South Florida’s Best Winter Destinations
By Burt Carey
Snow and ice are two things South Florida never sees, which means the far reaches of the Sunshine State just might be the perfect destination for those looking for a mid-winter vacation to escape the grip of winter.
Slipping away to a secluded island or key requires more planning than a last-minute decision to escape the snow drifts built up outside your front door, but the following destinations will be relatively easy to book with minimal preparation.
Florida’s Everglades National Park covers more than 1 million acres of waterways and grass-filled wetlands. While it plays an integral part in protecting Florida’s overall ecosystem, the Everglades are a favored destination by visitors throughout the year.
Here you’ll be able to see subtropical plants and animals, both endangered and plentiful, that simply cannot survive north of the Mason-Dixon Line. You’re thinking alligators, of course, but there’s also the endangered Florida panther and Key deer, a subspecies of the whitetail.
Bring your camera, rent a boat or go on a guided tour. This is definitely a must-see for anyone who wants to experience wildlife and nature in its most natural setting.
Do a quick Internet search for Everglades City or Ochopee to find accommodations, restaurants, guides, fishing and other activities in the area.
If wilderness doesn’t sit well with you, perhaps it’s the city you prefer. We’re talking Miami, of course, where nightlife and shopping thrive.
Point your rental car toward Ocean Drive, and you’ll be among some of the best retail stores in the country. You can stick around that area for some good party action, or once you’ve got the right duds for the evening, South Beach and its beautiful people could be your next stop. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.
And if you’re looking for upscale shopping, the Coral Gables Miracle Mile will fill the bill.
There’s always plenty to do and see in Miami, from Little Havana to Surfside Beach. The palm trees are a-swayin’ and a-waitin’, and can be yours virtually overnight.
It won’t be like summer at Florida’s far-southern tip, but the temperature is typically in the 70s this time of year, which is just hot enough to require a good slathering of suntan lotion and lots of little drinks with umbrellas in them to keep you cool.
What’s hot in Key West are water sports. Just about every direction you look you’ll find boats and other watercraft, snorkeling and scuba, and beach activities all day long. Charter fishing boats offer inshore and deep-sea excursions, and snorkelers and scuba enthusiasts love to swim around the many shipwrecks in the area.
It is also the priciest destination on our list of South Florida winter hot spots, but you’ll be talking to your friends and family back home about Key West so much that they will want to go next year.