The 'Sunshine State' is long and with its sunny length, some striking attributes. Blessed with the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Florida is a seemingly never-ending stretch of gorgeous beach. While the north may feel, taste and sound like the 'Old South', the Florida Keys at the state's southernmost tip could be the islands of the Bahamas. In between, the theme park capital of the world in Orlando and the magical world of Disney. But throughout one of America's most visited states, expect some warm hospitality, year-round near-perfect weather and a never ending list of things to see and do.
Panama City explodes in annual Spring Break craziness and screaming stock cars race around America's most famous race track in Daytona. A few hours south, Canadian snowbirds rent beachside condos in St. Petersburg and add another dimension entirely. Flea markets, fishing piers, mini-golf and tennis academies all live here too, as do dolphins in the inter-coastal waterway and endangered manatee in the wetlands.
Every day, life long memories are made in the world-class amusement parks near Orlando as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and the Kennedy Space Centre take turns dropping jaws, leaving lasting impressions on the young and the young at heart. Outlet malls or boutiques? Florida's shopping is legendary and a stroll on Ft. Lauderdale's Las Olas Blvd. is a must.
Everglades National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sits in Florida's swampy south and is as important to the state as anything else. The unique ecosystem of marshy mangroves is vital to hundreds of species of animals and many migratory birds. Explore alligator farms by air-boat or visit the reservations of Florida's first settlers, the Seminole Indians.
Miami is perhaps Florida's most famous city and another example of the state's diversity. Cultures melt to beat a Latin rhythm here and the music never stops. From Little Havana and the stylish Art Deco district to the all night clubs of Miami Beach, it's a place to see and to be seen. Two hours south of Miami, over 1,500 islands make up the idyllic Florida Keys. With a Caribbean vibe, laid-back artist communities and a sign warning visitors they're at the southern most point in the U.S. (only 90 miles separates Key West and Cuba), Key West is a relaxed paradise.