Everyone knows about Florida. Most people know that Miami is the hometown of many rich and famous celebrities as well as the best place to visit for amazing Cubano sandwiches. You may be aware that Daytona Beach is pretty much the home of the biggest spring break parties in the United States and even that Walt Disney World is a huge attraction in the state.
Florida is often called the Sunshine State, which means it is one of the top destinations for vacations in America. People come from all over the globe to spend time at the theme parks, beaches, and parties that the state is known for. The reality is that this state is the ideal destination for almost anyone from almost anywhere. There are fun options available for families, younger travelers, older travelers, and even children.
We mentioned some of the top attractions in Florida, including Disney World, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld, and those are all exciting things to take in while in the state. College students and those looking for a party might end up in Panama City or Miami while those who want something lower key can visit Amelia Island or the Florida Keys.
With so much to see and even more to do, it’s not surprising that thousands come to the state every year and keep coming back in future years. If you are visiting the state and you are on this blog, you probably want to know how Florida stands up to the other states when it comes to two things: dog friendliness and coffee. The good news is that you have nothing to worry about either way. The state has everything you could need to have a good time and stay caffeinated while you do it.
Tips, Tricks, and Things You Should Know When Visiting Florida
Did you know that if you started on the Western part of the panhandle of Florida and drove all the way through to the southern tip in Key West, you would have gone over 800 miles? Knowing this might make you understand exactly why the state is so diverse in the areas of demography, climate, and geography. Before you and your dog go on a trip to the state, there are many things you should be aware of first.
One State Composed of Many Parts
If you split Florida up into all of its regions, there would be a lot. There’s the Panhandle, the Southeast, the Northeast, the Southwest, Central Florida, and the Keys. While lots of states have different locations, what makes Florida unique is that each of these regions has a totally different feel to it. The central and northern areas of the state need to be more conservative than the communities near the coast. The land tends to be similar to that of southern Georgia while the terrain of the Southeast region is more tropical. Having an idea of the nuances between these destinations can help you make the right decision about where to visit for your lifestyle and interests.
Hurricane Season is Serious Business
No matter where you are or where you have come from, you’ve probably at least heard about Florida’s annual hurricane season. What you might not be aware of is that the season lasts from the beginning of June all the way through the month of November. Sometimes major storms can form in a few days and they can either fall away immediately or turn into something more serious. The largest storms are most common in August and September while June and July tend to be safer times of the year. If you are going to be spending time in Florida, consider getting travel insurance just in case. If a storm is approaching while you are there, make plans to drive out of the projected path or even go home early if possible.
The Most Expensive Might Not Be When You Expect
While many vacation destinations are the most expensive in the summertime, that isn’t the case when it comes to Florida. In fact, winter is the most expensive and busiest season of the entire year. Rates climb from December through April since people are looking to escape their cold climates, avoid hurricanes, and avoid traveling when school is in session. Winter also happens to be the best time of year to go to the Everglades since the water levels, temperatures, and the number of mosquitos are lower than usual. This makes it easier to see the wildlife. On the other hand, the northern part of Florida is most popular between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Rain and Humidity Are Around in the Summer
You probably know Florida as the Sunshine State, which is no coincidence. In areas like Tampa Bay, the year can have up to 361 days of sunny skies. However, the state can also be pretty humid, which can be a bit daunting if you aren’t used to that or aware of it before you take your trip. If you are in the state between June and November, you can expect humidity levels of up to 90% and thunderstorms happen pretty often, too. More than half the rainfall in the state happens during those months.
Be Aware of What Sunscreen You Slather On
Having sunscreen in Florida is a must. Even if you have a day that is overcast, the ultraviolet rays are still going to be shining down so packing anything less than 15 SPF sunscreen is a bad idea. However, you also want to pay attention to what ingredients are in the sunscreen you have. Octinoxate and oxybenzone have been shown to cause damage to coral reefs, which is ruining the life of the oceans around the globe. As of the year 2012, any of those sunscreens with these ingredients are to be banned in Key West to keep the Great Florida Reef from becoming more damaged.
Keep Some Mosquito Repellent in Your Bag
The entire year round you are going to be seeing mosquitoes if you spend time in Florida. They are the most active in the summer months when it’s wet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there other times. Not only can these insects carry diseases like Zika and West Nile, but they can also leave itchy bites on human and pets alike. Make sure you pack some kind of repellent or bring along lemon eucalyptus oil to keep them away from you. It’s also a good idea to wear pants, long sleeves, and socks when you’ll be spending time out in nature. The outdoors should be avoided period during the hours of dawn and dusk when mosquitos are at their worst. If you are taking your pet along with you, be aware that mosquitos can give dogs and cats heartworm so they should be on a preventative medication.
You Probably Want to Rent a Car
Florida is massive and even the cities can be sprawling areas, so having a car is preferable for a vacation or visit. However, there are Lyft and Uber rideshare services available in most of the large cities. There is a fairly new express train service called Virgin Trains USA that makes passengers between Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale with plans to expand to Tampa and Orlando in the future. However, public transit may not be as efficient in the state as you are used to.
Respecting the Wildlife is a Must
Something you need to know if you want to see and interact with the wildlife in Florida is that much of it is endangered or at least protected because of development and overpopulation. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have an opportunity to take in the wildlife in nature in the state. In fact, Everglades National Park west of Miami has over 1.5 million acres of subtropical and tropical wetlands and is a veritable diverse ecosystem. However, you need to be aware of your actions and appreciate and watch the wildlife from far away.
Make Sure to Do Your Planning for Theme Park Excursions
Most people come to Florida to take in one, two, three, or even more theme parks, but you really want to plan things out before you do so. Make sure that you have a trip scheduled with enough time to take in the parks and attractions that you want. As an example, the Magic Kingdom has more than 40 attractions and six different lands to explore. On top of that, when you order tickets early, you can watch for discounts or consider upgrading to fast passes to save time.
You should also be sure to bring along your most comfortable shoes for all the walking. Keep in mind that park food is often quite expensive, so learn the food restrictions before you go in. Most parks allow you to bring in refillable water bottles and some will let you bring in your own snacks. After you get into the park, think about using mobile apps like the My Disney Experience so you can easily navigate the park and purchase items quickly for less stress during the experience.
Know Which Beaches You Should Bother Visiting
If you haven’t already decided what beach to visit, that’s something that is worth considering. The different coasts offer extremely different things. For instance, the east coast beaches are often crowded and narrow or wide and empty depending on the location you go to. The beaches on the west coast are large and peaceful in comparison to the east coast where lots of partying occurs on the beaches. East Coast also tends to have high rises and hotels near the water while developments are farther back from the shores on the west side of the state. However, east coast beaches can sometimes get filled with seaweed and Gulf beaches can at times have Red Tide, which is toxic.
Watch Out for the Beach Conditions
Red Tide is a kind of algae that is harmful and present sometimes in Florida on the beaches. It can make the water change colors and lead to respiratory and eye infections in humans. While Red Tide is nothing new to the state, it’s believed that the dirty water from Lake Okeechobee and runoff from agricultural activities have created more intensity of the Red Tide. The most common times to see the blooms of this algae is from August to December.
Where to Get a Great Cup of Coffee in Florida
If you’re here, you’re a pet lover, but you also love having a caffeinated beverage in your hand. We wanted to search through the thousands of coffee shops in the state and give you an idea of the best of the best to try while you’re in the state. While it’s simple to find the local corporate coffee spot, sometimes specialty coffee is what you want to start or end your day. Below, we’ll talk about the best spots to get an espresso shot, a latte, or a macchiato when vacationing in the Sunshine State.
Vagabond Coffee – Jacksonville
If you’re in Jacksonville and you love some coffee, the best you can get might be at Vagabond Coffee. This Murray Hill neighborhood spot is inviting and cozy, which had made it into a neighborhood favorite for the indie crowd. It doesn’t matter what kind of coffee is your favorite. You can get a nitro-infused cold brew, an espresso that puts a huge pep in your step or pick something altogether different and it will be very enjoyable. On top of that, this spot also offers really great pastries to enjoy with your beverage.
Foxtail Coffee – Winter Park
This café is known for sourcing the best possible beans from sustainable farms all around the globe. The locals in the area love the single-origin brewed-to-order coffee that comes in French press, pour-over, and siphon options. Even those who aren’t big on coffee rave about how great the matcha tea latte is. Of course, a great cup of joe is the biggest reason to spend time in the Foxtail, but it’s also a lofty space designed with modern black tile and wooden beams making it an attractive place to spend time.
Concord Coffee – Lakeland
Concord Coffee is located in the middle of historic downtown Lakeland. It also happens to be known for its exceptional cold brew coffee and pour-over brews. The place is a treat to walk into and has a special atmosphere you will not find anywhere else. The coffee bar is the biggest thing that the café has going for it and why most people stop in, but what you will also find is a huge selection of tea and servers who are happy to share a dose of coffee knowledge with you.
