Florida – The Sunshine State

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Florida is popularly known as the ‘Sunshine State’ where tremendous oranges are grown.  Driving along the roadsides one can almost believe that one is roaming in Mangalore as the vegetation that dots the landscape brings back some memories of home.  The lush crotons, bougainville, buttercup flowers, peepal trees and many familiar plants can be sighted as you drive on your way south from Orlando or Miami.


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Our short vacation began from Orlando, visiting our friends in West Palm Beach and from there we continued our journey towards Fort Lauderdale, Miami and finally to the southern most tip of continental US, Key West. I would love to share some of the sweet memories of our vacation in this beautiful state!


Orlando


Orlando is home to Disneyland, a very magical and beautiful place to play and spend quality time with friends and families.  If one wants to see everything that Disneyland has to offer then one has to have enough number of days to experience everything it has to offer.  However, for lack of time one can choose to see the best of the lot.  We chose to see the ‘Universal Studio’ of Orlando which is also a venue for fun sports.


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The 4Dshow of the ‘Shrek 2’ and the incident demo of the ‘Twister’ were really exciting.  We also enjoyed the Roller Coaster in ‘Return of the Mummy’ and ‘JawsAttack’. It was an awesome presentation and the thrill in the coaster rides made us all reluctant to leave the place.


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Later we moved to the ‘Island of Adventure’ where The ‘Rip Saw Falls’ and the ‘Jurassic Park Adventure’ kept us enthralled. People sat on logs and sailed in the water as they tried to escape the dinosaurs by springing into the falls. As the people came bouncing from the top of the hill to the bottom of the falls, there were screams of excitement and fear which all somehow added to the spirit of adventure that was prevalent there.


Miami Beach


Next on the list was the world famous beach of Miami.  The beach itself is a silent and peaceful area to walk around in.  Everywhere we could see people surfing on their boards, competing with the waves and enjoying every moment of their vacation. The cozy food and layout of the beach seemed to be a good relaxing area to visit.


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Florida Keys


The third day we drove from Miami towards ‘Florida Keys’. We were inspired to visit here after reading a travelogue () by one of our readers here.


The area south of Miami around Homestead and Florida city is commonly known as the "Gateway to the Keys". Overseas Highway connects the Keys to the real world.


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Key Largo


The Largest of the Florida Keys, Key Largo (about 20 to 30 miles from end to end) is most famous for its beautiful offshore. More than 500 species of fish as well as shore birds and other native wildlife provide a changing display of natural beauty.


Islamorada


This area is known for world-class sport fishing. Islamorada or the "Purple isles" was named by the Spanish explorers centuries ago either due to purple-snail that once lived in the island or the existence of orchid trees and bougainville.


Marathon


Marathon, the bustling center of the coral islands is known as the Heart of the Keys, because it’s the midpoint of the island chain.


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Lower Keys


Moving a couple of miles we came across Lower Keys. This area is known for Marine sanctuaries, nature preserves, wildlife refuge and artificial reefs.


Key West


Key West is a treasure trove as it is rich in historic sites and architecture. The island is so compact with venerable houses and buildings. It is also famous for Gingerbreads and sweet lime pie (which tasted awesome 🙂 ).


We found an Information center, where they gave us a list of attractive places to visit in Key West. We took a shuttle and got down in Duval Street, affectionately known as the longest main street in the world because it goes from coast to coast from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The street was active with musicians, street performers and merry makers.


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To explore more, we took a rental boat and viewed the other tiny islands around. The guide showed us the US Navy Base at the end of the Island, the boat wrecks lying around in far islands (due to the Hurricane last year), the Hilton Sisters town House and many town houses belonging to Hollywood stars. They also showed the Bight renamed the "Historic Seaport district" which keeps the seafaring heritage alive.


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The most crowded area is Mallory square. In the evenings, people gather here for the famous Sunset Celebrations.


Finally we went to the Southernmost point. The huge red, white, green and yellow buoy at the intersection of South Street is a place to visit. It is the southern most tip of North America and traveling 90 miles would take us to Cuba. The scorching sun made us very tired and we caught a shuttle to move back to our hotel.


The unique paradise of Florida Keys was really a splendid experience and worth every memorable moment we spent there.


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The Southernmost point


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The Southernmost house


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Author: Rosanne DSouza- USA


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