4 Famous European Places You Can Also Find In Florida
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I’ve been craving a trip to Florida lately – but not simply to visit the more obvious tourist meccas of Orlando, Miami and the beaches.
What began as a look at the travel blogging conference TBEX which this year is hosting it’s North American powwow in Fort Lauderdale, led to a little bit of research on Florida in general and the discovery of a surprising range of options for a European like me looking for a taste of home in the Sunshine State.
When I lived in London I often eyed-up holidays to Florida but aside from working a stopover in Miami into one of my trips to Central America, I didn’t manage a full blown trip to Florida while I was Europe-based.
Now that I’m in North America full time Florida has worked its way far closer to the top of my must-visit list, (ironically I’ve discovered that it’s actually easier to get there from London than my current hometown of Vancouver) and this is partly because while my perception of the destination has been shaped by the popularity of Orlando and the big hitter theme parks first and foremost, I’ve found that Florida also has a thriving arts scene and plenty to keep a solo traveller interested too.
Here are the top 4 places to go in Florida that will save you a trip to Europe –
Reveal Russia in Florida – St. Petersburg
The 4th biggest city in the State of Florida was named after the original St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia – which happens to be widely regarded as the most cultured and the most European metropolis in the Soviet state.
But the American city very nearly became another Detroit – according to local legend the two co-founders of the city flipped a coin to see who would have the honour of naming the new city back in 1892.
Peter Demens won, calling the Sunshine City after the place in Russia where he’d spent much of his youth, leaving his fellow founder to use his choice – Detroit – as the title of the first hotel on this stretch of land between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
But if you have a European style hankering for the arts the Floridian St. Pertersburg is a great place to discover, as home to Florida’s best Fine Art Museum as well as the Dali Museum covered below, and the catchy named September Art Festival known as SPF – St. Petersburg Festival.
And construction has now begun on a new flagship Museum of American Arts & Crafts in the downtown core which will make Florida and St. Petersburg an even more important destination for art buffs.
Scratch Your Itch for Italy in Florida – Naples
Just like St. Petersburg, Naples’ owes it’s Italian name to its founders – this time a senator and a publisher who created a reputation throughout the 1870’s and 1880’s via media stories that this area’s sunny climate and seafood were similar to that of the Italian peninsula.
When the bay was quoted as ‘surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy’ the name stuck and the city started its journey to where it is today, as more of a Monaco than a Naples – a playground for the mega rich as home to the second largest number of millionaires per capita in the entire country.
This part of Southwest Florida is a popular jumping off point for the state’s big attractions such as The Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands and attracts tourists who want to see the picture postcard examples of Florida’s best white sand beaches and calm blue waters.
Hit A London Park in Florida – Hyde Park
The original Hyde Park in London has been one of the world’s most iconic green spaces since being founded as a hunting ground by Henry VIII back in 1536, and opened up for public use in 1637 by Charles I, and continues to attract millions of tourists to this upscale part of London each year.
But if you’re looking for historic European-style exploration in Florida then the Tampa Bay version of Hyde Park is the perfect choice – this prominent suburb was one of the city’s first residential areas and is packed with history and architecture, particularly the Hyde Park Village area which offers European-style open-air boutique shopping.
Seek Out Spain in Florida – The Salvador Dali Museum
Think Dali and I’m sure like me you’ll picture Spain, specifically Catalonia – but Pinellas County Florida is the rather more unlikely home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by the surrealist master.
The museum re-opened in 2011 in a new $36-million home which is almost as much of a draw as the collection of priceless works inside, and includes a glass dome made up of 1,062 triangular pieces which was designed by an architect who as involved in the Louvre’s own iconic glass pyramid.
The original museum opened in 1980 as the culmination of a project to keep an American art collector couple’s substantial collection of Dali work together on U.S. soil, and on display for the whole world to enjoy and the Florida museum is equally recognized along with its sister foundation in Dali’s birthplace of Figueres.
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