Things I Love About Florida

Despite the fact that snakes are rising up against me, there are things about Florida that I love that I had completely forgotten about while I lived in Connecticut.  In an effort to block the snake incident from my brain and to keep myself from hiking up my tail feathers and running back to Connecticut, I’ve been trying to remember things I’ve missed about life here.  Things like…

1.  Chick-fil-a – Without a doubt, hands-down, Chris’ favorite fast food place.  How we lived for five years without those golden nuggets of perfection, I will never know.  We used to binge on Chick-fil-a in the Atlanta airport when we were flying through on our way home for holidays.  And, one time, when my parents flew up, they brought us an entire bag full of Chick-fil-a chicken sandwiches from the airport.  Best. Gift. Ever.  And now, there it is!  Right up the street!  No flight necessary!

2.  Cold Brew Iced Tea – I looked everywhere for these up north and only found them once in my local grocery store.  I hoarded that box of tea bag for MONTHS, so afraid I would run out and never be able to cold brew my iced tea again!  I guess not a lot of people drink iced tea up there.  But in Florida, you can get cold brew tea bags.  You just throw them in the pitcher with cold water and 10 minutes later – voila! – iced tea!

3.  Basis Facial Soap – I used this all through college, but when we moved to Connecticut, I couldn’t find it anywhere!  I’ve had to order it from Amazon for the past couple years and ask for it for Christmas in my stocking!  The horror!  Now, it is happily on the shelf at the drug store again.  It smells so divine.  So fresh and clean.  I just love it.  Nothing better than taking a hot shower after a long day at the beach, washing your face with this clean smelling stuff, and then getting in cool sheets.  Reminds me of summer.  Right there on my face.

4.  Good Mexican food – I am a Mexican food connoisseur.  Seriously.  Underneath this pale, freckled skin and red hair is a tiny little Mexican.  I LOVE Mexican food!  In Connecticut, they had Mexican restaurants, but they were more expensive and more gourmet than in the south.  In Florida, you get good, cheap, authentic Mexican food.  Nothing dressed up or fancy.  Just some good queso, enormous burritos with more queso, and homemade tortillas.  To dip in queso.

5.  Waffle House – Growing up, Waffle House was a staple in my hometown.  It was where you went for breakfast.  Where you went when you woke up late on Saturdays and needed a good lunch.  Where you went at 4:00 in the morning after you’d been out with your friends.  It was awesome all times of the day.  Smothered, covered, and chunked hashbrowns.  Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.  Waffles with melted butter.  And all the chocolate milk you could drink.  The diners in Connecticut were pretty fantastic, but nothing compares to the food at Waffle House when you just need a greasy meal on your stomach.

6.  Thunderstorms – Florida is the thunderstorm capital of the world.  Okay.  I don’t actually know if that’s a true statement, but it certainly feels true.  Thunderstorms here are massive and loud and downright scary at times.  I think its because the land is so flat and the air is so hot.  You can see the lightning for miles.  Oh, how I love it.  Not such a fan of driving in the storms, but a good afternoon thunderstorm and a nap on the couch are just about the most homey, comforting sounds in the world.  Connecticut had its fair share of rain, but hardly ever any lightning or thunder.  I didn’t really think much about it, but being back in Florida I realize how much I missed that.

7.  City Walk and Downtown Disney – When Chris was in college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and I would visit him every couple weeks, I would beg him to take me to City Walk at Universal Studios or Downtown Disney at Disney World.  We never had enough money to get into the parks and we usually didn’t want to fight the crowds either, but outside each park is an area with shopping and restaurants.  I loved going down there and just walking around at night.  Occasionally, Chris would surprise me with dinner somewhere like Margaritaville on the boardwalk in City Walk, but most of the time we wouldn’t even eat there (too expensive for our college budgets).  We’d just walk around and spend time together.  I love both those places.

8.  Biscuits and sausage gravy – Do I really have to explain or justify this one?  I mean, really.  Biscuits.  With gravy.  Made of sausage.  Come on.

9.  1,000 country music stations on the radio – In Connecticut, I got one country station on my car radio.  One.  And only in certain spots.  When the weather was perfect.  And the wind blew just right.  One country station.  Here in Florida, every other station is country.  And I loves me some country music.

