A metropolis combining glamour, Art Deco and contemporary art, 800 miles of coastline dotted with thousands of heavenly islands and the world's largest playground - the Sunshine State of Florida is perfect for the entire family.
Jump in a convertible, on a motorbike or on the Jitney (minibus) and drive on the Venetian Causeway towards Ocean Drive. Gaze at the artificial-looking sand and the people dotted along it, between the mint-green ocean and the overflowing terraces and beneath a sky lined with palm trees and pelicans. This is what life is like at SoBe (South Beach), packed with glamour and twinkling under the flashes of cameras taking photographs that will be featured in the glossy pages of women's magazines around the world. The fashion world is based in Miami. In fact, you pass the former 'palace' of Gianni Versace, which has become one of the most sought-after boutique hotels, known as The Villa by Barton G.
You don't have to be in the business to enjoy the softness of the sunset from the rooftop pool of The Hotel South Beach, owned by Tony Goldman, one of the city's architectural heritage saviours. So, thanks to a handful of visionaries, the Art Deco District still exists between sixth and 23rd Street. Marvel at the 800 buildings inspired by this current that crossed the Atlantic with the crisis of 1929 and whose architecture is sometimes reminiscent of ships of the same period. The stucco facades of Maloney, Dixon and Hohauser illuminate Washington and Collins avenues with their tropical European vibes and vibrant colours of pistachio green, lavender blue and flamingo pink. But Miami doesn't just live in the past. In a few years, the city has become a major capital of contemporary art and design. Wynwood, a former Puerto Rican enclave, is now home to galleries, private museums (Margulies, Rubell) and artists' workshops. The Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, set in converted warehouses (owned by Tony Goldman and his daughter), unites street art stars and an ultra-trendy restaurant under one roof. A few blocks away, on Biscayne Boulevard, the Design District displays its art, cooking, fashion and decor. It is also in these neighbourhoods that the Art Basel fair is now held, an annual art show bringing together more than 2,000 artists. Even Downtown is changing. The former business district is even getting a face lift by some top designers. Take a look at Philippe Starck's Icon Brickell, a luxurious residence with a revolutionary style. The neighbourhood will also soon be home to MAM, the Miami Art Museum.
THE KEYS TO HAPPINESS
Key West is the end point of the line of 800 islets (cayos in Spanish), reaching Miami in just over 120 miles and 42 bridges, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It was in a traditional house populated by cats with six claws that Ernest Hemingway signed several of his masterpieces, between two bonefish fishing parties and a boxing match in the courtyard of a former brothel (now a restaurant). 'Papa', as his lookalikes who gather here every summer call him, was seduced by these islands combining American comfort and Cuban softness (80 miles further offshore) just like Tennessee Williams, or President Harry Truman who considered moving the federal capital there for a short time.
It is indeed difficult not to succumb to the 'Floribbean' sweetness of life. Simply cycle through the streets scented with bougainvillea and the colourful wooden houses of Simonton Street, the galleries of Fleming Street or the Bahamian street of Petronia, enjoy a crab stone or a fried conch burger (be careful, the name of this shell also refers to natives) visit the lighthouse, have a Cuban coffee (or mojito) on Duval Street and finish with a sunset on Mallory Square. It's very hard to leave this area. Legend has it that once you get it into your shoes, the sand of the Keys will inevitably bring you back. However, the beaches are rare. Instead there are plenty of wildlife and marine activities. Enjoy a seaplane tour of Dry Tortugas's inhabitants, a swim with the dolphins of Duck Key or a kayak ride in the mangrove before feeding the tarpons - huge fish that bubble at the foot of the pontoon.
Recreation in Orlando
Every child's dream might be to say: 'Today I'm having lunch at the Kennedy Space Centre with an astronaut, a friend of Buzz Aldrin's. We will have a light meal because I take off afterwards on board Apollo in the Imax and on a simulator. We'll have a 360-degree view of the shooting range and then head towards the Red Planet. Luckily, I've had training, because yesterday at Epcot, I flew a spaceship. Then I took the whole family on a safari at the foot of Kilimanjaro, to Animal Kingdom. Later at Universal Studios, you should have seen the faces of my parents who thought they were only going to see a mouse when they found themselves on the back of a Pteranodon in Jurassic Park! As for me, I was busy helping Spiderman in 3D while my sister was with The Little Mermaid. Then we followed in the footsteps of Harry Potter. Then, met up with Shrek in 4D (if there is such a thing!) Oh yes, I forgot my dinner with Cinderella, but the next day I had a NASCAR race in Daytona...it's not always easy being a superhero.'
ASK US: FLORIDA AND ITS ISLANDS
The Bahamas: a short flight from Miami, where you can discover Eleuthera Island, Robinson Island and Harbour Island - the glamorous island where pink sand, multicoloured houses, yachts and fashion shoots rub shoulders with a quiet local life - and ending with Andros Island where you can dive into the incredible underwater cave system of the blue holes.
Gulf of Mexico: After a tour of the Everglades by hovercraft, the desire to explore further is inevitable. First, visit Sanibel Island and Captiva Island to add to your shell collection, then take a trip to the Ten Thousand Islands, a paradise of wild beaches including Caladesi Island, one of the most beautiful in the United States.