The Sunshine State and primary Weirdness Magnet for The United States, Florida is mainly known for a few things: weird stuff that happens Only in Florida, lots of beaches, undocumented immigrants (primarily Caribbean rather than Mexican and many of whom speak languages other than Spanish), and lots and lots of elderly northerners. In reality, it is the third most-populated state in the Union, having surpassed New York a few years back, and thus is a vitally important part of the nation as a whole.
History of Florida
Historically, Florida has always been a little distinct from the rest of the United States. The region was colonized by the Spaniards long before the French and English arrived in the northern parts of the continentnote , and they gave Florida its name: Land of Flowers. Florida's lengthy and Spanish-tinged history are seldom discussed outside of the state, and even then your typical Floridian won't know much beyond a) being taught about Spanish explorers of the state like Hernando de Soto and Ponce de León back in elementary school, and b) the fact that St. Augustine, on Florida's northeast coast, is the oldest continually inhabited city in North America. Great Britain acquired Florida from Spain in 1763, including an extra length from the northern state that was later chopped off and absorbed into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama; Spain got it back for helping America out in the Revolution, but Americans (some with government backing) kept raiding the place to try to take it for themselves (and to recapture all of the fugitive Africans who sought refuge in the swamps with native groups). Spain flipped sides in the War of 1812 in part to keep Americans out, but finally gave up trying to defend the mostly unsettled peninsula and signed it away to the U.S. in 1821 in the Adams-Onis Treaty. Of course, that piece of paper didn't mean much to the Seminole people and other native groups who lived in Florida, and U.S. spent the next several decades going to war with the Seminole to claim the peninsula; many of the Seminole would be forcibly relocated to present-day Oklahoma.
Florida was formally admitted as a state in 1845. Up until the advent of air conditioning (originally invented by a Floridian doctor treating malaria patients in Apalachicola during the 1830s; the system was ahead of its time and not commercially usable for another hundred years), Florida was part of the Deep South with all that that implies. The state was, and to a degree still is, a primarily agricultural state based on its famous citrus (especially oranges), livestock, and fishing. Florida was sparsely settled by Europeans and white Americans and generally had little significance and less impact on history, with the only notable exception being Key West, which was for a few decades the richest city in the US and one of the richest on the planet. The state did join the Confederacy in The American Civil War — quite a few Confederate blockade runners were based out of the peninsula and Judah P. Benjamin escaped to England through the state, though the only battle of any size that occurred in the state was a Confederate victory that made Congress question why people were dying for the worthless backwater to begin with (but gave a moment of distinction to a certain famous all-Black Union regiment).
Really, "worthless backwater" aptly sums up most of Florida until just before the start of the 20th century, when the construction of the railroads led to increased trade (mostly citrus products, winter vegetables, and cattle) with the North, and the cigar industry developed in Tampa. Following the Spanish-American War, tourism really picked up, and thanks to the efforts of railroad builders and the mild nature of winter in the state, the first real estate boom led to the development of much of South Florida in the 1920s. Unfortunately, this initial housing boom turned out to be a bubble and its bursting by the end of the decade was one of the major factors leading to The Great Depression, which set the state back once again. Following the end of World War II, however, the development of air conditioning, highways (in case you haven't realized it, Florida is a big state for folks traveling north or south)note , and a second real estate boom led to Florida's transformation into the conglomeration of suburbs, beaches, and retirement homes it is today.