10.  Papa John’s Pizza – This one is a little tricky.  New Haven, CT is known for its pizza.  There is this area of town in New Haven called Wooster Square and rumor has it that when Rudy Guiliani ran the mafia out of New York, a few of the Sicilian families migrated up to New Haven and settled in Wooster.  This area of town is like Little Italy.  It has great pizza.  Legendary pizza.  Infamous pizza.  I love this pizza.  Thin crusted and full of toppings.  Delicious.  BUT, sometimes, a girl just needs some good ol’ Papa John’s Pizza!  And there wasn’t one in the area we lived, so when we got to Orlando and discovered a plethora of Papa John’s Pizza with their special garlic sauce by the gallon?  Well.  I almost cried.

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76 Thoughts to “Things I Love About Florida”

  1. I love the fact that 7 of the comments were about drinks or food– you are so funny Katie!!

    1. Beanie's Nana

      That’s soooo Kate. When we moved to Florida’s Emerald Coast from Atlanta, we couldn’t believe the white sugar sand beaches and crystal aqua green water. But what did Kate write about to her friends in GA, “This place is great. We have a 7-11 right up the street and I can ride my bike there everyday and buy whatever I want.”

  2. Lisa

    I used to live 30 minutes from the nearest Chick-fil-A and would drive there once a week. Now there’s one just a mile away and I can have those wonderful nuggets anytime I choose, so I know exactly how you feel! P.S. If you come and stay at Ree’s in Oklahoma you’ll experience some REAL thunderstorms! (but hopefully not the tornados!)

  3. You should have moved to Michigan! 🙂 We have Papa John’s everywhere!!

    1. Looking€ oHeaven

      No Chick Fil A in Michigan tho. I miss the beach but if I ever go back I will have to buy a Chick Fil A franchise to take with me;-)

      1. They’re coming, slowly! There are three in South Bend, so Michigan can’t be far off.

  4. I’m a Texan transplanted to prime Yankee territory – Minnesota – and I miss most of the things you mentioned here. Especially the awful, awful dishes that pass for Mexican food. Good gravy.

  5. The Waffle House hashbrowns are the best! I have many fond memories of Spring Break in FL frequenting the WH after a late night. My favorite were capped and smothered. Ah, I can almost taste them!

    http://highheelhijinks.blogspot.com

  6. Awww, welcome back to the South!! 🙂 I lived in NYC for a couple yrs before coming back to my home state of NC- I feel your happiness :)) Love me some Chick-Fil-A and gravy biscuits are somewhere in my top 5 fave foods of ALL TIME. :))

  7. You love food as much as me.. love it!

  8. Amy

    Oh, Katie. Welcome back to the Homeland! Chick-fil-a, Waffle House, and Biscuits & Gravy are amazing things indeed. You know what else is awesome? ROTEL!

    My roommate is from Michigan and claims that Chipotle is real Mexican food. It saddens me greatly.

    So glad wonderful things of the South have surrounded you again!

    http://threepeasinakitchen.blogspot.com

  9. I am 1000% with you on 1, 4 and 5. Not a typo. I would agree with 2, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you do not brew your tea with the appropriate amount of sugar. Do you? If so, I will repeal my accusation 🙂

    1. Katie

      I drink unsweet iced tea – much to the horror of all my southern relatives…

      1. Beanie's Nana

        OMG, Kitten. You could have kept this “in the family”. I can say you weren’t raised on sugarless tea. Every bottle of tea you ever drank was southern sweet tea.

  10. Loooooveee me some thunderstorms!

  11. I LOVE Chik Fil A. Like borderline obsessive LOVE Chik Fil A. Unfortunately, since moving west, there is not one within 30 miles of me! It’s absurd – and unlike in North Carolina, 30 miles in LA could take HOURS. I’ve heard rumors of one finally opening within a reasonable distance of me, but I can’t figure out where it will actually be! Hopefully Chik-fil-a and it’s chicken, waffle fry, and sweet tea goodness will show up soon.

    http://jaclynclaire.wordpress.com

  12. Ashley

    All of these things make my heart smile 🙂 Maybe now since your closer to my town of Dothan, Alabama I will get to meet you one day!! YAY 🙂

  13. Chick-fil-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    I weep at my loss.

    Someday, Chick-fil-A, I will have you in my life again. Don’t forget me, lover. XO XO.

