Florida fast facts cover a broad range of Florida information. Like these, what year did Walt Disney World open its doors to visitors? What is one of the deepest natual springs in the world? How many islands are in the Florida Keys? And who in the world is Benjamin Green?

Florida is more than just a great vacation spot. It’s filled with odd facts and fun happenings.

From people to places to names to watery delights, here’s a list of things that you didn’t know that you didn’t know!

1) When did Walt Disney World open to the public? Disney World (along with the world’s most famouse mouse, Mickey) opened its doors to visitors on October 1, 1971. At the time, it was just the Magic Kingdom; the other theme parks (EPCOT, Disney-MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom) came later.

2) Who is Benjamin Green & what was his claim to fame? Benjamin Green was the Miami Beach, Florida pharmacist who invented “suntan cream” in 1944.

3) Where did Ray Charles begin his musical career? He began in Tampa, Florida, playing dance-hall jobs.

4) What makes the John G. Riley house famous? Located in Tallahassee, it is the only known house belonging to a former slave, that still remains standing.

5) The phrase “cool as a cucumber” originated in Florida?

6) Looking for sun? Try Clearwater, Florida which claims to average 361 days of sunshine per year.

7) The oldest continually inhabited city in the USA is….St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565.

8) Gatorade was developed in Gainesville, Florida, originally for the University of Florida “Gators” football team.

9) Eagles like Florida! We have the largest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states.

10) Where is the Shark Tooth Capital of the World? Reputedly it is Venice, Florida.

11) Florida has more golf courses in Florida than in any other state in the USA. Last count was 1,370 and I’ll bet more have sprung up since that number was tabulated.

12) Going along with the golf theme, Naples, Florida is supposed to have the highest ratio of golf courses to people in the state. And Palm Beach County has the most courses of any county in the state.

13) Flying high! The first commercial airline flight in history took place in Florida, between Tampa and St. Petersburg, in 1914.

14) Florida’s capitol, Tallahassee, was the only southern capitol east of the Mississippi that stayed in southern hands for the whole Civil War.


Florida has an amazing amount of shoreline — more than any other state except Alaska! Tidal shoreline, that is, which doesn’t necessarily mean beach (sorry about that). Want some more watery facts?

* Go here, go there, but no matter where you are in Florida, you’ve never more than 60 miles from the ocean.
* Key West’s coral reef is the third largest in the world, and is also the largest in North America.
* Speaking of the Florida Keys, there are more than (count ’em) 800! Many are teeny-tiny, and they stretch for 180 miles into the ocean.
* The loggerhead turtles call Florida “home” — more than 80% of the US population nests on our beaches.
* You know that Florida has miles and miles of beaches – want to know how many? Try roughly 1,100 miles of sand and surf.
* The deepest natural spring in the whole world is Wakulla Springs in the Florida Panhandle.
* The St. John’s River in northeast Florida is one of the few rivers in the world that flows north instead of south.
* And although this is only kind of “water-y”, the longest fishing pier in the world is in Tampa Bay. It is a portion of the old (original) collapsed Sunshine Skyway bridge.


Here are some of the “big” things you might not know about Florida!!

* Palm Beach County is Florida’s largest county, at 2,578 square miles — bigger than Rhode Island or Delaware!
* Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city (in square miles). It pretty much takes up all of Duval county!
* What’s Florida’s population? Well, as of the 2000 census, we were at 15,982,378 people. Last I (unofficially) heard it was around 17 million.We’re 4th in population, after California, Texas and New York.


Florida has a ton of attractions (as if you didn’t already know). But what are some of the things you might not have known about these places to have fun?

* What makes Disney’s Animal Kingdom opening day different from the other Disney parks? The actual date! The other three Disney theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and MGM) all opened on the first day of the their respective months Animal Kingdom opened on the 24th!

* Name three of the Central Florida attractions that pre-date Disney: Gatorland, Busch Gardens, Cypress Gardens are three that were open before “The Mouse” came to town.

* What’s the oldest attraction in Florida?
Marineland, which opened in 1937.

* What’s the highest point in the Disney theme parks?
MGM’s Tower of Terror that holds the high spot.


* The Mockingbird is the Florida state bird. Now we who live here in Florida say it’s really the mosquito…

* And what about the official Florida state flower? It’s the orange blossom. And although we don’t have an official state perfume, my vote is for the orange blossom’s — heavenly!

* And do you know what the Florida state tree is? It’s the sabal palmetto, also known as a cabbage palmetto.

* Do you know what “Old Folks at Home” is? It’s the official Florida state song. Not familiar with it? Sure you are — it’s more commonly known as “Suwannee River”.

* And finally — Florida was admitted as a state on March 3, 1845. We were the 27th state to enter the union.

Everything you wanted to know about Florida…

What’s a snowbird?
A snowbird is a retired North American who moves South for the winter and returns home in the spring. Like migratory birds, they follow the warm weather.

What’s an eco-tourist?
Eco-tourists seek vacations that allow them to explore nature preserves, wildlife sanctuaries and wilderness – not cities. While most are keenly aware of protecting the environment, anyone who wants to enjoy an untouched beach is considered an eco-tourist.

What’s a spring breaker?
Spring breakers are college students who come to Florida to party during spring break. Their parties have a reputation for over-the-top antics like Jell-O fights, and usually last late into the night.

What’s a Florida Key?
The word “key” comes from the Spanish word “cayo” meaning little island. Florida is home to more than 800 keys, with Key Largo being the longest at 30 miles.

Does Florida have seasons?
While Florida definitely has seasons, the weather isn’t as pronounced as in the northern U.S. states and Canada. From a vacation point of view, Florida’s four seasons are:

* Spring: This popular vacation time has mild weather. While major attractions are less crowded and some hotels offer discounts, humidity can be unbearable in April, and many avoid this season because of spring breakers.
* Summer: Sizzling hot and humid, sudden and sporadic thunderstorms cool things off a little. Summer is also the heart of hurricane season.
* Fall: Beautifully mild, fall offers the highest discounts in accommodations, since many vacationers have returned to school. But be warned: hurricane season lasts through November, with highest risk in September and October.
* Winter: Generally mild and sunny, some areas have a few days near the freezing level. Keep in mind that winter is prime snowbird season, so accommodations are driven high and popular cities like Orlando and Tampa get crowded.

What time zone does Florida observe?
Most of Florida observes Eastern Standard Time (EST). Florida’s Panhandle works on Central Standard Time (CT), which is one hour ahead of EST.

What is the legal drinking age in Florida?
The legal age to purchase and consume alcohol is 21. Proof of age is required at bars, nightclubs and restaurants. While beer and wine can often be purchased at Florida supermarkets, you’ll still need ID to buy alcohol.

How much is the standard gratuity in Florida restaurants?
In restaurants, bars and nightclubs, 15 to 20 percent of the check is a standard tip for wait staff. For bartenders, calculate your tips at 10 to 15 percent. Other service staff, like baggage carriers, usually receives $1.00 per bag.

What nighttime activities should I do with the kids on a family vacation?
Depending on where you stay, your hotel or resort might have planned family activities. Common evening family entertainment includes mini golf, movies on the beach, sunset sandcastle building, shelling, stargazing and nighttime nature walks. For more family vacation ideas, check out our Top Ten Family Beaches.

What holidays does Florida observe?
Florida’s financial institutions, government offices and post offices, as well as many shops, restaurants and museums, are closed on the following statutory and national holidays:

* New Year’s Day: January 1st
* Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 3rd Monday in January
* President’s Day: 3rd Monday in February
* Memorial Day: Last Monday in May
* Independence Day: July 4th
* Labor Day – 1st Monday in September
* Columbus Day – 2nd Monday in October
* Veteran’s Day – November 11th
* Thanksgiving Day – 4th Thursday in November
* Election Day – Tuesday following the 1st Monday in November (held every 4 years)
* Christmas – December 25th

Fun Florida facts

Want to learn a bit about Florida? Need a game to keep the kids amused en route to your favorite beach destination? Read on for some trivial but intriguing facts about Florida:

What is Florida’s nickname?
While there are some not-so-polite nicknames, we’re looking for the answer of “The Sunshine State.”

What is known as “pure Florida sunshine”?
Florida orange juice. Singer Anita Bryant once told TV viewers that, “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.”

What is Florida’s State flower?
Despite being nicknamed The Sunshine State, the sunflower doesn’t represent Florida – the orange blossom does. With more orange groves than anywhere else on Earth, this little blossom earned its status. Bonus points if you knew that Florida produces 75 percent of all oranges grown in the U.S. and provides the rest of the world with 40 percent of its orange juice.

What Florida City is known as “the Venice of America”?
Fort Lauderdale’s many canals and waterways earned it this title.

Which Florida City was dubbed the “Cigar Capital of the U.S.”?
Tampa’s historic Ybor City district owns this title. In 1885, Don Vincente Martinez Ybor brought cigar-making to Tampa, where it established the city’s reputation.

What are Florida’s NHL hockey teams?
Despite the warm weather, Florida has two teams – the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. Bonus points if you knew Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

What’s Florida’s claim to fame in sports?
It’s one of the few states to have won a championship in every major league sport – hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have both won the Super Bowl, the Florida Marlins have won the World Series twice and basketball’s grand prize went to the Miami Heat in 2006.

What famous author is said to have penned his best works while living in Key West?
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for more than a decade. During his time in Key West, he finished the final draft of A Farewell to Arms and the classic short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”

Miami’s Seaquarium was home to what famous 1960s television star?
This question is a bit of a trick. If you said “Flipper,” you’re only partially right. The answer should be “Flippers” since five dolphins actually played the role.

What famous inventor wintered in Fort Myers, where his home still exists today?
Thomas Edison. Bonus points if you can name some of his inventions, which include the light bulb, stock ticker and an early form of motion picture camera.

What multi-billionaire owns Mar-a-Lago, Ocean Boulevard’s extravagant Italian-inspired mansion?
Donald Trump. Surprise, surprise.