The state of Florida is always in the news for having the world’s craziest residents. It seems like “Florida Man” is up to new shenanigans every day, and the rest of the world is anxiously awaiting his next move. But, life in Florida isn’t all wild news and wackyweather—there are some pretty great things about growing up in the Sunshine State. From the delicious sub sandwiches sold at Publix grocery stores, to the awesome field trips, life on America’s peninsula can be pretty cool.
You Own Too Many Bikinis To Count
Growing up in Florida means that you’re almost always within two hours of a beach. So, you naturally own more bathing suits than you can count! You and your best friends may have even swapped bikini tops and bottoms with each other so that you could make your own rainbow of colors at the pool.
And, if you happened to forget a swimsuit for a beach trip or pool party, there was no need to worry — you can almost always find a pretty decent selection at the gas station. Needless to say, Floridians take their bathing suits VERY seriously.
You Know That Football Rules
No matter where you live in the state, you know that fall = football season. Spending the weekend at a tailgate is your idea of a good time, even if your team lost. Speaking of teams, Floridians always have a distinct preference for one team over the other!
The Florida State Seminoles, Florida Gators, and Miami Hurricanes have a strong fan following throughout the state, and the yearly face-offs are sure to draw a crowd. Just be sure not to accidentally insult your friends by making a jab at their team — that’s sure to earn you a few stink eyes!
This Seems Like A Perfectly Normal Outfit
Weather in Florida is notoriously weird. In the mornings, it could be 45 degrees. But by the time lunch rolls around, you’ll be sweating at a balmy 85 degrees with 98% humidity. Now that’s a serious shift.
So, you’ve learned to dress for the weather. That could mean shorts with a parka and flip flops, or jeans with a tank top and UGG boots. No matter what the weather is, though, you always know to bring along a rain coat. Those daily 3pm rainstorms are sure to get you soaking wet, whether you planned for it or not.
You’re Used To Being Woken Up By Animals
If you’re from South Florida, you’re all too accustomed to being woken up by the chirp of Cuban Tree Frogs. They spend the entire night squawking away right outside your window (of all the nerve).
After surviving a few years of this annoying sound, you’ve gotten pretty good at simply sleeping through it. It’s a totally different story when your relatives come to visit from up north, however. They’re likely to spend the whole night complaining about that “awful sound” and demanding that you “do something about that.” Too bad they don’t know the struggle.
You Know That Springtime Means Love Bug Season
Each and every spring, you have to take your car to the car wash for a deep cleaning. This is partly due to the crazy amounts of pollen that will turn your vehicle yellow and make you sneeze, but mostly because of the onslaught of love bugs that have embedded themselves into your car’s grill.
You’ll also never forget what it was like when you were in middle school and you finally realized that these annoying bugs were really living up to their name and “making love” — not just “holding hands” like your parents always tried to tell you.
You’ve Been To Your Fair Share Of Hurricane Parties
Forget having a party while you’re snowed in… Floridians have hurricane parties! During late summer and early fall of each year, you know to stock up on bottled water, snacks, and loads of alcohol in order to keep you and your friends entertained while you ride out the storm.
These parties are always tons of fun — unless someone gets hurt. It’s pretty hard to get to the emergency room while the roads are blocked with fallen trees and electrical wires. Of course, this could just add to the excitement of the weather, depending on how you look at it.
You’ve Taken The World’s BEST Field Trips
Going to elementary and middle school in Florida means that you went on LOTS of field trips. Sometimes it seems like your teachers just took you on trips to avoid spending the day teaching, but you never complained!
Florida undoubtedly has some cool spots to go on adventures, especially St. Augustine, the NASA Headquarters in Cape Canaveral, and the site of the first Christmas in the New World in downtown Tallahassee. Your parents probably spent way too much money sending you on these overnight field trips, but you were ALWAYS thankful to get out of the classroom and into the real world.
This Is Your Idea Of A Good Lunch
When lunchtime rolls around, you can almost always count on yourself getting a craving for a Publix sub, Dirty brand potato chips, and a bottle of tea. This delicious meal is an old standby for Florida natives, and for good reason.
