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Happy 500th, Florida!

A lot has changed in Florida since Juan Ponce de Léon first set foot there in 1513, but one thing has remained constant – the beauty of Florida’s beaches. In fact, Travel + Leisure magazine names three of Florida’s beaches in their 2013 Best Beaches on Earth Survey. The Sunshine state is currently celebrating the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León’s arrival on Florida’s east coast.
Viva Florida 500 is a statewide initiative that is promoting 500 years of Florida’s history – its people, places and cultural achievements – with hundreds of events statewide. There will be scores of activities such as historical programs, conservation trips and festivals in areas including St. Augustine, Key West, Orlando, Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Miami.
Lifeguard stand on the beach in Florida

Cheers to Florida and their beautiful beaches!

key west lighthouse

Lighthouse in Key West

One major focus of Viva Florida 500 is the state’s maritime heritage, and Key West is one of the top cities to experience this. If you’re a diver, check out the Shipwreck Trail, a route of nine historic shipwrecks that you can go underwater to explore. Visit the Lighthouse Museum, which was built in 1847 to help ships navigate the reefs and waters of the Florida Keys. Visitors can ascend 88 steps to an observation deck for breathtaking aerial views.

The annual Miami Spice festival is going on now, in conjunction with Viva Florida 500. Taking place for two months from August 1 to September 30th, the event showcases Miami’s top restaurants offering three-course meals for a set price (lunch $19 or $23, dinner $33 or $39). It’s a great way to sample Latin, American, Asian, Mediterranean, and other cultural cuisines that make Miami a culinary gem.

Route 1 South sign

Take a drive down Rt. 1!

One of the best ways to experience Viva Florida 500 is in Tampa in the historic district of Ybor City. Known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter, the neighborhood is famous for being a fusion of different cultures. The area charms its visitors with narrow brick streets, brick buildings and historic architecture. Enjoy Spanish tapas restaurants, Italian cafes and check out the Cuban hand rolled cigar shops.

Florida is a great place to travel to right now and throughout the rest of 2013. Visit any of Florida’s 67 counties and explore the varied cultures, people, places and historical events that make up the Florida of today.

By Jennifer Levey


Tags: beach, celebrate


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