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17 Weird Things You Never Knew About Florida
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17 Weird Things You Never Knew About Florida

Florida has a wacky reputation. Residents of Florida are known to do some outlandish things — and, for some reason, are all in love with Publix, their local grocery chain. The wildlife is downright tropical, and the land is so flat that there isn’t more than a couple hundred feet of elevation difference across the entire state. Florida is a swampland — but a beautiful one, if you know where to go. The beaches and calming palm trees are unparalleled by any other area in the United States.

Some residents are found saying that the state should be divided into two separate territories — North Florida and South Florida. In North Florida, you’re more likely to find people who identify as Southerners. In South Florida, you’re more likely to find people who identify as New Yorkers. And in the winter, Florida is flocked with snowbirds from far and wide, clogging the roads and invading its sunniest spots to soak up some vitamin D.

Florida’s weather is definitely less diverse than its population. All year round, Florida’s weather is warm. The winter temperatures rarely dip below 50; when they do, the chilly weather only lasts for a couple of weeks. Despite the constant warmth, the state’s precipitation is incredibly unpredictable. It rains sporadically, with raging storms lasting from a couple of minutes to a couple of days. But these 17 random facts might tell you a few things about Florida you don’t already know.

Pythons Sometimes Eat Whole Alligators
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Pythons Sometimes Eat Whole Alligators

Ready for some horrifying Floridian reality? Alligators and crocodiles aren’t the strongest or largest predators in the Everglades. Pythons, a type of invasive snake species that has infested the natural ecosystem, are strong enough to eat an entire gator whole — while it’s still alive. The creatures are known to fight each other in epic, toothy battles in the dense muck. Sometimes, when the snake wins and begins to consume the alligator’s body, the snake bursts open if the reptile’s stomach isn’t large enough. Only in Florida

The Beach Is Never More Than 60 Miles Away
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The Beach Is Never More Than 60 Miles Away

Even vicious alligators aren’t enough to keep tourists away. While Florida is known for its frightening wildlife, it’s also home to many gorgeous beaches. No matter where you are in Florida, panhandle or peninsula, you’re never more than 60 miles from the ocean. Theoretically, that means you’ll never have more than an hour and a half drive to the beach — and that’s if you drive slow and enrage the locals.

Florida Is Hiding Buried Treasure
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Florida Is Hiding Buried Treasure

Due to shipwrecks and remnants from traveling wealthy Europeans, gold coins and other precious items have sunk to the (not so deep) depths of Florida’s coastline. Perhaps this is what earned one area of Florida the name “Treasure Coast.” Divers continue to find coins and gems beneath the soil. In 2015, one diver discovered a 4.5 million-dollar goldmine of 350 real gold coins. Some people estimate there are trillions of dollars hiding within 60 miles of the surrounding ocean.

The World’s Smallest Post Office

The World’s Smallest Post Office

The Ochopee Post Office in Ochopee, Florida, is the world’s smallest post office. It looks more like Snoopy’s doghouse than it does a post office — but it’s fully functional and even has a full-time post clerk employed inside.

The Fountain of Youth May Be in Florida
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The Fountain of Youth May Be in Florida

Yes, the Fountain of Youth is real. You may not imbibe eternal youth if you sip from it (kind of like you probably won’t look younger after eating these vegetables) but the fountain may reside in St. Augustine, Florida, the historic town founded by Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century. Ponce de León is said to have come to Florida in search of the fountain, though no one knows for sure whether he believed he’d found it. However, near the spot where León settled is Ponce de León Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, wherein you’ll find more than a few small and eligible springs.

The Everglades Has a Version of Bigfoot

Michelle S./Yelp

The Everglades Has a Version of Bigfoot

The Skunk Ape, Florida’s version of Bigfoot, is named after two of its most pungent qualities — it’s said to be very hairy and very smelly. This cryptid has two legs and walks upright like a man, but is large and covered in hair like an ape. Sightings have been reported in North Carolina and Arkansas, as well, but are most common in Florida near the Everglades.

The Jacksonville Football Stadium Has Its Own Marina
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The Jacksonville Football Stadium Has Its Own Marina

The Jacksonville football stadium, called EverBank Field, is one of the largest and grandest stadiums in all of Florida. It serves as the home facility of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it’s so extravagant that it even has its own pool — scratch that, it has two pools. It also has a marina nearby; the rumor is that this marina exists in such close proximity because the owner of the stadium has a yacht he preferred to park nearby.

Florida Has More Golf Courses Than Any Other State
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Florida Has More Golf Courses Than Any Other State

When you think of Florida, you probably think of four things: beaches, gators, hurricanes, and golf. All across Florida’s peninsula, travelers can find acre after acre of carefully cultivated golf courses. Many of these courses are attached to retirement communities; others are meant for golf tournaments. In total, Florida is home to over 1,300 golf courses — more than any other state.

