1. The state government maintains an extensive system of forest, park, and wildlife management areas. The most unusual is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which lies completely underwater several miles off the coast of Key Largo.
2. Famous events – Written history begins with the arrival of Europeans to Florida, beginning with the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513.
3. Famous events – In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain for control of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years’ War. Almost the entire Spanish population left, taking along most of the remaining indigenous population to Cuba.
4. Famous events – Spain captured Pensacola from the British in 1781, during the American Revolutionary War.
5. Famous events – In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War and returned all of Florida to Spanish control, but without specifying the boundaries.
6. Famous events – Florida became an organized territory of the United States on March 30, 1822, after being ceded to the United States in 1821. Spain ceded Florida as Seminole Indian raids and United States Army incursions became too burdensome.
7. Famous events – Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America on March 3, 1845. Its first governor was William Dunn Moseley.
8. Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, Fla. – After Indianapolis, Daytona International Speedway is the most famous racing track in the U.S. It was built in 1959 to move auto racing off the beach. Previously, races and land-speed competitions were held on the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach. It hosts eight races a year, most notably the Daytona 500.
9. Everglades National Park – Homestead, Fla. The Everglades National Park is the second largest in the country after Yellowstone and the largest subtropical wilderness in the continental U.S. It is a 1.5 million-acre tract of marshy land and swamp and an important and fragile ecosystem. The first inhabitants of this region were Calusa Indians who lived mainly along the estuaries, fishing and collecting shellfish. During the Seminole Wars of the 1830’s, Seminole Indians also retreated here to avoid capture by the army. The Indians called the everglades “Pa-hay-okee”, or grassy water. Later, environmentalist Marjory Stone Douglas gave it the moniker “River of Grass.” The latter is an appropriate name because it reflects the true nature of the Everglades.
10. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Station – Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Station is 140,000-acres at the center of the U.S. space program and primary home to the space shuttles, Atlantis, Colombia, Discovery and Endeavor. About 6000 acres are reserved for the space center operations while the rest make up a wildlife reserve. Tours leaving from the visitor complex include stops at the Vehicle Assembly Building, several launch pads, the Flight Crew Training Building, the Air Force Space Museum and several other locations. There is a rocket garden, numerous pieces of the original equipment used in the early days of space exploration, a shuttle replica and space module of the new International Space Station.
11. Discovery Cove – Orlando, Fla. Next to SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove allows visitors to visit animals up close in an island resort setting. Swim with the dolphins, snorkel in the reef, hand feed exotic birds and touch other such as stingrays, anteaters and sloths.
12. St Petersburg Pier – St. Petersburg, Fla. St Petersburg Pier is one of the longest of its kind in Florida, extending for over a quarter of a mile into Tampa Bay. At the end of the pier is an inverted five-story pyramid containing shops, restaurants and an observation platform. It also features fishing, water sports, an aquarium, miniature golf and is the winter home of the H.M.S. Bounty Exhibition.
13. Miami MetroZoo is fast becoming one of the best zoos in the nation. Its climate allows it to keep a wide variety of animals from Asia, Australia and Africa like no other zoo in the country. One of the first free-range zoos in the country, the exhibits are entirely cageless. Animals are grouped according to their geographic territory and animals that live together peacefully in the wild are placed in exhibits together.
14. Green Meadows Petting Farm– Kissimmee, FL – Licensed and approved by the United States Dept. of Agriculture, the admission price includes a 2 hr. guided tour of a petting farm with over 300 animals. You can touch farm animals including pigs, sheep, donkeys, chickens, cows, goats and more. There are pony rides, for kids and you can take a tractor-pulled hay-ride.
15. The Naples Trolley Tours – Naples, FL.- makes many stops at historic sites, shopping areas and residential sections. The narrated tours combine the history of Naples with humorous stories and legends.
16. Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theatre – Orlando, FL – There are 8 comedy/mystery dinner shows to attend, with audience participation to solve the mystery. The audience can get acquainted with the characters of the show and learn more about their situation before dinner. One of the characters is murdered and theories can be discussed over dinner, with the final outcome discovered during dessert.
17. Famous citizens – Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States from 1993 to 2001
18. Famous citizens – Jacqueline Cochran, Pilot who organized women pilots during World War II. Born in Muscogee, FL.
19. Famous citizens – Harry T. Moore, 1930s-40s civil rights worker.
20. Famous citizens – Osceola, Seminole Indian leader