Heads up: some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you click and make a booking or purchase, I’ll make a commission (at no extra cost to you). I partner with companies I personally use and the $$ goes towards creating more awesome, free travel content.
Florida, otherwise known as “The Sunshine State,” is widely recognized for its miles of stunning, sandy beaches, lush landscapes, and incredibly biodiverse Everglades.
Flaunting a mixture of cultures and influences, Florida also boasts a thriving arts scene, exciting amusement parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, and an enriching historical narrative, especially noticeable in cities like St. Augustine, the oldest city in America.
Add to this some of the nation’s most vibrant dining scenes, unbeatable sports offerings, and a year-round warm climate, and Florida effortlessly stands out as a place showcasing the richness of American lifestyle.
Here’s an epic list of things Florida is known for.
What Food is Florida Known For?
Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie, a celebrated dessert originating in the Florida Keys, has become an iconic symbol of Floridian cuisine. Combining the distinctive tartness of key limes, native to the region, with a velvety custard filling and a crumbly graham cracker crust, this dessert offers an enchanting zest that balances sweetness with tang. Often topped with whipped cream or meringue, key lime pie is not only enjoyed in Florida but has gained popularity worldwide. This refreshing yet indulgent treat is now considered a must-try for anyone visiting the Sunshine State.
Gator tail, a distinctive dish in Floridian cuisine, showcases the region’s utilization of local resources. Considered a delicacy, it features the tender, lean meat of alligators, mostly coming from the tail, which is often likened to chicken or pork in texture. This meat is typically marinated, then breaded and fried to create bite-sized appetizers, or utilized in stews, tacos, and sandwiches. Gator tail’s unique flavor profile and its palm-sized serving make it an adventurous yet approachable choice for both locals and tourists seeking authentic Florida fare.
Conch Fritters are a beloved seafood delicacy found predominantly in coastal areas, particularly in Florida and the Caribbean. Featuring conch, a large marine mollusk, these fritters incorporate tender chunks of the shellfish mixed with ingredients like onion, bell pepper, celery, and a flavorful blend of spices. The mixture is then formed into balls and deep-fried until they achieve a crisp, golden brown exterior. Served hot, often with a side of spicy dipping sauce, Conch Fritters are well-known for their unique, savory taste and are a must-try dish for seafood lovers.
Stone Crab Claws
Stone crab claws are a culinary highlight in Florida, particularly in the south. These crustaceans, known for their large and meaty claws, undergo a unique harvesting process where only one claw is removed, allowing the crab to regenerate its lost limb. The claws are usually boiled immediately after harvest and served chilled with a side of mustard sauce. The meat is incredibly sweet, succulent, and is considered a sustainable seafood choice due to the harvest method. A seasonal delicacy, stone crab claws are a cornerstone of Floridian seafood cuisine, drawing food aficionados from far and wide.
Apalachicola oysters, hailing from the Apalachicola Bay in Florida, are renowned for their exceptional quality and distinctly briny flavors. Traditionally, these wild oysters were harvested by hand using long, rake-like tongs, preserving both the ecosystem and the oysters’ delicate texture. The bay’s unique mix of fresh and saltwater gives these mollusks their unique taste that is highly sought after by seafood lovers. Served raw on the half shell, baked, or fried, Apalachicola oysters are a vital part of Florida’s culinary heritage, exemplifying the state’s rich seafood culture and sustainable fishing practices.
The Cuban sandwich, affectionately known as a “Cubano,” is a flavorful representation of Florida’s deep-rooted Cuban influence, particularly in cities like Tampa and Miami. Stacked with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles, all nestled between slices of crisp, buttery Cuban bread, this sandwich is a beloved staple in Florida’s culinary scene. It is often pressed until the cheese is melted and the exterior is perfectly toasted. Despite its simplicity, the Cubano’s delicious combination of flavors and textures make it a ubiquitous part of Floridian cuisine, famed for its cultural significance and satisfying taste.
What is Florida’s Signature Drink?
Florida is synonymous with orange juice, often considered the state’s signature drink due to its extensive citrus groves. The state, being the top producer of oranges in the United States, naturally boasts high-quality, refreshing orange juice that’s rich in flavor and nutrition. The sunshine-filled climate provides ideal growing conditions for sweet, ripe oranges, which are freshly squeezed to make this beloved beverage. Consumed during breakfast or as a refreshing, hydrating treat, Florida’s orange juice is not just a staple drink but also a testament to the state’s strong agricultural heritage, with its taste capturing the essence of Florida Sunshine.
