Florida is a state in the southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Florida is the 22nd most extensive, the 4th most populous, and the 8th most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state capital is Tallahassee, its largest city is Jacksonville, and the Miami metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the southeastern United States.
Much of Florida is a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. Its geography is notable for a coastline, omnipresent water and the threat of hurricanes. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, encompassing approximately 1,350 miles, and is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. Some of its most iconic animals, such as the American alligator, crocodile, Florida panther and the manatee, can be found in the Everglades, one of the most famous national parks in the world.
Much of the state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Straits of Florida. Spanning two time zones, it extends to the northwest into a panhandle, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is near several Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas and Cuba. Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi River, and only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area.
The summer months in southern Florida can become very hot and sometimes uncomfortable when it gets exceptionally humid. The north is milder, but still very warm. Summers are long, hot, and humid throughout the state, (70% humidity or more) with temperatures averaging in the high 80s to mid 90s (30-35°C) during June, July, and August. Being tropical, the period from late spring to early autumn tends to see a lot of rainfall, which can occur on an almost daily basis. However, these showers generally arrive in the form of thunderstorms, which can appear out of nowhere on a clear day, and then disappear just as quickly. They do little to alleviate the heat and humidity.
In winter, the weather stays relatively warm but is generally much drier. From early November to late May showers are few and far between. The average temperature in Florida during the winter months is in the low to mid 60s (near 17°C), occasionally getting up into the high 70s (near 25°C). Frost is not unheard of (especially in January and February) in northern areas, so a light jumper is sometimes needed even during the day, and a warmer jacket is often required at night. Snow is a very rare occurrence in Florida, although it has been known to occur in the Panhandle in the north of the state.
1. Miami: Miami is one of the state's – and the world’s – most popular vacation spots. Though destinations often are said to offer something for everyone, the Miami area offers multiple enticements for everyone: The trendy nightlife of South Beach, bejeweled by the eye candy of the Art Deco district. The bustle of Calle Ocho and the highly caffeinated energy of Little Havana.
2. Orlando: A world-renowned destination, Orlando is the place to make all of your vacation dreams come true. Of course, it is beloved for its theme parks: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld Orlando and many others. But it also beckons with world-class resorts, shopping opportunities for every budget, all-season golf courses, and some of the most enticing dining opportunities on the planet.
3. Destin: Stunning white beaches, challenging golf and world-famous fishing define the Emerald Coast city of Destin. Snuggled against the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida, Destin is rightfully famed for its sugar-white sands and emerald-hued waters.
4. Fort Myers: Fort Myers is popular for its beaches, fishing, shopping – and the opportunity to learn about two of the nation’s most famed inventors and business leaders. You and your family can experience one-on-one natural encounters, play on top-notch beaches and treat yourselves to endless family-friendly attractions, restaurants and resorts in Fort Myers and surrounding areas along southwest Florida’s sunny Gulf Coast. And don’t miss the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates.
5. St Augustine: St. Augustine’s rich heritage makes the city and its surroundings a unique getaway for visitors. Founded in September 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain, St. Augustine is the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the United States – more commonly called the "Nation’s Oldest City." Visit St. Augustine and dive into more than four centuries of history that owes much to the Spanish and English, to Greeks and Native Americans and African Americans.
6. Key West: The southernmost point in the United States, Key West is famous for watersports, lively nightlife, beaches and historic sites. Don’t miss Duval Street, one of the most energetic strips of shops, bars and cafes in all the land. Did we mention Sloppy Joe’s bar, a favorite hangout of novelist Ernest Hemingway? And, for the more sober-minded, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (look for the celebrated six-toed cats).
7. Cocoa Beach: Cocoa Beach, along Florida's Space Coast, makes for an out-of-this-world family vacation. Your group can ride some waves, check out the world-famous pier, marvel at Ron Jon's, the world's largest surf shop, hike through nature preserves, and explore mankind's greatest journey at the nearby Kennedy Space Center. NASA's launch headquarters is the only place on Earth where you can tour launch-pad areas, meet a veteran astronaut, see giant rockets, train in spaceflight simulators and – if your timing is just right – even view a launch.
8. St Petersburg: Along with beautiful beaches, St. Petersburg attracts visitors with the Salvador Dali Museum, Fort De Soto Park and the St. Petersburg Pier. The city, which glimmers between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, is known for its warm weather and delightful breezes.
9. Clearwater Beach: Clearwater Beach dazzles with impeccable beaches and inviting waters. Caladesi Island, off the north end of the beach, was recognized as the nation's best by Dr. Beach (2008). Besides the beaches, there is Clearwater Beach's inviting, small-town atmosphere.
10. Fort Lauderdale: Fort Lauderdale is famous for its beaches, arts, culture and events. From shopping on Las Olas Boulevard, to gondola rides on the canals, to a historic riverfront. Just two miles north of Port Everglades, you can experience a landscaped beachfront promenade, with its signature white wave wall and brick paved path.
11. Tampa: Tampa's port and international airport make it an easily accessible, popular destination in Florida. Its rich history mixes with its modern landscape, giving visitors and residents a medley of activities and attractions to choose from. Busch Gardens, various large museums, and the city's resident football team, the Buccaneers, are just a few of the major highlights.
12. Panama City Beach: Long a popular vacation destination, Panama City Beach, Florida offers deep-sea fishing, amusement rides, exciting nightlife, beautiful beaches and many hotels and resorts.
13. Fort Walton Beach: Located between Pensacola and Panama City along North Florida’s glittering Gulf Coast, Fort Walton Beach offers visitors its powdery white beaches, emerald waters, enjoyable golf courses, and much more.
14. St George Island: A long, thin barrier island in Northwest Florida, St. George Island is a serene and pet-friendly vacation spot. St. George Island State Park occupies the eastern end of the island.
15. Anna Maria Island: Laid-back and natural, Anna Maria Island awaits – a mere 20 minutes from Bradenton. A seven-mile strip of beautiful white-sand beaches line this barrier island between the turquoise Gulf of Mexico and peninsular Florida.
16. Punta Gorda: In addition to its beautifully restored historic district, Punta Gorda offers many natural attractions, waterside shopping and leisurely strolls along the Harborwalk and at Fishermen's Village on Charlotte Harbor.
17. Cape Canaveral: Well, sure, Cape Canaveral is the home of the Kennedy Space Center, the hub of the nation’s human space program. From here, American astronauts confronted and overcame the challenges of space flight, conquered the moon, and set out aboard scores of shuttle flights to launch – and repair – satellites and build the International Space Station.
18. Naples: Naples, Florida is bordered by the Gulf to the west and the Florida Everglades to the east. The city offers golfing, beaches, outdoor activities and luxury shopping.
19. Port St Joe: Formerly a bustling port, Port St. Joe now welcomes visitors looking for a restful respite. Postcard-perfect surroundings invite lounging on a soft, white-sand dune beach, snorkeling, fishing and dining at a rustic fish shack.
20. Santa Rosa Beach: Santa Rosa Beach, one of the 13 communities located in the Beaches of South Walton, is best known for its quiet, wide stretches of nationally renowned beach, a Caribbean-style artist colony and nature trails.