For more than 250 years during the Age of Sail, European explorers set out for Florida searching for land, wealth and new opportunities.
Florida’s first written records came in 1513 when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon led the first European expedition to Florida. Believed to have come ashore near present-day St. Augustine, he dubbed the land “La Florida” in honor of Pascua florida (“feast of the flowers”), Spain’s Eastertime celebration.
In popular culture, Ponce de Leon was supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth, but his adventures mostly identified Florida as a desirable place for explorers, missionaries and treasure-seekers.
– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies