5 Things We Love About Florida

There are a lot of things to love about Florida, but here are five favorites of most all of the Floridians I know. Myself included.

5 Things We Love About Florida
Orlando vacation rentals

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10 Tips on Dealing with the Humidity in Florida

You know the saying, “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity”, well the humidity in Florida takes that saying to an entirely whole new level.

Living in Florida means dealing with high humidity levels year-round. There are only a few days out of the year that we aren’t in a humid climate: when we have a Nor’easter and after a hurricane.

The rest of the time, here are some of the tips on how we deal with humidity in Florida:

Humidity in Florida can be managed

1. Invest in a dehumidifier: A dehumidifier is a useful appliance that helps remove excess moisture from the air. Place it in areas prone to high humidity, such as bedrooms or living rooms. Running a dehumidifier can significantly reduce the muggy feeling and prevent mold and mildew growth.

2. Use air conditioning: Air conditioning not only cools the air but also helps to remove moisture. Set your AC to a comfortable temperature and ensure it is properly maintained to optimize its dehumidifying capabilities. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to regulate humidity levels more efficiently. K&N washable filters are very helpful in keeping the expenses down. I have two of these because I live in a very sandy, dusty area.

3. Proper ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial in humid climates. Use exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry areas to remove moisture at the source. Additionally, ensure your home has adequate airflow by keeping windows and doors open when weather permits, using fans, or installing ceiling fans to circulate air. Damprid is helpful in the bathroom and laundry room.

4. Avoid hanging wet clothes indoors: Hanging wet clothes indoors can contribute to increased humidity levels. Instead, utilize a clothes dryer or set up a designated drying area with good ventilation, preferably outdoors. We have more than enough sun to find a day to hang the clothes out on the line. Because we’re not an industrial state, our air is clean, which makes the sheets smell so good.

The Florida lifestyle may not be what you think it is. Read the myths here.

Prepare your home for the humidity in Florida

5. Seal windows and doors: Ensure windows and doors are properly sealed to prevent excess moisture from seeping into your home. Inspect and repair any gaps or cracks to keep the humid air out and maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

6. Use moisture-absorbing products: Place moisture-absorbing products like silica gel or desiccant packs in closets, cabinets, or other areas prone to moisture buildup. These products help absorb excess moisture and prevent musty odors and mold growth.

7. Keep surfaces clean and dry: Regularly clean and dry surfaces prone to moisture accumulation, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Wipe down countertops, sinks, and shower areas to prevent mold and mildew growth. Walls in the bathroom can be prone to mildew build up, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will clean it right up.

8. Avoid excessive water usage: Be mindful of excessive water usage, as it adds moisture to the air. Limit the length of showers, repair any leaks promptly, and avoid overwatering plants or using humidifiers unnecessarily.

9. Use natural ventilation methods: Take advantage of breezy days by opening windows and doors to let fresh air circulate through your home. Natural ventilation can help reduce humidity levels and provide a refreshing atmosphere.

10. Embrace moisture-resistant materials: Opt for moisture-resistant materials when furnishing your home, such as mold-resistant paint, moisture-resistant flooring, and water-resistant fabrics. These materials are designed to withstand high humidity and minimize potential damage.

Hurricane season is upon us. Can you read a hurricane map?

Hopefully, these tips will help you keep the humidity in Florida under control. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, dress for the climate, and keep your home comfortable.  Florida humidity can be managed, making living in Florida enjoyable.

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3 Myths About a Florida Lifestyle

There are at least 3 myths about the Florida lifestyle, and I’m here to bust up a few of them.

First, we’re not always at the beach; we work just like you. While you’re saving all of your money to come to Florida, we’re saving all of our money to get out of Florida. Seriously, there’s only so much sun, fun, and sand you can take before you start to hate the sight of palm trees and the smell of coconut oil.

But that isn’t really a myth so much as a belief. Have you seen our pale legs sticking out of our shorts? We don’t have time to lounge about the pool or the beach. At least not in the daylight.

Myths about Florida Lifestyle: It’s Always Sunny

Okay, I fell for this one when I moved here in the mid-1980s. I didn’t even pack a coat when I left Illinois in June for my new life in the tropics – see topic #3 for more on that. I had the impression – wrong, I might add – that Florida had no winter. That it was some perpetual sunshine party.

Let’s step back and look at the whole state of Florida.

The panhandle has an average temperature of 68º and around 52.4 inches of rain annually. I landed in Fort Walton Beach and camped along the Gulf. The wind was blowing, and I was sure it was a hurricane and I was gonna die.

It can, does, and will snow in the panhandle of Florida. Coats are recommended.

The northern part of Florida gets cold. Winter temperatures around Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Gainesville can get in the 30s. Sometimes – but rarely – that’s a high. Freeze, both hard and frost advisories, can reach as far south as the Vero Beach and Okeechobee areas. Lake Okeechobee is considered South Florida, and every so often, there are freeze warnings for the area that last around 7 hours.

It’s not unusual to see smudge pots in the orange groves to keep the trees from freezing in Central Interior Florida.

The sun doesn’t always shine; some days are as gray as the Midwestern winter skies, and some days, it rains for days on end. It snowed in West Palm Beach one day in 1977, and there were flurries in Miami and Homestead. Our ground doesn’t freeze like it does up north, so our snow doesn’t stick. Nonetheless, it’s a myth that it’s always warm and sunny in Florida.

Check out this book on traveling to Orlando, Florida for tips, tricks, and hidden places to visit.

Drink your coffee from one of my flamingo coffee mugs.

Myths about Florida Lifestyle: Alligators in Every Back Yard

Okay, this one is borderline true, depending upon where you live. Have I had one in my backyard along the East Coast of Florida? No. But I have seen them in the same area in canals, retention ponds, riverside, lakeside, and lounging on golf courses around where I live.

Most people with gators in their backyards live along man-made canals and golf courses with lakes. Gators will eat people and pets, so it goes without saying, don’t take a selfie with one (see idiots with cameras in Yellowstone standing by bison), and they are fast, so give them a lot of room. They can hit 35 MPH on land and 20 MPH in the water. Can you? Oh, and they can climb, too. Ladders, trees, fences, etc.

They are fascinating creatures but best left to admire from a distance – like from another state.

My tropical pillow looks great in your beach house. Take it with you when you go back north.

Another Myth: It’s Tropical

Another awesome and disappointing myth is that we all live a tropical lifestyle with rum runners in each hand, flowered shirts, flip flops, and hibiscus flowers stuck behind one ear. Okay, that might be the parking lot of a Jimmy Buffett concert, but not really how we live here if we live here year-round. Now, I am not talking about those retirees who are baking themselves around a poolside trying to get the color of a kidney bean, but those people who keep the retirees living their lives of comfort and sometimes excess.

Money people also spend a lot of time wandering around in floral skirts tut-tutting the sorry state of affairs should they accidentally cast their eyes upon a lowly servant-type person. They might be carrying a martini or a fruit drink, but they are usually in their backyard broiling in coconut oil around their pool, so they aren’t noticeable. If you see one, they’ve gotten out and will go back home soon.

The rest of us are happy to be able to wear casual clothes like jeans to work and comfortable shirts like a polo shirt rather than suits and ties or dresses and heels. There is a more casual lifestyle in Florida that does seem to permeate more traditional businesses like banks and doctor’s office.

Where are the tropics?

Only the bottom half of the state is considered tropical I think Vero Beach has said it’s the top of the tropics, but anything south of midway is more tropical. Driving in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami is a lot different than driving where I live around Vero Beach. You have to watch where you drive down there because their roads are filled with homeless iguanas, large lizards, crabs with sharp pinchers, and even boa constrictors and pythons. It’s an unwanted pet dumping ground where even the cutest little lizard can grow up and take your face off. I only have to contend with raccoons, opossums, armadillos, egrets and Sandhill cranes.

Those of us still working all look foreign because we’re not dressed in flowered shirts, flip flops, board shorts, and carrying a cocktail. If you see us, be nice; we’re tired and just want to go home and lay on a pool float face first.

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Here are some of my fav getaways in Florida when I’m not working.
Looking for something to do in Florida? Try your hand at treasure hunting.

Exploring Hidden Gems: Treasure Hunting in Florida

Florida, the Sunshine State, is not just known for its beautiful beaches and theme parks but also for its rich history and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. From sunken ships to buried pirate loot, Florida offers an exciting treasure hunting experience for adventurers of all ages.

I am thrilled to live in one of the most treasure filled spots in Florida. It’s so rich in treasure that it’s named The Treasure Coast. Yet, it doesn’t yield the most treasure.

Whether you’re visiting Florida or live here, let your inner adventurer out and make plans to claim some of your own treasure.

Key West, Florida
Southernmost point in the Continental United States – Key West – Look! Only 90 miles to Cuba!

Treasure Hunting in Key West

Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States, has a long history of pirate activity. The area’s clear waters and numerous shipwrecks make it a popular destination for treasure hunters.

