Miami - need to know
Aer Lingus (0818 365 000; aerlingus.com) flies three times a week from Dublin to Orlando. Fares start from €290 each way, including taxes and charges.
Florida is the land of the automobile, and it's essential to have one if you're planning to navigate the south. There are several hire car options available at Orlando airport: we opted for Hertz.
It's impossible not to feel welcome at Key Largo's elegant Kona Kai Resort and Gallery (001 305 852 7200, konakairesort.com), from $219 (€177) per room per night, where owner Ronnie is happy to give recommendations for breakfast, dinner and activities in between.
If you'd like to see a part of the Everglades hidden from the tourist hordes, she'll organise an eco-trip out on the water.
Located on a quiet enclave, the Key West Island City House (001 305 294 5702, islandcityhouse. com), from $240 (€194) per room per night, is just two streets away from the action in town. Enjoy a buffet breakfast out on the patio, or do as we did and bring it back to bed.
The Islamorada Pines & Palms (001 305 664 4343, pinesandpalms.com), from $90 (€72) per room per night, would be just perfect under normal weather circumstances. As it was, we admired the promenade, the beachside view and the heated freshwater pool, and then ran back inside to our spacious cottage-style room (which could certainly house a family) with its hard-working heater.
There's only one way to enter the Gansevoort South (001 305 604 1000, ganse voortsouth.com), from $345 (€279) per room per night, on flashy Ocean Drive, and that's to sashay through the lobby of this fabulous slice of Miami's South Beach.
It's all a little bit more sedate at the Riviera Suite South Beach (001 305 538 7444, rivierahotelsouth beach.com), where you can stay in a one-bedroom suites from $189 (€153) per night, including free airport transfers and daily happy hour. Bookings for three nights get 10pc discount, seven nights get 25pc.
FIVE GREAT THINGS TO DO
- See the creatures of the deep from the safety of a glass-bottom boat at John Pennekamp National Park. (pennekamppark.com, $24 (€19) adult, $17 (€13) child)
- It's the experience of a lifetime, so don't leave Key Largo without spending time with the dolphins there. At dolphinsplus.com, a structured swim costs $185 (€149), and one-on-one contact with these gentle giants is guaranteed.
- Spend the morning on a party boat. Bring your own beer -- we're talking deep-sea fishing off the Keys coast. If you're lucky, once you return to the dock, they'll cook your catch in the nearby restaurant. See robbies.com -- $35 (€28) for a half-day trip.
- And speaking of eating! The Floribbean food (think light soul food with an extra dash of spice) is fabulous and if you like fish, you'll be in heaven. We ate really well throughout our trip, but our experiences in Miami seriously stood out. We had the best sea bass in Sushi Samba and fought over the last spoonful of dessert in Barolo, all the while sipping caipirinha cocktails.
- Shop like a celeb. Cameron Diaz loves the jewellery in the Shore Club's branch of Me & Ro, Paris Hilton and Britney can't resist South Beach's Atrium and Beyoncé gets a furniture fix at Design District's Poltrona Frau.