Canadians love Florida. Particularly those of us on the Eastern side of the country, where we can fly to sunny skies and gorgeous beaches in less than three hours. But the low loonie has seen a dip in the number of visitors from Canada to this southern state, with estimates that visitors are down at least 8 per cent. This translates to lost spending of about $1 billion dollars. With almost 4 million visitors a year to Florida, from Canada, the state is working hard to make sure we keep going.
The great thing about Florida is that each city has its own unique personality and appeal. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect at some of the most frequently visited cities, by Canadians.
Palm Beach: With only a population of 9,000, Palm Beach is America's richest zip code. For a terrific overview of the island and its inhabitants, take the Island Living Tour; either by car, bike or your own two feet. Polo is one of the season's central social activities, at the International Polo Club. Prices vary; it is possible to take in a match for as little as $40. Delray Beach has great restaurants, and a unique Japanese museum and historic and soothing gardens at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, a centre for Japanese art and culture. Check out and check into a boutique hotel like the beachside Kimpton-owned Tideline Resort & Spa.
West Palm Beach: West Palm Beach runs a Green Market on Saturdays (between October and May), with over 80 local food, drink and craft vendors. The West Palm Beach Food Tour is a great way to sample the huge variety of cuisine available, while enjoying the many murals painted on local buildings. Nightlife is easy to find at City Place, next door to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, where the Miami City Ballet's fanciful interpretation of A Midsummer's Night Dream is currently playing. Their exciting 2016-2017 season can be found here. The two month old Hilton West Palm Beach is across the street, and the Manor Restaurant has an extensive fresh menu, with the choice of a patio setting by the pool, or the funky inside seating.
Orlando: Well known for its amusement parks (Walt Disney World, Universal Studios featuring Harry Potter), Orlando is a great place for families to visit. And with the recent opening of the Delta Orlando Lake Buena Vista, their first resort in the United States since being acquired by Marriott International, Canadians will love a familiar name. This technologically advanced resort is the closest non-Disney hotel to Disney World and includes a Pirate Ship water playground for the kids, and a fully equipped fitness centre for the adults.
Miami: The nightlife is both famous and infamous in this hip, happening city, but it's also known for its green parks, open spaces, and commitment to the environment. The Port of Miami welcomes a huge amount of cruise ships year round, making Miami the perfect spot to visit before or after a tropical cruise
Fort Lauderdale: Located 23 miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale has long been known as Party Central for the US Spring Break scene. That's still true today, so check your calendar to avoid the Spring Break week if you don't fit the demographic, or you're looking for a quieter vacation spot. It is known for its reasonable rates and its glorious sun filled days.
Visit PCTravel.ca for some great deals on Florida, including West Palm Beach, Orlando, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Kissimmee, Hollywood (FL), Naples, St Petersburg, Tampa, and Miami.
This post was originally run on www.whatshesaidradio.com Tune in to hear Kathy's "How She Travels" feature every second Friday on SiriusXM, Canada Talks, Channel 167.