The Lab Coffee – Tampa
The Lab does have a retail space that is open to the public, but it’s the first place in this area of Florida also to offer a collaborative roasting facility. The community vibe and open concept of the building is something special in the area. It also makes for an opportunity to check out some blends you may have never seen elsewhere in a stripped-down and chill atmosphere that you are sure to love.
Perq Coffee Bar – Sarasota
When you get a cup of coffee at Perq, it isn’t just some diner drivel that you might expect from a random coffee house. All coffee is brewed using the purest ingredients and with a high degree of precision. There are many single-origin sourced coffees at this spot with a huge amount of complexity. If what you need is something new to wake you up and make you feel good about your day, Perq might be the spot for you. This is only accurate if you care about being environmentally responsible.
Warsaw Coffee Company – Fort Lauderdale
This is the sort of place where you’ll find a following of loyal laptop carrying professionals who want to enjoy great coffee every workday. The café itself is super comfortable to hang out in and offers locally-roasted and exceptionally prepared coffee beverages. If you want to try something a lot like heaven, give a silky cortado with one of the house-made pastries a shot. We recommend the pastelito with guava and cheese.
Subculture Coffee – West Palm Beach
What makes Subculture different from all the coffee spaces in the same area is its practice of small-batch roasting. Every day, beans are freshly roasted at their facility and then delivered immediately for the promise of some of the freshest morning coffee in the world. The coffee shop does coffee right, but they also work to make the space somewhere the whole community can enjoy with events in collaboration with artists and other food artisans.
All Day – Miami
There are plenty of fun places to visit and explore in Miami, but All Day is one that you should definitely be aware of. This coffee house offers a simplistic but bright environment and some truly amazing coffee. The aesthetic doesn’t define the shop either though. You can expect great coffee with a rotating drink special. You can try out the Thai iced coffee with xocoatl mole bitters or drown your drink in housemade syrups and milk.
Mountaineer Coffee – Brooksville
If you take the highway an hour north of Tampa, Mountaineer is a place you might pass right by if you weren’t aware it was there. The building is understated and dark with a feeling that feels chic among the neighboring buildings, which are brick and historical. The wife and husband team that own the shop are committed to offering the best daily roasted beans in the area. Try the homemade pop tart and a flat white and you’ll forget you aren’t in a major city with dozens of coffee houses within reach.
Bandit Coffee – St. Petersburg
Bandit is a shop happy to offer single-origin coffee and does so in a minimalist space with a multi-roasted coffee house that has a somewhat limited menu. This isn’t the kind of place where you’ll find dozens of mixers to add to your iced coffee like some spots. However, what you will find are carefully selected, delicious blends, friendly service, and great espresso from the Slayer machine on the counter.
Credo Coffee – Orlando
This non-profit coffee shop is globally conscious and only works with direct-trade vendors. There are suggestion prices on the menu, but the café takes donations so the community can decide what to pay for the presence of a great latte that was made while having a positive impact on the coffee farmers who made that drink possible in the first place.
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Outdoor Activities With Your Pooch in Florida
Once you, your family, and your pooches are all settled in at a hotel or bed and breakfast in Florida, you’re going to want to spend some time letting your pet exercise throughout the trip. Nobody wants to spend every second in a hotel room and that includes your dog. That’s why we wanted to share a few of our favorite outdoor destinations in the state that you and your dog will love.
Fort De Soto Dog Beach Park – St. Petersburg
This dog park consists of a large fenced-in area with separate space for small dogs and large dogs. There are even dog showers so you can cool off your dog on hot summer days. The dogs can be anywhere in the park with a six-foot leash and can gooff-leash on the beach at the Paw Playground. Drinking water is available and plenty of guests, both human and canine spend time at the park. There are many parks, camping spots, and a Spanish fort to explore along with picnic areas and other amenities.
Gulfside Beach – Sanibel
Sanibel Island has many different pet-friendly beaches, but this is one of the most popular of them all. Part of the beach is right next to the city and a federal nature preserve. This beach is home to many endangered and threatened sea turtles and shorebirds most of the year so dogs must be on a leash of no longer than eight feet long. Owners must also make sure to clean up after their pets. This beach has wash stations, restrooms, and picnic tables available. Be aware that there is an hourly parking fee if you come between 7 am and 7 pm.
Jupiter Beach – Jupiter
One of the best off-leash dog beaches in Florida is Jupiter Beach. Dogs can roam and play on a certain part off the beach that goes along A1A by Ocean Cay Park. There is a free parking area at Ocean Boulevard and Marciniski Road or along the beach. This beach is dedicated to cleanliness and dog-friendliness by promoting rules and cleanup activities. Keep in mind that dogs cannot be in the lifeguard areas or Town of Jupiter Parks.
