This is a long list. Prepare yourself.
Things I’ll Miss About Living in Florida (in no particular order):
- Living close to the beach.
- The pelicans. I love watching them glide through the air and swoop down to snatch up their dinner. They’re such strange birds, and I absolutely love them.
- The flora and foliage! It’s like walking through a botanical garden every single day. So much Monstera, agave, bird of paradise, etc. I never get tired of seeing all of it. OH, and the crape myrtle trees. Anytime I see one, I think of my grandparents’ house and the way that these trees line their driveway. When they are in bloom, it’s like my grandmother is throwing a hot pink party, and it’s really special.
- The clouds. It’s normal for them to look exactly like the wallpaper in Toy Story. Huge, puffy, spread out across the sky. Completely different from Alabama skies.
- The summer rainstorms. It rains daily in the summer, and I like the consistency of that.
- The smell of the orange blossoms. It was my dream to live on an orange grove (a kind of unachievable dream), but that didn’t work out. But, our absolute favorite taco place is right beside one. We strolled through it the other evening and the smell was intoxicating. Even despite all of the ants, I could have stayed there for hours.
- The lizards. Lizards are everywhere! Big, small, black, rainbow, spotted, tail-less, leg-less, all sorts.
- Being so, so close to Disney World. We spend quite a bit of time at Disney’s parks, and we have the best time there. Even if it’s my last off day before a lengthy stretch of work, I never regret spending a day in Disney World.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge. I’ve stayed there twice in my life and it’s a world of its own. It’s kind of as if you’re on vacation while on vacation. You can look out your window at any time and see giraffes and zebras snacking in the sun. There are little fire pits scattered through the resort and out by the animals, and the smell of the wood burning is so comforting. Everyone is warm and friendly. Parks are just a bus ride away. The resort restaurant, BOMA, is INSANE. All sorts of foods, and it’s all amazing. The breakfast is phenomenal. Ok. I think you get the picture. It’s great. Go.
- Disney Springs. I’m not a big shopper. I don’t love to shop unless it’s for homey things, sweaters, or sun dresses. But, Disney Springs is so fun for me. Sprinkles, Anthropologie, Uniqlo, Savannah Bee Co., Kiehl’s, The Candy Cauldron and Goofy’s Candy Co. (you can get Disney sweets without having to go to the parks), Ghirardelli (I have a vivid memory of eating a huge chocolate ice-cream cone with my dad here when I was small), The World of Disney, Morimoto, etc..
- Oxford Exchange. I honestly can’t say enough about this place. If you were to just hear about it, you might scoff and think that it sounded terribly pretentious and sickeningly on-trend. But, when you walk in, you get it. It’s beautiful. Wifi costs $15 a day because they want you to stay off of your devices and actually have conversations. People talk here. There’s Warby Parker, Aesop, a precious book store, delicious coffee across from nice tea, a supposedly fantastic restaurant, a large array of coffee table books, homewares, cards, gifts, knickknacks, goodies for littles, etc. It’s just gorgeous. The tile, the floor, the light, the walls, the ceilings, the couches, the rugs, the everything. Their sea salt chocolate chip cookie is exquisite, as well as their cold brew. I had a heavenly affogato here last summer right before we moved here, and I’ve never been disappointed by anything that I’ve ordered. It’s perfection. All of it. The whole thing. I wish I could bundle the entire place up and give it to someone I love as a gift. It’s that good.
- St. Petersburg. If I were to ever want to live in Florida again, St. Petersburg is where I would want to live. Still close to beaches, still close to Disney, but there’s more of a sense of community in St. Pete than I ever noticed in Tampa. Oh, and the murals and my favorite Cuban restaurant are there.
- The palm trees. I love hearing their heavy leaves slap against each other in the wind. Palm trees have always felt special to me. To me, they meant “almost there” during every road trip to the beach. But now, as I’m older, I’m blown away by their strength and their height.
- The sunshine. Summers are HOT here. I think that I’ve forgotten just how hot it in is in the summer here, but I remember thinking that it was hotter than Alabama (which is the opposite of what everyone told me). Despite the heat, I love the sunshine and the good that it does for me.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Trey and I have so many magical memories here. I think he has lost count of how many times he has been, and I love seeing him turn into a kid every time we go. The frozen butter beer is our favorite, and we always get some sweets before we leave.
- Capital Tacos gets all the thumbs up and all of the gold stars. We come here biweekly, I think, and it’s our absolute favorite restaurant in or around Tampa. I always get the Peacemaker taco, and the Beef Fajita taco, both without sour cream. Trey always gets the Federale taco and the Cattawampus taco or Double Mesa taco all without pico de gallo or sour cream. If you’re ever near Tampa, go. These are not your authentic tacos, but these are party tacos and you’ll cherish the memory of them. P.S. They always have local, craft beers that are mega tasty.
- The friends I’ve made. I am so lucky to have been able to work with some special people who I can call “friends”.
- That Cuban restaurant I mentioned earlier, Bodega on Central. The Cuban is amazing, and I love their soda fresca.
- Buddy Brew Coffee This is what they serve at Oxford Exchange, but they have several different locations around Tampa and its very good. Their Hyde Park location is perfect for nesting in.
- Bandit Coffee Co. I think that this is my favorite coffee here. It’s in St. Petersburg so it’s not convenient, which is why I don’t go every single day of my life. The atmosphere is perfect, and the baristas are so friendly. They sell nifty gifties that I want to buy for myself, and I love everything about this place.
- Locale Market. It’s in St. Petersburg, but I love it here. Definitely going to stock up on all sorts of things before we move. The cheese monger is so friendly, and has helped me with cheese on multiple occasions.
- The Florida breeze. Everyone said that there is always a breeze, which is not true. BUT, when you do feel it, it’s nice, and it’s idyllic. It’s the kind of breeze that kicks up the hem of your sundress when you’re on a picnic in a flourishing meadow while deer graze nearby. It’s the kind of breeze that tangles the locks of little strawberry-blonde boys eating ice-cream cones with their grandfather. It’s the kind of breeze that sends the wildflowers into a swirly twirly dance. That kind of breeze.
- Being near to bodies of water. In Florence, I would go to McFarland Park anytime I wanted to be alone, and I find that sitting near rivers, lakes, ponds, oceans, etc., and watching boats go by just lifts my spirits and sets me straight. Tampa is on a bay, and it’s easy to find a pier to sit next to.
- Cassis, a little French cafe. Perfect for brunch. French music in the background. Street side tables near a pier. There is also a little bakery that’s lovely.
- Indie Flea Market, a market where local artists, bakers, makers, canners, non-profits, etc., can come together and sell their goods. I’ve found some treasures here, and it’s so much fun for everyone to come together.
I will also be making a list entitled: Things I Won’t Miss About Florida