Discover Florida

Discover Florida: It’s an eternal cliché. Florida is the retiree’s paradise, where numerous pensioners spend their retirement. Sound boring? But it is not. The state in the southeast of the USA not only offers sunny, warm vacation days but also attractions for all ages and all interests.

Florida in numbers, data, and facts

Area: 170,304 km2
Population : 20,984,400 (2017 est.)
Member of the USA since March 3, 1845
Time zone: UTC-5 EST (west of the Apalachicola River: UTC-6)
Highest point: Britton Hill (105 meters)
Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean (0 meters)
Average height: 30 meters
Capital: Tallahassee
Emblem animal: Florida panther (cougar)
Flag: Red St. Andrew’s cross on a white background with the seal of Florida in the center
State motto: In God We Trust

Geographical location and extent of the Sunshine State

Florida consists of the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Panhandle as part of the mainland. At the southern end is the Florida Keys, a chain of islands connected by 42 bridges. The southernmost end of the Key West island chain is just 140 kilometres from Cuba and represents the southernmost point of the continental United States.

The Sunshine State is the southernmost state in the USA after Hawaii and is not too far from the Caribbean with popular holiday destinations such as the Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti, so some Caribbean cruises not only head to Havana but also Florida.

The Atlantic Ocean borders the southern state on the east, the west coast, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. Neighboring states are Georgia in the north and Alabama in the northwest. All in all, Florida is 260 kilometres wide and 800 kilometres long, making it 22nd of all states in terms of area. Water areas make up almost 18 percent of the federal territory.

Weather and climate in Florida

The paradise for retirees can be divided into two climate zones. The northeast has a subtropical climate and the centre and south of the state have a tropical climate. This means that it is often very humid in Florida, especially in the summer. Between June and November, hurricanes frequently and occasionally violently hit the Sunshine State.

Hurricane Katrina caused the greatest material damage to date in August 2005. The hurricane hit Florida, among other places, with wind speeds of 250 to 300 km/h. Many retirees therefore only spend the winter in Florida when, according to the climate table, the temperatures are pleasantly warm at around 25 °C. Winter is considered the best season for many travellers. Snow is very rare in Florida. However, floods still occur.


According to the climate table, the average temperature in Jacksonville is 26.3 °C, with temperatures being warmest in July and August with around 33 °C during the day and a night temperature of 23 °C. The coldest month is January, with daytime temperatures of 18°C ​​and nighttime temperatures of 6°C. Visitors enjoy the most hours of sunshine in May, while the most rainy days can be expected in September. The water is warmest in August, at around 30 °C.

Key West

For Key West, the climate table shows an average temperature of 28.2 °C during the day and an average night temperature of 22.1 °C. The highest temperatures are 32 °C in July and August. The most hours of sunshine per day occur from April to June. The lowest temperatures are expected in January at 24 °C and 18 °C, with the most rainfall occurring in September. The water in Key West is also warmest, at 30 °C in August.


An average annual temperature of 28.6 °C is recorded in Miami. The night temperature is 20.2 °C. According to the climate table, maximum temperatures are reached in August. In July and August, the night temperature does not fall below 25 °C. The lowest temperatures can be expected in January, with 24 °C during the day and 15 °C at night. You can look forward to ten hours of sunshine in Miami from April to June; the most rainy days are in August. The water temperature this month is around 31 °C.


The entertainment paradise of Orlando has an average annual temperature of 28.1 °C and an average nighttime temperature of 16.6 °C. The lowest temperatures are 23 °C during the day and 11 °C at night in December. The highest temperatures are reached in July and August (33 °C). The most hours of sunshine can be expected in April and May (10), and according to the climate table, the most rainy days are in June (13).

Limestone shapes the geological structure of the Sunshine State

The Florida continental shelf is a 700-kilometer-long bulge on the North American continent. The Florida Peninsula is the portion of this bulge that can be seen above sea level.

The deep subsurface of this structure consists of Precambrian volcanic rocks, Devonian sedimentary rocks, and later Triassic and Jurassic volcanic rocks. The defining structure is the limestone. This is predominantly highly porous and contains Florida’s central groundwater reservoir, which is of great importance for the drinking water supply.

However, due to rising sea levels, salt water is penetrating these reservoirs, making them useless for producing drinking water. As sea levels rise, drainage ditches also lose their slope towards the sea, meaning that flooded areas can often no longer be drained.

Florida population

The East Coast is the third-most populous state in the USA after California and Texas. In 2013, 78.1% of residents were white, 16.7% African American, 2.7% Asian American, 0.5% Native American, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander. 23.6% of the population reported being Hispanic or Latino. In addition to retirees from the Snow Belt, Hispanics also make up most of the immigrants.

Florida was a state where the Democrats had a strong influence up until the 1950s, and the Republicans struggled to compete with the Democratic majority there. Due, among other things, to the influx of many people from the northeast who vote Republican, the Republicans are now making strong gains in Florida. Florida is now considered an important swing state in presidential elections between Republicans and Democrats. The southern tip of Florida is considered a particularly hotly contested area in elections.

The majority of Floridians are Protestant. Among other things, there are many Methodist churches in Florida. However, the proportion of Catholics in the Sunshine State is increasing, primarily due to immigration from Cubans, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries. At 4 percent, Jews also make up a relatively large proportion of the religious population.

There are only a few large cities in central Florida. Most people live on the coast.

Florida’s 10 Largest Cities

  1. Jacksonville (821,784)
  2. Miami (399,457)
  3. Tampa (335,709)
  4. Saint Petersburg (244,769)
  5. Orlando (238,300)
  6. Hialeah (224,669)
  7. Tallahassee (181,376)
  8. Fort Lauderdale (165,521)
  9. Port St Lucie (164,603)
  10. Pembroke Pines (154,750)

Figures according to Census 2010

Also Read: Forget Miami and Orlando: This Florida City is Real Gem

Florida for tourists

Florida is still a relatively young state and is home to comparatively few classic attractions. Nevertheless, there is a lot that can be experienced and explored in Florida in addition to a sun and beach holiday.

For example, there is St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the USA continuously populated by Europeans, or the picturesque Art Deco District on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, where over 900 buildings from the 30s and 40s of the 20th century are waiting to be seen and discovered. Not to mention the numerous museums, art galleries, technology and automobile museums, Cape Canaveral, and the many top-class amusement parks, cultural monuments and national parks.

This is waiting 25 kilometers north of downtown Miamithird’s largest shopping center in the USA for a visit and in many places there are high-quality restaurants that will make the hearts of seafood fans beat faster.

The Cape Canaveral Spaceport

Cape Canaveral, NASA’s space center, is certainly one of Florida’s most famous attractions and was made famous by the construction of Patrik Air Force Base in 1940. At that time, the foundation stone for space exploration was laid here, 80 kilometers from Orlando, and the process of all space missions is still coordinated from there today.

At Cape Canaveral, visitors can learn more about the Apollo missions, the construction of the Saturn 5 rocket, and rocket launches in general through lectures and film screenings at the Space Center, which consists of five main parts and can experience the Kennedy Space Center, the visitor center and Star Trek Live.

Florida: trips to the most famous amusement parks in the USA

If you talk about Florida, you also have to talk about amusement parks. The most famous theme parks in the USA are located there, including such top-class attractions as Universal Studios, the Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens Africa, Seaworld, and the Walt Disney World Resort with the Animal Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.

Cultural monuments worth seeing in Florida

Florida has a total of two national monuments, two national memorials, one national heritage area, 46 national historic landmarks, and a total of 1,773 structures and sites that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

These include :

  • the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument,
  • the Fort Matanzas National Monument,
  • the De Soto National Memorial,
  • the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee (Florida State Capitol),
  • the Fort Caroline National Memorial and
  • the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
  • National parks and natural monuments in Florida

National parks and natural monuments in Florida

In Florida, those interested will find three national parks, a national preserve, an ecological and historic preserve, two national seashores, and a further eighteen national natural landmarks that are worth a trip.

These include the following national parks and natural monuments :

  1. Biscayne National Park
  2. Dry Tortugas National Park
  3. Everglades National Park
  4. Big Cypress National Preserve
  5. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
  6. Canaveral National Seashore
  7. Gulf Islands National Seashore
  8. Wildlife viewing in Florida

Even though Florida’s coastal strips have been built over in many places and the originality has largely been lost in many places over time, there are still many opportunities to enjoy nature and animals such as alligators and manatees on the east coast of the state, especially in the interior to observe. If you would like to see the original flamingos, Florida’s unofficial heraldic animal and popular souvenir in plastic form, you should take a hike along the Snake Bight Trail in Everglades National Park or visit one of the amusement parks.

Watching alligators in the Everglades

The Everglades is certainly the most famous wetland in Florida, if not the USA, and covers an area of ​​several thousand square kilometers embedded in Everglades National Park across much of the south. The vast naturally formed wetland that stretches from Lake Okeechobee to southwest Florida is best explored on a guided airboat tour. In the water, which is sometimes only fifteen to twenty centimeters deep, you can not only free-living alligators but also hundreds of species of fish and birds, turtles, and snakes, among other things.

Watch manatees in Crystal River

Florida is a great place to see manatees. Manatees can be found wherever the water is nice and warm, especially in Homosassa and Three Sisters Springs in Chrystal River. The water there stays at over 24 °C all year round, which is why the manatees find perfect conditions there. Particularly in the main season from November to March, hundreds of manatees can be observed in their natural habitat in warm places in Florida all day long.

Sun and Beach Vacation in Florida

Anyone thinking about a sun and beach holiday in Florida can hardly ignore Fort Lauderdale. The Venice of the USA is located on a network of waterways that stretch a total of 400 kilometers.

