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performers and music. All these coastal resorts are close to Tampa, which many holidaymakers use as a base because of its airport and port. It is a holiday destination in itself, not only because of the nearby stunning beaches, but because it is packed with museums, galleries, shops and is home to the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ybor City is Tampa’s trendiest neighbourhood for nightlife and dining, and a 19th century historic district reflects the Cuban/Spanish heritage. Roll your own cigar at one of many factories in America’s cigar capital of the world and get in the mood for a fun-filled evening. Youngsters will love Tampa’s aquarium, waterpark, children’s museum and Lowry Park Zoo, which has more than 2,000 animals including elephants, leopards, tigers and cheetahs. The area’s most spectacular park is Busch Gardens, which is a combination of a zoo, safari park and





Busch Gardens has some of the most breathtaking rides in Florida, including roller coasters SheiKra and Kumba and the new 335ft drop tower Falcon’s Fury which plunges the bravest riders to the ground at 60mph


theme park and is sister park to SeaWorld in Orlando. It has more than 12,000 animals and 65 acres of the 335-acre park is safari-land where you can get up close to the animals by riding in the park's open-top trucks. Busch Gardens has some of the most breathtaking rides in Florida, including rollercoasters SheiKra and Kumba and the new 335ft drop tower Falcon’s Fury which plunges the bravest riders to the ground at 60mph.


Legoland by the lake For a gentler park experience, go inland to Winter Haven to find LEGOLAND Florida, which is on a beautiful lakeside setting and includes the tropical gardens of the former attraction, Cypress Gardens, along with 50 rides, shows and attractions. Ideally suited for children aged two to 12 but with the famous bricks enjoying a new popularity, the park’s superb structures of landmarks such as New York’s Empire State Building and Times Square appeal to all ages.


Check out the new Star Wars zone with scenes from all six movies. Then when you have explored all the themed areas, cool down in the adjoining waterpark. Speaking of water, Lakeland – first inhabited by Native Americans – between Orlando and Tampa has 38 named lakes, the largest being Lake Parker. The swans on the lakes are descendants of a couple sent to Florida by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth after alligators and pets wiped out the original birds. Go shopping in Downtown Lakeland for fashion, antiques and crafts in clay, glass, wood and metal by American artists. The Polk Museum of Art will appeal to history buffs and art lovers, and those who like gardens should not miss Hollis Garden, which has more than 10,000 flowers and plants. Go north through Zephyrhills to Dade City and visit the Pioneer Florida Museum to discover the life of the ‘Florida Pioneer Man’


A pier in the waters off Cocoa Beach plus wildlife that can be seen in Florida


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