Florida

The Sunshine State Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches, lots of sunshine and exciting theme parks. It is therefore one of the most popular holiday destinations both within the USA and worldwide and attracts visitors with its tropical climate and uniquely diverse nature.

Florida Overview

Image of the Seal of Florida

  • Area: approx. 170.000 km²
  • Population: approx. 21.5 million
  • Time zone: GMT -5 hours
  • Capital: Tallahassee
  • State motto: In God We Trust

History of Florida

Florida was the first region of the continental USA to be visited and settled by Europeans. It was discovered by Spaniard Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513. Back then the country was named “La Florida”, in Spanish “Pascua Florida” due to the Spanish explorers who reached it at Easter time.

It was considered a place of refuge for the slaves from the northern colonies, until it became the 27th state to join the USA on 3 March 1845. At the same time the first cotton plantations were established there. At the beginning of the 20th century Florida was still the least populated of the southern states. However, after the economic boom in the 1920s and 50s, immigration increased enormously. 

Florida Today

Today Florida is one of the most populous states of the USA. Until the 1950s, Florida was predominantly democratic. With increasingly republican voters, the state is now particularly relevant for presidential elections, but recently its majority has frequently switched between the two camps.

Image of a beach in Florida, USA

Besides tourism, agriculture continues to play a very important role. Florida is the largest producer of citrus fruits, watermelons, tomatoes, strawberries and sugar in the USA. The Floridians are mostly protestants, but there are also many methodist churches. Almost 80% of the population is white and the percentage of Hispanic and Latino population, which makes 25%, is relatively high.

Landscape & Location

Florida is mostly located on a 165 km wide and 660 km long peninsula in the south of the east coast, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The southernmost islands are only 140 km away from Cuba. In the north the state borders on Georgia and Alabama.

Image of the location of Florida in the USA

Location of Florida

 

The Sunshine State has the longest continuous coastline in the USA, with over 1300 km of beach! The country is mostly flat, only in the interior of the country you can find soft hilly landscapes. Even there, away from the beaches, the country is dominated by water: with countless lakes, extensive river systems, swamp and marshland landscapes and subtropical forests.

Map of Florida, USA

Map of Florida

 

Climate in Florida

The "Sunshine State" usually keeps its promise of year-round warm temperature with lots and lots of sun. Even if it often gets very muggy-hot in the subtropical to tropical climate in July and August, sometimes with heavy thunderstorms and heavy afternoon rain. While winters in North Florida get relatively cold (but rarely below freezing), temperatures in the south seldom fall below 15°C.

Image of the Temperature in Florida, USA

source: wetter.de


Year-round swimming in the Atlantic Ocean is already possible from Orlando southwards. In Miami the water temperature is 24°C even in January. The Gulf of Mexico cools down a little more in winter, but even here in the south of the state you can find winter water temperatures of 24°C.

Image of the Water Temperature in Florida, USA

source: wetter.de

 

BEST TRAVEL TIME TO FLORIDA

The warm spring is the best season to visit Florida and regions like Miami, and not suffer from the hot summer sun. In late summer and fall it is advisable to avoid Florida in order not to be confronted with storms and hurricanes that can ruin your dream vacation. In addition, most of the rain falls between June and September, so it rains almost every second day!

Places of Interest in Florida

THEME PARKS

Florida shines with countless family attractions and its many theme parks: seven of the ten most visited parks in the world are located here. Among the most popular are the magical world of Disney World, right next door the Universal Studios and the first park of the worldwide chain Seaworld, all of which can be found in Orlando.

Image of Disney World in Florida

NATIONAL PARKS

Florida is characterized by exciting landscapes as well as extraordinary animal and plant species that are worth discovering. In the numerous State Parks there is a lot to see and plenty of activities for both the whole family and the lonely adventurers:

  • Take a boat tour through the famous Everglades National Park and admire the amazing flora and fauna in the tropical marshlands! But beware of the crocodiles!
  • Learn how to spot stars in Kissimmee Prairie Preserve! This park is the only one certified by the International Dark-Sky Association, which fights against the light pollution.
  • Learn to dive at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, America's first public underwater park!
  • Swim with manatees in the Crystal River! Only here it is legal to do so under supervision, because the animals are protected. 

