South Florida is a region in the U.S. state of Florida. It is a widely diverse area; from its quiet, sparsely-populated central areas with a charming "Old Florida" feel to vibrant, oceanfront resort cities.
Some of the major cities in South Florida are:
- 1 Boca Raton — Outstanding landscaping, parks and beaches.
- 2 Fort Lauderdale — Hollywood Beach, deep sea diving, Butterfly World, thoroughbred racing.
- 3 Fort Myers — Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel and the exotic beaches of Captiva Islands.
- 4 Hollywood — Seminole Indian reservation, also known for its urban feel and the sprawling Hard Rock resort.
- 5 Key West — Charter saltwater deep sea fishing, kayak, scuba diving and snorkeling.
- 6 Miami — Boating, watersports, glass bottom boats, deep sea diving, cruising, various points of interest.
- 7 Naples — Beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, world-class shopping, golf courses and the nearby Everglades.
- 8 Palm Beach — The Island of Palm Beach offers pristine beaches with glistening views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- 9 Vero Beach — Disney's Vero Beach resort community with priorities on art, education, culture and lifestyles.
- 1 Everglades National Park
- 2 Big Cypress National Preserve
- 3 Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County
- 4 Biscayne National Park
|Climate chart (explanation)|
South Florida has a subtropical/tropical wet-and-dry climate. Generally, winters are warm and pleasant with little rain, though the occasional cold front may lower temperatures to abnormal levels. Spring and fall are similar, with elevated humidity and moderate chances for rainfall each day, while summers are notoriously (though bearably) hot. A typical summer day brings steamy and dry conditions in the morning, brief but heavy thunderstorms in the afternoon, and milder evenings with often spectacular sunsets. The dry season begins in October and lasts through the third week in May.
The hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, with the most likely time for South Florida to be hit being mid-August through October.
A wide variety of languages are commonly spoken throughout South Florida with increasing diversity near the major cities. The City of Miami for example has three official languages: English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. English, however, dominates and is the preferred language in South Florida.
Even in areas where English is not the native language, most people will be bilingual in the other language (although generally not the other way around for native English speakers). The simplest way to get treated in English is to use the "approach rule." Most locals will respond only in the language they were summoned in unless they are not able to speak it. This rule can be used on anyone whether or not their first language is Spanish, English, or any other language. In general the more south you go in South Florida (for instance, Miami-Dade), the more Spanish speakers there will be.
Occasionally, you may run into someone who is not fluent in English. If this happens, simply speak slowly and use only simple English. In a few places, especially near Miami, you may find someone that cannot speak any English. Even when encountering a local who does not speak English, one could easily find another local to help with translation if needed without much effort, since most of the population is fluently bilingual.
1 Miami International Airport (MIA IATA) in Miami and 2 Fort Lauderdale-Hollyood International Airport (FLL IATA) are the most popular entry points to South Florida from all over United States as well as surface transport to the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida, Orlando, and the local cruise terminals from Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood & Miami International Airports with multiple intercity bus and shuttle lines. There are direct international flights from Canada, South America, Central America and the Caribbean to both Ft Lauderdale and Miami and from Cuba, Europe, the Middle East (Israel, Turkey, UAE, Qatar); Mexico, Morocco and Russia to Miami only. There are also alternative airports with connections from all over the United States and seasonally from Canada, which may be closer to your final destination in:
- Interstate 75 runs south from Northern Florida through Tampa's eastern suburbs, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples, until crossing the "Alligator Alley" as a toll road to Fort Lauderdale before turning south to end in Miami Lakes.
- Interstate 95 continues south from the Atlantic Coast of the eastern USA through Treasure Coast cities into West Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale before terminating in Downtown Miami.
- Florida's Turnpike is a highway running all the way from Miami Gardens to the Gainesville area via Orlando. It is the main toll toad of the state as well as the region.
- US Hwy 1 runs continuously through many cities and towns as a local street, from Key West to Vero Beach. It runs parallel to I-95 and was the main highway through the area before the interstate highway was built in 1960.
- Florida Hwy A1A runs parallel to US Hwy 1 as the coastal highway along the east coast. It serves the beach communities as a local street (such as Collins Ave in Miami Beach or Ocean Dr in Ft Lauderdale) in the offshore islands/keys along the east coast. It is fragmented and does not run continuously from South Beach to Vero Beach. It runs concurrent with US Hwy 1 in places where it is not a separate road.
Amtrak provides inter-city rail service through all the major cities in South Florida. Two trains provide daily service, starting in Miami, making stops in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, and West Palm Beach, continuing north to Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and eventually Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, with both trains terminating at New York City's Penn Station. All of South Florida's Amtrak stations (except Miami) share platforms with the regional commuter rail service, Tri-Rail. The Miami Amtrak Station is in the industrial suburb of Hialeah on NW 32nd Ave, just north of NW 72nd St. Additionally, high-speed rail service is available within the region on Virgin Trains USA, also formerly known as Brightline, which operates between the downtown areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach seven days a week. Service to Orlando is set to begin in 2022.
