With its size and unique location in the United States, there are quite a few interesting facts about Florida that you may not know! Whether you’re a frequent Florida traveler or have yet to visit the Sunshine State, you’ll find the contents of this list either exceptionally funny or just flat-out interesting.
To start off, here are a few general facts about Florida:
- There are an impressive 4,500+ islands in the state
- It’s the only state which borders the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean
- It holds the largest city in the continental United States (Jacksonville)
Not a bad start, right?
So, whether you’re a trivia-loving person or you want to use these Florida facts to impress friends or family, you’ll definitely want to read through this list. So, without further ado, here are seventeen fun or interesting facts about Florida to add to your knowledge bank!
The 17 Most Interesting Facts about Florida
So, what kind of facts can you expect from this list? Well, expect all things weird, fun, interesting, and informative! With Florida’s diverse background and long history (the oldest inhabited city lies in the state), you can expect to be entertained as you learn a little more about the Sunshine State.
Ready to learn about the strange and wonderful state of Florida? Let’s dive in!
1. Florida has three state animals
All states in the US have a state bird, and most have a state animal as well. However, Florida has three state animals on its docket. The state bird is the Mockingbird. It also has a state marine mammal (Manatee) and a state saltwater mammal (Bottlenose Dolphin).
If you’re an animal lover, you can get up close and personal with the state marine mammal via a kayaking excursion. However, it’s important to note that Manatees are protected, so you’ll need to follow the rules when kayaking around Manatees. For example, you cannot harass, annoy, feed, or pursue a Manatee.
Bonus fact: Panthers are native to Florida. Specifically, there’s a Florida panther that is indigenous to the state. Currently, there are an estimated 120-230 panthers that live in Florida.
2. St. Augustine, FL, is the oldest city in the US
This Florida city was founded in 1565 by a Spanish Settler, making it the oldest European-founded settlement in US history that has been continuously inhabited. Many people also consider St. Augustine the oldest city in the US.
Recently, there has even been speculation on whether the first version of Thanksgiving was held in this city about half a century before the pilgrims began the tradition.
3. Anna Maria Island is around 25,000 years old
This island, a popular beach destination for many travelers, is approximately twenty-five thousand years old. And while there is no way to determine when exactly the land mass was created, using carbon dating and soil samples has helped provide an approximate date for this stunning Florida island.
Bonus fact: AMI has quartz beaches, which are rare. Instead of seashell bits turning into the white sand found on the beaches, quartz rocks from the Appalachian Mountains erode and wash out to sea. This means you can walk on the sand on hot days and not burn your feet, as quartz sand is not a good heat conductor!
With the island’s rich history and stunning beaches, exploring Anna Maria Island via the water is one of the best ways to get around. Luckily, there are quite a few boat tours on Anna Maria Island you should absolutely check out.
4. Florida has a national park that is 95% underwater
That’s right, Biscayne National Park is primarily underwater. It’s one of eleven national parks in the state and sits slightly south of Miami. This national park is also home to several endangered species, including the West Indian Manatee, the Eastern Indigo Snake, and even the American crocodile.
Overall, Florida is covered in about 7% protected land, split between its national and state parks.
There are ten other national parks in Florida, including the Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park. All three of these major national parks (Biscayne, Everglades, and Dry Tortugas) are in South Florida.
5. Florida’s beautiful coastline is the longest in the contiguous United States.
Not only does Florida have the oldest city, but it’s also home to the longest coastline in the lower 48 states. The coast stretches about 1,350 miles, with 825 miles containing beaches you can visit.
While many of Florida’s beaches feature beautiful blue water, specific beaches are known for having the clearest water. You’ll find some of these beaches in Destin, the Florida Keys, Miami, and Jupiter.
Bonus fact: When you visit Florida, you will be, at most, 60 miles away from a body of water in any given place.
