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18 Things You Didn't Know About Florida

Picture of Karina Castrillo
Updated: 3 December 2017
Everyone knows Miami is the playground for the rich and famous and home to the best Cuban sandwiches, that Daytona Beach has the wildest Spring Break parties and that Walt Disney World lives there. But there is so much more about Florida you don’t know. From record-breaking facts to creepy cannibal news, here’s a low-down on the sunshine state’s best kept secrets.

Florida has more golf courses than any other state

It’s true. The peninsula is home to over 1,300 green golf courses with popular destinations all over the state (…maybe that’s one reason Donald Trump loves it here). There’s even the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.

Miami installed the first ATM machine for rollerbladers

Miami Beach’s winding sidewalks are a popular spot for rollerblading, so it’s no surprise that in 1996, Citibank on Washington Avenue installed the first skate-through ATM lane for rollerbladers. Because, why not?

Florida has one of two round freshwater lakes in the world

Located in DeFuniak Springs, the Lake Defuniak is primarily spring fed, round and covers 40 acres of water.

Key West has the hottest weather in the USA

Plan your holiday vacation here. Winter or summer, Key West boasts the hottest average temperatures all year-around.

Sunset in Key West
Sunset in Key West | © Lonni Bensancon \ Flickr

Florida is not the southernmost state in the USA, it’s Hawaii

Look again. Florida may be the southernmost state in the continental USA, but geographically, Hawaii is the southernmost. (Check your maps!)

Largest Mangrove Forest in the country is in Florida

South Florida is home to swampy marshlands and mangroves that stretch for thousands of miles. Visit the Everglades National Park for a look at these wild things.

Florida WAS home to one of the largest trees in the world

Until an arsonist burned it down in 2012, Florida was home to one of the largest trees in the world. “The Senator” was the biggest and oldest bald cypress tree measuring 125 feet high and 3,500 years old. RIP, world record breaker.

The Senator in 2011
The Senator in 2011 | © Anthony Scotti \ Wiki Commons

Florida is the most lightning strikes-prone state

Residents may not be happy to win at this game. Florida tops the list because it has the most cities prone to lightning strikes. These are Fort Myers, Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Miami and Key West.

Lightning in Florida
Lightning in Florida | © Chad Sparkes \ Flickr

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first underwater park in the USA

In an effort to conserve Florida’s only living barrier reef, the state made the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. Since the 1960’s the park invites guests to swim, kayak and scuba dive and explore the variety of marine life and the famous Christ of the Abyss statue – a 4,ooo pound bronze statue of Jesus Christ at the bottom of the ocean.

Florida is home to the third largest coral reef in the world

The Great Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the USA, and the third largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef.

Fish in the reef
Fish in the reef | © Tom Bayly \ Flickr

Florida Law requires day cares to play one hour of classical music a day

In 1998, Florida passed the Beethoven’s Babies Bill which is based on a study of the “Mozart Effect”- the belief that classical music encourages a child’s intellect. So now babies and toddlers at childcare centers can jam to Beethoven’s Fifth.

Key Largo is the diving capital of the world

The northernmost island of the Florida Keys archipelago is the diving capital for good reason. Home to the third largest coral reef in the world, the Christ of the Abyss statue and many shipwrecks, scuba divers are aching to explore what the Florida waters have to offer.

No matter where you are in Florida, you are never more than 60 miles from the ocean

That sounds good anyway you put it. The sunshine state is brimming with pristine beaches coast to coast. From the magical sunsets on the Gold Coast by the Gulf of Mexico to the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the sunshine state offers plenty of fun in the sea.

You can go shark tooth hunting in Venice Beach

Ten million years ago, Florida was submerged underwater so it comes as no surprise you can find shark teeth from different species such as the prehistoric megalodon shark in Venice Beach! Shark tooth hunters will enjoy scavenging for fossilized teeth all over the rock formations along Venice Beach.

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the USA

Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine in northern Florida is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the country.

Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine
Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine | © Ebyabe/WikiCommons

The oldest building in Florida was built in the year 1133

The Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami was built in 1133, and was home to Cisterian monks several hundred years ago.

Ancient Spanish Monastery
Ancient Spanish Monastery | © Brett Levin \ Flickr

Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America

Due to its winding canals and waterways, the South Florida city of Fort Lauderdale is known as as the Venice of America. But you can’t see the city from a gondola, you have to use a water taxi.

Aerial view of Fort Lauderdale
Aerial view of Fort Lauderdale | © Don Ramey Logan / WikiCommons

Miami had a cannibal attack in 2012

In 2012, a nude man chewed the face of a homeless man in the MacArthur Causeway in Miami. Refusing to stop preying on his meal, police fired and killed the assailant. In a turn of events, the victim Ronald Poppo who survived and was submitted to the hospital for surgical reconstruction, was later reconciled with his estranged family who had found his whereabouts on the news after many years searching for his traces. Who would have thought? A happy ending after all.