Take a guided snorkeling or diving tour to explore the underwater treasures, or visit the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum to learn about the famous Atocha shipwreck and see the recovered artifacts. Key West is a true treasure trove waiting to be explored.

St. Augustine Florida, a good place to treasure hunt
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

St. Augustine Treasure Hunting

Known as the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is steeped in history and legends. The city’s cobblestone streets and ancient architecture create an ideal setting for treasure hunting. Explore the Castillo de San Marcos, a historic fort that witnessed many battles and rumored hidden treasures.

Another intriguing spot is the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, where you can join archaeological digs and potentially uncover relics from the past. St. Augustine offers a blend of adventure and history for treasure hunters.

Treasure Hunting at Amelia Island

Amelia Island, located off the northeast coast of Florida, has a rich history of pirate raids and buried treasure. With its pristine beaches and dunes, it provides a picturesque backdrop for treasure hunting.

Visit the Amelia Island Museum of History to learn about the island’s pirate lore and then head to the beach with your metal detector. You never know what you might find buried beneath the sand – from ancient coins to lost jewelry.

Indian River lagoon where treasure hunting is serious business.
Sunrise at the Sebastian Bridge over the Indian River in Sebastian, Florida ©jcleveland

Treasure Hunt Indian River

The Indian River, stretching along the east coast of Florida, has been a popular site for treasure hunting for centuries. It runs between the Atlantic Ocean and the mainland, and the Sebastian Inlet connects the two. The area was frequented by Spanish galleons and pirates, leaving behind a trail of lost treasures.

Join a guided boat tour or rent a kayak to explore the riverbanks and hunt for artifacts. From hidden coves to mysterious islands, the Indian River offers endless opportunities for treasure seekers. The treasures have been known to wash up from the Atlantic Ocean when we’ve had a big hurricane. It’s not unusual to see people find Spanish coins on the beaches.

Metal Detecting on the Beach is one of the best ways to find your own stash of Spanish coins. You’ll need a metal detector and some inspiration.

More about the Mel Fisher museum located in Indian River

Hunt for Treasure in the Ocala National Forest

Located in Central Florida, the Ocala National Forest is not only a haven for outdoor enthusiasts but also holds a mysterious allure for treasure hunters. Legend has it that during the 1800s, a gang of outlaws known as the Ashley Gang buried their loot within the forest’s vast expanse.

Venture into the forest’s dense foliage, armed with a metal detector and a keen eye, and you might stumble upon a hidden stash of gold or other precious items.

Dry Tortugas National Park Treasure Hunting

For a unique treasure hunting experience, head to the secluded Dry Tortugas National Park. Situated about 70 miles west of Key West, this remote island paradise offers a fascinating blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue.

Explore the remains of Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century coastal fortress, and search for hidden treasures among its walls and corridors. With its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, Dry Tortugas National Park is not only a treasure hunter’s dream but also a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.

Treasure Hunting in Crystal River

Crystal River, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is renowned for its abundant marine life and captivating natural springs. However, beneath the surface of its inviting waters, lie secrets waiting to be discovered. The area is known for its historical shipwrecks, making it a prime spot for underwater treasure hunting.

Whether you’re scuba diving or snorkeling, keep a lookout for artifacts and remnants of ancient vessels. Crystal River offers a unique blend of adventure and underwater exploration for treasure seekers.

Egmont Key State Park Treasure Hunt

Situated at the mouth of Tampa Bay, Egmont Key State Park is a hidden gem for treasure hunters. Accessible only by boat, this secluded island is steeped in history and holds the potential for exciting discoveries.

Explore the remains of Fort Dade, a military fortress from the late 19th century, and search the shoreline for seashells and relics washed ashore. With its pristine beaches and intriguing history, Egmont Key State Park offers a tranquil and rewarding treasure hunting experience.

Pensacola beach

Pensacola Beach Treasure Hunt

Pensacola Beach, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is not only a popular vacation spot but also a treasure hunter’s paradise. With its long stretches of sandy beaches and turquoise waters, it’s no surprise that the area has a history of shipwrecks. Take a stroll along the shoreline, particularly after storms, and keep an eye out for washed-up artifacts or even pieces of Spanish galleons. Pensacola Beach is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

Not into treasure hunting? Here are four great places in Florida to visit instead.

Hunting Treasure Suwannee River

The Suwannee River, winding through North Florida, holds a captivating charm and a touch of mystery. Known for its legends of hidden pirate treasures, this picturesque waterway offers a unique treasure hunting experience.

