Sunset in Everglades National Park © Esther Lee
The Sunshine State of Florida is a vacationer's paradise 365 days a year. Its climate, pristine beaches, and theme parks are all geared towards the leisure and pleasure of the millions of vacationers who flock in from around the world. Consisting of a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of the United States, Florida's uneven coastline is indented with estuaries, bays, inlets, lagoons and rivers, creating ideal enclaves for holiday resorts. Right in the south the peninsula ends in an arc of islands resting on coral reefs, known as the Florida Keys. These islands, which together make up the southernmost part of the United States, are perfect for all water based activities, like snorkeling, kayaking, and dolphin watching.
After World War II, tourism development took off in Florida, where the industry not only focused on enhancing the state's natural attractions, but to build new man-made ones. The central part of the state, particularly around Tampa and Orlando, has since become a theme park paradise. Enticing venues offer everything from water slides to rollicking roller coasters. Themed animal habitats attract thousands to the accompanying resort hotels on the mammoth sites of Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and other major resort operators.
The state's biggest city, Miami, echoes the vibrancy of the rest of this holiday paradise, with its soft white sandy beaches vying for attention with the city's numerous attractions and colourful neighbourhoods. Its famous Art Deco district and Latin American quarter are constantly thronged with visitors, many of them passengers from the hundreds of cruise ships that come and go in the bustling port. Within easy access from Miami are the Everglades, a marshy grass plain home to plentiful wildlife and filled with alligators.
Aptly named the 'Sunshine State', Florida offers anything anyone seeks in a holiday, whether it be fine wining and dining, learning about space exploration, discovering endangered wildlife, riding a roller coaster or bronzing on one of its famous beaches.