Accurately titled the Sunshine State, Florida residents get to brag that their state receives more sunny days than any other state in the Union. Almost completely surrounded by water, Florida is also known for its pristine beaches and popular theme parks, such as Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens, draw tourists from around the world to the most southern of the United States each year. But the warm sun, the sparkling beaches and the theme parks are not what we miss about living in Florida.
Every year, Major League Baseball teams from primarily the east coast are sent to Florida for Spring Training to play in the Grapefruit League, extending baseball season by a month for Florida residents.
Not only can we get close up to our favorite players on account of the much smaller stadiums in which they play, but we also get to check out new players before baseball season officially begins.
Mostly, however, it give us a chance to see our teams, the Orioles and Blue Jays, play without having to fly up to Baltimore or Toronto, respectively.
With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west as well as numerous lakes and rivers in between, there are many ways to enjoy salt, fresh and brackish water in Florida. Whether you go jet-skiing or scuba-diving in the ocean, canoe down the Hillsborough River full of alligators, sun-bathing turtles and fresh water birds or take a fan boat ride through the mangroves of the Everglades, Florida will not disappoint the adventurer in you.
We never thought much of Florida orange juice until we moved to the Sunshine State. Suddenly, everything citrus tasted amazing, most likely due to the short travel distance from grove to mouth.
Furthermore, citrus groves can be found all around the state and often you are able to go and pick your own produce. Who knew there were so many different varieties of citrus fruits!
The Proximity to the Caribbean
Being so close to the Caribbean makes taking an exotic trip very convenient as many non-stop flights leave daily to international destinations like Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Dominican. I took a trip to Puerto Rico last year and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to simply drive to the airport and within only a few hours was in a tropical paradise.
The Strawberry Festival
With music venues, rides and millions of strawberries, the Strawberry Festival in Plant City is a great way to have a good time while chomping down on one of your favorite fruits.
And of course, it’s the perfect place to buy strawberries directly from the farmers. We enjoy freezing them to bring out on a hot summer day – that is if they can avoid being eaten that long! Sometimes they don’t even make it past the ride home.
Manatees, Manatees, Manatees
And one of our favorite things to do in Florida is swim with the manatees in Homosassa Springs. Every year I have been able to, I have made my way to Crystal River early in the morning on my birthday to don a wetsuit, snorkel and fins to wake up with the rightfully-protected sea cows.
Coming back to the same place every winter to avoid the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean the manatees can be considered “snow birds”, like many of the people who enjoy swimming with them.