Image of a manatee in Florida, USA

  • Explore the mangrove forests and look out for rare animals at Curry Hammock State Park!
  • Take the best hikes at Torreya State Park! The park is forested with the rare "Torreya taxifolia" in an excitingly diversified landscape.
  • Every February you can watch a re-enactment of Florida's greatest Civil War battle at Olustee Battlefield State Park at the same historic site.

Food & Culture in Florida

Besides white sandy beaches, amusement parks and manatees Florida has a lot to offer. Visit the "Venice of America" and take a boat trip on Fort Lauderdale's canals. Or admire the launch pads of manned space flight in Cape Canaveral not far from Orlando. Numerous space shuttle missions start here. There are even real shuttles on display at the Kennedy Space Center.

Image of missiles in Cape Canaveral in Florida

MUSEUMS IN FLORIDA

Further interesting museums are for example the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg and the Bass Museum of Art for modern art in Miami. For a different kind of museum experience, visit the WonderWorks in Orlando, where you can explore the exhibitions interactively, or the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, where you can find real pirate treasures.

WHAT TO EAT IN FLORIDA

Surrounded by so much ocean, there are of course plenty of seafood specialties in Florida, for example fried sea snail at the Key Largo Conch House, stone crab at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach or smoked fish at Ted Peter's Famous Smoked Fish in St. Petersburg. A particular American specialty is Clam Chowder, a stew of clams. Apparently the best one in the country can be found in the fishing village of Cedar Key at Tony's Seafood.

Top 5 beaches in Florida

With a state located on a peninsula, there must be inevitably a multitude of breathtaking beaches! Among our top 5 are:

  • Clearwater Beach: Especially popular with families, for its safe and clean beaches, large playground and the beautiful beach promenade.
  • Miami Beach: Very popular, though this is the classic lively city beach experience with lots of entertainment day and night.

Image of Miami Beach in Florida

  • Daytona Beach Area: This is the right place for those who are looking for the best waves or want to learn to surf.
  • Bahia Honda State Park: The beaches here are in a natural state and therefore one of the most beautiful in Florida. There is always a corner protected from the wind and the waves.
  • Brohard Paw Park and Dog Beach: One of the few dog-friendly beaches. The four-legged friends are not only allowed in the water without a leash, but also there is a well-arranged dog park.

Instagram Hot Spots

With its diverse nature, Florida certainly offers many great places to take the best Instagram pictures:

  • The Caladesi Island State Park near the small town of Dunedin is still relatively untouched by tourism and offers the best side of Florida's famous beaches: butter soft sand, emerald green water and with a little bit of luck one or two ospreys.
  • As the oldest city in the USA, St. Augustine is full of historical architecture reminding of the Spanish settlers. Especially impressive is the Lightner Museum.

Image of the Aviles Street in St. Augustine in Florida

  • The Wynwood Walls in Miami show works by graffiti artists from all over the world.
  • If you're in Miami, you might as well take a photo of Florida's most colorful representatives of Art Deco architecture. The little lifeguard towers on Miami Beach are extremely photogenic.
  • The Dry Tortugas National Park can only be reached by boat or seaplane. Seven small islands in breathtaking blue water can be explored around the world famous Fort Jefferson.
  • Sanibel Island is known as the "shell capital of the world". Thanks to the island's curved shape, a wide variety of shell species are washed up on the beach here.

Image of Mussels on Sanibel Island in Florida

  • One of the most beautiful of Florida's over 700 freshwater springs is located at the Blue Springs State Park. In almost untouched nature, even manatees find refuge in the pale blue waters between the banks of subtropical forests.
  • Be sure to drive to the southernmost point of Florida: to Key West on the Florida Keys! Just the way there via the Overseas Highway through the turquoise blue sea is a real highlight!
  • The Pier in Naples not only allows you to fish at any time without a license, but also represents an iconic photo motif behind the white sandy beach, especially at sunset.

Fun Facts & Curiosities

Last but not least some interesting facts about the 27th state of the USA:

  • Carrying firearms openly is illegal in Florida in most cases, but a license for carrying firearms undercover is relatively easy to obtain.
  • There are more roads and bridges in Florida that are subject to tolls than in any other state.
  • The official state song is called "Swanee River (Old Folks at Home)", which fits well with Florida's image as the 'retirement home of the USA'. In 2008 the lyrics of the song were revised to take out the racism.
  • The Everglades are the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators share the same living space.
  • It is compulsory for all state day-care centers and elementary schools to play classical music to the children.

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