20 Things You’ll Only See in Florida (Viewers Beware)
20 Things You’ll Only See in Florida (Viewers Beware)
Looking forward to a great trip in Florida? Trying to decide on the best things to do in Florida in case of rain? Or searching to find where they hide the best food trucks Orlando locals love? It’s a good idea to find out as much as you can before visiting the Sunshine State. Most people have to visit Florida for years before learning about these quirky antics that seem quite normal to locals. Keep reading for some fun insight and see if you are prepared to do as the locals do.
1 | Flip flops are an all-season, all-occasion fashion staple. | Need to pick out wedding shoes? Flip flops. All-day at the theme park? Flip flops. Midnight Walmart run? Flip flops. Prom? Flip flops. Don’t stress the shoe choice because it doesn’t matter the event – flip-flops are always an acceptable choice.
2 | Winter Wardrobes. | Floridians look forward with excitement on those few days a year in which we can finally wear puffy jackets and boots! All we need is for the weather to dip below 70° and outcome the winter wardrobes. Keep in mind the winters here are menopausal – cold one minute and burning hot the next. Floridians pull on those winter clothes because they’re used to temperamental temperatures and know how to strip those layers accordingly.
3 | Frogs in the toilet. Yup, you read that right. Doesn’t matter where you’re at or how clean people keep things, at some point in your life you will sit down on the toilet only to find a frog staring back at you. Let’s just hope, for the frog’s sake, that he doesn’t scare the, well, you know, out of you….
4 | Lines that lead to nowhere.| For some reason, people just like to form lines here wherever you go. Perhaps it’s travel-induced FOMO or asking the wrong person where the checkout line is at, but it only takes one excited person looking at something to start mass panic to form a long line where nobody knows what they’re waiting in line to see. So, next time you’re standing in a 45-minute line, make sure it actually leads somewhere you want to be!
5 | Nobody moves for a gator. | Come on now! Everyone is enjoying themselves in the water and that’s just a baby gator swimming by – there’s no reason to get out of the water! Gator walking through your house? So what, it’s just a little 4-footer. Worried about fishing with that gator staring you down? Honestly, he’s probably sleeping and besides, it’s not mating season so just don’t try to pet him and you’ll be fine. Of course there’s a gator in the pond – it’s a body of water, isn’t it? Gators, just part of everyday life.
6 | Home of Royalty. | Where else is it perfectly normal for grown-ups to dress like princesses, pirates, and magical creatures with wings, swords and tutus? Here in Florida, we call it The Magic Kingdom, House of the Mouse and home of Cinderella Castle.
7 | Florida Man. | If it’s a weird, backward head-scratching headliner that makes you think ‘That has GOT to be a typo’, then you can put money on the event taking place in Florida. Perhaps it’s the humidity that gives “Local Florida Man” the genius inspiration necessary to be the first ever to attempt that hair-brained scheme, or perhaps it’s just general malaise, who knows. But whatever the cause, the most interesting and zany news comes from Florida. We have high aspirations here.
8 | Publix subs. | Yup, Publix subs. What is so special about a sub? The yummy bread, freshly sliced meats and cheeses, then covered with toppings to your heart’s content. Well, these are a food staple in Florida and one that people miss when they’re away. Don’t want to talk it up too much because it can be hard to live up to the hype. However, we’ll just recommend that you make sure to include a visit to Publix during your visit and try one of their made-to-order subs. Mmmmm….subs!
9 | What is up with the weather?? | How on earth does one figure out how to dress for a day in Florida? Layers my friend, layers. It may be a beautiful 70° at 6 am, but by noon you’d best beware because it WILL get up to 94°. Thinking it looks like a nice day to go to the beach, but the weather forecasts scattered showers and maybe it’s a no go? Think again! It rains just about every day in Florida, so don’t be fooled by that quickly approaching hurricane-level torrential downpour heading your way, because you’re about to witness a weather magic trick. Just pull down your umbrella and give it about 20 minutes to pass through because at the other end is more blue skies.
10 | Anyone can visit Hogwarts. | Have your kids always dreamed about being a wizard at Hogwarts (or you, admit it, it’s you)? Well, you can actually do that in Florida! Over at Universal Studios, anyone can experience an all-immersive wizarding visit to Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Once there, don’t ask people about reading the books because they won’t know what you’re talking about. They’re real witches and wizards walking about, living their lives and running their businesses. Ask them if they’ve ever confronted a dementor, which spell is their favorite or which stand makes the best butter beer (Yup, you can finally try butter beer!). So, when visiting make sure to catch a performance of those singing frogs and get yourself a wand from Ollivanders so you can cast spells like the rest of the wizards there!
11 | East coast and west coast beaches. | This state lets you visit the Gulf and the Atlantic within a couple of hours' drive of each other. You may wonder if there is any reason to visit one over the other because they must be the same, right? So very wrong. The sand is different, the waves are different, and the water is most assuredly different. The gulf coast will treat you to crystal clear waters and sugar sand, which feels phenomenal to walk thru. The east coast will provide you with bigger waves, cooler water and in some places ground up shells instead of sand, which means it won’t be as quick to travel home with you in every little nook and cranny of your belongings.
