JEANA

Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Its sandy beaches and theme parks are always brimming with tourists. Be it college students eager for scary roller coaster rides or newlyweds looking for a romantic dinner on a moonlit beach, everyone's dream place is Florida. But you'll be surprised that there's more to Florida than that.

Here are some facts and magical places in Florida which I bet this is no one told you about:

1. Florida has a rich cultural heritage: Florida is home to America's oldest city - St. Augustine and the Native American Seminole tribe. Guess where the Kennedy Space Center is? Florida! "The Greatest Show on Earth" - the Ringling Circus is also based in Florida. St. Augustine has an alligator farm which opened in 1893!

2. Is summer the best time to be in Florida? Turns out, it's the worst time to do touristy things in Florida. May to September is really hot and humid but unfortunately, that's where everyone heads to Florida. What's the best time, you ask? The ideal weather is either mid-October to late November or March to early May. So plan your trip over Thanksgiving or spring break.

3. Wild Life, anyone? Here's a safari park with walking and cycling trails. Spend time with alligators and bisons and head onwards to an introspective stroll. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Micanopy (near Gainesville) is a National Natural Landmark.

4. What can one man do? Visit Solomon's Castle in Ona, FL to witness a legendary architecture created single-handedly by one man. Great place to find some inspiration to follow your own dreams.

5. Floridan etiquette: Along with your dirving license, don't forget to carry your rental car contract to avoid running into police. If you're taking a taxi or dining out, don't the tip fall below 15%.

6. Looking for friends? Good news is that Florida is one of the friendliest states in America. Odds are against rude encounters and unhelpful passersby.

7. In search of spirituality? Visit the 12th-century Spanish monastery with a very interesting history. In the 1920s, it was purchased by William Randolph Hearst who tried to move it to California but failed because of shipping complications. A successful attempt was made again in the '60s when the monestry was moved piece by piece to North Miami Beach.

8. Forget the beach, let's explore some caves: Explore some air-filled caves in the Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna. The limestone caverns were formed over time, as water seeped into and dissolved local bedrock. Once you're done with the caves, the park also offers hiking and horse trails, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping and dancing to the tz anthem! It's like hitting a holiday jackpot.

9. Swimming underground? Everyone swims in lakes and pools but few venture to swim underground. This underground swimming hole in Williston, is a gift of nature. Best part: it's open for scuba diving and snorkeling.

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