Five of the best Florida Attractions

Five of the best Florida Attractions

So what do oil tycoons do for fun after they retire?  It’s kind of like asking what does a 900 pound gorilla what they do in a china shop.  The answer?  Anything they want.  Luckily for Florida one oil tycoon decided to try his hand at resort development.  That man was Henry Finagler.  After partnering with the Rockefeller’s and being the brains behind the Standard Oil Company in the late 1800’s, Finagler’s doctors said that he needed to attend to his health.  He decided to vacation with his wife in Jacksonville.  He felt a little better and decided that Florida was a great place.  It was his next visit that sparked his imagination when he stayed in St. Augustine.  Although he liked how quaint the town was, he was used to travelling in fully decked Pullman.  He was used to living at a lifestyle that Rockefeller money commanded.  He made an offer on a hotel, with the mind to bring it up to his standards.  Well that deal fell through two or three times, and finally he launched his campaign to build one of the finest structures in the U.S.- the Ponce De Leon Hotel.  In the early 1900’s it had electric lighting and an Olympic size swimming pools.  And he was just getting started.  Can you imagine if you had to call and get back when he was getting started?  It would have been a whole different story for another company.  It would have saved them quite a bit of money.

Anyway, Finagler continued with his quest to open Florida to the American Gilded Age of travel by building the railroads that extended all the way to the Florida Keys.  Encouraging settlement, farming and of course tourism, in many ways he was the founder of much of what people enjoy today.  So of course there has to still be some great destinations.  What are they today?

Walt Disney World

By far Florida’s most popular attraction, Walt Disney took a page out of Finagler’s visionary book and created a theme park and media company that is second to none in the world.  This park is open year round so families can visit their dreams come true.  Whether or not you want a trip down memory lane with Mickey Mouse and friends or a terrifying ride on the Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror, you will find something for everyone at this popular family destination.

Key West

Originally very difficult to navigate, the few people that lived there made their living by scavenging the shipwrecks that came floating their way.  Known as the most southern city in the continental United States it is actually closer to Havana Cuba than to Miami.  Thanks to the efforts of Finagler and others in the late 1800’s this has been the destination for approximately one million tourists each year.  The geography still allows these visitors to feel isolated enough to relax.  The location of Ernest Hemingway’s home, it is also legendary for being a favorite haunt of Ted Williams, the famed .400 hitter.  Anybody who has a penchant for deep sea fishing and needs a pub around the corner will be glad they came.


One of the most unique ecosystems in the United States, what looks like a vast swamp land is actually a slow moving river.  It supports everything from dolphins to bald eagles and is a biology-minded, Eco-tourist paradise.   With all its own idiosyncrasies both in local population as well as wild life, there are endless opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing and canoeing.  If you are going boating make sure to call about Florida insurance quotes to make sure all your permits are covered and in order.

South Beach

Before Miami Vice this area was a place where crime kept residents home at night.  With a decided effort to curb that situation (after the area received national attention with the popular Don Johnson character in the 1980’s), the area grew.  The TV show brought the area to the attention of fashion industry professionals and soon transformed this area into one of the richest areas of Miami Beach.  It also transformed it into one of the top tourist attractions in Florida known for hip clubs and wild nightlife.

Florida Keys

120 miles of tropical islands connected to the mainland by a series of bridges this is truly one of Florida’s most breathtaking ocean jewels.  Whether you want a jumping off point for deep sea fishing or just a quiet beach to let your hair down and relax you won’t find a better place.  The site of the movie Fast and Furious 2, the national attention didn’t detract from the pristine area.  With Key West gaining one million visitors a year, the highway as the most distant location, the rest of the islands give ample opportunity to wine, dine and relax.