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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
With a state located on a peninsula, there must be inevitably a multitude of breathtaking beaches! Among our top 5 are:
With its diverse nature, Florida certainly offers many great places to take the best Instagram pictures:
Last but not least some interesting facts about the 27th state of the USA: