From palm trees to citrus groves, swampy World Heritage Sites to the South Beach scene, if you’re looking for culture that’s hot, hot, hot, Florida is the place to be. A rainbow of cultures has left diverse footprints on this state, creating a rich cultural heritage made up of many ethnicities and influences. A land of fiery foods, pulsing music, eye-popping color, stunning architecture, relaxed lifestyle, great climate, and fascinating art, the state attracts people from all over the world. It’s not unusual to hear one (or more) of the over 20 spoken languages (including Spanish, French Creole, German, and Vietnamese). And each of these cultures adds its own special sauce to the Sunshine State.
Get ready to discover a tantalizing taste of the rich diversity that weaves the fabric of Florida’s cultural tapestry.
Amuse and Amaze
Florida is no stranger to creative pursuits. Well known creators such as Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffet, and Walt Disney set up shop in this state. As a result, Florida offers everything from internationally renowned fine art galleries and epic science museums to some of the best amusement parks in the world.
If you’re looking for some stunning art or a healthy dose of facts, you’ll find plenty of museums and science centers across the state.
Art lovers should definitely check out the following:
- Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg
- The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota
- The Morikami Japanese Gardens, or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami
Those who love history would enjoy the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, a stone’s throw from
The Landing at Cypress Meadows, Compton Place, and our upcoming property, New Tampa Palms). For more info on this and other museums near Tampa, read here.
And, of course, budding astronauts would be remiss if they didn’t check out the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to learn about NASA’s ongoing work, which is a short drive from our Harvard Apartments property in Melbourne. In fact, the Space Coast is FULL of cultural activities to keep you busy.
Music and Nightlife
Like everything else in Florida, the music scene is chock full of flavor and variety. You’ll find everything from EDM to Latin to blues to jazz to Christian to hip hop to metal to country to folk and even Celtic, plus so much more! And with warm weather year-round, outdoor music events and music festivals abound. In fact, almost every major city hosts at least one fest. Here’s a handful of some of the best festivals around the state:
- EDC – Electric Daisy Carnival (Orlando)
- Ultra Music Festival (Miami)
- Key West Songwriters Festival (Key West)
- Florida Folk Festival (White Springs)
- Gasparilla Music Festival (Tampa)
- Celtic Music Festival (St Augustine)
- Miami Jazz Fest (Miami)
- Springing the Blues (Jacksonville)
- Suwannee River Jam (Live Oak)
- Tortuga Music Festival (Fort Lauderdale)
- 30A Songwriters Festival (South Walton)
- Rolling Loud Festival (Miami)
- Sunfest (West Palm Beach)
- Thunder by the Bay (Sarasota)
- The Country 500 (Daytona Beach)
- Rock the Universe (Orlando)
No matter which zip code you choose, you will surely find your groove in the Sunshine State. Between dive bars full of characters and cocktail lounges full of the glitterati, there’s no shortage of places to see and be seen. Want thumping beats and the best DJs spinning? Looking for some smooth Latin moves? Cocktail lounge and jazz vibe your thing? Or just want to put your toes in the sand and chill out to yacht rock and folk songs? With such a wide selection of vibrant and exciting nightlife, there’s plenty on offer once the sun goes down.
Since well before the arrival of the famed Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon (who gave the state its name), a rich Native American heritage from tribes such as the Seminole and Timucua created their own legacy of arts and traditions over the centuries.
With the arrival of Ponce de Leon in the 1500s, the cultural influences of Europe made their way to Florida’s sunny shores. A few decades after de Leon’s arrival, Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded the town St. Augustine. The city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the US and is home to the famed Fountain of Youth, whose legendary mystical waters are believed to have the power to keep one young. Visitors can take a sip from the spring and also explore the neighboring archaeological park, which boasts various attractions such as a Discovery Globe, Planetarium, Timucua Indian Exhibit, Spanish cannons, and Native Christian Burial Ground Exhibit.
Florida did not escape the Civil War unscathed. The event played a significant part in Florida’s history, and visitors can explore places like Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas to learn about battles fought there.
Near Tampa, the docks and depths of Tarpon Springs also have a unique tale to tell. This area was the hub of the sponging industry, which began when Greek divers came over about a century ago to harvest sponge. To this day, the area is replete with Greek influences.
Florida’s Space Coast is also full of historical sites and activities, such as the Eau Gallie Arts District in Melbourne, a vibrant and charming community steeped in history and filled with galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Ybor City, formerly known as the cigar capital of the world, has influences dating back to the area’s Cuban, Italian and Spanish communities. This lively neighborhood in Tampa is easily accessible to three Garden Communities properties (The Landing at Cypress Meadows, Compton Place, and New Tampa Palms) and offers a vibrant nightlife, deep creative roots, and a range of mouth-watering cuisines. Stroll down 7th Avenue solo or take a walking tour along the brick-paved streets of the historic district to learn more about its fascinating architecture and the immigrant culture. Treat yourself to a food tour that highlights the exquisite flavors of Latin and soul food.
As night falls, the area transforms into a bustling entertainment district where you can enjoy a pub crawl, dance the night away, or listen to live music dominated by jazz and salsa.
Food, Glorious Food
With a diverse mix of Hispanic, Black, Native American, Haitian, French, German, Italian, Jewish, Vietnamese, and Japanese influences, Florida is basically a foodie’s dream come true. No matter if it’s top of the line or hole in the wall, everywhere you go in Florida, you will find something to tempt your tastebuds.
Ocean Feast and Local Favorites
The state’s massive coastline means you’ll find plenty of seafood options on the menu, including stone crab and Apalachicola Oysters (which are regarded as the biggest and best oysters in the country). Other flavorful and delicious dishes include Minorcan clam chowder, fried grouper sandwiches, pan con minuta, and the iconic Cuban sandwich. You can even try swamp chicken…er, alligator bites.
And Florida’s massive citrus industry provides the freshest orange juice around, not to mention some of the tastiest desserts, including the best key lime pie you’ll ever eat. And bet you’ve never tried sour orange pie.
Oh, and strawberry shortcake? Florida is the winter strawberry capital of the world, and the state happily celebrates it with the Florida Strawberry Festival.
When it comes to culture, Florida sits at the top of the list. And with each passing year, it seems to keep getting better!