Rent a kayak or canoe and navigate the river’s gentle currents while scanning the riverbanks for clues and hidden caches. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature as you embark on a treasure hunt along the Suwannee River, uncovering stories from the past.

Image by MasterTux from Pixabay

Florida’s rich history and diverse landscapes make it an incredible destination for treasure hunting enthusiasts. Whether you’re searching for pirate gold, ancient artifacts, or sunken treasures, the Sunshine State has something to offer. Key West, St. Augustine, Amelia Island, and the Indian River are just a few of the many places where you can embark on your own treasure hunting adventure. So grab your map, metal detector, and a sense of adventure, and set off on a thrilling journey to uncover Florida’s hidden gems.

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Florida Gardening Tips

Florida gardening tips for getting the most harvest from your efforts.

Who wouldn’t want a bountiful harvest from their garden like this. Ripe cherry tomatoes, green beans, peppers, onions, and she still had time to can her salsa. Oh how I imagined my first attempt at gardening would look like this.


Florida gardening tips would have helped me get past tiny carrots, under formed onions and whatever that onion thing is in the middle.

I could have used some Florida gardening tips before I started that could have helped me get bigger sweet onions – that looks like the exact same thing I took out of the bag as a starter – and better formed carrots and red onions. I won’t complain about the red potatoes. I got eight small potatoes, and we ate them all roasted in olive oil with Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese, so YUM.

Florida gardening tips I wish I knew before planting


I started my plants in January, but it doesn’t take long to get too hot, so I don’t think I watered them enough. I also tried to feed them, but I don’t think I did that enough either, which might explain the mutant carrots. Even the rabbits didn’t want them.


I used the right garden soil, but it doesn’t hurt to check the soil. I started everything in those little compost pots and let them dissolve in the earth. They don’t do that. They kinda clump up and just stick out of the dirt.


Too much sun? Not enough sun? What is the right amount of sun? I read the package, but still either didn’t get it right or gave up. It’s hard to say, but my beans looked like dried up toothpicks barely hanging from the stem. I put the plants in pots, so I could move them around the yard as the season changed. I don’t know if I didn’t move them around enough.


I can say that I didn’t have any trouble with pests. Of course, there weren’t any vegetables to eat, but still, I will take a win when I can get one.

Florida gardening tips using raised beds

I chose to raise the beds for my garden, and this book is an excellent source of information on creating a raised bed garden.

Raised Bed & Container Gardening Handbook For Beginners: Successfully Growing Your Own Self-Sufficiency Garden with Healthy Vegetables and Fruits – Gardening Tips

  • 150 pages
  • #24 in Amazon Gardening and Horticulture
  • Available on Kindle Unlimited

Most people found this really helpful in building and maintaining a raised garden, and while it may have some grammatical errors, people liked that the book covered vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.

If you’re more interested in building a flower garden using native Florida flowers, check out this post.

OLLE Galvanized Raised Garden Beds Outdoor Plant Boxes Outdoor Garden 17″ Tall Metal Raised Garden Bed

I am fortunate that my guy built me two big wooden beds for my potatoes, lettuce, milkweed, peppers and herbs, but if he hadn’t this is the type of bed I would have bought. Kinda looks like a horse trough to me.

  • Comes in five colors
  • 17-inches tall – lots of room for those root veggies like carrots and potatoes
  • Rust resistant
  • Safety edge – not cuts on your arms from leaning on the edges
  • Stays cool in the sun, so no burning yourself on a hot metal

People did find it a bit harder to assemble than others, but the color options made up for the complaints, and it’s very sturdy. It is not as high of quality as the Vego bed, but better colors. It comes with a plastic coating on the sides, and it’s a pain to take off. Leave the inside plastic coating since it is a pain.

COOLJOB Gardening Gloves for Women and Ladies

  • Multiple sizes and colors
  • Available in multi-pack
  • Breathable
  • One-size-fits all, but they have some weirdo finger lengths
  • They keep your hands clean, but they are a bit thin, so you might feel thorns if you’re weeding
  • Don’t use harsh cleaners on them because they react to strong cleaners by degrading the plastics making them sticky

I hate having dirty hands, so I go through a lot of gloves trying to find something that will keep my hands clean and dry while breathing.

Other Florida gardening tips include knowing your zone, doing a lot of weeding, use the proper fertilizer, and getting to know your local nursery and gardeners. Good luck, and I hope you get carrots that are not oddly shaped!

