According to BusinessInsider.com, Florida is the second most visited state after California. In my opinion, that’s with good reason. After Alaska, where nobody is going to the beach except polar bears and penguins, Florida with 8436 miles, has the second most miles of coastline in the United States. That’s a lot of phenomenal beaches. I don’t need to write a paragraph on beaches in Florida. There are a million beautiful beaches and if sand, sun and water sports are your thing, you’ve probably been to Florida already. If not, what’s stopping you?
In addition to the things you usually think of when you think of Florida tourism, there are also places where you can pick up baby alligators and other places where you can shoot automatic weapons. That’s Florida for you. Anything goes.
I go to Florida three or four times a year typically. Sometimes it’s not even to escape the Northeast winter. I still like Florida in the summer when it’s 90 degrees or more every day. And contrary to popular belief, Florida is not just one gigantic beach. There are so many great cities and towns to visit in Florida as well.
That’s me at Epcot, so I suppose I should address the elephant in the room. Yes, Walt Disney World is a big part of why so many people love Florida. That includes me. If you haven’t been to Disney World, you should go a few times. I say “a few times” because there is so much to see and do at Disney World that unless you stay two weeks and go to Disney World every day, you won’t be able to see and do everything they have to offer.
Disney World isn’t just a bunch of kiddie rides. It’s four different theme parks and two water parks. Magic Kingdom is the iconic original park with Cinderella’s Castle. There’s Hollywood Studios with movie themed rides and attractions. Epcot is the internationally themed park with rides and restaurants to give you a flavor of several different countries. If you just want to visit Disney as an adult, without your kids, I highly recommend Epcot. My wife and I usually spend an afternoon eating and drinking our way around the world. And don’t miss the Soarin’ ride while you’re there.
Lastly is Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which I haven’t been to yet, but I will be in five weeks. According to OrlandoVacation.com, “Animal Kingdom is a park dedicated to the natural wonder and exotic wildlife of the earth. It’s one of the most immersive parks, with breathtaking landscaping and elaborate details. It’s also Disney’s most realistic park. Here when you visit the lands of Africa and Asia you are presented with a realistic view, complete with crumbling architecture and dirt around the edges.” Dirt around the edges? I’m sold!
That’s all I’ll say now about Disney. After my Animal Kingdom visit in January I’ll do write ups of each park with more specifics. Now, back to the rest of Florida…
For me, after Disney World, the rest of Florida is Miami, the Keys islands, and the Gulf coast. I’ve been to the Key Biscayne/Miami area once. It’s beautiful and hot with a distinctive Latin lean to many things. Honestly, It was a short trip and I can’t really add much to that last sentence.
“The Florida Keys”- The Keys are those magical, mystical islands we all dream of running away to. The southernmost parts of the United States. The places Jimmy Buffet and The Beach Boys wrote songs about. Although, to be clear, there really isn’t a place called Kokomo. You might find a few places that have named their bar or beach Kokomo, but those monikers came after and because of the song and 1988 movie Cocktail. That being said, I’d love to be down in the Keys for Christmas.
The Florida Gulf Coast: The Florida Gulf coast is a great area for beaches, water sports, sun, sand, and a slower, sometimes less crowded atmosphere than the Atlantic coast. It includes cities like Tampa Bay, Naples, and Fort Myers. All are places I’ve been to and I’d recommend them all for various reasons. In the Fort Myers area there are Marco and Sanibel Islands as well as Fort Myers Beach. Naples is more of an upscale community and Tampa is a big, bustling city with great weather and beaches.
As you can see, Florida has a lot to offer. I’ve completely ignored the panhandle, not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t know much about that part of the state. If you or someone you know wants to contribute to Philliver’s Travels with a write up about the Florida panhandle, just let me know. If you have questions about any specific area of Florida, feel free to shoot me a question in the comments section.
Safe travels! ~Phil