10 Things Florida Residents Are Passionate About
Natalie and I both grew up here on the Space Coast of Central Florida. We can both attest, from personal experience, that this list is 100% accurate. If there is one thing that Florida residents are passionate about, then here are 10 of those ” one things”.
I mean really? What is there not to love about relaxing on a the beach? Too sunny and hot? Take a beach umbrella – instant shade. With the ocean breeze, cool beverage in your cooler and the shade of your umbrella, instant bliss! Throwing a ball around with your kids or friends and you get too hot? Take an immediate dip in the refreshing water at your feet. Evenings, mornings, it doesn’t matter. The beach is “just right” anytime of the day, year ’round here in Central Florida!
I get it. You either love seafood or you don’t. I have known people who move to Florida who could not stand the idea of eating any kind of seafood, but soon thereafter, they were loving everything from shrimp and scallops to baked grouper and mahi mahi. The great thing about our seafood here in Central Florida, is that is so easily available fresh from the ocean!
3. Flip flops and sandals
It’s not just a fashion statement here in Florida, it’s a necessity. In fact, Florida residents have different flip flops for different occasions. There are the every day cruising around town casual flip flops. The formal flip flops. The beach flips flops. And of course the going out on a date flip flops. Mind you, this is not an exhaustive list, but I think you get the point. Simply, one pair of flip flops may get you started as a new Florida resident, but you will soon find that you will be wanting and needing to add to your flip flop repertoire.
If there is one thing that separates Florida from the rest of the continental United States, then that one thing would be Publix grocery stores. It’s a Florida icon. Florida has allowed a few in the lower parts of Georgia and maybe even Alabama, but make no mistake, just like Florida Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes, Publix is a Florida brand that is for Floridians. It’s not your average run of the mill Piggly Wiggly, Winn Dixie or Kroger mind you! As soon as you walk into the front door of a Publix, you are experiencing grocery shopping mecca. (okay, maybe I am over exaggerating a tad-bit) The employees are professional, courteous, knowledgable and always look sharp in the matching uniforms. Clean, not cluttered and organized is three best words to describe the shopping aisles and experience. Now, for me, the thing that really separates Publix from it’s “competition”, and I use that word loosely, is the bakery and deli departments. Fresh baked Publix bread. Their fresh made pies and cakes are outstanding. (by the way, best key-lime pie in Florida can only be found at a Publix bakery) The fried and rotisserie chicken? Child! It’ll make you wanna slap your momma it’s so good! (of course, no one would ever want anyone to slap their momma….it’s a southern expression) Go check out Publix for yourself.
This is where the boys and girls are separated from the men and women as Florida relates to other states. It doesn’t matter if you are on the east coast of Florida or the west coast. Down in the Keys or up in the Panhandle (which we so lovingly tease our North Florida brethren as, South Alabama). Sunsets, particularly here on the Space Coast, are simply phenomenal. The picture below was taken from my backyard, and absolutely no photoshop or manipulation was involved. As stunning as our sunsets are, just wait 10-15 minutes and they become even more stunning!
6. Sun Rises
I will admit, I have not had the opportunity to see as many sun rises over our prestine beaches as I have had the chance to enjoy our sunsets. I am not a morning person by design, although, I am trying to change that. Sitting on the beach, looking out over the dark water of the Atlantic ocean just as the light begins to creep over the horizon is about as relaxing and serene as it could possibly get. Keep in mind, the cool salty air flowing across your face and the meditative sound of the ocean waves at your feet. The colors the illuminate the sky are simply indescribable and God-made! The shapes, shadows and reflections on the clouds as the sun begins to crawl from it’s night time slumber sets your imagination off that would impress the likes of Walt Disney himself! It’s early in the morning, but every single time I have done it, it makes me want to do it more!
The beaches are wonderful! The East Coast of Florida is, in my humble opinion, the best place to be. There are other parts of Florida that are vastly different in topography, ecology, smells sights and sounds. Fortunately, for all of us, Florida is a narrow, albeit long, but narrow state. So, getting around to different places, sites and yes, even different cultures, it quiet easy. Travel west, towards the middle of the state an hour or so, and you can experience one of the most coveted and amazing factors of Florida. It’s natural, fresh water springs. There are dozens upon dozens of springs throughout the entire state of Florida. From the hilly pine forests of north Florida, all the way down to the Florida Keys. Some of my favorite memories is swimming in the 72′ temperature waters. You are likely to see a manatee or two swim by depending on the springs you visit.
There is only one place in this world I have ever lived, where the people are as passionate about football as Floridians. That place, is Texas. But this article isn’t about big hats, belt buckles, horses, oil or cowboys. No sir, this is about Florida. Florida football during the Fall season is not simply an extra curricular activity for the Pop Warner kids, high schools, colleges and our three professional teams. No indeed. Football in Florida, during the fall, is an experience! It’s doesn’t matter if it’s Friday night lights at the local high school, Saturday afternoon in Coral Gables, Gainesville or Tallahassee, or Sunday afternoon in Miami, Tampa or Jacksonville. There is a “charge” in the air. There is a feeling of excitement, pride, hope and of course, the smell of the grille going strong for tailgating before and after the game. Floridians are passionate about their football! It well deserves that as the Sunshine state of Florida produces some of the countries top blue chip athletes to have ever played the game!
9. Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie! Had to say it three times it is so good! (remember I mentioned when talking about Publix a few moments ago) In fact, we love key lime pie so much, our wedding cake was key lime pie flavored, custom made by one of our good friends. You can find all kinds of key lime pie variations in just about any restaurant you visit. The further south you go, the more concentrated you will find it. Key lime pie is good for breakfast, lunch dinner, desert, appetizer or the main meal. Yup, I love it!
So, don’t get me wrong or intentionally misunderstand me on this one. I am doing this on purpose. Some of you, right at this very moment are wondering…Is he referring the the prehistoric looking dinosaur reptile that lurks the waters of Florida looking for it’s next victim, err, meal? Or, could he possibly be referring, and alternatively, promoting the University of Florida’s mascot, Albert E. Gator. To be fair, most of the state is probably as equally passionate about both. Mind you, some of that passion for the Univ. of Florida Gators is focussed on defeating them, but passion all the same.
There aren’t very many places you can in the state of Florida where you aren’t able to spot a wild, live alligator either basking in the sun, or slowly cruising the the water looking for his next water hole or meal.
Conversely, try going into any Walmart, Target or sporting goods store and not be overwhelmed with the merchandise of blue and orange Gators gear. If you ever find yourself in Gainesville, Florida on game day during the fall, you will definitely have no trouble in knowing who the hometown favorite team is!
There are many many things Floridians, especially Brevard County Floridians, are passionate about. Perhaps I will share some other things we are passionate about at a later time. Like, manatees, our Space Program, fishing, theme parks, boating, surfing and a whole lot of other things. You see, us Floridians are a diverse and complicated type of American.