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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FLORIDA! Here are 172 things we love about you


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.

Top 10: 

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

8. President Trump’s pad: Mar-A-Lago

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.) 

 

Landscape 

11. Miami’s neon skyline 

12. Palm trees 

13. Seagrapes 

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 

 

Culture 

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” 

39. It’s almost always convertible weather

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.) 

 

Parks 

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 

60. LegoLand 

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.) 

 

Celebs 

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!

Landmarks/Geography 

75. St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest permanently occupied city. It was founded in 1565. 

76. Wynwood 

77. Key West’s Southernmost point buoy 

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 

82. Jupiter Light House 

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

 

Food 

91. Mangoes 

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? 

 

Travel 

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 

110. Inner tubing on the Itchnatuckee River 

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 

124. Driving along the seven-mile bridge to the Keys (Don’t let this flat state fool you. We’ve got some scenic drives for the books.)

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 

 

Animals 

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 

136. Osprey 

137. Flying, feeding bats at the University of Florida Bat House at sunset 

138. Gators 

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.) 

144. Lizards 

 

Sports 

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.) 

 

Music 

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 

165. Pitbull 

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)


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