Cities and Places Florida is Known For
Miami, a vibrant, multicultural city in southeastern Florida, is renowned for its stunning beaches, art deco architecture, and lively nightlife. As a melting pot of cultures, Miami offers rich culinary experiences and an international flair. The city boasts neighborhoods like Little Havana and the Design District, which showcase varied aspects of its cultural identity. Additionally, Miami’s tropical climate and proximity to the Everglades make it a popular destination for tourists seeking both urban excitement and nature exploration. With its dynamic arts scene and year-round warm weather, Miami continues to exude an irresistible charm unique to this coastal metropolis.
Fort Lauderdale, located on Florida’s southeastern coast, is famous for its expansive and beautiful beaches, boating canals, and upscale outdoor restaurants. Often referred to as the “Venice of America,” the city boasts an extensive network of waterways, appealing to boaters and water enthusiasts. Its bustling downtown and Riverwalk, a promenade featuring shops, cultural venues, and eateries, make the city a vibrant spot for residents and tourists alike. With a rich history reflected in sites like the Bonnet House and the Stranahan House, Fort Lauderdale effortlessly blends casual beachside charm with cultural sophistication.
Naples, located on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, is best known for its high-end shopping, world-class dining, and abundant golf courses. The city’s main landmark is the historic Naples Pier, an ideal spot for sunset viewing and fishing. With pristine white sand beaches and clear waters, the city offers ample opportunities for water sports and wildlife spotting, most notably at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Lush landscapes, upscale resorts, and a thriving arts scene, highlighted by the famed Artis-Naples performing arts center, make Naples a luxurious, yet naturally beautiful destination for travelers.
Orlando, situated in central Florida, is globally recognized for its array of world-class theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld, making it a coveted destination for family fun. Beyond thrilling rides and entertainment, Orlando boasts a vibrant downtown area with a dynamic culinary scene and eclectic nightlife. The city is also home to natural beauty, as seen in spaces like Lake Eola Park. Despite its theme park fame, Orlando offers a rich, diverse experience from arts and culture at the Dr. Phillips Center to serene gardens and wildlife at the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
Tampa, located on Florida’s west coast, is a city known for historic architecture, cultural diversity, and a thriving waterfront. Its iconic neighborhood, Ybor City, once the Cigar Capital of the World, now teems with vibrant nightlife and Cuban cuisine. Tampa’s Riverwalk, a pedestrian trail along the Hillsborough River, hosts myriad restaurants and museums, including the acclaimed Tampa Museum of Art. Busch Gardens, an African-themed amusement park, adds to Tampa’s appeal for visitors. With a dynamic blend of cultural heritage, waterfront activities, and energetic entertainment options, Tampa truly embodies Florida’s unique charm.
West Palm Beach
Positioned along the eastern coast of Florida, West Palm Beach is a city that harmoniously combines upscale city life with abundant natural attractions. The city’s notable attractions like CityPlace, a shopping, dining, and entertainment center, and Clematis Street, known for its vibrant nightlife, enrich the urban experience. Meanwhile, nature surrounds you at the Palm Beach Zoo and the Mounts Botanical Garden. The city’s heart, the scenic waterfront along Flagler Drive, often hosts music and food festivals, with Jazz on the Palm as a local favorite. Whether exploring the downtown buzz or spotting manatees at Manatee Lagoon, West Palm Beach offers a diverse, engaging experience.
Sarasota, dubbed as Florida’s “Cultural Coast,” invites you with a palette of beachside relaxation, vibrant arts, and an enticing food and drink scene. Nestled on the Gulf Coast, it’s home to Siesta Key Beach, beloved for its powdery white sand and crystal-clear water. In the city’s heart, explore venues like the Ringling Museum of Art or catch a performance at the revered Sarasota Opera House. The bustling Main Street and St. Armands Circle feature unique shopping, diverse eateries, and intriguing galleries. In essence, Sarasota is where cultural intrigue meets natural allure for a captivating Florida experience.
Step into Key West, Florida’s slice of Caribbean paradise, where free-spirited vibes harmonize with an impressive cultural and natural backdrop. This southernmost point in the US captivates visitors with its historic charm, seen in landmarks like the Ernest Hemingway Home. By day, partake in water adventures or explore the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. By night, soak up local culture along Duval Street, filled with lively bars and cafe. Key West’s essence lies in its enchanting beaches, vibrant nightlife, and distinct key lime pies nestling a true tropical escape within its colorful facades.