Bonita Beach Dog Park – Ft. Myers Beach
This dog beach is a strip of land located on the outside of Lover’s Key State Park on the Bonita Springs/Ft. Myers line. It is off-leash, so your pet can rip and run in the calm water of the Gulf of Mexico. There’s no need for leashes, there are no fences, and no worries to be had. Even some people come to hang out with the dogs who don’t own one of their own. While you won’t see the beach from the road, you can follow signs to the area. Keep in mind that during high tide, you may have to do a bit of wading. There is a portable toilet there, but no running water so bring some along for your pet.
Haulover Beach Park – Miami Beach
This beach park offers a Bark Park that has an enclosure for dogs over 35 pounds and one for dogs smaller than that. It’s found through parking lot 3 on the west side of Collins Avenue when going south or parking lot 4 if you are going north instead. The park has picnic tables, shade trees, and drinking fountains for dogs and owners alike. There are also waste containers and bag dispensers so owners can clean up after their pets. The park is open every day of the week from 8 am until sunset.
Ft. Lauderdale Canine Beach – Ft. Lauderdale
Ft. Lauderdale allows dogs as long as they are on a leash at a large marked portion of the beach. There are beach showers, dog bags, and water available at the park. A city officer is on-site to help out if any problems occur. The beach is near the road, but with dunes and an officer, the only real problem you will run into is parking. Keep in mind this beach is open only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A permit for the weekend is $7 for a single dog.
The Most Dog-Friendly Restaurants in the State of Florida
Now that you know where to go for some puppy exercise, let’s think about food. Not every restaurant lets dogs on the premises, which can make it hard to grab a meal with the whole family. Thankfully, Florida is fairly dog-friendly and there are many places to grab grub with your dog. Below, we’ll share a few of our favorites so you have an idea of where you can go and what your options are before you get there.
Sail Pavilion on the Riverwalk – Tampa
This restaurant is an open-air and dog-friendly spot located on the waterfront of Tampa Riverwalk. It offers amazing 360-degree views, a full bar, and a menu that includes light appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. You can get to the hot spot by car or you can do so by boat through the Seddon Channel. There’s even public docking right in front of the restaurant. The restaurant has stainless steel dog water dishes, free dog treats, a cleanup station, and a dog menu with several smoothies, so your canine buddy goes home happy.
Dexter’s of Thornton Park – Orlando
Dexter’s is a happening spot that prides itself on offering a relaxed and fun atmosphere along with a handcrafted menu of lunch and dinner menu items. The dishes change on a monthly basis and the menu also includes wine, port, sherry, and champagne by the glass. The brunch is the real standout if you get a chance to try it. This dog-friendly restaurant offers free live music, a creative culinary environment, and brilliant artwork all at a very reasonable price.
Relax Grill – Orlando
At Relax Grill, you get to enjoy beautiful views of the Lake Eola while your pet pooch can enjoy 5,000 square feet of outdoor dining space in a beautiful location. The menu is Mediterranean inspired with dishes like chicken kebabs, Greek salads, shrimp po’boys, grilled grouper, blackened chicken Caesar wraps, and gyros. Everything tastes good and the price is right for almost everyone.
Mad Dogs & Englishmen – Tampa
If you are looking for great English pub food where dogs can dine with you, Mad Dogs is an excellent choice. This pub offers nice pints, good food, and the promise of an amazing time. The menu isn’t just typical bar food as it also serves English classics like shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and bangers and mash along with things like pizza, chops, steaks, and many different appetizers. Those who aren’t hungry can still come in with their dog to have a pint of Guinness on the sidewalk tables.
The Island Cow – Sanibel
The Island Cow is a dog-friendly relaxed and casual dining area on Sanibel Island that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is massive and includes a huge number of choices from steak and eggs to shrimp parfait, stuffed French toast, patty melts, Florida stone crabs, meatloaf, chicken fajita sandwiches, and great big burgers. Pets can come along with you and sit at the covered outdoor patio area.
Blue Heaven – Key West
If you have a well-behaved dog that can be around cats, chickens, and roosters, Blue Heaven might be the right dining destination for you. This restaurant is unique and kitschy, much like the city it lies in. The restaurant is best known for its breakfast menu, which includes everything from shrimp and grits to homemade granola and pecan pancakes. Those who aren’t into breakfast don’t need to worry, though. There is Caribbean inspired seafood at lunch and dinner. Dogs are welcome at the restaurant with you at the outdoor tables but must be leashed.
