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STATE GEMS

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EDITOR’S MESSAGE

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reativity absolutely thrives on Florida sunshine. Now in our third year of publication, one would think we have covered all the bases in this wonderful state. Perhaps, its legacy—and success—rests solidly in the fact that it is always reinventing itself. Our writers have come up with an extensive list of the most popular highlights, as well as out-of-the-ordinary experiences, the Sunshine State has to offer you.

RECENT INITIATIVES The party continues. Florida is marking five centuries of visitors arriving in the state with its Viva Florida 500 celebration, which commemorates Florida’s rich heritage and diverse cultural history. In a state surrounded by water on three sides and boasting more than 12,000 miles of rivers, streams and canals, Florida’s maritime traditions play a significant role in history, including the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León’s landing on the east coast in 1513. In St. Augustine, living-history programs, demonstrations and recreated portrayals tell Florida’s colonial story. Want to tour Miami but prefer not to drive? Head down to the nearest DECOSTATION and hop on a DECOBIKE, the official City of Miami Beach bike-sharing and rental program (decobike.com). The program features a network of 100 solar-powered bike rental and sharing stations located throughout Miami with a fleet of 1,000 custom bikes accessible from dozens of locations 24 hours a day. Theme parks are always a big draw and a number of new attractions are sprouting up in and around the Orlando area. For instance, LEGOLAND has opened an on-site water park, which features the build-a-raft river where families can create a unique LEGO vessel to voyage around the 1,000-foot lazy river.

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES In addition to theme parks, Florida also offers a huge selection of out-of-the-ordinary experiences. For instance, I’m planning a trip down to the Keys, which set me off on a quest for what’s there. Say you’re a diver. Why not volunteer to dive right in and plant a coral reef? Witnessing the degradation of many beautiful reefs, Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation, teamed up with his daughters on a 4H project to see whether humans could help grow new coral in the Florida Keys. Today, he and his associates train people in progressively more successful techniques to get coral to grow in places where it’s been wiped out. Take that a step further and book a stay at the Jules’ Underwater Lodge in Key Largo. This hotel can only be reached by scuba diving, yet it offers air conditioning, big-screen televisions and all the modern amenities, while you enjoy the view from portholes within your compartment. If underwater excursions don’t appeal to you, how about an over-water tour on board the African Queen, the iconic original vessel from John Huston’s classic 1951 film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Registered as a National Historic Site, the 100-year-old boat is plying Key Largo’s waters and canals again. Or head over to Robbie’s of Islamorada. A dollar gets you in and $2.75 buys a bucket of fishy snacks to toss into the mass of swirling tarpon that hungrily hang out beside the dock. You’ll definitely get your $3.75 worth when you entice tarpon, reportedly the size of an NBA guard, to leap out of the water at baitfish you just pitched. If you’re feeling a bit more daring, lie flat on the dock, dangle a shiny baitfish inches off the water and see what happens. Seeking more interaction? Consider Theater of the Sea at Mile Marker 84.5 in the Keys and sign up for their dolphin and sea lion art program. You pick the paint colors and hold a canvas while your mammalian art partner does the hard work. How? By holding the paintbrush in its mouth. These are but a few examples of the wonderful experiences awaiting us in Florida. So read on and plan your best vacation ever.

Donna S. Vieira Editor

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA


ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL IN COCOA BEACH. LAURA STONE/SHUTTERSTOCK

2 0 13 T R AV E L G U I D E T O

FLORIDA www.floridatravelguide.travel

The 2013 Travel Guide to Florida is published by Globelite Travel Marketing Inc., a leading lifestyle media company and publisher of The Travel Guides to Canada, The Travel Guide to California, and Dreamscapes Travel and Lifestyle Magazine. Joseph P. Turkel, President and Group Publisher Valerie Saunders, Vice President Judi Scharf, Vice President PUBLISHER ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER EDITOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR COPY EDITOR ART DIRECTOR CIRCULATION MANAGER DIRECTOR OF FINANCE PRESIDENT & GROUP PUBLISHER ACCOUNT MANAGERS

Joseph P. Turkel Bonny Mager Donna S. Vieira Judi Scharf Kevin Fritz Mark Tzerelshtein Julia Wall Gloria Mungo Joseph P. Turkel

Christa Collins Vivian Hunt Bonny Mager Joe Turkel

WRITERS Darien Arden, Susan B. Barnes, Cheryl Blackerby, Elizabeth Clarke, Jennifer Wylie Fauser, Sandra Friend, Kevin Fritz, Janet Groene, Josie Gulliksen, Jen Karetnick, Barb and Ron Kroll, Rochelle Lash, Kristen Manieri, Jill Martin, Jeff Ostrowski, Kate Pocock, Tim Ribar, Katherine Sgroi, Judy Wells, Richard Westlund, Kathy Wolf FLORIDA OFFICE: 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 130-446, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 Tel: 1-888-700-4464 Fax: 416-497-0871 email: tigc@rogers.com www.floridatravelguide.travel CANADIAN OFFICE: Globelite Travel Marketing Inc. 3 Bluffwood Drive Toronto, Ontario M2H 3L4 Tel: 416-497-5353, 1-888-700-4464 Fax: 416-497-0871 email: tigc@rogers.com www.floridatravelguide.travel ISSN: 1926-2531 (Print) ISSN: 1927-7253 (Online) No part of this publication can be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of Globelite Travel Marketing Inc. The opinions in this magazine are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Globelite Travel Marketing Inc. Publications Mail Agreement 40047932. Contents Š copyright 2013. Printed in Canada.

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA


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MAP OF FLORIDA 8

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

SOUTH EAST


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

44 GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND INFORMATION 14 18 22 26 30

WELCOME TO FLORIDA: Wacky, Weird and Wonderful HISTORY: Explore Historic Treasures TRAVELERS’ TIPS: A Quick Overview for Visitors TRIVIA: Cool and Quirky Tidbits STATE GEMS: Local Favorites

FLORIDA VACATION THEMES 36 40

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44 46 50 52 56 60 65 68 70 72 78 82

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

84 86 90 95

ARCHITECTURE AND GARDENS: An Eclectic Array of Venues Await ARTS AND CULTURE: Splendid Collections and Artistry PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Capturing the Best of Florida THEME PARKS: Creating Family Memories BEACHES: Pleasure by the Sea FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT: Inspiring Adventures for All ROAD TRIPS: Scenic Drives and Irresistible Places CAMPGROUNDS: Campers’ Delight PETS: For Fido—and Friends MONEY-SAVING TIPS: Save Big and Enjoy More WILDLIFE VIEWING: A Birder’s Paradise ECOTOURISM: Florida au Naturel GOLF: Signature Links for All Levels WEDDINGS AND HONEYMOONS: Living the Dream SPAS: Where Soothing Treatments Flourish SPORTS: A Sportsman’s Playground VACATION HOMES: A Quick Guide to Florida’s Real Estate Markets GAMBLING: A Sure Bet for Entertainment


FLORIDA REGIONS, COUNTIES, CITIES AND ATTRACTIONS 100 107 108 110 112 116 120 122 132 134 140 142 152 160 162 168 174

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA: A Diverse Landscape Miami: Rays, Glitz & Glamor Fort Lauderdale: Breezy Beaches, Relaxed Sophistication Sunny Isles Beach: The Isle of Plenty Delray Beach: A Traveler’s Haven Cultural Council of Palm Beach County: A Celebration of Art, Culture and History Hollywood: Charming, Friendly & Eclectic SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: A Preservation Playground The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel: Florida’s Natural Gulf Coast Beauties CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA: The Ultimate Journey Martin County: A Bounty of Treasures CENTRAL FLORIDA: Miles of Non-Stop Delight CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA: Limitless Choices St. Petersburg/Clearwater: America’s Award-Winning Beaches NORTHEAST FLORIDA: Land of Beautiful Discoveries NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA: The Quiet Grace of Yesteryear NORTHWEST FLORIDA: A Special Place in Time

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FLORIDA RESOURCE DIRECTORY 181 181 182 183 183 184 184 184 185 188 188 189 190 190 190 191 191 192

Florida Time Zones Annual Florida Festivals Average Monthly Temperatures and Precipitation Tourism Information Sources in Florida Florida’s Public Holidays Florida Associations and Travel Groups Cruise Lines Sailing from Florida Ports Florida Cruise Ports Florida State Parks, Forests & Regional Recreation Spaces National Parks, Memorials, Monuments and Preserves Major Hotel Chains Mileage Chart Between Key Florida Cities Car Rental Companies RV Rental Companies Bus Tour Operators Major International Airports Airline Service to Florida from Canada and the USA Florida Lighthouses

COVER: Panama City Beach (Panama City Beach CVB)

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WELCOME TO FLORIDA!

