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Vacation in the Sunshine State: Florida

Florida has been a major attraction for American and worldwide tourists for decades. One of the reasons has of course been the subtropical and very sunny climate (in southern Florida it is even tropical). Many Americans own holiday condos or apartments here or simply rent accommodation for the holidays. Recent population estimates state an approximate 17.7 million inhabitants. Organized as a territory in 1821, Florida entered the ranks of the United States as a fully-fledged state in 1845 as the 27th state. Almost three and a half centuries earlier, in 1513, the Spanish explorer Ponce de Léon had discovered what we today know as Florida. In 1819, Spain sold the territory to the US. Today, Florida’s economy is largely based on tourism, manufacturing, and the agricultural sector.

Florida’s climate is mostly warm, humid and subtropical. The summer highs in Orlando reach about 92 degrees on average, in the winter the day highs do not drop below 72. Key West, to give an example of a prime tourist attraction in the tropical part of the state, is even more stable; between 80 and 89 degrees on July days, and 67 to 77 in December.

Orlando and Area

The Orlando region is the most popular tourist attraction in Florida. One of the main reasons are the popular theme parks and resorts like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and the Universal Orlando Resort. Disney World, whose Cinderella Castle everyone has at least once seen on a postcard or a poster, was opened in 1971. Today, it hosts four major theme parks, two water parks, six golf courses, twenty hotels and countless other accommodation and shopping facilities. With an area of some 30,000 acres, Walt Disney World is the largest theme park in the world. Cinderella Castle (Magic Kingdom), Epcot or Blizzard Beach are some of the must-have-beens in case you visit Disney World.

Greater Orlando however has so much more to offer. How about an historic roller coaster ride in the Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, inaugurated in 1936? In Discovery Cove, part of SeaWorld, visitors can feed tropical fish and admire the underwater coral reefs by snorkeling. At Kennedy Space Center, located some 45 minutes from Orlando, you can visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame or take a guided tour through famous Cape Canaveral. If you are more into writing, you can visit the house where “beat poet” Jack Kerouac wrote his world-famous novel “On the Road” (situated in Orlando’s College Park area). How about an NBA game with the Magic? There are really countless choices in Greater Orlando. Holiday accommodation is available in and outside of Orlando for all budgets.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach is a barrier island opposite the city of 380,000 people. Miami Beach is one of the major tourist attractions and hosts some of the finest sights and most beautiful beaches in the state. Transportation is really easy, either by bike, on foot or with the “Electrowave” shuttle. The “Bayside Marketplace” invites you for an extensive shopping spree at the waterfront. Numerous cinemas, theaters and restaurants are also located in the area. The Miami Art Museum houses some of the finest treasures in the US from 1940 until today. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation in a luxurious hotel, various resorts like the “Nikki Beach” are happy to welcome you. Of course, the choice of beach houses and apartment rentals is great. Whether you are looking for culture, art, beaches or a great nightlife: Miami Beach has all a tourist could possibly yearn for.

Daytona Beach

Popular for the “Daytona 500,” the eastern shore city of about 60,000 is today a popular year-round resort and attracts a growing number of “spring break” tourists in March and April. Auto racing started back in 1902 in Daytona Beach. Once inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, Daytona was founded in 1870. In the beginning of the 20th century, the area was dubbed “The World’s Most Famous Beach.” Before the Daytona International Speedway was inaugurated in 1959, races were held on the fine white sand of the Daytona beaches. Apart from the motor sport venues, major attractions include the Daytona Lagoon, a water park which offers an ideal wet and refreshing day for the whole family, including mini golf, go-kart racing and more. A trip down the Halifax River is also worthwhile, either with a regular boat or even on board a paddle wheel boat. Golf enthusiasts can choose between six major and many smaller courses in and around Daytona Beach. Holiday accommodation is available from budget (e.g. “Budget Inn,” “Royal Beach Motel”), over mid-range apartments or hotels (e.g. the “Boardwalk Inn” or the “Fountain Beach Resort”) to luxurious condos, resorts and vacation homes.

Everglades National Park

A World Heritage Site, the Everglades National Park is a “must” for every Florida visitor who is interested in nature and wildlife. The huge park however covers only some 20 % (roughly 2,400 square miles) of the whole Everglades wetland. Since 2003, some 1.3 million acres of the Everglades are officially registered as “wilderness area” and thus preserved. In 1979, the national park was UNESCO World Heritage Site. The flora is magnificent and extremely diverse. Wild lemon and orange trees, as well as paw paw or custard-apples grow here. The most famous of the Everglades animals must be the countless species of alligators and crocodiles that live in the swamps and waters. On the tips of the park, e.g. in Everglades City, one also finds sufficient accommodation like hotels, pensions, and resorts. From your hotel, you can enter the wilderness, e.g. to go fishing for tarpon, reds or trout. Canoe and kayak tours as well as airboat cruises are offered.

Florida has something to offer for young and old, for the adventure enthusiasts as well as for the ones interested in arts and culture, or for the fans of Mickey Mouse or the NASA. Whatever you prefer, Florida cannot be the wrong choice!

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