Demographics and Culture
Florida has a very diverse population, with some of the largest Black and Hispanic populations of any U.S. state. The Hispanic population here is more Cuban than elsewhere in America (with the state being not too far north from Cuba itself), which affects the state politically since Cuban Floridians historically tend to vote for the Republicans, due to many of the original immigrants' being refugees from Fidel Castro's Communist regime, though their American-born descendants steadily became more Democratic before leaning back to the GOP after 2016. More recently, there has been an influx of refugees from Venezuela's Maduro government, with their own antipathy toward socialism. For decades, Florida's huge population drawn from throughout the country made it a major swing state, most notably in the infamous nail-biter that was the 2000 election. In recent years, however, Florida has become more solidly Republican possibly helped by Donald Trump, like so many aging New Yorkers, setting up his permanent residence in the state during his presidency. In 2018, an otherwise bad year for Republicans across the country, the GOP won very narrow Senate and gubernatorial races against the Democrats (and in the case of the Senate race, ousted a three-term Democratic incumbent, helped by their nominee being the departing incumbent governor, giving them both Senate seats for the first time since Reconstruction), maintaining their trifecta in the Senate, House of Representatives and Governor's Mansion since 1996. Democrats did carry one statewide office that year, albeit by an incredibly narrow margin, and flipped two Congressional seats in South Florida. In 2020, Trump improved on his 2016 performance in Florida, especially among (Mestizo) Hispanic voters in the southern part of the state despite losing the presidential election, and the GOP won back both of the House seats they lost the previous cycle. Two years later, the GOP saw even bigger gains. Ron DeSantis, the governor who had barely won in 2018, won a second term by nearly 20 percentage points. All of the other three statewide offices went to the GOP by similar margins. Marco Rubio was reelected to his US Senate seat by 16 percentage points, and the GOP flipped four US House seats, expanding its majority in the state's delegation. Finally, the GOP gained multiple seats in both houses of the state legislature.
As has been noted, Florida natives tend to be relatively few in number compared to Northern immigrants in the populated coastal regions. Some of these Northerners are migratory and known to natives as "snowbirds" for their habit of fleeing to Florida from snow in the North and returning home once the snow melts. Lots of them stay, however, and Florida has a disproportionate number of elderly northerners in the state, second only to the American southwest. Most Floridians like the money the tourists bring in but wish they would go home after spending their money (especially Yankees). Note that it actually does snow in Florida on occasion. It's rare, usually coming once every couple of decades, normally restricted to the northern edges of the state, and very light when it does happen, but between Florida's very mild winters and generally dry winter and spring, Florida snowfall remains little more than a curiosity. On that note, here's a quick way to distinguish natives from immigrants en masse: when a cold front hits and drops temperatures below 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit or so, natives will be the ones bundling up and talking about how it's freezing. Yes, this does qualify as cold in Florida. The flip side, of course, is that temperatures in the low-mid 90s with extremely high humidity are considered perfectly normal conditions by natives, and opening the front door anytime between May and September has been compared to walking into a sauna. (Oh, and as for the real natives of Florida, the Seminole today comprise a very small portion of the state's population, though they managed a major economic coup in the '70s when they launched the first Native American Casino, and the nation is now fairly wealthy.)
The Yanks with Tanks are also quite active within the state, and Florida is home to three of the ten Unified Combatant Commands, more than any other state or region in the world — the grand theater-level strategic commands. Central Command (USCENTCOM) which oversees operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) which oversees Central and South America plus the Caribbean, and Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) which oversees America's special forces, all call Florida their home. NASA also has a major facility within the state: Kennedy Space Center, better known as Cape Canaveral, is the site of NASA's space launches.note
The "Sunshine State" moniker is a half-lie, as most Floridians can tell you - the state's climate has a pronounced cycle of wet and dry seasons, with summer featuring near-daily thundershowers and winter, such as it is, being very dry. Convenient for northerners looking to escape the snow, not so much for those looking for a semi-tropical vacation spent mainly on the beach. Get used to the water, because Florida is a very wet state: surrounded on three sides by water and filled with swamps, wetlands, and retention ponds. Tourists, take note: if you're here during the summer, keep an umbrella on hand. Brief but intense thundershowers with little warning are common. Florida is also ridiculously flat. The highest point of elevation, Britton Hill at 345 feet (105 m), is just that, a hill, and a rather unimpressive one; the lowest points of many states have higher elevations than Britton Hillnote . Because it's nigh-impossible to have a basement in Florida — once you dig fifteen feet, you hit groundwater —one unusual feature is the presence of pools in almost every house that can afford one. Instead, patios with small pools; this is almost a necessity if you want to re-sell your home, and this helps attract out-of-state buyers thanks to the novelty factor.
