The state of Florida has said that Highway Patrol will not enforce the recent law introduced in January, whereby foreign visitors to Florida are required to be in possession of an International Driving Permit should they wish to drive there. Car rental companies have said that they will not require sight of one to hire a car. This followed a mass uproar from Canadian and UK visitors that have driving licences in English, making an IDP pointless.
This new requirement is hopefully soom to be repealled and remove it from the Florida Statute but despite the reassurances from the State, it is still the law at the moment. The concern is that some insurance companies may use this as a wriggle out clause saying that you were driving illegally. Hopefully it should be gone by the Summer however it may still be advisable to obtain one until the point where it is no longer actual Florida law.
If you are planning to rent a Florida villa while on a vacation in Florida there are many great destinations depending on your interests and what you want to do during your visit. In most of the places you can combine days at the beach or games of golf with other local activities whether it is a visit to a theme park or to a museum.
In the northeast part of Florida, St. Augustine offers an escape to days of yesteryear with the oldest city in the United States and shops with craftsmen keeping their art alive. Cape Canaveral offers the Kennedy Space Center and a local harbor where you can take an ocean cruise for a day or enjoy the shops and dining along the coastline. Only an hour from Orlando, the home of Disney World and Universal Studios as well as Sea World and the Aquatica Water Park, this area features smaller attractions too like a zoo or Old Town and will give you endless days of activities and enjoyment for everyone in the family. Cocoa Beach is known as the small wave capital so surfers are frequent visitors.
If you head south down the eastern coast you will reach Palm Beach known as the winter playground for the rich and famous with estates owned by the Kennedys and Donald Trump and ritzy shopping on its famed Worth Avenue. Nearby in Jupiter, baseball fans can enjoy the Florida Marlins play or watch spring training for the St. Louis Cardinals. Known for its famous college spring breaks, Fort Lauderdale is also on the east coast of Florida and besides the normal water activities available, it also has a popular entertainment center called the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the trendy Riverfront for shopping and dining.
Heading further south you will reach Miami well known for its spectacular white beaches and Art Deco themed buildings lining the shore in chic South Beach that is the hub of all the beautiful people with lots of night clubs, restaurants, bars and hotels. Less than a hundred miles from Cuba - Key West is on the southernmost tip of the United States – a city made famous by Ernest Hemingway and known for its sports fishing and its art galleries that make this a popular place to rent villas in Florida.
On the gulf coast of Florida you can choose from Pensacola where there are more white sand beaches along with an annual Seafood Festival and the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival. Other great destinations include the St. Petersburg, Tampa or Clearwater areas that offer more stunning beaches along with great sunsets which are a nightly ritual to watch from the Sunset at Pier 60. Wherever your Florida villa rental is located you will find the activities and attractions to help to make your vacation a success. And if you just want to totally relax why not rent a Florida villa that has a pool so you can escape from it all and still be able to head for some nightlife if you want it?
Along the same stretch of coast as Tampa and St Petersburg are the delightful communities of Sarasota, Clearwater, Springhill, Bradenton and Anna Maria Island. Further down the coast are Englewood, Rotonda, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, the islands of Captiva and Sanibel (on the peninsula) and finally Marco Islands to the south.
Starting at Tampa, directly to the west, and north (up the peninsula) from St Petersburg is Clearwater, home to what’s been voted the second best beach in America - Caladesi Island. If you wish to partake in any water-based activity, the Clearwater Municipal Marina is the place to visit – dolphin tours, fishing and parasailing businesses all base themselves here. The headquarters of the Church of Scientology are located in Clearwater as well.
From Circus Sarasota to G-Wiz : the Hands-On Science Museum, the Farmers’ Market to the Mote Marine Laboratory, there is something for every member of the family at Sarasota, just down from Tampa.
Working your way down the coast, between Tampa and Sarasota lies Bradenton, and off its coast, Anna Maria Island. Book yourself into a day spa and relax on the island, or walk along its beaches while watching people parasail and fish. Further north of Tampa is Spring Hill.
Englewood, called ‘the gem of the suncoast’, is a pretty spot for dining in their restaurants, or take advantage of its proximity to many golf courses to enjoy a round or three. Stop by the Peace River Wildlife Centre over at Punta Gorda, and help a volunteer with some injured native fauna. Follow the trails, or drop a line in the water, at the Stump Pass Beach State Park.
