Florida is one of the most sought after locations in the USA; an area people flock to not only for the extremely beautiful beaches and sunshine, but also for its fascinating and ecological diversity. Florida, aptly named ‘The Sunshine State’ because of its splendid year-round weather, means ‘full of flowers’. The name was given to the region by explorer Ponce de Leon who landed on its shores in 1513.
Florida‘s major industry – and this should not come as a surprise to anybody – is tourism. This extraordinary State has a coastline 1,197 statute miles long, 663 miles of which consists of beaches. Florida’s natural diversity is mind-boggling. There are 7,700 lakes each more than 10 acres in size, and its largest river is St John with a length of 273 miles. The largest lake, Lake Okeechobee, is 700 sq mile, which is incidentally also the second largest lake in the world.
• Busch Gardens in Tampa is a beautiful exotic garden and amusement park with an African theme specifically targeting family entertainment. It contains the longest and largest roller coaster ride in the Southwest.
• The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is a giant glass dome-shaped aquarium, exhibiting thousands of species of fish. This is one place where you could never get bored, even if you wanted to.
• Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach is an amazing drive-in zoo where animals roam un-sequestered. It’s amazing to see carnivorous and herbivorous animals co-exist peacefully.
• Sea World in Orlando offers a fantastic view of all types of sea animals. Dolphins, seals and killer whales regale crowds with their daily shows, just one of the attractions at the park. The rides ‘Journey to Atlantis’ and ‘Kraken roller coaster’ are not to be missed at any cost.
• Universal Studios in Orlando is another fantastic amusement park. Its movie set theme makes you forget you’re in Florida. There are more than 40 exciting rides for thrill-seekers including the Terminator, Back to the Future and the highly-popular Incredible Hulk roller coaster.
• And what’s a trip to Florida without a stop at Walt Disney World in Orlando? You won’t want to leave and neither will your kids. But you need at least a week here. Disney’s numerous themed sub-parks offer something for everyone. Magic Kingdom with its fantasy rides, Epcot has hi-tech rides and shows, MGM Studios and its movie sets, and the Animal Kingdom with real and fantasy animal theme based rides and exhibits. Each is a masterpiece in its own right and a must.
Because Florida’s main business is tourism, finding the type of accommodation you want is rarely a problem.
There’s everything from seven-star hotel accommodations, a huge selection of hotels and motels, private cottages, hostels, guest ranches, villas, farmhouses, condos, and to even trailers in parks. A bed and breakfast can cost you as low as $38 per day where as a 7-star stay can be $650 per day or more.
Among the best deals are the numerous private cottages and vacation villas available throughout the state. Some even include meals. Depending on their location and furnishing, prices start as low as $99 per week, a great bargain. Most self-catering villas have anywhere from one to four bedrooms, with attached bathrooms and have all the required comforts of a luxury home. Of course the upper range can touch $1000 but if you are a group or a large family traveling this could be the answer to a fantastic holiday that will not burn a hole in your pocket.
Park trailers are a good option for those who like the wild life. Some come at an unbelievable low price of even $10 per day, though the average for a comfortable stay would be about $35.
- Greater Miami is the only metro are in the USA which lies along the borders of two national parks
- The amusement parks of Orlando alone attract more tourists than any other park in the U.S.
- Despite common belief, Florida is not the Southern most point of the U.S. – the Southern most place is occupied by Hawaii
- Sanibel has only shell museum in the world, containing a grand collection of 2 million shells.
- Esipiritu Santo Springs, situated in Safety Harbor, was named by Hernado de Soto (Spanish Explorer) because he believed it to be the Fountain of Youth. The St John’s River is one of the very few rivers in the world which flow North instead of South
- There are only two naturally round lakes in the world. One of them is found in DeFunjak Springs, Florida
- There are two different rivers with the same name in Florida - the Withlacoochee in Central Florida and the Withlacoochee in North Central Florida.
- Plant City, Florida, got its place in the Guinness Book of Records for making the largest strawberry cake in the world on Feb 19, 1999 in McCall Park. It was a 827 sq ft cake weighing about 6,000 pounds. This city is also known as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World
- Florida’s state symbol, adopted in 1987, is the Alligator.
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Sunset, seaside, Florida
This state is made for sports and sunshine fun. Florida is the home of boating, golfing, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. The golf clubs are phenomenal too, seeing how golf is the most popular recreational sport in the state.
Florida has a vast array of natural habitat where camps can be set up to enjoy its natural unspoiled beauty. Enjoy nature hikes and fishing while camping at Florida’s State Park. The best stop for wildlife lovers is without a doubt the Everglades National Park.
There, you can spot panthers in their natural habitat along with hundreds of other animals and birds. The best time to visit the park is in the winter though. The summer climate is stuffy and humid and the attack of mosquitoes is sometimes too much.
You can find some of the most splendid beaches in the world in Florida. Bradenton beach runs for about 20 miles along the font-family: Gulf of Mexico coastline and is shaded by tall Australian Pine trees. St Augustine Beach will awe you with nature’s beauty and trap you with its enormous sand dunes.
It’s also one beach where you can swim, surf and also fish. Down in Miami, beaches stretch lazily for miles with entertainment and sands of gold mingling with the people. You should not miss seeing the snow-white sand of Pensacola Beach, or Panama City Beach, the latter having transparent crystal green waters.
Summer 80.5 – 82.7F and winter 53.0 – 68.5F. Summers, though lovely for sunbathing, can be a bit stuffy in some parts of Florida. The best time visit the state is the winter when temperatures are more comfortable and everything and everybody are in a party mood – people, nature and animals