Despite the recent tragedy of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy fixing public awareness of hurricanes on New Orleans and New Jersey, respectively, Florida is the United States' main punching bag for Mother Nature's fall mood swings. Until Katrina, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the costliest hurricane in American history, and take a wild guess what state it struck. In 2004, the year before Katrina (which did give Florida a glancing blow — it was Wilma who hit the Sunshine State the hardest that year), Florida was hammered by not one, but four major hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne), with three of them (all but Ivan) directly hitting Orlando (Ian followed suit in 2022). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seven of the ten costliest hurricanes in American history gave Florida at least a glancing blow. As a result, Floridians tend to be well-prepared to batten down the hatches and go without electrical power for a while when hurricane season starts up. The big negative: it's nigh-impossible to get homeowner's insurance in the state. It's usually not a concern for tourists, though, falling after the usual summer tourism season and before the fall snowbird migration.
However, not all of Florida's coastline is created equal in terms of vulnerability to hurricanes. One major exception to the rule is the Atlantic coast north of Cape Canaveral. While many storms brush close enough to the region to cause high surf and damage in coastal towns, only one major hurricane has made direct landfall since 1900◊ — Hurricane Dora of 1964 — a consequence of geography (specifically, the indentation in the coastline) sheltering that area, along with coastal Georgia, from hurricanes by giving a very poor track towards landfall. Generally speaking, if a hurricane moves north of Cape Canaveral, it's gonna land up in North Carolina or the Northeast if it doesn't go out to sea. On the other hand, South Florida, followed by the Panhandle, gets a disproportionate share of the hurricanes that do hit the state.
The state has come to be something of a poster child for areas most threatened by climate change, at least within the U.S. Much of the state lies within a few feet of sea level, and in fact the bedrock in the southern parts is made up of limestone formed from compressed seashells and coral carcasses (which combined with the high water table leads to the state getting more sinkholes than any other). This means that even slight changes in sea level can threaten settlements several miles inland, and the Keys are especially vulnerable due to how low-lying they are, which is why plans to potentially evacuate them in the future exist. The state and federal government are trying to fight this by installing levees and bulkheads, but depending on how sea level rise progresses this may only delay the inevitable; to give you an idea, nearly the entire state would be submerged in the event all of Earth's ice melted. Add to that increasing ocean temperatures fueling more and stronger hurricanes, and you get the most climate-change endangered state in the union. As if that weren't enough, Florida has more tornadoes per square mile than any other state, though most of those are pretty weak.note
Geography and Regions
Today, there are three distinct Floridas within the state's borders. Old Florida, a proud part of the Deep South, is in fact alive and well — it just occupies inland and northern Florida as well as the panhandle, i.e. the parts of the state tourists don't see (outside of a few resort towns such as Panama City Beach). South Florida exchanged its man card and Southern credibility for lots of money, lots of sprawling suburbia, and lots of northerners (particularly East Coasters from states like New York and New Jersey). This region, especially around Miami, also hosts large communities of Caribbean immigrants and has a distinctly Latin tinge and a working knowledge of Spanish can be a big help (some 70% of Miamians are Hispanic and over 70% of Miamians count a language other than English as their mother tongue: mostly Spanish, but a substantial number report Haitian Creole. It's the highest proportion in the country.). Central Florida, anchored by the Tampa Bay and Orlando metropolitan areas a.k.a the "I-4 Corridor"note , serves as a bit of a middle ground between the two other regions and has another Northeastern atmosphere. However, some areas also have a Midwestern feel (owing in part to some transplants from that region of the country). Tourism is Florida's biggest industry these days (but only just ahead of agriculture) and is, along with California, one of the classic spring break and summer vacation destinations in the United States. Agriculture and phosphate mining are also common, but again are parts of the state that tourists usually don't see.
Here are a few of the more notable regions of Florida:
- The Panhandle: So called for reasons obvious to anyone looking at a map of the state, the Panhandle is home to Tallahassee, Florida's largely forgettable capital city, with little else of note besides being the home of Florida State University and the historically-black Florida A&M University. Some nice Gulf beaches up herenote , a major naval base at Pensacola, and... not much else. Peculiarly, much of the Panhandle is in a different time zone (Central) than the rest of the state, due to the time line being a continuation of the Alabama/Georgia bordernote . It's sometimes grouped with Southern Alabama/Georgia — indeed, there have been multiple proposals throughout history, going back to before Florida was even part of the United States, to have the Panhandle area split off from the rest of the state and join Alabama.
