21 Things Florida is Known and Famous For

Florida may just be the most popular vacation destination in the world, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. This incredibly diverse state looks and feels like a different world as you travel it from north to south.

Nicknamed the Sunshine State, Florida is known for The Magic Kingdom, Miami Beach and the Everglades. It’s also famous for its theme parks, beaches and sunshine—but there’s so much more to Florida than that.

The incredible diversity of the people who have moved here from all over the world is what drives the continuing changes in Florida. Keep reading below to learn more about this beautiful and dynamic region of the Southeast U.S.

1. South Beach

South Beach florida

Florida is famous for the South Beach area of Miami Beach. Nicknamed SoBe, the stretch along Ocean Drive facing the white sand beach contains Art Deco buildings restored to their glory days. It’s home to hip nightclubs and trendy hotels.

Be on the lookout for scantily-clad celebrities out partying with the beautiful people.

2. Oranges

Florida is known for its oranges

Nothing says Florida better than a cold morning glass of OJ. Florida is known for producing the juiciest, sweetest oranges in the U.S. You can pick your own at many orchards during the peak December to May growing season.

As the ads used to say, “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.”

3. Alligators and Crocodiles

Aligator or crocodile in florida

Florida is known as the only region in the world where alligators and crocodiles meet. There are an estimated 1.5 million alligators in Florida, with the population of this protected predator continuing to increase.

With a lifespan of 35 and 50 years, the much-feared alligator grows to 8-11 feet in length and weighs 200-1,000 pounds. Crocodiles are ever larger, sometimes growing to 17 feet in length!

Just in case you were wondering, these reptilian carnivores eat fish, amphibians (frogs, salamanders, etc.), and other reptiles.

Be forewarned that both gators and crocs live throughout Florida, primarily in freshwater lakes, ponds and streams. They are known to feast on domestic pets that are of a size similar to some of their other prey.

4. Disney World

Disney World Florida

Florida is famous for Disney World, the creation of Walt Disney that has permanently changed the face of the state.

What began in 1971 as The Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, an area of orange groves outside of Orlando, has grown exponentially to include Epcot Center, Discovery Cove, Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

The home of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, plus Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, now includes thousands of on-property hotel rooms and a monorail system to whisk guests between the various parks.

5. Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Florida is famous for the Kennedy Space Center, the site of countless rocket launches blasting astronauts into orbit, and even to the moon!

From the early days of unmanned rockets, to manned missions that orbited the earth and beyond, this massive facility is home to a fascinating museum, with guided launchpad tours that shouldn’t be missed.

Visitors learn about the space program’s early years, landing men on the moon, the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

The Kennedy Space Center is also known as the site of many SpaceX launches, with the private company owned by Elon Musk sending as many as 49 satellites into earth orbit with a single rocket.

6. St. Augustine

St. Augustine in Florida

The oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine, is famous for the Spanish colonial architecture that defines this northeast Florida coastal community.

The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is located on the site where Juan Ponce de Leon first arrived in 1513. The first successful Spanish settlement here by explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles took place in 1565.

St. Augustine is also known for the oldest masonry fort in North America, Castillo de San Marcos. Construction of the fort began in 1672.

7. Beaches

Beautiful florida beach

With more than 8,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico coastline, Florida is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

From Miami Beach to Pensacola Beach, and Clearwater Beach to Marathon Key, Florida is famous for spectacular beaches that are perfect for swimming, shelling, playing volleyball or building sandcastles. Or simply park yourself under an umbrella or palm tree for some shuteye while listening to the waves.

8. Palm Trees

Palm Trees

The Sunshine State is known for palm trees. Twelve varieties of the tall and graceful tree are native to Florida, with 30 types now present in the state.

Palm trees are seen in virtually every photo taken here. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to say ‘Florida vacation’ without saying beaches, water and palm trees in the same sentence.

9. Boating and Watersports

leisure boating in Florida

Florida is known for water, water, everywhere, and that means boating and watersports, too. Floridians flock to their boats like most people drive a car, and when they do, the party begins!

Waterskiing, tubing, riding a Sea-doo or just cruising through bays, inlets and harbors is how Florida locals spend their weekends.

10. The Keys

Lighthouse in The Keys, Florida

Famous for fishing, scuba diving, boating and Key West’s endless nightlife, the Florida Keys are a 120 mile-long archipelago of tropical islands that form a boundary between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Visit the spectacular beaches on each key, and tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West. The nightly sunset celebration in Key West’s Mallory Square is an event worth experiencing.

Arriving in Key West you’ll be at the southernmost point in the Continental U.S., and only 90 miles from Cuba!

11. Busch Gardens

Giraffe in Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is known for being home to more 12,000 animals, with most of them uncaged, including alligators, giraffes, lions, elephants, cheetahs and rhinos. Most are able to roam around large, beautifully landscaped areas of this 335-acre African-themed vacation park.

Add nine roller coasters, two water rides and many other thrill rides and you’ve got the makings of an incredible full day here. Famous roller coasters include Tigris, Cheetah Hunt, Kumba and Cobra’s Curse.

12. Sea Shells

Seashells in Sanibel Island, florida

Florida is famous for having the best beaches for shelling in the U.S. Why purchase shells from a gift shop when you can collect your own? These treasures of the sea wash up in so many dazzling shapes and colors that choosing which ones to keep can be overwhelming.

