Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Guide Book Reviews
Probably the single most important piece of advice we give our guests, whether first time visitors or those returning to the area, is to invest in a good up to date guidebook.
Why is a guidebook so essential? Well although I have to confess to being something of a guidebook anorak, with an almost overwhelming number of things to do and see in the Central Florida area alone, apart from ensuring you don’t miss anything of particular interest to you, a good guide can save you both time and money.
A quick glance in the travel section of any bookstore will reveal a bewildering number of guides to Florida and the Orlando area. Sadly we probably have virtually all of them in our own collection! Our two favourites and most dog eared are ‘Florida’ from the DK Eyewitness Travel series and more specifically for the Orlando area, the annually updated, ‘A Brit’s Guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World’.
The DK guide is great for a general overview of the State of Florida, which is larger than the U.K, something I find particularly difficult to get my head round. This book is packed with stunning colour photos and is conveniently divided into areas. As well as the usual stuff, there are pages detailing the history, landscape, wildlife and more; as well as tips on what to eat and buy. We found the beautifully illustrated street by street guide to Miami’s South Beach especially useful for finding the stunningly restored Art Deco buildings the area is famous for. There are several pages explaining how the area was saved and the history and features of significant buildings. Without the guide we would have missed so much.
But if you plan to stay around the Orlando area and only want to buy and carry one guide then the ‘Brit’s guide’ is THE book to have. It does cover a wide area including both coasts and trips to the Everglades. In fact far more than you could hope to do in several months let alone two weeks!
First published in 1995, the 2007 edition is unbelievably packed with even more information than 2006’s. Unfortunately due to Disney copyright the guide is currently only available in the U.K, although I believe there are plans to address this. U.S citizens may be able to get their hands on a copy through Amazon or maybe Ebay. Our American friends couldn’t believe the depth of information the book contained, actually they loved it so much we ended up giving them our copy and buying a new one when we got home!
The guide’s authors Simon and Susan Veness have virtually dedicated their lives to researching and updating it. Their local knowledge is encyclopaedic and their passion and enthusiasm for the area is obvious when you dip in and out of this book. Throughout the book are brilliant ‘Brit tips’, from where to go to get discount coupons, to how to save money when buying beer and when to arrive to park free for Universal City Walk (we missed this one, arriving 15mins later would have saved us $9, $10 in 2007!). Just one illustration of how a guide can save you money, that is if you bother to read it first of course!
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