, reptiles and birds. Our favorite thing about Mixons … their homemade orange swirl ice cream!
  • Robinson Nature Preserve - Robinson Nature Preserve in Bradenton is an exquisite nature preserve that is a popular destination for wildlife photography and bird watching, Tucked into the corner of northwest Bradenton, it includes 487 acres of coastal saltern, marsh, and mangrove habitat.
  • Turtle Watch Tours - In the Bradenton Area, the beaches are shared with Florida’s abundant wildlife and families visiting from May through November can experience “turtle nesting season”.

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