St. Augustine is America’s oldest continuously inhabited city, where Spanish colonial charm permeates every corner. Nestled on Florida’s northeastern coast, St. Augustine dazzles with history and culture, exemplified by the formidable Castillo de San Marcos and the captivating Lightner Museum. Stroll down the cobblestone lanes of the historic district, where an array of boutique shopping, unique eateries, and art galleries awaits. From the haunting allure of the St. Augustine Lighthouse to the intriguing relics of the Pirate & Treasure Museum, this city is a testament to Florida’s rich and enduring past.
Landmarks and Attractions Florida is Known For
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World, Florida’s enchanting realm of wonder, has been sparking joy in the hearts of visitors since 1971. Spanning over 40 square miles, this world-renowned theme park comprises four distinct lands: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Each offers an array of unique attractions, live shows, and experiences that cater to guests of all ages. One can venture into fantastical realms, dig into diverse global cuisines, or relive iconic movies and characters. Walt Disney World is where cherished memories blossom, providing an unforgettable adventure to all who step into its magical gates.
Welcome to Universal Studios, where the magic of Hollywood meets adrenaline-fueled entertainment in the heart of Orlando, Florida. This bustling theme park boasts a plethora of exhilarating rides, captivating shows, and immersive experiences, pulling you right into your favorite movies and TV shows. Visitors can explore iconic realms like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Simpsons’ Springfield, and the action-packed Jurassic Park. Live performances, themed restaurants, and thrilling attractions establish Universal Studios as a prime destination for an unforgettable adventure, making lasting memories for families and film aficionados alike.
Kennedy Space Center
Unleash your inner astronaut at Kennedy Space Center, a gateway to the cosmos nestled on Florida’s Space Coast. The hub provides an extraordinary opportunity to explore the thrilling history and fascinating future of space exploration. You can stand in awe of the colossal Space Shuttle Atlantis, traverse the Rocket Garden, or gain valuable insights from astronomers and astronauts. With its combination of interactive exhibits, IMAX films, and even the chance to witness a real-life rocket launch, the Kennedy Space Center captivates all space enthusiasts and instills a deep appreciation for the universe’s infinite wonders.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Nestled in Miami’s vibrant heart, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a breathtaking ode to the Italian Renaissance era. This beautifully preserved estate, built in the early 20th century by industrialist James Deering, enchants visitors with its opulent main house filled with European antiques and artworks. Its exterior is equally captivating, featuring 10 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens teeming with classical statuary, rare plant species, and ornate fountains. Whether marveling at the Venetian-style villa or getting lost amid the stunning garden mazes, a visit to Vizcaya offers a serene and culturally enriching retreat from the city’s fast pace.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, a vast and unique subtropical wilderness, embraces nature’s wonders across 1.5 million acres in South Florida. Showcasing an extraordinary ecosystem, the park is a haven for a myriad of rare and endangered species, including the American crocodile, manatee, and elusive Florida panther. Embrace the great outdoors through activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, or taking a thrilling airboat ride through the marshy landscapes. Whether learning about preservation efforts at the visitor’s center or basking in the stunning array of flora and fauna, Everglades National Park leaves an indelible imprint on its mesmerized visitors.
Enter the eccentric world of Salvador Dalí at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. This must-visit cultural gem contains an unparalleled collection of the surrealist maestro’s art, including over 2,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs. Housed within an architecturally striking building, the museum encourages a journey through Dalí’s creative evolution. Visitors can explore his celebrated works, like “The Hallucinogenic Toreador,” and engage with interactive installations. From the museum’s iconic spiral staircase, named “Dalí’s DNA”, to the lush Avant-garden overlooking Tampa Bay, The Dalí Museum is a surrealist surprise celebrating the imaginative genius of Salvador Dalí.
Experience the wonders of the ocean at SeaWorld, an aquatic adventure park in Orlando, Florida. Combining educational exhibits with awe-inspiring animal encounters, SeaWorld offers a unique blend of entertainment and conservation. Dive into thrilling roller coasters, enjoy spectacular live animal shows, and interact with marine life like dolphins, penguins, and sea lions. From feeding gentle stingrays at Stingray Lagoon to witnessing the prowess of prized orca whales, the park’s immersive experiences foster a deeper appreciation for the planet’s vast marine biodiversity. SeaWorld promises an exciting expedition filled with unforgettable moments for all ocean lovers.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Embrace the spirit of Africa at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, a thrilling blend of exotic animal encounters and high-speed theme park rides. Wander through the park’s wild landscape, watching cheetahs sprint or observing lions in their naturalistic habitats. Experience the rush of world-class roller-coasters, including the heart-stopping Tigris and the famed Sheikra. For the little ones, the Sesame Street Safari of Fun offers a host of family-friendly rides and attractions. Incorporating elements of a safari park and a thrill-ride paradise, Busch Gardens sets itself apart as a unique and unforgettable adventure in the heart of Florida.
Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens stands as a serene retreat nestled in Florida’s Lake Wales, boasting acres of lush landscapes, enchanting gardens, and the iconic 205-foot Singing Tower carillon. Made out of elegant pink and gray Georgian marble and coquina shell stone, the tower’s architectural brilliance is matched only by its harmonious 60-bell musical performances. Additionally, the gardens delight with marked trails, unique wildlife, and beautiful plant species. Visitors can also explore the tranquil Pine Ridge Nature Preserve or tour the historic Pinewood Estate for a deeper understanding of the area’s culture and environment. A visit to Bok Tower Gardens bestows a peaceful and inspiring respite.
History, Culture and Other Things Florida is Famous For
Florida is affectionately known as the Sunshine State due to its subtropical and tropical climates, leading to abundant sunshine year-round. Encompassing over 600 miles of beaches and boasting an average of 230 sunny days per year, Florida is a sun-lover’s paradise. This sunny disposition not only shapes the state’s weather but also permeates its culture and lifestyle, attracting millions of tourists and retirees annually seeking sun, warmth, and outdoor recreation. However, it’s worth noting that though the nickname highlights the state’s appealing weather, it also refers to the optimistic and buoyant spirit of its residents.
Birthplace of Nascar
Florida holds a significant place in automobile racing history as the birthplace of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). The city of Daytona Beach, renowned for its wide, hard-packed sandy beaches, was a popular racing site during the early 20th century, earning the moniker “The Birthplace of Speed”. NASCAR was officially established here on February 21, 1948, by Bill France Sr. Today, the high-octane world of NASCAR continues to thrive in Florida at venues like the iconic Daytona International Speedway, reminding fans and drivers of NASCAR’s roots and Florida’s integral role in its history.
Birthplace of Gatorade
Florida is also proudly recognized as the birthplace of the renowned sports drink, Gatorade. Invented in 1965 by a team of scientists led by Dr. Robert Cade at the University of Florida, Gatorade was initially developed to combat dehydration issues affecting the university’s football team, the Florida Gators. The beverage, containing a blend of water, sugars, and electrolytes, was designed to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during exertion. Gatorade’s effectiveness on the field led to its eventual commercial success. Today, it remains a staple on sports fields worldwide, continuing to celebrate its roots in the Sunshine State.
Miami Drug War
The Miami Drug War refers to a dangerous, violent period primarily during the 1980s in Miami, Florida, where drug trafficking, particularly cocaine, dramatically increased. As Miami became a critical entry point for South American drugs into the U.S., powerful cartels waged wars for control over the lucrative trade, leading to escalated crime rates and public fear. This volatile era, characterized by high-profile murders and bloody confrontations, significantly affected Miami’s social fabric and made a lasting impact on its law enforcement and legal systems. Despite its dark past, this period also shaped Miami’s transformation into a vibrant, multicultural metropolis.
Florida has long been a favored destination for retirees, owing to its warm climate, abundant natural beauty, and relaxed lifestyle. The Sunshine State boasts an attractive combination of favorable tax laws, reasonable cost of living, and a multitude of recreational activities that cater to diverse interests. From pristine beaches and lush golf courses to a rich art scene and quality healthcare facilities, these benefits offer seniors a comfortable and active post-retirement life. Whether it’s the peaceful small-town charm of Naples or the vibrant coastal city life of St. Petersburg, Florida provides a retirement haven for every preference.
Located on a peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida experiences frequent hurricanes due to its geographical position and warm sea surface temperatures. These powerful storms can cause severe devastation, with high winds, heavy rain, and storm surge wreaking havoc on communities. Despite the potential for destruction, Floridians remain resilient, adapting to hurricane preparedness measures which include early warning systems, robust building codes, and thorough evacuation plans, demonstrating an unwavering spirit of survival and recovery.
Florida is famous for its native alligator population, with these iconic reptiles inhabiting all 67 counties in the state. Mostly found in freshwater lakes, marshes, and swamps, Florida’s alligators are a significant part of the region’s wildlife diversity. Visitors often take airboat tours in places like the Everglades to observe these creatures safely in their natural habitat. While alligators are usually harmless to humans if left undisturbed, their presence has become an accepted aspect of Florida life, contributing to the state’s distinctive character and reputation.
