Miami & Florida holiday highlights

It is standard practice for resorts/hotels within the USA to charge a mandatory resort fee which is payable locally. This fee can be anywhere between 5USD to 40 USD per room per night and is not included in the cost of your Kuoni holiday.

The spectacular theme parks and waterparks of Orlando are a full-on maze of fun for every family member, whether you’ve got little kids wanting to fill their autograph books with Disney characters or older kids out for thrilling rollercoaster rides. Stay in the heart of the magic with Kuoni’s handpicked hotels.

For almost everything you could ever want to know about space travel, a trip to the Kennedy Space Centre is an Orlando must. Strap yourself in for lift off at the Shuttle Launch Experience, discover what’s happening on current space missions and stand on the ground where every single Apollo mission to the moon began. For something with even more bite to its tail, the wilderness swamplands of the Everglades is one of the most beautiful natural rides in Florida. Iconic airboat tours zip with speed through the immense thick rooted mangrove waters leaving you in both fear and awe of the alligators and manatees lurking below.

A world away from the wetlands, east coast Miami Beach is an ode to Art Deco design, neon glow sticks and exclusive partying, and a place to linger under poolside canopies, fulfill designer shopping dreams and immerse yourself in a world of contemporary art and fashion. South Beach is legendary and Mid Beach is the new rising star, with stylish crowds flocking to lounge bars and beach clubs for heady days. Embrace the strong Latin influences, the opulent seafood-to-table restaurants and the boutiques of Lincoln Road Mall. Get out on the water paddle boarding and kite surfing, tick off your culture fix at the Ancient Spanish Monastery and Art Deco Historic District and head to the southern tip to experience glittering Ocean Drive. The Port of Miami is the departure point for the cruise portion of many of our featured stay and cruise holidays, with thousands of ships setting sail for the Caribbean from here each year. These voyages are easily combined with a few days in Miami Beach.

Miami Beach neighbour, Fort Lauderdale, is a chic grown-up alternative with gloriously wide beaches, luxury hotels and a yachting lifestyle, while the Gulf Coast beaches of Clearwater and Naples are white sand turquoise gems – kid friendly, beautiful and all about the waters.

Where is Florida?

The Sunshine State of Florida is situated between the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The peninsula spans two time zones and is divided into four regions: the Gulf Coast/Atlantic Ocean, the far south Everglades, the north upland and the Florida Keys. It borders Alabama and Georgia and has a coastline of nearly 2,000 miles.

Getting around

Car hire is the most popular option for getting around on Florida holidays. Highways are easy to navigate and are well signposted. Theme parks are equipped for huge crowds and car park spaces are always available. Orlando also has taxis, buses and shuttle services. You’ll find water taxis in Fort Lauderdale, and if your main priority is a relaxing beach holiday then you’ll find taxis or bike rental an easy way to get around on both the west and east coast. Miami has a great trolley system for hopping on and off if you want to explore the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Shopping

Orlando’s Disney Shopping Districts are the place for all your souvenirs and themed presents, but you’ll also find cool American stores tucked inside including Anthropologie, Coach, Sephora and the Cocoa Cola Store. Away from the theme parks, Orlando’s Mall of Millenia is a glossy shopping mecca packed with designer and high street stores. Expect beach-to-to bay clothes, swimwear and elegant jewellery in places like Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and the Miami Design District for all your luxury brands. In Naples, the irresistible palm-lined exclusive boutiques along Fifth Avenue South and Third Avenue South are filled with colourful resort wear, designer brands and one-of-a-kind gifts.

Food and drink
Expect healthy acai breakfast bowls, lots of vegan and vegetarian options and of course, late night tiki bars and cocktail lounges in Miami. There’s always a beach or pool party going on somewhere and lots of cool spots to watch those famous pink sunsets with a glass of Champagne. Head to Lincoln Road for alfresco sidewalk dining and the Wynwood area for Mexican street food, industrial restaurants and chic bakeries mixed in with lots of contemporary art. Try out the local Floribbean cuisine, Florida stone crab and rock shrimp, and fluffy Key Lime Pie. Don’t leave the Gulf Coast without eating a Cuban Sandwich, Key West without tasting their famous conch or St Pete Beach without ordering smoked mullet. At Universal Orlando Resort™ and Walt Disney, the world is your oyster when it comes to dining options – kid friendly pizza and burger restaurants, the iconic Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump Shrimp or ice-cream trucks, crepes and coffee. There are hundreds of food and drink outlets in each theme park and even the opportunity to dine in Cinderella’s Magic Kingdom Castle.  

Miami & Florida key facts

Time difference

-5 hours

Currency

The US dollar is divided into 100 cents. There are bills (banknotes) of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. All bills are of the same size, shape and colour. Coins are 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel) 10 cents (dime) and 25 cents (quarter).

Flying time to destination

9 hours

Language

English is the official language, although many other languages are widely spoken in certain cities and communities. America has its own written US English spellings.

Passport & visas

British subjects require a full 10 year British Passport which must be valid for six months after return to the UK. A visa waiver must be completed to allow entry in the US for stays no longer than 90 days. The traveller must never have been arrested (even if arrest did not lead to a conviction).

British subjects require a full 10 year passport that is valid for at least six months upon entry to the US. All passports much be machine readable with a digital photograph or an e-passport with an electronic chip. It is possible to check the validity of a passport on a link to the US embassy website, www.London.usembassy.gov or by phone on 0906 8200 290. Passengers should not be staying for more than 90 days and are required to show onward / return tickets at check in. Travel must be for business, tourism or transit only, not seeking employment. Passengers should never have been arrested (even if arrest did not lead to a conviction), refused entry or deported from the US, or previously violated the terms of admission under the Visa Waiver scheme.

New entry requirements require a ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. All travellers staying or transiting will require an electronic travel authorisation prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme. This is available online and is MANDATORY for everyone. Applications can be submitted at any time prior to travel however, we recommend no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Information and applications can be made via the following link: http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov Passengers will not be allowed to travel without the ESTA.

Miami & Florida good to know

Health and vaccinations

No vaccinations are necessary.

Tipping

Tipping is an established and accepted custom in America. There is no need to give anything if the service has been poor, but waiters, taxi drivers and hairdressers expect

between 15 – 20%, counter and bar staff 10-15%. Porters can expect anything between $3 and $5 per case – there is normally a Union Rate that is displayed in reception, and Tour Guides can be given the equivalent of £2 - £3 per day. It is advisable to carry small change with you for this purpose. These figures are for guidance only and assume that service has been good.

What to wear

Florida is warm all year round but light jumpers or jackets are useful during the winter months, especially in the evening. If you are going to be visiting the theme parks then a hat and comfortable shoes are a must. In the Everglades you will want long sleeves and trousers to avoid being bitten. Strong closed toe shoes are also a must.

Public holidays

• 1 January: New Year's Day

• Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

• Third Monday in February: Presidents Day

• Last Monday in May: Memorial Day

• 4 July: Independence Day

• First Monday in September: Labor Day

• Second Monday in October: Columbus Day

• 11 November: Veterans Day

• Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

• 25 December: Christmas Day

Shopping in Miami & Florida

There are plenty of places to give your credit card a work out, but some of the best places are Naples, Ft Lauderdale and around Miami Beach.

Best Miami & Florida beaches

Florida has a great range of beautifully sandy beaches.