Take a moment to think of cities whose name alone conjures up images of sun-drenched beaches, tantalizing nightlife, and some of the most exciting theme parks known to man. Chances are, two of Florida’s top leisure destinations, Miami and Orlando, will stand out prominently in your mind. The former was tied with Washington DC for fourth place on the Forbes list of America’s Most Entertaining Cities (2009). Not surprisingly, Orlando and Tampa were well represented in Forbes List of the 25 Most Visited Tourist Destinations in America(2009), with Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando Resort / Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld Orlando, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay all making the cut. Even West Palm Beach, known for its historic neighborhoods and lively festivals, has been cited as one of the best places in the country to live and work. Has it whet your appetite for an affordable vacation to the Sunshine State this year? If so, follow the tips below to savor the best of sultry Florida without putting a dent in your bank account.

1. Book in advance!

If you are a price conscious traveler, you definitely want to book as far in advance of your trip as possible. The travel industry has seen a marked change in a year: While travelers could afford to wait until the last minute to book the lowest rates on accommodation in 2009, they are now charging higher rates near check-in. Although the Internet may seem like the best option for finding the lowest rates, you can get even bigger savings by picking up the phone. For example, by calling toll-free call centers, travelers can take advantage of unpublished rates that are typically 10% to 25% and up to 50% lower than those listed online. There are a host of hotel deals up for grabs on properties including Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, Majestic Hotel South Beach in Miami, Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites in Tampa, and The Bradley Park Hotel in West Palm Beach.

two. Courtesy is key.

I think we would all agree that while cheap is good, free sounds much better. Orlando properties such as Regal Sun Resort, Royal Plaza Hotel and Sheraton Vistana Villages offer free internet access and free shuttle service to all four Walt Disney World theme parks. If you are traveling with children, you will save a package on food costs thanks to the Kids Eat Free programs offered by Regal Sun Resort, Royal Plaza Hotel, Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista and other select hotels. If the hotel doesn’t have an entertainment book, you may be able to get one at a convenience store. These handy books are packed with restaurant coupons and convenient discounts on Florida attractions ranging from the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa to Gatorland in Orlando. If you prefer to shop for bargains online, try sites like orlandocoupons.com.

3. Buy theme park tickets in advance and online.

You will undoubtedly save time and money by purchasing park passes online before your arrival. For example, by purchasing Universal Orlando tickets online, you can save $ 10 off the admission price on all multi-day tickets, as well as receive a coupon book with up to $ 150 savings with any multi-park park-to-park ticket. days. buys. Here’s an unbeatable deal for Tampa-bound travelers: Florida residents with a 2010 Busch Gardens Fun Card only need to pay less than the cost of a 1-day visit ($ 69.95) to enter Busch Gardens for free during the The rest of the year. Walt Disney World also offers discount programs for Florida residents, including 4 days for $ 99 with the 4-day Dream Pass. Even if you’re not a Florida resident, you can get substantial savings with a Walt Disney World Pass, which allows unlimited year-round entry to all 4 Disney parks, plus discounts on food, sports and recreation, tours, and more.

Four. Take advantage of membership discount programs and Twitter deals.

If you are a member of any special organization that offers discounts, you can enjoy a host of membership benefits, including reduced hotel rates. Just by showing your card, you can save on everything from car and clothing rentals to sports and food. Additionally, members are eligible for discounted admission rates at most theme parks. For example, you can save $ 3 on regular all-day admission to Adventure Island in Tampa, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld Orlando, and Wet ‘n Wild. Plus, by following your favorite travel companies on Twitter, you can get access to exclusive travel deals available for a limited time only.

5. Enjoy a host of free Florida sites and attractions.

Who says traveling to Florida has to be all about roller coasters and Mickey Mouse? Travelers can hit some of the state’s most popular sites and attractions, starting with its pristine beaches, without having to shell out a penny. The state is also filled with green parks of varying sizes, from Tropical Park in Miami to Big Tree Park in Orlando, where you can enjoy leisure activities for the whole family such as fishing, hiking, biking, and canoeing.

While the temperature in Florida is rising, your travel expenses don’t have to be. With a little planning, a Florida vacation could turn out to be much more affordable than you might expect. So head to the Sunshine State and have fun, but don’t forget to bring your sunscreen!

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