OK, to be fair, there is a lot of fun and if you prefer your holidays rain-soaked and grey – look elsewhere. Florida takes its name from the Spanish phrase meaning ‘flowery land’ and its by-line is of course, the Sunshine State. But if you associate Florida with theme parks and over-excited kids, then think again. Florida holidays can offer the best of all worlds when it comes to combining fun and relaxation. The region’s climate is defined by its sub-tropical nature. There is no end of entertainment for kids and adults alike; the treats on offer when it comes to holidays in Florida include unspoilt beaches and national parks; beaches offering some of the best water sporting and surfing opportunities; cities and towns offering boutique shopping experiences; historical attractions and 21st-century surprises.
Florida boasts the oldest continually inhabited European settler city in the continental US, St Augustine. In the north of Florida it was established by early Spanish settlers and boasts some of the oldest buildings in the US. The Spanish built Castillo de San Marcos still stands and was an important defensive and administrative centre for the earliest European settlements. The castle was needed on more than one occasion to defend against the invading British or French, though it met with limited success however as both France and Britain controlled the region. In 1862 Florida finally joined the United States, although the state considered seceding shortly afterwards; the laid-back nature of the Floridians perhaps meant the idea of another War of Independence was simply too much and the state remained the tropical jewel in the crown of the US.
Another, more recent, castle can be found a little further south in Orlando in the form of Hogwarts at the Harry Potter World attraction. It would be unfair not to mention theme parks when talking about Florida holidays as it really is the world capital for them. Walt Disney World® Resort was established first and since then the tropical climate and lush soils have proved an excellent breeding ground for theme parks of all manner. Thanks to the climate they operate all year round and provide an incredible range of entertainment and magical treats for kids and the big kids that accompany them on most Florida holidays! Orlando, close to Florida’s eastern Atlantic coast, is the Mecca for all theme park aficionados and holidays to Orlando offer an excellent range of accommodation. Just down the road is the not-to-be-missed Kennedy Space Center and the Space Coast – Orlando’s closest beaches.
Florida – originally christened “La Florida” which translates as the non-too-imaginative ‘Flowery Land’ – is an incredibly rich and diverse State when it comes to wildlife and environment. The State is not exactly a tropical island – but in places you could be forgiven for thinking so. Stuck onto the bottom of the US it has thousands of miles of coastline – more than any other mainland US State and – not satisfied with that statistic – manages to have coast on three different bodies of water. The Atlantic forms the eastern shore, the Straits of Florida in the Caribbean to the South and the Gulf of Mexico to the west.
Unsurprisingly eating out in Florida is all about the seafood. Beaches are never far from the itinerary on any Floridian holiday; the State has action-packed surf havens and quiet hidden retreats. Orlando holidays can offer a little something for everyone, being the best location for the theme parks, but within easy reach of one of Florida’s most undeveloped coasts making it the ideal centre to make the most of Florida holidays.