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1. Walt Disney World

Wait. Walt Disney World? That’s about as Lone

ly Planet as a trip to Branson, Missouri (no offense, Branson). Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! Sure, there will be lines a mile long, and sure, you’ll spend more money than you intended on a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt that you would never have dreamed of buying before you came. But no matter how much of a hard-core traveler you claim to be, there’s something here that will soften you – something that will spark your inspiration and imagination. Maybe it’s the children’s awestruck faces illuminated by the fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle. Maybe it’s a particular turn in a particular ride. Maybe it’s the corny (but endearing) joke told by the guy who drives the horse-drawn carriage down Main Street. Whatever it is, once you’re there, you’ll admit it. Walt Disney World’s got you.

2. Miami

What was once a little citrus town is now a pan-American mosaic, the most Latin city in the world north of Mexico. A vibrant mix of Cuban, Haitian and Colombian cultures (just to name a few) splashed against a pastel backdrop of distinctive art deco architecture, the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay kissing the sands of South Beach, it’s this diversity that makes Miami more quintessentially American than the cutest Mid-Western Main Street.

3. Key West

Feeling like mainland Florida is just too tame for your taste? Time to ship out to Key West, where the high- and low-brow mix it up with a devil-may-care attitude. There’s always a party to be found here, and the vibe is decidedly tolerant: the Key West motto is ‘One Human Family’, which translates to acceptance and mutual respect for people of all colors and religions, gays, straights, and everything in between. It’s all love – and rum punch – here.

4. The Everglades

Often dismissed as a swamp, the Everglades are arguably more beautiful than all the sin and flash Miami can produce. Forget what you’ve heard about airboats and swamp buggies. Come and canoe, bike, kayak or walk around the park. Get to understand the delicate ecosystem that has endured forever here. Stand still long enough to see an alligator’s back surfacing above the black water and take in the unbroken vistas of wet prairie, big sky and long silences.

5. St Augustine

Saunter along cobbled roads, linger at charming cafes, and learn about the city’s rich history at countless museums. Cap it all off with dinner at a gas lamp-lit restaurant and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Historic District. Europe? Oh wait, we’re in Florida. Epcot? No way, this is the real deal. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the US, preserved for centuries and awaiting your discovery.

6. Sanibel Island

This beautiful barrier island is the perfect beach escape: scout for seashells along the porcelain sand, spot night herons, anhinga and alligators at JN ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and dine on delicious fresh seafood at one of the quaint beach-shacks. If you’re without a car, don’t worry about it – with 23 miles of dedicated paths, you can bike around the entire island.

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