It’s yummy, quick, and convenient — if you can avoid waiting in line! Thankfully, Publix now has an app that allows you to order your sandwich and pay for it before you even leave your office. This is certain to delight “PubSub” lovers throughout the state who are jonesing for that fresh bread and hand-sliced Boars Head meat.
You’ve Gotten A Free Cookie From The Publix Bakery
You’ll always feel like kids from other parts of the country have been deprived when it comes to the grocery shopping experience. Publix grocery stores offer free cookies to any child who is brave enough to ask a bakery employee themselves, and you can bet your bottom dollar that you learned how to find this courage at a VERY young age!
Those Publix cookies were delicious — even as an adult, you find yourself wishing that you could pass as a small child to get your hands on one! Of course, you could just pay the $3 for a box, but that’s not nearly as fun or exciting.
You Know That Disney Is Cool, But Not THAT Cool
When you’re lucky enough to call Florida home, you get a surprising benefit — Disney discounts! You’re always on the lookout for Florida resident days because that means getting into the world famous amusement parks at a steep discount.
That being said, all these trips to Disney have made you wonder what all the hype is about. Sure, Disney is cool, but it’s not THAT cool. You’ve always secretly judged your out-of-state friends who save up their money to take a yearly family trip to Disney World. Who wants to spend that kind of money to be sweaty all day?
You’ve Had Some Gruesome Sunburns
Florida is called The Sunshine State for a reason — it’s almost constantly bright and sunny (except for those thunderstorms, of course). So, you’ve of course suffered your fair share of crazy sunburns.
The one shown in this photograph is honestly pretty mild compared to some of the ones you got on spring break trips to Panama City Beach and The Keys. Your pediatrician always warned you about the skin cancer you’re inevitably going to get one day, but that has never managed to stop you from getting burned. Sometimes the sun just seems too bright to be stopped by sunscreen!
You Know Better Than To Touch The Seat Belt Buckle In Summer
Now this is a mistake you only have to make once! Everyone who lives in Florida has made the fatal error of touching the metal part of a seat belt buckle on a hot summer day.
If you were lucky enough to avoid a bad blister by pulling your hand away, you’re still likely to recoil in terror every time you see a seat belt. Here’s a pro tip for you: Always keep your seatbelt buckled, even if you’re not in the car. This will keep that metal tip cool and potentially save you from a bad burn.
You Grew Up Taking This Awful Test
Governor Jeb Bush may have loved the FCAT, but you certainly DID NOT! Taking the Florida Comprehensive Academic Test was always a public student’s least favorite part of the school year.
To be honest, you’re still a bit bitter that the week-long exam has been phased out in favor for the Common Core approved End of Course Exams. You want today’s kids to suffer through the FCAT like you had to. At least taking the test meant that all the elementary school moms would bring in free snacks and treats. That almost made it worth it, but not quite.
You Speak Spanish And English
Florida is full of Spanish-speakers, especially down in Miami. So, native Floridians are pretty likely to be fluent in both languages, or at least comfortable speaking a little bit in both. It’s not uncommon to start taking Spanish classes as early as preschool, particularly if you went to private school.
You’re thankful for this, though. You know that being bilingual will always give you a serious leg up in the job market, even if you move out of the Sunshine State. That’s something you’ll always be incredibly and perpetually thankful to your home state for.
You Know That There Are Three Distinct Floridas
There are three very distinct regions of Florida, and everyone knows it. In the North, like you see in this picture, you have rolling hills, magnolia trees, and liberal politics. Central Florida is redneck country with a little bit of Disney, and the Southern region is full of beaches, flat land, and Hispanic culture.
Each spot is unique, but still part of the state you’re proud to call home. And, you’re of course fiercely defensive of “your” part of the state. You’re always prepared to defend your hometown, even if that means getting into a fight with your best friend or college roommate.
Alligators Don’t Scare You Anymore
Recently, a video of this “giant” alligator on a Florida golf course has been making the rounds on social media. People have been calling the creature a “dinosaur,” but you’re honestly not that impressed.
