largely inhabited by the Seminole
Indians of Florida at the time, it was Ponce de León's
quest for the mythical Fountain
of Youth in 1513 that led to the European discovery of Florida.
is best known as a vacation paradise offering visitors fun-in-the-sun
at famous Florida
beaches dotting miles of shoreline - at Daytona, Miami,
Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys - and dozens off other top hot
spots while also serving as a magnet for college students on spring
It's important to note that the Sunshine State at 447 miles in length is -- surprise! -- a lot more than Orlando and Miami.
In fact, often making the list of Top Ten Florida tourist attractions each year are places like historic St Augustine, the oldest occupied (and arguably the most charming) European settlement in the US, where horse-drawn carriage rides and gaslit streets are only part of the draw. Watch its Spanish past come alive in historic forts and houses coupled with a colorful trip back in time at the Pirate & Treasure Museum.
Besides the famous draw of Disney World in Orlando, (left) other top Florida attractions around the state
include historic St. Augustine (middle) and the ornate beauty of the Ringling Complex in Sarasota (right).
More Florida top spots? They include Amelia Island (almost on the border with Georgia) where more historic charm awaits along the 13 miles of some of America's most beautiful barrier island beaches. Here at one time or another, the French, Spanish and English all laid claim to the island, and today several historic houses serve as wonderful bed & breakfast accommodations for visitors.
Sarasota, too, always deserves a mention -- if only for its ties to 19th century circus baron John Ringling. Today, the Ringling Circus Complex is an 'only-in-America' mix of European art exhibition and circus museum. Plan to spend at least a day at the 66-acre estate that also includes the Ringling's outrageously ornate neo-Renaissance home as well as acres of landscaped grounds and flower gardens.
More about Florida travel & tourism around the Web:
Visit Florida - See the entire Sunshine State laid out with precision including
beaches, major attractions, hotels, restaurants, how to get there
and get around, maps and pictures, special interest features including
Florida for kids.