WACKY, WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

Aerial view of Miami South Beach

F

lorida has a reputation around the world as a wonderful yet often weird place to visit. Who can deny that the state is often going viral with some very odd stories, ranging from a “zombie” attack in Miami to an Orlando woman who keeps getting bumped off voter rolls because she is supposedly dead? Of course, most of the folks here, like the wildlife (pythons that eat alligators excepting), are not only very much alive but are relatively harmless, and the majority of the items stemming from the state are of the “it can only happen here” variety. In fact, many—a giant sinkhole in Jonesville; a pro footvolley (a new sport combining soccer and volleyball) showcase on Delray Beach; Fawlty Towers Resort, a clothing-optional hotel in Cocoa Beach—have to be seen, along with staples such as Disney World, to be believed.

Butterfly World, Fort Lauderdale 14

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CVB; RICHARD CAVALLERI /SHUTTERSTOCK; VISIT MIAMI; PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB; BRADENTON AREA CVB.

BY JEN KARETNICK


Perhaps it’s the perpetual heat that gets to some of the residents, but therein lies part of the Florida’s wacky, undeniable charm.

A BOUNTIFUL LAND Florida, which means “flowery land,” is virtually impossible to resist. After all, everybody loves flowers, and Florida’s bounty ranges from its state flower, the orange blossom—one of the citrus crops on which the economy depends, along with grapefruit and tangerines—to exotic bougainvillea and birds of paradise. In fact, Florida is largely agricultural and depends on crops as diverse as sugarcane and tomatoes to survive, leaving plenty available for passersby to purchase. Its biggest exports include sweet corn and green beans, and visitors are often amazed to find farm stands and U-pick farms offering everything from boiled peanuts and blueberries in Gainesville to mangoes in the deep south areas of Redland and Homestead. Throughout the year, festivals, such as the Florida Strawberry Festival in

late winter in Plant City and the mid-summer International Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, are hugely enjoyable, multi-day attractions. If you prefer fruit that’s been bottled, Florida has plenty of that as well. Wineries abound throughout the state, with many offering grape varietals as well as tropical fruit vintages.

BREAK OUT THE SUNSCREEN

renowned for being the warmest state in the U.S. mainland. Florida sets other enviable records, including being the state with the second-longest coastline on which visitors can set up beach chairs and break out the sunscreen. A long peninsula that takes as long as 15 hours to traverse by car from north to south, the state is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Blessed with a climate that ranges from subtropical in the northern areas to tropical in coastal and southern regions, Florida is known nationally as the “Sunshine State.” Temperatures average a balmy 70 F daily, with highs peaking in July and August usually in the low 90s. And while the lowest temperature ever recorded in the winter of 1899 was –2 F in the capital of Tallahassee, the usual lows, which only last for a couple of days, hover around the 40s or 50s during January or February. All in all, although Florida has its share of bad weather, it’s

Miami Seaquarium antics, Key Biscayne

Couple on Longboat Key

Kayaking off St. Andrews State Park 2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

15


WELCOME TO FLORIDA!

Lion Country Safari, West Palm Beach

SPORTING EVENTS

A couple of Florida’s cities, including Panama City Beach on the northwest coast and Daytona Beach on the east coast, are famous for their Spring Break popularity, which usually lasts for a couple of weeks in March. The rest of the year these cities are familyfriendly and attract boaters and fishermen as well as water sports enthusiasts to some of the most gorgeous beaches, both natural and groomed, in the country. The currents of Key Biscayne are noted for their permissibility in learning the rudiments of paddleboarding, ocean kayaking and other strenuous yet peaceful water sports, as are the coastal areas around Fort Myers, particularly Sanibel and Captiva islands. If you’re shell hunters, the Gulf Coast, from Fort Myers to Sarasota, is the place to head—and if you’re lucky, you’ll even find thousand-year-old sharks’ teeth.

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

When it comes to professional sports, Florida is again in the running for being the best in the country and has a plethora of stadium and bowl games for sport fans to enjoy year-round. That doesn’t include, of course, the famous baseball Spring Training facilities. Nor does it take into account the myriad golf and tennis tournaments and facilities in Orlando, Daytona, Naples and Miami, among other cities. Of special note, the new Marlins Stadium in Miami, which opened for the 2012 baseball season, is truly user-friendly, and Miami Heat fans will be mobbing the American Airlines Arena in 2013 looking for a ring repeat—so get tickets early for games if you can. In addition, car racing fans can’t get enough of the heats in Daytona, Homestead and other speedways throughout the state.

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT Perhaps what comes first to mind, though, are Central Florida’s theme parks. Resorts and attractions, such as Epcot/Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Miami Seaquarium, Busch Gardens and, more recently, LEGOLAND Florida, are an inescapable part of Florida’s identity and destinations in their own right. Water parks, such as Shipwreck Island Waterpark in Panama City, Adventure Island in Tampa/St. Petersburg and Adventure Landing in Jacksonville, are also thrilling experiences for the whole family, and especially refreshing in the summertime when the air can be quite humid. Slightly smaller parks,

such as Lion Country Safari and Rapids Water Park, both in Palm Beach County, offer respite from subdivisions and relatives, as does Butterfly World in Broward County. Perhaps nothing is as adventurous, however, as Florida’s natural water park, which stretches from east to west and north to south. The Everglades, nicknamed the “river of grass” because of its slow-moving tidal system that allows long sawgrass to grow, is a two-million-acre national park with many entrances, all of which offer a variety of options. In this swamp filled with a brackish mixture of salt and fresh water, visitors can fish, kayak, hike, bike or take airboat tours to view protected wildlife, which include American alligators, crocodiles, manatees, bottlenose dolphins, wood storks, snail kites, very rare Key deer and the endangered Florida panther. Birders especially love the Everglades, home to more than 350 bird species, including America’s national symbol, the bald eagle, which often nests here. Or head farther south to Biscayne National Park, where all the aforementioned outdoor activities are available as well as some additional activities, such as snorkeling, diving and glass-bottom boat tours. In fact, most of the 173,000 acres of the park are underwater and only accessible by boat! It’s certainly worth renting one to search the islands for evidence of use by native tribes, to explore shipwrecks and to drift above the coral reef system, where more than 200 species of fish thrive. With more than 12,000 years of human history waiting to be uncovered, Florida never disappoints. FL

LEFT TO RIGHT: PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB; KEN MCCRAY.

EverBank Field, home of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars


HISTORY

EXPLORE HISTORIC TREASURES

Historic City Hall in Coral Gables

F

rom sunken Spanish galleons to Thomas Edison’s winter laboratory and NASA’s legendary spacecraft, Florida has a rich and intriguing past. Today, visitors can explore the historic treasures found everywhere in the state, from the Hemingway home in Key West to Pensacola, the “city of five flags.” Here’s a brief look at some of the highlights.

THE EARLIEST DAYS

The botanical gardens (formerly Cypress Gardens) at LEGOLAND

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Thousands of years before the first European explorers arrived, Florida was populated by Native Americans, whose artifacts can be found at various architectural sites. For example, the Tequesta people lived near the mouth of the Miami River, where a recent excavation uncovered the remains of a village. Now, the state Division of Historical Resources has preserved the site as the Miami Circle Park. Many Florida museums contain Native

American artifacts made from bones, shells and stone dating back thousands of years.

