We all know that there are “stereotypes” of what is like to visit and reside in different states in the U.S. . From Jersey Shore to Baywatch, from Fargo to Miami Vice, the media portrays different states, usually, in one light. Growing up in the Southeastern U.S., I always had a viewpoint of the Northeast that was clouded by what I saw on television and the movies. All New Yorkers are rude, New Jersey is just a state filled with polluting factories, Maine is always cold. As a traveling adult, I was pleasantly surprised that none of these are true. I have met some of the nicest people in New York, New Jersey is actually very beautiful and you can’t beat the weather of a Maine Summer. So, what about Florida? There are some widely thought misconceptions about this wonderful state that I find a large number of people still believe.
1. Florida is all “seniors” or “old people”.
While there are some areas of Florida where the senior crowd congregates, the majority of Florida is made up of working families just like any other state. Just look at the school districts, as an example. Florida has five of the top ten most populated school districts in the U.S.. Plus, a number of others in the top twenty. This is hardly a sign that Florida is only a place where people go when they retire. In any Florida city or town, families with children are a large part of the Florida landscape and economy.
2. Orlando is just a city full of Disney tourists.
You might have to sit down for this one. Disney World is actually in Kissimmee, Florida, and not Orlando. While many resorts that shuttle to Disney are located in the city of Orlando, Walt Disney World, itself, is in Kissimmee, FL. There are many parts of Orlando, FL where you hardly ever see, or even think of, the Disney tourist crowd. You can literally live in Orlando and forget that Disney even exists.
3. Take away the beaches and theme parks and there is nothing left in Florida.
Florida beaches are some of the most gorgeous beaches in the nation, and possibly, the world. The clear blue water in Clearwater/St. Pete area, the white sandy beaches of Destin and the rolling waves Cocoa Beach, make this the top attraction for visiting Florida. Strip that away and what is left? Florida has over 700 springs you can visit, swim in, see manatees, and go tubing. There are many large Universities where students from all over the world attend, Florida State University in Tallahassee, University of Florida in Gainesville, and University of Central Florida in Orlando are some of the most well know. Of course, you can’t leave out University of Miami in our illustrious list of Universities. I could also write about all of the great state colleges as well.
4. There are no mountains in Florida.
While people from mountainous states might laugh at our mountain, we do have on beautiful mountain in Florida, Mt. Dora. The town of Mt. Dora has that quaint vibe of a New England town. Built around a lake, you can take boat rides, visit small, local shops and restaurants and go hiking.
5. It is ALWAYS hot in Florida.
Much to my chagrin, I moved to Florida searching for an endless summer. What I found was extreme temperatures. It is blazing hot for about seven months of the year. So hot that you sweat outside at midnight. So hot that opening your front door feels like opening an oven set on broil. Then you have one week of fall and then five months where the weather is so psychotic you want to see if mother nature will take a valium. People from the Northeast laugh at the definition of cold that Floridians have, but after living in above 90’s temps for seven months, anything below 65 will feel cold. Beyond that, we have bouts of cold fronts where the weather drops into the thirties and forties. No, we don’t get snowstorms, but we get cold snaps that will make you think twice about that fun day at the theme parks you were planning. I also saw ice on my windshield once.
Florida is a beautiful state with many attractions, beautiful beaches, amazing springs, one mountain, and great k-12 schools and Universities for kids to attend. Most areas in Florida are jam- packed with families doing all the regular things families do across the nation. When planning your travel, look for options outside of the “typical’ activities Florida is known for and you will find many! We hope to see you soon!