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Wonders of Florida

Cinderella Castle, Florida
Cinderella Castle./ Michael Gray, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Florida is the tropical paradise of mainland United States. Over the last century, it has experienced fabulous changes, turning from forgotten, swampy badlands into densely populated and rich land.

The most amazing wonders of Florida are:

  • Architecture of the late 19th and 20th century. Rich people want to live in warm places and they want to live in beautiful places. Thus Florida has been a showcase of Moorish and Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and more recent architecture styles.
  • Natural springs and underwater caves. Florida has located some of the most powerful springs in the world. It is not that rare to see rivers disappearing underground and after some kilometers turning up again.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Florida

Geological wonders

Silver Springs

A picturesque, very powerful spring, with a 91 x 59 meters large pool with a depth of up to 10.1 meters. Its maximum discharge has reached 36,000 liters per second.

Silver Springs, Florida in 1901
Silver Springs, Florida in 1901 / From "Florida and Nassau in Sunlight Pictures"
Wakulla Spring

One of the most impressive cold water springs in the world, the diameter of this spring pool is 96 meters, and its depth is 56.4 meters. One of the most powerful springs in the world, its discharge has reached up to 54,226 liters per second. The water coming out of it has formed a very extensive freshwater cave system.

Wakulla River, Florida
Wakulla River / Paul Clark, / CC BY 2.0
Devil’s Den

A karst window: through a narrow opening opens a view of a large subterranean river. Here were found remains of animals and traces of prehistoric human activities.

Inside the Devil's Den, Florida
Inside the Devil’s Den / Erik Beach, 2007, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Homosassa Springs Group

Homosassa Springs Group has some 20 springs. The most impressive is a headspring with an output of 3000 liters of water per second. Habitat of manatees.

Homosassa Springs
Homosassa Springs./ Ebyabe, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5
Troy Spring

One of the most beautiful great springs in Florida. Troy Spring contains remnants of a steamship that was sunken in 1863, during the Civil War.

Troy Spring
Troy Spring. / Ebyabe, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5
Wakulla Cave System

The longest mapped underwater cave system in the United States where one entrance is at Wakulla Springs. The total length of the explored passages is 72,171 m.

Tarpon Hole (King’s Spring)

One of the best places to see manatees in nature is King’s Spring or Tarpon Hole – a subaquatic spring in King’s Bay. The spring has an output of 1,213 l/s.

Tarpon Hole from above. The spring is in the central-left part of the image
Tarpon Hole from above. The spring is in the central-left part of the image. Manatees are well visible in the other spring below Tarpon Hole. / Dolovis, Wikimedia Commons / BY 2.0
Warm Mineral Springs

Enormous spring of warm mineral water with healing properties. This is one of the candidates for the legendary "Fountain of Youth" in Florida. The diameter of this spring is approximately 75 m, depth – is 70 m. Discharging 390 l/s. It is considered to be the largest warm mineral spring in the whole world. In the spring have been found well preserved skeletal remains of humans, mastodons, and sabertooth tigers.

Warm Mineral Springs
Warm Mineral Springs./ R. Means, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Chassahowitzka Springs

Chassahowitzka Springs are powerful springs that have created underwater natural bridges and caves. The discharge of these springs is 4 360 l/s.

One of the holes in Chassahowitzka Springs
One of the holes in Chassahowitzka Springs, Florida. / TimothyJ, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Gainer Springs

Some of the most pristine of the large springs of Florida are Gainer Springs. If one wants to admire this wonder of nature: take a canoe and…

Emerald Spring, Gainer Springs in Florida
Emerald Spring, Gainer Springs in Florida. / State of Florida, photo by T. Scott, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Volusia Blue Spring

Volusia Blue Spring is a 1st magnitude spring that beats from a large fissure – a cave that has been dived up to 38 m deep. Habitat of manatees.

Volusia Blue Spring. The fissure - cave is visible.
Volusia Blue Spring. The fissure – cave is visible. /
KimonBerlin, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
Indian Spring, Wakulla

A comparatively weak spring that is discharging 17 l of water per second. Dive in this spring leads into a 3,626 m long cave with a strong current.

Indian Spring, Florida
Indian Spring / Paul Clark, / CC BY 2.0
De Leon Springs

Large sulfur spring, discharging 880 l/s of water. Surroundings inhabited since 8000 BC.