- North Florida: The oldest and most historic part of Florida. Pretty much still the Deep South, but with a couple of 16th and 17th century Spanish forts.
- Jacksonville: Located in the northeast corner of the state about twenty miles from the Georgia border, this is the most populous city in the state and the largest city in the contiguous United States... by land area, that is.note Its metropolitan area, however, is only the fourth most populated in the state (behind South Florida, Tampa Bay, and Orlando); the reason the population of the city proper is so high is because it covers almost the entire county around it, and the metro area doesn't go much beyond that. It's home to two major naval bases, a seaport, two NCAA Division I schools, All Elite Wrestling, and the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team, which has the smallest sports market in North American professional sports (essentially just the Panhandle and North Florida, and even some parts of that area will sometimes play games from other Southern teams). There is also a Minor League baseball team, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, who are affiliated with the Miami Marlins. The city is also a melting pot of sorts; it has the tenth largest Muslim population in the country and is home to many Asian, Hispanic, African, and European immigrants.
- Saint Augustine: Located about an hour's drive south of Jacksonville, this is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the country, founded in 1565 by the Spanish. The old fort and the preponderance of colonial-era architecture have made it a major tourist attraction.
- Gainesville: Home of the University of Florida. Scratch that; it pretty much is the University of Florida. It had been a standard small college town well into the 1990s, but is now heavily developed towards I-75 to mid-city status.
- Daytona Beach: A famous spring break destination, it's also the home of NASCAR's Daytona 500. Historically, the hard-packed sand on the beach made it conductive to running races, turning it into an auto racing mecca; while the stock cars have moved to a specially-built track, you're still allowed to drive on the beach in restricted areas.
- Central Florida: Now we're getting somewhere.
- Orlando: Home of theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld, as well as a handful of other smaller theme parks of rather questionable qualitynote some of which are little more than tourist traps. Speaking of tourist traps, the city is notable for International Drive, which contains some of the said smaller parks along with an endless amount of stores, restaurants, exhibits, and perhaps most famously the Orlando Premium Outlets - a place that's often considered an amusement park in of itself. The long street saw the addition of I-Drive Live in 2015, which specifically includes the massive Orlando Eye Ferris wheel, which has now begun to be used as the "icon" of the area. Along with all the tourist destinations, the city is also home to one of the state's major professional sports teams, the Orlando Magic of the NBA; and the older of its two current Major League Soccer teams, Orlando City SC.note O-City also operates the Orlando Pride in the National Women's Soccer League. The University of Central Florida, known to all as simply UCF, is also located here. If you're driving south through Florida, Orlando roughly marks where Old Florida deteriorates into pockets dotting the inland corridor through the state. Go a bit further southwest on Interstate 4, and you'll find yourself in the other major city in the nearby region...
- The Tampa Bay area is normally spun off into its own region. The Northerners in this area are more likely to be from the Midwest than the Northeast, due to Interstate 75 connecting it with Michigan and Ohio. Historically, this was a major citrus growing area, though much of that has moved outward and inland. Although Orlando is generally regarded as the "theme park city" of Florida, Tampa manages to hold its own with Busch Gardens, which is famous for its many roller coasters, though the area as a whole is generally more renowned for its large number of world-class museums. On the other end of the spectrum, it's also known for its strip clubs especially the Mons Venus as well as being the setting of Magic Mike and Zola.note It's also home to a number of on-and-off sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays of MLB (which actually play in nearby St. Petersburg), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, and a surprisingly solid (given the area) NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The University of South Florida is located here, despite it not really being in South Florida.note
On the western side of the bay on the Pinellas Peninsula is the city of St. Petersburg. Together with Southwest Florida, this is the part with the really nice, "world's best" competition winning Gulf Coast beaches. The most famous landmark is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which you've probably seen in a hundred car commercials. It also has The Dalí Museum, the largest collection of Salvador Dalí pieces outside of Spain. The museum is home to 7 out of 18 masterworks. North of St. Petersburg is the city of Clearwater, best known for being the headquarters of the Church of Happyology at the Fort Harrison Hotel, now known as Flag Land Base. They tried to take over the town in the '70s, which the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times, which operates the fact-checking website PolitiFact) exposed in a series of Pulitzer-winning articles, and their economic influence in the town is still controversial.
