History of Florida Tourism
Even before the Second World War, Florida served as a destination for everyone from robber barons to tin can tourists. Tourism exploded after 1945, though, as attractions like Cypress Gardens, Weeki Wachee Springs and Walt Disney World sprung to life. This guide explores the rich history of Florida’s tourism industry.
Materials are generally available through interlibrary loan from the circulating collection of the State Library.
Links within the bibliographies take you to information in our State Library catalog or to more information on external sites.
History of Florida tourism
- Beck, Earl R. “German Tourists in Florida: A Two Century Record.” Florida Historical Quarterly 61.2 (1982): 162–80.
- Brock, Julia. Land, Labor, and Leisure: Northern Tourism in the Red Hills Region, 1890-1950. Diss. University of California, 2012. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC, 2012.
- Division of Historical Resources. “Florida Heritage Trails.” Florida Division of Historical Resources. Florida Department of State. 2014.
- Graham, Thomas. Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2014.
- Hollis, Tim. Selling the Sunshine State: A Celebration of Florida Tourism Advertising. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2008.
- Hollis, Tim. Wish You Were Here: Classic Florida Motel and Restaurant Advertising. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2011.
- Kerstein, Robert J. Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2012.
- Klingener, Nancy. Becoming Paradise: Key West, Florida and the Community Consequences of Heritage Tourism. Thesis. California State University, 2007. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC, 2008.
- Nelson, David. “When Modern Tourism Was Born: Florida at the World Fairs and on the World Stage in the 1930s.” Florida Historical Quarterly 88.4 (2010): 435–468.
- Nelson, David J. Florida Crackers and Yankee Tourists: The Civilian Conservation Corps, the Florida Park Service and the Emergence of Modern Florida Tourism. Diss. Florida State University, 2008. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC, 2008. Revels, Tracy J.
- Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2011. Wynne, Nick.
- Tin Can Tourists in Florida, 1900-1970. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 1999.
- Youngs, Larry R. “The Sporting Set Winters in Florida: Fertile Ground for the Leisure Revolution, 1870-1930.” Florida Historical Quarterly 84.1 (2005): 57–78.
- Berson, Thomas R. Silver Springs: The Florida Interior in the American Imagination. Diss. University of Florida, 2011. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC, 2011.
- Breslauer, Ken. Roadside Paradise: The Golden Age of Florida’s Tourist Attractions: 1929-1971. St. Petersburg, FL: RetroFlorida, 2000.
- Carlson, Charlie. Weird Florida: Your Travel Guide to Florida’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2005.
- Frank, Andrew K. “Authenticity for Sale: The Everglades, Seminole Indians, and the Construction of a Pay-Per-View Culture.” Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History. Ed. Karen L. Cox. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2012. 285–300.
- Genovese, Peter. Roadside Florida: The Definitive Guide to the Kingdom of Kitsch. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006.
- Grimes, David. Florida Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities and Other Offbeat Stuff. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2007.
- Hiller, Herbert L. Highway A1A: Florida at the Edge. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2005.
- Hollis, Tim. Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.
- Hollis, Tim. Florida’s Miracle Strip: From Redneck Riviera to Emerald Coast. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
- Hollis, Tim. Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails: Florida’s Tourist Springs. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006.
- Jackson, Harvey H. The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera: An Insider’s History of the Florida-Alabama Coast. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011.
- Mays, Dorothy. “Gatorland: Survival of the Fittest Among Florida’s Mid-Tier Tourist Attractions.” Florida Historical Quarterly 87.4 (2009): 509–539.
- Spencer, Donald D. 50s Roadside Florida. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2009.
- State Archives of Florida. “Roadside Attractions in Florida: Tourism and Spectacle Before Disney.” Florida Memory. Florida Division of Library and Information Services.
- Vickers, Lu. Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2010.
- Vickers, Lu. Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2007.
- West, Patsy. The Enduring Seminoles: From Alligator Wrestling to Casino Gambling. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2008.
- Bezdecny, Kristine. Placing Reedy Creek Improvement District in Central Florida: A Case Study in Uneven Geographical Development. Diss. University of South Florida, 2011. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC, 2011.
- Branch, Stephen E. “The Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope’s Cypress Gardens.” Florida Historical Quarterly 80.4 (2002): 483–503.
- Dickinson, Joy. Remembering Orlando: Tales From Elvis to Disney. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2006.
- Foglesong, Richard E. Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.
- Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Knopf, 2006.
- Giroux, Henry A. The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence. Lanham, MD: Littlefield, 2010.
- Jackson, Kathy Merlock. Disneyland and Culture: Essays on the Parks and Their Influence. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011.
- Lassell, Michael. Celebration: The Story of a Town. New York: Disney Editions, 2004.
- Telotte, J. P. The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
- Zhang, Wenxian. “A Splendid Idea in China Turned Sour in Florida: The Rise and Fall of the Florida Splendid China.” Florida Historical Quarterly 84.3 (2006): 411–442.