Where the sun rules
Florida: the very word evokes colorful dreams of delicate orchids, swaying palm trees, tropical beaches, white sand, fresh orange juice and, especially for those who long to escape bitter winters, a welcoming, sun-drenched climate.
Located in the southeastern United States, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Florida is a thumb-shaped peninsula jutting into the ocean. No doubt about it: Florida is the most recognizable state in the country.
Florida is a land of diversity; although no point in the state is farther than 100 km (62 mi) away from the ocean, its beaches greatly vary from one part of the coast to the next. Its towns are also very distinct, such as gracious Old South Tallahassee, exciting Fort Lauderdale, and historic Key West. Here, the past and the present are equally celebrated: exhibits of Spanish treasures, re-creations of pirate invasions, and hikes along trails that were used by the first explorers will acquaint you with the rich history of this state. On the other hand, visiting the Kennedy Space Center and EPCOT Center will propel you into the future, where everything is possible.
Miami and its elegant Art Deco district are at the very heart of those television and tourist brochure images of Florida. A true urban centre, this is a place where Spanish is just as likely to be heard as English. Latin shows and shops, Cuban cuisine and ethnic music give Miami a cosmopolitan, Latino atmosphere.
The Gold Coast
Caressed by the Atlantic, the Gold Coast stretches to the northern limits of Miami, as far as Jupiter Inlet. This region, whose two major cities are Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, is characterized by stunning beaches and constant development.
The East Coast
Trying to catch up with their bustling, more popular counterparts, many areas of the East Coast are now getting a major facelift. But this region also features quieter areas, especially near Georgia. Almost all beaches are accessible here, from Daytona, famous for its car races, to the old-fashioned fishing villages and the island of Amelia.
Although there are no beaches here, the heart of Florida is undoubtedly its most diverse region, as you can see from the magnificent St. Johns River and the Ocala National Forest. Citrus fruit reign in many areas, and Lake Okeechobee fights for survival while providing irrigations to farmlands. But, the site that undoubtedly attracts the most tourists to this region is Walt Disney World, near Orlando.
The Everglades and the Keys
Beyond Miami’s city lights lie the Everglades and the Keys. Despite their marshy environment, the Everglades and their unique treasures are pure heaven to nature-lovers. To the south, the Florida Keys are a string of islets that mark the separation between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The West Coast
The West Coast, which is delimited by Marco Island and Cedar Key, moves to a varied rhythm in an equally diverse environment. Signs of this growth are omnipresent from Fort Myers to Tampa-St. Petersburg, and in high season, the area is packed with vacationers. Nevertheless, many communities, such as the more isolated Sarasota, Tarpon Springs and Cedar Key, have managed to preserve their unique charm.