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Or, to be exact, you are virtually here...

You're in the Great State of Florida, the Sunshine State, home of Disneyworld, Cape Canaveral, the Everglades, the Billion Dollar Sandbar, and Cannonball Adderley, not to mention Pat Boone, the manatee, the Fountain of Youth, jai alai, greyhounds, the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Magic, Marlins, and very possibly your grandma, who learned a few things about good living that she never even told you about.

La Florida, the land of colorful blossoms, was so christened by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who arrived here in 1513 during Easter week (which is called Pascua Florida in Spanish). Countless millions have followed him here since, not just during Spring Break, but throughout the year, with the majority of visitors arriving between Halloween and Memorial Day. Accordingly, there are more hotel rooms here than anywhere else on earth--33,318 in the Miami area alone.

There are also more swimmable beaches here than anywhere else in the U.S. Florida has the longest coastline of any state beside Alaska, and it's beach weather here the year 'round. The temperature is in the 80's in the summer, when it can rain briefly almost every day; and in the 70's during the winter, when it's drier. (Not to worry about the rain. The raindrops are big and soft, and everything dries up within half an hour. This is the Tropics!) The sea around Florida looks--and is--spectacular. In most places, it's turquoise for a few hundred yards, then deepens into shades of blue and bluer they don't have names for yet. You can surf here (try Panama City, dude), or just lean back and baste.

If you don't do beaches, we have a jungle. The Everglades National Park is a subtropical paradise of more than a million acres, with boardwalks, bird walks, hikes, bikes, and canoe trips into the steamy interior. You'll love it.

If nature doesn't beckon you, we have man-made. We have man-made in a way no other state has, from the poshest of the posh to, the dingiest of the dingy. Jupiter Island, near West Palm Beach, is so exclusive you'd need special apparatus to breathe the rarefied air there (an invitation from the George Bush family would do nicely. Maybe.) In some parts of Miami, good directions would be helpful. Absolutely Florida will help you deal with absolutely everything in between. Florida has, for example, some of the finest discos, resort hotels, and palaces of gustatory delight (restaurants!) on earth.

The capital of Florida is Tallahassee, an old-fashioned southern city of about 125,000. The largest city is Jacksonville, home to about 20% of the state's 13,000,000 permanent residents. (J'ville ranks 15th in size among American cities.) Lovely little St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S.; Hialeah near Miami is among the newest. Stay tuned, in this and other issues, for realistic advice on what to do and what not to miss in Florida.

We'll take you all around this incredible state, right here on your screen. But the actual is whole dimensions superior to the virtual.

Come be here for real!