Florida round trip – the Sunshine State away from Miami

When you think of Florida, you probably think of palm trees, miles of white sandy beaches, and of course – how could it be any other way – Florida's hotspot Miami Beach. The beach metropolis of the Sunshine State is one of the world's most popular destinations and the center of attraction par excellence for all party-loving sun worshippers. In my round trip through Florida, however, I would like to show you what else the Sunshine State has to offer besides Miami Beach (maybe you can experience it all for yourself during your language study trip to Miami or your student exchange in Florida). Let's go!


Our Florida round trip begins in St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the USA. St. Augustine is located in northeast Florida, at the mouth of the Matanzas River. The in the 16. St Augustine, which was founded by the Spanish colonial ruler Juan Ponce de Leon in the 16th century. Augustine was the capital of the state of Florida until it was replaced by Tallahassee in 1824. St Augustine's trademarks are the colonial buildings and the omnipresent Spanish flair. This is especially evident in the colonial quarter, as well as impressive buildings such as the Spanish fort "Castillo de San Marcos", the "Ponce de Leon Hotel", which is now part of Flagler College, as well as the "Villa Zorayda" – a city palace, which is inspired by the Spanish Alhambra in Granada.


About 100 km south of St. Augustine is Daytona Beach, which, it can't be said otherwise, is a total contrast to the historical St. Augustine. Daytona Beach stands for pop culture and consumption and is not called the "festival capital" of the USA for nothing. The Mecca of motorsports is especially known for the "Daytona International Speedway", where the legendary "Daytona 500 NASCAR" car race takes place every February. The fact that Daytona Beach is pretty much all about cars is also evident at the beach. At the concrete-hard sandy beach it is largely allowed to drive up directly with the car. So what are you waiting for? Rent a car, pack all the essentials for a BBQ and a day at the beach in the trunk, and head to "Original American Beach," as Daytona Beach likes to call itself, for the waves and the fun. The beach is lined by the always lively Boardwalk, which reminds of a small amusement park with countless bars, restaurants and stores.


From the small amusement parks in Daytona Beach, our Florida round trip now continues to some of the world's largest amusement parks in Orlando, which is approx. 100 km southwest of Daytona Beach, in the interior of Florida, lies St Augustine. Probably the most famous is "Walt Disney World", which houses no less than four Disney theme parks – Magical Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios – as well as two water parks. Universal Studios, the second largest amusement park next to Walt Disney World, is also located in Orlando. Harry Potter fans, watch out! If you've always wanted to immerse yourself in the wizarding world of Harry, Hermione and Ron, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Harry Potter movies, but England is far too wet and cold for that, you can do it here, in sunny Orlando at Universal Studios.


On the same level as Orlando, but to the east, on the Atlantic coast, is Cape Canaveral. Cape Canaveral is home to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) as well as NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), from whose base the first manned spacecraft – Apollo 8 – was launched in 1968 to orbit the moon. At the visitor center, you can immerse yourself in the history of space travel and truly be inspired by all that is out of this world. You've always wanted to meet an astronaut or watch a rocket launch? Then you are right here! For those of you who are free from giddiness, the "Rocket Launch" simulator, which plays through a rocket launch from A to Z, is certainly the highlight par excellence. However, for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, or rather. on the sand, can simply enjoy the Florida sun in the adjacent Cocoa Beach.


Fort Lauderdale, which is a short 40-minute drive north of Miami Beach, is best known for its shipping industry. The city is not only home to one of the largest cruise ports in the world, but also hosts the world's largest boat show, the "Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show", which takes place annually in fall. With over 4,000 bars, restaurants and nightclubs, Fort Liquordale was one of the most popular spring break party destinations for hundreds of thousands of American college students, along with Miami Beach, until the late 1980s. However, Fort Lauderdale has become a destination for high earners and is a popular destination for yachting vacationers. The cityscape is characterized by its many canals and bays – no wonder, then, that in the "Venice of America" you are more likely to drive up in your yacht than in your car. During a boat trip through the famous "Millionaire's Row" (believe me, this canal has its name not without reason), you can admire not only countless luxury yachts, but also the associated villas of their owners. Get on board, dreaming is allowed on board!


