Florida, the Sunshine State
What are the Germans’ favorite destinations in the USA? It’s always the same names that come up: New York, California, Las Vegas – and Florida. The “Sunshine State“, as Florida officially calls itself, attracts tourists especially in the winter months with temperatures (mostly) above 20 degrees celcius. Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa are major international airports; together with Fort Myers and West Palm Beach, that’s more than any other state has to offer.
Anyone who loves the loneliness of the Rocky Mountains or the vastness of California (certainly except Greater Los Angeles), Florida is definitely the wrong place. Florida is really crowded – 138 million tourists per 22 million inhabitants in 2022, and the figures are going up. First of all, it’s the sun that attracts so many visitors, accompanied by the mega amusement parks Walt Disney World (with over 50 million visitors annually) and Seaworld in Orlando or the Busch Gardens in Tampa. You will miss the amusement parks on our round trip – too loud, too expensive, too crowded. And besides, even driving bumper cars makes us sick.
However, we invite you to a great Florida tour that starts at Miami International Airport. After a night in Homestead we head down via the so-called “Keys” to Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. The little town is flashy, colorful and most attractive – three hours of island hopping on the Overseas Highway are definitely worth it.
Next day’s top highlight is Everglades National Park. In the southern part of the park, we meet the first alligator before things get really exciting in Shark Valley on the Tamiami Highway. With rental bikes you can ride on a trail of approximately 24 kilometers which allows you to take pictures of the alligators from short distance. Sometimes the animals even lie in the middle of the path – scary, but great.
Via Ochopee (with the smallest post office in the USA) and Everglades City we head to Naples, city of the rich and super rich. From now on the route takes us north, always along the west coast to Bonita Beach and Fort Myers, where you should definitely visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Next destination is Cà d’Zan in Sarasota, a Mediterranean property owned by circus tycoon John Ringling.
Take your time to check out Tampa (Tampa Bay Hotel, Ybor City) and St. Petersburg (Dali Museum) before going further north to Tarpon Springs, the Greek sponge diving city. Now, finally, we leave the metropolitan area of southern Florida, and via the two State Parks Homosassa Springs Wildlife and Wakulla Springs, both worth seeing, we reach the snow-white state capitol in Tallahasse, the capital of Florida.
We turn right and cross the state. We skip Jacksonville, a mainly industrial city; instead, we pay a visit to the university of Gainesville, home of the Florida Gators. At the east coast we spend an afternoon in St. Augustine, then we turn south again, passing such illustrious beach resorts as Daytona Beach, Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. We skip Orlando due to well-known reasons and head directly to Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
We spend the last four nights in Miami Beach. Actually, we are too old for this city, where there is party from noon until well after midnight – but you should have done (almost) everything at least once. Day trips to downtown Miami and its diverse neighborhoods (Bayfront, Design District, Little Havana, Coconut Grove) complete our journey to sunny Florida.
|01||Miami Airport (MIA)||Homestead||035 m / 055 km|
|02||Homestead||Key West||130 m / 210 km|
|03||Key West||Homestead||130 m / 210 km|
|04||Homestead||Everglades (South)||100 m / 160 km|
|05||Homestead||Naples||170 m / 275 km|
|06||Naples||Fort Myers||050 m / 080 km|
|07||Fort Myers||Tampa||140 m / 225 km|
|08||Tampa||Tampa||000 m / 000 km|
|09||Tampa||Weeki Wachee||090 m / 145 km|
|10||Weeki Wachee||Tallahassee||210 m / 340 km|
|11||Tallahassee||Gainesville||160 m / 260 km|
|12||Gainesville||St. Augustine||090 m / 145 km|
|13||St. Augustine||Titusville||170 m / 275 km|
|14||Titusville||Miami Beach||240 m / 385 km|
|15||Miami Beach||Miami Beach||000 m / 000 km|
|16||Miami Beach||Miami Beach||000 m / 000 km|
|17||Miami Beach||Miami Airport (MIA)||000 m / 000 km|
|Total||1.715 m / 2.765 km|