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Guide to driving in the USA

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Driving in the USA is both a sensible and convenient way to get around what is an enormous country. From obtaining your International Driving Permit to abiding traffic laws, find out all you need to know about driving Stateside with our handy guide.

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Shop around for car hire

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]If you’re driving in the USA, there are lots of choices and every airport has a huge selection of car hire companies operating there or nearby. You don’t have to go with the first option. Hertz offer 10% off pre-paid rates for all AA members.

Also be aware that many car hire companies in the USA are geared towards American drivers and so won’t offer car insurance in their total price. Make sure you know what you’re buying, and always ask about insurance if it’s not obvious that it is included in your full cost.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512831965{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

The Ts & Cs of hiring a car

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Make sure you have the answers to the below before you drop any dollars on hiring a vehicle.

  • Do you have to pay for a child car seat?
  • Do you need to have a full tank when returning the vehicle?
  • Are you of the correct age requirement to take out the vehicle?

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Choose wisely

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While a Ford Mustang convertible is tempting remember that you’ll need luggage space, too. SUVs are ideal for families and cost around the same to run in the US as a small car here – just be prepared to exercise caution when parking.

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Automatic Transmission

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Familiarise yourself with an automatic transmission; they are easier to use than our “stick-shifts” but it’s still a good idea to borrow a friend’s automatic car for a quick spin around on a quiet road before you go Stateside. It will make it less of a surprise when you’ve potentially got so many other “firsts” on the day you rent the car.

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Driver’s licence

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Get an International Driving Permit (IDP); it’s an internationally-recognised document that accompanies your Irish/EU driving licence and ensures you’ll be accepted as a qualified driver by the authorities across the US. IDPs are issued on behalf of the State by the AA and the fee is €15 (inclusive of admin/postal delivery charge).

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Motor insurance

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Car rental companies will offer whatever basic insurance is required in the state you’re renting but will try to sell you a more comprehensive level of cover, often at extortionate prices. The basic insurance often just covers you with an enormous excess, so search for deals on car hire excess insurance before you leave – many companies will cover you to that higher level for a fraction of the price.

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Traffic laws

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Familiarise yourself with traffic laws; most of the signs on US roads are either familiar or self-explanatory but no-one will explain a California 4-way stop to you before handing you the car keys, so ensure you know all about the unique customs and practices in whichever state you’re visiting. In some, for example, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn right at a red light; in others, it’s as illegal as turning left at a red light would be in Ireland. In general though, it’s the things that are legal which will surprise an Irish driver, such as helmet-free Floridians on motorcycles and New Hampshire drivers behind the wheel without seat belts (yes, in 2016!).

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Public transport

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Avoid driving in certain cities; US cities are often car-dependent and the idea of getting around by taxi or bus is ludicrous. But in a host of cities – Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle – public transport is so good that driving is not only stress-inducing, it’s eye-wateringly expensive. $45 is a reasonable parking garage charge in San Francisco, so consider holding off on car rental until you absolutely need it – even in the land of the automobile.

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US national average fuel prices:

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Fuel is incredibly cheap and costs a fraction of what it does in Ireland. This is in part due to our high taxes; we pay about 64% of the cost of petrol and 67% of diesel to the Irish Government.

Oil trades on the world market in US Dollars which works in their favour as they wouldn’t have to worry about their exchange rate weakening, unlike us Irish. In comparison to Ireland it works out less than half the price we pay for petrol here. However, as demonstrated in the table above the price of fuel varies from state to state.

While diesel is the same in both America and Ireland, trying to identify a direct comparison of unleaded petrol in the US is not as straight forward. Unleaded petrol contains about 95 RON rating; to find the nearest US comparison watch out for anything over 91 AKI which is generally found in “premium” branded fuel.

It is also worth noting that when you see the listed price in US fuel stations they are listed in gallons as opposed to Ireland where the listed price is calculated per litre. A quick tip to calculate the price of fuel per litre is to divide the price by 3.8 (gallons).

US petrol is also weaker than what we use in Europe. Most European cars wouldn’t have the capacity to function on US petrol, which can be as low as 87 RON (EU cars run on 92 or higher), without an adjustment that would likely reduce its power output. However, US cars are designed to run on lower octane fuel, so using cheap fuel in a car wouldn’t damage it like it would European cars.

