Sun, sand, sea and Mickey Mouse are reason enough for a visit for most of the more than 96 million holidaymakers every year. The “Sunshine State” truly deserves its reputation as a perfect family vacation destination – but the state offers much more culturally and scenically than the usual stereotypes suggest.
On April 2, 1513, the Spanish navigator Ponce de Léon came across an unknown peninsula in the south-east of America while searching for the mythical fountain of eternal youth. He baptized the country – because it was Easter time – “Pasquale Florida”. What was once a swampland has become the ultimate holiday destination in the USA.
According to travelationary.com, the Orlando/Central Florida region is the most visited vacation destination in the United States. In addition to the favorable climate, the optimal transport connections were also a contributing factor to this development. After early settlers turned the swamps of central Florida into fertile citrus orchards, a railroad was needed to transport the fruit and, later, people. Here, where the sun almost always shone, where the major highways crossed, the railway line passed and there was an airport, Walt Disney decided in the mid-1960s to realize his dream of Walt Disney World, the largest theme park landscape in the world. In 1971, the first of what are now four Disney parks opened its doors.
There are now eight of the world’s largest theme parks in Central Florida – four Disney, two Universal and one SeaWorld. There are also over 100 smaller parks and attractions. Orlando is now recognized as the theme park capital of the world. One of the first theme parks, however, was the Florida Wildlife Institute, which opened in 1949 and was renamed Gatorland in the mid-1950s. Now home to up to 2,000 alligators, the park is still family-owned and boasts Orlando’s oldest “low-tech” attraction.
But the highlights of the Sunshine State are not limited to theme parks: The Florida Keys, the island chain that stretches southwards, is also one of the top destinations in the Sunshine State. Key West is the southernmost settlement in the USA (and only 90 miles away from Cuba).
A natural area little known in Europe is the Crystal River Wildlife Refuge in Citrus County on the Gulf of Mexico, where you can observe the now endangered manatees (sea cows). The Silver Springs at Ocala – another natural attraction – is said to be one of the largest artesian springs in the world. The crystal clear water allows beautiful views of the underwater world.
Florida is known for its world-class attractions and amusement parks that are family-friendly. Exciting entertainment is not only guaranteed for the kids. If you value lifestyle, well-kept hotels and good food, you won’t be disappointed in Florida either. The mega city of Miami offers exquisite nightlife, here the dance floor is hot and the drinks are guaranteed to be ice cold.
Location and size
The state of Florida is located in the south-east of the USA and covers an area of 170,000 km² (twice the size of Austria and almost two and a half times the size of Bavaria).
More than 18.8 million people live in Florida. The capital, Tallahassee, has over 180,000 residents.
Florida has several international airports, such as Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO), Tampa (TPA), Fort Myers (FMY), Fort Lauderdale (FLL).
Florida is divided into two climate zones: the warm temperate north and the tropical south.
The summer months in southern Florida can get very hot and sometimes very humid. The north is milder but still very warm. Summers are long, hot and humid (70% humidity or more) across the state, with temperatures averaging 30-35°C in June, July and August. Since Florida is tropical, rainfall is possible almost every day from late spring to early fall. However, these rain showers are usually of relatively short duration.
In winter, the weather remains relatively warm and it is generally much drier. From the beginning of November to the end of May it rains very little. The average temperature during the winter months ranges from 17°C with occasional highs of up to 2°C. Frost is not uncommon in the northern areas (especially in January and February), so a light jacket is needed during the day, in warmer clothing is required at night. Snow is a very rare occurrence in Florida, although it is not uncommon for it to snow in the north in the Panhandle.
The hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th. The highest probability of a tropical cyclone is from mid-August to late September.
|Average temperatures in Miami in °C|
|Northwest average temperatures
in Pensacola, Destin, Fort Walton, Panama City
Further climate tables can be found on the following pages for the respective destinations.