You see alligators all the time. Heck! You’ve probably even had one take a lap or two in your home swimming pool. Growing up, you knew to run away from them in a zig zag since their short legs don’t allow them to turn quickly, but other than that, you don’t give gators much thought. Unless we’re talking about Gator football, of course.
Crazy Weather Seems Normal To You
Florida may be called The Sunshine State, but it certainly isn’t always a beautiful day in paradise. Almost every day at 3PM (right as you’re being released from school, of course), the skies open up and a torrential downpour begins.
You know to always keep a raincoat with you, just in case you have to run to your car through the rain, but this is rarely necessary. After all, time has taught you that waiting just five or ten minutes will allow the skies to clear and it will once again be sunny! If nothing else, Florida weather is volatile.
You’re Used To Seeing This Screen
Sometimes that Florida sunshine is just too much for your little iPhone. You’ve become pretty accustomed to seeing this warning message that your cell phone is overheated, and it doesn’t really worry you like it did the first time you saw it (you may or may not have slightly panicked).
You may even be guilty of sticking your phone in the freezer to cool it down quickly — whether or not this works is questionable. You do know that covering it with a towel at the beach is a surefire way to keep your phone from going into full meltdown mode, though.
Your Mom Never Let You Leave Home Without Sunscreen
When you were growing up, your mom always DEMANDED that you “spread your arms” so that she could spray or rub your back with sunscreen. You, of course, objected, but now you see the importance of what she was trying to do.
You’re at least pretty thankful to her for trying to save you from a future of wrinkles and skin cancer. Still, you’re likely to wrinkle up your nose every time you catch a whiff of that awful fake coconut smell. Thankfully they make sunblock that comes in much less noxious scents nowadays! Maybe that will convince you to actually use it…
You’ll Never Get Tired Of Florida Sunsets
Florida is known for its beautiful sunsets, especially along the state’s 1,197 miles of coastline. Growing up near this definitely spoiled you, so you’ll always judge other state’s views of the sun going down, no matter how much you try not to.
It’s hard to be impartial when you’re used to having such beautiful sights all around you! No matter where you go in the world, you’ll always have a little bit of longing for a good old-fashioned Florida sunset. We don’t think anyone will really blame you for that, though.
You’ve Never Seen Snow
If there’s one thing Floridians know nothing about, it’s snow. It’s not uncommon to meet a Florida native who has never seen snow in his or her life. Thanks to Florida’s low latitude and subtropical climate, the Sunshine States rarely sees snow. In fact, most of the majority Florida cities have never recorded measurable snowfall. Although it’s rare, temperatures do dip below freezing in Florida but leave nothing more than a little frost on your windows. It sure is funny to watch everyone freak out though!
Mountains Are a Strange Concept
Seeing mountains for the first time is a strange event for any Floridian. Nearly all of the Sunshine State is at sea level, so even big hills are a little exciting for a Florida native to see. Interestingly, Florida technically is home to Sugarloaf Mountain in Lake County. Few Floridians even realize this is a mountain since it definitely has more of a medium-sized-hill vibe to it. Oh, and that fact that it’s only 312 feet tall doesn’t help either. You can easily spot the Floridian if you ever hike up a real mountain—they’ll b the one struggling to adjust to the elevation change.
You’ve Driven by Dinosaur World But Haven Never Actually Gone
Any Floridian who has driven along I-4 in Hillsborough County knows about Dinosaur World. One minute you’re minding your own business trying to navigate the crazy roads when a giant dinosaur appears off to the side. While this might come as a hilarious shock to the average tourist passing through, everyone who lives in Florida knows about the I-4 dinosaur and thinks nothing of it. The prehistoric creature an ad for the Dinosaur World theme park, which features more than 150 life-sized dinosaur sculptures. But considering Orlando is home to so many world-renowned theme parks, it feels like no one from Florida actually goes to Dinosaur World.
