The Sunshine State
Maybe there's no question to what makes the Florida peninsula so intoxicating. Beaches as elegant and sweet as powdered sugar, rustling mangroves, warm waters: all contrive to melt our busy workaday selves. We come to Florida to let it all go – worries, winter, and reality. Some are looking for a sandy getaway of sunsets, swimming, and seafood. Others seek the tranquility of South Beach and Key West. Still more are willing to lose themselves within the fantasy realms of Walt Disney World® and Orlando's theme parks. Within Florida's semitropical wilderness, alligators prowl the waterways, herons strut through ponds, manatees winter in springs and sea turtles nest in summer. Osprey and eagles, dolphins and tarpon, coral-reef forests, oceans of sawgrass: despite the best efforts of 21st-century humans, overwhelming portions of Florida remain untamed. In a nation where natural beauty is often measured by topography, flat Florida is underappreciated by outdoors fanatics, but here you can paddle a kayak over the back of a sleeping Jurassic-era alligator, and meet loggerheads and manatees underwater, eye to eye. While many of us love Florida for its beaches and theme parks, few of us know that this is one of the most populated states in the country. And that this state is so diverse. Ranch hunters and trappers in the geographically northern, culturally Southern climes and Jewish transplants living side by side with Latin arrivals from every Spanish-speaking nation around the globe, it's hard to beat Florida when it comes to tasting the human diversity at its most colorful and vibrant way.
Some gorgeous itineraries
We've selected some of the best routes for this destination
Miami, Key West and Everglades (4 days)
Top locations in Florida
See top spots for boating in the area
The city's importance as an international financial and cultural center has elevated Miami to the status of a world city. Because of its cultural and linguistic relationship with North, South, and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, Miami has been many times referred to as "The Gateway of the Americas." Miami in the past three decades has become one of the most visited cities in the Americas. Visitors can stay in Miami hotels or in one of Miami vacation rentals. The city has the perfect conditions to be your next gateway vacation; it has a typical tropical hot and humid summers, and warm, dry winters. If you visit Miami, you will never want to leave.
Key West is the far frontier, edgier and more eccentric than the other keys, and also far more captivating. At its heart, this 7-sq-mile island feels like a beautiful tropical oasis, where the moonflowers bloom at night, and the traditional Caribbean homes are so sad and romantic it's hard not to sigh at them. As in all parts of the Keys, nature plays a significant role here, with some breathtaking sunsets – cause for nightly celebration down on Mallory Sq.
There is no other wilderness in America quite like the Everglades. Called the ‘River of Grass' by Native Americans, this is not just a wetland, swamp, lake, river, prairie, or a grassland. It is all of the above, combined together into a series of beautiful views, sunsets that stretch across your entire horizon and the toothy grins of a healthy population of dinosaur-era reptiles.
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