One little tip when filling up in the US; unlike in Europe, where petrol is a green pump and diesel is a black pump, US petrol (gasoline) pumps are marked black and diesel pumps are marked green.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512831965{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Toll fees

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Go with the toll tag. Unless you’re planning to avoid every single highway and freeway in the state, you’ll likely encounter a toll booth or electronic toll and paying for that can be tricky and awkward, especially using a non-US credit card or scrambling for change. Many car rental companies offer a toll tag that covers all tolls for around $40 a week and we would advise that it is certainly worth the investment. See Cost to Drive where you can calculate the cost of tolls you meet on your route.

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Don’t fear motoring Stateside

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The roads are straight and wide, the cars are big and comfortable and between cruise control, sofa-esque suspensions and ultra-assisted steering (just how Americans like it), driving in the United States is a doddle for most Irish people. It will give you a new sense of appreciation for the truly-daunting situation a visiting American must find themselves in when driving an Irish rental car.

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Winter sun destinations

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Want to swap your thermals for sun, sea and sand? We have compiled our lust list for winter sun destinations.

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Source: Pixabay

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The Bahamas

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]The Bahamas has more to offer than just a picturesque backdrop of palm trees, powdery sands, sheltered bays, piña coladas and a good opportunity to top up on your Vitamin D this winter. It is also the official home to the swimming pigs, orange starfish and green sea turtles. Book yourself a spot on one of the Bahamaian plush beaches, with approximately 100,000 square miles of tropical sea and an estimated 5,000 square miles of land.

Top tip: If you’re bringing the kids (or big kids) be sure to attend the Dolphin Experience on Grand Bahama Island.

Highest average temperature for December: 26°C[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][image_with_text image=”19528″]
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Jamaica, the Caribbean

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All the stereotypes you might have about the Caribbean come alive the minute you step off your flight and enter the laid back surroundings of Jamaica. Chill by one of the ramshackle beach bars or kick back on the sugar white sands and hail the sunshine with cocktail in hand, while you whistle along to the tune of Bob Marley’s hypnotic version of Don’t Worry, Be Happy reggae classic. Thrill-seekers can enjoy kayaking, snorkelling as well as other island activities.

Top tip:  Because of the low wage rate there’s a strong tipping etiquette in Jamaica and the general rates can vary from one place to the next. Before getting into taxis be sure to ask the driver how much the total cost of the fare will be, plus the expected tip rate.

Highest average temperature for December: 29°C[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][image_with_text image=”19529″]

Source: Disparkys/ License

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Cyprus, the Mediterranean

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]The Mediterranean’s warmest island and the only one where you are guaranteed year round sun, with talcum white sand beaches, captivating mountain views, crystal clear waters and more culture than your average island. Cyprus is the perfect destination if you are after some mild winter sun rather than sweltering heat.

Top tip: To get the full Cypriot experience, it is worth renting a car where you can travel from North to South Cyprus in less than 4 hours.

Highest average temperature for December: 19°C[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][image_with_text image=”19530″]

Source:Ines Hegedus-Garcia/ License

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Miami, Florida

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]Looking for a sun kissed glow stateside, then Miami is the perfect winter sun destination. South Beach or ‘So-Be’ is touted as the ‘American Riviera’ where you can immerse yourself in the plush surroundings of a relaxing day on the fine white sands, clear blue sea of the Atlantic Ocean and the sophistication of trendy nightlife.

Think your furry friend deserves a bit of winter sun? Miami Beach is known to be arguably one of the most pet-friendly cities in the world, with hotels and tour operators aiming to cater to all your pet’s needs.

Highest average temperature for December: 24°C

Top tip: Mark a visit on your calendar of activities to people watch in the trendy cafés, bars and chic restaurants on Lincoln Road or Ocean Drive.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][image_with_text image=”19527″]

Source: Marc VeraartLicense

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Lanzarote, Canary Islands

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]With (almost) guaranteed sun, sea and sand there is no wonder why thousands of Irish flock to sunny Lanzarote all-year round. Kick back on one of Lanzarote’s finest beaches and soak up some rays. Prepare to cross off a few once in a lifetime experiences off your bucket list where you can take a camel ride over volcanoes, enjoy breath-taking views and stop for lunch in a restaurant nestled on a volcanic cave.