Florida is acclaimed globally for its abundant and beautiful beaches, with over 1,300 miles of coastline framing the Sunshine State. These beaches, ranging from the crystal-clear waters of the Emerald Coast to the vibrant and lively sands of Miami Beach, offer sun-soaked retreats for locals and tourists alike. Active beachgoers can relish various water sports, while those seeking relaxation can soak in serene panoramic views or stunning sunsets. Florida’s beaches embody the state’s laid-back lifestyle whilst driving its tourism industry, highlighting why Florida is synonymous with top-notch beach vacation experiences.
Florida Man Meme
The “Florida Man” meme, inspired by bizarre and often humorous news headlines from the Sunshine State, has attained cult status online. It refers to an imaginary individual whose outlandish actions and mishaps exemplify the strangeness of Florida’s news stories. The meme thrives on the internet, with social media users frequently sharing the latest “Florida Man” headline accompanied by witty commentary. While it’s garnered immense popularity as a source of amusement, it also contributes to the stereotype of Floridians exhibiting unusual behavior, reinforcing Florida’s reputation as a place where extraordinary quirks seem to be the norm.
Florida, often dubbed the “Golf Capital of the World,” boasts over 1,200 golf courses — more than any other US state. Its unique terrain and year-round warm climate render it an ideal location for golf enthusiasts. From stunning beachside links to lush inland courses, Florida delivers a wide variety of golfing experiences. The state hosts prestigious PGA tournaments at famed courses like TPC Sawgrass and Bay Hill, attracting the world’s best players and countless spectators. Florida’s golf courses, known for their quality and abundance, make it a premier golfing destination worldwide.
Florida is renowned globally as a premier destination for theme parks. Home to world-famous attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens, it provides diverse experiences ranging from thrilling rides to captivating animal encounters. These theme parks not only offer immersive adventures into imaginative realms but also make memories to last a lifetime through character meet-and-greets and spectacular shows. With offerings tailored for every age group and interest, Florida’s theme parks contribute significantly to the state’s tourism industry, attracting millions of visitors yearly from around the world.
Art Basel is a prestigious international art fair held annually in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong. Showcasing artworks ranging from modern to contemporary pieces, it attracts leading galleries and collectors from around the globe. The Miami Beach edition transforms the city into a cultural hotspot, offering an array of exhibitions, installations, and events. It transcends conventional gallery spaces, fostering unique artistic expressions and conversations about art. Art Basel has firmly established a reputation as an essential gathering in the world of art, promoting cultural exchange and appreciation of creativity.
What is Florida Known For Producing?
Florida, often referred to as the “Sunshine State,” is renowned for its citrus production. With a climate perfectly suited to citrus growth, it’s the second-largest producer of citrus fruits in the world. Oranges constitute the majority of its citrus crop, yielding products like juice, marmalades, and snacks. Florida’s citrus industry not only boosts its economic structure but also contributes significantly to the state’s cultural identity. The sight of sprawling citrus groves has become an iconic symbol of Florida’s agricultural landscape.
Florida, blessed with an ideal climate and fertile land, is a prominent player in sugarcane production within the United States. As the largest sugarcane producing state, it supplies over half of the country’s domestically grown sugarcane. Concentrated around Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s sugarcane industry significantly contributes to the state’s economy, providing thousands of jobs and generating billions in revenue. In addition to sugar, the production process results in versatile byproducts such as molasses and bagasse, utilized across various sectors, further highlighting the industry’s importance to Florida.
Famous People From Florida
Jim Morrison, famous as a lead vocalist for the iconic rock band The Doors, was born in Melbourne, Florida, in 1943. The rebellious spirit that defined much of his career was first nurtured in Florida before he moved to California. His early life in the Sunshine State shaped his worldview and fueled his creative drive, playing a significant role in birthing notable works like “Light My Fire.”
Ariana Grande, a pop powerhouse known globally, began her journey in Florida. Born and raised in Boca Raton, she made her stage debut as a child in a local theater. Her time in Florida laid the groundwork for her artistic talents, nurtured her dream of singing, and ultimately launched her to a successful career on Nickelodeon before she transitioned into the music industry. Being dubbed one of the most influential people in the world, Ariana Grande frequently acknowledges Florida as her home and the starting point of her impressive journey.
Faye Dunaway, an acclaimed American actress, was born in Bascom, Florida, in 1941. Rising to fame in the 1960s, her career boasts many memorable roles in films such as “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Chinatown,” and the Oscar-winning “Network.” As the epitome of elegance and glamour in American cinema at the time, Dunaway’s success is a testament to the abundant talent emerging from the Sunshine State. With an enduring career that spans over five decades, she remains a proud Floridian and an inspiration to aspiring actors.