Souvenirs from Florida
Acknowledged as the most visited state in the United States in 2011, Florida is undoubtedly made for relaxation, travelling and exploring: tourism is a flourishing industry of over 60 million visitors annually. Amazing weather and endless sandy beaches, entertainment parks, the world's biggest holiday resort, the Walt Disney World Resort with Lake Buena Vista, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are some of the attractions which count for a staggering number of tourists every year without fail. The first recorded historical information related to Florida dates back to the first Spanish colonists. At the beginning of the 16th century, the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed nearby current St. Augustine and named the region 'Florida' as a tribute to the Pascua Florida ('Feast of the Flowers'), the Easter celebrated within the Spanish Kingdom. Nowadays tourists can keep Florida's outstanding beauty alive with some great souvenirs available now online: keychains, souvenir plates and T-shirts all mark Florida's unique charm.
A Perfect Holiday for Everyone
The history of Florida has been shaped by its unique location between the Mexico Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean and its seemingly endless coastline (the longest in the USA) which brought the blessing of water but also the curse of numerous hurricanes. Over viewing the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, Florida's beaches are some of the most popular across the country and suit every family, surfer and lonely walker out there. For exotic mangrove woods, amazing fishing spots and hammock relaxation, Cayo Costa Island offers an isolated piece of paradise with long endless beaches. For an exquisite top of the class experience, don't miss Miami's greenest beach, North Beach Bandshell, famed for hosting musical events and a splendid open space situated in the biggest park beach of North Shore. The Sunny Isles Beach proudly presents one of the oldest piers and is the favorite spot for fishing in a picturesque surrounding. Despite its violent past, Florida is currently a peaceful land of entertainment parks with a flourishing tourist industry which happily welcomes visitors with its sunny landscapes and delicious worldwide known oranges.
Florida, a History of Hispanic Heritage
At the beginning of the 16th century, the first Europeans came to the lands of Florida with Ponce de Leon giving the new found land the name of the Easter holiday in Spanish 'La Florida' also meaning 'Flowery Land'. Until it became part of the United States of America in the middle of the 19th century, the state had been disputed by the different European colonists and its violent history of segregation includes the Seminole Wars fought against the Native Americans and the harsh discrimination following the Civil War. The Spanish colonization also marked the beginning of a long hunt for Florida's legendary gold and silver which often claimed the lives of Spanish conquistadores as they often ventured in areas populated by Native Indian people. Unfortunately even if no precious treasures had been discovered during the adventurers' expeditions, Spain transported gold and silver from the Southern American regions in the so-called 'plate fleets' on routes which neighbored the Keys of Florida. Often these heavy loaded ships were attacked by pirates or wrecked through the strong hurricanes.
The Paradisiacal Beaches of Florida
If you are dreaming of an all year long sun and endless white sand paradisiacal beaches, Miami is the perfect place to be. The well known South Beach and Key Biscayne, a tropical heaven of breathtaking beauty are just two of the numerous beaches waiting for tourists. All you need in order to enjoy the amazing sand and clear blue waters of Florida is a swimsuit and some sunscreen. For family friendly venues, Crandon Park and Matheson Hammock are extremely popular. The latter is a splendid lagoon with stunning views over the bay and conveniently close to picnic areas, making it an ideal relaxing space. For a more private experience, there is always Bill Baggs on Key Biscayne to experience, perfect for the loner ones who might prefer the solitude of a small island guarded by a charming old lighthouse or for the bikers who can always stop for a few minutes to admire a magical sunset.
South Beach, Florida's Famous Attraction
South Beach, on the other hand, is a vibrant, exuberant place and it is frequently used as one of the iconic symbols of most Miami postcard-like images. Elegant cafes offer a temporary escape from surfing watching and the all day indulging sunbathing. South Beach is apparently one of the best places for people watching as its charm and elegance has turned it into a real historic beach of television fame. This is also a popular venue for surfers who can be spotted around the 1st and 5th Streets areas and whose boards may surprisingly be counted as tourist camera material. If swimming in this tropical like paradise makes you hungry, don't forget to indulge in a mouthwatering snack in any of the cosmopolitan cafes spread across the area when taking a break from visiting Miami's most famous beach. Beyond the Ocean Drive and at walking distance from the South Beach, LGBT friendly beaches are available for those interested.
The Happy State of Family Entertainment
For wonderful family entertainment, there are plenty of options throughout the Florida state. You shouldn't miss the Everglades Alligator Farm where more than 2,000 alligators can be seen in their natural habitat or the beautiful Vizcaya Museum & Gardens built at the beginning of the 20th century and often used for its stunning backgrounds in filming projects. Your little ones will definitely love the Miami Zoo, a wonderful open space organized to reflect the fauna of the different zones around the globe. For a more unconventional approach to zoos, don't miss the Monkey Jungle, a monkey paradise where 400 energetic primates are encouraged to enjoy their freedom in a carefully tailored environment aiming at protecting the monkeys from close to extinction conditions.
South Florida and the Biscayne National Park
One of the most stunning parts of the state is South Florida where breathtaking natural wonders contribute to the unique charm of this end of the peninsula. It is a mesmerizing place splendidly protected by the unreal green and blue waters of the Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, the Mexico Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean. As a tribute to Florida's waterscapes and as a celebration of the love for the ocean, the Biscayne National Park, a large entertainment venue, has been built with most of its surface under water making it by far the biggest marine park in the United States. Tourists are enchanted by this aquamarine paradise which can only be reached by boat. For those passionate about the water vegetation, the Biscayne National Park is also a fascinating journey into the world of mangroves and coral reefs. Whether you are interested in the special types of water ecosystems or are just simply charmed by their surreal appearance, the endless clusters of mangroves you will definitely not miss throughout the park are actually the longest in the region of Eastern Florida.