The entire state of Florida is a gold mine of vacation destinations. Most Americans and travelers from many other countries visit Florida at least once, but usually several times. Not surprisingly, some of them decide to live there after one glimpse of paradise.
The panhandle is a good starting place. It spans the northern section of Florida from east to west and includes quite a few points of interest that might be overlooked by travelers eager to hit the white-sand beaches of Clearwater. It may be easier to cover the panhandle from west to east and then dip down the west coast to do just that.
Pensacola is the farthest city on the west side and the home to the first U.S. Naval Air Station from 1914. Most people know of it because of the Blue Angels flight demonstrations that totally awe vast crowds. The beaches here are also white-sand glorious, typical of vacation meccas in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you go from north to south, start in St. Augustine. This city is older than the thirteen colonies, being discovered twenty-one years prior, before 1600. Tour the old fort, Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest structure in the area. Pirates had a field day in St. Augustine waters and there are adventure attractions based on this history.
Down the coast is Daytona Beach, home of the Daytona Beach 500 raceway. Cars are allowed on the beach if they go 5-10 mph and avoid turtle nesting sites, which are marked. There are many eco-activity attractions as well. It is not your father's Daytona Beach.
Orlando, in the north-central part of the state of Florida away from the coast, has so much to do it may be overwhelming. Choose from Disney World, Universal Resort and SeaWorld. Anyone of any age could spend days on end at all of these places, so it might be best to pick one and explore it if you want to see more of Florida.
Across the state on the Gulf coast, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, on Tampa Bay, offer water sports, seafood and leisurely beach visits on sparkling white sands. Pro football and hockey teams in Tampa are fall and winter attractions.
All the way down south and east are Miami and Miami Beach, which are two separate entities. The beach is out on Miami Beach across the bridge, and home of Art Deco redo South Beach. It is exciting and busy and colorful in many ways. Miami, the city, is the best place to get authentic Cuban cuisine. It is recommended that daytime visits to exceptional dining sites are best.
The Florida Keys, below the mainland, are the subject of many ads, books, TV shows and the home of author Ernest Hemingway. The Hemingway Museum is on Key West and home to many six-toed cats that live on site.
Options up and down each coast of Florida are beautiful, well-kept beaches and fresh and fabulous seafood. The best part of Florida is the vacation-like atmosphere everywhere, and the sport fishing is the stuff of dreams. There are resorts galore, but also singular hotels on the beach or near it that will make the trip worthwhile.
Last, but not least, are the Everglades. Eco warriors the world over visit this protected ideal of a natural habitat. Hard-fought legal battles over the decades have saved a large section of this swampy, watery area of pure beauty and self-sustainability. Conservation laws are strict so as to allow the biota to maintain itself and provide environmental information and education to scientists and tourists from all corners of the earth. It is one good example of human success.
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Florida is the goal of cold northerners and other citizens of the globe because it is warmth, fun and contentment all in one state. Years of vacationing would not cover all of the attractions, but start now and enjoy every attempt.