- Lakeland: Caught in-between the I-4 corridor of Tampa and Orlando, this minor metro isn't as well-known as either city but is one of the regional growth areas due to its proximity to both. There's a local gag that the newest state university Florida Poly Tech will eventually become the downtown center of Orlampa, the mega-metropolis that will form from Tampa and Orlando merging.
- Space Coast: A collection of towns on the eastern shore about an hour east of Orlando, most people know this area for one thing and one thing only: Cape Canaveral, the site of Kennedy Space Center, America's main space launch facility. As a result, it's home to a startlingly high number of high-tech industrial firms and defense contractors supporting the space industry, and many streets, parks, and schools are named after astronauts, space shuttles, and NASA missions. Getting away from rockets, the town of Cocoa Beach is also famous for surfing (Kelly Slater is from there, and Ron Jon Surf Shop has their headquarters and their largest store there, though they were actually founded in Ship Bottom, NJ) and as the town where I Dream of Jeannie took place (there's even a Jeannie-themed frozen yogurt shop within spitting distance of Ron Jon). The town of Cape Canaveral is also a major cruise ship port.
- Treasure Coast: Encompassing Florida's Atlantic coast between Broward County and Cape Canaveral, the Treasure Coast is home to the cities of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, and Stuart. While historically considered little more than a place to drive through on one's way to South Florida, the Treasure Coast area has been growing rapidly in recent years as Fort Lauderdale has gentrified. This is another spot of Spanish heritage in Florida, as the Port St. Lucie area was once the site of the Spanish fort Port Lucia, and the Treasure Coast moniker comes from the loss of a Spanish treasure fleet in the area in the eighteenth century.
- Southwest Florida: A long stretch of towns and small cities running from the southern end of Tampa Bay down to the Everglades. Can be roughly grouped into four areas, from north to south: the Sarasota-Bradenton area, the Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte area, the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area, and the Naples-Bonita Springs area. The whole region is generally viewed as the place where the snowbirds flock and where elderly Northerners come to die, and there is definitely some truth to this; for example, Venice, a small city roughly 20 minutes from Sarasota, has a median population age of 69, and the story is much the same in the surrounding towns and cities. Much like the Tampa area, Southwest Florida's Northerners are largely Midwestern, and most particularly from Michigan and Ohio.note
- South Florida: The "tri-county" area,note is by far the most heavily populated region of the state, and the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the US and the largest located wholly within the South outside of Texas (although by certain definitions it's also below Atlanta). Once you get south of Tampa, the climate turns steadily more tropical and the terrain steadily more swampy. The Everglades once covered most of South Florida, but now... not so much. Still nice beaches on the coast, but not much to see inland unless you really want to see a giant, shallow lake with a name that hardly anyone can spell correctly for some odd reasonnote , or miles and miles of swampland and/or sugar cane fields. On the coast, it's pretty much continuous urban sprawl from Jupiter to Homestead for about 100 miles — but never more than 20 miles to the west, making it the longest and narrowest metropolitan area in the United States. Although some inhabitants in the cities north of Miami will proudly label themselves as being part of the "Metro Miami area", for others it will be a major Berserk Button to be considered "Miamians", so one should exercise caution and generally use the more neutral "South Florida" term to refer to the region as a whole.
Being the biggest metropolitan area of Florida, it is home to most of the state's professional sports teams, including the NBA's Miami Heat, the NFL's Miami Dolphins, the MLB's Miami Marlins, the NHL's Florida Panthers, and Inter Miami CF of MLS. While the former two teams are considered either powerhouses in their league (in the case of the Heat) or former powerhouses (in the case of the Dolphins, whose great era came in The '70s under head coach Don Shula), the next two are generally considered to be the Butt Monkeys of their respective leagues. Inter Miami only started play in 2020, so it hasn't really had time to establish a reputation. The Marlins are better known for their garish ballpark than anything, while many South Floridians are unaware of the very existence of the Panthers.note College football is also very popular in the area, with the University of Miami's Hurricanes being one of the state's three major historic powerhouses (along with the aforementioned University of Florida and Florida State University).
South Florida is an exceptionally multicultural area. Many descendants of Cuban exiles live in the region, forming the core of a large Hispanic community, and the region also has a growing Haitian and East Indian population. There has been some friction between the Hispanic and Haitian groups, especially since the latter is growing following the massive Haitian earthquake. The area also had the third-largest Jewish population in the world, coming right after the Big Applesauce and Israel. Not all of them are Alter Kockers, but some are - especially around South Beach and Boca Raton.
- Miami: The largest city in this region. Often called the financial capital of Latin America, serving as a gateway to the US for the Caribbean and South America due to both its geographical position and the aforementioned Latin American (primarily Cuban, though increasingly Puerto Rican) community. As such, knowing Spanish is practically mandatory in many neighborhoods, both working-class and wealthy alike, and many of the signs are written in both English and Spanish. Sometimes by law. The exception is Little Haiti, where it's Haitian Creole (derived from French, but not mutually intelligible with it) that's the mandatory second language.
- Miami Beach: Actually a separate city from Miami; whether or not you know this is a fairly good litmus test of how long you've lived in South Florida. It is the center of Florida's Arab, Jewish, and LGBT communities, while the Art Deco Historic District on South Beach, the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world, has become a symbol of the region as a whole.
- Fort Lauderdale: The second major city in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale is a resort city north of Miami in Broward County. It used to be known as America's spring break capital, a tradition that started in the 1940s thanks to various swim teams from East Coast colleges coming to town for spring training before the rise of indoor swimming pools; the 1960 teen flick Where the Boys Are all but cemented its position as the place where co-eds came to party. By the '80s, though, the locals were no longer amused by Wacky Fratboy Hijinx, especially after people started dying, with the mayor going on Good Morning America in 1985 to tell everyone that spring breakers were no longer welcome in the city (leading to the rise of Daytona Beach as the new spring break town). Fort Lauderdale went through a painful transition period in the late '80s and early '90s to wean itself off of spring break money, but since then, it's regained its stature as a major destination, this time for families and boaters. With the gentrification of Miami Beach, it's also started to grow into a second gayborhood for South Florida as LGBT people seek cheaper housing, especially around the suburbs of Wilton Manors and Oakland Park.
- The Keys: An archipelago of islands off the coast of South Florida, with the two most famous being Key Largo (the closest to the mainland) and Key West (the farthest and westernmost island). Technically part of Florida, but really, the Keys are the northern edge of the Caribbean and Old Florida does not acknowledge the Keys as part of the state proper. The government does, though, and it's a good thing - the Keys are one of the big summer tourist destinations in the United States despite their tendency to get obliterated by hurricanes every couple of years. This is not an exaggeration: most of the Keys are for the most part sandbars with delusions of grandeur and can be wiped off the map by a hurricane, as what happened with an especially powerful hurricane in 1935.note
- The Federal Government has often disregarded the Keys. In 1982, they tried to install a drug checkpoint on US 1, the only road out, leading Key West's mayor to "declare independence", calling the Keys the "Conch Republic". The Keys have used the "Conch Republic" whenever they felt slighted by the Federal Government, even "winning a war" in 1995 when an Army Reserve exercise tried to use the Keys to simulate an invasion, directing personnel to treat locals as foreigners.
- Aside from some points like Marathon and Key West, US 1 is pretty much the only road in the Keys. When getting directions in the Keys, expect it to be in reference to the Mile Marker.
And despite what you may have heard, Florida really isn't all that weird, so don't be afraid to visit. Just make sure you actually leave once you've spent your money, y'hear?
Not to be confused with the hip-hop artist Flo Rida ("Low", "Club Can't Handle Me"), although the state's name is the origin of his stage name. (He's from Miami, BTW.)
Tropes commonly associated with Florida in media:
- American Accents: The Southern option appears at the northern edge of the state and in interior pockets, while anything can be heard on the coast. Sadly, the actual Floridian accent is almost extinct.
- Arcadia: Northern and central Florida can be like this, away from the coast.
- There is a city called Arcadia, in Desoto County, in inland southern Florida.
- Big Fancy House: Usually of the retirement and summer home varieties, but there are a few old Southern plantation houses, too. Ernest Hemingway's former home in Key West (now a museum) is a particularly famous example.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Florida has the Skunk Ape or Swamp Ape. To be fair, you'd smell pretty bad too if you were a giant, fur-covered primate in a humid subtropical state.