Top tip: Though it may be warm during the day time it gets chilly at night so be sure to pack a cardigan or a light jacket, you will thank us for it.

Highest average temperature for December: 22°C[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][image_with_text image=”19518″]

Source: Mike Behnken/License

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Thailand

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]If you’re willing to brave a long haul flight, Thailand has become a popular holiday choice among us Irish. Hailed for their unique full-moon parties, elephant trekking experiences, year-round tropical climate, pearl-white sandy beaches, and translucent coloured water and is home to the setting of The Beach filmed on Phi Phi Island.

Top tip: Try and leave booking your accommodation until you arrive as you could end up saving a packet, leaving you with more money to splurge in the popular markets.

Highest average temperature for December: 31°C[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][image_with_text image=”19524″]

Source: Thomas Tolkien /License

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Tenerife, Canary Islands

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]Immerse yourself in the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife, where you will be greeted with a warm blast of heat, swanning from Sub-Saharan Africa as you disembark your flight. Among the major USPs for Tenerife are of course lazing in the sun, building sandcastles and over-indulging in tapas and sangria, the turquoise coloured sea also warranted a title of an Ed Sheeran song.

Top tip: Particularly if it is your first time visiting the island be sure to book a car so you can freely explore the island.

Highest average temperature for December: 20°C[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column][vc_separator type=”normal”][vc_column_text]

If you are tempted to book a flight to any of these winter sun destinations, make sure to take out travel insurance at the time of booking.

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Top Tips for Driving in Hot Climates

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This simple checklist will prepare you and your car for driving in hot climates.

 

In the words of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air “It’s (summer summer) summer time”, which for some will mean packing up the car and heading to the South of France, while for others it means the South of Ireland. Whatever the destination, driving in hot climates can be fraught with frayed tempers and possible breakdowns. But don’t worry, Micks Garage has you covered.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512831965{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Plan Ahead

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When driving in hot climates it is always worthwhile planning ahead. Whatever the country, summer time inevitably means more people on the road and therefore more congestion. Do you have a way to get out of it, either to bypass the traffic or take some quiet time to let the build-up subside? A plan will especially help when there are children involved. After hours on the road in muggy conditions strapped into a child seat they are liable to get grumpy, which, along with being tiresome, can also prove distracting. Much better for them to be distracted than you.

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Use shades

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Summer is the one time when it is acceptable to break out those vintage Ray Ban Aviators so get them off your head and onto your face. Sunglasses are an essential part of your summer driving kit, but only the ‘right’ kind. Ensure the lenses on your glasses are polarised as they reduce glare and forget your ‘oh so fashionable’ blue lenses. Studies have shown that they can cause confusion at traffic lights with some drivers unable to differentiate between yellow (amber) and green.

It also may be worthwhile investing in a sun shield to place on your windscreen while parked up. If you have kids you may already have them on the side windows, but the windshield is, generally speaking, the largest expanse of glass in your car and we all know the feeling of returning to the car only to open the doors and be met with a wall of oppressive heat that the combined powers of air conditioning and open windows take ages to combat. Prevention is better than cure.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512831965{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Visit the pharmacy

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As Baz Luhrman said “Wear sunscreen.” Let’s face it, we are Irish and tend to burn in the sun – best to at least wait until you are lying on a beach with a Pina Colada in hand before turning lobster red. While in the pharmacy remember to stock up on any allergy tablets you or your family needs. Many know the anguish of frequent sneezing, runny eyes and congestion brought on by hay fever and dust allergies but few think about how they affect our driving ability. Make sure your car’s cabin filter is clean and that the medication you are taking does not make you drowsy.

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Change windscreen wipers

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The hope is that it does not rain on your holidays but that does not mean you can ignore your windscreen wipers.  During the summer months your windscreen is likely to be battered by flies and other insects and you will not clear that detritus from your windscreen without proper functioning wipers and a fully topped bottle of washer fluid.

