Florida is a state located on the east coast of United States of America and is its most south-eastern state. Most of the state of is located on a large peninsula and has only one border onto mainland USA. It is bordered to the north by the states of Alabama and Georgia.
Talahassee is the state’s capital. There are a number of other important cities in Florida including; Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Panama City, Pensacola, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
Climate and Geography
Florida is made up of five distinct areas – the Florida Panhandle, North Florida, Central Florida, South Florida and the Florida Keys island chain. The Panhandle and North Florida are mostly farmland and pine trees, with South Florida and Central being far more urbanised. The Florida Keys have geography unique to the state and are surrounded by the gorgeous, warm Caribbean waters.
Florida is famous for its fabulous coastline and has a myriad of beautiful beaches, bays and estuaries. The state is mostly flat with the exception of a few areas near the centre where there are rolling hills. There are a number of wetlands and lakes dotted throughout most of the state, with the Everglades being the most well-known of these.
Florida initially became popular as a winter getaway for affluent people from the colder states in the 1800s and with its mild winters and long, hot summers Florida is a great destination all year round. Average annual temperatures in the summer months are around 27°C (80.5°F) and anywhere between 12°C (53°F) in the north and 20°C (68.5°F) in the south during the winter. Florida endures a six-month hurricane season between the start of June and end of November and visitors during this time should keep up to date on the latest news and weather advisories.
English is Florida’s official language, however approximately 20 per cent of the state’s inhabitants speak Spanish as their native language. In South Florida in particular, Spanish is the preferred language for most and in towns such as Miami Spanish is the native tongue of over 80% of residents. Having a basic knowledge of some key Spanish phrases would stand you in good stead.
Activities and Places to See
Florida is one of the top tourist destinations in the world so there is plenty for travellers to see and do here. Disney World is located here and is the biggest and most renowned theme park in the world, as well as arguably the biggest tourist draw to the state. Some other fantastic sights to see are:
The Kennedy Space Center – the only place in the world where you can watch the launch of a manned space craft.
St. Augustine – the oldest settled city in the US.
Salvador Dali Museum – this museum houses the largest collection of Dali artwork outside of the EU.
Daytona International Speedway – home of the biggest event in stock car racing, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Daytona 500.
The Seminole and Niccosukee Indian Reservations – learn about Native American history and culture, sample their foods and gamble in the casinos on the reservations.
The Everglades – a UNESCO world heritage site, the Everglades National Park and wetlands are a sight like no other.
On a Budget
Travellers who want to experience Florida without emptying their wallets should try out specialist providers. Holidays from Ocean Florida, for example, will enable you to find the perfect Florida holiday deal for you to suit your budget and also get expert advice from people who know and care about the state. If you really like to see some bucks you should apply for US visa waiver.
Some areas and attractions in Florida are more expensive than others so be realistic about where you can afford to go.
Flights to Florida can vary depending the time of year so make sure to book in advance.
The WikiTravel Florida guide is a fantastic place to start for information about this marvellous state.
Lonely Planet also has some great information for the eager traveller.
Visit Florida’s website has some insider hints and tips written by visitors to the state.