All Florida travel guides agree: A visit to the Everglades is a must on any Florida tour! Everglades National Park was established in 1934 and protects ca. 20% of the total area over which the Everglades originally extended. The Everglades are the largest subtropical nature reserve in the USA and home to the largest mangrove forests in the western hemisphere. The nature reserve is home to more than 30 endangered animal species, such as. B. the manatee (Caribbean manatee), the Florida panther, and the American crocodile. In addition to reptiles and mammals, the Everglades is also home to over 350 species of birds and 300 species of fish. The Everglades can be explored by land, on foot or by bicycle, as well as by water, by boat, kayak or canoe. Guided tours, accompanied by park rangers, are offered for both. This option is recommended for those who do not want to end up as a Sunday roast for the local alligators.


Like pearls on a string, the more than 200 coral islands of the Florida Keys extend from the southernmost tip of the Florida mainland over a total length of almost 300 kilometers far into the Gulf of Mexico. The islands are connected by 42 bridges, the most famous being the "Seven Mile Bridge". Exactly, the name here indicates the length, which is the equivalent of 11 kilometers. At the end of Highway 1 is Key West, the southeasternmost island of the Florida Keys – from there it's only 90 miles to Cuba. Next to the southernmost point of the USA – a photo stop is a must there! – you can also visit the "Hemingway House" in Key West, the house of the Nobel Prize winner in literature Ernest Hemingway. Even though Hemingway is deceased, there are still about 60 descendants of his famous cats living there. In addition to Hemingway's cats, more than 60 species of butterflies can be admired at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Key West is known for its fishing and the many restaurants, stores and bars along the lively Duval Street, as well as for the omnipresent relaxed atmosphere and the friendliness of the "Conchs", as the inhabitants of Key West are also called. For those who didn't know, this islanders' name is derived from a type of shell – the "conch" is the large serrated shell of the Caribbean sea snail, which is also native to Key West.


Since most vacationers from Europe are drawn to Florida's Atlantic coast, we'll now give you a few reasons why you should definitely not skip the Sunshine State's Gulf Coast during your Florida round trip:

NAPLES is known for its sprawling, tranquil powder-sugar beaches, luxury shopping and world-class golf resorts. The city on Florida's Gulf Coast is one of the richest cities in the U.S. and the adopted home of multi-millionaires – among others, Bill Gates has a residence here. The beach, on the other hand, is also frequented by average earners. A stop at this beautiful coastline, which offers one of the most beautiful sunsets in Florida, is well worth it!

In FORT MYERS, which is an hour's drive north of Naples, you can visit the residences of light bulb inventor Thomas Edison and running track inventor and auto mogul Henry Ford, among others, who regularly escaped the cold winters of the northern states for warm Florida. SANIBEL ISLAND is located off Fort Myers, a true Caribbean island paradise whose beaches are among the richest in shells in the world. Whoever manages to find one of the special brown-spotted "Junonia" shells in the masses here will achieve eternal fame and be mentioned with a photo in the local newspaper. Take the challenge? Let's go searching for shells!

Ca. 2.5 hours by car north of Fort Myers lies TAMPA nzzentren of the south of the USA. In recent years, Tampa has become a magnet for the 20+ age group, many of whom study at the University of South Florida. The Florida sun truly seems to provide a good "learning climate" here. Worth seeing is especially "Bush Gardens", an African theme park with numerous attractions. "Bush Gardens is also one of the largest zoological institutions in the U.S. and is home to nearly 3,000 animals.

From Tampa to PENSACOLA, Florida's westernmost city, it's a whopping 770 kilometers. Pensacola, or "P-Cola," is characterized primarily by the flair of the surrounding southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and is considered a popular vacation spot for residents of the southern states. One of the culinary specialties of the "Emerald Coast", as this section of the Florida Gulf Coast is also called (and yes, the water here is really iridescent and emerald), is the "Red Snapper" – a fish that is mainly caught in this area of the Gulf of Mexico. At this point: "Bon appetit!"

To conclude our Florida round trip – a few interesting facts about the Sunshine State:

No place is further than 90 km from the beach.

Florida was founded in 1845 as 27. State of the USA founded.

The coastline includes a total of 13.600 km.

Florida is the 3. most populous state in the USA.

Florida is the flattest US state – it is only 30 meters above sea level.

The Sunshine State is the world's second largest supplier of citrus fruits. No wonder that the orange blossom is symbolic of Florida.

The Everglades is the only place in the world where both crocodiles and alligators live.

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