Think Florida. Inevitably your thoughts turn to white sunny beaches and Disney. There’s nothing like the beach on a December winter day and Mickey Mouse and the other icons have brought countless starry-eyed visitors to the state. Yet, Florida is so much more than Disney. It was settled by the Spanish in 1513, before the English landed at Jamestown. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. Over the centuries has been governed by five counties, including Spain, France and Britain, making it a real cultural gumbo. The east coast is populated by snowbirds escaping New York winters, while the west coast is a direct route for Midwesterners and Canadians. The northern part of the state is considered “Original Florida and some say it is more southern than southern Georgia. South of I-4, the state has a more diverse cosmopolitan flair. Things move at a slower pace, and few are in a hurry. Great Latin food peacefully coexists with good Southern cooking. Lush gardens and great architecture are equally revered. It’s not unusual to see residents in cutoff jeans driving a Mercedes and some of the year, shoes are optional. A radiant sun shines as many as 361 days a year and there’s so much sun confidence that the Tampa newspaper guarantees that is the sun does not come out on a particular day, the paper is free. As you travel the state, you’ll discover scenic drives, a collection of very diverse landscapes, historic downtowns, sophisticated cities, world class museums, major league sports, pristine gardens, massive historic homes and many other attractions, plus entertainment to suit all tastes. Relax, kick off your shoes and enjoy it all!

Florida Scenic Byways