For the best chances of finding fully intact beauties, visit Sanibel Island (Blind Pass Beach), and adjacent Captiva Island (Cayo Costa State Park). Further south, just beyond Naples is Tigertail Beach on Marco Island, where more than 400 shell species have been found.

Other great beaches for shelling include Anna Maria Island’s Coquina Beach, and the “Sharktooth Capital of the World”, Venice Beach.

13. Sunrise, Sunset

Beautiful sunrise in Florida

Nothing perks you up like a sunny day, and Florida is famous for having more sunny days than anywhere else in the country.

Whether you prefer to be greeted by the sun in the morning along the Atlantic Coast, bask in it during the heat of the day, or watch the golden sphere melt into the Gulf of Mexico in the evening, a sunny day is always good for the spirit.

It’s no wonder that the Sunshine State is known for spectacular sunrises and sunsets, as it has 8,436 miles of coastline!

14. Theme Parks

Seaworld orlando, florida

Florida is famous for a plethora of theme parks. Did you think that Disney World was the only theme park in Florida?

It may be the most famous theme park, but Florida is also known for Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Island of Adventure, Busch Gardens, Old Town, Legoland, the Weeki Wachee mermaids, Sea World, ICON Park, Coconut Creek Family Fun Park, Gatorland, Marineland Tiger Adventure, and the list goes on and on.

Do your homework before heading to Florida as the options are not only plentiful, but can be overwhelming for kids and parents alike. No one wants screaming or crying kids while on vacation, so plan your days in advance.

15. Little Havana

Graffiti in Little Havana, Miami

Where Florida is famous for the City of Miami, Miami is famous for Little Havana, a colorful neighborhood that first welcomed Cuban exiles in large numbers in the 1960s.

The 27-block-long and 24-block-wide community is the place to grab a cafe Cubano, guava pastelito and perhaps smoke a cigar.

Little Havana’s main drag is known as Calle Ocho (SW 8th St.), which just happens to be filled with incredible Hispanic restaurants where you can also sip a mean mojito.

According to a famed local chef, “If you want to know the real Miami, you must go to Little Havana.”

16. The Everglades

the Everglades

Affectionately called “The Swamp”, Florida is famous for the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. The World Heritage Site provides crucial habitat to endangered and rare species such as the manatee, Florida panther and American crocodile.

Take a thrilling guided tour at Everglades National Park to view wildlife in their natural habitat, making sure to keep your hands inside the boat!

17. Intracoastal Waterway

Intracoastal Waterway

The ‘intracoastal’ is known for providing boaters with a safer way to navigate U.S. coastal waters without having to travel on the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

While its length is over 3,000 miles, starting in Boston and ending in Brownsville, Texas, in Florida it extends from Jacksonville around the southern tip of the state, and up the Gulf Coast to the Panhandle near Pensascola.

Pleasure boaters love to cruise the bays and inlets of this primarily calm waterway. Fishing and waterskiing are popular activities here, or just wave at other boaters on massive yachts along the way. The intracoastal crosses under hundreds of barrier island bridges, and through scores more drawbridge openings.

18. Manatees

Manatees, a famous mammal in Florida

While Florida is widely known for dolphins, the most famous Florida marine mammal is undoubtedly the manatee. These large, adorable herbivores, also called sea cows, are native to many areas of the state. And everyone loves them!

The friendly and curious creature moves slowly in bays and rivers, and are a magnet for tourists in waters they are commonly seen.

An imperiled species, boaters are warned to steer clear of manatees as their propellers can cause them irreparable harm. Keep in mind that manatees are fun to watch but are not to be touched. Human contact can trigger behavioral changes that put them at further risk of harm.

19. Grapefruit League

Grapefruit League

Florida has long been famous for Major League Baseball (MLB) spring training camps, when veterans and rookies iron out the winter kinks in preparation for the upcoming season. Dubbed the “Grapefruit League”, 15 MLB teams train in Florida including the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.

Fans can watch workouts, chase after batting practice home runs, seek autographs and watch pre-season games while enjoying a day out in the sun.

The best known teams training in Florida include the New York Yankees who train in Tampa; the Boston Red Sox, Ft. Myers; St. Louis Cardinals, Jupiter; Atlanta Braves, Lake Buena Vista (Disney World); and the Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater.

20. Miami

Miami Florida

What comes to mind when you think of Miami?

Miami is famous for waterfront skyscrapers, dazzling blue waters, beaches, dolphins, and massive cruise ships, just to name a few.

This cosmopolitan resort city is one of the most energetic places on earth, with a nightlife that continues until the wee hours. The city is also known for the Cuban and Latin influences felt nearly everywhere, with an international dining scene that is second to none.

21. Retirees

Retirees in Florida

Florida is famous as the #1 retirement spot for seniors, not just from the U.S., but from Canada, Europe and Latin America, too. Thousands upon thousands of retirees choose to relocate here annually, and for many good reasons.

Beyond incredible weather, Florida is known for sunny days, pristine beaches, sparkling blue waters, the freshest seafood imaginable, and a easy-going lifestyle that seniors can fill with golf, tennis, swimming, the latest craze of pickleball, or just choosing to do nothing at all.

An added bonus: Florida is famous with retirees for having no state income tax, plus, the state does not tax Social Security income.

What else is Florida famous for? Share your ideas in the commment box below.

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