Five hundred years might not be a long time in British history, but it’s a milestone in America. This year, Florida turns 500 and the celebrations are making it a popular draw for tourists.
As legend has it, the Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he stumbled across the Sunshine State in 1513. He was the first European to set foot on the land and gave it the name of La Florida, which means "full of flowers" in Spanish. A re-enactment of this landing will take place in April as part of Viva Florida 500; a state-wide initiative of events throughout the year.
If it’s the Fountain of Youth you seek as well, head to the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement, St Augustine. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, this city remained the capital of Spanish Florida for 200 years. There, you’ll find the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, which claims that the spring flowing beneath the site is the stuff of legends.
Sceptics can always skip the spring tasting and head straight to Orlando. Theme parks such as Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios have the ability to make anyone feel like a kid again. Check out our Americas section, which often has deals to this city and its attractions.
If you’re looking to escape the usual tourist attractions in Florida, head over to the state’s southwest beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Click here to see loads of deals on offer.