The modern city with its long, clean sandy beaches, water taxis, hotels, restaurants, and shops is perfect for experiencing unadulterated swimming fun, watching the sunset on the beach, and enjoying all kinds of water sports. Even and especially in winter, when the humidity of summer has disappeared, the seawater on the Gold Coast is pleasant for swimming.

Florida's Must-See Beaches

Some of the most recommended beaches in Florida are :

  • Miami Beach,
  • Vero Beach,
  • Haulover Beach,
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach,
  • St. Augustine,
  • Sanibel Island,
  • West Palm Beach,
  • Captive Island,
  • Marco Island,
  • Clearwater Beach/Sand Key,
  • and Delray Beach.

Often unfairly overlooked: North Florida

North Florida was once the center of the state and today many traces of days gone by can still be seen there. On the one hand, there is St. Augustine, but the capital Tallahassee also has its charm and there are many mansions, historic battlefields, and more to discover in North Florida. Also in North Florida is the Sunshine State’s most populous city, Jacksonville.

Panama City Beach shows a completely different side with many culinary delights and its great beach promenade. Unlike the south, which is populated by tourists, here in North Florida you can still find really idyllic, picturesque spots by the sea. Cities like Green Gainesville, Wakulla Springs, Crawfordville, and Apalachicola can also be perfectly included in a rental car tour of North Florida.

Florida’s Fabulous Top Tourist Attractions in Florida

Florida Driving: Rules, Tips & Road Etiquette

  • In Florida, traffic is on the right.
  • In Florida, seat belts are required for drivers and passengers. Children up to the age of four need a child seat.
  • Turning right at traffic lights is generally permitted, even if the traffic light is red unless turning right is explicitly prohibited by a corresponding sign.
  • At stop signs that say “4-Way”, the order of arriving vehicles must be observed. Whoever reaches the intersection first is allowed to drive first.
  • In Florida, overtaking on multi-lane roads is allowed on the right and left lanes.
  • Speed ​​limits in Florida should be strictly adhered to if you want to avoid trouble with the traffic police. On highways a speed of 104 to 112 km/h is generally permitted, in urban areas around 88 km/h (55 mph) is permitted, while in towns and cities speeds are generally between around 48 and 72 km/h ( 30 to 45 mph) are permitted. Driving near schools is often only allowed at 15 mph.
  • Stopped school buses may not be overtaken when students get on and off. This also applies to oncoming traffic if the lanes are not separated by a traffic island. Warning signs with flashing yellow lights often indicate a school bus.
  • The traffic police in Florida are very attentive and punish violations severely. If the police are driving behind you with flashing lights, stop at the first opportunity and remain seated in the car with your hands on the steering wheel. You should always carry your driver’s license and vehicle documents with you.
  • Drinking and driving can result in a prison sentence. The next day, the person concerned is brought before the local judge, who sets a bail amount. Important: Open alcoholic drinks, whether full or empty, are NOT allowed to be carried in the interior of the car, not even by passengers. In principle, alcohol may ONLY be transported in the trunk.
  • Pedestrians have absolute priority in Florida. Stopping at crosswalks is expected.
  • Amusement parks, shopping centers, and supermarkets have large, free parking lots. Parking in the center or on beaches is usually chargeable and overstaying the parking time is extremely expensive. There is an absolute ban on parking on the curb and in tow-away zones. In general, markings on the curbs indicate where to stop. While there is an absolute no-parking policy with red markings, yellow markings indicate loading zones for delivery trucks. Areas with yellow and black markings are reserved as loading zones for trucks, and areas with blue markings are disabled parking spaces. While you are allowed to get in and out of areas marked in white, you are allowed to stop in areas marked in green for a maximum of ten minutes. There is an absolute ban on parking at fire hydrants. You should always stay at least three meters away from them.
  • At gas stations, you can either pay in advance in cash at the cash register or with a credit card directly at the pump. However, sometimes German credit cards don’t work at American gas stations. If you paid more at the checkout than fits in the tank, you get the remaining money back.
  • If you have a breakdown outside of built-up areas, park your vehicle completely on the hard shoulder. When you open the hood, passing vehicles on the route know they need help.
  • On the interstates, there are message boards along the route that provide information about seat belt requirements, possible traffic jams, route changes, and the estimated travel time to certain locations. They are also used to display “alerts” that search for specific vehicles together with a license plate number or a personal description. If the vehicle is spotted, the telephone number provided should be called. There are different “alerts”. While “Silver Alerts” indicate a missing person, “Blue Alerts” indicate that a police officer has been shot or shot. The Amber Alert indicates a child abduction.
  • HOV lanes on the interstates may only be used if there are at least two people in the rental car.
  • Blue signs with white cyclones indicate so-called “evacuation roads”. These are safe roads that lead inland in the event of a hurricane.
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