Publix Premium Ice Cream Is the Best Thing
Sure, Publix subs and sweet tea are the perfect lunch for any Floridian, but Publix also kills it in the dessert department. Publix carries all of the big-name ice cream brands out there, but the true stars of the show are the grocery store’s own line of premium ice creams. Publix is always making new specialty ice creams and releasing them for a limited time only, so Floridians know to stock up if they fancy a specific flavor. Just some of Publix’s greatest ice cream creations include Hula Hula Macadamia, New Orleans Caramel Praline, Peach Cobbler, and Southern Banana Pudding.
You Know That Spring Break Is Actually the Worst
Growing up in Florida, you’re never too far from the beach. Many Floridians even go to the beach daily or on the weekends. But all Floridians know there is one time when it’s just not an option to go: spring break. Florida is the top destination for college kids on spring break. According to the Chicago Tribune, five of the top 15 spring break travel destinations are located in Florida. Miami, Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, Panama City Beach, and Cocoa Beach see a huge influx of tourists each year during the spring break period. As for Floridians, many leave the state when it’s time for their spring break.
You’ve Gone to the Beach On Christmas
Getting in the holiday spirit is hard when the weather is hot and humid. But it’s pretty nice to be able to have a full-on beach day on Christmas while much of the country is freezing. The average temperature in Florida during the month of December is around 72 degrees, but potentially much warmer depending on how far south you are. Florida is always shattering record-high temperatures though, driving more and more Floridians to the beach on winter days. In December 2016, Miami was a warm 86 degrees on Christmas day!
Mosquitos Are Your Arch Enemy
Alright, Florida has a bunch of redeeming qualities to it, but mosquitos are not one of them. The Sunshine State is rather swampy and the constant humidity makes Florida a mosquito’s paradise. Things only get worse during hurricane season when excess water makes the mosquito population boom. If you grew up in Florida, then you’re likely very familiar with OFF! bug spray and probably almost drowned it a time or two when mom was spraying you down. She really was looking out for you though—mosquitos are mostly just a nuisance but those annoying suckers can carry diseases too, adding a little anxiety to every bite you receive.
Good Hair Days Are Hard to Come By
Florida is one of the most humid states in the country, which means that you’re always hot, sticky, and just a little annoyed. It also means that good hair days are an almost foreign concept. Anyone who lives in Florida has experienced spending an hour styling their hair, only for Florida’s cruel and unwavering humidity to be like, “that’s nice you did your hair and all, but you cannot have nice things.” There isn’t enough styling product in the world that can combat the Florida heat, but we’ll still keep trying or at least invest in a nice hat.
The West Coast Actually Means Gulf Coast
If you’re not from Florida and find yourself visiting the Sunshine State, don’t be surprised if you hear locals talking about the west coast—but not California, Oregon, and Washington. Although western Florida is technically called the “Gulf Coast,” that doesn’t stop us from lovingly referring to it as the West Coast. And it’s not like Floridians are wrong…it is, in fact, the west coast, just not that west coast. We all understand what we mean, but it can definitely create confusion for those who are not native Floridians.
Palmetto Bugs Are a Terrifying Part of Life
Palmetto bugs might be one of the worst things about Florida. They’re everywhere, they’re terrifying, and for every palmetto you kill it seems to be replaced with two. One of the worst things about these little demons is they like to hide. So you’re most likely to see them when you least expect it….like at 2 a.m. when you wake up and stumble to the bathroom, only to turn the light on and see a huge palmetto on your toothbrush. If there is a hell, it is most definitely filled with these spikey, scurrying turds.
How to Tolerate Snowbirds
Snowbirds are a fact of life every Floridian has to deal with. Every winter when the elderly descend upon the Sunshine State life just gets a little harder. Nearly every Floridian has a love/hate thing with snowbirds. Sure, they boost the economy when they return and help many small, local businesses keep their doors open. But, for those of us who have worked hard to live in Florida full time, we can’t feel utterly overwhelmed by snowbirds every now and then. In some areas like Palm Beach County, the population rises 11 percent during snowbird season! And don’t get us started on their driving.
