Polar vortex. Remember those words? That was the buzz phrase in the media four years ago when temperatures plummeted into the minus double digits across large swaths of the United States and Canada. Chicago hit -16 °F; Green Bay, Wisconsin got to -18 °F; and Babbitt, Minnesota plunged to a bone-numbing -37 °F. Icy temperatures reached all the way down into Alabama and Georgia.
One place, however, seemed to be exempt from the ferocious winter weather.
Florida, the land of endless summer.
Even during that savage winter, most of Florida enjoyed average temperatures; in much of the state, that meant 70+ degrees in January and February. Since many forecasters are predicting another polar vortex winter, Florida seems like the best place for a holiday getaway. But what else does Florida have to offer?
Something for Everyone
Whether you want a relaxing or adventurous holiday, Florida has it all. From the panhandle in the north to the tropical Keys in the south, the world is your oyster as you lounge on a sun-drenched beach, try your hand at watersports, shop till you drop, explore Florida’s coastal waters, or enjoy second-to-none nightlife. Here is just a small sampling of the myriad things Florida has to offer.
- Beaches. Florida boasts over 660 miles of pristine beaches. From lazy and relaxing to busy and action-packed, no two beaches are exactly the same. The Art Deco influence in South Beach has a charm all its own. Bustling Miami Beach features wide expanses of sand and swaying palm trees. And the nightlife in Miami and its environs is dusk-till-dawn action. Have fun playing in the ocean waves on the Atlantic coast, or check out the Gulf side, famous for its white sand and quaint seaside ambience. From Fort Myers to Pensacola, you can take a dip in the warm, calm waters of the Gulf.
- The Keys. This string of islands, extending about 120 miles south of Florida, are a blissful pearl necklace floating in the tropical waters between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. These lazy droplets of paradise punctuate at Key West, the eclectic, anything-goes last island in the group, where the sunsets are legendary and the key lime pie is always on the top of the menu. The Keys are a water-lover’s playground, a popular destination for fishing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving. Visit http://www.floridakeys.com/ for activities and places to stay.
- Water sports. Florida has the longest coastline of any state in the lower 48, and that’s good news for those who love to be in and around the water. Swimming, surfing, parasailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, boating, deep-sea fishing, and cave diving are available year-round. And Florida’s reefs offer some fantastic opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.
- Sports. For sports fans, Florida is host to no less than nine professional sports teams in four different sports – football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. And Daytona Beach boasts NASCAR’s biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500. Visit http://www.stateofflorida.com/professional-sports.aspx for schedules and tickets.
- Amusement and theme parks. For the kids, you can’t offer them anything better than a trip to Disney World. Four different theme parks – Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios – will thrill both the young and the young at heart. Throw into the mix Seaworld, Busch Gardens, Legoland, and countless other parks and waterparks, and you’ll never have a dull moment.
Financing Your Getaway
All of this sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But it costs money, and you may feel that you don’t have the green to spare. Here are some simple but effective ways to get the cash that will make that Florida getaway a reality:
- Vacation savings account. This can be in a bank or in your own private piggy bank. Instead of spending $6 on that designer coffee or $20 on pizza & wings every week, put it away in a safe place, and save. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up.
- Auto title loan. This allows you to borrow on your car and still drive it. The value of your vehicle determines the amount you can get, but a few thousand dollars should be enough to get you some relaxing time in the Florida sunshine. And since you’re putting up the collateral, perfect credit isn’t necessary.
- Vacation layaway. Many hotels now offer a layaway plan. After making a small deposit, you can pay installments as much and as often as you like. This way you actually pay for part of your vacation in advance, and you don’t have to worry about a huge debt after you get home.
Old man winter is on his way, but you can get a reprieve in sunny Florida. With so much to do and see, a getaway to the Sunshine State could be just what the doctor ordered to chase those winter blues away.