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Top up fluids

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In addition to topping up your washer bottle it is also advisable to top up the rest of your car’s fluids before driving in hot climates – or better yet getting a full service done. While most of us enjoy the sight of the thermometer rising, our engines do not. Forced to suck in suffocating warm air they are pushed to the extremes, which is where fresh oil and coolant come in. If you are stuck in traffic keep an eye on your temperature gauge and be prepared to pull over should it head towards the red to allow the engine to cool down. This is also a good time to top yourself up with cooling fluids and maybe a cheeky ice-cream.

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Check your tyres

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Warm air also does weird things to your tyres – or more specifically the air within them. As temperatures rise the air inside your tyres begins to expand, which can, if your tyres are not in the best condition, lead to a blowout – a scary proposition when travelling at motorway speeds. Check for damage to the tyres or uneven wearing, especially on the inside shoulders and make sure the pressures are correct.

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Carry the essentials

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Along with the sunscreen, medication and sunglasses already mentioned remember to carry plenty of fluids with you in the car. Not in the boot, but in the cabin itself where they are close to hand. If you have an icebox or cooled glovebox use them (you may have to clean out the glovebox first). There is nothing worse than taking a swig of sun-warmed water when you were hoping for ice cold. Also remember to pack some treats, not just for the kids but for the adults too. Spending hours sitting in the car can be draining and that is without taking the temperature into consideration. The sugar rush provided by a pack of sweets may be just what is needed for the last push to the hotel!

Last but not least remember your AA cover. We may not be able to help with cranky kids and dehydrated adults but for a tyre blowout, overheating engine or a tank of fuel should you run out we can help.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433517982393{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][action full_width=”yes” content_in_grid=”no” type=”normal” show_button=”yes” button_text=”Get a European Breakdown Cover Quote” button_link=”http://www.theaa.ie/AA/Insurance/European-Breakdown-Cover.aspx” background_image=”18625″ button_text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#0a0a0a” button_hover_text_color=”#e5e5e5″ button_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_hover_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)” button_hover_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433751978629{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Featured Image Credit: William Warby on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence

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Categories
Florida USA

Clearwater Beach

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Image : rcgtrzz on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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Clearwater Beach is one of the most popular resorts in America and is located on the West Coast of central Florida. Famous for its white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, Clearwater was named as the best beach town in Florida in a 2013 USA Today poll.

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General Info

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Clearwater Beach stretches 2.5 miles along the Gulf of Mexico and has made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most consecutive days of sunshine in a single year with a staggering 361 days.

With a number of land and water based activities, with dolphin watching among the most popular attraction that can be seen in the Gulf, Clearwater Beach is sure to not disappoint. With plenty of activity both day and night Clearwater boasts something for every member of the family. Other popular activities include the Clearwater Jazz Festival (October) and the spring training of Major League Baseball team Philadelphia Phillies, at Bright House Networks Field.

A number of day trips can also be made from Clearwater with some of Florida’s finest theme parks located in nearby Tampa and Orlando, a two hour drive away.

The scenic views of Clearwater are breathtaking and continues to attract tourists back to this gem year after year.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Getting There

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Clearwater Beach is approximately 20 miles (30 km) from Tampa International Airport. From the airport follow George J Bean outbound parkway to FL-60W. Follow this route for 29 minutes before arriving at your destination.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Opening Hours

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Clearwater Beach remains a hub of activity year round with the spring and summer months the most popular with tourists.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
Florida USA

Kennedy Space Center

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Image : David Wilson on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is one of Florida’s most popular attractions and offers an alternative to the theme park experience which explains why many flock to the sunshine State.

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General Info

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]The home of NASA has played a key role in some of the most defining moments in history. This includes the Apollo Moon Landing which was proposed by President Kennedy, which is how the Center coined its name following his assassination in 1963.

