What is there to do here?
I feel my city girl coming out. Making beelines to hipster bars and any place with the words “Live Music.” Dressing up as if I was going to Coachella. Googling thrift stores and skimming past the antique shops that suburban folks are so partial to. Lingering at indie cafés.
I know I can’t take the template of where I last lived (rural Massachusetts, England, Chicago) and force it onto where I live now. Already I’ve traded in rock-climbing for jazzercise. I know I can’t walk everywhere like I could in England. Change of scenery means a change of style and I’ve been trying to adapt.
So here’s what I’ve discovered!
Yoga + Coffee
Sometimes, you need to do yoga on the back patio of an old train-station-turned-café led by a girl with a tree frog tattoo.
Backed by train tracks and flanked by vast white-hot parking lots, you feel like you’re at the edge of the world, far away from distractions and busyness. Feel at one with the storage items against the wall: beautiful and unbothered.
Not to mention, the $10 yoga session includes a specialty coffee at the end. I get a large decaf soy-milk gingerbread latte. This officially makes me a yuppie.
No, seriously, pull over to that red barn advertising pulled-pork sandwiches for $1.50. This is Red Hill Groves. Not only can you browse the selection of oranges and locally-sourced honey, but for 50₵ a bag, you can get chicken feed and deliver a midday snack to our feathered friends.
Maybe it’s not your idea of fun but when someone asks what you did today, you can say, “Legit, I fed chickens.”
Shop and Find the Weirdest Things
Such as your everyday-value love potion.
“What do you do with it?” I ask.
The lady says, “You use it to clean your house.”
But she refuses to sell it to me, instead recommending that I pick out a perfume for her to infuse with the love potion so that I can wear it on my skin.
“For you only,” she says.
I have yet to take up her offer, however, there is a money potion…
Get the Weirdest Food
Including food that doesn’t make my friend from Alabama bat an eyelash. Alligator jerky, boiled peanuts, deep-fried chicken gizzards with honey mustard—you can only ever trust the places on the side of the road to give you the authentic experience.
For drinks, duck into Rabbitfoot Record Store (aka cafe + daytime bar + record shop + art gallery + best writing place ever) and dare to try the Java Bomb for $6. Basically, you drop a shot of espresso into a pint of beer, most likely the nitro milk stout.
Let me just say, alcohol (a depressant) combined with caffeine (a stimulant) sent shockwaves through my body and left me with the weirdest sensation I have ever felt. I spent the afternoon frolicking in the rain and then darting down the aisles at Plato’s Closet grabbing every piece of clothing that I saw. I drove home feeling so happy that I cried onto my steering wheel.
Explore Downtown Sanford
No, seriously, you’d be surprised at what you find when you take the street by foot.
Need I say more?
But let’s get real
In all honesty though, some of the most fun times I’ve had in Florida have not involved that much searching and learning of the city. It could be jumping in the pool at 8 pm when it’s still 68 degrees. It could be going to Sonic for the first time with my friend and tasting her Ocean Water slush. It could be binging on cupcakes and ice cream after Lent with my friend in a Simon Pegg movie marathon. Or decorating chocolate-coconut Easter eggs with my grandma. Or playing with my housemate’s puppy. Or dancing to Beyoncé with my aunt.
At the end of the day, the city girl realizes there’s more to life than hipster cafés and nightlife. The fun things to do (aka weird encounters) of everyday life in suburban Florida are nice punctuation marks to an otherwise steady lifestyle. But between the shady love potions and dusty yoga mats, the things that make this place fun are the little things that build up to one amazing adventure.
Rachel Noëlle is a writer based in Orlando, Florida. Read more about her here.