Coastal cities have excellent year-round marina facilities, often serving some of the largest and most luxurious yachts in the world. Miami is home to the Port of Miami, the largest cruise ship port in the world. Fort Lauderdale also has a cruise port. There are no direct ferries from anywhere in South Florida or the Florida Keys to the Bahamas or Cuba.
Most intercity bus companies in the area have a scheduled stop at the Miami International Airport, Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the Cruise Terminals, and/or additional locations as stated in their websites. They typically connect Miami to Orlando in one direction and to Tampa (via Naples & Ft Myers) in the other via Ft Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Some may include Port St Lucie and/or Ft Pierce before going up towards Orlando. Other destinations served from Miami are Jacksonville via I-95 corridor and the Florida Keys via US Hwy 1 with the following:
- Flixbus, (bus stops) Miami Airport Intermodal Station, Bayside Market Place, Ft Luaderdale Tri-Rail/Amtrak Station, and W Palm Beach Tri-Rail/Amtrak Station. Connects with the Orlando area via Port St Lucie, W Palm Beach and Ft Lauderdale. Multiple departures a day. They also have additional local stops at Bay 'D' at the Intermodal Transportation Center by Miami International Airport. From $15.
- Greyhound Bus Lines, (bus stations/stops) Miami, Ft Lauderdale, W Palm Beach Amtrak/Tri-Rail Station, Port St Lucie, Ft Pierce (opposite side of the railroad tracks from the Intermodal Center; connected to Intermodal Center by pedestrian bridge), ☏ , toll-free: . Service from Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Naples and Jacksonville via Ft Lauderdale. They also go south to Key West via the Keys. They also have additional stops at 4450 NW 20th at NW 20th & Perimeter Rd and at American Chevron on 15821 NW 27th.
- Jet Set Express, (bus stops) Miami Airport, Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Sheridan St Tri-Rail Station, Florida Turnpike (Terminal J, Door 26 on the), ☏ . Venue at stop open 24/7. Thrice-daily departures to Ft Pierce, Kissimmee, Orlando from the Miami International Airport and the Regency Hotel near the airport. They also have additional stops in Miami Beach, the cruise terminal and downtown Miami. Check schedules as those other stops are serviced once or twice daily.
- Megabus, (bus stops) Miami Airport Intermodal Station, Sheridan St Tri-Rail Station. Service from Orlando and Tampa to Miami via Ft Lauderdale.
- Our Bus (Operated by different bus companies on contract to Our Bus), Terminal B of the Port of Miami Cruise Terminal, Ft Lauderdale Airport, ☏ . Operates service to/from Ft Lauderdale Airport, Tampa, Sarasota and Ft Myers. Fares range from $10 to $22 or more.
- Redcoach, (bus stops) Miami International Airport, Ft Lauderdale Hollywood Airport, W Palm Beach, Ft Pierce, ☏ , toll-free: . Service from Tallahassee via Gainesville, Ocala, Orlando, W Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale. They also run a separate route to Naples and Ft Myers from Miami.
Hire a car to explore the unique countryside areas and to get around locally in the urban areas. If not the following are available:
- Greyhound Lines, (Miami Bus Station) 3801 W 21st (opposite side of the railroad tracks from the Intermodal Center; connected to Intermodal Center by pedestrian bridge and to the airport by shuttle train.), ☏ , toll-free: . Connects Miami to Vero Beach (via Hollywood, Ft Lauderdale, W Palm Beach, Jupiter, Port St Lucie, Ft Pierce); Key West (via Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Key); and to Fort Myers (via Hollywood, Ft Lauderdale, W Palm Beach, Belle Glade, Clewston). Travelers will require transfer in Orlando or Ft Myers to reach Naples from Miami. Check schedules.
- Redcoach, (bus stops) Miami International Airport, Ft Lauderdale Hollywood Airport, W Palm Beach, Ft Pierce, ☏ , toll-free: . Redcoach has one route that passes through Ft Lauderdale, Naples, Ft Myers and Tampa on its way between Miami Airport and Tallahassee.
Travelers can travel the I-95/US Hwy 1 corridor by a series of county operated buses from Key West to Vero Beach. Doing so will require multiple transfers via multiple stops, on limited schedules, and take longer time than by Greyhound bus. Some of them also offer routing along the coastal FL-A1A Hwy (for travel along Florida's east coast). They are intended as local public transportation within the same county (or city) and into an adjacent county with the following:
Florida Gold Coast:
A faster way to get between Miami, Ft Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is by train with Tri-Rail orBright Line/Virgin Trains USA Passengers connect to a local city bus from the Tri-Rail Station to the final destination. The following operate buses as public transportation in the 'Gold Coast' area:
- Miami Dade Transit operates the Metrobus, Metromover, and Metrorail (an elevatedrapid transit train) between Miami, Miami Beach, Doral, Hialeah, Homestead, Florida City, Opa Locka and other points in Miami-Dade County. Connections to Monroe County Transit in Marathon Key (Rt #301) and to Broward County Transit in Hallandale Beach (Rt 'E'/105).
