Thanks to its tropical climate and overall beauty and hospitality, Florida is a majestic place to stay any time of year, and to the delight of those who visit, the state offers more than meets the eye. For travelers wishing to kick up their heels and enjoy the sand and surf, it holds a limitless array of options, including some of the best bed and breakfasts the southeastern U.S. has to offer.
While the "sunshine state" is known for its snowbirds and spring break parties, the peninsula truly offers something for everyone. From the untouched natural beauty of the Panhandle to the cosmopolitan, art deco-laced worldliness of Miami, Florida's travel offerings run the gamut from the serene to the sensational. Daytona Beach, Panama City Beach and Fort Lauderdale may be known as popular destinations for college students looking for a bit of revelry in the middle of their spring semesters, but the state's beaches are fairly temperate almost the entire year round. Beaches are only the beginning; land-locked Orlando is home to the world-famous Walt Disney World and is one of the most popular cities in the U.S. for professional conferences. Sports teams, culinary adventures and cultural delights abound throughout the state, from the Cuban influence of South Florida to the nearly-Georgian hills, hospitality and Southern graciousness of North Florida.
Enjoy the Scenic View at Emerald Coast
The sugar white quartz sands of the Emerald Coast in Northwest Florida beckon visitors to its emerald green shores, where quaint and elegant bed and breakfasts abound amid shopping havens and local restaurants. On the other side of the state, facing East toward the Atlantic Ocean proudly stands the Space Coast, home to Cape Canaveral, where NASA's Kennedy Space Center is located. Launches take place throughout the year and draw massive crowds of curious lookers-on, providing a fun and family-friendly experience for all who visit. Nestled among the pines of the state's east coast are yet more tucked-away accommodations worth staying in again and again.
Perhaps one of the region's most popular tourist destinations is the Florida Keys, which extend off of the state's southern tip, scattering westward in the direction of Mexico across the gulf. Key West claims the southernmost point in the United States, and the Keys themselves are known worldwide for their laid-back lifestyle; in fact, acclaimed seafaring writer Ernest Hemingway took up residence there for much of his life. The character of the Keys lends itself perfectly to bed and breakfasts ranging in style from quirky quaintness to regal grandeur.
When most people think of Florida, the first two things that comes to mind are the beach and Disneyworld, or geographically speaking, Miami and Orlando. While these are clearly two fantastic recreational options and both cities are undeniably places worth seeing, Florida' hidden gems are something to see as well.
Miami's little sister in terms of being a lesser-known destination for authentic Cuban culture is Ybor City, which is adjacent to Tampa on south central Florida's west coast, overlooking Tampa Bay and beyond into the Gulf of Mexico. Cuban sandwiches, coffee, architecture and other tidbits of Havana-centric life are abundant in this small, beautiful town. Gasparilla, a popular pirate-themed festival, takes over the city every spring to the delight of locals and tourists alike.
The state's capital, Tallahassee, stands in the Big Bend region of the state and is latitudinally on par with Houston and New Orleans, although it sits inland by several dozen miles. It houses the old and new State Capitol Buildings, as well as two major state universities: Florida State University and Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. College football is met with a zealous fanaticism in Tallahassee, and tailgating is a favorite pastime for many in the fall. For a more historically immersive visit, both schools and many local organizations offer glimpses into Florida's past, including the rich Seminole Indian heritage carried throughout the region. The town's canopy roads, hidden from aerial view by overarching branches of trees more than 100 years old, are a sight to behold, and its local parks are perfect for family fun year-round.
An hour or two west on Interstate 10 sit two flawlessly untouched beaches: St. George Island and Alligator Point. Both are devoid of large hotels and commercial intrusion -- perfect for world-weary visitors who want to get away from it all and enjoy some peace and quiet, not to mention the delicious daily catch at small, locally-owned fish camps and oyster bars.
For a down-home roadtrip complete with alligators, consider a drive across the southern half of the peninsula from Fort Lauderdale to Naples or vice-versa. The Interstate 75 corridor is commonly referred to as "Alligator Alley," and although it may not be a place in which you'd want to break down, it's absolutely worth the drive. Roll down the windows, turn the radio up loud and see who can spot the first gator (or the largest!) as you cruise across the Sunshine State.
Don't Pass up the Oldest City in the U.S
The oldest city in the U.S. to have been settled and continuously occupied by Europeans is St. Augustine, just south of Jacksonville on the east coast. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by a Spanish conquistador after an original attempt at settlement in 1513 by another Spanish explorer, and Spanish influence still permeates the city today in its architecture and cuisine. The region is aptly known as "Florida's First Coast" and is not to be missed.
Many of Florida's lodging alternatives have received awards and acclaim from renowned travel writers the world over, not to mention culinary media. Local fare includes a vast array of seafood as well as alligator tail, conch meat, "Floribbean" cuisine (blending Caribbean and Floridian flavors) and key lime pie. Those visiting Florida and staying in its bed and breakfasts during their time in the southernmost state will undoubtedly leave well-rested, well-fed and more than willing to return. For premium bed and breakfasts in Florida be sure to visit Select Registry at SelectRegistry.com to plan your ideal vacation today.