4 Florida Places to Visit

I’ve had a chance to wander all over the State of Florida, but there are a few places that I haven’t spent as much time as I want, so here is my “to explore further” list:

Everglades National Park – Florida Place to Visit

Lake Okeechobee – Florida Place to Visit

The Battle of Okeechobee Reenactment from Into Nature Films on Vimeo.

Tallahassee – Florida Place to Visit

Fort Walton Beach – Florida Place to Visit

There is so much to see in Florida that doesn’t include the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, I included Fort Walton Beach, but only because that was where I landed when I first got to Florida and camped. I’ve never been back, and that’s been 36 years ago. I think it’s time to see if the little fish camp that fed me catfish long after dining hours were over is still there. I think the sand is still white and the waves still crash.

Grab a map and make your own list of Florida places to visit.

If like this post and want to read more about my life in Florida, then check out the following posts.

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Wild Places in Florida: Unleashing the Adventurer Within!

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The Diversity of Florida Cultures

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Where the Florida Locals Go

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Five of the Top Historical Places in Florida

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Best Festivals in Florida: A Celebration for Every Season

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Florida’s Unique Wildlife

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Surviving Summer: How to Beat the Heat

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Wasps will Eat Monarch Caterpillars

Lifecycle of the Monarch butterfly

If you’ve been following my blog posts on my Monarch butterfly journey, you know that I have had a lot of success in raising and releasing butterflies over the last year.

Raising Monarch Butterflies

Part of that success has been attributed to my butterfly house that serves to protect the cats from the world, and part of that success has been dumb luck. My butterfly house is a screened in area that is dropped over a large planter with milkweed plants, but I also have some long planters where I keep small plants that I am growing or have bought to replace eaten plants. I also have another planter with some larger, mature plants that I get seeds from.

The process usually involves letting the butterfly lay eggs and then culling some of the eggs and placing them in the container. I only keep what I know I can feed; that hasn’t meant I haven’t had to make emergency runs!

These size Monarch caterpillars are food to wasps.

Last fall, I decided to let them do their own thing and stopped harvesting the eggs because the winter was coming. I cut my milkweed down to short stalks and walked away. That didn’t stop industrious mother monarchs from finding spots to drop eggs. This will sound awful, but I knew that little wasps liked to dine on the eggs, so I did nothing to stop Mother Nature from taking its course.

Keeping Monarch Caterpillars Safe

I didn’t know that bigger wasps would eat 1-inch caterpillars like they were popcorn until I saw it first hand. I was under the (wrong) assumption that nothing ate the cats once they got some size on them. I had to look it up because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but here is a post that talks about wasps eating Monarch caterpillars.

There is a video included in that post, but I am going to spare you the photos that I took of the carnage.

Suffice it to say, Monarch caterpillars are not safe when there’s a wasp around. It doesn’t mean that I will go back to trying to protect all Monarch caterpillars, but it does mean that a few of the chosen ones will make it to the enclosure.

Looking to start your own butterfly garden, check out these affiliate links to cages, books and other supplies that will have butterflies living in your world too.

Birdwatching in Florida

Roseate Spoonbill at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Roseate Spoonbill at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. ©jcleveland

Florida is home to so many birds waiting for you to come check them out. The diverse habitats include beaches, wetlands, forests and grasslands that attract a variety of species, which makes birdwatching in Florida a great hobby.

Here are some popular locations for birdwatching in Florida and the types of birds you can expect to see in Florida:

Everglades National Park:

You’ll find many species of birds calling the Everglades home. Those species include wading birds, including herons, egrets, and ibises. You may also spot the Roseate Spoonbill, Anhinga, and the endangered Florida Snail Kite. I’ve seen the Roseate Spoonbill along the road eating from the culverts in the Indian River County area, as well as at the next stop on our tour.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge:

This refuge, located near Cape Canaveral, provides a habitat for over 300 bird species. During the winter months, you may encounter migratory birds such as American White Pelicans, Northern Pintails, and a variety of shorebirds. This is also one of the few locations where you can see the Florida Scrub-Jay. I wanted to explore the painted bunting nesting area, but no matter how far I hiked or where I went, they were not to be found. As it turned out, they showed up in my front yard the following month, so you never know what birds are around.

I have seen a lot of Scrub-Jays around my home, so they are also out in some of the Brevard County uninhabited areas. Those areas are quickly being developed, so it won’t be long before they are gone from here.

This is the feeder I use in my yard, but I have it on a pole with a baffle on it to keep the squirrels out. This makes it really easy to see the birds. The only problem is that the mourning doves are ground feeders, so they plant themselves in it and refuse to move. They are pigs.