Floridians Throw Dead Fish Into Alabama
Brittany Houghton

Floridians Throw Dead Fish Into Alabama

Every year, Floridians host a strange festival. It’s called the Mullet Toss, and it takes place right by the border of Alabama at one of the best beach bars in America: the Flora-Bama Beach Bar in Pensacola. Thousands of Floridians attend and toss dead fish carcasses across the border and into Alabama. The event has been called “a silly excuse for a huge beach party,” and it definitely is a rager — albeit a smelly one.

You Can Cuddle With Endangered Cats at a Bed and Breakfast
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You Can Cuddle With Endangered Cats at a Bed and Breakfast

Ever dreamed of snuggling a bobcat or hugging a leopard? At this bed and breakfast, your dreams can come true. WildLife on Easy Street is a cat rescue service on the outskirts of Tampa that doubles as one of the world’s greatest B&B’s — in exchange for a $100 donation to the refuge, you can cuddle to your heart’s content with a baby cat of your choice. They house bobcats, lynx, cougars, lions, ocelots, and so many more.

Key West Has More Bars Per Capita Than Any Other Place in the Country
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Key West Has More Bars Per Capita Than Any Other Place in the Country

If you need a drink, there’s no place like Key West. According to an analysis from 2015, these tiny islands have more bars per capita than any other location in America. Make sure you eat while you’re there, too — some say the food in Key West is legendary.

Crocodiles and Alligators Don’t Exist in Harmony Anywhere Else on Earth
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Crocodiles and Alligators Don’t Exist in Harmony Anywhere Else on Earth

If you’re from Florida, you grew up learning about gators and crocs from the time you were in grade school. You knew their looks, their size, tips for running away from them safely, and the fundamental differences between the two. Though they’re often confused, alligators and crocodiles are two very different creatures. And according to the U.S. Geological Survey, South Florida is the only place on Earth you can find both animals in the wild.

The Spanish Names Are a Little Odd
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The Spanish Names Are a Little Odd

Since the first European explorers to encounter Florida hailed from Spain, many of the place names in the state are actually in Spanish. In fact, the state name “Florida” comes from the Spanish word “florido,” meaning “full of flowers.” Some of the other place names aren’t so flowery, however. Boca Raton, a city in South Florida, means “mouth of the rat.” Punta Gorda, a city on the west coast, translates loosely to “fat point.” Even Key West was named of Spanish origin — it comes from an Americanization of “Cayo Hueso,” which means “bone islands.”

Over 18 Percent of Florida’s Area Is Water
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Over 18 Percent of Florida’s Area Is Water

According to data from U.S. Census Bureau, over 18 percent of Florida’s area is covered with water, and the state trails only Alaska and Michigan in this category. This should be no surprise, since Florida has one of the largest lakes in the country right in the center, along with more lakes and rivers than most people can count.

The Refrigerator Was Invented There
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The Refrigerator Was Invented There

With heat so intense, it makes total sense that Florida’s residents were the first to need refrigeration. Before the refrigerator, ice boxes were used to keep food cold. But you won’t find any ice to fill your box in Florida, even in the wintertime. A design for a refrigerator was drafted by a man named Oliver Evans outside of Florida — but an actual machine wasn’t constructed until John Gorrie, a doctor in Florida, made one in order to cool down his patients who suffered from yellow fever. Now, almost every home in America has a refrigerator — though there are some foods you should never store there.

Florida Has the Only Museum in the US Dedicated to Japan and Japanese Culture

Lissette C./Yelp

Florida Has the Only Museum in the US Dedicated to Japan and Japanese Culture

Located in Delray Beach, Florida, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is a commemorative center for Japanese arts and culture. Visitors will find artwork displays, a library, tea ceremonies and classes, and an expansive garden complete with bonsai trees. This scenic site is the only museum in the United States that’s dedicated solely to Japan.

It’s Home to the World’s Only Underwater Laboratory

It’s Home to the World’s Only Underwater Laboratory

Approximately 4.5 miles off the coast of Key Largo, 62 feet below sea level, there’s an algae-covered building sitting atop the ocean floor. It’s the Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underwater laboratory, which lives in harmony with the surrounding marine ecosystem. Scientists from nearby institutions conduct experiments, collect data, and observe the sea life that lives there. It’s currently owned and operated by Florida International University, which dedicated the facility to the study and preservation of marine ecosystems worldwide. That’s right — Florida has a lot more going on than just Disney and the beach.

More from The Daily Meal:

The Best Food and Drink in Florida

The Smallest Town in Every State

21 Quick and Delicious Weeknight Grilling Ideas

Top 50 Things to Do in Florida That Aren’t Disney (or the Beach)

Destinations You Should Only Visit in the Summer

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