Growing up, I never understood why my parents decided to move to Florida. Everywhere else seemed to have cooler things like... well... snow. But since I've moved away, I have grown to love my home state and all it has to offer — aside from those crazy news headlines.

Sure, we might not have seasons and mosquitoes make up the majority of our population, but I'm here to tell you that the "Sunshine State" is a great place to be!

1. Sunshine!

Sunset on Captiva Island, FL

Bridget MacPherson

It isn't called the Sunshine State for nothing. The tropical air really is the selling point for most everyone living on the peninsula. When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than a white snowy winter, but now that I have lived through one, I can safely say I prefer the warmth to the tundra of winter.

2. Beaches

Sunset on Captiva Island, FL

Bridget MacPherson

Going hand in hand with sunshine are the beaches of Florida. Now, I am partial to the gulf coast, but truthfully, both coasts offer some incredible beaches with shells and surf galore.

Although I love a day in the sand, I would have to say that my favorite beach activity is watching the sunset. I don't know if it's just me and my own Floridian bias, but I have never seen sunsets quite like the ones back home. Every night it's different, and regardless of the weather, the sun always seems to find a way to peak past the clouds in the most beautiful way.

3. Outdoor Activities

My best bud Tanner and I kayaking down the Estero River.

Bridget MacPherson

We might not have mountains, but have you ever walked through a cypress slough?

Although FL is deemed as the pancake state because of its lack of mountain ranges, I still find great joy in being outdoors and connecting with nature.

Florida truly is a tropical wonderland with birds and plants that you just can't find elsewhere. When I moved to North Carolina, I was so surprised by the lack of birds. Then silly me remembered that birds migrate south for winter, meaning Florida really is just a sanctuary for birds year round!

Whether it be walking through a marsh or kayaking down a river, I love experiencing the unique flora and fauna that Florida has to offer.

4. Disney!

Steven, Caitlin, and I at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World!

Bridget MacPherson

This article would not be complete if I did not mention my favorite place... Disney World!

Yes, I am the Floridian who is obsessed with Disney, and I am PROUD! Growing up, my family's annual trip to Disney was the most exciting time of the year for my sister and I. As we have grown older, we still love going and have learned to enjoy it in a whole new way!

I truly feel that there is something at Disney for everyone. They are not just theme parks for children. There are so many amazing things to do between the four theme parks (Epcot being the best one), Disney Springs, mini golf, water-parks, and more. Disney World is truly the happiest place on earth in my eyes, and Florida just wouldn't be the same without it!

5. Day Trips!

My sister and I at the famous Colombia Restaurant in Ybor City, FL! They have THE BEST Cuban sandwiches in the world, hands down.

Bridget MacPherson

Branching off from Disney, traveling around Florida, in general, is so easy and fun! For such a big state, there are so many places to visit within mere hours of each other.

Some of my favorite cities to visit are Tampa (which is 2 hours away from my hometown of Fort Myers) and Jacksonville (which is the exact midpoint between Fort Myers and Chapel Hill!) There is so much history and culture embedded in the cities of Florida, and the accessibility makes it that much more fun to explore!

6. Diversity

One of the many historical sites in my hometown that pay homage to our history and cultural diversity.

https://bonitasprings.floridaweekly.com/articles/d...

As I mentioned above, Florida's culture is rich and diverse. The population is made up many different groups, including a strong Latinx population, temporary retired residents (snowbirds as we call them), and tourists from around the world. The nature of our state makes it a melting pot of diversity and culture.

I feel as though my upbringing in Florida inspired my love for global culture and influenced my choice in major and career path here at UNC.

7. Oranges

Sun Harvest Citrus in Fort Myers FL! It's got the best ice orange juice and ice cream around.

https://www.visitcapecoral.de/sun-harvest-citrus/

Changing gears a bit, Florida has some of the best food offerings in the country. Due to our location, we are able to provide the country with produce throughout the year, and you guessed it, oranges are our most popular export!

One of the best touristy spots in Fort Myers is a place called Sun Harvest Citrus. Pictured above, they sell the freshest Florida oranges around and sell varieties of juice and (the best) ice cream. If you have never had fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice, I am so sorry and will send you some immediately.

8. Fam!

My mom, sister, and I at sunset at Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, FL.

Bridget MacPherson

This may sound cheesy, but the best part about Florida by far is that it's home to my family!

My family is my lifeline, and without them, I would not be the woman I am today.

All perks aside, Florida will always be the most special place to me because of the childhood it gave me and the loved ones I have there.

There it is folks! A full list of why Florida rocks, and why it should not be deemed the crazy state down south.