Florida Cracker Café – St. Augustine
This restaurant can be found in the historic district of St. Augustine and it has been a favorite of the locals for more than 20 years. This spot is known for offering local flavor influences and creates them using fresh ingredients. There are outdoor tables that are dog-friendly and a menu that includes fresh salads, seafood dishes, homestyle entrees, and sandwiches.
M Waterfront Grille – Naples
You and your dog alike can enjoy some fresh and unique chef creations and dog biscuits at M Waterfront Grille in Naples. The menu is upscale and includes items like pastaPomodoro, crab and shrimp spring rolls, braised short rib, Florida black grouper, and veal Milanese. The restaurant is a great spot for the whole family to enjoy some of the best food in the city with the dog happy with his own biscuits and bites from your plate if you allow that.
Babalu Restaurant & Bar – St. Petersburg
Babalu is a neighborhood restaurant and bar in St. Petersburg that has been serving great food and fantastic beverages since the 1950s. The menu is intensive, with more than 100 items on it. You’ll find fried oysters, snow crab legs, meatloaf, burgers, sandwiches, grilled pork chops, jumbo chicken wings, and a selection of wine, beer, and liquor. As long as you sit outside, this venue is very dog-friendly.
Deck 84 – Delray Beach
Deck 84 offers an amazing dining experience for both locals and boaters with a wide selection of craft beer and local seafood. Dogs who visit can have their own meal from a menu with things like Beggin’ for Beef or Chasin’ the Chicken while you both sit on the deck and enjoy the amazing view. Don’t’ worry because the food for humans is just as fantastic as it is for the canines so everyone will have a great dining experience.
Florida is a massive state, but it also happens to have a lot going for it. There are some of the best attractions on earth along with delicious restaurants, fun point of interests, sunny beaches with glittery sand, and so much more. If you have made the decision to spend time in the state for pleasure, business, or even as a relocation, it’s something you are hardly going to regret.
Florida is a great spot for coffee lovers and an outstanding one for dog lovers with so many activities and other locations that allow them in like family. You’ll have a great time on your vacation or trip as long as you make sure to follow some of the tips we gave above!
1. What is Florida famous for?
The Sunshine State of Florida is very invested in the tourist trade. The beaches are one of the most popular attractions in the state, but it also boasts some of the most well-known theme parks in the world, like SeaWorld, Disney World, and Universal Studios.
2. What is the best time to go to Florida?
If you are planning to spend a lot of time at the beach, the best time to visit for warm weather is between May and September. Keep in mind, however, that the mix of humidity and heat tends to be the worst in June, July, and August.
3. Why is Florida the Sunshine State?
Florida has held the nickname the Sunshine State since back in 1970. The state is fourth most populated in the United States and boasts a warm climate and sandy beaches that bring in thousands of tourists each year.
4. Who is the largest employer in Florida?
In the state of Florida, Walmart is the largest employer of people in the area based on a report done by 24/7 Wall St. What might be even more surprising is that Walmart is the top employer in 42% of states including Florida, Virginia, Illinois, and Ohio.
5. What’s the cheapest city in Florida to live in?
There are a handful of cities in Florida that have more reasonable prices than others. These include Kissimmee, Palm Coast, Cape Coral, Palm Bay, Orlando, and Gainesville.
6. Is Florida safe to visit?
Florida is one of the top-visited states due to all of the beaches and theme parks. It also happens to be a state with a moderate crime rate and is considered largely safe. However, the subtropical climate can be dangerous.
7. Does Florida have four seasons?
While a large number of countries and even states within the United States have four separate seasons, that isn’t the case for Florida. There are pretty much only two seasons: a wet season and a dry season.
8. What is Florida’s number one industry?
The number one industry in the state is tourism. However, there are many other things that drive the economy of the area. These include the life sciences, international trade, aviation, agriculture, and aerospace.
9. What is the wealthiest city in Florida?
Key Biscayne, which is a barrier island off the Florida coast south of Miami, is the wealthiest city in the Sunshine state. The average household brings in over $125,000 a year. This is almost $14,000 more than a household in Keystone, which is the second wealthiest city in the entire state.
10. Is Florida a good retirement state?
Florida is one of the top areas for retired individuals to move to for many reasons. It has the distinction of being the most affordable state in terms of taxes on inheritance, pensions, Social Security, and cost of living. It is the number one state in the U.S. for retirement moves.
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