THE COLONIAL ERA In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León discovered Florida, and in 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine, now the oldest continually-inhabited city in North America. With a historic district containing more than 30 colonial-era buildings, St. Augustine provides a unique glimpse into Spanish colonial life. One of the highlights is Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fortification in the continental U.S. Offshore, Spanish galleons from the New World carried gold and silver coins and other forms of wealth on the hazardous journey back to Europe. Salvage expeditions have recovered some of those doubloons, anchors, cannons and other treasures, while other underwater

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: VISIT FLORIDA; GREATER MIAMI CVB; VISIT FLORIDA; ST. AUGUSTINE, PONTE VEDRA & THE BEACHES CVB; ST. AUGUSTINE, PONTE VEDRA & THE BEACHES CVB; VISIT FLORIDA.

BY RICHARD WESTLUND


sites along the Florida Keys, Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are readily accessible to divers. For example, the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail covers 12 wrecks from Pensacola to Port St. Joe. Unlike St. Augustine, Jacksonville can trace its roots to the French who landed at the mouth of the St. Johns River in 1562 and founded Fort Caroline two years later. However, a Spanish force soon captured the fort, and the French became a distant memory. In 1763, Spain traded Florida to Great Britain in exchange for Havana, Cuba, which then divided the region into East and West Florida. Meanwhile, Pensacola flourished under Spanish, French and British rule, giving it the distinction of flying five flags (including the U.S. and Confederate banners). During the American Revolution, both East and West Florida remained loyal to the British, but after the Treaty of Paris was signed, Spain once again took control, and the peninsula became home for hundreds of escaped slaves and Native Americans displaced from their ancestral homes. For instance, one branch of the Creek tribe moved to Central Florida and became known as the Seminoles. After several bitter conflicts in the early 1800s, General Andrew Jackson led a successful campaign that gradually resulted in U.S. control over the region. Meanwhile, a handful of surviving Seminoles moved farther south to the Everglades, where they gradually rebuilt their society. Today, visitors can learn about the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes, sample native cuisine, take a ride on an airboat or watch alligator wrestling at Billie Swamp Safari and other attractions along U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) and I-75 (Alligator Alley). Clewiston’s Ah-Tah-ThiKi Museum (which means “a place to learn”) is a living village of early Seminole culture and well worth a visit.

Ybor City, Tampa

Re-enactment of Menéndez 1565 landing, St. Augustine

Sample 16th-century food, St. Augustine

TERRITORY, STATEHOOD AND CIVIL WAR Throughout the early 1800s, Florida’s population was concentrated in North Florida, where Tallahassee became the territorial capital. One of the city’s highlights from that era is The Grove, a historic mansion finished in the 1830s by Richard Keith Call, an aide and advisor to General Jackson. In 1845, Florida became the

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

19


HISTORY Drummer

nation’s 27th state under governor William Dunn Moseley. Another famous Floridian was composer Stephen Foster, whose song, Old Folks at Home, became the state anthem. In White Springs, the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park reflects his memory. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Florida joined the Confederacy. With a population of just 140,000—half of them African American slaves—it was the smallest state to secede from the Union. During the war, Union troops occupied numerous ports and there were several small fights. Now, “soldiers” in Civil War uniforms annually re-enact the Battle of Olustee near Lake City. The state has also published the Florida Civil War Heritage Trail, a guidebook to Florida battle sites.

AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE In the century following the Civil War, Florida’s African Americans made significant contributions to the nation’s culture. An annual festival in Eatonville honors Zora Neale Hurston, a leading 20th-century author whose works influenced writers, such as Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison.

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

In Miami, the 400-seat Lyric Theater opened in 1913 and soon became a major entertainment center for African Americans in the state’s segregated society. Closed in the 1960s after becoming a church in 1959, it has been part of a massive reconstruction and restoration project and will re-open in 2013. The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

THE RAILROAD ERA In the late 19th century, railroad magnate Henry Flagler put Florida “on the map” as a warm-weather vacation destination. He extended his Florida East Coast Railway from Jacksonville south to Miami and the Florida Keys, building luxurious resorts such as the Ponce de León Hotel in St. Augustine and The Breakers in Palm Beach. Near Marathon in the Florida Keys, the Pigeon Key Foundation restored a five-acre island that was the site of a Flagler railroad work camp, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. On the Gulf Coast, railroad owner Henry Plant built the Tampa Bay Hotel, which later


PHOTOS: VISIT FLORIDA.

Diving Key Largo

became part of the University of Tampa. Other historic sites in the area include the sponge diving docks in Tarpon Springs and Tampa’s Ybor City, known as the Latin Quarter for more than a century. Visitors can enjoy Cuban coffee and cigars and dance to the rhythms of Latin music. In fact, many Florida cities have a historic downtown neighborhood with buildings from the early 1900s. One example is Stranahan House on the New River in Fort Lauderdale. A few miles to the south, Dania Beach—once known as the “tomato capital of the world”— now has an antique district along U.S. 1. In Fort Myers, inventor Thomas Edison and his friend Henry Ford built Florida homes, known today as the Edison & Ford Winter Estates with a museum, botanical gardens and laboratory.

BOOM AND BUST In the first two decades of the 1900s, Florida’s population began to explode, thanks to the development of new cities and communities along the railroad lines. Entrepreneur Carl Fisher helped turn a sandy island into the City of Miami Beach, and George Merrick’s master plan for a new community called Coral Gables led to a frenzied real estate boom in the mid-1920s. But hurricanes and the Great Depression slowed Florida’s growth to a standstill during the 1930s, despite the founding of Cypress

Gardens near Winter Haven and Marineland south of St. Augustine—the state’s first two theme parks. Author Ernest Hemingway spent more than a decade in Key West, and his residence is now the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. During World War II, the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard set up training bases in Florida, while German U-boats sank freighters and other merchant ships off the coast—creating more wrecks for today’s scuba divers.

INTO THE MODERN ERA After World War II, the development of air conditioning and the interstate highway system sparked a population boom that has never stopped. The flow of immigrants increased after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959, and helped transform Miami into a major commercial and financial center. The Cuban Museum in Miami pays tribute to that important chapter in South Florida’s history. In 1949, Cape Canaveral was chosen as a test site for the U.S. missile program. A decade later, the Cocoa Beach-Titusville area was the heart of the nation’s space program, including Apollo 11, the 1969 mission that carried astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. Now, the Kennedy Space Center allows visitors to experience the years of the Space Race—a fitting ending to Florida’s timeless historical story. FL

FEATURED LINKS Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum ahtahthiki.com Billie Swamp Safari billieswamp.com Cuban Museum cubanmuseum.org Edison & Ford Winter Estates edisonfordwinterestates.org Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum hemingwayhome.com Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail floridapandledivetrail.com Kennedy Space Center kennedyspacecenter.com Miami Circle dhr.dos.state.fl.us/archaeology Olustee Festival olusteefestival.com Pigeon Key Foundation pigeonkey.net St. Augustine Historic District oldcity.com Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park floridastateparks.org/stephenfoster Stranahan House Museum stranahanhouse.org The Florida Civil War Heritage Trail flheritage.com/preservation The Grove flheritage.com/grove Ybor City Chamber ybor.org Zora Neale Hurston Festival zoranealehurstonfestival.com

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

21


TRAVELERS’ TIPS

A QUICK OVERVIEW FOR VISITORS BY KATHY WOLF

Sunset with crescent moon

C

ompared to other states, Florida ranks 22nd in terms of total area. It covers an area of 58,560 square miles, boasting more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways and 663 miles of beaches. If you’re motoring, it’s a 15-hour drive from sultry Key West in the south to breezy Pensacola in the Panhandle. In between, there are 67 counties, most of which have their own tourism websites. More than half of Florida’s population of 19.3 million lives south of Orlando, however to the north and west, you can expect to see rural countryside dotted with small towns.

WEATHER Florida’s temperate weather makes it a top vacation destination. Spring and summer are prime time in the north, while South Florida is at its best in fall and winter. Mild winters can be punctuated with freezing temperatures, down to 20 F. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures between 80 F and 95 F and evenings in the 70s. Afternoon thundershowers

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

may occasionally bring lightning strikes. Hurricane season runs June 1–November 30. Tune into weather forecasts and be aware of hurricane evacuation routes.

