Florida is well known for pristine beaches and tropical weather that make it a hot destination for anyone looking to escape a cold and dreary winter. But surf and sand aside, the sunshine state has plenty to offer visitors, and is full of surprising sites, activities, and events that you might not come across in travel brochures. So whether you’re planning your own Florida holidays or have just been dreaming about escaping to the tropical weather of southern USA, here are 7 things you probably never knew about Florida.
1. Greater Miami is the only metropolitan area in the United States whose borders contain two national parks. There is the famous Everglades National Park, which is home to such endangered species as the American crocodile, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee; and there is Biscayne National Park, which protects Biscayne Bay and its barrier reefs.
2. Florida’s northern Atlantic coast is home to the city of St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in North America. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, and served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years.
3. Although commonly assumed to be a relatively average sized state, Florida is roughly the same size as England and Wales combined, occupying an area of approximately 65,578 square miles. So there is plenty to do and discover across its vast expanse.
4. If a day out on the links is your idea of paradise, than there is no better state in the USA to visit than Florida, which is home to mind boggling 1481 plus golf courses. That’s a fair amount of chances to record your first hole-in-one!
5. The city of Orlando is home to a plethora of amusement and theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resorts, Universal Orlando, and the Epcot center. Year on year Orlando attracts more amusement park tourists than any other city in the United States.
6. Florida’s town of Safety Harbour is home to the historic and legendary Espiritu Santo Springs, which was named by the Spanish in 1539 and translates to the Fountain of Youth. For centuries the natural springs have garnered a mythical attention for their healing powers.
7. Key West is home to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which was built in 1851 in Spanish Colonial style and once housed the writer and his wife. Today it is designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and visitors are welcome to tour the house and meet the six and seven toed cats are famously descended from Hemingway’s own cats.
And so remember, while you might be planning a Florida trip simply based on the stretches of white sandy beaches that sit backed by hotels or palm trees, don’t forget, this state has a whole lot more to offer.