This is the feedback from of my customers Jo and Mike, who recently visited Miami and Key West. It sounds like they certainly had the trip of a lifetime.
We booked a fly-drive to Florida with Alison Kemp at Travel Counsellors. We departed Heathrow on Saturday 10 Nov 2017 with Virgin Atlantic. Alison had pre-booked all our seats and completed our check-in for us the day before we travelled, making our experience of Heathrow a breeze.
Once we arrived at Miami Alison had pre-booked car hire for us. They gave us a massive Dodge vehicle - when we put our cases in the back we could have got six more in. It was like a truck, but all the vehicles are like that there. Mike asked for a Mustang ($60 extra), we wanted that anyway, so we went for it. White, 5litre V8 convertible - wow, posers. We never had the top up as the night was 26 degrees and the day 29/30 degrees, so the breeze and sun in the day was fab.
Sat navs are $12 per day but the Mustang had it built in so the $60 was well spent. Petrol is approx $2.5 (just under £2 per gallon). We did 1,300 miles for approx. £100 in fuel.
Alison had pre-booked a two-night stay at the Pestana Art hotel for our first couple of nights, whilst we acclimatised. The Pestana hotel is lovely and the beach and high street shops are just around the corner. The breakfast was fab, with a buffet to eat as much as you like. There was a fridge with daily water in the room.
The beach was clean, flat and sea with waves, and apart from one day we were there it was very calm. There’s a free area on beach with the hotel, sun beds only, pay for umbrella, and towels are free from hotel. We also booked the hotel for our last two nights before the flight home. The manager Ricardo and desk staff were very helpful and the rooms Art Deco, so nice.
Ocean Drive (along promenade) is walkable from hotel in 15mins, and lots of photos to be taken. Visitors centre on promenade has a big shop in it and you must go, it’s full of Art Deco stuff to buy - pictures, ornaments, radios, trinkets etc, brings back memories! Depending on your age!
We did the Everglades air power boat ride (big fan on the back). There’s plenty along this route, take your pick which company you do it with. We paid $25 per person and it took us through the Everglades and stops to see crocodiles. We landed for approx 1 hour on a massive manmade wooden pier/walk way to spot the crocodiles, (guide and talk during this ride) and wildlife. Across the road from the boat ride was the Indian Reserve which we went to, to see how they used to live. They were doing their crafts and there’sa museum about the history of the Indians lives, years ago. Also, a live crocodile show with an Indian (bit like Crocodile Dundee but an Indian one!)
We drove to Venice and did a tour on foot – it’s a nice place and then stayed just outside Sarasota in another America's Best Value Inn Motel. All motels include continental breakfast - coffee, boiled eggs, toast, pastries, coffee. Some motels had kitchenettes in the room. All had microwave and coffee machine with supplies.
We then drove over to Atlantic Side to Daytona (through Orlando, no stops). There were lots of roadworks going on. In Daytona it’s $10 to drive the beach with the car and pose as you do. Stop on the beach for the day if you want with vehicle. Come off and go back on during the day if you wish. We did the lighthouse at the end of the drive above.
Mike did the Daytona Speedway - $25 (Mike got a voucher and it cost him $20). It’s a 3 hour tour and he was very impressed and enjoyed the whole experience. I was by the pool watching the cars on the beach as the hotel overlooked it.
We then headed to NASA Space Centre and Cocoa Beach. We had a great time and stopped in Melbourne Seascape Motel – a quaint little place right on the beach. Chilled out.
In Lake Worth, near Palm Beach, we stayed in Edmond James motel. We walked over the massive bridge to Lake Worth beach. Lake Worth prom is having a lot of money spent on a refurb - Mike enjoyed looking at the buildings (being a builder!)
In Fort Lauderdale we spent the day walking along the river – a fantastic place. We did a boat trip to see famous and rich mansions and moored yachts along the inlets – a really good trip. A few boats moored up do the trip. There was a talk during the trip on who owns who, unbelievable, money, money, money!
Back to Miami and we relaxed, we didn't feel tired until we got back home. The roads are so big, and the max speed limited Interstate roads are 70mph. On other roads 45-55 is normal, but you don't realise the miles you're doing as it’s not like little British roads. We drove approx 1300 miles in a soft top Mustang and only had the roof up once due to a heavy shower. We took $ with us and used credit cards for overnight stops, tickets etc, and just paid the card off on return.
We really enjoyed it and everything went according to plan. No mishaps, we saw no crime or felt scared anywhere. People love the British when they hear your accent. If we can do it anyone can do it! Book with Alison Kemp at Travel Counsellors.