12 | Restaurant versatility. | Florida is a cultural melting pot and one can experience a worldwide dining experience in Central Florida. If you’re feeling in the mood for a certain kind of food, there’s no “I wonder if there’s a Polish restaurant here?” Instead, it’s more like “I wonder if there’s a Polish restaurant within 15 minutes from here?” Want some Vietnamese food? Pho sure! Turkish, Jamaican, Laotian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, and some of the best Brazilian steakhouses you’ve ever eaten at! Whatever you’re in the mood to eat, don’t you worry, it’s here!
13 | Gator wrestling. | Hey, it’s Florida and we have so many gators that they gotta be mentioned twice. Around these parts, one can either watch some gator wrestling or learn how to do it themselves. Yes, you heard that right – you too can try your hand at gator wrestling! There are some great shows of daring and bravery if you’re feeling like gator wrestling is more of a spectator sport, but if you’re thinking that it’s something you just have to try yourself….Well then, just make sure to get photos because if there’s no picture then it didn’t happen!
14 | Springs, springs everywhere! | It could take a person a nice bit of time to visit all the beautiful springs that the Sunshine State has to offer. Looking for some spectacular photo ops at Florida’s crystal-clear hidden gems? Just pick a spring – any spring. It doesn’t matter what season either as the water stays the same temperature all year. This means on Christmas Day while everyone else in the country is running their heater full blast, we’re celebrating the holidays with a full-fledged swim party.
15 | Manatees. | What screams Florida more than manatees? Looking at photos of these guys doesn’t do them justice as they don’t show the chill playful nature of manatees. They are the sweetest little (huge) creatures that spend their entire day eating and hanging out with their family (that’s the dream!) and don’t mind the occasional visitor taking an up-close look at their lives. Luckily there are plenty of opportunities to throw on a mask and take a swim with some adorable sea cows!
16 | Everything’s a pet. | If it breathes and you can catch it or find someone selling it then that makes it a pet here. Beyond the normal dog vs cat argument is the decision on whether or not to add (yes add as it’s probably not the first pet already living there) your yard’s resident garden snake, the cutest tarantula building a home in your garage, the rescued teacup pig that turns into a 400lb adult sow, tropical birds, any size lizard, sugar gliders, monkeys, turtles, llamas, bees and feral cats. Those cats are totally different than the norm house cat as they are usually neighborhood residents that enjoy lots of food with no one specific owner (or do they own the whole neighborhood’s residents?). Regardless, there’s no shortage of loving families ready to add any kind of creature to their entourage.
17 | Oh, the Theme Parks You’ll Go! | Everyone in the world has heard of Orlando, FL because of the remarkable number of theme parks here. Tell your family or friends that reside in any other state or country that you’re visiting Orlando and be ready for the clear envy on their faces. Everyone wants to visit that area just to take a trip to the always exciting and ever-changing theme parks.
18 | Reverse seasonal hibernation.| Florida’s hot and humid, there’s no way to sugar coat it. Any summer visitor can attest to the miserable heat and melting hairstyles while pondering on the burning question of ‘How do Floridians live in this heat??’ The answer is, we don’t. During those sweltering summer months, Floridians become hibernating bears that do not leave their air-conditioned homes except to check the mail or quickly transport themselves to a cool body of water. We have learned the key to surviving here, which is ponytail hairstyles and friends with swimming pools.
19 | Haunted dolls in Key West.| Although not quite as famous as the other cinematic doll star, this one still gathers its own bit of fame and folklore. Robert the Doll and his little teddy bear can be found in the Keys, on display and ready to spook anyone willing to visit. Robert was dressed to match his child companion, which is all adorable fun and games until your child starts taking questionable orders from their beloved doll. If you are brave enough to visit Robert in one of his current homes, be sure you don’t poke fun in his presence as it’s said that he’s always listening and ready to grant misfortune on any disrespectful visitors.
20 | Love Bug Season. | Ignore the smug declarations that Florida doesn’t have any seasons because that is so totally NOT true. We absolutely have seasons, they’re just a little different here and they tend to overlap. In this southernmost tip of the US, there are more than 4 seasons, thank you very much! We have Summer, Hurricane, Allergy, Faux Winter (lasts about 3.5 days), Snowbird, Mosquito, Hotter Summer, and Love Bug seasons. So, while the rest of the world is living in their predictable and repetitive 4 seasons every year, we have the excitement of never knowing exactly when any of our seasons are going to hit or how long they’re going to last. Oh yeah, eat that world!
It’s true what they say, in Florida - the Rules are different here. The people, the land and the weather all follow a different set of rules that often have visitors scratching their heads. Now that you know some of the insider secrets it’s time to live by that old saying and ‘When in Rome…’
* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.
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