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Sun-splashed and ocean-kissed Florida is a leading vacation destination for holiday seekers from celebrities to students. Visitors stream into the Sunshine State year round to hit the beaches and theme parks, party at late-night clubs, and live it up with outdoor diversions such as tennis, golf and boating.

A tropical climate and approximately 1,350 miles of coastline contribute to the ideal vacation environment for much of the year, especially for those who escape to Florida during the Northern winter months. Hotel rates may be kinder but hurricanes more likely between June and November.

The long state dips a toe in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, with each region anchored by prominent cities. In the north, for instance, find Jacksonville, home of the annual college football Gator Bowl held on January 1st, and Tallahassee, the state’s capital and home to several museums. History buffs are drawn to the northern town of St. Augustine to tour coastal fortresses Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas.

Central cities include Tampa and Orlando, which attract millions of visitors each year to theme and water parks. Top among them are the fairy tale-inspired Magic Kingdom and 300-acre Epcot, two of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort. Daytona Beach, on the central coast, is home to the Daytona 500 motor race and is a key spot for thousands of high school and college students in search of a Spring Break nirvana.

Miami, on the southern coast, is the most populous city in Florida. The Latin American heritage of many inhabitants is reflected in the regional cuisine and music. Nearby Miami Beach draws vacationers and locals to its South Beach neighborhood hotels, nightclubs and cafes, housed in colorful Art Deco buildings. Paparazzi chase the international set at Miami Beach’s annual Art Basel, an exposition of modern and contemporary art held each December. Fashionistas can peruse the couturiers along Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.

At the tip of the state, just south of Miami, lie the Florida Keys, a group of scenic islands ideal for fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. The main islands, including Key Largo and Key West, are linked to the mainland by U.S. Highway 1.

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