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Budgeting on the Gold Coast

    It is surprising how inexpensive a stay in South Florida can be.  Though originally a travel Mecca almost exclusively based on a tourism economy, today South Florida's economy is only partially dependent on travelers and most residents do not work in the tourism industry.  The cost of living is relatively low compared to other major metropolitan areas and as a result the cost of goods and services away from the tourist areas is quite reasonable.  In fact, it is not uncommon for visitors to bring an empty suitcase in anticipation of plundering some shopping booty to take home.  Here are a few tips to help you decide how to get the most from your travel dollar.

bulletEmulate the locals, they know where the deals are so ask them where they shop and dine.
bulletRead the local papers, The Miami Herald, The sun Sentinel, the New Times.  Advertisers here are targeting residents and offer the best deals.
bulletChoose an accommodation with a small kitchen, eating out every meal adds up.  

And here is perhaps the best tip you can get . . . . Take the Car!  That's right . . . drive.  I recently took my family on the "See Florida like a Tourist" vacation for 10 days.  Saw the whole state and had a blast.  Remember, Florida and South Florida in particular was built post WWII to accommodate the driving public and it still works like a charm (though there are properties that have not recently been renovated, take a look around before you check in).  Since I presume you will be coming from the north, I'll suggest a route.

The Florida Coastal Cruise.

Bring an Ice chest in the car filled with fruits, snacks and drinks (no booze please we want you to arrive alive!) to ease the dive.

Coming Interstate 95 South go right past Jacksonville an hour or so South and Pull into the oldest city in North America Saint Augustine.  Great sites beautiful environment.  Horse drawn carriages, Spanish Forts, your gonna love it.  A day and a half will do.  Next two hours south Stay in Daytona Beach.  Great Beach nice water park a real tourist town.  Two days is about right.  Next, on to the Space Coast to see the rockets and Cocoa Beach (home of Major Anthony Nelson!) one day will do.  Now 3 or 4 hours south pull into Hollywood Beach Florida for a week of fun.  The perfect base to explore both Fort Lauderdale and Miami/Miami beach.  Looking around at the at the attractions and dinning its easy to see why I suggest you plan the bulk of your stay here.  There is tons of fun stuff to do.   If your over 40 you stopped working out a few years ago, you may be done, but for you young couples, head due west an an hour or so to spend a day in Naples on the Gulf Coast.  Next up to Fort Meyers (an hour away) for a day or two.  On to Tampa two or three hours up the Gulf Coast (Bush Gardens and a cool bridge).  After that, Orlando (an hour west) if you must and back to 95 for the trip home.  You save the airfare, you set the pace, your open for new experiences and you have a vacation your family will always remember!  


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