Weird, Wonderful Facts About Florida

    We come across lots of weird and wonderful Florida facts. So we thought we'd share a few.  OK, more than a few. You never know ... these Florida facts may come in handy at a pub quiz.

     

    Climate

    It’s warm year-round. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. Average temperatures range from 65 to 70 degrees in the north, and from 74 to 77 degrees in the south.

    Ocean and Gulf temperatures can reach well into the 80s during summer, and swimming is possible year-round in South Florida.

    The Land

    Florida has the longest coastline (1,197 statute miles) in the contiguous United States, with 825 miles of accessible beaches to enjoy.

    It’s the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

    Wherever you are in Florida, you're never more than 60 miles from the nearest body of salt water.

    The state’s highest natural point, Britton Hill, is only 345 feet above sea level -- the lowest high point of any state in America.

    Key West is the southernmost point in the continental United States.

    Outdoors

    Florida has more than 9,200 miles of hiking, bicycling, equestrian and shared-use trails and over 4,000 miles of paddling trails.

    It has 175 state parks, 37 state forests, 12 national parks, preserves, seashores or monuments, three national forests, and one national scenic trail.

    The Florida Everglades, containing 1.5 million acres of sawgrass, marshes, mangrove forests, hardwood hammocks and wetlands, is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.

    Florida’s Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is the only state park certified by the International Dark-Sky Association.

    Florida has more than 1,200 golf courses, more than any other U.S. state. Appropriately, it is also home to the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, located in St. Augustine.

    Water

    Florida is the boating and fishing capital of the world.

    It has more than 7,700 lakes, 11,000 miles of rivers, 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, and has produced more than 900 world fishing records, more than any other state, or country.

    Florida has more than 700 freshwater springs. Of them, 27 are classified as first-magnitude springs, more than any other state.

    The city of Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America because of its canal system, with 165 miles of local waterways.

    The fishing village of Cedar Key is renowned for having the best clam chowder in America.

    The 156-mile-long Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most biologically diverse estuary.

    Florida’s largest river, the St. Johns River, is one of only a few major rivers that flow from south to north.

    John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo was America’s first underwater state park.

    Flora

    The small town of Pierson in Northeast Florida is known as the Fern Capital of the World.

    Fauna

    Florida has not only alligators and crocodiles, but also panthers, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins -- and at least 516 species of birds.

    Everglades National Park– a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is the only place on the planet where crocodiles and alligators co-exist.

    Florida provides life-sustaining habitat for endangered species such as the bald eagle, West Indian manatee, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, Florida panther, humpback whale, Key deer, whooping crane, Gulf sturgeon, Apalachicola rosemary, torreya pines, and carnivorous pitcher plants.

    Crystal River is the only place in North America where it is legal to have a supervised swim with wild manatees.

    The Great Florida Birding Trail is a statewide network of 510 wildlife viewing sites found along a flyway for migrating birds.

    Between Sugarloaf Key and Big Pine Key en route to Key West, you’ll pass a habitat for the elusive Key deer, the smallest deer in North America.

    Theme Parks

    Florida is the theme park epicenter of the world. All of the titans of family entertainment are here -- Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, Busch Gardens.

    Orlando attracts more visitors than any other amusement park destination in the United States.

    Seven of the 10 most visited theme parks are in Florida.

    Walt Disney World Resort, opened in 1971, is the planet’s most visited and biggest recreational resort.

    Florida tops the list of the nation’s most popular water parks.

    Culture

    Florida is diverse, with Native American, European, African-American, Hispanic and a host of other cultural flavors reflected in our cuisine, architecture and attitudes.

    The urban graffiti art of Miami's Wynwood Walls draws artists and visitors alike to this revitalized neighborhood. Walking tours and breweries are also part of the scene.

    St. Petersburg's annual SHINE Mural Festival brings artists from around the world to paint on brick-and-mortar canvases.

    Salvador Dali's monumental masterworks are at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

    The world's most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany resides at the Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park.

    Circus impresario John Ringling amassed a world-class collection of European paintings, among them works by Peter Paul Rubens, Marcel Duchamps and Diego Velazquez, now housed at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. Also at the Ringling complex are the couple's historic mansion, Ca’ d'Zan, and the Circus Museum, a nod to Florida's historic place in the story of the traveling show.

    Miami Beach is home to one of only four international Art Basel exhibitions.

    Agriculture

    Florida produces more than 70 percent of the nation’s oranges.

    Florida ranks #1 for tomatoes, grapefruit, sugarcane, snap beans, cucumbers, and oranges.

    History

    Florida was named for the day on which it was first seen (April 2, 1513) by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who called it La Florida in honor of Pascua Florida, the Spanish Feast of the Flowers (Easter).    

    St. Augustine, settled by Europeans in 1565, is commonly called the nation’s oldest city.

    The largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world is in Lakeland at Florida Southern College.

    Spring training baseball has been a Florida pastime for more than 100 years. Currently, 15 major league teams train in the Sunshine State.

    Cape Canaveral has been the world’s launchpad for manned space flight, including the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and space shuttle missions.

    The world’s first scheduled passenger airline service operated between St. Petersburg and Tampa, starting Jan. 1, 1914.

    Daytona Beach’s City Island ballpark was the site of the first integrated professional baseball game. That stadium now is named after its brave hero, Jackie Robinson.

    NASA’s first communication satellite – Echo 1 – was launched from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 12, 1960.

    Other

    There are more than 54,000 nonstop flights between Florida’s airports. American Airlines and Silver Airways account for 80 percent of those flights.

    Florida has the largest collection of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne buildings in the world.

    Florida is the only state to have an embassy in Washington, D.C.

    Florida has 26 officially designated scenic highways, and seven of them run parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. Five also are designated on a federal level as national scenic highways. And, the Florida Keys Scenic Highway is the only byway in the state designated as an All-American Road.

    Pelican Island is the site of America’s first national wildlife refuge.

    Clearwater is home to the most famous dolphin since Flipper. Winter lost her tail and nearly her life when she was found entangled in a crab trap line. Her rehabilitation, prosthetic tail and cheerful nature have inspired two Hollywood movies and thousands of daily visitors.

    Sanibel and Captiva near Fort Myers are resort destinations, best known as the Seashell Capital of the World.

    Jacksonville, in square miles, is the largest city in the contiguous United States.

    Olustee is the site of the only major Civil War battle fought in Florida.

    It’s claimed that the first sunblock was invented in Miami Beach, in 1944, by pharmacist Benjamin Green. Called Red Vet Pet (it was a red gel) it was used to protect American GIs from the sun in World War II. He later added cocoa butter to develop what eventually became suntan lotion.

    Greater Miami is the only metropolitan area in America with two national parks: Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park.

    The birth of the modern-day PC took place in 1981 in Boca Raton. It was originally called the Acorn, and was named “Machine of the Year” by Time Magazine.

    Places to Remember

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