Why Florida is the World’s Favourite Holiday Playground

Orlando , Expert View Column
A blue sign with white text which says 'Florida Welcomes You' with palm trees in the background.
By AttractionTickets.com’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Its history, geography, culture and celebrity have made the Sunshine State top of the pops for visitors worldwide. Here’s why…

Florida’s reputation as the perfect holiday destination is no secret. After all, it’s been on the radar as an idyllic hot-spot since the 1880s.

But it’s worth taking some time to consider everything that has come together over several centuries to create what we firmly believe is the ideal place to enjoy some heaven-sent r ‘n’ r, with genuinely something for everyone.

And, if you’d like some of the inside facts and figures on exactly what makes the Sunshine State a holiday great, read on. At the very least, you’ll have some cool info with which to impress your friends!


Old image of main street and Cinderella's Castle and in front Mickey is stood with Walt Disney as he delivers a speech.

Much of what we know as Florida today is the result of more than 500 years of development and nationalism. The first people to settle here were the Paleoindians – the Timucua and Calusa – some 12,000 years ago, but few survived the 1700s thanks to the import of European diseases such as smallpox and measles, plus slaving raids and open warfare against the native tribes.

For more than 200 years, Spain, France and Britain squabbled and fought over “ownership” of the state until America negotiated an agreement with Spain in 1821 to take full control of the territory, which would become a state 23 years later.

After a series of infamous Seminole Wars with the native tribes in the south of the state, the government encouraged a period of settlement from the 1830s and, by the 1880s, Henry Flagler had arrived with his ground-breaking East Coast Railway.

Flagler’s route from New York down to Miami, and then Key West by 1912, opened the gates to out-of-state tourism and a 1920s land boom cemented Florida’s status as both a desirable place to live and a great holiday playground, with its Atlantic coast beaches and a string of upmarket resorts following the East Coast Railway.

In the 1950s, Miami and its attendant cities were made famous by Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, and the state was given a renewed boost by TV series Miami Vice in the 1980s. Disney had opened their World in 1971, putting Orlando firmly on the tourist map, and things have mushroomed ever since.


Florida boasts the longest coastline of any of the 48 contiguous states, fully 1,350 miles long, and this is what initially established the state as a holiday destination par excellence. It basically consists of the long peninsula that makes up the bulk of the state, and a separate northern land mass that is more akin to neighbouring Georgia and Alabama. 

The many white-sand beaches are the product of post Ice Age glacial deposits of pure quartzite from rivers in the Panhandle area of the state (the extreme north-west), and their fine, powder-like quality ensures pure beach bliss for mile after mile.

Two yellow deck chairs and a couple walking along white sandy beach of deserted island.

The fact the Sunshine State – a nickname stolen from New Mexico in 1970 – is in a sub-tropical climate zone ensures plenty of solar illumination, including gorgeous winters, while the flat, marshy terrain keeps things humid, aided by the two coastal seaboards, which create opposing air-flows – and thunderstorms – in summer.

The seas around Florida are rich in dolphins, sea turtles, manatees and many exotic types of fish, including marlin, tuna, grouper and sunfish, many of the latter of which make for very good eating! Seafood is a real speciality in most restaurants and adds significantly to the tourist experience.

Two manatees in the crystal clear water which is surrounded either side by tall trees.


From Ernest Hemingway to Sinatra and Pitbull, the state has attracted a string of celebrity followers over the decades, many of whom have settled in places like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Florida Keys.

Miami Vice established a distinctive look and style that is maintained in places like Ocean Drive and Miami’s Art Deco district, while modern cities such as Orlando and Tampa have given the state a real contemporary vibe. Lesser-known – but still well-heeled – cities such as Naples, Sarasota, Jupiter and Winter Park also maintain that upscale style.

Yachts and boats docked in harbour with the Miami skyline in the background, lots of tall buildings.

Sports are a huge part of pop culture in the state, with major teams in each of Miami, Orlando, Tampa, St Petersburg and Jacksonville, while the likes of Serena Williams, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Tom Brady all have homes here.


Perhaps the clinching part of Florida’s claim to fame, though, is its mixed and diverse cultural profile that has encouraged a level of creativity and entrepreneurial skills matched only by California.

Walt Disney was quick to realise the benefits of siting his second theme park development in the Sunshine State in 1966, while Tampa received a major boost for its development from the arrival of Cuban immigrants in the late 19th century.

Walt Disney stood in front of colourful map of Florida with wooden stick to point for television broadcast.

In the 1970s, Orlando became home to a distinct Vietnamese influx, and the state has also gained from further cultural groups from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and Central America. This is well in evidence in our restaurant choice, and is matched only by the big-city centres of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Florida now boasts Michelin-starred dining choices as a result, and we absolutely love the options we now have.


If there’s one thing Florida has learned to show its visitors over the years, it is that it values them and wants them to feel welcome. And they typically succeed year after year, providing a level of holiday consistency that is the next best thing to a guarantee in the vacation world.

And it’s all a product of the state’s history, geography, celebrity and culture!

What most fascinates you about the Sunshine State? Tell us about it on the friendly AttractionTickets.com Community Facebook page or Instagram.



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Orlando , Expert View Column