6. The Peninsula State has 175 State Parks.
Out of this impressive number of state parks, Honeymoon Island State Park is the most visited. Just over one million people visit this beautiful state park annually. If you’re planning on including it as a stop on your itinerary, avoid stopping here on the weekends, as it’s the busiest on Saturdays and Sundays.
As a side note, Florida’s state parks have continuously won best in the country for the past several years. The beautiful beaches, excellent hiking routes, and sparkling water make it easy to see why the state parks continue winning this title.
7. Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort is the top-visited resort complex worldwide.
About 58 million people plan a trip to Walt Disney World annually. That makes this amusement complex in Orlando the most visited in the world. You may be surprised to find out that it was still in its planning stage when Walt Disney passed away, so he could never see the finished park.
The complex has four parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. Out of these four, Magic Kingdom is the most visited. It’s also the most visited amusement park in the US, with around 20 million people visiting each year.
8. Besides Hawaii, Florida is the only state with a tropical climate
This climate has helped produce one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the US. Florida has around 14.5 million acres of forested area. This means about half the state is covered in trees. Another example of the state’s ecological diversity is its coral reef. Florida’s coral reef is the only living reef in the nation. It’s also the third biggest worldwide.
Because of the diverse climate, Florida has been known to have extreme weather occurrences. You can even see the diversity in weather when looking at the state’s highest and lowest recorded temperatures. The state’s warmest was 109°F, and the coldest was -2°F. These temperatures were recorded about 32 years apart from each other.
9. Florida has been the birthplace of many inventions
Believe it or not, Florida has a long list of inventions for which it can take credit, including Spring Break. The first ever Spring Break occurred in the 1930s when a Colgate University swim coach took his team to Fort Lauderdale for training. It quickly became a friendly competition that occurred annually, as the coach continued bringing his team yearly.
Some other inventions include key lime pie, air conditioning, Famous Amos cookies, sunscreen, and Gatorade. Since Florida is the top producer of oranges in the country (Florida produces more than 70% of oranges sold in the US), it should be no surprise that Florida is credited with many orange-related inventions, like concentrated orange juice.
10. The Sunshine State has multiple aerospace benchmarks
Florida has a long aviation history dating back to 1910 at Orlando’s Orange County Fair. During this fair, the first Florida-powered flight occurred. Lincoln Beachey competed in this competition and could stay in the air for five minutes, earning him a $1,500 prize. In 1912, the first flight school in Florida opened in Miami Beach.
Then, in 1914, Florida had the first scheduled passenger airline. The plane held one passenger, who won a plane ticket at an auction for $400. This plane ride traveled between Tampa and St. Petersburg, a route created due to a lack of a connecting bridge at the time. The trip took less than 1.5 hours and included a repair stop, the Florida breeze, and stunning scenery
This state is also home to the Kennedy Space Center, which is the base for space shuttle landings and launches. It’s where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin launched from before landing on the moon, making another first for the aerospace world.
11. There’s an annual Mullet Toss for Floridians
No, not that kind of mullet. This event refers to the mullet fish. Each year, state residents stand in a line and throw dead fish into Alabama. Yes, really. It’s coupled with a large party on the beach and usually occurs around the end of April.
Though, it’s more than just throwing a dead mullet across state lines. The Mullet Toss is a competition for Floridians to see who can throw their dead fish the furthest. Those participating in the event will stand in a 10-foot circle to make their throw. Some good comes out of this event, as proceeds go to local charities.
If you want to participate in this event, expect to book your hotels and flights months, if not longer, in advance. This is a popular event, as people from all over travel to the area to experience the event in person.
12. Florida has more golf courses than any other state!
You might not be surprised to find out that Florida has the most golf courses in the entire United States! It’s true, there are more than 1,300 golf courses located throughout the state. You’ll never be without a golf course nearby in the Sunshine State.
Want to dig even deeper? Palm Beach County, north of Miami on the space coast of the state, has more golf courses in its county than any other county in the country. In total, there are around 160 courses. That’s a lot of golf courses!
