Florida has the highest average max temperatures in the entire U.S., including the second-place state of Hawaii. No wonder the state is known for its heat, humidity, and beaches, which make the heat and humidity much easier to deal with. But some areas in the state are much hotter than others, with south and central Florida generally being the warmest.
The hottest cities in Florida are Ochopee and Chokoloskee, with an average max temperature of 85.06°F year round.
Hottest City in Florida: Ochopee
Ochopee is an unincorporated community near the Everglades in Collier County. The name came from the owner of the community’s general store. The owner asked a native man who visited the store what the Seminole word was for ‘farm’. The word he responded with was, “O-Chopp-ee”. From then on, the area was known as Ochopee because of the small farming family who lived there.
The area started as a community made by one family who grew tomatoes on their family farm. The man who bought the land was named James Gaunt, and he purchased 240 acres of it along U.S. Highway 41. After many years of running his family farm there, other people were drawn to the area and created a community there.
Unfortunately, the town’s post office burnt down during its early years. This didn’t stop the community from succeeding, though. They instead housed mail in a small storage shed. The shed eventually became an official post office, called the Ochopee Post Office. It earned recognition for being the smallest post office in the nation. The post office is still active today, and it serves as a tourist attraction for the town.
Things to Do in Ochopee
In its later years, the Gaunt family farm was absorbed by the government and included as a part of the Everglades. There are a few small businesses that remain in the area today. The Skunk Ape Research Center is in the Trail Lakes Campground in Ochopee. The center researches the legend of the Skunk Ape, which is also called Sasquatch. They also house a few different animal species at their location like pythons. They have one of the largest pythons in captivity, measuring around 24 feet long and 400 pounds. There are also other pythons, American alligators, turtles, and birds on display. They offer guided tours to view the animals for a few days every week.
Another popular spot in Ochopee is Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe. It’s a four-star restaurant that serves seafood and other delicious foods. They are known for home-cooked meals with reasonably-priced drinks.
The Big Cypress National Preserve is also in Ochopee. It’s much larger than the community’s area and spreads over 720,000 acres across South Florida. It was one of the first national preserves in the United States National Park System.
The area of Ochopee is best known for the invasive python species that live in and around the area. The pythons in South Florida are believed to be there as a result of irresponsible pet ownership. Owners released the snakes when they grew much larger than expected or kept them in cages that weren’t tight enough. They eat many different types of animals and have caused the decline of a few species that once lived in the Everglades.
Hottest City in Florida: Chokoloskee
Located just down the road from Ochopee in Collier County is Chokoloskee. It’s an unincorporated community with just 0.22 square miles of land area and a population of 421. The area is a great place to go fishing, bird watching, and kayaking. It is part of the 10,000 Islands area of the Everglades.
There is a store in the area called Ted Smallwood’s General Store, that also operates as a museum. Ted Smallwood opened the store in 1917 to serve as a general store and post office for the area. In 1974, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It’s still in operation today as a museum and includes some of the original goods that were sold.
It’s been featured as a haunted location on the TV series Most Terrifying Places in America. This is because of the story of “Bloody” Ed Watson. He was an outlaw from Oklahoma who killed a member of a gang and ended up fleeing to the Everglades. Watson started a plantation, hired workers, and when the workers wanted to leave he killed them and buried them in the swamp.
He got away with doing this for 15 years before he was caught in 1910. Someone found the body of a woman named Hannah Smith who Watson had killed. They gathered up a group of men and went after Watson when he made his weekly visit to Ted Smallwood’s General Store. When Watson realized that the men were waiting for him, he went out of the store shooting his shotgun. However, the gun misfired because the shells were wet. Then, the men fired at Watson, putting at least 30 rounds into his body. From then on, the store has been considered haunted.
More than 2,000 years ago, Chokoloskee Island was the home of the Calusa people. When Spain sold Florida to Great Britain in 1763 there were no residents in the area. Chokoloskee was briefly used by United States Army in 1856 during the Third Seminole War. In 1874, Chokoloskee Island was first settled by the family of John Weeks. After the Weeks family moved to the island, the Santini family followed. Just six years later, most of the land was owned by the Santinis.
The island residents farmed, fished, and sold any extra produce and meat in Key West. When Ted Smallwood moved to Chokoloskee Island in 1897, there were only five other families on the island, including two Santini brothers. But two years later, the Santini’s left and sold their land on the island to Smallwood.
When the original post office was built, the mail schedule was pretty unpredictable. Since it came by boat until 1956, post office workers would alert islanders that the mail had arrived by blowing a conch shell.
There are no schools in Chokoloskee except a small school building that occasionally saw teachers. But most teachers left Chokoloskee quickly after getting there, finding themselves unprepared for life in such a small town. Until the late 1930s, the children of Chokoloskee would not attend school past eighth grade. Eventually, they would attend high school in Everglades City or Naples.
Church was also an occasional event in Chokoloskee. There was a small church built in the early 1900s and a few preachers who visited. There were also no doctors that lived on the island, just a midwife named C.G. McKinney.
Staying Cool in the Heat
In the hot summer months, areas in Ochopee and Chokoloskee can reach the 100°s, along with many other places in the state. In fact, Ochopee reached a whopping 106°F in 1993!
That much heat can bring heat rash, dehydration, and other health issues. It’s important to practice ways to stay cool in the hot and humid Florida summer. Wearing light-colored, SPF-protected clothing can keep the sun from reaching your skin and keep you cooler. Bringing bottled water and electrolyte-based drinks on any outing is essential because the sun will dehydrate you quickly. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can shade your face and keep you from getting burnt.
Take inside breaks as much as possible, and if you have to be outside you can invest in a portable fan to keep you cool. The great thing about Florida is that it’s surrounded by and full of bodies of water, so if you get too hot, just jump in!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Juergen Faelchle/Shutterstock.com
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