Florida is among the most popular American states for domestic tourism, thanks to its many beaches, pleasant and warm weather, exotic wildlife, and its rich cultural heritage that dates back to the Spanish Empire. In this state, a tourist can see just about anything from the Miami nightclubs and upscale Latin restaurants to the Everglades, the sandy beaches, and old Spanish colonial forts. Of course, visiting this state means coming prepared, since Florida is also home to some extreme weather during certain times of the year. Touring this state can be great fun for you and your family, especially when you keep safety in mind and prepare accordingly.
Spend Some Time in the Sun
Every American state has an official nickname, from the Empire State (New York) to the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico) to the Big Sky State (Montana), and Florida is rightfully known as the Sunshine State. On most days of the year, Florida boasts warm, calm, and sunny weather, ideal for fishing, boating, swimming, golf, and much more outdoor activity. When you visit this coastal state, why not go fishing at its many lakes or streams or certain parts of the ocean? Fishing is a beloved American pastime, after all; in 2017, some 11.6 million youths aged six to 17 went fishing, often with their parents. Fishing is a hobby, and a hobby well worth trying out in Florida.
But be sure to respect the sun’s power. That sunshine makes for a gorgeous scene, but too much exposure will naturally lead to sunburn, and that can really put a damper on your family trip in Florida. What should you do? While swimming or going on a boat, try putting on sunscreen on all skin that will be exposed, including your face and the back of your neck, and make sure that sunscreen is rated appropriately. Not only that, but wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your neck and face, and put on some sunglasses so you can protect your eyes from the sheer light and glare, especially sun glare off the surface of the water. You may have heard the term “snow blind” to refer to eye-damaging sun glare off reflective snow, and the same is true of water.
Keep An Eye Out For Severe Weather
For the most part, Florida’s weather is calm, sunny, and warm, which makes this state ultra-popular both for tourism and for moving. It receives many tourists and new residents each year, and many seniors retire here so they can get away from drastic changes in temperature and humidity common to other states. Still, Florida is capable of some severe weather, especially during hurricane season (June 1st to November 30th). In fact, Florida is hit with more hurricanes than any other American state, and of the 158 hurricanes that struck the United States in the 20th century, 57 of them hit Florida.
If you are visiting Florida during this time frame, keep a sharp ear and eye out for weather updates on the TV and radio, both before and during your trip there. This may help you avoid buying boat tickets only to have hurricane warnings cancel the trip, for example, and you should know when and where to find shelter if a storm is indeed coming. If you want to avoid crowds and nature’s fury life, perhaps you could schedule your Florida visit during March or April, or even February if you so choose.
But it’s not just hurricanes that Florida’s climate is capable of making. During cooler months of the year, you may experience surprisingly cold winds coming from the ocean during a beach trip, and you may get exposed to sudden rain showers or to sprays of cold mist from the ocean. As odd as it may look, your duffel bag should include not only swimwear and sunglasses, but also a raincoat, umbrella, and boots as well. It helps to cover all your bases so you don’t end up soaked and freezing during the off-season.
Stay Together At All Times
This is a general safety tip that should definitely be taken seriously when visiting a busy and crowded state like Florida. During your family visit, it is best to keep everyone within arm’s reach so you don’t all get separated in the middle of a busy sidewalk or shopping mall, or at a crowded beach. Stock photos of beaches show a serene coast, but during the tourism season, lots of people will be there with you, and it may be tough to find your group’s members if you get lost. So, make sure everyone is ready and able to answer their cell phones if anyone gets lost or separated, so you and the others can coordinate and regroup somewhere. At a crowded beach, make your area more distinct with a colorful or customized umbrella and beach towel, along with anything else you can think of. And just in case, it may help for everyone in the group to have a paper map of the local area and/or be able to access maps on their mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc).
Plan Plenty of Fun Activities
If everyone in your group is well prepared for the weather, then it is time to plan some fun stuff to do in Florida. The possibilities are endless, and this sunny state is actually almost as much fun indoors as it is outdoors, so try to spend some doing activities both indoors and outside. Going to the beach or the Everglades is practically a given, but don’t neglect the more conventional tourist spots such as fine dining establishments, museums, shopping malls, unique shops, music festivals, and more. Florida, and Miami in particular, is a highly diverse place, with a strong Caribbean and Latin influence, and this will make itself known in the local art, food, and entertainment. Why not try it out?
Miami is a great place for food tourism, such as visiting upscale Latin restaurants with authentic Mexican and Caribbean food. Forget fast food Mexican; rather, these establishments show what Latin cooking is truly capable of, and Miami is also a great place to find chicken wing joints. Many ice cream shops may offer paletas, which are highly flavorful Mexican popsicles with exotic flavors ranging from shrimp to coffee to goat milk. You can also visit the museums, which may feature a lot of Latin and Caribbean art styles that may be difficult to find in other parts of the nation. Such art is a nice and calm indoor activity, and it can make you feel good, too. A 2011 University of London study found that when people look at an attractive painting, they get a 10% increase in blood flow to the joy response part of the brain (similar to looking at a loved one). Many people also report feeling calmer and more relaxed after visiting a museum, as though they had just meditated.
Stay On Top of General Healthcare
It will be thrilling and exciting to visit Florida and see the sights, but don’t forget the basics of good health. It would be a real shame to come down with a cold on your second or third day there and feel under the weather for the trip’s remainder. Be diligent about washing your hands before eating, and you may use hand wipes or hand sanitizer every so often just to be extra sure. After all, lots of strangers (tourists and natives alike) are touching the same stairway rails, balcony rails, and doorknobs that you are. Make sure your children do the same and don’t forget about brushing your teeth after you get back to the hotel room every night. And while one night at a club can be a real blast, try not to do it every night; get a good night’s sleep in your cozy hotel room so you are alert, sharp, and energetic for a full day of visiting museums and Spanish forts.
Florida is a truly exotic and exciting state to visit for any domestic (or international) tourist, and a good trip there means planning ahead and preparing for the weather, and arranging a tight schedule so you can see some of everything, both indoors and outdoors. Stay healthy and take good care of yourself, and you’ll later leave Florida feeling great about your trip there.