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Destinations & Interests

   Brochure images of tanning flesh and Mickey Mouse give an inaccurate and incomplete picture of FLORIDA. Although the aptly nicknamed "Sunshine State" is indeed devoted to the tourist trade, it's also among the least-understood parts of the US. Away from its overexposed resorts lie forests and rivers, deserted strands filled with wildlife, vibrant cities and primeval swamps.
   In many respects Florida is still evolving. Seven hundred people a day move to the state, now the fourth most populous in the nation. Changing demographics are eroding the traditional Deep South conservatism: the new Floridians tend to be a younger, more energetic breed, while Spanish-speaking enclaves provide close ties to Latin America and the Caribbean - links as influential in creating wealth as the recent arrival of the movie industry in central Florida, fresh from Hollywood.
   The essential stop is cosmopolitan, half-Latin Miami , from where a simple journey south brings you to the Florida Keys , a hundred-mile string of islands known for sports fishing, coral-reef diving, and the sultry town of Key West , legendary for its sunsets and anything-goes attitude. North from Miami, much of the east coast is disappointingly urbanized, albeit with miles of unbroken beaches flowing alongside. The residential stranglehold is lessened further north, where communities such as Daytona Beach have become subservient to the local sands. Farther along, historical St Augustine stands as the longest continuous settlement in the US.

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  In central Florida the terrain turns green, though it's no rural idyll: this is where you'll find Orlando and Walt Disney World , one of the world's leading tourist destinations. From here it's just a skip north to the forests of the Panhandle , Florida's link with the Deep South, or to the towns and beaches of the west coast . To the south, and also easily accessible from Miami, stretches the Everglades , a swampy sawgrass plain filled with camera-friendly (but otherwise unfriendly) alligators.

   When To Go
   In at least one way it makes little difference when you visit : warm sunshine and blue skies are almost always a fact of life. Florida does, however, split into two climatic zones : subtropical in the south and warm temperate in the north. Orlando and points south have very mild winters (October to April), with warm temperatures and low humidity. This is the peak tourist season, when prices are at their highest. The southern summer (May to September), on the other hand, brings high humidity and afternoon storms - the rewards for braving the mugginess are lower prices and fewer tourists. Winter is the off-peak period north of Orlando; while snow has been known to fall in the Panhandle, daytime temperatures are generally comfortably warm. During the northern Florida summer, the crowds arrive, and the days - and the nights - get hot and sticky. Also, there is a potentially ominous time of the year - the " hurricane season " - June to November.
  Finally, although Florida has struggled with its reputation for crimes against (and even murders of) tourists, the state's been very successful in reducing such attacks. It's definitely no longer the den of "Miami Vice" it once was, but, as when visiting all big cities, it pays to be wary.
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   Climate Florida-vacations
  Florida has a semi-tropical climate. It becomes oppressively hot and humid during the months of June through August. Expect temperatures to exceed 90 degrees F (32 C) and humidity to hover near 100 percent. The most pleasant weather is usually found during winter months between December and March when temperatures are more likely around 75 degrees (25 C) and the humidity becomes bearable.
   It rains nearly every day in most months (perhaps less during the winter), but the showers are generally short and the sun usually quickly reappears. Hurricane season lasts from August through late October. During these months, fierce tropical storms can bring dangerously high winds and inundating rainfalls.
  Florida is the sunshine state and also the Thunderstorm and Lightning State. Due to the abundance of warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the hot tropical sun, conditions are perfect for the formation of thunderstorms. Every year, many injuries and fatalities are caused by lightning strikes on Florida golf courses and beaches.
  Nature has not endowed Florida with many mountains, rolling hills or panoramic vistas, as its terrain is rather flat. But it has gorgeous white sand beaches and blue lagoons lined with palm trees and tropical flora.
  An archipelago of thousands of small islands, known as "the keys" stretch along coral reefs over 150 miles below the southern tip of Florida. It is possible to drive "over the ocean" on 42 bridges and causeways connecting the keys until you reach Key West 119 mile out on the Gulf of Mexico.
  Over 1000 square miles of swampy grassland, known as the Everglades, cover the lower tip of the peninsula. It is teeming with tropical birds, animals and fishes.

Month   Average High     Average Low   Rainfall

(F) (C) (F) (C) (in) (mm)
Jan 72 22 49 9 2 51
Feb 73 22 50 10 3 76
Mar 78 25 55 12 3 76
Apr 84 28 60 15 2 51
May 88 31 66 18 4 102
Jun 91 32 71 21 7 178
Jul 92 33 73 22 8 203
Aug 92 33 73 22 6 152
Sep 90 32 3 22 6 152
Oct 84 28 65 18 3 76
Nov 78 25 57 13 2 51
Dec 73 22 51 10 2 51

   Language
  Of course, English is the official language of USA. But the theme parks draw thousands of international visitors each year, and now Disney is making it easier for international visitors to Walt Disney World to enjoy popular theme park attractions.
  Disney has combined cutting-edge wireless technology with the guest service standards that have become a Disney hallmark to launch a service providing synchronized narration in five languages for popular theme park attractions. The program debuted with the opening of "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" at the Disney-MGM Studios.
  Free to all guests, the service uses a personal translation unit that automatically receives creative narration via headphones in five languages -- French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish -- providing a more satisfying, personal experience for guests with limited English fluency. Infrared signals throughout the attraction trigger synchronized digital audio in each translation unit.
  Guest Relations locations in each theme park offer 500 translation units for 13 narrative attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort.