De Leon Springs
De Leon Springs./ Tobin, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Architecture wonders

St Augustine

The oldest European-founded and continuously inhabited city in the continental United States. Established by Spaniards in 1565 at the site of an earlier local settlement. One of the most interesting historical cities in Florida. Spanish colonial architecture and luxurious architecture from the late 19th century.

St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida./ Mickey Løgitmark, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
Fort Jefferson

Large, unfinished sea fortress on a remote island. Construction was started in 1846 and was not finished. The garrison here had more than 1,700 soldiers.

Fort Jefferson, Florida
Fort Jefferson, Florida./ U.S. National Park Service, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Castillo de San Marco

The oldest masonry fort in the United States. It was constructed in 1672 – 1695 by Spaniards and Brits. A star fort was built to protect St. Augustine city from attacks by pirates.

Castillo de San Marco, St. Augustine
Castillo de San Marco, St. Augustine./ Dan Lundberg, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

An enormous art museum. It was established in 1927 with very rich collections of European and American art. Museum has an extensive collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings as well as paintings of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Thomas Gainsborough, and many other famous artists. Fine gardens and numerous beautiful buildings.

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art./ Marianne Serra, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Villa Zorayda (Zorayda Castle)

Private home of Boston millionaire Franklin W. Smith. It was built in 1883 in resemblance to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. This is one of the first buildings in the world that was built of poured concrete and also one of the first Spanish Neo-Renaissance buildings. Beautiful interiors. Also the first example of fantasy architecture, characteristic of Florida.

Villa Zorayda
Villa Zorayda./ Alan Sandercock, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Bok Tower and its gardens

This 62 m tall tower was constructed in 1929 in Art Deco and Neo-Gothic styles, with lush ornamentation. Around the tower in the 1920ies has been set a beautiful garden.

Bok Tower
Bok Tower./ VisitCentralFL, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

The seventh largest building in the world by volume. It was constructed in 1966 for assembling American manned space vehicles. The building is 160.3 m tall and covers 3 ha.

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center./ Ron Cogswell, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Fort Zachary Taylor

This massive fort was built at the very south of Florida Keys in 1845 – 1866. Here was discovered the largest collection of cannons from the American Civil War period.

Fort Zachary Taylor
Fort Zachary Taylor./ U.S. Department of Transportation, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Ponce de Leon Hotel

One of two neighboring hotel buildings, constructed in the Spanish Neo-Renaissance style in 1887. Both buildings represent some of the earliest examples of poured concrete buildings in the world.

Ponce de Leon Hotel - Flagler College
Ponce de Leon Hotel – Flagler College./ Chris M Morris, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Tampa Bay Hotel (Henry B. Plant Museum)

Historical, pompous hotel building. Constructed in Moorish Revival style in 1888 – 1891. This structure marks the beginnings of the tourism industry in this part of Florida.

Tampa Bay Hotel
Tampa Bay Hotel./ Distinguished Reflections, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Tree of Life in Walt Disney World Resort

The centerpiece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom – animal theme park. A sculpted, 44 m high and 15 m wide tree (artificial structure) with 14 stories. In the bark are carved 325 animals.

Tree of Life, Orlando
Tree of Life, Orlando./ Chad Sparkes, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine

A beautiful bridge in Venetian Neo-Renaissance style, constructed in 1925 – 1927. Rebuilt in an extended version in 2010.

Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine
Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine./ Sandy Auriene Sullivan, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland

We never know what will happen next in Florida. We know only that, any minute now, something will.
Every few months, Dave Barry gets a call from some media person wanting to know, “What the hell is wrong with Florida?” Somehow, the state’s acquired an image as a subtropical festival of stupid, and as a loyal Floridian, Dave begs to differ. Sure, there was the 2000 election. And people seem to take their pants off for no good reason. And it has flying insects the size of LeBron James. But it is a great state, and Dave is going to tell you why.

Florida Authentica: Your field guide to the unique, eccentric, and natural marvels of the real Sunshine State

52 Adventures into the Sunshine State by humor columnist Ron Wiggins. With pluck, derring do, and an infectious sense of humor, Wiggins takes Floridians and visitors alike on a rollicking romp into the state’s parks, wetlands and historical sites that will have readers eager to plan their own day trips.

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