  14. Anne Cooper

    I am with you on almost all of those! As a South Carolinian currently roughing it out in New York, I definitely feel your pain (at least the pain you used to feel!)!

  15. I can’t imagine life without Chick-Fil-A! It’s where I met the love of my life (my husband)! MMMM…and Wa-Ho…brings back memories of college days! I like your list.

  16. Kim

    Katie! You forgot the glory that is Publix subs and their deliciously addicting chocolate chip cookies. Mmm… how I love thee.

    1. Katie

      Pub Subs! I totally forgot those! MMmmm….

    2. YES…Publix chocolate chip cookies are amazing!!!

  17. I love (almost) all of these things, too!! I’m so glad you are finding ways to enjoy being home again! 🙂
    I do not even want to know how much money I spend a month at Chick-Fil-A…very bad.

  18. I LOVE Papa Johns pizza with that garlic butter! YUM! I got hooked on the stuff while in college, and now there isn’t one close enough to deliver. We only get it now when we’re in that town and needing some pizza!

  19. Mom of 3

    Have you tried Paco’s Mexican restaurant on Fairbanks? The deluxe burrito is excellent! Tijuana Flats is also a very popular family spot (although not exactly “real” Mexican, it is very tasty). If you’re looking for BBQ, the new 4Rivers is amazing (it’s right down the street from Paco’s). Now I’m hungry! 🙂

  20. Casey

    I’m texan too, love tea but mine has to be sweet, love mexican food, loves the storms (when I’m home) not so close to chick-fil-a but when we go to the big city that’s where we grab our pre-shopping snack! I might be about to do the opposite of you and bitterly support my hubby and move all the way to PA where we know 0 people. I read your post and it maked me so sad to think I might be taking my kids away frpm the family they love so much.

  21. Debbie

    We have a lot of the same things here in KS, except for the whole Disney/ Universal Studios thing. I am suffering Disney withdrawls… it has been over 5 years since my last visit… ohh the horrors!

    Chic-fil-a is known as “chicken slide” in my house… My son loves it there and he eats all his nuggets and fruit before he slides and then goes up in the tunnels and refuses to come down 🙂

    The thunderstorms here can be a but ridiculous and with the threat of tornados it makes me a little more nervous, okay a lot.

    I am very glad that you are finding all the comforts of home so quickly!

  22. Chick-fil-A is the best! The lemonade is soooo good. I have a coupon for a free sandwich that I am going to use tomorrow and I’m seriously looking forward to it. I may need to get out more.

    http://www.nevercookonasaturdaynight.blogspot.com/

  23. Great list. We lived in Savannah for a little while, and while we had most of the things on that list, I really really missed the Mexican food. And Publix. There was Publix up there, but really far from our house. Sometimes I drove 30 minutes and past 4 grocery stores just to get to a Publix. Love me some Publix sweet tea 🙂

  24. Oh, you are speaking my language! I am daily worried about losing Chick fil a when I move to NYC. I even put CFA and Waffle House on my wedding website as places to try for the New Yorkers coming down.

  25. Okay, you SERIOUSLY make me miss home!! I grew up in Florida and I LONG for those thunder and lightning storms. They are the best!!

  26. Andie

    This post made me insanely hungry!!
    And want to go to Disney World!

  27. My brother-in-law served a mission in Florida. And fell in love with Papa John’s Pizza. In fact, it was served at the luncheon when he married my sister. 🙂

  28. Seriously, I don’t know how people live without Papa John’s, cold brew tea, Chic-fil-a, and sausage and biscuits! Seriously! And, no country music up north? I’m never moving.

  29. Yum. Love Chick-Fil-a — I seriously don’t know how you lived without it for so long! I just don’t know about that cold-brew stuff though- you need hot water to get all that sugar to dissolve properly!

    1. Beanie's Nana

      She was raised better than this. We’ll have her back on sweet tea STEEPED in hot water in no time at all. Part of the de-tox program. K’s Mom

  30. Lisa

    Cold brew tea?? How cool is that!? I know that is something that I will never be able to find where I live, sad to know it exists and can’t have it!

  31. Man, now I’m starving! Thankfully Virginia has Chick-Fil-A and Papa Johns, so my hunger won’t go unfulfilled. Sadly, I will probably have to wait until lunchtime!