- Broward County Transit (BCT) Local public transportation between Ft Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Coral Springs and other points within Broward County. They also operate express connections to Miami on the 95 Express (Pembroke Pines & Miramar to Miami Civic Center on 3 separate routes) and the 595 Express (BB&T Center to Miami Civic Center & Miami/Brickrell on 2 separate routes)
- Palm Tran Local public transportation between West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Riviera Beach, Jupiter/Jupiter Beach, Wellington, Belle Glade and other points in Palm Beach County. Connections to Borward County Transit in Deerfield Beach.
In Treasure Coast:
- Martin County Public Transportation (MARTY) offers connections between Stuart and Port Solerno(Rt #1) and to Indiantown. They also offer local public transportation within Stuart (Rt 2 & 3) and Port Solerno (Rt 4-5). Connections to Palm Transit in Palm Beach Gardens Mall and the VA Medical Center in Palm Beach Gardens (20x) and to the Treasure Coast Connector at Port St Lucie Wal-Mart north of the county line (Rt 1).
- Treasure Coast Connector operates bus service between Port St Lucie and Ft Pierce and local service with Port St Lucie and Ft Pierce in Port St Lucie County.
- GoLine IRT is the Indian River County public transportation system with bus service on 15 fixed routes throughout Indian River County (in and around Vero Beach).
In Southwest Florida:
- Collier Area Transit (CAT) is public transportation for Naples, Immokalee, Marco Island and Golden Gate City (Santa Barbara) in Collier County. They also offer connections to LeeTran in Coconut Mall in Lee County via their 'LINC' (R 600) route from Creekside Transfer Center.
- Lee Tran operates local bus service between Fort Myers, Ft Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Pine Island (Rt #600) and Lehigh Acres in Lee County.
- Charlotte County Transit Service area consists of all of Charlotte County and includes the Charlotte County portion of Englewood, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and the surrounding areas; including Lake Suzy area in Desoto County.
In The Florida Keys:
- Keys Shuttle, (shuttle stops) Ft Lauderdale Airport, Miami Airport, ☏ , toll-free: . The company provides door-to-door service to the Keys from the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airports (and vice versa).
- Miami-Dade Transit Rt #301 connects Florida City to MM 50 on Marathon Key via Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada. Passengers continue north on the 34 Express or THE 38 Busway/MAX route from Florida City to the Miami Dadeland South Metrorail Station for the rest of the way into Miami.
- Monroe County Public Transportaton operates local bus services within Key West and up to Marathon Key via Boca Chica, Saddleback, Middle Torch and Sugar Loaf Keys. There are no public bus services in the part of Monroe County on the mainland (Everglades NP and Everglades City).
The private Brightline service runs between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and is to be extended to Orlando by 2022. This "higher speed/almost high speed rail" service is the only privately owned and operated intercity railroad in the United States. The whole journey takes 1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and a further 45 between there and West Palm Beach - about the same time as driving in good traffic and an hour quicker than an equivalent Tri-Rail trip (although Tri-Rail has more stops and thus may be more convenient in certain areas). Both run on separate tracks and use separate stations.
- Marco Island, Captiva Island, and Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida.
- Sebring International Raceway in Sebring.
- Coral Castle in Homestead is an odd complex of stone structures, built with enormously heavy stones, and allegedly by one man, without the help of modern equipment.
- Fakahatchee Strand State Park -The wild orchids.
- Miami Seaquarium aquarium on Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay in the city of Miami with a pair of local Manatees.
- Lincoln Road in Miami Beach - a popular pedestrian mall lined with shops, sidewalk cafes, bars and galleries.
- City of Miami Cemetery is a historic cemetery in Miami.
- Florida Lighthouses are numerous and beautiful in South Florida, take some time to visit these iconic images of the coast.
- Discovery Cruise Line sails every day to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale, departing at 7:45AM & returning at 10PM. It offers a One-Day Bahamas Party Cruise, and Cruise 'N Stay Bahamas Resort Getaways
- Butterfly World in Coconut Creek. Amidst thousands of flowers, tropical plants, waterfalls, gardens, and classical music, Butterfly World is a unique, breathtaking site that is one of Florida's leading tourist attractions.
Much of Miami's population comes from internal migration from other parts of the country and from immigration. Greater Miami is known as a cultural melting pot, where people maintain some of their cultural traits. The overall culture of Miami and Miami-Dade is heavily influenced by its large population of ethnic Latin Americans and cultures from Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, the Bahamas, Cuba and who are mainly Spanish or Haitian Creole.
Enjoy such meals such as a Cuban dish of ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base), black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer.