I recently had the opportunity to visit Florida, splitting my time between Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Everglades and Miami. In just four days, I discovered a surprisingly diverse destination with sharp contrasts between vibrant cities and surprisingly beautiful natural areas.
When I boarded my flight south, I honestly had no idea what to expect. My limited knowledge of Florida was based on two things: a single visit as a child and a suspicion that Miami is America’s party town.
After a few visits, I left with an appreciation and understanding of Southern Florida and it’s many layers. Hopefully these images will encourage you to head south, too, to find out what it’s all about for yourself.
17 Images that will make you want to Visit Florida
Pompano Beach: I arrived in Miami, Florida, after sunset and made the drive to Fort Lauderdale without really getting a feel for my surroundings. At sunrise, I walked down Pompano Beach and immediately felt far removed from the Canadian Rockies I call home.
Fort Lauderdale: I spent my first two days in Florida exploring Fort Lauderdale. Known as the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale seems to have as many waterways as highways, making it an easy place to explore via the city’s water taxi system.
Fort Lauderdale: The Bonnett House was created by Clay Bartlett in the 1920’s as a second home. Although the shared family name is a coincidence, I felt compelled to check out the museum to better understand Florida’s rich history of estate living.
Florida Everglades and Pompano Beach: After two days in the city, I set out to explore the Florida Everglades. Within seconds it was obvious that Florida’s beachside resorts and inland wilderness were two separate worlds.
Billie Swamp Safari: I finally had the opportunity to ride an airboat while visiting Billie Swamp Safari, a 2200-acre wilderness preserve protected by the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. They’re as fun as I’d always imagined.
Billie Swamp Safari: On a rather serious note, I also learned about the struggles native wildlife endures in the Florida Everglades. Because of its temperate climate, introduced and invasive species often thrive. The American Alligator, once the regions dominant predator, has lost its position, as nearly 85000 pythons now inhabit the wetlands. During my visit, Nile River Crocodiles were also confirmed in three different locations across the state.
Florida Everglades: Although the alligator is no longer the defacto predator in the everglades, their numbers haven’t been adversely affected. I was blown away with just how many I had the opportunity to see. While taking this image on an abandoned dock, there were dozens in the pond beneath me.
Rickenbacker Marina: After my day touring the Everglades, I returned to Miami. As I tend to do, I was most often drawn away from the city’s brightest lights while searching out quiet locations close by. One of my favourite stops was the Rickenbacker Marina in Hobie Island beach Park, where I found this awesome little deserted island.
Jungle Island: Florida has long been a tourist destination, which means there are plenty of purpose-built tourist attractions like Universal Studios and Disney World. Miami has it’s own collection and I spent the afternoon at Jungle Island, one of the cities largest and oldest attractions. Although the park is home to a number of native species, it’s the lemurs that steal most peoples attention.
South Beach: I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take my talents to South Beach. With the basketball reference aside, this stretch of beach line might be the most famous in the entire continental USA and I managed to visit it at it’s quietest.
Stiltsville: On my final afternoon in Florida, I headed out on the water from the South Beach Marina with Ocean Force Adventures. After cruising past the homes of Miami’s rich and famous, we set course to Stiltsville, a unique community of homes located just off the coast of Cape Florida.
Cape Florida: Key Biscayne, located just south of Miami, was recently recognized for its stunning beaches found within Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. The lighthouse, which anchors the end of the famous beach is also the oldest building in Greater Miami and played a vital role in the National Underground Railroad Network in the 1820s.
Miami: The last images I made in Florida were among my favourite. On our return journey from Stiltsville, a series of thunderstorms poured through the city. The clouds, lightening and rain were spectacular to watch from a distance. While rainstorms might not be part of the quintessential Florida vacation, I actually appreciate them simply because they drop the temperature a few degrees. It’s always a wonderful relief for this Canadian!
This post was created in partnership with Visit Florida and it’s partners at Fort Lauderdale and Miami.