The northern half of Florida offers a more typically Southern experience, while Central and South Florida have more Northeastern U.S. and Hispanic influences. Across the state, there are major metropolises and cultural enclaves; quaint, quirky smaller cities; famous theme parks and resorts; and many outdoor experiences, like beautiful beaches, numerous state parks, nature preserves, springs, forests, swamps, camping, world-class fishing, birdwatching and much more.
Best and Worst Time to Go to Florida
Visit Florida mid-September through mid-November to enjoy autumn's pleasantly warm days and temperate nights. It's also low season for tourism, so attractions are less crowded and prices are lower.
Florida's a major spring break and summer vacation destination, so crowds are thick and prices hiked during these times. Summer weather is disgustingly hot and humid, and even though this is The Sunshine State, summer brings massive storms for a few hours almost every afternoon or early evening. It's the height of mosquito season, too.
Must See in Florida
St. Augustine in northeast Florida is a city like no other. It's the oldest in the country, and its downtown has numerous historical points of interest, including the Castillo de San Marcos fort.
Everglades National Park is full of amazing plant life and wildlife (much of which is endangered). Boat tours, hikes, paddling among the mangroves, Shark Valley's observation tower, and other activities are unforgettable experiences.
The John F. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex outside Titusville is a fun, educational, awe-inspiring, interactive attraction dedicated to space exploration. Neighboring Launch Complex 39 has been the launch site for every manned NASA rocket since the Apollo program ended in 1972.
Vacation Ideas in Florida
Florida is an ideal place for RV adventures. Up and down the state, state parks provide well-equipped campgrounds. They often feature those quintessential Florida natural attractions — springs — and offer prime opportunities for an array of outdoors activities and recreation.
With Atlantic waters on the east, the Gulf of Mexico on the west, and thousands of lakes and wetlands across the state, Florida is a world-class fishing destination. From the Panhandle's coastline to the Keys and everywhere in between, it's a fisherman's paradise for numerous saltwater and freshwater species.
The Sunshine State is a great place for a golf getaway. It has more than 1,200 courses, including some of the top rated in the nation. Naples, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral and other areas in southwest Florida have many renowned golf courses, as do the Orlando and Miami areas.
Major Annual Events in Florida
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival occurs from late September through mid-November at Disney's Epcot theme park right outside Orlando. Attendees make their way around the World Showcase, sampling delicious food and drinks from countries and cultures across the globe.
Every February, the most-watched auto racing event in the U.S. is held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach. It is, of course, NASCAR's 500-mile race, the Daytona 500.
For something unique, catch the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa in January or early February. It offers all sorts of zany pirate-themed fun for all ages, celebrating mythical Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar.
Weather in Florida
Autumn is the most pleasant time of year. In the winter, temperatures can vary wildly — as much as around 30 degrees — from day to day, and even from day to evening. Spring brings high temperatures, but without summer's oppressive humidity. Summer is hot and humid and includes torrential daily downpours, complete with lots of thunder and lightning. Hurricane season runs from the beginning of June to the end of November, and is of most concern along the coasts.
Local Tip for Visitors to Florida
Beaches are a big part of a Florida vacation for many visitors, but that often means the beautiful shoreline is overcrowded, overdeveloped and touristy. Canaveral National Seashore, located on the east cost of Central Florida, offers miles of clean, quiet, undeveloped, uncrowded beachfront where native wildlife thrives.
Author's bio: Eric Mohrman is a freelance travel and food writer living in downtown Orlando. Crazily enough, he really likes traveling, eating and writing.