I remember moving to Daytona Beach, Fla. from New Orleans when I was 10, and pretty much my first thought being, “Why is everyone white?” Present-day-me would probably get all Mean Girls and be like, “OMG JEN you can’t just ask someone why they’re white!” but 1995 me was just very confused at the lack of ethnic diversity.
Many people I talk to hate it too. “Ugh, it’s so hot! Ugh, there are too many old people! Ugh, there’s no culture! Ugh, why do I have to drive all the way to Miami to see Dave Matthews Band!?” etc., etc.
But as time passed and I grew older and wiser, I learned that Florida isn’t all that bad, the culturally challenged city of Daytona Beach aside (other cities in Florida are much more diverse).
Here are a few reasons I’m proud to be a Floridian:
1. There is no snow.
At first, this was actually a con for me—especially as a kid. When I was little, I would dream of snow and ice. I used to want to be a figure skater a la pre-Harding-bitchslapped Nancy Kerrigan. If it was cold when I went to bed, I made my parents promise to wake me up if it started snowing.
But that was short-lived when I realized no snow = less work. No shoveling, no scraping ice off your car, no people swerving dangerously on the roads (warning: the video at that link is really disturbing, so click at your own risk)—at least, not because of icy roads. People in Florida still flip out and become Toonces the Cat when the skies open up. You’d think they’d be used to it by now.
Anyway, don’t get me wrong – this was me in 2010 the first time I saw snow, which happened to be in the form of a blizzard. Lucky me, right?
But it wasn’t so great the next day when I had to dig cars out of piles of ice (which is an extra shitty thing to do when you’re on vacation). It also wasn’t great that night when, because I missed my flight back to Florida due to snow delays, I had to watch the Saints win the Super Bowl in a house full of people who didn’t understand why I had to scream at the TV AND TOLD ME TO QUIET DOWN.
Fuck snow. I’ll prop up my iPad and put on an animated snowy screensaver, and that will do fine.
2. We have Publix.
If you have never had a Publix experience in your lifetime then you, my friend, have not lived.
I would normally say I’m biased (I worked for the company, including in their corporate offices, for over six years), but literally everyone I know is a Publix fiend.
The stores are clean, the employees are nice, they send you regular coupons in the mail, they have buy-one, get-one sales on shit you’ll actually use, and their deli and bakery items are droolworthy. Plus, their aisles are wide enough to accommodate the customers who feel it’s necessary to bring their 27 children along for a shopping trip.
Sadly, Publix is only available in a few states in the southeast and that’s it. The first thing out of the mouths of people I know who move away from a Publix-infused state is, “I miss Publix.”
It’s because Publix is missable as fuck.
3. Theme Parks.
Considering how much of a Disney whore I am, it would be wrong for me to leave this off. But seriously, we have the best (and worst) theme parks in the country.
Disney might get a lot of eyerolling (and sometimes rightly so), but I grew up with Disney and, as I’m sure you can tell from my last post, it’s a big part of my life to this day. Every time I go there, I experience something new. And they don’t play around—they immerse you completely in the experience, and that is not easy when you’re surrounded by screaming children and clueless tourists whose English-language arsenal consists of “bathroom” and “Mickey Mouse!”
And imagine my tears, as a huge Harry Potter nerd, when I heard Universal Orlando was opening a Harry Potter-themed section. I have been a double-digit number of times; what that number is, I cannot really say.
Also? Halloween Horror Nights, bitches. I have only missed one year since 2002 (and I’m still upset about it).
Now if you’re a huge fan of crazy roller coasters (which I can take or leave, personally) Busch Gardens may be enough for you but, if not, have fun traveling to Ohio to visit Cedar Point and literally nothing else.* I’ve never been to Sea World, which people balk at when I mention, but they just opened a new penguin exhibit so I need to get my ass over there (and to Discovery Cove, omg) pronto.
*Apologies to Ohio residents. I’m sure it’s lovely and I’m just a jackass.
4. We have a variety of things to do.
Want to go to the beach? Pick a coast, any coast – the state is less than 200 miles wide, so it’s not a huge deal. Hell, you can even watch the sun rise and set on the same day easily (which is something I still haven’t done and would like to ASAP). Like theme parks, as I mentioned before? Get thee to my ‘hood, Orlando.
Want to party in a city and drool over things you can’t afford while experiencing the best people watching you will ever do in your entire life? Go to Miami. You know that shit is real ill when Will Smith writes a song about it (see also: Parents).
There are also plenty of in-the-middle-of-nowhere places if that’s your vibe. Also, if swamp-traversing is your thing, there’s the Everglades. I don’t like snakes or mosquitoes or wildlife in general so I’ve never been, but I hear variety is the spice of life—and Florida offers a pretty solid variety.
5. It’s shaped like a penis.
Seriously, it’s America’s dick. I don’t really think I have to expand on this.
Now Florida has its drawbacks, of course. It’s hot (and humid, which is worse) as balls roughly 10 months out of the year, people cannot drive to save their lives (especially in Orlando, Jesus Christ), the rain is torrential in the summer, and tourists can be a walking disaster. But other than that, I have no qualms about the Sunshine State. And I love old people, so I ain’t even mad about retirees.
Honestly, my fiancé and I have considered moving, and probably will one day. But frankly, all Florida needs to do is embrace the wonder that is Mardi Gras, and I’m content here forever (and Universal Orlando’s version just isn’t good enough). Maybe if air conditioning didn’t exist, I’d feel differently.
Does your state get a bad rap? If so, do you feel it’s deserved? If you could move to another state, which would you choose?