Almost Everyone Has a Swimming Pool
Living in the Florida heat can be tough, but thankfully swimming pools exist and ease the pain of 100-degree weather that seemingly lasts for months. Because the weather is warm year round, swimming pools are a common feature for most homes and are used all 12 months of the year. For those us of who grew up in Florida without a swimming pool, you know how absolutely torturous it was to hear your neighbor’s cannonball into their pool while you sat in the heat of your backyard. You were probably pretty skilled at picking out friends with pools though.
Coat Checks Aren’t a Thing
Growing up in Florida meant coat check wasn’t in your vocabulary. The weather rarely warrants more than a light jacket, so the need for a coat check anywhere just isn’t necessary. Of course, there are still coat jackets for some black tie events, but those are for fancy people. When it comes to cold weather clothing, they’re pretty much non In fact, pretty much any concept of cold weather-related things just don’t really have their place in the sunshine state. Winter coat? No. Winter boots to trek along icy sidewalks? Nope. Earmuffs? Mittens? Long johns? All negative.
You Can Still Smoke In Bars In Some Places
As of July 31, 2017, more than 80% of the country has a nonsmoking ban in place for indoor areas. But Tampa is one of the major metropolitan areas in the country that has not issued a ban in all bars and restaurants.
Although the state has come a long way in its battle against smoking in public, there are still issues. According to the Americans For Nonsmokers’ Rights committee, “Florida law still preempts local governments from enacting smoke-free regulations.” So if you visit certain bars in Tampa, don’t be surprised if people light up indoors.
The Fountain Of Youth Is Supposedly In Florida!
The famed explorer Ponce de Leon reportedly thought he had found the Fountain of Youth when he discovered what is now known as Warm Mineral Springs in current-day North Port, Florida. The body of water is technically a sinkhole, and a natural vent deep below the surface keeps it at a comfortable 87% all year round.
Although the springs are now closed to the public, they were a tourist attraction for decades. People believed that the warm waters and silty mud were agents of youth. The site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Two Headed Gators Are A Thing
In Florida, the land of mermaids and magical fountains, you hear all sorts of crazy stories. In 2014 a Tampa man named reported spotting a two-headed alligator on the banks of the river near his Seminole Heights Home. In a post to the local paper, he wrote “My wife and I were walking our dog in Seminole Heights when we noticed a few people gathered near the river. We went over and saw that there was a two-headed alligator on the river bank.”
Although the two-headed gator claims were never proven, a statue of it stands in front of Ella’s Americana Folkart Café, a favorite local restaurant.
You Know About The 34th Street Graffiti Wall In Gainesville
Floridians who lived in the state in August of 1990 remember a tragedy that shocked the entire nation: the grisly murders of five students. Four victims went to the University of Florida and one attended Santa Fe Community College. A memorial was painted on a retaining wall on 34th Street in Gainesville, where the killings occurred. Although the 1,120-foot-long retaining wall has been painted over by graffiti artists hundreds of times over the years since it was built in 1979, the tribute remains.
In 2006, Gainesville native Tom Petty returned to his hometown for a concert. Fans had covered the wall with colorful welcome messages. And when Petty died suddenly in 2017, a touching memorial to him appeared within hours.
You Know Springs Are the Best Way to Cool Off
Florida is home to more than 900 springs and has one of the largest concentrations of spring on the planet. Springs form when the groundwater flows out through a natural opening in the ground. The crystal clear water averages 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round in Florida, making springs the best place to cool off from the Florida heat when you don’t want to trek to the beach. Any native Floridian will tell you how fun it is to spend the day floating down Rainbow Springs, kayaking through the beautiful waters of Weeki Wachee, or rope swinging into the waters of Alexander Springs.
Manatee Sightings Are the Most Exciting
Ah, manatees, the cows of the sea. For real though, sea cows are the best. No matter how long you’ve lived in Florida, seeing a manatee is exciting 100 percent of the time and we think every Floridian would agree. These gentle cuties are a large aquatic relative of the elephant and meander through the water munching on greens. Seeing a large group of manatees in one place is an incredible experience, whether you’re on a boat tour or solo kayaking down a spring. There’s nothing like seeing one of these guys up close and personal!