Today, my Florida friends and family and transplants, is the day. The day Florida attained statehood. That means this lovely, long-haul of a state celebrates its 172nd birthday today. And we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to count the things — all 172 of them in no particular order — we love about Florida.
Sure, it wasn’t an easy task, but thank God for crowdsourcing. So please, keep your shoes on (you’re probably at work) but relax anyway and enjoy.
1. When it’s winter there, it’s summer here.
2. Publix (Has there ever been a greater creation than the Publix sub?)
3. Beaches. Endless beaches.
4. East coast sunrises, west sunsets
5. Weird Florida news, aka Florida Man and his many misadventures.
6. No need to spend money to visit friends and family because eventually they all come here.
7. Florida Resident rates for….EVERYTHING
9. Home to the Best Picture Oscar Winner: “Moonlight” (Suck it, “La La Land”!)
10. Three words: Walt Disney World. (Depending on who you ask, it's the happiest place on Earth or Hell on Earth.)
11. Miami’s neon skyline
12. Palm trees
14. Pink flamingos
15. We’re sponge-worthy! Tarpon Springs is a mini-Greece, complete with Sponge Docks.
16. The muck! The rich soil in Belle Glade, Pahokee and Clewiston produces more sugarcane than any other spot in the U.S.
17. Driving cars on Daytona Beach
18. Canoeing the Loxahatchee River, one of two of Florida’s nationally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers
19. Orange blossoms
20. Orange groves
21. The majesty of the Everglades
22. Giant hedges in Palm Beach
23. Sugar cane fields
24. The colors of Biscayne Bay
25. Walking or biking on the Palm Beach Lake Trail
26. Hanging chads and the butterfly ballot
27. Ultra, Okeechobee Music Fest, Sunfest (take your pick)
28. Snowbirds (We don’t always love them, but we need them.)
29. Wilton Manors in Fort Lauderdale, the gay mecca of Florida
30. Strolling on Hollywood Beach or shopping in downtown Hollywood
31. Plant City Strawberry Festival
32. Crowning the Cabbage Queen in LaBelle
33. Cruising out of Port Everglades
34. Half-girls, hammerheads and Lobster Boy. Gibsonton (near Tampa) is home to retired circus folks.
35. The psychic capital of the world: Cassadaga, Florida
36. Miami Vice
37. The Golden Girls (Thank you for being a friend.)
38. The best gangster movies: “Goodfellas,” “Scarface,” “Godfather II”
40. The Big Man and the little Monkee: The late Clarence Clemons and Davy Jones called South Florida home.
41. Hurricane anxiety (We may not love it, but we have to live with it.)
42. It’s a circus. The Big Top may be down, but John Ringling’s mansion and wire-walker Nik Wallenda still thrill in Sarasota.
43. Spring Break
44. Interstate 95 (and all the random things you see there: Christmas trees, mattresses)
45. Briny Breezes, and all the other oceanfront trailer parks
46. Fishing off the bridges
47. Que Pasa USA (The TV series that taught us to speak Bilinguish.)
48. John D. MacArthur State Park
49. Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring
50. Everglades National Park (The river of grass was established as a national park in 1947 and we're all thankful for it.)
51. Big Cypress National Preserve
52. Seminole and Miccosukee Indian reservations
53. Biscayne National Park
54. Dry Tortugas National Park
55. Ringling Museum, Sarasota
56. The Gardens at The Society of Four Arts in Palm Beach
57. Canaveral National Seashore
58. Britton Hill, Florida’s highest point, stands at a whopping 345-feet above sea level in Lakewood Park in DeFuniak Springs, FL.
59. Universal, but to be specific, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal
61. Butterfly World (There are 20,000 butterflies at Butterfly World. If that doesn't do it for you, nothing will.)
62. Lion Country Safari (Founded in 1967, this park has been roaring ever since.)
63. Andy Garcia
64. Burt Reynolds
65. The Williams sisters
66. Zora Neale Hurston — Shame on you if you haven’t read her classic 1093 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” yet.
67. Tim Tebow
68. Tiger Woods — His restaurant, The Woods in Jupiter, received double A’s for food and service by Post Food Critic Liz Balmaseda.
69. DJ EFN, the Miami DJ who put our hip-hop on the map and is half of one of the best podcasts online right now, Drink Champs with N.O.R.E. (if ya don’t know, ya better ask iTunes.)
70. We’ve always smelled what The Rock is cookin’.
71. Ace Ventura Pet Detective
72. Lily Pulitzer
73. Faye Dunaway, who read the wrong Oscar winner, is from Florida.
74. John Lennon and Yoko Ono used to live in Palm Beach.
DON’T FORGET IT. PIN IT!
75. St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest permanently occupied city. It was founded in 1565.
78. Henry Flagler’s home turned museum – Whitehall.
79. Worth Avenue (See how the other side lives, yacht shops and all.)
80. Don Garlits Museum of Drag racing in Ocala
81. Cape Canaveral’s NASA launch pads
83. Six-toed cats at Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West
84. Sunsets on Mallory Square, Key West
85. Grand Hotel: The Breakers in Palm Beach
86. The pool at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables
87. South Beach’s Art Deco district
88. Lincoln Road Mall , the funky Miami shopping district
89. Ybor City (If you can’t afford a flight to Cuba, take a road trip to Ybor City.)
90. Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers
92. Key lime pie (Is there ever such thing as too much Key lime pie? The obvious answer is no.)
93. Chocolate-covered Key lime pie on a stick
94. Oranges and grapefruit picked from your backyard trees
95. Fresh seafood
96. Stone crabs season (especially at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach)
97. Key limes
98. Cuban sandwiches (Forget the Tampa vs. Miami battle, they’re good with or without Genoa salami.)
99. Conch fritters
100. Columbia Restaurant, Ybor City (1905)
101. Florida orange juice: Sunshine in a bottle.
102. Cafe con leche
103. Maple Bacon Ale because what could be more heavenly than beer and bacon TOGETHER?
104. Winter White Houses. Palm Beach County has had two – JFK’s and Trump’s.
105. LAX? Miami? Newark? JFK? The ease of PBIA
106. New rest stops on Florida’s Turnpike
107. Diving at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo
108. Air boat rides
109. Swimming with dolphins
111. White sand beaches on the panhandle
112. Seashell hunting on Sanibel Island
113. “Live Mermaids!” Weeki Wachee Springs show turns 70 this year.
114. What makes a mojito taste even better? A salty, ocean breeze. And that’s why our waterfront dining is everything.
115. Little Havana in Miami
116. You haven’t enjoyed a bar until it’s been a dive bar in Florida.
117. Shopping in Winter Park
118. 50 years of Lion Country Safari (Try camping there and let the roar of the lions wake you up.)
119. Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth
120. Miami’s Vizcaya and Coral Castle
121. Drinking at the Elbo Room in Fort Lauderdale
122. The Fontainebleau Miami Beach has 20 oceanfront acres that are worth every penny.
123. A cold martini at the Tini Martina Bar at the Casablanca Inn in St. Augustine
125. Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is the only swimming pool to have the National Register of Historic Places designation.
126. Grand hotel: The pink Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach
127. Riverwalk in Fort Lauderdale
128. Juno Beach pier
129. Snorkeling and scuba diving and surfing (oh my!)
130. Artificial reefs
131. Haulover “Nude” Beach, between Sunny Isles and Bal Harbour
132. Gomek! No other state boasts a 17-feet-9-inch giant crocodile (now preserved forever at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm).
133. Riding horses on the beach on Amelia Island
134. Fire ants — ouch!
135. Great blue herons
137. Flying, feeding bats at the University of Florida Bat House at sunset
139. The alligator
140. The Florida panther
141. The Florida black bear
142. Manatees — Look but don’t touch!
143. Sea turtles (You’ll love watching those little babies return to the Atlantic by moonlight.)
145. Tailgating at Sun Life Stadium … in shorts, in December
146. Daytona Speedway
147. Polo in Wellington — If you’ve never been, trust us, you’re missing out on quite an experience, mimosas included.
148. Jai Alai — Don’t be basic. It’s pronounced “hi lie,” not “jai alay.”
149. The 1972 Dolphins – Tom Brady and the Patriots still haven’t topped that.
150. The Decision: When LeBron James joined the Heat. And the championship rings that eventually came with it.
151. Fishing on Lake Okeechobee
152. Spring training
153. Air conditioned baseball stadiums
154. Florida-Tennessee football game at the Swamp
155. Dog tracks and horse racing
156. Golf courses everywhere.
157. The 5th Street Gym on South Beach where Muhammad Ali trained — We’ll take any piece of this champion we can get.
158. Kimbo Slice, he was like a modern day John Henry but South Florida-style, ya know, replace the railroad tracks with empty swimming pools and the hammer with his fists.
159. Kelly Slater (A simple Google image search explains why.)
160. Criteria Studios, where all the great hit records were made
161. Miami’s Bee Gees
162. The Doors’ Jim Morrison was born here. In Melbourne
163. The Allman Brothers Band – formed in Jacksonville
164. Flo Rida
166. Jimmy Buffett
167. Lynyrd Skynyrd
168. Rod Stewart
169. Gloria Estefan
170. Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew
171. K.C. and the Sunshine Band
172. Will Smith’s “Miami”: Come on, you know you know this hook: Party in the city where the heat is on. / All night on the beach til the break of dawn / Welcome to Miami (bienvenido a Miami)