In Florida’s episode of our extraordinary things across the globe series, we have invited our fellow blogger Jennifer Bhatia of “traveling party of 4” What is Florida famous for? This is her fantastic response!
As a native Floridian, and living here my entire life, I have experienced every bit of Florida, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Florida would not be Florida without its beaches, retirees, hurricanes, and Disney World. But, there are so many more things Florida is known for.
Ten fun facts about Florida
- 345 feet. ~ The site of Florida’s highest natural elevation is in Britton Hill, a city in Florida’s panhandle.
- The Florida Everglades. ~ The only place on the planet where alligators and crocodiles co-exist in harmony.
- Watermelons. ~ Not only famous for oranges, but Florida also produces the largest amount of watermelons in the country.
- Jacksonville, Florida. ~ The largest city in the United States.
- 1,350 miles. ~ Florida boasts the longest coastline in the United States. AND, there are over 800 miles of beach to enjoy.
- Not just for alligators. ~ Florida has crocodiles, panthers, black bears, pumas, manatees, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and over 500 species of birds.
- Theme parks. ~ Florida is the theme park capital of the world. Disney World is only the beginning.
- The hottest place in the USA. ~ Key West brags having the highest temperature in the United States. If you have ever walked Duval Street in Key West in July, you are a believer.
- Gatorade. ~ Developed at the University of Florida.
- Disney World. ~ Florida’s most popular tourist attraction, of course.
So, precisely what is Florida famous for?
#1 The beaches
Florida boasts the longest coastline in the United States, approximately 1,350 miles to be exact.
White sand as far as the eyes can see, the dreamy smell of the salty air, the rhythmic sound of the waves and the birds singing, and maybe sipping on one of those fruity adult beverages. Who doesn’t love a day at the beach?
#2 Palm Trees
Quintessential Florida. Have you ever seen an image of a Florida vacation without a palm tree? Palm tree-lined streets and beaches populate Florida’s coast, from the Lower Keys on up the east coast to Cocoa Beach and the west to the Tampa area.
#3 Theme Parks
Walt Disney World is known as the happiest place on Earth; castles, characters, rides, and candy. Millions of tourists and locals flock to Disney World year-round.
However, it doesn’t stop there.
Walt Disney World has expanded from The Magic Kingdom to five separate themed parks in the area: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studio, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach.
And there’s more…
Seaworld and Aquatica are in the Orlando area, as well. Or head over to the center of the state and spend the day at Legoland in Winter Haven. There’s Busch Gardens on the west coast, in Tampa, Florida. Plus, at Weeki Wachee Springs, you can meet a real mermaid and kayak in the crystal clear spring water. Silver Springs, in North Central Florida, rents glass-bottom boats or clear bottom kayaks for a tour of the springs.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Florida has plenty of retirees. And for a good reason. The weather is perfect. Florida is relaxing, slow, comfortable, and there are endless outdoor activities to keep one young at heart.
- Florida has no state income tax, which also means that retirement income is exempt from state taxation.
- Florida does not tax Social Security benefits.
- The cost of living is about the national average, maybe a bit lower.
- There is a tremendous amount of healthcare options all over the state that focus on caring for our older citizens.
And one more thing…
Florida has the largest active adult community in the United States, The Villages, located in Ocala, and advertised that “your retirement adventure starts here.” I love that it is called an adventure, don’t you?
#5 The Fountain of Youth
Since we are on the subject of remaining young at heart, The Fountain of Youth is in St. Augustine, Florida. According to legend, Ponce de Leon discovered the magical waters that provided eternal youth.
Remember your history lesson? If not, here is a quick synopsis. Spanish Explorer, Ponce de Leon, in search of the Fountain of Youth, landed in Florida in 1513. Some say he found it in St. Augustine, but he died at the young age of 61, so I am not sure about the validity of this fact. But it’s fun to visit, nonetheless.
#6 Fresh Water Springs
Florida has some of the most spectacular springs in the world. Enjoy a cool and refreshing dip in the crystal clear spring water, its the perfect cure for all Florida heat woes.
During the winter months, Three Sister’s Springs becomes so packed with migrating manatee families, and they will close off the springs to humans, a surreal sight to see.
#7 The Swamp
The most notable swamp in Florida is called The Everglades. Covering three million acres in Southern Florida, The Everglades is home to alligators and crocodiles co-existing, panthers, black bears, white-tailed deers, manatees, over 300 species of birds, and more than 50 different types of reptiles.
#8 Water Sports
Florida is known as the fishing and boating capital of the world. Florida has it all, from fishing to scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, water skiing, and kneeboarding. Beach volleyball, paddleboard, and sunbathing. In some areas, you can even swim with the dolphins and the manatees (of course, you have to abide by the rules). Head out on a jet ski in the ocean or an airboat in the swamp, or if you are the daring type, try parasailing or windsurfing.
#9 Kennedy Space Center
I grew up on the Space Coast of Florida, aptly named for the space program that began in the 60s. We witnessed launches from my front yard and attended countless field trips to Kennedy Space Center (KSC), a luxury growing up in the area.
Countless exhibits documenting the history of the space program, and you can meet a real-life astronaut. Train like an astronaut with high tech simulators, and go for a “launch” on the Shuttle Launch Experience.
Now is the beginning of new life at Kennedy Space Center with the SpaceX Falcon 9 blasting off carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station. A real rocket launch, a mesmerizing and inspiring experience for all ages.
