Festive Fun in the Sunshine State and the Big Easy

It's never too early to make amazing Christmas and New Year plans, right? Especially when you could be jetting off to unwrap a whole load of fun in the States! Blogger Laura Francis shares her time on the Florida Xmas/New Orleans New Year tour...

Check out the whole tour itinerary


If you're tired and bored of the same old, same old every time the festive season descends upon us, then maybe you should think about jetting off to the Sunshine State for a bit of winter sun and something a lot more unique.

After being diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 25, it made me come to the realisation about a lot of things in my life. I've always had a passion for gaining an insight into different cultures and visiting various countries around the world, but I've only recently plucked up the courage to just go for it. Besides, it's better to be disappointed about the things you did do rather than the things you didn't do. 'Oh well' is much better then 'what if?'

When I decided on booking a Florida Xmas/New Orleans New Year TrekAmerica tour, with an extra few days in Miami, it was the perfect opportunity to get some much needed ink on my passport. For my first ever trek, I wasn't disappointed at all...

Trek America Florida Christmas, New Orleans New Year

If you do decide to do this particular tour, then I would strongly recommend that you spend at least an extra few days in Miami beforehand. Otherwise, you're missing out on such an amazing, buzzing place. Also, it helps to get used to the different time zone so that you won't feel so tired when it comes to actual tour itself.

The Art Deco Walking Tour, a spot of shopping along Collins Avenue, doing a boat and/or city tour, basking in the Miami heat on South Beach and even an, umm, enlightening visit to the World Erotic Art Museum should all be on your to must-see and must-do list when you visit Miami. After meeting my tour leader and the other members of the group in The Clay Hotel, it was onto the actual Christmas celebrations in the Keys...

That drive along the seven mile bridge to Key West and being greeted by the turquoise seas and clear blue skies on Christmas Eve will absolutely take your breath away. In fact, that beautiful drive is an absolute must. It was definitely a million miles away from the stereotypical miserable English weather. Key West is such a gorgeous place and has some beautiful vintage-style architecture as a well as a buzzing nightlife.

Plus, it was so beautifully lit up at night-time with its Christmas decorations and lights. It reminded of one of those fun, upbeat movies that you see on Lifetime. It looks even better with all the Christmas decorations.

So the festive fun began on Christmas Eve where we went on a sunset cruise with a live band and went to Duval Street. I can think of much worse ways to spend Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day, we took to the water to do a whole day of watersports, where I fell in during the banana boat activity which was very scary. But overall, I absolutely enjoyed it. Then we watched the beautiful sunset over Mallory Square.

On Boxing Day, it was onto the Everglades where we indulged in a session of alligator spotting and an airboat tour. Later that evening we all hung out around the campfire with s'mores. Then we headed further up Florida and soaked up the sun with some beach time in Sarasota then for some fun at the Kennedy Space Center and Universal Studios, where we got to see the Macy's Holiday parade.

After the rainy weather in Panama City Beach, half of the group went bowling and the other half went to the cinema. Then it was onto our final destination if this amazing tour, New Orleans, where we attended an Usher concert on Jackson Square which was a teenage dream of mine! I couldn't believe it! Then we sampled some delectable New Orleans cuisine at The Gumbo Shop.

Trek America Florida Christmas, New Orleans New Year

I had no ideas what to expect in New Orleans but it turned out to be one of my favourite places to visit on the trip. After a steamboat ride along the Mississippi river, we later headed to Bourbon Street for some New Year's Eve celebrations where we rung in the New Year on Jackson Square with fireworks.

Overall, it was such an amazing experience with awesome people. If only it lasted a little bit longer...

I'm already thinking about booking my next trip and I have to say, I'm completely spoilt for choice as to where to go next. There are still so many places in the States that I would like to visit but also hopefully I'll get to visiting all 50 states as it's now on my bucket list.

If you're looking for a completely different and a more exciting way to spend the holiday season, then look no further than a Florida and New Orleans festive adventure and get booking!

What I'd give to re-live this whole experience again...


See the full Florida Xmas/New Orleans New Year itinerary

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