Florida Emerald CoastNestled in the Southeastern region of the United States, Florida is a vibrant state bordered by the vast Atlantic Ocean on one side and the serene Gulf of Mexico on the other.

The state's unique position between two major bodies of water significantly shapes Florida's culture and lifestyle. It's a diverse melting pot, home to African, European, Indigenous, Latino, and Asian communities, with a notable Cuban influence. 

Travel Tip: When in Florida, immerse yourself in its rich cultural diversity by exploring local cuisines, which are a blend of various culinary traditions.

The enchanting Florida Keys, a series of islands stretching into the Gulf of Mexico, offer a tropical haven for both residents and visitors alike.

My journeys in Florida have taken me through Orlando, the Space Coast, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Okaloosa Island, Niceville, Pensacola, and Panama City. 

Interesting Fact: Florida's unique geography means it spans two time zones, adding an interesting twist to travel plans.

Florida's vastness encompasses many distinctive regions. To truly experience its diversity, multiple visits are essential, with places like Tampa, Miami, and the Keys on the must-visit list.

Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton BeachFort Walton Beach, set on the picturesque Emerald Coast, is renowned for its shimmering silver sand beaches. It's a bustling tourist hotspot, especially during the summer.

Travel Tip: For a quieter experience, consider visiting Fort Walton Beach in the off-season when the crowds are fewer, and the beauty of the coast can be enjoyed more intimately.

Booking in advance is crucial for those planning a summer visit, as it's the peak tourist season.

The climate here is generally warm throughout the year, with occasional cold snaps in winter. The area last witnessed snowfall in 1977.

Fort Walton Beach, along with Okaloosa Island and Ocean City, forms a unique tri-city area, surrounded by bayous, the Gulf of Mexico, lakes, creeks, and lush inland forests. Our stay included delightful beach visits, park explorations, attractions like the Gulfarium, forest hikes, an adventure on Jet Skis, and exceptional dining experiences.

Orlando

Disney World Orlando - Pixabay by eduneriVisiting Orlando in July, despite warnings of high temperatures and evening thunderstorms, proved to be an exhilarating experience. The city's vibrant energy, even under the sweltering heat, is contagious.

Orlando, known as the Theme Park capital of the world, boasts 13 major theme parks and several adventure destinations. Just under an hour's drive away, the Kennedy Space Center in Cocoa Beach offers a fascinating glimpse into NASA's space exploration history.

Did You Know? Orlando's theme parks attract over 75 million visitors annually, making it one of the most visited destinations in the world.

Coming from Anaheim, California, another theme park hub, we still found Orlando's parks to offer unique and diverse experiences.

Read more about Orlando here.

KSC - Rocket Garden - main plazaKennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center, near Cocoa Beach, is a must-visit for anyone fascinated by space exploration. This iconic site is steeped in American manned space history and continues to be at the forefront of space endeavors.

The expansive 144,000-acre site encompasses 700 facilities, including launch pads, vehicle assembly buildings, and various operational centers. Visitors, however, can only explore a fraction of these facilities, starting their journey at the visitor's complex.

Insider Tip: For a truly immersive experience, plan your visit to coincide with a rocket launch, which can be viewed from specific areas within the Kennedy Space Center.

The Rocket Garden, greeting visitors at the entrance, displays actual rockets used in various space missions, offering a tangible connection to the history of space exploration.

Read more about the space center here.