The gentle giants prefer warmer waters; therefore, swim south and congregate in the springs and the Gulf. The winter months are the best time to observe or maybe snorkel and swim with the manatees. Their size may be intimidating, but they are peaceful, harmless, and playful creatures.
Oranges in Florida are in season in the winter, and many places host u-pick events. Pick the perfect orange, peel it, and eat it. Experiencing an orange’s freshness is an experience you don’t want to miss, and winter in Florida is the ideal for this treat.
#12 Not just oranges, though
Yes, Florida is responsible for the majority of orange production in the United States. Still, plenty of other fruits, vegetables, and herbs thrive in the sunny and balmy climate in Florida.
For fruit lovers, Florida grows bananas, grapefruits, limes, watermelons, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, and bananas. And don’t forget to eat your Florida veggies: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, zucchini, chard, and cucumbers. And down here in Florida, many of us novice farmer types can easily grow basil, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, and parsley.
And mangos, summer is mango season, a beloved time of the year for many Floridians. My dad would peel a mango in a circular motion, the entire skin of the mango intact. I was astonished as a kid, and I keep trying to perfect this move.
Yes, Florida is the fishing and boating capital of the world, but I’m now talking about a different kind of sport. The sports culture, professional, college, and high school are intense in Florida.
Florida sports three professional football teams, two major league baseball teams, two basketball teams, and believe it or not, two pro ice hockey teams. And Florida has three major universities with top-ranking sports teams and a few smaller, but growing universities that are up and coming in the sports realm.
It’s a pretty impressive lineup.
#14 St. Augustine
Known as the Nation’s Oldest City, St. Augustine is one of the top cities to visit in Florida, especially for history buffs. Tour Castillo de San Marcos on Matanzas Bay, The Oldest House (dating back to the 1700s), The Old Jail, and the Oldest Schoolhouse. And with such a long history, there are bound to be hauntings; and the ghost tour is eery and magical.
The small city, not only packed in history but full of shops, restaurants, boutiques, and the top spots for people-watching.
Gatorade, the popular sports drink, was concocted at the University of Florida in 1965 to rehydrate and replenish lost electrolytes from sweating it out during workouts in the heat.
An assistant coach for the University of Florida football team noticed his players were wilting away in the heat, losing weight, and experiencing heat-related illness. He brought his concerns to the university’s physicians. After researching the complaint, the physicians realized that the athletes’ fluids and electrolytes they were losing in their sweat were not being replaced.
After taking their findings to the lab, Gatorade was born. Once tested on the field, you guessed it, the Gators started winning. A few years later, one of the Gator Football Coaches suggested that the Kansas City Chiefs try the concoction. The National Football League picked up on it, and since then, Gatorade has been the official sports drink of the NFL.
And it all started at the University of Florida.
#16 The Southernmost City in the USA
Once you leave the intensity of Miami, Florida behind and head further South, you get to experience Key West, Florida, known as the most southern city in the United States.
In this laid back, unique and eclectic city, your first stop in Key West must be for a photo-op at The Southern Most Point of the United States. Stroll Duval Street, check out the boutiques and art galleries, sample the local seafood, and watch the sunset over Mallory Square sipping on a fruity umbrella drink.
But, don’t leave without devouring a slice of Key Lime Pie, the quintessential Key West dessert. Many different recipes fill the restaurants, so try them all.
#17 The Sunshine State
Last, but certainly not least, Florida is famous for the sunshine. In fact, in 1970, the Florida legislature adopted the endearing nickname “The Sunshine State.”
Now, what is Florida INFAMOUS for?
Let me tell you what really happens in Florida during hurricane season. But, before I do, know this…we do not take this lightly.
We are aware for at least two weeks ahead of time when a hurricane is approaching; we have plenty of time to panic, I mean to prepare. We fill our gas tanks, get cash, clear out the supermarket of batteries, candles, liquor, and beer. Stock the house with jugs of water, canned foods, and charcoal. Fill the bathtub with water. And evacuate out families from the coastal areas.
Hurricanes are terrifying. But we are all prepared.
And guess what happens?
Yep. Most of the time, nothing. Well, except for maybe a Hurricane Party. The town shuts down for a day or two, and we play. No school. No work. No sporting events. Sometimes no power. We spend downtime with friends and family. And we are stocked and ready for the next one to come through.
#19 Heat and Humidity
The heat and humidity of Florida can be drowning. Spending time outdoors in the dead of summer is often impossible. And the hair…FRIZZY within seconds of leaving the house. So most of the summer, a ponytail, messy bun, or a cap and let it go.
I promise nothing a little DEET won’t take care of. On the other hand, if you aren’t equipped with insect repellent, the mosquitoes are ruthless.
The official state reptile of Florida is the American Alligator, maybe because there are over a million alligators in Florida. We have a saying in Florida, “if there is a body of water, there is an alligator.” They can live in fresh or brackish water, meaning they will make their home in rivers, lakes, canals, creeks, golf course ponds, and yes, sometimes they sneak into swimming pools.
See, there’s much more to Florida than Mickey Mouse, the beaches, and retirees.
Tourists flock here by the millions to experience history, lush scenery, watersports, wildlife, real rockets blasting into space, sports, and sunshine.
I would say Florida has something for everyone.
About the author
Jenny is a native Floridian and travel writer for Traveling Party of Four, a family travel blog focusing on travel planning plus staying healthy and safe while on the road. She has traveled with her children since they were tiny and they have been from London to the Caribbean, all throughout the United States and over to The Galapagos Islands. Her passion is to help other moms to book travel with confidence and show their kids the world.
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