- Bubblegloop Swamp: The Everglades are a real-life version.
- City of Adventure: Miami.
- Cut-and-Paste Suburb: Large swathes of the Florida sprawl thanks to the real estate booms.
- Death Metal: It's debatable whether the Tampa Bay area truly is the birthplace of the genre, but it has one of the best claims to it; while Mantas (later Death) was the first, the region also spawned Morbid Angel (Tampa), Obituary (Seffner), Deicide (Tampa), Atheist (Sarasota), Hate Eternal (St. Petersburg), Nocturnus (Tampa), and Resurrection (Tampa), while Fort Lauderdale spawned Monstrosity and Hellwitch and Miami spawned Cynic and Solstice. Additionally, Cannibal Corpse and Malevolent Creation relocated from Buffalo, NY to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, respectively, while Angelcorpse made the same shift from Kansas City, MO. Lastly, Tampa is also home to Morrisound Studios, which was the death metal studio from the late 80s-mid 90s.
- Deep South: Parts of Florida still adhere to it, specifically the Panhandle and North Florida.
- Embarrassing Nickname: The Gulf Coast/Emerald Coast, aka "The Redneck Riviera". They're still some of America's most beautiful beaches and waters.
- Fandom Rivalry: Beware putting a Florida State and a University of Florida fan in the same room. (God help you if the rivalry happens in the same family.)
- It's also pretty bad between Florida State and "The U" of Miami, due to being in the same athletic conference (the Atlantic Coast Conference) and due to the 1990s when FSU, UF and UM vied for the national title on a yearly basis.
- There is somewhat less animosity between the UF and Miami fanbases since the two schools discontinued their annual rivalry game in the late '80s. On the rare occasion when the teams do face each other however, expect a ton of bragging and trash talking from both sides.
- Though in recent years, UCF has been exploding in popularity, and has been fighting to build its clout in athletics. USF also had some upstart potential, especially in the late 2000s, but has fallen off since then.
- Jacksonville has its own lower-profile version, with small private school Jacksonville and mid-sized public school North Florida both being members of the ASUN Conference. Neither school sponsors football, though Jacksonville did have a team through the 2019 season. The city's real fandom rivalry is when Florida and Georgia play their annual game, popularly known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", in the Jaguars' stadium, with ticket sales split right down the middle.
- Oddly enough, there's not much of a rivalry between the professional teams, although passions do run high between Orlando Magic and Miami Heat fans. A lot of it has to do with most of the pro teams playing in different conferences or divisions with little at stake: there had been only one playoff game between Jacksonville Jaguars the and Miami Dolphins, for example. Most pro team rivalries (Dolphins vs. AFC East, Bucs vs. NFC South in football; Marlins vs. Braves, Rays vs. Yankees and Red Sox in baseball) are with out-of-state opponents. The Lightning and Panthers do share a division, but have not met in the playoffs until 2021, though their rivalry has been picking up steam in recent years with the Panthers becoming more competitive. As for MLS, Orlando City and Inter Miami haven't had much time to establish a rivalry, with Inter only having started play in 2020, though the two teams have created a rivalry trophy, the Everglades Cup.
- There is a rivalry sports-wise between Tampa and Orlando between their Arena Football teams - Storm vs. Predators - promoted as "The War on I-4". It's the biggest rivalry that Arena Football had.note
- The I-4 rivalry extends to Tampa Bay and Orlando fighting a war of community pride over which metro is the second-best behind the South Florida region. Orlando tends to pride itself over the parks and large-scale tech industries, while Tampa Bay promotes their Gulf Coast beaches and (slightly more successful) sports teams.
- The "War On I-4" is the official name of the rivalry between the University of South Florida (USF) and Central Florida (UCF) athletic programs. They became conference rivals when UCF joined the American Athletic Conference, already home to USF, in 2013. In 2016, the schools had two rivalry trophies created. The football trophy is an Interstate sign with the schools on opposite sides. The all-sports rivalry trophy, which is noticeably larger and also single-sided, is based off an Interstate sign and bears the official rivalry logo. However, with UCF now set to move to the Big 12 Conference in July 2023, the rivalry will no longer be an annual affair in several sports.