  32. I live in North Carolina and I would miss quote a few items on your list if I moved away. When my family lived in Kentucky we really missed sweet tea in restaurants, and when we moved to a little town in Arizona we missed Krispy Kreme and Chic Fil A.

  33. Alison

    I’m a Georgia girl and all the things you named are things that I would miss terribly. We went to Hawaii for a week a few years ago, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the Atlanta airport and find Chick-fil-A for sweet iced tea! You just cannot get that anywhere outside the South.

  34. Melissa

    I think it goes without saying that the food items you mentioned are staples, but few people really understand the importance of daily thunderstorms. The 15 mins before a thunderstorm rolls in, the temperature is perfect, it’s dry, and the clouds provide a nice shade. PERFECTION!

  35. I moved from Minnesota to Washington state, and thunderstorms are one of the things I miss the most! That and the beautiful lakes 🙂 But Papa John’s is big in both states, so I’m covered there!

  36. When my boyfriend and I vacationed in Florida last June, we had Chick-fil-A for the first time, and I swear to all things holy, it was heaven in our mouths! We also kept calling it Chick-fill-ah (we’re Canadian, so you have to cut us some slack!) We ate there three times during our one-week stay, twice in the airport and once during the week after a shopping trip.

    I really wish that Chick-fil-A would open a few restaurants in Ontario, because it would blow all the other fast food chains out of the water.

    Also, going to the States and ordering an iced tea is not the same as ordering one in Canada. Your iced tea is just cold tea, but your sweet tea is our iced tea. Just a tip for if you ever take a trip to visit your neighbours to the North! 🙂

  37. I work for a university that has a chic-fil-a on campus. And now I’m wondering if anyone will notice if I sneak out of my office at 9 a.m. and over to chic-fil-a.

    http://www.maggiemphoto.wordpress.com

  38. You want to know what is AWESOME at Chick-fil-A? Go for a breakfast there of Chicken Minis. Seriously. It will change your life.

    1. Katie

      I LOVE THOSE!! What time is it now? 10:20 AM? I think they’re still serving them… Gotta go.

  39. I LOVE Papa John’s! We have them here in Minnesota, but there isn’t one real close to us. You have to plan ahead slightly to get it. But oh man! I LOVE the garlic sauce. And the cheese sauce. Oh man…I might need this for dinner.

    When we went on a vacation in Florida, there was one really close to our beach house. So we ended up getting it TWICE! Yes twice, and we were only there a few days! Yum!

  40. Christine

    Happy to hear you are settling well into your new (old) home state! I am not too far from you, so I understand your love for the items on this list. I moved to Gainesville to attend UF in 2002, and decided to stay and work full-time after graduation! Let me know if you, Chris, and Bean ever make it up for a Gator game 🙂

  41. I’m a Florida girl who has been displaced to North Carolina (I also had a 6 year stint in Illinois). You just made me miss it. And made my family’s pleas to move back seem way more appealing. Thunderstorms. Miss them too.

  42. 1. I love that most of your comments were focused on eating and drinking. I know it has been said before, but seriously, AWESOME!

    2. I LOVE all of your choices! I am originally from GA, so we were all about the Waffle Houses, too! I miss that!

    3. Glad that y’all are settling in and finding so many things to be happy about your new digs!

  43. kate

    Ha! So funny! I live in Atlanta (and have always lived in Georgia) so I never even thought about not having Chick-Fil-A or Waffle House or thunderstorms! I NEED these very important things in my life! I’m glad you get to have them back. 🙂

  44. Deana

    We go to Downtown disney just about once a month. My husband loves Earl of Sandwich but my favorite spot is Ghiradelli! They give out free pieces of chocolate in their shop so be sure to stop in. Last month it was peanut butter filled! If it is busy you can get away with walking through twice!!!

  45. Glad you’re rediscovering your “old loves” once again. Going home had more meanings than just a location, doesn’t it? It means foods, smells, and memories too!

  46. How you lived without cheap mexican food, I will never know.

  47. Lawd have mercy! I totally understand where you’re coming from.
    When we moved to California from Texas, I missed Dr. Pepper (why non-Texans think that *root beer* is a substitute for Dr. Pepper, I’ll never know), Whataburger, Chick-fil-A, Bluebell ice cream, any and all Tex-Mex, bluebonnets and people who smile.

