1. Florida

How Florida are you? How many of these essential Florida things have you done?

If you live in Florida, you’ve probably encountered an alligator. Or a lovebug. Or gotten caught in a rain shower that lasted, well, for 10 minutes.
Magic Kingdom photo: [ALLE GOULDING | Times]; Orange juice photo: Times (2000); Raining photo: Times (2013)
Published Jun. 14

Ever wondered how Florida you really are? We’re here to give you a better idea.

This week, a graphic asking “How Southern are you?” went viral on social media, allowing people to rate themselves based on how many Southern foods they had tried, like gumbo, chicken fried steak and butter beans.

So we decided to put together our own informal list of what it takes to be a Floridian. We didn’t stop at just food. You’ll find some friendly pests and weather phenomenons on here as well.

If you find yourself nodding your head and relating to most of the items on this list, rest assured, you’re definitely a Floridian.

1. You’ve lived through a Florida rainstorm and you know that things will blow over if you wait it out about...10 minutes.

Times (2008)

2. You can immediately identify a snowbird by their out-of-state license plates and inability to drive.


3. In the summer, you start sweating the second you leave your house. (Sometimes even before the summer.)


4. But once it hits a cool 70 degrees, you’ll bust out the parka.


5. You’ve (seriously) asked the question: “Have you ever seen snow?”


6. You’ve worn a Hawaiian shirt before—unironically.

Times (2007)

7. You’ve enjoyed some fresh-squeezed orange juice. You know citrus is an essential element of living in Florida.

Times (2017)

8. Key lime pie: We love it, but it’s not actually green. And we know the difference between a Key lime and a regular lime.

Times (2019)

9. You have a favorite spot to get a Cuban—and probably a second-favorite spot. And you have an opinion on the Tampa v. Miami Cuban sandwich war. (Hint: There is only one right opinion. It’s Tampa.)

Times (2018)

10. You know every good morning starts with café con leche and pastelitos.

A woman pours café con leche while pastelitos are pictured. OCTAVIO JONES | Times (2018) | (Zack Wittman, The New York Times)

11. The first time you find a giant, flying cockroach, you scream and just hope it will go away. But by the 50th time, you’re desensitized. You know living in Florida means cockroaches.

CHRIS URSO | Special to the Times (2016)

12. Your car has been covered by swarming lovebugs far too many times.

Insects, Love Bugs, 9/10/1980

13. You’ve spotted a manatee, or sea cow, in the water and immediately told all of your friends.


14. Waking up to an alligator in your home. Or really any interaction with an alligator.

Photo courtesy of Clearwater Police

15. You’ve anxiously shared hurricane memes on Facebook.

Photo from Reddit.

16. You’ve enjoyed a conch fritter or any type of fried seafood.


17. You’ve taken your cocktail by the water. What is Florida if not the country’s tiki bar?

Times (2015)

18. Publix is a way of life. We live for their subs and we love their free samples at the deli counter (though they’ve now discontinued that practice in some stores).

Jasmina Meyer, Highlands Today (2008)

19. You know Cuban bread has to be made with palm leaf strips.

Times (2012)

20. You probably have an annual pass to Disney World or Universal Studios. Maybe both?


21. You’ve waited in line at Disney to enjoy that delicious snack, the Dole Whip.


22. You probably have an orange or lemon tree in your backyard.

Times (2018)

23. You’ve tasted a Plant City strawberry.

Times (2018)

24. You’ve probably lost one friend or family member to this classic rivalry: University of Florida vs. Florida State University.

Special to the Tampa Bay Times

25. Ever had a seagull steal your lunch? Yeah, us, too.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2018)

26. Some rooms mystify you. A basement? What’s that?

MONICA HERNDON | Times (2018)

27. Other rooms don’t mystify you at all. We love a good Florida room.

Photo provided by Monica Brandies

So how many of these Florida things have you experienced?

Graphic by Allison Graves and Elizabeth Djinis, Tampa Bay Times.

Methodology: If you’re wondering how this list was compiled, we’re happy to tell you. We asked our newsroom. But we know there must be quintessential Florida items that we missed. Feel free to let us know.

Times staff writer Allison Graves contributed to this report.


  1. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  2. The view of downtown St. Petersburg from the balcony of 180 Beach Drive, unit 1602. Tony Sica
    It’s the second home on Mandalay Point to sell in two months.
  3. Maria Otilia Rivera faces up to 35 years in prison when she's sentenced Oct. 16. Hendry County Sheriff's Office
    An investigation that began in 2017 found that Rivera sold drugs to two girls, ages 12 and 14.
  4. Police investigators say they believe the man has a history of mental of illness. Photo from video/10News WTSP
    Firefighters initially tried to climb after him, but the man just climbed higher.
  5. Statements made online that threaten physical harm, whether seriously intended or not, can have devastating consequences. The “It’s No Joke” awareness campaign seeks to educate youth and parents that even threats made online. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice/Facebook
    The arrests came after other students told deputies they’d been told they were on a “safe” list.
  6. In this Wednesday morning Sept. 18, 2019 photo, Detention Cpl. Shaguanta Scott, left and Detention Deputy Darryl Keaton, right, escort Michael W. Jones Jr. back to the Marion County Sheriff's Office in Ocala, Fla. Jones, suspected of killing his wife and four children and driving their bodies into Georgia, was returned to Florida to face murder charges. (Doug Engle/Star-Banner via AP)
    Investigators found the decomposed bodies of the children in woods nearby.
  7. William Mendenhall, 43, is facing charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault against a pregnant woman. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    William Mendenhall, 43, faces charges of aggravated domestic battery and assault against a pregnant woman.
  8. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the proposed Canadian Snowbirds Act, visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  9. The State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville announced Wednesday that Donald Hugh Davidson Jr. had waived his right to a jury trial after pleading guilty. Photo from video/News4JAX
    Prosecutors said Davidson entered Roseann Welsh’s Middleburg home and strangled and stabbed her.
  10. Hurricane Dorian evacuees wait for family and friends to arrive after evacuating on the Grand Celebration cruise ship from Freeport, a city in the Grand Bahamas on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 in Riviera Beach. The cruise ship transported hundreds of evacuees seeking passage from Freeport after the damaged caused by Hurricane Dorian. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    The Bahamians who arrived Wednesday from Freeport say they will temporarily stay with relatives or friends before traveling back.