GETTING AROUND Major international airports are in Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), West Palm Beach (PBI), Orlando (MCO), Tampa (TPA) and Jacksonville (JAX). Visitors to Northwest Florida can fly into Pensacola (PNS) or Panama City (ECP), and those headed to the Keys save time flying directly to Key West (EYW). The Overseas Highway (U.S. 1) connects the Florida Keys and is a nationally recognized scenic highway. AMTRAK provides rail service. The Silver Service/Palmetto connects Jacksonville and Orlando, ending in either Tampa or Miami with many stops along the way. Greyhound bus service links many Florida cities. In Orlando, LYNX covers the region. The Metrobus services more than 90 routes in and around Miami.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ROB HAINER /SHUTTERSTOCK; JCPJR/SHUTTERSTOCK; VISIT FLORIDA; INFINITY2/SHUTTERSTOCK.

Tune into weather forecasts


DRIVING Florida is best toured by car. Car rental agencies are plentiful, with major companies serving both major airports and small towns. Visitors ages 16 and up holding licenses from other countries may drive in Florida, however an International Driving Permit (IDP) is recommended for visitors from foreign countries. Before getting behind the wheel, drivers should review the rules of the road from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Drivers and front-seat passengers

must wear seat belts. All children under 18 are required to wear seat belts, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle. A child restraint is mandatory for all children under five years. Headlights are required from dusk to dawn and during inclement weather. Florida has strict drunk driving laws with zero tolerance for drivers under the age of 21. Pedestrians always have the right of way at crosswalks. Florida’s heat brings dangers. Never leave children or pets in a car, even with the windows slightly open, as the interior temperature of a Couple out for a drive

car can rise to 120 F in minutes. Leaving a child unsupervised in a car also brings stiff fines. Hot pavement acts like ice when rain first hits it, so be cautious driving during rain showers. Florida has 657 miles of toll roads, bridges and causeways, more than any other state. Florida’s Turnpike is the longest, at 312 miles, connecting Interstate 75 south of Ocala with Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami and ending at the gateway to the Florida Keys. Alligator Alley (also known as Everglades Parkway) between Naples and Miami is a toll road. Toll roads also surround Orlando. The SunPass prepaid toll program covers most toll roads and bridges in Florida. Available for $5 at most grocery stores, the SunPass Mini transponder can save drivers up to 25 percent off tolls. Other major highways, such as Interstate 10 from Jacksonville to Pensacola, Interstate 95 from Jacksonville to Miami and Interstate 75 from Georgia to Naples are free. U.S. 441 and U.S. 27 provide rural alternatives to Florida’s Turnpike. Many gas stations charge five to 10 cents more a gallon for using a credit or debit card. Proximity to major highways does not guarantee the best price, as fuel taxes may vary greatly between counties.

HEALTH

Aerial view of Crandon Tennis Center, Key Biscayne

Nothing dampens a holiday more than a cold or sudden illness. Pain and cold medications are readily available at any local store. Prescription drugs can only be filled at pharmacies, some of which are open 24 hours. To avoid an unnecessary doctor visit, make sure to fill prescriptions before traveling and always carry them in their original containers. Travel insurance is recommended. For emergency assistance anywhere, dial 911.

SECURITY It is prudent to always lock car doors, even while driving, and secure belongings out of sight. Never leave a bag or parcel unattended. Keep valuables in the hotel safe along with copies of important documents, such as your passport. Florida is home to dangerous animals, most notably the American alligator, seen sunning along waterways. Never approach or feed an alligator—feeding one carries a fine of $500 and may literally cost you an arm or a leg.

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

23


TRAVELERS’ TIPS Diners in Panama City Beach—the “Seafood Capital of the South”

purchase with no transaction fee. Florida’s base sales tax on purchases is 6 percent, with counties adding up to another 1.5 percent discretionary tax.

TIPPING Tipping is the norm in America, with those working in dining establishments expected to earn up to 25 percent of their income through tips. Add 15 to 20 percent to the bill as a tip for wait staff and bartenders; airport shuttle drivers, valets and bellhops, $2 per person; maid service, $1–$2 per night; tour guides, $2–$10 per person, depending on length and complexity of the tour; and fishing guides, 10 to 15 percent of the cost of the trip. If you see a tip jar, throw a few coins in—it’s always appreciated. Marketplace at night in Miami

EVERGLADES

HOLIDAYS

ACCOMMODATION AND DINING Accommodation in Florida ranges from quaint lodges to luxurious resorts. For top-notch small properties, visit SuperiorSmallLodging.com. Most properties charge an additional county “tourist development tax” on room or holiday rental rates. Hotels and resorts, particularly in Orlando and South Florida, also add an additional 5 to 20 percent as an “amenities fee.” Ask beforehand, since these fees are not always disclosed in the published or stated price. Florida offers culinary experiences with cultural diversity, from Southern comfort food such as fried chicken and collard greens to mojitos and Jamaican jerk chicken. Dining is casual, with T-shirts and shorts the norm at chain restaurants while business casual and resort wear are appropriate in upscale

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Even during federal holidays, many attractions are open. Banks and government offices, including the post office, are closed on January 1 (New Year’s Day), third Monday in January (Martin Luther King Day), third Monday in February (Presidents’ Day), last Monday in May (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), first Monday in September (Labor Day), second Monday in October (Columbus Day), November 11 (Veterans’ Day), fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving), and December 25 (Christmas). Many companies close during “the holidays” from December 24–January 1. When a federal holiday falls on a Saturday, it is typically observed on Friday. If it falls on a Sunday, it is observed on a Monday.

BANKING AND TAXES Most banks are open Monday–Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bank Atlantic and TD Bank locations throughout Florida are open seven days a week. ATMs (automated teller machines) can be found at banks, grocery and convenience stores and at some attractions. A transaction fee is usually assessed. Many stores will allow debit card users to obtain “cash back” above their

No trip to Florida would be complete without a visit to the Everglades National Park, with its majestic and unique landscapes spanning 2,358 square miles. Dedicated on December 6, 1947, by President Harry S. Truman, it can be explored by car, tram, foot, canoe or on an exhilarating airboat tour across sweeping swamps and marshes.

FESTIVALS & EVENTS Florida weather is ideal for outdoor festivals, year-round. At the end of each regional editorial in this guide, you’ll find many popular events and festivals listed. We urge you to participate in some of these festivities in order to experience real local flavor and culture. For more listings, log onto visitflorida.com or artfestival.com/FestivalCalendar.aspx. FL

FEATURED LINKS AMTRAK amtrak.com

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles flhsmv.gov

Greyhound greyhound.com

LYNX golynx.com

Metrobus miamidade.gov/transit

VISIT FLORIDA visitflorida.com

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB; SONGQUAN DENG /SHUTTERSTOCK

establishments. Smoking is not permitted inside Florida restaurants or bars that serve food, however smokers can enjoy the outdoor patio. Restaurants are air-conditioned and can be quite chilly.


TRI VI A

COOL AND QUIRKY TIDBITS BY CHERYL BLACKERBY

F

lorida is famous for its white-sand beaches and theme parks. But visitors would do well to look beyond the major attractions to get a glimpse of the real Florida. The country’s southernmost state (in the lower 48) is fascinating, entertaining and often downright wacky. Here are just a few facts and trivia to make your visit more entertaining.

GENERAL INSIGHTS • About 1.5 million alligators live in Florida, sometimes too close for comfort. Good luck trying to outrun a gator—they can reach speeds nearing 20 mph on land. Look for gator tails on menus. (Tastes like chicken.) • And yes, flamingos are spotted in the Everglades occasionally, and eating shrimp really does turn them pink. • Shark attacks grab headlines and inspire Hollywood movies but your odds of being attacked by a shark are just one in 11.5 million. • Florida is the birthplace of a long list of Hollywood film stars, among them Maya Rudolph (Gainesville), Sidney Poitier (Miami), Faye Dunaway (Bascom), Catherine Keener (Miami), Ben Vereen (Miami), Wesley Snipes (Orlando), Delta Burke (Orlando) and Darrell Hammond (Melbourne). • Florida produces 80 percent of the nation’s supply of citrus. A drive through Central Florida can be heavenly with the scent of orange blossoms. Orange-blossom perfume and honey are sold along the backroads.

