Guest Post by Rohit Agarwal.
Located at a perennially sunny location between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the US. With famous cities like Miami and Jacksonville, Florida is known for its warm and sunny climate and a fully beach influenced lifestyle. The state was one of the first in the history of continental America to be visited by the European settlers, when Spanish conquistadors came during the early 15th century. This is also one of the main reasons for the large Hispanic population in Florida as compared to other states in the US. It is also popular as a tourist destination owing to its history, flashy beaches, warm climate and a variety of iconic American wildlife species. Florida also sports the longest coastline in the United States which stretches to around 1,350 miles. The state was named ‘La Florida’ (The Flowery) by the Spanish when the landed here around Easter season when flowers are in full bloom in Florida. If you are looking for reasons to visit Florida, here are some interesting places that will make up your mind.
1. Castillo de San Marco
Castillo de San Marcos – Photo by National Park Service
Located in the historic city of St. Augustine, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the US. It was built during 1672, by the Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilé and was designed by a Spanish engineer called Ignacio Daza. It was shortly renamed Fort St. Mark when the city of St. Augustine came under the British under the treaty of Paris and then the United States Army when it was renamed to Fort Marion. The name was finally restored to Castillo de San Marco and was declared as a national monument in 1924 and was turned over to the United States National Park Service in 1933. The fort saw several historic battles and was also used as a prison during the Seminole Wars against Native Indian Tribes.
2. Fort Lauderdale Beach
One of the prime cities in metropolitan Florida, Fort Lauderdale is also known to the visitors as the Venice of America. The city is located by the Atlantic coast like most of Florida and known for its pristine beaches. The beach is sparsely crowded most of the times and is separated from the restaurants and food vendors by a beautiful promenade. The city itself is a major tourist attraction and is known for its vibrant culture, historic monuments, river fronts and its beautiful cuisines.
3. Kennedy Space Center
Aerial view of Kennedy Space Center visitor complex – Photo by NASA/Kim Shiflett
Located in Merritt Island, The Kennedy Space Center is a NASA launch facility which is also known as the LC -39 or Launch Complex 39. The launch complex was built to support famous launch vehicles such as the Saturn V and the Apollo manned moon landing program. The facility was renamed in 1963 in the honor of US president John F Kennedy who proposed several space missions like the ones already mentioned. Since 1972 the space center has been used for every manned space flight for NASA. The site is mostly restricted for visitors and also encompasses a huge wildlife reserve and a mosquito lagoon.
4. Walt Disney World
Located in the city of Orlando, Walt Disney World is the largest and the most famous amusement parks in the world. The park spreads across a massive area of around 30,000 acres and has 27 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 9 non theme hotels, two water parks, 4 golf courses, two theme miniature golf courses and residential areas. It is twice the size of Manhattan and almost the same size as San Francisco. The park was built around the late 60s as a supplement to Disneyland located in the state of California and was operational by 1971. It has been expanded with several attractions ever since. Some of the popular attractions in Walt Disney World are, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
5. Key West
Key West is an island which is located in southernmost regions of Florida in the Straits of Florida. For several years Key West remained as the largest town in the state of Florida but since its decline in the 19th century US it was remodeled into a tourist destination known for its colonial architecture, waterfronts, forts, sea port and Naval Air Station etc. The seaports are typically crowded by fishing boats and privately owned yachts and speed boats. You can also know more about boat parking and parking at Jacksonville International airport by visiting the various websites on the internet. The city is divided into various neighborhoods and the tourists mostly like to visit the Key West Historic Districts for its vibrant and urban tourist culture. The town is also famous for its iconic bars, museums, art galleries, gardens, beaches and the several annual festivals that celebrate the spirit of this sprawling yet majestic tourist town.
6. South Beach
The town of South Beach is located right between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and was developed around 1910. The region has been devastated by several hurricanes in the past and has undergone several architectural changes. The town started as a farmland which was purchased for coconut farming in the 1870s. Today the town is known for its striking art deco architecture, premium beaches, and the shooting location of Miami Vice, nightclubs, restaurants and boutiques etc. South Beach also boasts as one of the most posh locations in Miami Beach and is visited by millions of tourists each year. The nightlife in South Beach is one of the most sought after in the US.
7. Overseas Highway
The 127 mile, Overseas Highway transverses through the Florida Keys connecting Miami and Key West Island completed around 1912. The highway has been since transformed into a scenic highway which passes through a tropical landscape and the famous 7 mile bridge which has been featured in several Hollywood movies. The highway stretches from the Gulf of Mexico and passes through locations such as Key Largo, Islamadora, Marathon, and Lower Keys and finally ends in the tourist haven of Key West.
Florida is full of tourist attractions and the above mentioned places are just a small fraction of the innumerable places that can be visited in Florida. Full of history, culture and a vast variety of natural resources and attractions, the state of Florida is an essential visit that can take care of all your vacationing needs.
Rohit is a traveler and has visited several famous and new tourist destinations across the world. Being an architect by profession he is attracted by places which exhibit the ancient and historical architecture. Visit his blog: Trans India Travels.