Having lived here my whole life and written about it for while, I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like I know a thing or two about Florida. Of course, there’s still much more to learn, but here’s a fun little guide to recap a little of what we’ve covered so far:
A - Alligators
You can't write about Florida without mentioning our state reptile, right? Doesn't this guy look happy to be here?
B - Big-a$$ Bugs
We're talking Jumanji-sized spiders, palmetto bugs, and grasshoppers. Don't forget the fire ants. When it comes to insects, everything's bigger in Florida.
C - Coastline
Florida is the state that can boast the second-most coast in the U.S. after Alaska. Does that even count? It's pretty and all, but a little cold for a day at the beach.
D - Dinosaurs
Just kidding. Well, kind of. We may not have real dinosaurs, but we have the next best thing, Dinosaur World in Plant City.
E - Everglades
It doesn't get much more Florida than an airboat ride through the Everglades. A little touristy, maybe, but everyone should try it once in their lives.
F - Flip-Flops
This is the requisite footwear that completes any Floridian's outfit. Get yourself a pair, or prepare to stick out like a sore toe. You know, like when you stub your toe and it hurts really bad, because all you wear are flip-flops.
G - Gardens
Florida has about a bazillion gorgeous gardens waiting to be explored. Pictured are the Bok Tower Gardens and reflecting pool.
H - Heat/Humidity
It's just a fact of life. The price we pay for the country's most perfect winters are long, often miserable summers. That's why we have little respect for the snowbirds who don't earn the nice winters, like we do.
I - Islands
If you've ever dreamed of island life, Florida has lots of islands and keys where that dream is very much alive. Pictured is Anna Maria Island.
J - Jackpot
Can you believe some folks have to cross state lines when they want to play the lottery? I try not to get carried away buying lottery tickets, but it's nice to at least have the option.
K - (The) Keys
Everyone loves the wonderful, wild, and wacky Florida Keys.
L - Lightning
We are the lightning capital of the country.
M - Museums
Not many people know this, but Florida has many awesome museums. Some of our favorites are The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg (pictured), The Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, and The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, just to name a few.
N - News
Florida's gained a lot of notoriety for its ridiculous news stories. You can probably find a story about our state in any "news of the weird" section on any given day, anywhere.
O - Oranges
P - Parks
Florida has a very green thumb, great weather and lots of land. So, everywhere you turn there are parks, both large and small. Did you know we have more than 150 state parks? Pictured here is Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park near Gainesville.
Q - Quicksand
Just kidding. Florida doesn't have real quicksand. We do, however, have sinkholes, which are even scarier, but do not begin with a Q.
R - Rain
Rain in Florida is very special. It starts out of nowhere in the middle of a sunny day and may only last 15 minutes before the sun is back out again. You either have to carry an umbrella everywhere or just get used to it.
S - Sunsets/Sunrises
It's a well-known fact that Florida has the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises you'll ever see.
T - Theme Parks
Love them or hate them, the many theme parks are part of what makes our state unique. They also bring lots of that other t-word you get used to living here: Tourists.
U - Unique
Let's face it, it's hard to find a U-word. I'm lucky, though, because Florida really is super unique. Our residents, history, attractions, and wildlife can't be found anywhere else.
V - Vintage
Florida is a great place to look for antiques and vintage items. Antique shopping is very popular here, and you can find unique items across the state.
W - Weeki Wachee
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure Florida is the only state with mermaids on its payroll. Weeki Wachee became a state park in recent years so that we wouldn't lose this special piece of our state's history. Cool, right?
X - X-Rated Art Museum
The World Erotic Art Museum in Miami Beach is all about education, not pornography. You can find works by Rembrandt, Dali and Picasso in this vast collection.
Y - Yankees
Winter is approaching, which means plenty of snowbirds from up north (and everyone else who gets sick of shoveling snow) will be heading our way.
Z - Zoos
Maybe there's a better word I could choose for Z, but I sure couldn't think of any. Luckily, Florida has plenty of outstanding wildlife refuges and zoological parks. Pictured is Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
What are some of your favorite things about Florida that you would add to this list? What do you think makes it really unique? Please share your comments with us below!