Dry Tortugas National Park:

Accessible by boat or seaplane, this park is a group of seven islands located about 70 miles west of Key West. You can spot seabirds such as Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies, and Magnificent Frigatebirds. It’s also an important location for migratory birds during spring and fall. Put this on the list of places to do birdwatching in Florida.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge:

Located on Sanibel Island, this refuge is home to many wading birds, such as the Reddish Egret and Roseate Spoonbill. The White Pelican can be seen here on their migratory path.

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary:

Situated near Naples, this sanctuary is known for its boardwalk, which takes you through a variety of habitats, including cypress forests, wet prairies, and marshes. You may spot Wood Storks, Limpkins, and Barred Owls, among other species.

Fort De Soto Park:

This park, located near St. Petersburg, is a popular spot for shorebirds such as Piping Plovers, Red Knots, and Black-bellied Plovers. You may also find warblers and other migratory songbirds during spring and fall migrations.

Wakodahatchee Wetlands:

Located in Delray Beach, you’ll find many wading birds Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Green Herons. You can also spot Purple Gallinules, Least Bitterns, and Black-necked Stilts here while birdwatching in Florida.

In addition to wading and shore birds, don’t overlook the raptors that inhabit the state and some migratory hawks. We see red-shouldered hawks, falcons, red-tail hawks, owls and so many other raptors that like to eat the squirrels and fish around my home.

Be Prepared to Hike

Buy a good pair of binoculars and a zoom lens for your camera, so you can take longshots without getting off the trails. You can use a field guide on your cellphone (or the Merlin app from Cornell University, which is an amazing app that I use all the time), but you may find cellphone coverage spotty depending on where you’re hiking. It doesn’t hurt to have a small bird guide for your pocket.

These are good guides. I like that the Birds of Florida Field Guide has a painted bunting on the front.

Make sure that you dress for the weather and don’t wear open-toed shoes. Hiking boots with ankle coverage might be best. We do have rattlesnakes and other bitey kinda snakes.

Mosquitoes will try to make you their lunch no matter what time of the year you go birdwatching in Florida. They never go away. Ever.  So, wear whatever protection you need to keep from getting eaten alive, as well as sunscreen for sunny days.

Seriously, don’t be a hero.

Additionally, follow birdwatching ethics, such as not disturbing nesting birds and staying on designated trails.

If you’re lucky and live in Florida, then look out your front window and see if you can find a good place to put in a bird feeder that will bring birds to you. I enjoy my annual visit from the painted buntings. If you don’t live here, then come on down and do some birdwatching in Florida!

The History of Florida

It’s impossible to cover the fascinating history of Florida in a 500 word article, so I am going to hit the highlights and promise to come back and fill in rest in future posts. Like all of our United States, it belonged to someone else before the settlers took it by force and built colonies and cities.

A Florida map that shows some of the history of Florida.


According to Florida Facts on the official Florida website, Florida’s first inhabitants were here over 12,000 years ago. The Spanish followed suit in 1513 when Juan Ponce de Leon set foot on shore. The Spanish continued to rule Florida until the 1700s, and it was a popular territory for the Southern plantation owners.

It is said that Christopher Columbus brought the first oranges to Florida, but Ponce de Leon is credited for planting the first orange trees, which has been a cash crop for Florida ever since.

The name Florida is from an Easter Spanish Festival, Pascua Florida, which means Feast of Flowers that historians believe is another Ponce de Leon contribution to the state.

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously populated city in the United States, and it dates back to 1565. If you get a chance when you’re in Florida, stop by this city and spend some time wandering around the Fort.

Not Spanish

Spain had to give up Florida during the Seven Year War, when Cuba and the Philippines were captured by the British. If they wanted those colonies back, they had to give Florida to the Brits. The First Treaty of Paris was the paperwork that gave it away.


During the Revolutionary War, Florida did not fight for the colonies. They remained loyal to England, and the first chance they got, the Spanish took it back. From 1783 until 1821, the Spanish again ruled Florida. It didn’t stop Andrew Jackson from trying to wrest control over Florida though, and he started the First Seminole War. By 1817, everyone was fighting everyone, and Jackson burned it all to the ground.

Not Spanish

An 1819 Treaty saw the state in the hands of the United States as a territory with Andrew Jackson as its first governor. Funny how that turned out. The first Florida newspapers were St. Augustine’s Florida Gazette and Pensacola’s Floridian.

