Most people when they think of Florida think of white beaches and the sparkling blue waters off the Atlantic Ocean. These sentiments are an accurate description of a part of Florida, South Florida. The Sunshine State actually is scattered with diverse topography. Florida is part of the “Atlantic-Gulf Coastal Plain” which occupies much of the eastern and southeastern states.
The peninsula of Florida is essentially flat terrain. Much of the land in Florida is barely above sea level. The highest point in the state is hilltop up in the panhandle. It is only 345 feet above sea level in Walton County. Most of the state is low lying and level. Much of Florida has an elevation of less than 12 feet. Interestingly, no point in the state is more than 70 miles away some type of saltwater.
The peninsula rose above sea level perhaps 20 million years ago. For much of the known historical existence of the United States, Florida was submerged underwater. Most of the panhandle expanse is gently rolling country, much like Alabama and parts of southern Georgia. In this area are enormous swampy areas from the Gulf Coast and a sprinkling of lakes and over 200 natural water springs.
The west coast of Florida has plentiful bays and inlets, and near its most southern tip are the Ten Thousand Islands, a mass of mostly tiny mangrove-covered islands. The west coast of Florida is situated on the Gulf of Mexico. Much of central and north Florida is about 25 miles from the coastline.
South Florida is the gem of the state. The climate of Florida is tempered by the fact that no part of the state is very far from the ocean. South Florida is tropical and lush. One moment you could be tanning in the sun on a beach in Jupiter and the next you will be running to find shelter to escape an afternoon sun shower. The good news is that the rain will usually not last long and after a few minutes or an hour, the sun is shining again.
The Everglades are swampland and the Florida Keys are an interesting ride to the southernmost tip of Florida. You can drive, boat or fly to the Keys. Driving gives you the opportunity to see the chain of islands with the glistening sun shining down on your convertible as you cross the Overseas Highway.
Florida’s rich and diverse culture presents a unique opportunity to only drive a few hours and feel like you are in a completely different. Florida’s varying landscapes and cultures make it easy to take a weekend vacation without ever leaving. Enjoy all that Florida has to offer!