Escape the Cold for Sunny Miami

Shake off your winter chill and visit the sunny and sandy beaches of Miami. See our recommendations on what other fun things to do and see when exploring this vibrant, hip city.

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Ybor City
Tampa Bay: Nightlife

Tampa Bay: Nightlife

A designated National Historic Landmark District, Ybor City is a lively neighborhood: It developed into a nightclub and entertainment district after its days as home to Florida’s Spanish, Cuban and Italian immigrants, as well as to its many cigar factories. 960 1280

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Charlotte: Nightlife

Charlotte: Nightlife

Easily accessible with its own stop on Charlotte’s light rail, EpiCentre is a hub for upscale dining, entertainment and nightlife. Along with restaurants, nightclubs and even bowling surrounding an open-air pavilion, EpiCentre offers amazing views of the Charlotte skyline. 960 1280

Bill Russ - visitnc.com   

Tampa Bay: Outdoors

Tampa Bay: Outdoors

Hop across the bay for the broad swaths of white sand at Clearwater Beach, which offers plenty of outdoor activities including jet skiing, parasailing and water biking. Don’t worry -- we’d never heard of water biking either, but it’s worth a Google. 960 1280

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Charlotte: Outdoors

Charlotte: Outdoors

The US National Whitewater Center just happens to be home to the world’s largest man-made recirculating river, providing rafting enthusiasts the chance to try their hand at Class II, III or IV white-water rapids. 960 1280

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Tampa Bay: Museum

Tampa Bay: Museum

Located in downtown Tampa’s River Arts District on the Riverwalk, the Tampa Museum of Art showcases 20th-century art, as well as Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. Grab a table at the museum’s SONO Café overlooking the Hillsborough River for Italian cuisine that embraces the “Slow Food” movement. 960 1280

inazakira, flickr   

Charlotte: Museum

Charlotte: Museum

Located in uptown Charlotte, Discovery Place isn’t just for kids. A science and technology museum, Discovery Place offers visitors interactive exhibits, activities, experiments and an IMAX Dome Theatre that provides an immersive movie experience. The museum recently underwent a $31.6 million renovation, enhancing its status as a state-of-the-art, must-see attraction in Charlotte. 960 1280

Matt Fletcher, flickr   

Tampa Bay: Neighborhood

Tampa Bay: Neighborhood

An upscale, open-air shopping district, Hyde Park Village is a trendy stop for anyone looking for the best of Tampa’s arts and entertainment. Among Tampa’s best restaurants and shops, a CineBistro recently opened, combining a movie theater with fine dining. 960 1280

Madison Marquette, flickr   

Charlotte: Neighborhood

Charlotte: Neighborhood

North Davidson, or NoDa for short, is the hub of Charlotte’s arts scene. Formerly made up of textile factories and mill workers’ homes, it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood is currently home to Charlotte’s trendy residents, as well as art galleries, music venues and hip restaurants. 960 1280

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Tampa Bay: Park

Tampa Bay: Park

A neighborhood oasis, Ballast Point Park offers stunning views of downtown Tampa. Perfect for picnics under the shady trees, jogging and even rollerblading, this park dates back to 1894. 960 1280

Judy Malley, flickr   

Charlotte: Park

Charlotte: Park

Known as the “Central Park” of Charlotte, the 98-acre Freedom Park has trails, tennis and volleyball courts, athletic fields and an indoor shelter (complete with a fireplace) that is available to rent for parties and even weddings. Visit in September for the 5-day Festival in the Park, overlooking the park’s center attraction: a 7-acre lake. 960 1280

cheriejoyful, flickr  

Tampa Bay: Sports

Tampa Bay: Sports

Tampa Bay loves its baseball, with the Tampa Bay Rays being their pride and joy. A state famous for being the home of Major League Baseball’s spring training, Florida named its team the Rays to represent the idea of the team being “a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida.” Catch a game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, a half-hour jaunt from Tampa. 960 1280

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Charlotte: Sports

Charlotte: Sports

As home to the recently opened NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte is proud of its racing culture. The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts prestigious NASCAR events, including Memorial Day weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 and the Sprint All-Star Race. 960 1280

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Tampa Bay: Transportation

Tampa Bay: Transportation

Tampa first had electric streetcars in 1892, but the line was shut down in 1946. The streetcars returned in 2002, making it easy to get around Tampa, like back in the good ol’ days. The TECO Line Streetcar System connects downtown and Channelside to the historic Ybor City district. 960 1280

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Charlotte: Transportation

Charlotte: Transportation

Public transportation is relatively new to Charlotte, with the LYNX light rail line opening in 2007. The light rail comprises 15 stations over 9.6 miles. The city hopes to expand its public transportations services completely by the year 2034. 960 1280

Lynx - Willamor Media, flickr   

Tampa Bay: Landmark

Tampa Bay: Landmark

At 214 feet tall, the Sulphur Springs Water Tower is visible from Interstate 275 as well as much of the rest of the Sulphur Springs Historic District. The water tower was built in 1927 where a lighthouse once existed that, according to local lore, guided European ships from the bay up through Hillsborough River to replenish their fresh water tanks from the local springs. 960 1280

Jason, flickr   

Charlotte: Landmark

Charlotte: Landmark

A water fountain designed by Czech sculptor David Černý, Metalmorphosis stands at the Whitehall Technology Park in Charlotte. At 14 tons, the massive sculpture is split into layers that rotate 360 degrees, occasionally aligning to form a face. It’s so mesmerizing that it has its own webcam. 960 1280

