This swelteringly hot, swampy, dismally red state has a bit of a bad reputation, and not for no reason. The clouds of love bugs in the summer, the hurricanes, and the gators’ tendency to wander into swimming pools don’t help the situation. Every time I move away, though, I remember just how much there is to miss about this absurd, incomparable place.
1. Blue Skies and Palm Trees:
Even in the driest months, the weather is unpredictable. People like to joke that in Florida, it can be sunny in your front yard and raining in the back. But when the weather is nice, it’s gorgeous. The sky is a cloudless blue and the palm trees bold as pop art. Even the swamp is beautiful in its own way, the low still waters choked with grasses, thriving with birds of all kinds. It’s so humid that being outside is unbearable about 90% of the time, sure, but as far as nature goes, there’s nowhere quite like Florida. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part–
I never realized how important it was for me to live near the ocean until I moved out of Florida for the first time. I missed being able to drive 20 minutes and end up at a beach. There is nothing like the sight of deep blue waves stretching out into the horizon, or the smell of sea salt and the feeling of wet sand under your bare feet.
There are many beaches to choose from, and the water is warm most of the year, so it’s perfect for swimming. For the adventurous types, there’s surfing, parasailing, jet ski-ing, and all sorts of water-based activities to try.
(More importantly, people say they’ve caught Gyarados on some of the piers. I’ve had no luck yet, but I’m working on it.)
As far as Floridian delicacies go, there’s plenty to choose from. This state is known for its orange groves. Our seafood is (for obvious reasons) some of the best. We’ve got the most authentic Latin American food outside of Latin America, and there are few places besides Key West where you’ll be able to find chocolate-dipped key lime pie. (Also: Publix. Pretty much the best place for grocery shopping, and almost deserving of its own bullet on this list.)
4. Endless Day Trip Options:
The tricky thing about living in Florida, especially if you’re in the southern part, is that it’s hard to get anywhere else in the USA without flying. From where I live, it’s about a 9-hour trip just to drive to Georgia, the next nearest state.
Luckily, Florida has no shortage of destinations suitable for a weekend getaway. Miami is far from my favorite city, but the Keys never stop being gorgeous, not to mention Tampa and St. Petersburg (for medium-sized, prettier seaside cities), Sanibel/Captiva Island (as small as it is stunning), St. Augustine (historical, filled with nice architecture and ghost stories), and – of course:
5. Disney World & Universal Studios:
No, Magic Kingdom does not get old, even if you’ve gone every summer since you were five. Yes, the 84-foot drop at the end of the Jurassic Park ride is still a rush, even after the tenth time. And the sight of Hogwarts silhouetted against the sky as you walk into Hogsmeade is likely to make you tear up, no matter how emotionally prepared you think you are.
Because of its location in central Florida, making it an easy drive from pretty much anywhere else in the state, and because of the Florida resident discounts and annual passes, growing up here means frequent trips to Orlando’s theme parks. It’s a childhood-defining experience, and some of my best memories were made there.
Fellow Floridians, feel free to chime in. What’s so great about Florida?
All images used in this post are mine, and can also be found on my instagram.