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

SOUTHEAST • The Seven Mile Bridge actually isn’t quite that long. But it didn’t sound right to call it the 6.79 Mile Bridge. • A must-see attraction in Key West is the cemetery. Look for the crypt with these accusatory last words: “I told you I was sick.” • The newest attraction in downtown Miami is Marlins Park, the $634-million retractable roof baseball stadium in Little Havana. You can eat a Cuban sandwich, plantain chips or a lobster roll instead of a hot dog. • Key Largo is known as the “Diving Capital of the World.” Some couples get married underwater. • Celebrity restaurants have flourished around Miami, among them Nobu Miami (Robert De Niro) and Emeril’s (Emeril Lagasse). • Everglades National Park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America. Many species came close to extinction in the early part of the 20th century when their feathers were snatched for ladies’ hats.

SOUTHWEST • The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island has more than two million shells, the world’s largest collection devoted only to mollusks. • Thomas Edison spent 35 winters in Fort

Fishing in Destin—World’s Luckiest Fishing Village

Myers and visitors to the Edison estate can see hundreds of his inventions on display including his filament light bulbs. • Captiva Island is said to have gotten its name because the pirate Jose Gaspar (a.k.a. Gasparilla) held female prisoners for ransom there in the early 19th century. • The screened-in dining room of the historic Cabbage Key Resort, an island in Pine Sound, has $60,000 worth of $1 bills taped to the walls and ceiling by customers. Not even powerful Hurricane Charley could dislodge them.

CENTRAL EAST • Titusville, next to the John F. Kennedy Space Center, is known as “Space City, USA.” Visitors can’t go to the Space Station, but they can take a ride on a biplane at the Warbird Museum. • There is no record of snow or snow flurries in Melbourne during the last 150 years, according to the National Weather Service, though snow has been recorded farther south. • Vero Beach draws an impressive list of winter snowbirds including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, rocker Jon Bon Jovi, actor Tommy Lee Jones and pitching great Sandy Koufax. • Real cowboys walk the streets of Arcadia and work cattle ranches near the town. World-class rodeos are held every year. Cowboy hats and boots are de rigueur here.

FROM TOP LEFT: VISIT FLORIDA; EMERALD COAST CVB.

Miami Seaquarium antics


TRI VI A CENTRAL

CENTRAL WEST • Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard bills itself as the “world’s longest continuous sidewalk,” meandering 4.5 miles through the south end of downtown. • The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail offers 47 miles of hiking and biking and is the longest urban linear trail in the eastern United States. • For more than four decades, San Antonio, population 1,142, has been holding an autumn Rattlesnake Festival in October at which its famous barbeque chicken takes center stage. • Before the Great Depression, Ybor City turned out more than 600 million handrolled cigars a year in 200 factories that employed about 20,000 people. You can still buy a hand-rolled stogie here. • Clearwater has more lightning strikes per capita than anywhere in the United States. Wild bird in the Everglades

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Orlando downtown skyline

NORTHEAST • The Mug Race is the world’s longest river race for sailboats, running 42 miles from Palatka to Jacksonville on the St. Johns River. • St. Augustine, founded by Spanish explorers in 1565 and North America’s oldest European settlement, has the nation’s narrowest street: Treasury Street is just seven feet wide. It was built this way to prevent thieves from using carriages to rob ships on the docks. • Each February, Daytona plays host to the largest single event in Florida, the Daytona 500 stock car race, which draws close to 200,000 fans.

NORTH CENTRAL • Medical researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville invented Gatorade in 1965 to help football players stay hydrated. Hot and thirsty tourists may want to follow suit. • Tallahassee was the only Confederate city east of the Mississippi River that did not fall to Union troops during the Civil War. Aerial view of Celebration

• Quincy, population 7,000, had dozens of millionaires by 1930 because many residents had bought stock in a new beverage called Coca-Cola. • More than 200 horse farms operate around Ocala and they have produced Triple Crown race winners Affirmed, Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Unbridled.

NORTHWEST • The Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival in Niceville features fried mullet and country music every October. • The Navy’s Blue Angels precision flying team makes its home in Pensacola. Keep your eyes on the skies for unexpected flyovers. • Apalachicola and nearby St. George Island were locations for the Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Issue. • Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola did more than anyone to spur development of Florida. In 1851, he invented the first air conditioner. FL

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: SONGQUAN DENG /SHUTTERSTOCK; VISIT ORLANDO CVB; VISIT MIAMI.

• Orlando attracts more than 50 million visitors a year, more than any other U.S. destination. About four million of those are international travelers. • Tourism experts estimate it would take a minimum of 67 days to visit all the museums, attractions and theme parks in the Orlando area. • Lake Okeechobee, the Big O, is the largest freshwater lake in the southeastern United States and has some of the world’s finest bass fishing. “Okeechobee” is the Seminole word for “big water.” • Spook Hill in Lake Wales offers a mysterious optical illusion that makes cars appear to roll uphill on their own power.


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STATE GEMS

Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key

Coquina clock tower in Daytona Beach

L

ooking for a memorable moment? Outof-the-ordinary adventures and interests await all travelers throughout Florida. Here is a sampling of some of the best experiences the Sunshine State has to offer visitors.

hunters. Sip locally made wine at Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery, which offers free vineyard tours and tastings of their 10 signature wines plus a fanciful little antique store.

DAYTONA BEACH AREA BRADENTON/ANNA MARIA ISLAND/LONGBOAT KEY Run your hands across sea urchins and calico crabs in the Intertidal Touch Tank at the South Florida Museum where area celebrity and the nation’s oldest manatee, Snooty, can be observed in person or online via the “Snooty Cam.” Meander through a whimsical collection of galleries, studios, boutiques and cafes housed in colorful cottages at the Village of the Arts in the city of Bradenton where one-of-akind finds from purses made entirely of recycled pop can tabs to handmade ukuleles turn typical shoppers into happy treasure

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Admission is always free at the Southeast Museum of Photography, one of the few museums in the country solely dedicated to photography. Check out the exhibitions and peruse the regular schedule of films and guest lectures. Thirty miles west of Daytona, float through De Leon Springs State Park on the Fountain of Youth Boat Tour, a narrated, ecohistory excursion on board the MV Acuera that docks near the Old Spanish Sugar Mill, a do-ityourself pancake eatery with griddles at each table. Or travel to Cassadaga in Volusia County, a 117-year-old spiritualist camp offering palm readings, psychic healings and ghost tours.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: SAM ARONOV /SHUTTERSTOCK; BOB KRIST/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU; GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CVB

BY KRISTEN MANIERI

LOCAL FAVORITES


FLORIDA KEYS The unforgettable turquoise water that hugs the highway en route to Key West is a spectacular sight to behold from the Overseas Highway, but views are actually best from a kayak. Paddle these tranquil waters by day or, if the timing is right, opt for a full-moon tour, which gives explorers a double feature—the sunset and the full moon. Dolphin lovers will want to visit Grassy Key’s Dolphin Research Center, a oneof-a-kind facility that gives guests the opportunity to swim, even paint with these friendly creatures. There is also a splash park for tots. Dive into Key West’s rowdy nightlife on the “Duval Crawl,” a 2.5-hour guided pub tour through downtown Key West offering a beer or signature cocktail at each bar.

FLORIDA’S SPACE COAST With guided kayaking tours down the Nyami Nyami River, the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne gives guests a river’s-edge vantage point of the zoo’s Expedition Africa animals. For just $6, guests can paddle their way past giraffes, rhinos and gazelles. Or check out the zoo’s newest attraction, Treetop Trek, a high-in-the-sky zip line adventure.

Have lunch with a bona fide astronaut at Kennedy Space Center, where rockets are still launching every few months. Drink in the best views of the Space Coast on a scenic flight inside an authentic 1940 fully-restored Waco UPF-7 open cockpit biplane at Florida Biplanes located on Merritt Island.