Tallahassee was chosen as the capital and it became a state in 1845. First thing the state tried to do was secede during the Civil War. Brilliant, I say.

Then Maybe Not a State

During the Civil War, the Ordinance of Secession was drawn up in 1861. Florida was taking its flowers and going home. The Union army didn’t really care and took over Fernandina, St. Augustine and Jacksonville. They had Black troops with them, which sent the Confederates over the edge. The Confederates managed to hang onto Tallahassee and the governor killed himself. The Federal government took it over and ended slavery.

There was an impeachment, a fight against Reconstruction, another election kerfuffle – if there is an election kerfuffle, look to Florida first to have mucked it up, and the end of Reconstruction thanks to Florida’s strong arming another election with disputed electoral votes. If anything goes wrong in an election, it’s because of Florida.

Then Maybe a State

They became a state again, or at least acknowledged they were a state. Then they wrote a new state constitution that seemed to work until 1968. They even granted Confederate pensions to veterans.

Nobody drank, then everybody drank, then nobody drank again with the 18th Amendment to the Florida Constitution outlawing alcohol.


1920 land boom. Then a hurricane. Then another hurricane. Boom over.

Amelia Earhart waved good-bye from Miami and was never seen again.

So much more to cover, but this is going to be it for the moment. We are up to World War II for those of you playing along at home.

Think that Florida sounds like someplace you want to live? Keep reading my blog posts while I cover some of the more interesting aspects of Florida. Like more booms and more busts, and a lot more hurricanes.

If you buy any of the products or use the links to go to Amazon and buy something else within a day, I get a little bit of money. I thank you for the support.

4 of My Favorite Florida State Parks

Sebastian Inlet State Park in Florida
Sebastian Inlet State Park ©jcleveland 2015

Florida is home to 175 state parks, and many of those parks have trails where you can wander amongst the flora and fauna that is abundant when it has not been cut back for development. You can try your hand at birdwatching, which you know I do from the comfort of my desk, and you can experience the thrill of being eye-to-eye with a wild hog or an alligator. Fun for the whole family!

Every one of Florida’s parks is an adventure. You can select the park you want to visit based on the type of activity you want to do once you get there. Sun, sand, and surfing for the coastal parks; kayaking and canoeing for the waterway parks; birding at both the inland and the coastal parks; and camping, swamping, fishing, and more from many of the inland areas. St. Johns Waterway is home to airboat rides, bass fishing, boating, and more.

I chose four of my favorite parks for a couple of reasons. They are a day trip for me, and I like these the best.

Sebastian Inlet State Park

I can see this park from my house. It is the first place that I camped at when I got to Florida in the 1980s, and it is the first place that I experienced the awesome no-see-um bug. I thought it was a myth until I spent the whole night trying to roll in sand to escape the mean little teeth of a bug no bigger than the tip of a pinpoint.

This park was also the first place where I ever saw hermit crabs in the wild. They were very busy swapping houses along the shoreline, and had I not been being eaten alive, I would have spent more time watching them.

This park is the inlet for the Indian River Lagoon into the Atlantic Ocean and is located just north of Sebastian, Florida. It has a fishing jetty that attracts a lot of fishing folks, as well as the pelicans that follow them around like puppies looking for scraps.

It was the first place that I saw a barracuda in the ocean, and where I learned to boogie board and eat sand. I also saw a naked man on the jetty, which to this day, amuses me. Someone actually yelled “naked man on the jetty” as this guy jumped into the ocean. 

Kids love to play here and it is a good place to learn to surf. It’s not too rough, and the beach is nice and smooth.

It is a place with nice breaking waves that attract the local surfers and has a surfing spot named “Monster Hole”. It is also where the 1715 Spanish Fleet went down along the coastline between here and Vero Beach, so during a wild hurricane, it is not unusual to see a doubloon on the beach.

The inlet makes way to a nice tidal pool that is quite large and never empties. It is a place where you can wade, splash in the water, and just enjoy being wet without being beaten up by the waves. You can sit in the pool and wait to see if some of the sea creatures like starfish, anemones, and seahorses come visit you.  Oh, and there are crabs. Watch your toes.

The water is usually very warm. There are picnic tables, a small seaside grill that serves hamburgers, and open showers, as well as restrooms with indoor showers.

It’s great for the family, and if you wander around the state park portion of it, there are a lot of places to explore like walking trails.

Visit the Sebastian Inlet State Park virtually here.

Blue Spring State Park

The Blue Spring State Park is a quiet place to go watch the manatees and enjoy a river cruise in a pontoon boat.