Not far from Englewood is Rotonda. Rotonda itself has four beaches – Blind Pass Beach has more than 60 acres and is an ideal spot to surf, search for seashells or sit on sand dunes.
Port Charlotte, and it is certainly no surprise that it has one of the fastest growing populations in the state – diverse, naturally beautiful and weather to kill for, people are moving, and vacationing here, more than ever before. Look closely – you might spot a manatee in the river, making its way slowly to Charlotte Harbour and from there, the Gulf of Mexico.
Further down the road, Cape Coral, with 400-plus miles of canals, makes for a fishermen’s paradise and just across the water is Fort Myers. Together, Cape Coral and Fort Myers make up the two major cities in the metropolitan statistical area. Even though Cape Coral now has a larger population (twice the size of Fort Myers), it is still thought of as a suburb of Fort Myers, and still considered to be the ‘major city’ in south west Florida.
Or, if you are looking for something more idyllic, the islands of Sanibel and Captiva (“The Shellacious Islands”) might be more to your liking. Meander along beautiful beaches, laden with shells ripe for collecting (but not any live ones!). Or, relax on the peaceful dunes for a sunset picnic. Turn your hand to snorkelling, exploring the pristine sands.
Finally, Marco Island is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, at located right at the northernmost tip, just south of Naples. White beaches (three and a half miles, to be precise), kayaking, canoeing, fishing, shelling, charter boats, hiking, golf, air boating, camping, yachting – are all the things you can do outside… Imagine what you can do inside – clubs, galleries, fine dining, shopping… What a way to finish a trip down the gulf coast!
When people think of Florida they generally think of Disney World in Orlando yet there is so much more to this state that makes it a favorite vacation destination. With beautiful sandy beaches from Key West at the very southernmost tip to Miami or Pensacola on the east coast or Tampa on the Gulf side, you can choose Florida vacation rentals that will entice you to return again and again.
Florida has something for everyone – You can see historic St. Augustine with its quaint shops that is the oldest city in the United States or go visit Cape Canaveral to see the Kennedy Space Center. The Daytona International Speedway offers exciting motorsports for racing enthusiasts or you can take in the Everglades where you can hike or explore it in a canoe or visit the Everglades Museum. For those who want to see alligators you can get up close and personal at the Everglades Alligator Farm where you can take an airboat tour.
If you want to see live crocodiles and other exotic creatures you can visit Gatorama or you can watch Swamp Buggy Races at Florida Sports Park. For those who like a little adventure you can literally swim with the dolphins at A Dolphin World in southeast Florida. The Gulf World Marine Park has sea lion and dolphin shows as well as a sting ray petting zoo for those who like a bit of excitement! Cypress Gardens is a botanical garden that has popular water skiing performances and other regular events for visitors.
In Tallahassee you can visit the Antique Car Museum or go to the Museum of History and Natural Science that is an outdoor museum located on a series of lakes and features many historic buildings including a 1880s farm. For those who like airplanes you can stop by the National Museum of Naval Aviation that has many restored planes from the Coast Guard, Marines and the Navy.
For those who like a more tranquil atmosphere at Butterfly World you can experience tropical flowers and plants in a spectacular garden setting or in Delray Beach you can visit the beautiful Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens that has picnic areas along with nature trails and a bonsai collection. Another site that is great for everyone is the Audubon House and Gardens that has lush tropical gardens as well as lots of local history about the well-known painter.
No matter where your Florida villa rental is you can find a great place for fishing – either deep sea fishing or more subdued fishing on the many lakes in Florida. To experience the thrill of sport fishing in virtual reality you can visit the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum which also offers a four acre wetland and marina. At the Miami Seaquarium you can see all types of sea life including manatees and sea turtles or visit the Monkey Jungle to see monkeys diving for crabs in a tropical rainforest setting.
Wherever you go there is always something for everyone – young or old – to experience a wonderful Florida vacation.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
New online registration for entry into USA came into force 12th January 09.
International travelers who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are now subject to enhanced security requirements. All eligible travelers who wish to travel under the Visa Waiver Program must apply online.
For the lates advice visit,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Travel Advice United States
King Charles Street
Telephone  (00 20 7008 1500
Visas to the United States
Embassy of The United States - London UK
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
Telephone  (0)20 7499-9000