FORT LAUDERDALE Experience one of Earth’s most unusual zoos. Butterfly World is a 10-acre sanctuary wholly devoted to the study, care and display of more than 10,000 butterflies, many of which fly freely in picturesque garden aviaries. Traverse Fort Lauderdale by water taxi, a trip that not only offers glimpses of the waterfront mega mansions, but also promises to deliver passengers to some of the area’s best restaurants without worry about finding a parking spot. Book a 90-minute tour of Fort Lauderdale’s quintessential landmarks on an amphibious vehicle with Fort Lauderdale Duck Tours. Drive down famed streets, such as Las Olas Boulevard, before plunging into the Intracoastal Waterway for a tranquil cruise past million-dollar waterfront mansions. Water taxi, Fort Lauderdale

ISLAND GETAWAYS Amidst Florida’s better-known destinations there lies a handful of idyllic hideaways savvy travelers hope the crowds will never discover. Untouched and unfussy, these island locales offer a quiet, laid-back escape. LITTLE PALM ISLAND Arguably the most exclusive and luxurious island retreat, Little Palm Island is discreetly tucked amidst the Florida Keys and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Guests settle into one of only 30 private thatched-roof bungalows for a getaway filled with gourmet food, spa pampering and plenty of pool or beachside nothingness. CAYO COSTA With miles of nature trails and untouched beaches, the Gulf-side barrier island known as Cayo Costa is an outdoor lover’s paradise. This 2,426–acre state park just north of Captiva Island offers humble overnight cabins and tent camping. Expect to see a host of wildlife including manatees, dolphins and an extraordinary variety of birds. Water taxis to the island can be taken from nearby Pine Island. CABBAGE KEY Rumor has it that Jimmy Buffett penned his famous Cheeseburger in Paradise song after visiting this secluded seaside escape. By boat, helicopter or seaplane, visitors travel to Cabbage Key for the picturesque views, stellar fishing, beautiful beaches and tranquil nature trails. No cars are needed (or allowed) on this 100-acre island just north of Fort Myers. But since the handful of cottages, the main inn and restaurant are all within a short stroll of each other, no one complains about the lack of transportation. CEDAR KEY Roughly two hours north of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Cedar Key is a small, relaxed island community that is a home to artists and writers inspired by its pristine environment. The island’s natural beauty and rich history as a major supplier of seafood and timber products draw many people each year to walk the historic streets, browse the shops and galleries, explore the back bayous and enjoy the world-famous restaurants featuring seafood fresh from local waters.

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

31


STATE GEMS Venetian Pool, Coral Gables

Zipline Safari, Forever Florida

Lounge with the locals at Captiva Island’s Mucky Duck, a hangout loved for its seafood, blueberry sour cream pie and the area’s best sunset views. Take a trip to Matlacha on Pine Island, a bygone fishing village now home to quaint galleries and restaurants. This tiny slice of Old Florida features a thriving artist community as well as Bert’s Bar & Grill, a dive bar with a more than 70-year-old history and what many consider the best flatbread pizza around. Play “vet” at the Healing Winds Visitor Education Center, a recently opened attraction at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. Here visitors learn about the care and rehabilitation of area wildlife through hands-on exhibits and activities inviting them to practice diagnosing and treating on-site animals.

JACKSONVILLE Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the brewing process (including a sampling directly from a finishing tank) on the Budweiser Beermaster Tour, an enlightening experience that’s sure to turn the typical hoser into an ale aficionado. Hand-pull your very own candy at Sweet Pete’s, historic Springfield’s all-natural candy shop. Stroll through Jacksonville’s Riverside-Avondale District, home to more than 5,000 historic buildings and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. Finally, open Saturdays from March until December, the Riverside Arts Market stocks a kaleidoscope of Budweiser Brewery Tour, Jacksonville

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

finds from original art to farm-fresh produce at its location under the Fuller Warren Bridge.

KISSIMMEE Learn to hang ten at Fantasy Surf, a 14,000square-foot indoor surf experience. Bodyboard, kneeboard or stand as 15,000 gallons of water rush through the surf simulator at 30 mph creating the perfect continuous wave. Grab a cool treat at Boola Custom Creamery, a modern parlor featuring ice cream created in seconds with a vanilla base that’s flash frozen with liquid nitrogen. Glide through the treetops of the 4,700acre Forever Florida Wildlife Conservation Area featuring overnight horseback safaris, zip lining, and the new Cypress Canopy Cycle.

MIAMI Wander through Miami’s chic style and design hub, the Miami Design District, packed with furniture and accessory shops and studios promising to give serious home decorators a glimpse at the next hottest design trends. Visitors will also find eclectic clothing shops, art galleries and a handful of fabulous restaurants. Get a private, self-navigated tour of Miami courtesy of GoCar Tours. These GPS-guided, storytelling cars allow day-trippers to traverse the city’s best sites at their own pace and convenience. Be sure to take a drive over to Coral Gables, the meticulously planned luxury community that’s home to the Venetian Pool, an 820,000-gallon spring-fed swimming pool built in 1923 and still used today.

Tour Everglades National Park

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM RIGHT: ©NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB; JACKSONVILLE CVB; KISSIMMEE CVB; GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU/WWW.GMCVB.COM; NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB.

FORT MYERS/SANIBEL


FEATURED LINKS SOUTHEAST FLORIDA Butterfly World butterflyworld.com

Coral Gables Venetian Pool coralgablesvenetianpool.com

Dolphin Research Center dolphins.org

Florida Bay Outfitters kayakfloridakeys.com

Fort Lauderdale Duck Tours fortlauderdaleducktours.com

GoCar Tours gocartours.com

Henry Morrison Flagler Museum flaglermuseum.us

International Polo Club Palm Beach internationalpoloclub.com Naples Botanical Garden

Lion Country Safari lioncountrysafari.com

Little Palm Beach Resort & Spa

NAPLES Join a photography tour of the legendary Everglades National Park, a 1.5-million-acre area teeming with wildlife and unspoiled vistas. Everglades Area Tours offers this and dozens of other unique expeditions including bicycle tours, overnight camping trips and sunset sea kayak paddles. Visit the chocolate salon created by internationally recognized chocolate artisan Norman Love at Parkshore Plaza. Love shows he doesn’t mind sharing his secrets by allowing budding chocolatiers to take his baking and truffle-creating classes. Kids will adore the Children’s Garden at Naples Botanical Garden, an interactive learning environment filled with flowers, butterflies, tree houses and babbling streams.

ORLANDO Check out the latest attraction at Discovery Cove, where visitors to SeaVenture undergo a dive-like experience on an underwater walking tour without all the equipment. See the savanna, VIP-style, on a three-hour, privately guided expedition behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wild Africa Trek offers close encounters with rhinos and hippos as they guide adventurers on an easy hike through the stunning African setting.

THE PALM BEACHES & BOCA RATON Experience Florida’s only drive-through safari, Lion Country Safari, where you can view more than 900 animals in seven themed areas, ride a camel, feed a giraffe or chill out in a mini water park. Visit the Flagler Museum, Henry Flagler’s 1902 estate in Palm Beach, for guided tours and the legendary Gilded Age-style lunch featuring

gourmet tea sandwiches and traditional scones served on exquisite Whitehall Collection china. Catch a polo match at the International Polo Club Palm Beach where the U.S. Open Polo Championship is played each year.

littlepalmisland.com

Miami Design District miamidesigndistrict.net

The Key West Pub Crawl keywestwalkingtours.com

Water Taxi Fort Lauderdale watertaxi.com

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PANAMA CITY BEACH

Bert’s Bar & Grill

Pay a visit to the newly unveiled 3,000-acre Panama City Beach Conservation Park and Gayle’s Trails, where miles of picturesque walking and biking trails speckled with boardwalks, bridges and picnic areas make it the ideal daylong outing. Experience Miracle Strip at Pier Park, which boasts original balloon race rides and other kid-friendly experiences from the former iconic Miracle Strip Amusement Park. New to Miracle Strip is the Butterfly Pavilion, a 2,500-square-foot sanctuary home to more than 400 colorful butterflies. Canoe along Econfina Creek and explore the personality of this ever-changing waterway complete with tight curves and fast water chutes.

Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery

bertsbar.us bunkerhillvineyard.com

Cabbage Key cabbagekey.com

Cayo Costa State Park floridastateparks.org/cayocosta

CROW Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife crowclinic.org

Everglades Area Tours evergladesareatours.com

Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce floridascreativecoast.com

Myakka River State Park myakkariver.org

Naples Botanical Garden naplesgarden.org

Norman Love® Confections normanloveconfections.com

South Florida Museum southfloridamuseum.org

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel fortmyers-sanibel.com

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

PENSACOLA The Gulf Islands National Seashore boasts the country’s longest continuous stretch of protected beach in Northwest Florida, and in addition to its breathtaking views, offers adventurous ranger-led outings, barrier island walks and tours of historic Fort Pickens—a massive Civil War brick fortress that will whisk you back 150 years in time. Carve out an hour or two on a Wednesday morning and visit the home of the world-famous Blue Angels as they practice awe-inspiring aerial maneuvers in the skies. Close the day at the new Margaritaville Beach Hotel, Jimmy Buffet’s first-ever hotel.

ringling.org

The Mucky Duck muckyduck.com

The Nokomis Beach Drum Circle nokomisbeachdrumcircle.com

Village of the Arts villageofthearts.com

Warm Mineral Springs warmmineralsprings.com

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA Brevard Zoo brevardzoo.org

Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp cassadaga.org

Florida Biplanes & Helicopter Rides floridabiplanes.com

Fountain of Youth Eco/History Tours foytours.net

Kennedy Space Center kennedyspacecenter.com

Southeast Museum of Photography smponline.org

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STATE GEMS Beach in Caladesi Island State Park

Myakka River State Park, Sarasota County

FEATURED LINKS CENTRAL FLORIDA Discovery Cove Orlando discoverycove.com

Fantasy Surf ultimateindoorwave.com

Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida floridaecosafaris.com

SeaWorld Orlando seaworldparks.com

Universal Orlando Resort universalorlando.com

Take a dip in the Fountain of Youth at Warm Mineral Springs, a naturally formed mineral spring with a year-round temperature of 87 F. Leave feeling entirely rejuvenated after a float in the mineral-infused waters, a restorative yoga class and a massage at the on-site spa. Explore the Myakka River State Park amongst the treetops on the Myakka Canopy Walkway built 25 feet above the ground and extending 100 feet across the tree canopy. Run away with the circus, if only for a day, at The Circus Museum, boasting a world-renowned collection of memorabilia from more than 100 years of Ringling history. Be sure to check out the world’s largest miniature circus, a replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919 to 1938. Finally, head to Casey Key on Wednesday and Saturday evenings where hundreds of locals and visitors gather on Nokomis Beach for a sunset drum circle.

ST. AUGUSTINE Visit America’s oldest city; St. Augustine will celebrate its 450-year anniversary in 2015. St. Augustine’s Pirate & Treasure Museum contains one of the world’s largest collections of authentic pirate artifacts—including an actual pirate flag and treasure chest. Far from your typical museum, this total immersion into the history of piracy also gives a nod to modernday Hollywood pirates like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. Finish the day at the seaside with a romantic horseback ride along the sandy coast.

ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER Kayak the Mangrove Tunnels at Caladesi Island’s stunning state park, voted America’s No. 1 beach in 2008. Explore the charm of America’s “2007 Most Walkable Small City,” downtown Dunedin. Shop, walk or bike

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through this quaint town lined with galleries, boutiques and restaurants. For art and culture, head to the St. Petersburg Museum of History and rent your own Segway as you cruise the sights, sounds and photo ops of the beautiful waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg. The town’s Dalí Museum is not to be missed.

disneyworld.disney.go.com

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA All About Fun Tours gyroglides.com

Big Cat Rescue bigcatrescue.org

Caladesi Island State Park floridastateparks.org/caladesiisland

Captain Gus’ Crabby Adventures

TALLAHASSEE See history reborn at Mission San Luis where costumed re-enactments, hands-on exhibits, recreated period buildings and archaeological excavations take visitors back in time at the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida. Car lovers will lose track of time in the Tallahassee Automobile Museum, which boasts more than 130 rare automobiles such as a 1936 DeSoto and a 1955 T-Bird Convertible. A visit to Wakulla Springs State Park, with its much-loved riverboat tours and manatee sightings, simply must include a stop at Wakulla Springs Lodge where its world-famous navy bean soup is served alongside the park’s picturesque views.

TAMPA BAY Experience close encounters with the world’s most mesmerizing mammals at Big Cat Rescue, a 45-acre wildlife sanctuary that harbours 140 cats ranging from 750-pound tigers to 13pound bobcats. Check out the interactive Keeper Tour, which offers the chance to prepare food and work side by side with handlers during a training session. Join the crew on Captain Gus’ commercial crab boat where amateur crabbers will pull and bait crab traps, then clean, steam and eat their catch of Tampa Bay’s stone and blue crabs. Travel through downtown Tampa on a historic streetcar, which stops at Ybor City and the Channel District. Finally, set aside a full day to explore Lowry Park Zoo, rated America’s best zoo by Parents Magazine in 2009. FL

crabbyadventures.com

Dunedin Chamber of Commerce dunedin-fl.com

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo lowryparkzoo.com

The Dalí Museum thedali.org

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Budweiser Beermaster Tour budweisertours.com

Country Carriages–St. Augustine Florida countrycarriages.net

Riverside Arts Market riversideartsmarket.com

Riverside-Avondale Preservation riverside-avondale.com

St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum thepiratemuseum.com

Sweet Pete’s www.sweetpete.net

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce cedarkey.org

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park floridastateparks.org/wakullasprings

Mission San Luis missionsanluis.org

Tallahassee Automobile Museum tacm.com

NORTHWEST FLORIDA Blue Angels blueangels.navy.mil

Econfina Canoe Livery canoeeconfinacreek.net

Gulf Islands National Seashore nps.gov/guis/florida.htm

Margaritaville Beach Hotel margaritavillehotel.com

Miracle Strip Pier Park miracle-strip.com

Panama City Beach Conservation Park pcbgov.com/conservation-park.htm

FROM LEFT: VISIT ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER; SARASOTAFL.ORG

SARASOTA

Walt Disney World


ARCHITECTURE AND GARDENS

AN ECLECTIC ARRAY OF VENUES AWAIT

BY CHERYL BLACKERBY

F

lorida’s tropical flowers, palms and fruit trees are brilliantly showcased in gardens around the state from abundant dogwoods and daffodils in north Florida to hibiscus and mangos in the south. The foliage is as varied as the state’s climate zones with temperatures sometimes varying 20 F between Tallahassee and Miami. Don’t look for autumnal color in South Florida. You can enjoy green leaves and ebullient flowers year-round. The state’s architecture, too, ranges from the sexy curves of art deco to stately Spanish and Mediterranean castles to humble tin-roofed wooden “southern vernacular” cottages. Luckily for visitors, gardens and architecture often come together at parks and museums in all regions of the state.

A glorious start to your architectural and botanical journey in Southeast Florida would be a stop at the opulent Gilded Age masterpiece Whitehall,  Standard Oil co-founder Henry Flagler’s 75-room, 60,000-square-foot estate built in 1902, overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach. A shady bike path runs along the waterway and the gardens of the estate, now called the Flagler Museum. Flagler was the pioneer who built the railroad down the east coast of Florida and the overseas railroad to Key West, bringing the fabulously rich and famous to Florida. For a glimpse of Asia, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach includes a traditional Japanese villa, a museum with 5,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, and a 200-acre garden with tropical bonsai, lakes filled with golden koi and shady nature trails. In Miami, you can easily spend a half day at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a spectacular bayfront Italian Renaissance estate built by American industrialist John Deering in 1916. The main house has furnishings, statuary and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami 36