    1. NIkki

      I remember trying to order Dr. Pepper up north and was so dissapointed. Thanks for reminding me to appreciate what we have here!

      1. For shizzle! I had the same problems in Chicago.
        And, for the record, Mr. Pibb is not even close to being the same thing as Dr. Pepper.
        Not. Even. Close.

  48. Where on earth have you found good Mexican in Central Florida? I’ve YET to find any that ranks up there with what I got in Georgia when I was in college. Help! 🙂

  49. MistyK

    Welcome home. 🙂 I have all that in Virginia, but thanks for the reminder of all that i have to be thankful for.

  50. NIkki

    Seeing as how I am from Texas, I could never live without my Mexican food! My boyfriend is from Iowa, and he is still confused about the whole morning breakfast taco, and he still calls everything a burrito…We’ll have to keep eating out for practice : )

  51. Sarah C. H.

    I’m from right at the border of South and North Carolina but I’m in California for the foreseeable future. And everything on your list is something I miss about home. Especially the thunderstorms. 🙁

  52. kay

    i’m surprised you didn’t starve to death in connecticut. thank heavens you are out of that place where they wouldn’t feed you your favorites. guess you got back at them- by moving!

  53. Tressa

    I think I would die without country radio stations!!
    And LOVE me some thunderstorms! LOVE the rain, its sexy 😉

  54. I am so with you on Chick-Fil-A. I weep piteous crocodile tears since we don’t have it here in Michigan. Every time I go to TX to visit my parents, it is always the first stop on the way from the airport.

  55. EmilyC

    I think we are twins separated at birth because you have listed all of my favorite things on your list. Okay, maybe not twins but probably cousins because my tea has to be sweet! 🙂

  56. Ash

    Ahhh… Chik-Fil-A… I gave it up one year for Lent and then (stupid me) didn’t think about the fact that it would be SUNDAY when I finally got to eat it again. That 41st day was reaaaaalllly long. Next time I’m just buying a sandwich Saturday night so I can eat it at 12:01.

  57. Oh wow! I live in Southern Illinois right now but I love all those things! You have good taste!

    http://www.klmphotos.wordpress.com

  58. Ah, so many things your love about Florida. So many things I don’t love about Florida…may we agree to disagree!

    Check out this post I did on the non-baby-related blog about my love/hate relationship with the South: http://wifemomartistgeek.com/?p=59

  59. I had no idea you could buy cold brew ice tea! Now I’m going to have to look for it. 🙂

  60. Sarah C.

    Oh Katie! Not only did I not realize that Chick-Fil-A wasn’t available in the northwest, but I can’t believe you lived for 5 years without it! We call Chick-Fil-A chicken crack. As in, “Can we have crack sandwiches for dinner?” and “I could really go for some crack nuggets right now.”

  61. Brina

    I’m not a fan of Downtown Disney (somehow seems more “touristy” and crowded than City Walk), but have you tried Disney’s Boardwalk? It’s supposed to feel like Coney Island and they have street performers on the weekends. Gonna try to make it out there for the first time this Sunday.
    http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/disneys-boardwalk/

    Only thing that I miss living in Orlando are Whataburgers. But yes, we have Waffle House and Dennys so I guess that makes up for it. 😀

  62. When we were stationed in Hattiesburg, MS they putin a Chik-fil-a right up the road from us, and I think we were the most excited – we have them all over East TX back home. Oh, and Whataburger – I was so thrilled when we got restationed to Fort Hood just to get one, and now here in FL we have one less thana mile away. (And a Sonic. This list could go on and on)

    Love Cold Brew 🙂 Have you tried the Red Diamond tea bags though? Oh wow… they’re amazing. I keep both brands in the house at all all times – CB for quick tea, and BD for other times. Love it.

    I can’t get enough country music in my life – my ipod is loaded down, and the few stations we get here are on constant play in the car.

  63. Robin

    Man, I wish I lived in Florida. Unfortunately I live in Miami. Which is DECIDEDLY NOT Florida.

    Love the ChickFilA and Waffle House but I don’t have one close. 🙁 I do have the beautiful weather though, so I can’t complain too much.

  64. My hubby and I were down in Orlando in Feb. We didn’t know about the City Walk. Would have loved to check it out. We did fight the crowds and go to Magic Kingdom (we were the only ones there withouth kids I think) and to Animal Kingdom.

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