The numbers add up to a holiday of a lifetime. Florida has more than 220 days of sunshine a year, 825 miles of beautiful beaches, over 150 state parks and dozens of wildlife refuges and preserves.It also has world-class attractions such as Walt Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center and Daytona International Speedway, more award-winning golf courses than you can shake a nine-iron at – and great shops. Here we offer a guided tour of the best Florida has to offer.The Sunshine State has a sensational array of parks, many of which are in Orlando – the theme park capital of the world. Experience the magic of Walt Disney World, 40 square miles of thrilling entertainment with four separate theme parks and two water parks, including the Magic Kingdom with Cinderella’s Castle, and Hollywood Studios, home to the renowned Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania rides.At Universal Orlando Resort there’s also a jaw-dropping line-up of rides, from Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts to the Incredible Hulk Coaster. A trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa will whiten the knuckles, too. Here you’ll find some of the country’s best roller coasters – such as Tigris, Kumba and Montu – and 12,000 animals, hundreds of which roam freely on the 65-acre Serengeti Plain habitat.Big kids, small kids, young and old – Florida’s theme parks have something for everyone. If basking on strips of soft sand is the priority, Florida is the place to be – it has 825 miles of beaches, no less, including Clearwater Beach on the west coast, which was named by TripAdvisor as the best in the country in 2019.Another stunning beach area is the 150-mile stretch of white sand at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the far north-west corner of the state. Further south on the west coast lies Sanibel Island, a shell-hunter’s paradise and where you’ll find several world-class beaches – Bowman’s, Lighthouse and Captiva. For sheer glamour, head to Lummus Park, home to the strip of sand that runs next to South Beach’s famous Ocean Drive. Make sure you snap a selfie next to one of the brightly coloured lifeguard stands.And if you rocket up to Canaveral National Seashore you’ll discover 24 miles of pristine sand almost a sea-shell’s throw from the Cape Canaveral’s NASA launchpads.Florida is heaven for scuba divers and snorkellers, with underwater sights that are simply breath-taking.There are stunning coral reefs at the 300-square-mile Biscayne National Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Looe Key, which is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.The state has wrecks galore to explore, too, including over a dozen at Panama City Beach, the ‘wreck capital of the south’, a 900ft-long aircraft carrier at Pensacola, a Spanish galleon at Fort Pierce and freighters and steamers at Fort Lauderdale.Love water sports? You’re spoiled for choice. You can float on a giant inner tube through the clear waters of the spring-fed river at Ichetucknee Springs State Park, go water skiing on some of Orlando’s 300-odd lakes and windsurf, kitesurf and kayak at the secluded Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys.Get ready for wild times, because a massive chunk of Florida is a pristine subtropical wilderness.Welcome to the awe-inspiring Everglades National Park, 7,800 square miles of wetland best explored by airboat, swamp buggy, bicycle or, if you want to really connect with this unparalleled landscape – canoe. Hell’s Bay Paddling Trail and the 10,000 Islands areas are perfect for paddling.Everglades is home to 120 species of tree, over 300 species of bird, the American alligator and crocodile, the Florida panther and the West Indian manatee, a creature that you can safely swim with in some parts of the state.The top spot for this is Kings Bay near Crystal River on the Gulf Coast, but you can also take a dip with these peaceful ‘sea cows’ at Homosassa Springs and Lee County Manatee Park.Keen hikers, meanwhile, should head to the other-worldly Ocala National Forest, which has hundreds of miles of beautiful forested trails.Thought the eating-out scene in Florida was just fast food in theme parks? Think again.The state actually has a huge ‘locavore’ gourmet food scene, where restaurants focus on dishes made from locally grown ingredients.And it may surprise you to hear that this field-to-fork approach has taken off in a big way in the theme park capital, Orlando. Restaurants there including Ravenous Pig, Smiling Bison, K Restaurant, Cask & Larder and Rusty Spoon are all passionate about locally sourced creations.So too is Rooster & the Till in Tampa, Steve Phelps’ Indigenous in Sarasota and Dixie Crossroads on the Space Coast, which specialises in seasonal shrimp dishes, and Michael’s Genuine Food And Drink in Miami.There you’ll also discover a big love for meals on wheels – food trucks, that is.Florida has also embraced the craft drinks’ movement with open arms. There are more than 200 craft breweries across the state, from the Proof Brewing Company in Tallahassee to Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. You want world-class shopping? It’s in the bag.A dizzying array of premium stores lies in wait at the vibrant Mall of Millenia, on the northen end of International drive, offering no less than 150 shops, including high end boutiques like Versace, Bvlgari and Jimmy Choo as well as all-American favourites like Abercrombie & Fitch and Pottery Barn.Or head to the Florida Mall in Orlando, minutes from the airport and Disney World it is perfectly placed for a cheeky fix of retail therapy, boasting most stores you can imagine from Adidas and American Girl to Yankee Candle, alongside a tattoo parlour, spas and a host of restaurants.Catch a film at the IMAX before you hit the shops at the Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale to grab a deal at Century 21 or get some authentic American basketball gear at Champs Sport.On the other side of the coast tantalising shopping options can be found at St Petersburg, such as the epic Haslam’s Book Store – reputedly the largest independent bookstore in the U.S southeast – and the Saturday Morning Market, where over 200 vendors, including farmers, sell their wares and produce.Florida offers one attraction that is truly out of this world – Kennedy Space Center.It’s one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions. And no wonder.Here you can see rockets and satellites blast off, gaze at the twin launch pads from a 60ft observation deck, gaze upon the real Apollo 14 Command Module and Saturn V moon rocket, and get up close to the heat-scorched Space Shuttle Atlantis. She has 126,000,000 miles on the clock and is on display at an angle with her payload doors open as if she’s hanging in orbit.Plus, you can join a real astronaut for a chef-prepared meal and listen to tales about what it’s really like to launch, live and work in space. It’s the only place on earth where you can have this experience.There is no better place on earth for golf than the state of Florida.It has 1,250 courses that cater for everyone from enthusiastic amateurs to fully fledged pros.There are courses with views of sparkling coastlines, such as the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, courses among palm trees and lakes, such as The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral, and Streamsong Resort in rural Bowling Green, which is spread among dunes left behind from long-abandoned mines.And if you’re a golf fan, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine is a must-visit.Here the history of the game is told through exhibits and interactive displays, while each Hall of Famer has his or her own space in the Member Locker Room.Florida (Spanish for “land of flowers”) is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous and the 8th-most densely populated of the US states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida’s most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state’s capital.Florida’s $1.0 trillion economy is the fourth largest in the United States.If it were a country, Florida would be the 16th largest economy in the world, and the 58th most populous as of 2018.In 2017, Florida’s per capita personal income was $47,684, ranking 26th in the nation.The unemployment rate in September 2018 was 3.5% and ranked as the 18th in the United States.Florida exports nearly $55 billion in goods made in the state, the 8th highest among all states. The Miami Metropolitan Area is by far the largest urban economy in Florida and the 12th largest in the United States with a GDP of $345 billion as of 2017.This is more than twice the number of the next metro area, the Tampa Bay Area, which has a GDP of $145 billion. Florida is home to 51 of the world’s billionaires with most of them residing in South Florida.The first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, who called it la Florida upon landing there in the Easter season, known in Spanish as Pascua Florida.Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state’s economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, winter vegetables, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees. Florida is the flattest state in the United States.Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the US state of Florida.Florida’s close proximity to the ocean influences many aspects of Florida culture and daily life. Florida is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; African, European, indigenous, and Latino heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine.