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multiple questions

san francisco
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multiple questions

My friends and I will be flying into Tampa,FL & staying at a friend's place there. Our trip will be 11/17/06-11/27/06.

Questions:

1) Are there any nearby alternate airports to tampa,fl that we should consider which may result in a lower fare?

2) We are considering a trip to Orlando for 1 day, what are some of the must do's there?

3) Also planning on a few days in Miami, what are some of the must do's there? Which cruise is highly recommended for 2-3days? Is the keys better or bahamas?

4) What will the weather be like around that time? what is the general attire?

5) Which area has the best nightlife?

6) Restaurant recommendations for tampa, orlando & miami would be much appreciated.

7) How much is the sales tax?

8) Where are the best shopping spots?

9) Should I book my tickets now or wait?

10) Any recs for hotels in miami in a happening area?

Thanks!! =)

san francisco
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1. Re: multiple questions

sorry...posted in the wrong forum...moved to florida forum

Florida
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2. Re: multiple questions

First, you are travelling in high season in Florida, the farther south you travel the more expensive, that said, here are some useful answers. 1) You can try St. Pete Airport, though it usually caters to overseas charter flights, Sarasota to the south is more expensive to fly to. 2) Orlando- if want to do the Disney thing, pick a park for the day. If you have never been you will need the whole day, Since you have Disneyworld you might want to try something different, depending on age and wants. 3) Hit South Beach in Miami, day and night. Kind of a Latin Venice beach, too many places to eat in Miami to list. My personal favorite and a must for me is Joe's Stone Crab, pricey and a long wait, ahh but those stone crabs....4) Not a fan of cruises, so can't help you on that one, most of the cruise lines leave from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. 5) Miami- South Beach of course, Cocoanut Grove (the Grove as they call it) and for Tampa nightlife- Ybor City, your Tampa friend will know all about it, get a Cuban sandwich while you are there. 6) Restaurants- too vague, casual, fine dining need more specifics? 7) Sales tax depends on the county 6.5%-8$?? 8)Shopping, again bargains or high end? 9) Since your trip is over Thanksgiving I would recommend booking ahead, unless you are hoping for a last minute bargain. 10) Most of the action in Miami is on South Beach. There are hotels from the little motels to Courtyards/Best Western types to Ritz Carlton and the Mandarin Oriental...depends on what you wish to spend..hope this helps..The Miami forums have great information...:)

KANSAS CITY
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3. Re: multiple questions

Royal Caribbean has a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas and a 4 day to the Bahamas that includes the Keys. Both are on the Majesty of the Seas. I've done the 3 day and it was great. Just too short. I'm doing the 4 day in January. November is a good time price-wise. Prices run about $300-$350. and includes all meals, room and board.

I've been to Orlando several times and did both Disney and Universal. My preference is Disney. (I love the waterparks, but it will be too cold in November.) To me, Disney has more to offer. However, you cannot do Disney in one day. I recommend Magic Kingdom for an all day trip to Disney with kids. However, Epcot is nice too. Disney caters to both kids and adults. So don't frown up thinking it's just kiddie stuff. It's not! Maybe you can do Epcot during the day and the Magic Kingdom during the evening. Pick a day when Magic Kingdom stays open later than usual. Check out the Disney website for more info. Or do one park during the day and Downtown Disney at night. However, Universal is nice, but the theme parks close earlier than Disney. I jut didn't find it as entertaining as Disney.

I have found that Orlando and Tampa from the midwest can be less expensive to fly into. ($138 rd trip on Southwest) Orlando is a 1 hour drive from Tampa. Spend a day or two in Orlando. Then you could actually drive to Fort Lauderdale or Miami. Miami is 30 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale on I-95. Or take a leisurely down drive A1A South.

There are outlet malls galore in Florida! I plan to try Sawgrass Mills in the Ft Lauderdale are when I go down next month. I recall that this shopping and entertainment complex was advertised in Orlando. The reviews are pretty good. However, any major city in Florida has shopping to choose from. Miami is a ladies' shoe mecca!

As for timing, Southwest Airlines has real good fares to Florida right now. Check on booking deadlines. Air Tran flies into Miami and Ft Lauderdale.

Also, my understanding is that alot of people drive down to the Keys from Miami. There are also excursions to various South Florida attractions/destinations. South Beach is what you make it. It was nice to say I've been there a couple of time. It full of 20-somethings wearing bathing suits all around town and doing the things they do at that age. In November it should be a good time since most 20-somethings are in college. However, there will be some there. Beware of the college breaks and holidays. These 20-somethings have credit cards and South Florida books up quickly--especially around the beach areas.

South Florida is great! As much time as I spend there, I should qualify for the Florida resident discounts! You will have a great time!

san francisco
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4. Re: multiple questions

Wow! Thank you bubba89 & WALKERC for all the the useful info.

Bubba89-

-We would like to do the fine dining thing (preferabley one with a view & good food) at least twice on our trip & casual dining for the rest (any type of food is fine) so recs for both will be appreciated! =)

-Shopping: Outlets, popular shopping spots (upscale or casual), outdoor shopping areas

WALKERC-

How far is the drive from Orlando to Miami? Is it better to drive from tampa to miami , orlando to miami or fort lauderdale ? How far is the keys from miami?

Thank you both so much!!

KANSAS CITY
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5. Re: multiple questions

My pleasure, Caligirl!

I haven't done the drive down to Miami. I always fly in. Nor have I done the keys. But reviews and forums discuss driving down to the Keys quite abit. I'm thinking 4 hours or so. I can't recall exactly. Miami is also several hours from Orlando. Try MapQuest for driving directions and time.

By the way, I've done Joe's Stone Crab in Miami. It's really good! It is highly recommended as a popular fine dining establishment in SoBe. They have a take-out counter that is just as good with the same food as inside dining. This restaurant has been in the spotlight on the Travel Channel. That's how I found out about it, then I did internet research. There's one in Chicago too.

You might consider staying in Miami Beach if you don't do SoBe. The areas are right next to each other. Miami Beach is a pretty large area. SoBe is much smaller and sits between downtown and Miami Beach (somewhat). There is a nice Courtyard--reasonable prices in Miami Beach pretty close to SoBe. You can get toSBe in 5 m,inutes by car and 15 minutes by bus--or just walk south on the beach if you like walking. The Courtyard is also a beachfront property and has a Carrabas Italian restaurant on the premises.

I haven't done the Keys yet, but will when we do the 4-day cruise in January which includes an all day port stop in the Keys prior to returning to Miami.

Florida
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6. Re: multiple questions

Youre' welcome....answers to your questions....Fine dining in Tampa with a sunset view I would recommend Armani's (Italian) and Oystercatcher's (seafood/steak) both in the Hyatt by Tampa Airport on Courtney Cambell Causeway. Highly recommend Sunday brunch at Oystercatcher's, incredible buffet with everything you can think of and free flowing champange, on the water. In my opinion the number one dining experience is Bern's steakhouse. Visit their website for details, you can book reservations on line and do not skip the dessert room on the second floor. A very interesting experience, you can visit their wine cellar and kitchens while there, truly a one of a kind experience. For a local Cuban flavor, the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City, they serve lunch but at dinner they have spanish dance shows (flamenco). Since Tampa is the test market in the US for new chain restaurants, every one is represented in Tampa. TBO.com is the Tampa Tribune's website for more info. The Miami Herald website will help as well....Driving from Tampa to Miami taking I75 south to either Alligator Alley or 41 will take at least 4 hours depending your stops and speed. Orlando to Miami if you take the Turnpike (toll road) cuts through the state and takes 3.5 hours depending. Miami to Key West is about 2 hours, again how many stops and if you are stuck behind a sightseeing RV it could take longer. If you are coming all this way the keys are a MUST!........hope this helps...happy to answer any more......by the way have been to SFO area many times, when I win the lottery, gonna buy a place facing SFO bay in Tiburon...if only :)

Florida
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7. Re: multiple questions

Oops sorry forgot the shopping....in Tampa the International Mall next to the airport in the Westshore area has everything and a great eating area where you can sit outside as well, their is great shopping in the Hyde Park area as well, have to drive along Bayshore Blvd by downtown, longest continuous sidewalk in the US. When I am in Miami, visiting family the Falls (mall) and Aventura Mall are great shopping, and you MUST shop Cocoanut Grove and plenty of outside eating there as well, at that time of year it will still be warm in Miami and the Keys, it will be about 6-10 degrees cooler in Orlando and Tampa.......not a big "Disney" fan but really enjoy Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Universal and MGM...happy trails.......getting long winded sorry...:)

8. Re: multiple questions

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