Central Florida is a favorite destination for visitors due to theme parks, NASCAR races, natural springs, golf courses, and the NASA facilities that put a man on the moon.
|East Central Florida (Brevard County, Lake County, Greater Orlando, Volusia County)|
Ranges from the theme parks in the center of the state to the Atlantic coast.
|West Central Florida (Citrus County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Sumter County)|
Stretches from the Gulf Coast inland. May also be referred to as the Suncoast or the Tampa Bay area.
The I-4 corridor overlaps the other two regions and links the major population centers of Central Florida, stretching from Daytona Beach on the Atlantic coast, southwest through DeLand, Seminole County, Orlando, Lakeland, and into Tampa.
- 1 - Home of the Kennedy Space Center and Port Canaveral
- 2 Clearwater - Offers miles of beautiful beaches
- 3 Cocoa Beach - Beach community near Kennedy Space Center
- 4 Daytona Beach - Home of Daytona International Speedway
- 5 Kissimmee - Spring Training home of the Houston Astros
- 6 Orlando - Home of Universal Studios and SeaWorld
- 7 Ormond Beach - Offers miles of beautiful beaches and home to Tomoka State Park
- 8 Saint Petersburg - Home to Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays
- 9 Tampa - Home of Busch Gardens Theme Park
- 1 Anna Maria Island
- 3 Disney World
- 4 Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - in Titusville.
- 5 Ocala National Forest
Central Florida is home to many natural springs. Many have been incorporated into state parks. The springs are great during the summer months because the water stays at a constant 72 °F (22 °C) and the water is perfect for cooling off. Many visitors also go to the springs to spot manatees and alligators and to go boating. Some of the more popular natural springs destinations are listed:
- 6 Alexander Springs - Lake County
- 7 Blue Spring State Park - Volusia County
- 8 DeLeon Springs - Volusia County
- 9 Rock Springs - Orange County
- 10 Weeki Wachee Springs - Hernando County
- 11 Wekiva Springs - Seminole County
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Winter temperatures decrease sharply going north as one leaves the semitropical central/southern Florida and enters the temperate regions of North Florida.
English is the official language of the state. However, the Spanish language is making inroads throughout the state. Native-born Floridians will usually speak in a southern accent. However, after the migration of millions of Americans from other states to Florida, the southern dialect is becoming diluted with other accents.
- Orlando International Airport (MCO IATA) - airport closest to Disney World and the surrounding attractions in East Central Florida. Located south of Downtown Orlando, this airport offers car rentals and free shuttles to Disney World for visitors.
- Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB IATA) - Located in Sanford, it's Orlando's secondary commercial airport and a base for Allegiant Air.
- Tampa International Airport (TPA IATA) - airport closest to the beaches of the Gulf coast and Busch Gardens in West Central Florida.
- Daytona Beach Int'l Airport (DAB IATA) - airport closest to the beaches of the East coast in East Central Florida.
Be aware that there are more airports throughout Central Florida which may get you closer to your destination; watch for these smaller airports while researching your destination.
Coastal cities have excellent year-round marina facilities, often serving large, luxury yachts. Port Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast and Tampa Bay on the Gulf Coast serve as cruise ports.
- AMTRAK Silver Star & Silver Meteor (Trains 91-92) and (Trains 97-98) respectively - serve Central Florida, both of which begin in New York and end in Miami. The two routes stop at the following stations in Central Florida: DeLand, Winter Park, Orlando, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Tampa, and Winter Haven.
- Amtrak Auto Train offers service with its southern terminus in Sanford, about halfway between Daytona Beach and Orlando. The Amtrak Auto Train carries passengers and automobiles between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia, effectively serving as a car-rail link to Florida from the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. You can easily drive your car to your destination in Central Florida after departing from the Auto Train.
Central Florida is served by Greyhound Bus Lines, which has scheduled stops in Orlando and other cities. The Greyhound routes connect with other major cities in the United States of America.
- I-95 runs north-south along the Atlantic coast throughout the entire Central Florida region. It connects with Jacksonville to the north and Miami to the south.
- I-75 runs north-south through the middle-west of Central Florida, and connects to Ocala to the north, and Fort Myers in Southwest Florida.
- Interstate 4 spans nearly the entire Central Florida region, stretching from Daytona Beach, through Orlando, and ending in Tampa.
- The Florida Turnpike connects South Florida with Orlando's theme parks.
- SunRail - A 61 mi (98 km) commuter rail system connecting the Greater Orlando via Volusia, Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties using existing Amtrak and CSX freight rail lines. The commuter rail line is roughly parallel to Interstate 4.
East Central Florida
- LYNX - Public transportation by Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. With the main hub centered on Orlando, bus service provided in Osceola, Orange, and Seminole Counties. Some buses link to neighboring counties. Service to Disney World is available.
