Just recently (in fact, over the past Thanksgiving holiday weekend) I took a trip to the Jacksonville area, which included not one but two incursions into the State of Georgia: One in Folkston (a railfan's paradise as so many CSX and Amtrak trains come through here in order to get to Florida destinations) and the other in Valdosta.
Crossing back into the State of Florida I happened to stop by the official Florida Welcome Centers, one on Interstate 95 north of Yulee and the other on Interstate 75 in Jennings, which is south of Valdosta across the Georgia border. Not only you get information on which area of Florida you are headed to, you can also sample the beverage that makes Florida so famous: Orange juice. While you are there, you can also pick up a copy of the official Florida state map, which is free of charge.
Visiting the two Florida Welcome Centers gave me an inspiration for my next blog topic: What you need to know about the Florida Welcome Center. I was originally going to post this over at my other blog, the Edward Ringwald Blog, but for the convenience of our visitors to the Sunshine State as well as our residents headed home to the land of Interstate 275 in the Tampa Bay Region, I thought I would post this here on the Interstate 275 Florida Blog for the convenience of our visitors.
Now here's what you need to know about the Florida Welcome Center, and there are two types: The official and the unofficial Florida Welcome Center.
The official Florida Welcome Center is found on interstate highways leading into our great State of Florida: Interstates 75 and 95 from Georgia and Interstate 10 from Alabama. Signage for the official Florida Welcome Center is always erected by the Florida DOT and you will see blue overhead signage letting you know that the State of Florida Welcome Center is coming up just after you cross the state line from Georgia or Alabama, like the example shown below of the Florida Welcome Center on Interstate 75 just after crossing over the Florida state line from Georgia:
The official Florida Welcome Center is where you get official Florida tourist information. The helpful and friendly staff will assist you in getting the information you need for the part of Florida you are headed to - even if you are headed for the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and the land of Interstate 275! In addition, you can also get major road construction information straight from the official source: The Florida DOT. (In fact, this information is also posted at Florida's rest areas and Florida Turnpike service plazas too!)
Now for the other type of Florida Welcome Center I need to tell you about: The unofficial Florida Welcome Center.
You will see them advertised not on official Florida DOT signage, but on huge billboards that line Interstates 75, 95 and 10 either before you cross the state line into Florida or after you cross. In order to get to one of these unofficial Florida Welcome Centers, you have to exit the interstate highway.
You may think that these unofficial Florida Welcome Centers feature the same thing that is offered at the official Florida Welcome Centers, but there is a difference: The sale of Orlando area theme park tickets such as Walt Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios Florida or even Legoland in Winter Haven, especially at cut rate prices or given away for free.
You never know what these unofficial Florida Welcome Centers may be offering: Information that may be outdated. As for the Orlando area theme park tickets, those tickets offered either at a cut rate price or for free will more than likely come with an overly aggressive presentation for a time share which you will more than likely have to sit through to get these tickets. And another thing, you never know how good the tickets are: You fall for the time share pitch and you get the tickets, only to be refused admittance at the gate because the tickets are no good!
In fact, the unofficial Florida Welcome Centers is one of eight common mistakes when traveling to the Orlando area and the land of Mickey Mouse, according to this article on about.com. Besides, you don't need to endure plenty of fear and anxiety after a long trip thanks to those time share hucksters perched on the sides of Interstate 75 whose sole purpose is to part you from your hard earned money.
As in any real estate transaction, consultation with an attorney who specializes in real estate law is highly recommended. This is very true if you are considering buying a time share.
The bottom line is this:
Whether you are a visitor to our great State of Florida or you are a resident headed back home after a long trip, if you need traveler information the best resource is the official Florida Welcome Center. There you will get the latest up to date information you need and the information is given to you - and you don't have to fall to an unwanted time share sales pitch!
And by the way, if you're headed south on Interstate 75 towards the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, approximately 193 miles stands between the official Florida Welcome Center in Jennings (the first exit on Interstate 75 southbound in Florida is FL 143, Exit 467) and the northern terminus of Interstate 275 (Exit 274) located on the Hillsborough-Pasco county line in Wesley Chapel.