World-class sporting facilities, groundbreaking visitor attractions, stunning natural beauty and year-round sunshine combine to make Florida one of the top transatlantic destinations for British travellers. This scenic peninsula bordering the Gulf of Mexico is just a stone’s throw from the Bahamas, with a tropical climate and a laid-back ambience to match. From the jetset playground of Miami Beach to the tranquil backwaters of the Everglades, the family-friendly theme parks of Orlando to the bohemian charm of Key West, cheap flights to Florida deliver you direct to one of the USA’s most fascinating and diverse states in under 10 hours.
Florida exerts an especially strong pull during the winter months, when sun-starved Brits long for its sizzling beaches and boardwalks or dream of golfing and sailing under cloudless blue skies. However, an abundance of flights offered by the major transatlantic carriers helps to keep prices competitive, even in high season, provided you steer clear of holiday bottlenecks such as Thanksgiving and New Year. The hurricane season peaks from August to October, so if you enjoy dramatic weather and don’t mind packing a waterproof, this could be the perfect chance to snap up cheap tickets to Florida. Autumn is a particularly good time of year to enjoy the unique beauty of North Florida, when the cooler climate brings a spectacular golden-red leaf fall to the state parks around Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
Orlando International Airport’s central location makes it an ideal choice if you want to be close to all the major theme parks and visitor attractions. Fly direct from London Gatwick with Finnair or opt for competitively priced one-stoppers from London Heathrow with Aer Lingus via Dublin or WestJet via Toronto. Miami International delivers you to the party capital of Florida, with the lovely expanse of Biscayne Bay at your feet. TAP Portugal has attractive deals from Manchester via Lisbon, and SAS flies from Aberdeen via Oslo, while Virgin Atlantic provides a direct service from London Heathrow. A good tip for value and flexibility is to route yourself via a less popular airport – Norwegian offers direct flights to Florida’s Fort Lauderdale from London Gatwick, for example.
The USA is famously car-centric, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon public transport altogether. Orlando Airport is around 12 miles from the nearest Amtrak station in the city centre, reached via a 40-minute bus transfer; there are also shuttle services direct from the terminal to the main tourist resorts. Facilities at Miami Airport include links to the central station via Metrobus and Metrorail, as well as the Miami Beach Airport Flyer that whisks you straight to the beach for about US$3. Tampa International’s onward transport options are more limited, but as it’s known as the gateway to Florida’s west coast, you’ll probably want to hire a car to explore this fascinating region at your own pace, and there are a host of car rental companies available both on- and offsite. Many Florida resorts and hotels run their own shuttles to and from the airport for guests, so check to see whether this service is provided before making your own arrangements.
Florida’s roots stretch back to 1539, when a Spanish conquistador landed on its shores and named it La Florida – the land of flowers. The first settlers founded the city of St Augustine which today still boasts some of the oldest monuments in the USA. Contrast this historic community with the state-of-the-art Kennedy Space Center or the unique ecosystem of the Everglades National Park and you are barely scratching the surface of Florida’s eclectic mix. Where else could you take a boat ride through mangroves teeming with fish, manatees and crocodiles, pick sweet oranges straight from the trees, marvel at the awe-inspiring pavilions of the space-age Epcot theme park, then party the night away beneath the pastel-hued Art Deco colonnades of South Beach?
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