Before I write about Florida, I want to repeat that I’ve been in all 50 States more than once and hope it’s beneficial for me to share what I think are some of their better attractions. Since this has been alphabetical so far, you might be wondering what happened to Delaware.
While studying this small State’s attractions, I realized that I’ve only been there twice and not recently. So Ruth and I are doing a Cabeza de Vaca (see below) and combining a summer trip to England & Scotland with a stop in Delaware to check it out again. If you know of any First State delights we shouldn’t miss, please let us know.
Meanwhile, on to Florida. A bit like California, Florida has an abundance of wildly popular tourist magnets. Of course, Ruth & I have our favorites and I’ll share them soon. However, during research I noticed something unusual about the Sunshine State. Many really famous people are either from there or have contributed greatly to what it has become, so first I’m going to list my top 25 and briefly explain his or her connection/contribution to the State with the U.S.’s fourth largest population.
Alphabetically instead of historically:
1. Augustine. Saint Augustine was quite a traveler but he never made it to Florida. However, explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés did, and the day he sighted land was the feast of Augustine of Hippo, so the territory he grabbed was named after him. According to many sources like Wikipedia, the settlement founded is now “the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental United States.” It’s also a must-see for anyone interested in both American history and an unusual town.
2. John James Audubon. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, this illustrator/artist discovered 52 types of birds when he visited St. Augustine in 1831 and the Florida Keys the next year. Although he was afraid that his dog would be eaten by an alligator, Audubon admitted about Florida that he was, “increasingly amazed at the appearance of things.” This holds true for most current visitors.
3. Dave Barry. This hilarious, prolific writer worked for the Miami Herald from 1983 until 2005 and set many of his best sellers, like Big Trouble, his first, and Insane City, his newest (on sale January 29, 2013), in Florida. I love how he explains this unlikely State as he sees it with side-splitting humor.
4. Jimmy Buffett. Although he was born in Mississippi, Buffett has mostly lived in Palm Beach, one of my favorite Florida towns, not Margaritaville. He has also resided in Key West, another of my one-time haunts.
5. Cabeza de Vaca. This early explorer’s expedition to Mexico went incredibly wrong. CdV thought he was headed for Mexico, but the Gulf Stream had another plan (and the commanding officer was an idiot). Cabeza and lots of others landed in Florida where they decided the only way to get to Mexico was to walk. So they did. Near his objective, CdV took an unexplained detour, visited most of Mexico, and was 1 of only 3 who made it to the original destination. The best book on the subject is Andrés Reséndez’s A Land So Strange.