The Florida Panhandle stretches 250 miles from Pensacola to the Big Bend where the coast turns south. The western part features dazzling white sand beaches, but after Panama City it turns swampy and wild, one of the least developed parts of Florida.
Northeastern Florida has a beautiful coastline with miles of beaches and less intense development than further south. St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565, making it the oldest city in the country.
The West Coast of Florida alternates white sand beaches with marshy and swampy stretches. There is the large urban area of St Petersburg-Tampa, plus smaller ones around Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Naples. I intended to devote a week or more to exploring and documenting this area on my 2015 trip, but it was Spring Break and I had great difficulty finding anywhere to stay. Next time I will plan better.
I have defined a region of Central Florida running from north of Ocala down through Orlando to Lake Okeechobee, a part of Florida with no coastline but thousands of lakes.
Southeast Florida is an almost unbroken chain of cities - Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and hundreds of others, following a low ridge of limestone along the coast and stopping abruptly on the west when it encounters the Everglades.
The Everglades and Florida Keys are my favorite parts of Florida. The Everglades are a unique ecosystem, a wonderful place to see birds and other wildlife (especially alligators). The Florida Keys are a series of narrow islands strung along a single road. Though heavily developed, the turquoise waters of the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic on the other are never far away. Key West, at the end of the road, is a miniature city crammed onto a small island. One step beyond, the Dry Tortugas are protected in a national park and can only be reached by boat or plane.