Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, and tourism is the largest sector of its economy. One visit is enough to show you why. Between the beautiful beaches, the amazing cities, the family-friendly fun, and the convenience for US travelers, Florida is a fantastic travel option. Whether you’re interested in the hidden, beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast or the party atmosphere of Key West, Florida has a vacation option that’s perfect for you.
Languages: English officially, approximately 18% of residents speak Spanish.
Airport: Florida is served by 131 public airports, but the biggest are Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Key West International Airport provides travelers an air route to Key West, but is generally international in name only. The most frequent routes are to and from other parts of the southeastern USA.
Time Zone: Most of the state is in the EST (GMT-5) time zone, but the western part of the panhandle is in the Central Time Zone (GMT-6). Florida observes Daylight Saving Time.
WHERE TO STAY
Thanks to its size, Florida has a destination for every taste. Partiers will go wild for Key West and its permanent aura of fun, sun, and sand. A slightly more highbrow crowd can still enjoy this southernmost part of the continental US, with visits to Ernest Hemingway’s house, a butterfly conservatory, and all the fishing and snorkeling you could hope for. Miami is a vibrant city with fantastic beaches and is as close to visiting Cuba as US citizens can get. Fort Lauderdale is no longer the party town it once was, and now attracts a somewhat more affluent crowd, who go wild for its waterways, museums, and shopping. And the beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast are some of the nicest in the US – it helps that they’re still not too well-known.
Long gone are the days when the most variation of ethnic food to be found in Florida was at Epcot. A large immigrant population from around the world has given rise to a wide variety of cuisines in Florida, and every city has a selection of eateries that range from upscale to beach bars. Cuban food is particularly prevalent in Miami. And, of course, traditional food of the United States still abounds.
Florida weather has a greater variation than much of the Caribbean, in that its summer temperatures frequently reach the low- to mid-90s (rarely reaching 100), while winter averages can get as low as the low 40s in northern Florida (usually staying in the 50s in the south of the state). Unfortunately, Florida is particularly susceptible to hurricanes, especially from August to October.
INSIDER TIPS FROM OUR TRAVEL EXPERTS
True throughout the Caribbean, but especially in Florida due to the incredible number of families that visit, is the concept of going against the crowd. Most people will head to South Florida in the winter, particularly at the holidays, while North Florida is a popular summer destination, so you should make it your mission to go when the crowds are thinnest. The best thing to keep in mind in Florida, though, is that even though you may not be all that far from home, it’s still possible and important to branch out and try something new – whether that’s Cuban food or water sports, you’re sure to have a blast.