Since the end of the Apollo program in 1972, KSC has been used to launch every NASA human space flight, including unmanned rocket launch facilities at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The visitor Center boasts numerous attractions such as museums, simulators and exhibitions that illustrates the history of NASA. It also affords visitors the opportunity to get up, close and personal with the world’s largest space programme. A trip to KSC can also be completed by flying with an astronaut.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Getting There

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Kennedy Space Center visitor complex is located in central Florida, not far from the tourist hub of Orlando. From Orlando, travel east on SR 528 to the SR 407 exit to Kennedy Space Center and Titusville. Follow this route to the end at SR 405, merging right to SR 405 and follow the signs for Kennedy Space Center. Travel approximately six miles on SR 405 where you will reach your destination on the right.

If using a sat nav be sure to input “Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex” as your destination as Kennedy Space Center will lead you to the wrong location.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Price

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Prices to enter the visitor complex begin at $50 for adults and $40 for children.

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Opening Hours

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Kennedy Space Center visitor complex is open all year round, seven days per week, opening at 9 am and closes at 6 pm for most of the year. Closing times may vary in the winter season.

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Categories
Featured Florida USA

Family theme parks in Florida

Universal Studios

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Universal Studios Orlando, Florida is a staple attraction for both small and ‘big kids’. Boasting two theme parks, Universal Studio and Universal’s Islands of Adventure hosted about 15.2million guests in 2013. Universal Studios invites you into the magical experience of your favourite films, where you’ll be spoiled for choice with a wide selection of rides, movie sets, shows and attractions that is sure to satisfy your appetite for the fun and thrill factor. If you fancy testing your fear threshold try The Revenge of the Mummy or Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

The multi-award winning Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park allows you to relive and enter the world of your favourite child- or adulthood comic book heroes, cartoons, movies, myths and legends through remarkable islands decked out with scream-worthy rides. Dragon Challenge, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff are the latest additions to join the Universal family.

Nearest airport
Orlando International Airport is about a 20 minute car journey without traffic.

Magic Kingdom Park

magic kindgom

Magic Kingdom Park, better known as Walt Disneyland Orlando is undoubtedly a place where childhood dreams originated. Cast yourself into ‘a whole new world’ and experience Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland and Fantasyland. It’s currently undergoing one of the largest expansions since its unveiling in 1971, and upon completion this year will essentially double the size of the park.

In 2014 Magic Kingdom Park welcomed nearly 20million visitors, ranking it as the most visited theme park in the world for six years running. This is truly the only place where you can claim to have brunched with Minnie, taken a magic carpet ride and slept in a bed fit for Disney royalty.

Nearest airports
Both Orlando International and Kissimee Gateway airports are roughly within a 30 minute drive to Magic Kingdom Park.

Discovery Cove

discovery cove

This park allows you to enter an underworld where you can swim with a dolphin, confront your fears and come up close and personal with sharks, snorkel with a shoal of tropical fish or walk the sea floor. But don’t worry, Discovery Cove has something for everyone, so if you would rather relax under the hot Florida sun you can stretch out on the park’s pearly white sandy beach. And did we mention this is an all-inclusive park?  Just pay a fee at the gate and you can enjoy breakfast and lunch with snacks and as much ‘soda-pop’ as you can handle.

Nearest airport
Orlando International Airport is about a 20 minute drive without traffic or you can hop on a bus which will extend your journey time to more than 95 minutes.

Busch Gardens

busch gardens

Busch Gardens, a sister park of Discovery Cove, has been dubbed as one of the highest quality theme parks in the world. This multi-award winner offers you the opportunity to get within touching distance of endangered animals, alongside fantastic rides for those thrill-seekers. This African-themed animal attraction stretches across a modest 335 acres and is an ideal adventure for all the family that shouldn’t be missed.

Nearest airport
Located in Tampa, about an hour and a half journey from Orlando, Tampa International Airport is approximately a 30 minute drive but do allow extra time for traffic.

EPCOT

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Twice the size of Magic Kingdom Park, this Walt Disney creation ranked third most visited theme park in the US and the 6th in the world after welcoming nearly 11.5million guests in 2014. EPCOT is inspired by Walt’s vision of a futuristic, utopian city. It has two distinct realms: World Showcase, which allows guests to experience the culture and cuisines of 11 countries from around the world, and Future World, a utopian domain inspired by technological feats.

Nearest airport
Orlando International Airport is about 23 minutes away without traffic.

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