- Space Coast Area Transit (SCAT) - Public Transportation by Space Coast Area Transit, offers bus service around Brevard County.
- VOTRAN - Volusia County Transportation service. Offers buses, shuttles, special services for the disabled and elderly. Connection offered with LYNX to reach Orlando.
- I-Ride Trolley - Public transportation by .. If you're looking to ride up and down International drive this is one of the best offers! The busses offer many stops up and down International drive, especially if you plan on visiting Sea World! For about $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for kids and only $0.25 for seniors its extremely affordable, especially if you don't plan on renting a car. However, keep in mind, that the trollies only run until 10:30PM, so if you're a late bird be sure to plan!
West Central Florida
- Hillsborough Area Transit (HART) Public Transportation in Tampa and in the surrounding areas within Hillsborough County.
- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) operates public transportation in and around St Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater. They also operate inter-county, cross bay service from St Petersburg to Tampa (Rt #100, 300) and to Bradenton via Palmetto (Rt #203).
- Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) serves the south Bay areas of Bradenton, W Bradenton, Palmetto in Mantinee County.
- Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) - Public Transportation in Sarasota and the surrounding areas of Sarasota County. They also operate an intercounty bus service (Rt #99) up to Bradenton from downtown Sarasota (1st & Lemon Station) along US Hwy 41 via airport.
- Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral
- Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach
- Cirque Du Soleil: La Nouba - a breath-taking theatrical performance in Lake Buena Vista
- Arabian Nights - An enchanted dinner show in Kissimmee
- Florida Lighthouses are numerous and beautiful, take some time to visit these iconic images of the coast.
- Visit Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista
- Get splashed by Shamu at SeaWorld in Orlando
- Ride the tallest roller coasters in Florida at Busch Gardens in Tampa
- Ride your favorite movies at Universal Studios in Orlando
- Explore Legoland Florida in Winter Haven.
- Go to the beach! Soak up rays or try surfing in Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, Clearwater, or Melbourne Beach
- Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Orlando. If you are in the area this is a must see. This attraction is like no other! Keep in mind that it is a narrow part of the part, so they limit crowding during peak months and strollers, wheelchairs or walkers may be difficult to navigate. None of the rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter allows bags or carry-ons however; each ride provides free lockers outside of the attractions for the duration of your ride. If you don't mind not sitting with your party or going on a ride alone, use the single rider line, the wait is always shorter. Don't forget to try a Butterbeer, it's the only section of the both parks that offers the refreshing frozen or non-frozen treat.
With two coastlines, seafood is extremely popular in Central Florida. Some favorite dishes in the area include:
- Conch (pronounced "conk") - These chewy clams are served tenderized with lime juice, raw, and chopped in salad. Also chopped, breaded, and fried as conch fritters and in conch chowder (usually red and spicy).
- Mahi Mahi - A firm, white fleshed fish; delicious when served grilled, blackened or Cajun-style.
- Grouper - One of the mildest fishes available; served fried, blackened, broiled, or grilled as an entree. Fried grouper sandwiches are also popular.
- Yellowfin Tuna - A firm, flavorful semi-dark meat fish often served grilled, broiled, or blackened.
- Florida Lobster - Known as a spiny lobster, the Florida lobster has no claws like Maine lobster. Florida lobster tails are broiled and served with melted butter.
All the counties throughout Central Florida are "wet" counties. Alcoholic beverages are sold in both taverns and liquor stores. The Florida State Alcoholic Beverage Control (Police) frequently conduct raids for underage drinking in tourist areas, particularly during Spring Break. There are places in the area for clubbing mainly in Orlando and the beach tourist areas. There are also many biker bars around the area because of periodic motorcycle rallies.
Some tropical drinks that are popular in Central Florida, include:
- Planters Punch - 1 oz. lemon juice, 1/2 oz. lime juice, 1 oz. passion fruit juice, 1 oz. pineapple juice, 1 1/2 oz. rum. Combine ingredients over shaved ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
- Rum Runner - 1 1/2 oz. rum, 3/4 oz. blackberry brandy, 3/4 oz. creme de banana, splash of grenadine, splash of lime juice.
- Bahama Mama - 1 oz. orange juice, 1 oz. pineapple juice, 1/2 oz. grenadine, 1/2 oz. rum, 1/2 oz. coconut flavored rum, 1 cup crushed ice. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.
- Piña Colada - 1 shot rum, 2 oz. coconut milk, 3 oz. pineapple juice, 1 cup ice. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Cuba Libre - 2 oz. rum, Coca Cola, lime wedge.
- North Florida has America's oldest city, St. Augustine
- South Florida is home to the Everglades and the Florida Keys