   Time
  The Eastern Time Zone Is:

  GMT - 5h during Standard Time
  GMT -4h during Daylight Saving Time

  The Central Time Zone Is:

  GMT - 6h during Standard Time
  GMT - 5h during Daylight Saving Time

   FLORIDA SAFETY TIPS
  The beaches are beautiful and the weather is perfect, but South Florida has its own unique hazards, all related to the sweltering weather. Sunburn, mosquitoes and sea lice are all avoidable or at least treatable if you know what to look for. Below are ways to recognize and prevent these common ailments.
  Traveling is meant to provide pleasure but at times it could also lead to problems to the traveler. Discussed below are some travel safety tips that could come in handy to the lone traveler. Florida family vacation
  • As a rule of the thumb always make sure to travel light. This could save you from a heap load of troubles in the first place
  • Never carry too much loose cash and never stack all cash at one place. Carry credit cards and travelers cheques
  • Make sure to take a travel insurance before you start traveling
  • Have a check list of all items you are carrying and keep it with you
  • Always have a handy first aid box readily available packed in an accessible place
  • Do proper research of the travel destination and carry necessary medications and lotions
  • Always make sure to use licensed travel agents and travel guides
  • Never go for activity related sports without proper guides
  • Always carry a travel map wherever you go
      So no matter where you are planning to travel, make sure to follow these handy travel safety tips. And as a final word always remember, its better safe than sorry!

       History
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      The first European sighting of Florida, just six years after Christopher Columbus reached the New World, is believed to have been made by John and Sebastian Cabot in 1498, when they spotted what is now Cape Florida, on Key Biscayne in Miami. At the time, the area's 100,000 inhabitants formed several distinct tribes : the Timucua across northern Florida, the Calusa around the southwest and Lake Okeechobee, the Apalachee in the Panhandle and the Tequesta along the southeast coast.
      In 1513, a Spaniard, Juan Ponce de Leon , sighted land during Pascua Florida , the Festival of the Flowers, and named what he saw La Florida - or "Land of Flowers." Eight years later he returned with a mandate from the Spanish king to conquer and colonize the territory, the first of several Spanish incursions prompted by rumors of gold hidden in the north of the region. When it became clear that Florida did not harbor stunning riches, interest waned; but the arrival of French Huguenots in 1562 forced the Spanish into a more determined effort at settlement. Three years later, Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded St Augustine - the longest continuous site of European habitation on the continent. In 1586 St Augustine was razed by a British naval bombardment led by Francis Drake. The ensuing bloody confrontation for control of North America was eventually settled when the British captured the crucial Spanish possession of Havana, and Spain willingly parted with Florida to get it back. By this time, indigenous Floridians had been largely wiped out by disease. Florida's Native American population now largely comprised disparate tribes arriving from the west, collectively known as the Seminoles , who were generally left undisturbed in the inland areas.
      Following American independence, when Florida was returned to Spain, the US began to think in terms of controlling the state. In 1814 a US general, Andrew Jackson, marched south, killing hundreds of Indians and triggering the First Seminole War - on the pretext of subduing the Seminole but with the actual intention of taking the region. Spain formally ceded Florida to the US in 1819, with Jackson sworn in as Florida's first American governor and Tallahassee selected as the new administrative center. Eleven years later, the Act of Indian Removal decreed that all Native Americans in the eastern US should be transferred to reservations in the Midwest. Most Seminole were determined to stay and the Second Seminole War broke out, with the Indians steadily driven south, away from the fertile lands of central Florida and into the Everglades, where they eventually agreed to remain.
      Florida became a state on March 3, 1845, coinciding with the prosperity brought by the railroads. As a member of the Confederacy during the Civil War , Florida's primary contribution was the provision of food - a foretaste of its postwar economic role after being readmitted to the Union. As northern speculators began to invest in Florida, the country's newspapers extolled the curative virtues of its climate. These early efforts to promote Florida as a tourist destination brought in the wintering rich: Henry Flagler opened luxury resorts on the northeast coast and extended his Florida East Coast Railroad south, giving birth to communities such as Palm Beach. Henry Plant connected his own railroad to Tampa, turning it into a thriving port city. Florida's climate enabled citrus fruits to be grown during the winter and sold to the cooler north, and the state became a major beef producer. After World War I, it seemed that everyone in America wanted a piece of Florida, and chartered trains brought in thousands of eager buyers. But most deals were on paper only, and in 1926 the banks began to default. The Wall Street Crash then made paupers of the millionaires whose investments had helped shape the state.
      What saved Florida was World War II . Thousands of troops arrived to guard the coastline, empty tourist hotels provided ready-made barracks, and - most importantly - the soldiers got a taste of Florida that would entice many of them to return. In the mid-Sixties, the state government bent over backward to help the Disney Corporation turn a sizable slice of central Florida into Walt Disney World , the biggest theme park ever known. Its enormous commercial success helped solidify Florida's place in the international tourist market: directly or indirectly, tourism makes up 20 percent of the total state economy.
       Behind the optimistic facade, however, lie many problems . There's a broadening gap between the relative liberalism of the big cities and the arch-conservatism of the rural Bible Belt: while Miami promotes its multicultural makeup, the Ku Klux Klan holds picnics in the Panhandle. Gun laws remain notoriously lax, and the multimillion-dollar drug trade shows few signs of abating - at least a quarter of the cocaine entering the US is said to arrive via Florida. Racial issues continue, too, with tension on several fronts: between Anglo-Americans and nouveau riche Cubans, blacks and whites, blacks and Hispanics, police and the inner-city poor. However, increased protection of the state's natural resources has been a more positive feature of the last decade and impressive amounts of land are under state control - overall, wildlife is less threatened now than at any time since white settlers first arrived.
       The 2000 presidential election fiasco brought unwelcome attention to the state. Both Gov. George Bush of Texas (Republican) and Vice President Al Gore (Democrat) needed Florida's 25 electoral votes to win. Bush led by a few hundred votes on the morning after the election in unofficial returns. For five weeks top lawyers on both slides slugged it out in the courts. Disputes raged over such issues as whether ballots with "hanging chads" (partially punched out holes) should be counted. Ultimately, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively halted the recounts, and Bush won the state by 537 votes out of some six million cast

