Florida is a state in the southeast area of the US. It is home to roughly 21.5 million people, and 1.5 million visitors come here every year. This state extends over 170,312 km², and its capital is Tallahassee.
Florida is known for its theme parks, its orange production, and stunning beaches. It’s also famous for having the highest number of golf courses in the US and being home to the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. Florida also features the first underwater national park in the US!
Over 1,200 golf courses
People in Florida take golf seriously! This industry is worth 11 billion dollars in this state, with 167,000 people working in the field. Florida has approximately 1,250 golf courses, the highest number in the US! Not by chance, this state is home to the PGA, Professional Golfer Association. This organization comprises 27,000 golf professionals, about 13% of which live in Florida.
Plenty of theme parks
Florida has an incredible number of theme parks. Orlando is particularly known for Universal Studios, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and Depot. The former is one of the most visited theme parks in the world. It attracted 4.1 million tourists in 2020, despite Covid-19! But Florida is home to way more amusement parks ranging from Legoland, Busch Gardens, and SeaWorld.
US first orange producer
Talking about Florida, did you know this state is the US’s top orange supplier? It produces approximately 70% of the annual US supply. But that’s not all. Roughly 90% of the oranges used for orange juice in the US come from here. In 2021, this state produced 767.4 million boxes of oranges!
Most of Florida’s orange orchards are in the south of the state, as temperatures are too cold in the north.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is a 1.5 million-acre wetlands preserve in the south of Florida. This park is unique for plenty of reasons. First, it’s the third-largest park in the Lower 48. In addition, it is home to the largest contiguous stand of protected mangroves in the western hemisphere. But this is not all! Everglades National Park also features one of the vastest wetlands in the world. The park has eight different habitats, ranging from marine waters to pine rocklands, and coastal lowlands. This is also the only site worldwide where alligators and crocodiles coexist.
The biggest theme park in the world!
Orlando is home to the biggest theme park in the world. Walt Disney World Resort has an area of 30,500 acres. To give you an idea, this theme park is almost as big as San Francisco! About 17.5 million visitors come to Orlando every year to explore this fascinating park. The most visited attractions inside Walt Disney World Resort are: It’s a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
The fishing capital of the world
Florida is often considered the fishing capital of the world. This state has more than 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers, and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline. Islamorada village in particular is renowned as a fantastic fishing area. This village is in the very south of the state and is known for its stunning coral reefs. Its warm waters make up the perfect habitat for many sea animals living in the Atlantic Ocean. All types of fish live here. Some of these include the incredibly colorful mahi-mahi, the massive wahoo, and the pointy sailfish.
The largest Harry Potter theme park
Florida is also home to the largest Harry Potter theme park in the world. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in Orlando and stretches over 20 acres! Here you will find detailed replicas of the most famous Harry Potter locations. The park is divided into two main areas. The first one is a reproduction of Hogsmeade, home to the Hogwarts Castle. The second is at Universal Studio and is a replica of Diagon Alley.
In Florida, alligators are very common! This state has a population of roughly 1.25 million alligators. It seems absurd but at times people have to stop their cars to let them cross the street! Both the Chinese and the American alligators have made Florida their home. The latter is not only more common but also way bigger. It can reach a length of 13 feet and a weight of 800 pounds.
Plenty of natural areas
Florida is home to plenty of national areas! This state has 175 state parks, 37 state forests, and 12 national parks. Florida features more than 80 different ecosystems, all of which are characterized by different plants and animals. Nature is surely abundant here as this state is covered by 25,000 square miles of forests. Some of the habitats found here include mangrove forests, tropical coral reefs, and salt marshes.
Largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s works
You may not know the name of this artist, but you have probably already seen his works. Louis Tiffany was an American artist of the late 19th century. He designed several lamps, stained glass windows, ceramics, and jewelry. He also became the first design director of the famous company Tiffany & Co., founded by his father.
Winter Park has the largest collection of works by Louis Tiffany worldwide. This can be found in The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.
Florida is home to plenty of animals endemic to this state that can hardly be seen anywhere else. First on our list is the Florida panther. This is the state animal and lives in the south. Its habitats are pinelands, freshwater swamp forests, and tropical hardwood hammocks.
The Florida black bear is another peculiar species endemic to these areas. This is the second-largest mammal in Florida. Males can reach a weight of up to 300 pounds, while females are around 150 pounds.
Last but not least, the Key deer is the smallest species of deer in the US. They range from 24 to 32 inches in height and can only be found on 25 islands in the Southern Florida Keys.
Key Lime Pie
Many people will agree that the state food of Florida is the delicious Key Lime Pie. This yummy dessert is made of lime, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. In the original version, the egg whites are used to make a meringue to put on top of the pie. Although its origins are unknown, the first record of the recipe dates back to the early 20th century. In 1935, the magazine Highway Traveler mentioned this dessert as a specialty from the Florida Key.
Florida has 1,800 miles of coastline, second only to Alaska. But for obvious reasons, swimming in Alaska is not really possible. This makes Florida one of the best summer destinations in the US. This state is home to plenty of breathtaking beaches! For instance, Bahia Honda State Park is renowned for its tropical vegetation and legendary snorkeling areas. Another great beach area is St. George Island State Park in the northwest area of Florida. This barrier island is home to untouched beaches, dunes, and unique fauna.
Gasparilla Pirate fest
The Gasparilla Pirate fest is one of the largest festivals in Florida. Over 1,000,000 people attend at least one event, and 300,000 visitors watch the parade each year. This festival takes place in Tampa Bay every year, and it was first celebrated in 1904. The theme of the celebration is the friendly invasion of José Gaspar. This is a fictional character present in Florida folklore. On Gasparilla day, members of the local organization YMKG (Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla) sail across Tampa Bay. They do so aboard the Jose Gasparilla, a 50-meters pirate boat specifically built for the festival.
The oldest masonry fort in the continental US
Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. This fort is located in the city of St Augustine, in the northeastern part of Florida. This structure was built between 1672 and 1695 and is more than 300 years old. Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega ordered its construction after an English raid. The Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza created the design, but many alterations were made over the centuries.
Manatee refuge at Crystal River
The Manatee refuge at Crystal River is the only place in the US where people are allowed to swim with manatees. This wildlife refuge consists of 20 islands and extends over 80 acres. It was established in 1983 to protect the West Indian Manatee, and people can only access it by boat. Here visitors get the chance to swim with these rare giant mammals.
Not many people know that the manatee’s closest living animals are elephants! Just like these species, manatees have three to four toenails and are mainly threatened by humans.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Florida is home to the first underwater national park in the US. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was founded in 1963 and extends three miles into the Atlantic Ocean. This park has coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and seagrass beds. Unlike other parks, here you cannot drive around with your car. Park guides organize scuba diving and snorkeling activities for visitors to explore the area. People also have the chance to take a tour onboard a boat with a glass bottom. This allows them to see the animals inhabiting these waters.