Off the map
South Florida smells like oranges and sunshine! It’s the only tropical state and the southernmost point of the continental U.S. Our region’s tropical climate and beautiful landscapes -beaches, swamps, lakes and springs- make it one of the most important tourist attractions in the U.S.
It’s not all beaches though. In this post our mission is to share a bit of South Florida’s history with you and add a couple of items to your “Must See Attractions” list.
Florida was originally populated by the Spanish. In South Florida you will find the oldest city in the country: St. Augustine, settled in 1565. Almost five centuries ago! Have you visited St. Augustine? Maybe it’s time to put that on your “Things to do” list.
You can still enjoy the Spanish colonial architecture in downtown Miami. And many architectural styles like Art Deco and Miami Modern reflect the lasting influence of Florida's Spanish heritage.
Beware of Pirates!
Legends of piracy, hidden treasures and the search for the fountain of youth appear in Florida’s lore. How much has changed since then? You won't find pirate ships and buccaneers here anymore. Instead you will find lots of yachts, luxury cruises and every variety of watersports for adrenaline junkies. But every once in awhile you will find a fun pirate festival around town.
Fountain of youth
According to legend, Juan Ponce de León led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513 in search of the “Fountain of Youth”. Five hundred years later, no one has discovered the Fountain of Youth yet. It might be somewhere in the Everglades, guarded by crocodiles and alligators. You can still try to find it. Go on a Everglades Safari. But if you just need to unwind a little in order to feel younger, the Florida Keys are a great place to relax. Early in the morning, every beach is like an eco-friendly sunlit spa that can rejuvenate your soul at least.
You can also swim with the dolphins here, studies say it’s therapeutic!
The citric boom
The first orange trees were planted around St. Augustine when the city was founded five centuries ago. Since then, several varieties of citrus have been farmed commercially in Florida. The most important groves have been producing quality oranges, tangerines and grapefruits since the mid-1800s.
Today the citrus industry, including groves in South Florida, brings more than $9 billion to the state and employs nearly 76,000 Floridians.
Oranges have become such an important part of Florida state identity that it has quickly become a key ingredient in what is now denominated Floribbean cuisine. The beautiful, seemingly endless groves have also become a popular, must see attraction for locals and tourists. If you want to try the largest variety of citrus produce, you can take a tour of one South Florida’s most important groves.
All the pretty lights
In South Florida, buildings get taller and taller as the population rises and the skyline is always changing. Modern architecture, including skyscrapers and high-rises, reflects the latest wave of tourism, corporate business, international banking and technology companies making their own mark on the Florida skyline. But it’s not all business. There are also cultural activities that include restaurant openings, art gallery exhibits and great new music.
So many things to do, and so little time. What if we put all the fun in one place? The Design District in Miami has several galleries full of interesting pieces for contemporary art lovers. Adamar Fine Arts is one the oldest art galleries in Miami and features pieces by pop artists and masters of contemporary art like Andy Warhol.
Trying new food has quickly become a favorite pastime in South Florida, because chefs are starting to merge local gastronomy with international influences. The local ingredients are always fresh (seafood and citrus are amongst the favorites) and the combination of flavors (full of spices from all around the world) is infinite!
The fast paced, always evolving and exciting music industry has been revving up the club scene in South Florida for a while now and it keeps producing crisp, new sounds you will always want to dance to.
Major cities in South Florida
Almost 70% of the state of Florida’s population lives in South Florida, more than 13 million people.
The most important cities for business and tourism are:
- Fort Lauderdale
- West Palm Beach
Into the future
South Florida is investing in technology. The economy has shifted from oranges to hotels, and from banks to startups. Cities like Miami are pushing to become a major part of the tech industry. What will the future look like? We are starting to see a glimpse of it in South Florida.