The Sunshine State, as Florida is affectionately called, is more than a warm place to spend the winter, and more than its impressive theme parks. Here you can find wildlife you won’t see anywhere else, out-of-the way beaches, state parks reflecting Florida as it was in the early 20th century, and the tropical atmosphere of the Florida Keys. Florida is the only state in the country with coasts on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico,

North West Florida/Panhandle

The Panhandle borders Alabama and Georgia to the north and west, and is flavored by the Deep South in both climate and relaxed lifestyle. Florida’s capital Tallahassee is located here. The Gulf Coast beaches in this region are pure white sand, the seafood is superb, shopping is diverse, and the nightlife reflects a spring-break ambience.

North East Florida

North East Florida borders the Atlantic Ocean and includes historic St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country. Sandbars, barrier islands, lagoons, and the Intercoastal Waterway protect the region from the rough Atlantic weather. Stunning views of the coastline can be experienced by driving south from Amelia Island to St Augustine, and further south to Daytona Beach.

East Central Florida

East Central Florida has many attractions, which are as diverse as the Daytona racetrack, the Kennedy Space Center, and a day spent parasailing at the famed Cocoa Beach. The region has opportunities for nature-lovers to visit wildlife refuges and nature preserves, for outdoors enthusiasts to fish in nearby rivers or the ocean, or to kayak through Indian River Lagoon.

Central Florida

Orlando and Tampa are the major cities here, so close in proximity that their metro areas blend together. The area is well-known for its marvelous theme parks and kid-friendly attractions. For a slower-paced way to enjoy the region, visit botanical gardens, art and history museums, and citrus groves. An aviation festival is held here in the early spring.

West Central Florida

West Central Florida faces the Gulf of Mexico, and is lined with beautiful beaches. Venice Beach to the south has a collector’s paradise of shark’s teeth, and shell collectors flock to the barrier islands where a myriad of unusual seashells can be found. The Gulf waters are usually calm. Excellent fishing, nature trails, and bike paths can be found here.

 Southeast Florida

Southeast Florida includes the Miami/Dade County area, which is a bustling city of ethnic diversity with a large Hispanic population. Visit the marvelous Everglades National Park or the Florida Keys, a group of islands formed by a coral reef. Miami’s port accommodates the highest number of cruise ships in the world, highlighting the importance of tourism to the region’s economy.

Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida begins near Port Charlotte in the north and ends at the Everglades. Fishing for tarpon, enjoying quality beach time, and exploring the varied coastline with its cities and wild areas are prime activities in this region. Shopping, excellent seafood and a round of golf in the middle of winter make Southwest Florida a great vacation spot, or a place to retire.