Florida is located in the Southeastern region of the United States. It sits between the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
The state's position in between two large bodies of water influences many aspects of Florida culture and daily life. Florida melting pot of African, European, Indigenous, Latino, Asian people - with a large Cuban presence.
The Florida Keys are a string of islands that extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico, making them a tropical paradise for residents and tourists.
Our final destination for this epic road trip was Florida's Emerald Coast. Our base of operations was Fort Walton Beach. From there, we explored Destin, Okaloosa, Niceville, Pensacola, and Panama City.
On previous trips, we spent time in Orlando and the Space Coast.
Florida is a large state with many distinct areas. We will need to come back several times to explore places like Tampa, Miami, and the Keys.
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach is a small beach town located on the Emerald Coast with beautiful silver sand beaches. It is a major tourist attraction and gets very busy during the summer months.
If you plan to visit during those busy months, you need to make your reservations months ahead of time.
The weather in the Emerald Coast is warm most of the year, with a few rare cold days during winter. The last time it snowed in this area was in 1977.
While talking about Walton Beach, I am including Okaloosa Island and Ocean City because they are all interconnected.
The try-city area is surrounded by several Bayous, the Gulf of Mexico, lakes, creeks, and inland forests. While staying in Fort Walton Beach, we enjoyed visits to the beach, parks, major attractions like the Gulfarium, hikes in the forest, and great dining experiences.
Everyone said a visit to Orlando in July is a mistake. The temperatures are high – in the 90s, and the air is thick with humidity. To top it all, expect thunderstorms every evening.
Everyone is right about the weather, of course, but we still had a blast relaxing at the resort and visiting theme parks and attractions.
Orlando is considered the Theme Park capital of the world with 13 major theme parks and a few more adventure destinations. Less than an hour away, you can learn about NASA’s history and achievements at the Kenny Space Center in Cocoa Beach.
We live in Anaheim, California, another major theme park destination, but we still managed to find a lot of new experiences in Orlando, Florida.
Anyone interested in the space program should try to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida located near Cocoa Beach.
This is where the American manned space history happened and is still happening. Visitors get to relive the great moments of the Mercury, Gemini, Appollo, and the Shuttle space programs.
The vast 144,000 acres property houses 700 facilities including launch pads, vehicle assembly, Payload processing, Headquarters, Operations and Checkout, and the Central Instrumentation Facility.
Visitors to KSC start their visit at the visitor's complex and can only see a small portion of those facilities.
As you enter the visitors complex, the first sight you encounter is the Rocket Garden – showcasing rockets that were actually used to launch space vehicles of every kind.