Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Florida!

Ponce De Leon probably would have enjoyed
relaxing by this pool after his long sea voyage.

Sometime around April 2nd or 3rd, 1513, Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon set foot in Florida. Some say it was at St. Augustine. Others say it was further south. Nobody knows for sure, but St. Augustine is the oldest continuous European settlement on the continent, established in 1565. This was before Jamestown or Plymouth Rock.

Regardless of where Ponce De Leon landed, being the first place where explorers set foot on the North American continent is something to be proud of. It's also a great reason to travel to Florida for some sunshine and relaxation.

Explore the De Soto Trail near Bradenton, visit Port St. Joe, the first capital, and along the way check out sites documenting Florida's underground railroad. And if history's not your thing, then just relax on a beach. Close your eyes, soak up the sun, and imagine a ship full of Spanish explorers anchored off shore.

After all, when we think of Florida, we don't normally think of a long historical tradition (Native American settlement dates back 12,000 years). That's one of the reasons you'll find lots of fun celebrations throughout the state. The Florida Department of State is planning 200 events statewide to commemorate the historic date. It's a great celebration of culture, history, heritage--everything that goes into making Florida the diverse and exciting state it is today.

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