It is a spring park on the St. Johns River, and I have spent many a day there just enjoying the water and the wildlife. It used to be home to steamboats back in the 1880s, but now it is home to people looking for a place to escape the theme parks and get a suntan.

Because it’s a spring, you’ll find manatees lounging about in the warm water. That’s not the first place I saw manatees in the river, but it’s the first place that I saw them in a wilder environment. The first time was in the warm water at the boat docs by the power plant in Ft. Pierce.

Blue Spring State Park can get crowded quickly, so if you’re planning on a visit, go early in the morning. There are lots of picnic tables and do a little hiking in the cooler months. There’s a historical home in the park where the original owner set up his plantation, and there are lots of birding trails to follow.

If you’re brave, and I am not, you can do a little swimming around the entrance to the spring. I seem to remember some kids diving into the spring cave. I avoid open holes in the earth; they give me the willies.

The water activities are curtailed during manatee season, which runs from November to March, but the rest of the year, you can canoe, kayak, swim, splash, and enjoy the water.
The park is located in Orange City, Florida, and there are wooden walkways that will take you to the cave entrance, so you can watch the divers or dive yourself.

Read more Blue Spring State Park information here.

Myakka River State Park

The Myakka River State Park is on the other side of the state from me. It is located in the pine forests around Sarasota, Florida. It is home to both wetlands and prairies, and during the dry season when the water levels are low, they close the boat ramps.

It took a hit from Hurricane Ian in 2022, but as of 2023, some of the affected parts have opened back up again. You can now do some camping there and hang out during the day, but if you’ve never been to a hurricane-ravaged spot before, expect things to be messy.  There may be some places on the walkways that have been damaged, so be careful when hitting the trails. Also, expect a lot of trees will have been stripped of their leaves and limbs. Dead palm fronds will be everywhere.

If you love birdwatching and are always looking for something elusive like the spoonbill, this is the spot to see them. I saw my first one in the Canaveral Seashore, but they like the marshy areas of the Myakka River too.

This state park also has a creepy hole in it appropriately named the Deep Hole. It’s a sinkhole that opened up on the northwest bank of the river and is 135 feet deep. There’s no spring, so you can’t dive it, but you can freshwater fish in the river. You need to bring your own fishing license.

Horses are a cool way to travel the trails. There are 15 miles of trails to ride.

There is a canopy trail 25 feet above the ground that lets you explore the hammock. I would check on this before you go because of the hurricane damage it may be unavailable.

The park has camping and you can bring your leashed pets, but please, there are alligators, keep your dogs and children away from the edges of lakes, springs, rivers, and swamps. Too many people lose their pets, kids, and grandmothers to alligators every year.

Check out Myakka River State Park information here.

Silver Springs State Park

For history buffs, Silver Springs was the first tourist attraction in Florida and opened its doors in the 1870s. Today, the state owns it and incorporated it into Silver Springs State Park.

The grounds of Silver Springs consist of walking trails through gardens and under the canopy of the mossy oaks you’ll find all over the state of Florida. There are more than 30 springs that make up the park. You can see the springs flowing up from the earth to the rivers by looking into another one of those freaky holes. For what it’s worth, I’ve been to Yellowstone a million times, and the holes there creep me out too.

If you’re not squeamish about holes, then take a glass bottom boat tour of the springs. I looked long enough to see fish, but that was not for me.

The park has trails to wander around on, and it is home to wildlife like deer and turkeys. If you’ve never seen either of these in the wild, it can be a bit awe-inspiring. Again, an alligator warning is needed here. You don’t want to see all of Florida’s wildlife up close and personal, so, be careful.

Like most of Florida’s trails, they are on raised platforms to keep you out of the mouths of alligators and off the fragile ecosystem. The boardwalks used to be all wood, but I’ve noticed lately that when repairs and replacements are needed, they have switched to what looks like maybe a resin-type material that they then try to color to look like wood. I probably won’t live long enough to see if this material lasts longer, so someone else will have to come through and write about that later.

Camping, horseback riding, boating, and heritage trails and historical sites are all available to you.

This park is located in the west-central part of the state in Ocala, Florida where there be bears people.

You’ll find more Silver Springs State Park information here.

The State of Florida offers so many parks that you can find one no matter where you live or are visiting in the state. I hope you get to visit these parks on my list because these are some of my favorite ones. I’ve spent most of my time at the Sebastian Inlet Park because it’s close to home, and whenever I want to go and enjoy the ocean, I go there. Maybe I will see you there.