What It Means to Be Floridian

tourist in your own town

It’s the land of endless sunshine and warm ocean breezes. A winter haven for those up north and a perma-vacation spot for those of us who call it home year-round.

But what does it mean to be Floridian?

I have to confess, I’ve never given much thought about being a Florida native (or close enough to one anyways). It was always just where I grew up – a given that the beach is 15 minutes away, it will thunderstorm between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. most summer afternoons, and it rarely dips below 60 degrees fahrenheit during the winter months.

But as I’m back, I thought it would be fun to reflect on this more. So I put together a little list of what it means to have a permanent address in the Sunshine State. Here goes.

You know you’re from Florida when…

The best time of year to get a tan is February.

Yes, we do have “cold fronts” here. But as I sit in the midst of our “coldest” temperatures of the year, I am still typing this poolside. In a tank top. Jealous?

The absolute best parking spot in the lot is the one in the shade.

No, the ideal spot has nothing to do with proximity to the entrance. It has everything to do with the probably of protecting yourself from burning your skin off on the seats/steering wheel/seatbelt once your shopping is completed. This holds especially true in August and September.

You know the “stingray shuffle” is not a new dance craze.

You didn’t learn this one in grade school? That you should shuffle your feet in order to avoid stepping on a stingray in the water? Where did YOU grow up?

The word “season” has nothing to do with hunting, though sometimes you wish it did.

We have a reputation for being the place where all the elderly northeasterners escape the winter. It’s true, and it’s called “season.” Restaurants are packed and roads are extra clogged with slow drivers from around Thanksgiving to just after Easter, at which time we are indeed ready to shoot ’em. They don’t call it “god’s waiting room” down here for nothing.

The words “hunker down” harken back memories of 2004.

Remember Charlie, Francis, Jean and Ivan? Floridians sure do. These were the names of the hurricanes that pummeled our state in the summer of 2004. During that time the weather forecasters repeated the phrase “hunker down” with reckless abandon. So many times, in fact, that it became a drinking game. Every time they said the phrase, you had to drink. This helped the hurricane waiting period pass with a reasonable amount of entertainment. Until the power went out and the ice in your bathtub began to melt, that is.

If you’re not from Miami or Orlando, you are from nowhere.

Ever try telling someone from a  foreign country that you’re from just east of Lake Okeechobee? Or better yet, not far from Pensacola? Blank stares will follow. Your best bet is to say Orlando or Miami (whichever is nearest) and then work in 30 minute driving time increments closer to your actual town.

We drive north to get to the South.

We don’t have accents, it’s not that easy to find good fried chicken, and we don’t do sweet tea. This of course begins to shift as you head closer to Georgia and Alabama, but definitely holds true the closer to the equator you go.

The state is actually divided into three distinct regions.

North, central and south. Each has their own culture, and their own football team. It really could almost be three separate states. North is the closest to true southern culture, central has the majority of the tourist attractions, with Orlando as the center, and south is really closer to the tropics. And Cuba.

No matter how much we complain about the heat in summer, we wouldn’t trade it for your winter.

Remember our peak tanning time? Yep, winter. Sure, we may burn our feet on the sand in the summer, but the ocean isn’t really all that far from the beach towel. And there’s air conditioning for the heat. There aren’t enough layers, or salt, or whatever else it is you guys use to battle those blizzards, to keep us warm. We’d be as frozen as our daiquiris if we tried to survive those conditions!

Others may laugh at our collective average age and inability to vote, but we love being Floridian.

Flip flops and convertible tops down, no more than one hour to the beach no matter where you are in the state, year-round perpetual sunshine… what’s not to love? The pace of life is relaxed and the dress code is always casual. If you visit you’ll find friendly people of all ages. Just don’t get any ideas about moving down here and becoming seasonal. Then we might be tempted to shoot you.

 Are you from Florida, or ever visited? What would you add to this list?

{Image by Craig Allen}

  • My family and I used to go every year to Florida! And then we stopped. I think we went to the Keys only one time and the Everglades a lesser amount—maybe it’s time for a revisit 🙂

    • Yes you should definitely come back down for a visit!! It’s a great state, and the weather is pretty fantastic all year. The worst of the heat and humidity is August and September, but as long as you’re on the coast with the breeze you’re just fine. 🙂

  • Ha, good stuff. I remember a Dave Barry article (you are from South Florida if you read Dave Barry) where he described the various Floridas, including Florivanna (Cuban Miami), Florissippi, Florigia, Florabama, and so on.

    • I remember reading Dave Barry!! His writing is so funny, and spot on. It is amazing how distinctly different this state can be, though I’m sure it’s like that other places as well. New York, probably, though half that state seems to be down here too. 😉

  • I lived in Miami for an extended work project back in 2011 and I think my Miami coworkers must have said the majority of items on this post, especially “we wouldn’t trade this for your winter”. Fun post!

    • Thank you Jessica! Glad you enjoyed it! It’s been quite amusing watching the news dramatize our “cold front” – putting dancing penguins on the weather map, icons of frozen thermometers… and the temperatures were only going down to the 40s lol. We are spoiled here this time of year! 🙂

  • I’m gonna have to agree with all of those!! 🙂 Miss that sunshine!

    • Thanks Jamie! We just had the most amazing weather over the weekend – really makes you appreciate being in this part of the country at this time of year! 🙂

  • We’re not too different in California – we give out location in hours of travel from San Francisco, San Diego, or LA.

    • I never thought that, but I can see it being true too! Florida and California really aren’t as different in some regards lol.

  • Love this!! I’ve been telling D practically ever since we met that I’m dying to go to Florida! Though I have to admit it’s because I want to go to Disney World & Harry Potter World. But I’m also super interested to experience the Cuban culture in Miami! The funniest thing I think about Florida is the “driving north to go south” thing!

    I also imagine Florida and Southern California to be not that different. Except we don’t get the intense humidity in the summer. You guys can keep that. 😛

    • Ah you guys definitely need to come to Florida!! And I’m a Disney girl at heart, so nothing wrong with the theme parks! Florida, especially down this way, really does have more in common with the tropics than the South. It could have something to do with all the beaches we have down this way. 😉

      I imagine it would be similar to Southern California, with the addition of the intense humidity. Can’t say that’s my favorite part of being here, but I will take our snowless winters any day!

  • Kara Franker

    Love this! All so true.