Michael Kuhn, flickr   

Tampa Bay: Food

Tampa Bay: Food

When in a state surrounded on nearly all sides by miles and miles of water, it would be a shame to miss out on some of the freshest seafood around. From Apalachicola oysters to spiny lobster, you can’t go wrong when it comes to Tampa’s seafood. 960 1280

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Charlotte: Food

Charlotte: Food

From ribs to pulled pork, there’s nothing quite like North Carolina’s barbecue. While in Charlotte, pile your barbecue sandwiches high with coleslaw just like the locals do. 960 1280

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Tampa Bay: Shopping

Tampa Bay: Shopping

Conveniently located near Tampa International Airport, International Plaza and Bay Street makes it simple for visitors to do some major shopping. This mall in Tampa’s Westshore business district opened in 2001, and happens to have a hotel on its campus -- one of only a handful of US malls to have such an amenity. 960 1280

International Plaza  

Charlotte: Shopping

Charlotte: Shopping

The 1,621,000 square feet of SouthPark Mall make it the largest mall in the Carolinas, not to mention the 10th largest on the East Coast and the 28th largest in the US. Located approximately 5 miles from uptown Charlotte, the mall is a central part of the upscale SouthPark neighborhood. 960 1280

Simon Property Group  

Marathon Beach
Marathon Beach

Marathon Beach

Spend the day on the 10-mile-long, family-friendly island of Marathon, Florida. Beachgoers have a choice of Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum Beach -- which is more of a natural beach area with an adjacent wetland area. Both beaches are popular spots for turtle nesting. 960 1280

Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau  

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Take a dive and explore the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo. It’s the world’s 3rd largest barrier reef with more than 6,000 species of marine life -- the perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling and fishing. And in case you didn’t know, the sanctuary also protects pieces of our nation’s history such as shipwrecks and other archeological treasures in the area. There are an estimated 1,000 shipwrecks off the Florida Keys. 960 1280

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Biking on Duval Street

Biking on Duval Street

Hop on a bike and go shopping along Duval Street in Key West. The famous street -- which runs north and south from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean -- has many famous restaurants and bars, including Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. On certain nights the fun doesn’t stop on this popular street until the wee hours of the morning. Duval Street is a popular pub crawl spot. 960 1280

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Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

The beach at Fort Taylor is the best in Key West. During the high season, enjoy a relaxing session of Yoga on the Beach. Tourists can also take a tour of Fort Zachary Taylor. It was built in the mid-1800s, and it played an important role in the US Civil War and the Spanish-America War. Aside from a guided tour, visitors to the state park can bike, fish, hike picnic and snorkel to pass the time. 960 1280

Barb and Dean, Flickr  

SpaTerre at Ocean Key Resort

SpaTerre at Ocean Key Resort

Enjoy the soaking tub ritual bath at SpaTerre at Ocean Key Resort in Key West. The well-renowned spa offers a variety of services, including a key lime margarita pedicure, volcanic earth clay ritual, morning dew facial, sacred stone massage and a milk and honey body wrap. 960 1280

Ocean Key Resort & Spa  

Hogfish Bar & Grill

Hogfish Bar & Grill

Head to Hogfish Bar & Grill to enjoy fresh seafood, panoramic waterfront views and outdoor dining. Located in Safe Harbor, Stock Island, this popular spot for locals has several menu favorites, including the World Famous Killer Hogfish Sandwich, Baja Fish Tacos and the Lobster BLT. There’s live music on the weekends and happy hour specials during the week. 960 1280

Cayobo, Flickr  

Kayaking

Kayaking

Looking for some outdoor fun? Lazy Dog Kayak, Key West Extreme Adventures, Blue Planet Kayak and Clear Kayak Adventures are just a few tour companies where tourists can rent kayaks or take an eco-tour of some of the most beautiful waterways in the Keys. 960 1280

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Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach

Go windsurfing on Smathers Beach, Key West’s largest public beach. The half-mile-long beach is located on the south side of the island off of South Roosevelt Boulevard. There are restrooms, ample parking, concession stands, chair rentals, bike paths, picnic tables, volleyball nets and watersports rentals for jet skiing, parasailing and windsurfing. 960 1280

Jim Sewell, Flickr  

Christ of the Deep

Christ of the Deep

The Christ of the Deep statue is one of the many things adventurers will see when diving into Key Largo Dry Rocks, a fairly shallow site that givers tourists a close view of the marine life. The statue is 1 of 3 statues made by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. It was donated to Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park in 1966. 960 1280

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Sloppy Joe's Bar

Sloppy Joe's Bar

Aside from a bicycle, a moped is another form of popular transportation in the Keys. So why not make a pit stop at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, located at the corner of Greene and Duval Streets since 1937. This popular restaurant and bar has live entertainment that begins at noon, and it’s just one of many restaurants that really come to life after dark. The band usually rocks until 2am, and the tables are cleared to make room for patrons to dance until 4 in the morning. 960 1280

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El Siboney Restaurant

El Siboney Restaurant

Some of the best Cuban food can be found at El Siboney, located in the heart of Key West’s Old Town. The family-friendly restaurant offers the best in authentic Cuban dishes, including popular menu items like the Cuban Mix Sandwich, Paella Valenciana, Siboney Steak and the Roast Pork -- with plantains, black beans and rice (pictured). 960 1280

Elizabeth Nicodemus, Flickr