- Immigrant Patriotism: Many folks living in Miami either are or are family of Cuban immigrants who fled the communists. Head down there during 4th of July and you'll often see some of the most vibrant and enthusiastic celebrations in the nation.
- It's Always Spring: Either spring or summer. A common joke is that winter is the one time of year when not only is there nobody who's ashamed to say that they're from Florida, but in fact, they can't seem to stop bragging about it — much to the envy◊ of people in the rest of the country. The other 49 states get their revenge during hurricane season — and even during the winter, they laugh whenever Floridians complain about temperatures falling below 60 degrees.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Plenty. Some are benign, like the budgerigar (parakeet) statewide, the wild monkeys in Central Florida (who are the descendants of monkeys that escaped back when Johnny Weissmuller was making Tarzan movies here) and peacock populations in several coastal areas. Others are less so, like the pythons in the Everglades. Oh, did we neglect to mention the giant pythons? Because this is a state where alligators are natural fauna and the pythons are routinely getting into brawls with them. On a less human caused example, lots of marine life passes through Florida's waterways; sometimes from very far away. Arctic seals have been spotted in brackish water rivers numerous times.
- Motor Mouth: Pretty much anyone you'll encounter in Miami.
- Native American Casino: Seven of them as of 2022, all operated by one of the state's two federally recognized Seminole tribes.note
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Florida is the only one of the United States that has two species of crocodilians, the American Alligator and the American Crocodile. The American Crocodile is rarer, being less tolerant of temperate weather and largely restricted to the southernmost third of the peninsula. The American Alligator however is everywhere with a lot of water, which in Florida tends to be just about everywhere. There is an old saying in some parts to always be suspicious of large bodies of water on logic of, "Has water, got gator". Orlando even has an entire park dedicated to alligators, called Gatorland, which has been around since 1949.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Florida has some, mainly in the Keys.
- Only in Florida: Of course.
- Only in Miami: Likewise.
- Port Town: Lots. Tampa and Miami are the biggest. Jacksonville is home to a major Naval station Mayport.
- Not-So-Safe Harbor: See both cities mentioned above?
- Professional Wrestling: One of the top companies in the US, All Elite Wrestling, is headquartered in Jacksonville and owned by Tony Khan, whose father Shahid owns the Jacksonville Jaguars (as well as Fulham, which has yo-yoed between the English Premier League and the EFL Championship in recent years). The other two top companies in the US have their corporate headquarters elsewhere (WWE in Stamford, Connecticut and Impact Wrestling in Nashville, Tennessee), but have strong ties to the state. Back when it was known as TNA, Impact held all of its weekly shows at the "Impact Zone", a soundstage at Universal Studios in Orlando before taking the show on the road. WWE's developmental program, NXT, recently opened a new performance center in Orlando, after having it previously under the title of Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa (this is especially interesting as the two companies categorically do NOT get along.) Also, because of this (and also Florida's lack of a state income tax), a large number of wrestlers: current, former, and upcoming, now call Florida home (though, for the sake of variety, most are billed from their childhood home, such as current Tampa native John Cena still being billed from his childhood home in West Newbury, Massachusetts.)
- From the 1950s to 1987, there was a major National Wrestling Alliance territory in Florida. The list of people who wrestled and/or managed here is too long to include here. Hulk Hogan, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Simmons, Kevin Sullivan and Terry Funk are just the BEGINNING.
- The Malenko family (Boris, Joe and Dean) broke away from Championship Wrestling from Florida to form their own outlaw (runs in the same geographical area as an established promotion in competition) promotion, Sun Belt Wrestling, which did not last very long.
- Pensacola had Gulf Coast Wrestling, which crossed over into the Alabama area.
- The Promised Land: A couple of religious sects have thought so. One believed that the world we live on is actually the inside surface of a sphere. Another thought the Garden of Eden was in Bristol.
- Quirky Town: With a population this diverse, the entire state can feel like this.
- Suburbia: All three versions exist in Florida. Sometimes on the same street.
- Swamps Are Evil: They're not, but you're forgiven for thinking that they are. Although we do have to wonder about the Everglades these days...
- Trailer Park Tornado Magnet: Oh, yes. They also tend to be in flood zones.
- Weirdness Magnet: Duh.