13 Things Every Florida Traveler Should Know (as Learned From Carl Hiaasen's Novels)

Clearwater Beach, FL
In Clearwater, Florida, even the birds know to always park in the shade. Photo: Getty.

For your Florida spring break, we're happy to share the best places to play with dolphins, or just where to relax with a Bloody Mary in hand. Check out our spring break crawls in Miami, Orlando, Key West and the Fort Myers area.

For additional insight for travelers to the Sunshine State, though, we defer to Carl Hiaasen. In 13 novels and more than 35 years as a journalist with the Miami Herald, Hiaasen has critiqued, chronicled and defended the sometimes strange and always intriguing culture of Florida.

Here are 13 things about Florida every traveler should know, as mined from some of his novels. Note: Some words below are not safe for work. Bold type has been added to the text for emphasis.

1) "Even Florida winters could get miserably hot, but a person could adjust. George Graveline had a motto by which he faithfully lived: Always park in the shade."
- "Skin Tight"

2) "Florida, of all places, you don't rent out vehicles with cheap-ass air conditioners."
- "Skinny Dip"

3) "One of the wondrous things about Florida, Rudy Graveline thought as he chewed on a jumbo shrimp, was the climate of unabashed corruption: There was absolutely no trouble from which money could not extricate you."
- "Skin Tight"

4) "He is the Sultan of Shills, the perfect mouthpiece for the hungry-eyed developers, hoteliers, bankers, and lawyers who have made South Florida what it is today: Newark with palm trees."
- "Tourist Season"

5) "Today the Florida most of you know -- and created, in fact -- is a suburban tundra purged of all primeval wonder save for the sacred solar orb. For all you care, this could be Scottsdale, Arizona, with beaches."
- "Tourist Season"

6) "Authorities in South Florida were famously accommodating to the film industry, and had been known to shut down major freeways so that a teenaged vampire drag-racing scene could be shot and re-shot without artistic compromise."
- "Skinny Dip"

7) "Miami was the floating-human-body-parts capital of America."
- "Bad Monkey"

8) "A.Q., Keyes remembered, stood for Asshole Quotient. Skip Wiley had a well-known theory that the quality of life declined in direct proportion to the Asshole Quotient. According to Wiley's reckoning, Miami had 134 total assholes per square mile, giving it the worst A.Q. in North America. In second place was Aspen, Colorado (101), with Malibu Beach, California, finishing third at 97."
- "Tourist Season"

9) "In the mid-1800s Miami was known as Fort Dallas. It was mucky, rutted, steaming, snake-infested settlement of two hundred tools, perennially under attack from crafty Seminoles or decimated by epidemics of malaria."
- "Tourist Season"

10) "Even in Florida it's against the law for convicted felons to have a gun, but as vice mayor of the town (and one who'd successfully petitioned to have his civil rights restored), Skinner had granted himself an ad hoc exemption."
- "Nature Girl"

11) "'I didn't know the water got so cold in Florida.' 'Just wait until summer. It's like soup,' Sammy Tigertail said."
- "Nature Girl"

12) "Florida is like the worst fucking place in America for stressing out, besides Vegas. I'm not making this up."
- "Skin Tight"

13) "Anyway, there's worse places than Miami to be for a monkey."
- "Stormy Weather"

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