Florida is well-known for its stunning beaches, sunny, warm weather, and juicy oranges – but there are lots of interesting, weird, and funny facts about the Sunshine State you probably don’t know. Like, did you know that Tampa has the longest continual sidewalk in the world? Or that Opa-Locka was previously called Opatishawockalocka? Say that three times fast!
From wildlife and theme parks to weather and history, Florida is packed to the brim with fascinating facts. Here’s everything you need to know about the Alligator State.
15 Fun Facts About Florida
Ever since I moved to Florida over a year ago, I’ve been in awe of everything I’ve learned about the state. Coming from the West Coast, I really had no idea how awesome Florida truly is – take a look at what I’ve learned:
1. Florida is Home to Over 22 Million People
Florida is home to an estimated 22.6 million people. That’s quite a number! In fact, that statistic makes Florida the third most populous state – coming in after California and Texas, respectively. With approximately 2% growth each year, Florida continues to gain more and more popularity.
A great way to see the size of this place from a different perspective is to view the sprawling skyline of Miami by helicopter with a 30-minute private helicopter tour.
2. Florida is the Flattest State in the U.S.A
If you love a challenging hike, you won’t find it in Florida. Actually, you won’t really find any hills at all. Florida is topographically the flattest state in the country, with most of the state at, or slightly below or above, sea level.
The flat lands of Florida make it the perfect place to cruise around on a golf cart. It’s a great way to get around and explore more of the area. Rent one in Tampa.
3. Britton Hill is the Highest Natural Point
Speaking of hikes and hills, the closest thing to an incline you’ll get is Britton Hill. At just 345 feet elevation, Britton Hill isn’t exactly intimidating. Located near the Florida-Alabama state line, this “mountain peak” has a trail that’s less than a mile long and can be completed in about 15 minutes or so.
Since you’ll be near Destin, while here, I recommend you book a Dolphin Watch Cruise at sunset.
4. St. Augustine, Florida is the Oldest City in the U.S.A
Many people think of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and other European settlers in the Northeast as the first U.S. settlements, but that’s incorrect. St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the country – founded in 1565, fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
Take a guided tour of St. Augustine on a hop-on hop-off trolley tour, where you’ll be taken around to all the most famous and historic spots, and have the chance to hop on and off at your leisure.
5. Florida has the Most Golf Courses in the U.S.A
Florida is known as a golfing mecca, and for good reason – it’s home to the most golf courses out of any other state in the United States. You never have to drive far to find the nearest golf course when the state has over 1,200 golf courses scattered about. Aside from the occasional thunderstorm during the rainy months, Florida’s sunny weather makes it ideal for a round of 18 holes.
Make sure you make a stop at the World Golf Hall of Fame just north of downtown St. Augustine. They display over 4,000 pieces of golf memorabilia from the 155 legends that make up the members.
6. Florida Produces 70% of the Country’s Oranges
Thanks to Florida’s fantastic weather providing the perfect balance of sun and rain, it’s the perfect climate for growing oranges. Now, all those commercials make sense! The orange grove farmers of Florida grow 70% of the oranges in the United States.
Stop by Florida’s Natural Visitor Center where you can sample a variety of tasty and refreshing juices.
7. Panthers are Indigenous
You might think of bobcats or mountain lions when you think of “big cats” in the United States, but, panthers are a native cat to Florida. They’re mostly found in the southern part of the state, although they’re sometimes spotted in the north as well.
Look out for wildlife on a thrilling airboat tour in the Florida Everglades where you’ll travel through 4,200 acres of protected swamps, marshes, and rivers.
8. Florida Held the First Scheduled Passenger Flight
Of course, the first flight took place in 1903 with the Wright Brothers, however, the first scheduled passenger flight happened in 1914 in Florida. The short flight flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa and lasted 23 minutes. It was an exciting feat because, at the time, the trip would take nearly 11 hours by train.
Learn more about Tampa’s history on a cruise tour while taking in views of the city’s million-dollar homes, museums, and the famous Plant Hotel.
9. Florida has the Longest Coastline in the Lower 48
Sure, California has some impressive beaches, but it has nothing on Florida’s majestic coast. Coming in with over 1,500 miles of coastline, it has nearly double the stretch of California. It’s no wonder millions of people flock to the glorious beaches every year. Rent a bike in South Beach, Miami, and cruise along the coast for the day.
10. Suntan Lotion was Invented in Miami
It’s no surprise with all this talk of sunshine and beaches that suntan lotion would find its origins in Florida. A pharmacist in Miami created the first modern sunblock during World War II, later perfecting the formula, and starting the well-known Coppertone brand.
Put on some sunblock and go on a shelling and sightseeing boat cruise off Marco Island. It’s an ideal way to spend a day catching some rays and relaxing.
11. Florida Holds the Record for the World’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt
The Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Winter Haven, Florida, hosted the world’s largest Easter egg hunt on April 1, 2007. The Easter egg hunt broke the Guinness World Record when 9,753 children searched for 501,000 eggs hidden throughout the park. The record is yet to be broken.
Winter Haven is located near LEGOLAND – a LEGO-themed adventure park with over 50 rides, shows, and attractions.
12. 58 Million People visit Disneyworld Every Year
The Walt Disney World resort is one of the biggest reasons why people visit Florida throughout the year. This massive attraction is comprised of four theme parks, a water park, and various hotels, and over 58 million people visit the resort every single year, making it one of the most visited attractions in the world.
Stay cool during the hot summer months at the Walt Disney World Water Park. They have 56 acres of slides, wave pools, rivers, and other attractions. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Orlando.
13. Crocodiles and Alligators Live Together
Usually, you would never find alligators and crocodiles in the same habitat in the wild; but not in Florida! The Florida Everglades, in the southern part of the state, is the only place where the two large reptiles live together in the same environment, side by side.
Experience the Everglades on a whole new level by taking a Night Airboat Tour. You’ll skim across the grassy waters at 40 mph, and keep an out for the shining eyes of alligators and crocodiles.
14. Key West is the Southernmost City in the Continental U.S.A
Although Key West is only a small island, it’s still considered to be a part of the continental United States, and it’s as far south as you can get (other than Hawaii). You can reach Key West by taking a beautiful drive over an astonishing 42 bridges, including the famous 7 Mile Bridge which takes ten minutes to drive across alone.
Relax in a sandbar with lunch and unlimited drinks on a Key West Sandbar Excursion & Kayak Tour.
15. Tampa has the Longest Continuous Sidewalk
Head to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida, and take a stroll on the world’s longest continuous pedestrian walkway. The 4.5-mile-long sidewalk runs along the Upper Hillsborough Bay and follows the seawall from Columbus Statue Park to Gandy Boulevard.
If you want to give your legs a break, check out this Guided City Tour of Tampa in a golf cart and experience some of the liveliest neighborhoods in style.
FAQs: Facts About Florida
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about Florida:
Florida’s nickname is The Sunshine State thanks to its 237 days of sunshine every year.
Here are 5 historical facts about Florida:
– St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the nation
– The first scheduled passenger flight flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa
– Florida was the third state to join the Civil War
– Spain controlled Florida until 1762
– Florida became the 27th state in 1845
Ever since it was officially settled, Florida has always been called Florida. It translates to Land of Flowers.
The most common name for men is John and Mary for women.
510 years ago, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed in what he named “Florida.” Some say it’s translated to Land of Flowers.
Florida never ceases to amaze me, and these fun facts are just the beginning! I seem to learn something new and interesting nearly every day. It makes me excited to keep exploring this beautiful state, and I always encourage my friends and family to do the same. So, plan your next vacation to Florida – you never know what you’ll find out.