The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Florida Summer: Tips from the Sunshine State's Toughest Survivors
I moved here from Minnesota... the land of 10,000 lakes. It's also the land of 1 million mosquitoes, 100 degree temperatures, and 99% humidity during their three weeks of summer. The other 49 weeks of the year are buried under snow and ice. This week, Minnesota will celebrate their Taste of the State Fair (aka come out of hibernation week) as well as the launch of the Canterbury Park Horse Racing Season which kicks off Saturday in Shakopee, Minnesota.
My son will be arriving for a visit from Phoenix, Arizona. You know, the Phoenix where it's 100 degrees but a "dry heat." Our visitors from Arizona and Minnesota are always concerned with the Tampa, Florida weather (which is why no tourists ever come to Florida). So in homage to my birth city of Minneapolis, and with respect to the concerns of our summertime tourist visitors, I have penned this Florida Summer Survival Guide. You don't have to worry about getting eaten by an alligator (we eat THEM here, they don't eat us) or getting shipwrecked in a school of swarming sharks (unless you swim in the Gulf, in which case you might.) Shuffle your feet when you wade in the water and you're not going to meet Steve Irwin sooner than you need to, as the doing the "stingray shuffle" will keep you from a stinger to the heart. No, our tips are for real visitors, by a real local, who has learned a few things since transplanting permanently to where you vacation.
Ah, Florida, the land of perpetual sunshine, where the air is as humid as a sauna and the sun feels like a giant spotlight trained on your face. If you're planning to visit or live in the Sunshine State during the summer months, it's crucial to be prepared. Fear not, fellow heat warriors, for I bring you the ultimate guide to surviving a Florida summer. The only thing bigger than the bugs and snakes we have here is how big you imagine the bugs and snakes we have here are. Get ready for some laughter and a splash of sweat! Here's what I have learned since we moved to Florida :
- Embrace Your Inner Reptile:
As the mercury rises to dizzying heights, it's time to channel your inner reptile. Find a spot in the shade, lay down on a sun-warmed rock (or concrete, in this case), and soak in the heat. If anyone gives you strange looks, just tell them you're practicing your lizard impersonation. Trust me, they'll be jealous of your chameleon-like adaptation skills.
- Air Conditioning is Life:
If there's one thing Floridians know, it's the importance of air conditioning. Embrace this lifesaving invention as if your existence depends on it—because it probably does. The moment you step outside, you'll yearn for the icy caress of your beloved A/C. Don't be surprised if you catch yourself hugging the air vents like a long-lost lover.
- Fashion Faux Pas Galore:
In Florida, fashion takes a backseat to survival. Don't be afraid to rock that classic Floridian ensemble: shorts, flip-flops, and a shirt that proudly proclaims your love for sunscreen. And speaking of sunscreen, apply it religiously, or else you'll end up looking like a lobster who accidentally wandered onto the beach. Nobody cares. Do what you gotta do.
- The Battle Against Mosquitoes:
Mosquitoes are an inseparable part of Florida summers, like the cherry on top of a sundae—except the cherry is a tiny, bloodsucking demon. Arm yourself with mosquito repellent, wear a bug net, and do the infamous "Florida Swat Dance" whenever you feel an itch. It's a unique choreography that involves frantic flailing and awkward jumps, but hey, it keeps the mosquitoes at bay. If you're from Minnesota, you need not take any precautions.
- Plan Your Outdoor Activities Wisely:
If you're brave enough to venture outdoors, choose your activities wisely. Opt for water-based excursions like swimming, boating, or even standing in front of an open freezer. Alternatively, you can attend one of Florida's infamous "air-conditioned malls" and marvel at the sight of locals dressed in winter attire, pretending it's not a thousand degrees outside.
- Ice Cream Therapy:
When the heat becomes too much to handle, turn to the magical cure known as ice cream. Seek out the nearest ice cream parlor and indulge in flavors you never thought possible. Scoops of mint chocolate chip, cookies and cream, or key lime pie will magically whisk you away to a frosty wonderland—temporarily numbing the pain of the relentless Florida sun.
- Embrace the Rain:
Florida's summer is often accompanied by thunderstorms that could rival a tropical rainforest. Instead of cursing the clouds, embrace the rain and dance in its warm, refreshing embrace. The night we arrived here with our U-Haul, we thought they were having a monsoon. Turns out that was just the daily sprinkling. Consider it an impromptu free shower and an opportunity to show off your best Gene Kelly impression. Just be sure to check for lurking alligators before splashing through any puddles. In July and August, it will rain every day, but not all day.
- Ice, Ice Baby:
In Florida, ice becomes your best friend during the summer months. Stock up on ice packs, fill your freezer with popsicles, and invest in a portable fan that sprays a refreshing mist. Better yet, consider carrying a personal ice sculpture around with you. Not only will it keep you cool, but it'll also make you the talk of the town. Who doesn't want to be the person walking around with a miniature polar bear?
- Dress Like a Slightly Insane Tourist:
When it comes to dressing for a Florida summer, throw all fashion rules out the window and embrace your inner tourist. White socks with sandals? Absolutely. Hawaiian shirts and fanny packs? A must. Remember, it's all about comfort and survival, so pack your wardrobe with loose-fitting clothes, floppy hats, and sunglasses that could rival the sun itself. You might not win any fashion awards, but at least you'll stay cool while turning heads.
- The Art of Pool-Hopping: If you're lucky enough to have access to a pool during the summer, congratulations! You've unlocked the secret to surviving Florida's sauna-like weather. However, if you don't have your own oasis, fear not. Pool-hopping becomes a legitimate survival strategy in the Sunshine State. Blend in with the locals, make friends, and master the art of casually mentioning, "Oh, I've got a pool too. It's a hidden gem with water slides and a swim-up smoothie bar. You should totally come over!"
- Sunscreen, the Liquid Armor: No survival guide would be complete without mentioning the importance of sunscreen. In Florida, sunscreen isn't a choice; it's your liquid armor against the sun's relentless rays. Slather yourself with a thick layer of SPF 5000 (if such a thing exists) and prepare for battle. I bathe in the shit. And remember, no matter how much you sweat, don't let it deter you from reapplying every 15 minutes. It's like a never-ending game of sunscreen Whac-A-Mole! The best way to tell a visitor to Florida : they think they're going to get "tan" and then generally end up in the emergency room. Use your sunscreen like you're going to burn yourself if you don't. Because, you're going to burn yourself if you don't.
Surviving a Florida summer requires a combination of wit, a high tolerance for humidity, and a deep appreciation for all things air-conditioned. With these survival tips in your arsenal, you'll conquer the scorching sun, buzzing mosquitoes, and seemingly never-ending heat waves. Surviving a Florida summer requires a unique blend of humor, resilience, and the ability to embrace your inner reptile. From seeking shade to dressing like a tourist and perfecting the art of pool-hopping, these survival tips will help you navigate the scorching temperatures and oppressive humidity. So, pack your sunscreen, put on your "I Love Florida" shirt, and get ready for a summer adventure that's hotter than a jalapeño on a beach bonfire. Good luck, and may the air conditioning be forever in your favor!
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