For the traveler, ''Florida" and ''fun" are just about synonymous. Whether you're a beach buff, golfer, theme park devotee, or nature lover, the state has plenty of what you're seeking. Here is a sunny sampling of places to go and things to know.
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin has no fewer than 14 packages offering up to 30 percent off regular prices. The Daily Golf Package, for instance, includes accommodations and daily golf rounds. Through March 2, the price for two golfers starts at $220 a night. There are also tennis, beach, and romance packages.
Visit www.sandestin.com or call 800-622-1038.
Rates begin at $99 a night at the Sandpiper Hotel and Suites and $145 at the Island Grand Resort in St. Petersburg for the 12 Magical Days of Christmas, Dec. 20-31. Activities will be nearly nonstop: Take tennis lessons from Santa, enter the Nine Ladies Dancing dance contest or the Leaping Lords sack hop contest, bob for pears, toss golden rings, or make sand-dollar ornaments. For guests on Christmas Day (when rates are higher), a holiday buffet will feature everything from mahi mahi to roast tom turkey to crab claws.
Call 866-587-8538, visit www.justletgo.com, or see a travel agent.
For a free visitor guide to the Naples-Marco Island-Everglades area, which calls itself the Paradise Coast, call 800-688-3600 or visit www.paradisecoast.com. For a guide to the Daytona Beach area, including New Smyrna Beach and DeLand/St. John's River Country, call 800-854-1234 or visit www.daytonabeach.com. For a copy of Unexpected Orlando, a guide to the area's nature, culture, and heritage offerings, call 800-367-1496. For information and specials, visit www.orlandoinfo.com.
One place to look for deals is www.flausa.com. For specials throughout the state, click on Hot Deals and pick a location.
(The fine print: The number of rooms at those rates is limited and must be booked by Dec. 1.)
Call 407-939-7730 or see a travel agent. Ask for code BDL.
For a free copy of Mouse Tips: Unofficial Newsletter of Walt Disney World, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to Mouse Tips, Free Issue, PO Box 383, Columbus, OH 43216. In addition to telling what's new at the resort, the quarterly publication offers tips on ways to save time and money. It calls itself unbiased, and appears to be just that.
One of the more unusual attractions, especially for Florida, is at the Gaylord Palms resort in Orlando. ICE, which features elaborate sculptures and other chilly treats crafted from nearly 2 million pounds of ice, is open through Jan. 2. Tickets are $16.95 plus tax for adults, $13.95 plus tax for those 55 and older, and $7.95 plus tax for children 4-12. Children 3 and under get to chill out for free.
Palm Beach County is up and running after this year's hurricane season. The oceanfront Delray Beach Marriott has rates starting at $119 a night while rooms at the Delray Beach Residence Inn and the Holiday Inn Highland Beach begin at $109. Those specials are good through Dec. 19.
(The fine print: Those rates are based upon availability and do not include tax or tips.)
Visit www.palmbeachfl.com and click on Hot Specials.
For revelers, the Chesterfield Palm Beach's New Year's Eve package includes three nights in a queen superior room, a full American breakfast for two, one traditional English afternoon tea for two, the New Year's Eve Gala formal dinner dance celebration for two in the Leopard Lounge and Restaurant, and a champagne toast for two, along with funny hats and noisemakers. The package is available Dec. 28-Jan. 2 for $1,210, double occupancy, plus taxes and gratuities. Package includes accommodations, breakfast, tea, and dinner dance, and is based on double occupancy and availability.
Call 800-243-7871 or visit www.chesterfieldpb.com.
The Eden Roc Renaissance Resort & Spa's ''Roc'n Around Miami Beach" package, valid through Jan. 1, features two nights' accommodations in a superior suite, a power-shopping breakfast for two at harry's grille in the hotel, a gift certificate to Bal Harbour shops, a 25-minute customized massage, VIP admission to South Beach nightclubs, and a gift of martini glasses and a recipe book. The package is $694 per person, double occupancy, plus taxes.
Call 888-EDENROC. For other packages, visit www.edenrocresort.com.
The Crowne Plaza Royal Palm in Miami has a tie-in with the Dec. 20 Patriots-Dolphins game on Monday Night Football. The Patriots Package includes a one-bedroom suite, breakfast for two, and transportation to and from the game. If the Patriots win, a discount of $1 off the rate will be given for each point of the New England team's margin of victory. The package costs $239 a night and is good Dec. 17-Dec. 21.
Call 305-604-5700 or visit www.crowneplaza.com.
For those who want to feel good about themselves, the Conrad Miami, which opened this summer, has a Renewal Package for two that, in addition to accommodations, features one personal training session each, one Shen Tao hot stone massage each, and one Barefoot in Miami pedicure each, plus a dinner for two, breakfast for two each day of the stay, and free parking. Rates start at $550 a couple per night with a two-night minimum.
Visit www.ConradHotels.com or call 800-HILTONS.
If you're researching or booking Florida flights online, it may be wise to go beyond the three leading Internet agencies -- Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz -- because they list neither JetBlue nor Southwest, which often have lower fares than other airlines. JetBue flies out of Logan Airport and Southwest out of T.F. Green in Providence/Warwick, R.I., and Manchester (N.H.) Airport.
So you don't want to shell out more than $50 for a one-day ticket to Florida's mega theme parks. Well, there are alternatives such as Dinosaur World in Plant City, near Tampa. In this subtropical garden are 160 models of prehistoric beasts. Walkways at the 12-acre attraction are lined with cypress, palm, and banana trees. Admission is $9.75 for adults, $7.75 for children ages 3-12, and $8.95 for seniors 60 and over. Parking is free.
Visit www.dinoworld.net or call 813-717-9865.
For lovers of nature who also have full wallets, a Snowbird Holiday package at Marco Beach Ocean Resort on Marco Island, south of Naples, features a boat tour into the nearby Everglades Ten Thousand Islands to learn about the preserve's history, flora, and fauna, and to view species such as wood storks, white pelicans, herons, egrets, osprey, and bald eagles. Other options include a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico or into the backwaters of mangrove islands. Additional choices are a 50-minute Swedish massage per person (for double occupancy), or a round of golf for two at an 18-hole championship course in a region that calls itself the golf capital of the world. The Snowbird Holiday package is available Dec. 17-April 9 and costs $2,565 for three nights or $3,360 for five nights in a one-bedroom suite. A two-bedroom suite is $3,615 for three nights or $5,160 for five nights. Rates include valet parking, gratuities, and taxes.
Call 800-260-5089 or visit www.marcoresort.com.