       Best Of Florida

      Ocean Drive, Miami
    South Beach's finest Art Deco showpiece with cosmopolitan cafes, flashy vintage cars and wannabe models.

      Mangrove Mama's , Sugarloaf Key
    Quintessential Florida Keys food joint, serving super-fresh conch fritters and Key Lime pie.

       Little Havana, Miami
    Lunch on Cuban specialties and cafe con leche in this Hispanic enclave.

       Key West
    Funky, anything-goes town, which feels like it's at the end of the world.

       St Augustine
    Sixteenth century Spanish town packed with historic interest and a handful of lovely beaches.

       Walt Disney World, Orlando
    Pure entertainment, planned down to the last detail, yet irresistible all the same.

       Everglades National Park
    Bike or hike through the vast sawgrass plains of the legendary Everglades, or canoe through alligator-filled mangrove swamps.

    Getting Around
       Florida is surprisingly compact, and easy to get around by car: crossing between the east and west coasts takes a couple of hours, and one of the longest trips - between the western extremity of the Panhandle and Miami - can be done in a day. Public transportation , on the other hand, requires adroit advance planning. Greyhound buses link all major towns and cities, with both Miami and Orlando well served; but many rural areas and some of the most enjoyable sections of the coast are not covered.
       Florida's railroads were built to service boomtowns in the Twenties, and consequently some rural nooks are well-linked. Amtrak runs west from Jacksonville via New Orleans all the way to LA, while connections with New York are good. However, in some areas Amtrak buses have replaced the trains; these can be very expensive, so check in advance. Passengers with cars can use the daily Auto Train from Lorton, Virginia (just south of Washington, DC), to Sanford, north of Orlando. The southeast coast boasts an elevated TriRail system that ferries commuters between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Palm Beach.
       Although inadvisable in the cities, cycling is a great way to see large parts of Florida - miles of cycle paths follow the coast, and long-distance bike trails cross the state's interior. Forget hitching : always dangerous (especially for women), it's illegal in Miami (where you'd be lucky to live to regret it) and on the outskirts of many other cities.

      If you are in desperate need of a great vacation, then come and visit Florida. Florida has it all, great weather, beautiful beaches and super fun family and honeymoon resorts. It is our favourite place in the world, there is so much to see and do and it is for all ages.



    More useful Florida vacations ideas and guides:

    Boca Raton Gainesville Pensacola
    Bonita Springs Hollywood Beach Panama City
    Bradenton Islamorada Plantation
    Captiva
    Jacksonville Palm Beach
    Clearwater
    Key Largo Pompano Beach
    Cocoa Beach Key West St Petersburg
    Coconut Grove Kissimmee St. Augustine
    Cape Canaveral Lakeland Sunny Isles Beach
    Coral Gables Longboat Key Sanibel
    Delray Beach Lake Buena Vista Stuart
    Davenport Melbourne Sarasota
    Destin Marco Island Sunrise
    Daytona Beach Miami Stuart
    Deerfield Beach Madeira Beach Tampa
    Ft.Lauderdale Naples Titusville
    Fort Walton Beach Orlando Tallahassee
    Ft Myers Ocala Vero Beach
    Fort Pierce Ormond Beach Winter Haven
    Florida Keys Palm Coast West Palm Beach

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