A hundred worlds – from magic kingdoms and Latin American and Caribbean capitals to mangrove islands, wild wetlands and artist colonies – are all contained within this flat peninsula.
While many know Florida for beaches and theme parks, few understand this is one of the most populous states in the country, a bellwether for the American experiment. And that experiment – and this state – is more diverse than ever. From rural hunters and trappers in her geographically northern, culturally Southern climes, to Jewish transplants sitting side by side with Latin arrivals from every Spanish-speaking nation in the world, it’s hard to beat Florida when it comes to experiencing the human tapestry at its most colorful and vibrant.
Tan, tropical Florida is smarter and more culturally savvy then her appearance suggests. This state, particularly South Florida, has a reputation for attracting eccentrics and idiosyncratic types from across the United States, Latin America and Europe. Many of these folks, and their descendants, have gone on to create or provide patronage for the arts, as evidenced by enormous concert spaces in Miami, a glut of museums on the Gulf Coast, and a long, literary tradition – Florida has produced more than her fair share of great American authors.
By Adam Karlin, Writer
I was raised on wetlands and I’m drawn to wetlands, and I can’t think of a state that better combines that favored biome with some of my other great travel loves – namely, good food, ethnic entrepôts, warm weather and nice beaches. What can I say? Give me the ocean on one hand, swamps on the other and some fried conch and ice tea for lunch and I’m happy as a clam (which are great fried at a dockside restaurant, by the way…).
Maybe there’s no mystery to what makes the Florida peninsula so intoxicating. Beaches as fine and sweet as powdered sugar, warm waters, rustling mangroves: all conspire to melt our workaday selves. We come to Florida to let go – of worries and winter, of inhibitions and reality. Some desire a beachy getaway of swimming, seafood and sunsets. Others seek the hedonism of South Beach, spring break and Key West. Still more hope to lose themselves within the phantasmagorical realms of Walt Disney World and Orlando’s theme parks.Se.xy Swamps
Within Florida’s semitropical wilderness, alligators prowl beside waterways, herons strut through ponds, manatees winter in springs and sea turtles nest in summer. Osprey and eagles, dolphins and tarpon, coral-reef forests, oceans of sawgrass: despite the best efforts of 21st-century humans, overwhelming portions of Florida remain untamed, sometimes disconcertingly so. We come to Florida to experience this taste of wildness, to paddle so close to our toothsome Jurassic-era friends that our palms tingle. To meet loggerheads and manatees underwater, eye to eye.