St. Augustine is even home to the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum which honors both men and women golfers and their accomplishments in the sport. The museum also showcases golf memorabilia, including clubs and balls from different eras, as well as interactive exhibits on the game’s history, heritage, and information on the players who have been inducted into the hall of fame.
13. Florida is the flattest state in the U.S.
Most are familiar with how flat Florida seems to be, but did you know that Florida happens to be the flattest state in the US? It’s true. The average elevation in Florida is only 100 ft.
The highest natural point in the state is 345 ft. above sea level, and that’s located in Britton Hill which is in North Florida. This spot is close to the Atlanta/Florida border and is considered the lowest high point out of any state in the country. So even though, by Florida standards, that elevation is rather high, it’s barely anything when compared to other states.
14. Florida is the “Fishing Capital of the World”
It’s true! Florida has been labeled the “Fishing Capital of the World” and rightfully so. With thousands of bodies of fresh and saltwater, it’s a prime fishing spot. Being surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean provides quite a playground and opportunity for those looking to fish. It also provides quite a bit of diversity for types of fish and what you’ll catch.
Florida also has an endless amount of places for freshwater fishing – with over 7,500 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs to choose from and 12,000 miles of rivers, streams, and canals that are fishing-worthy.
Blessed with eternal sunshine and pleasantly moderate weather all year, Florida is the perfect place to fish in any season!
15. Florida’s Name means “Land of Flowers” in Spanish
This one might come as a surprise, but Florida’s name comes from the Spanish term “La Florida,” which translates to mean “land of flowers.” The name was chosen by the explorer Ponce de Leon, who was the first European to explore the area in 1513.
Ponce de Leon named Florida for its abundance of beautiful flowers. Today, you can still find an abundance of colorful blooms in Florida! So, next time you’re visiting the Sunshine State, be sure to take a moment to appreciate all of its beautiful flora.
Bonus fact: The state flower of Florida is the orange blossom! This blossom symbolizes good fortune or prosperity. The white and yellow blossom can be found in gardens and wild areas throughout central and southern Florida.
16. The Famous Apollo 11 Mission launched from Kennedy Space Center
Some might remember, or some might have heard via history books, the popular phrase “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” This was a famous quote from Neil Armstrong that he said as he took his first step on the moon, and the first step of any man on the moon.
And guess where the famous Apollo 11 Mission launched from? Florida! The Kennedy Space Center to be more exact. On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew took off from the Space Center in Saturn V and headed to the moon to make history.
Make sure to add visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida to your itinerary! It’s the perfect place to learn more about the Apollo 11 mission and discover all the other incredible things that NASA has accomplished.
17. Florida has a Local Bigfoot Named the “Skunk Ape”
Okay, this one’s kind of crazy, but Florida has a similar legendary creature among the likes of popular legends like Bigfoot. Florida’s is known as the “Skunk Ape” and it’s located in the swamp-filled Everglades National Park, or so they say.
This ape-like giant has long been a legend since 1974, and many claims of sightings of the giant creature all over South Florida. And, as its name suggests, the giant clearly doesn’t smell the best. Someone claimed they saw the Skunk Ape while walking out in the swamp, and that it looked like a man covered with hair all over.
We’ll let you decide what you believe of Florida’s Bigfoot, but make sure to check out the statue of the infamous legend in Ochopee, Florida!
Wrap-Up: Fun and Interesting Facts About Florida
Florida is a state unlike any other, though that’s to be expected when a state is teeming with alligators and strange headlines talking about “Florida Man.” Beautiful, exciting, and featuring sunny days nearly year-round, this state is one you shouldn’t keep off your bucket list.
Next time you visit the state, scan through these interesting facts about Florida and see if you can schedule one or two into your trip itinerary somehow (like visiting St. Augustine or attending the Mullet Toss). It can help you find some of the best places to visit or give you the experience of a lifetime.
Happy future travels to the Sunshine State!
Marissa runs Sunset Chasing Blonde.