#17 best destination in the world

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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  • Both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios have Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed environments
  • Both parks include Hogwarts Express stations allowing passengers to reach both theme parks aboard the full-scale replica of the train that appears in the film series
  • Opened in 2010, it includes re-creation of Hogsmeade and rides
  • The biggest attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which exists within a re-creation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Universal Studios Florida

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  • #5 of the top 25 amusement parks in the world
  • Theme park and production studio opened in 1990
  • The park’s theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television
  • The park encourages its guests to “ride the movies” and features numerous attractions and live shows

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

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  • Theme park opened in 1999
  • #3 of the top 25 amusement parks in the world
  • Guests depart from a main port to visit 1 of 8 themed islands

Magic Kingdom

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  • Theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters
  • #1 of the top 25 amusement parks in the world
  • The park is represented by Cinderella Castle, inspired by the 1950 film Cinderella
  • Most visited theme park in the world for the 11th consecutive year

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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  • Theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort operated by The Walt Disney Company
  • #12 of the top 25 amusement parks in the world
  • Opened in 1989
  • Dedicated to the imagined worlds from film, television, music, and theater, drawing from the heyday of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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  • #4 of the top 25 amusement parks in the world
  • Zoological theme park that is the largest theme park in the world, covering 580 acres
  • Opened in 1998, the park is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation, a philosophy once pioneered by Walt Disney
  • Features traditional attractions while also exhibiting hundreds of species of live animals
  • Special designs and provisions were incorporated throughout the park to protect the animals’ welfare
  • The park is accredited by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which indicates they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research

Fun Spot America Kissimmee

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  • #23 of the top 25 theme parks in the world
  • Designed as a circular walkway around the lagoon featuring the world’s tallest skycoaster, the entrance of which is on the side of a lagoon
  • Features multi-level go-kart tracks, an arcade, and “the Rockstar Coaster”
  • Opened in 2007

Manatee Springs

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  • Florida State Park with swamps and hardwood wetlands along the Suwannee, along with many sinkhole ponds, including one with a cave 90 feet below the ground that connects to a popular divers’ destination known as the catfish hotel

Bok Tower Gardens

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  • Contemplative garden and bird sanctuary
  • Construction of the gardens began in 1921
  • Attempts were made to introduce flamingos to the sanctuary several times, which is why early renderings of the tower show flamingos at the reflection pool rather than swans
  • These early efforts were unsuccessful, however, as the flamingos were not native to central Florida and could not survive the winters that were cooler than those of southern Florida, where they may be found

Salvador Dalí Museum

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  • Surrealism-inspired museum structure that features a large glass entryway and skylight made of thick glass
  • Walls are composed of 18-inch thick concrete, designed to protect the collection from hurricanes which hit the region from time to time
  • Includes performances, workshops, films, lectures, different types of fundraising, and food & drink events
  • Weekly events have included poetry performances and lectures such as coffee with a curator, and a presentation on a theme-oriented topic that discusses a variety of topics in relation to Dalí

St. Pete Beach

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  • #16 of the top 25 beaches in the world
  • Beach along a coastal city
  • St. Pete Beach’s downtown contains bars, restaurants and shopping and retail outlets

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

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  • Cable-stayed bridge connecting St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia
  • Opened in 1987

Siesta Beach

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  • #11 of the top 25 beaches in the world
  • Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach’s sand is 99% quartz, most of which comes from the Appalachian Mountains
  • Over time the feldspar and mica have been removed from the rock, leaving almost pure quartz
  • According to Harvard University geologists, it’s estimated that the sand on Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach on Siesta Key is millions of years old, having its origin in the Appalachians and flowing down the rivers from the mountains until it eventually was deposited on the shores of Siesta Key

Wynwood Walls

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  • Established in 2009 as an outdoor museum of international street art
  • Encompasses more than 40 cutting-edge murals created by respected street artists from Asia, Europe, Latin America and across the United States
  • Features renowned innovators in street art, which has become a phenomenon, spurring the creation of murals throughout the Wynwood district
  • Each year, a selection of international artists, that range from old school graffiti artists to newer innovators, have created artwork for the walls

South Beach

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  • Starting in the 1910s, provided the first vital land link between mainland Miami and the beaches
  • The area has gone through numerous artificial and natural changes over the years, including a booming regional economy, increased tourism, and the 1926 hurricane, which destroyed much of the area

Venetian Pool

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  • Public swimming pool built in 1924
  • Created in Mediterranean Revival style and utilizes a large amount of coral for ornamental feature
  • Named for Mediterranean city of Venice, Italy, the pool included a Venetian style bridge and classic mooring posts

Everglades National Park

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  • Third largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone
  • Home to endangered species like the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Dry Tortugas

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  • Small group of islands, located in the Gulf of Mexico at the end of the Florida Keys, about 37 miles west of the Marquesas Keys, the closest islands
  • The first Europeans to discover the islands were the Spanish in 1513
  • Some of the smaller islands have disappeared and reappeared multiple times as a result of hurricane impact

Costs

Number of Days: 23 days

Best Time To Fly: April-May, Oct-Nov

Airline tickets: $551

Seattle -> Orlando (one way) = $194
Miami -> Key West (round trip) = $212
Miami -> Seattle (one way) = $145

Ferry/cruise tickets: $190

Key West -> Dry Tortugas National Park (round trip) = $190

Food: $45/day x 23 days = $1,035

Rental Car: $92/day x 12 days = $1,104

Gas: $60

Entertainment: $1,140

Airbnb: $243/day x 22 days = $5,346

TOTAL: $9,426