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

LEFT TO RIGHT: GREATER MIAMI CVB; VISIT FLORIDA; VISIT FLORIDA

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA


Phonograph collection from Edison Estate in Fort Myers

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Gamble Plantation Mansion in Ellenton

art spanning 2,000 years, and the gardens include native hardwoods and rare orchids. The historic art deco district in Miami Beach offers the largest collection of art deco structures in the USA—fanciful pastel buildings with porthole windows, ship’s railings, sleek curves, gleaming terrazzo floors and glass blocks. The Miami Design Preservation League’s Art Deco Welcome Center offers 90minute walking tours. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is known for its tropical fruits—the International Mango Festival is in July—a two-acre rainforest, the Keys Coastal Habitat, a tropical flower garden, conservatory, butterfly garden, and an amazing variety of palms. Visitors can talk to horticulture experts and take classes on everything from photography to grafting.  Key West’s “conch” houses, built by using a

mortar that included conch shells, are unlike any other buildings in the state. The houses were built for the hot climate, and each is as distinctive as the colorful characters who lived in them. The houses, both the huge mansions and small cottages, boast gingerbread-festooned porches, handcrafted spindles, scrollwork, and signature “eyebrow” windows on second floors shaded by wide overhanging eaves. Plan a trip for one of the many garden and home tours, sponsored by the Old Island Restoration Foundation. Stretching from the ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens in Fort Lauderdale includes a house built in 1920 by Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett. Five distinct ecosystems can be found on the property.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers feature historic buildings including the houses of inventor Thomas Edison and his friend carmaker Henry Ford, plus 20 acres of plants. Edison and his wife Mina bought the property in 1885 and built a gracious house with wraparound veranda, a research laboratory and gardens. He used the bamboo in one of his inventions—the light bulb—and grew rubber trees for research as well as orchids, roses, and palms—many varieties and species can be seen today. Explore collections from both men including Edison’s experiments and Ford’s cars. The 14-acre Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota is as exotic as it gets with many of the thousands of plants collected from the wild by the staff on more than 200 scientific expeditions to tropical rainforests. A highlight of the gardens is a collection of 6,000 orchids. The Sarasota Jungle Gardens, opened in 1940, is Old Florida at its best with 10 acres of gardens and a zoo of rescued and endangered animals, such as the Florida crocodile. Residents include flamboyantly pink American flamingos, which roam freely in the park as well as owls, hawks and wading birds. The rare Australian Nut Tree, a Bunya Bunya tree, stately Royal Palms, ferns and native red maples and bald cypress are highlights of the gardens. The Flamingo Cafe and Gift Shop is the original owners’ house.

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ARCHITECTURE AND GARDENS Frank Lloyd Wright building at Florida Southern College in Lakeland

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA

Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, the tallest in Florida

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On a visit to McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, don’t miss the Bamboo Pavilion, built in Columbia and shipped and reassembled here. Originally opened in the early 1930s and hosting more than 100,000 tourists yearly, the McKee Jungle Gardens is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is best known for its 18-acre subtropical jungle hammock. The red 175-foot-tall Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, the tallest in Florida and one of the tallest in the U.S., was built in 1887 with more than one million bricks shipped from Maryland and New York. It is the centerpiece of the 52acre Lighthouse Point Park, 10 miles south of Daytona Beach in Ponce Inlet. It is 203 steps to the top, or you can enjoy the fragile coastal landscape on leisurely strolls along boardwalks. The beach is one of the best in the state. Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens in Ormond Beach exhibits regional and na-

tional paintings, photography and more. The surrounding tropical gardens and lily ponds are known for their papyrus, ginger lilies and bog plants. Don’t miss the historic Emmons Cottage, built in 1885.

CENTRAL FLORIDA The Harry P. Leu Gardens and Leu House Museum in Orlando is a 50-acre botanical park with a 19th-century house, and a mind-boggling array of plants including 50 varieties of azaleas, 50 species of bamboo, 2,000 camellia plants, 50 kinds of citrus trees, as well as magnolias, ornamental grasses and flowering trees. Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate in Lake Wales, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., was a gift to the U.S. from Edward Bok, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world peace advocate. The 50-acre hilltop gardens surround a 205-foot tower housing one of the world’s finest carillons with 60 bells that ring every half hour and during daily live concerts. Pinewood Estate is a Mediterranean-style home built in 1930. Fans of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright will want to tour the dozen buildings he designed at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. A tour should start at the “Child of the Sun” Visitor Center, which provides a home for a permanent display of photographs, furniture and drawings. Beautiful Lake Hollingsworth and a three-mile lakefront path are next to the campus.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: DAYTONA BEACH CVB; VISIT FLORIDA; TALLAHASSEE CVB.

The Gamble mansion in Ellenton is your only chance to see a pre-Civil War plantation house in South Florida. This magnificent twostory colonnaded antebellum mansion was home to Major Robert Gamble and headquarters of a sprawling sugar plantation. Gamble Plantation Historic State Park today includes the house with period furnishings, the Patten House built in 1872 and 16 acres of gardens.


Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee

FEATURED LINKS Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park floridastateparks.org/maclaygardens Bok Tower Gardens boktowergardens.org Bonnet House Museum & Gardens bonnethouse.org Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens cummer.org Eden Gardens State Park floridastateparks.org/edengardens Edison & Ford Winter Estates edisonfordwinterestates.org Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden fairchildgarden.org Florida Southern College franklloydwrightatfsc.com Gamble Plantation Historic State Park floridastateparks.org/gambleplantation

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA The 100-year-old Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg is a cool adventure on a hot day with its dense shade, waterfalls and koi ponds. It has more than 50,000 tropical plants and a flock of pink flamingos. If the kids get bored they can go to Great Explorations, a hands-on science museum that’s part of the complex. Once the Tampa Bay Hotel, the Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa may be the most lavish Gilded Age building you’ll ever see with its Moorish architecture, fantastic onionshaped domes, turrets and minarets, and spectacular gardens next to the bay. Railroad magnate Henry Bradley Plant constructed the magnificent hotel in 1891 and filled it with treasures from around the world. The museum is part of the University of Tampa.

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast is a formal garden known for its shady live oaks and its rose garden—a popular site for weddings. The estate and gardens were once owned by the late Owen D. Young, chairman of the board of General Electric Corporation and RCA. His riverside cottage, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now the visitor’s center. Don’t miss the famed collection of early 18th-

century Meissen porcelain and the three acres of riverfront gardens—just two of the many reasons to visit Jacksonville’s Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.

Goodwood Museum & Gardens goodwoodmuseum.org Harry P. Leu Gardens leugardens.org Henry B. Plant Museum

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA

plantmuseum.com

Get out the cameras. Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee has majestic centuriesold oaks and magnolias, sweeping lawns and a main house built in 1840, once the centerpiece of a 2,400-acre plantation. The furnishings are all original. The plants and flowers outside are “heirloom”—meaning none are used that appeared after 1929. Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee is the setting for lovely ornamental gardens first planted in 1923 by Alfred B. and Louise Maclay. The gardens feature a picturesque brick walkway, a secret garden, a reflection pool, a walled garden and hundreds of camellias and azaleas.

Henry Morrison Flagler Museum flaglermuseum.us Key West Home Tours oirf.org Marie Selby Botanical Gardens selby.org McKee Botanical Garden mckeegarden.org Miami Design Preservation League mdpl.org Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens morikami.org Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens ormondartmuseum.org Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum ponceinlet.org

NORTHWEST FLORIDA

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Eden is the right name for Eden Gardens State Park, a 161-acre garden in Santa Rosa Beach. Moss-draped live oaks surround a two-story mansion built in 1897 by lumber baron William Henry Wesley. This restored mansion is furnished with family heirlooms, antiques, and the second largest collection of Louis XVI furniture in the U.S. FL

sarasotajunglegardens.com Sunken Gardens stpete.org/sunken Vizcaya Museum & Gardens vizcayamuseum.org Washington Oaks Gardens State Park floridastateparks.org/washingtonoaks

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ARTS AND CULTURE

SPLENDID COLLECTIONS AND ARTISTRY

The Grand Hall at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach

I

t’s easy to get lost in 663 miles of beaches and theme parks featuring mice, boy wizards, killer whales, LEGOs and space travel during any visit to Florida. And that’s not a bad thing! However there’s more to the Sunshine State, such as world-class museums and performance halls and historic movie houses. Here’s a look at highlights found throughout the state.

SOUTHEAST

The Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach

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This museum will get your motor running! Cars, cars and more cars take center stage at the Dezer Collection Museum in Miami. Covering the 100-year history of the automobile, you’ll find all your favorite American classics, such as the Packard or Model A Ford, and even a rare 1927 Duesenberg Model X. Of course, you may find a new favorite among the European models: Citroën, Daf, Sabra and more.

The Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in Miami is another gem. In addition to feature films, the 1926 theater hosts live performances as well as community and social events. The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach is known internationally for its permanent collection. The 19th- and 20th-century Chinese, European and American works of art, not to mention the array of contemporary art and photography, are amazing. Railroad tycoon Henry Flagler was instrumental in developing south Florida, and his hotels helped establish tourism in the state. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach—Florida’s first museum—is a testament to Flagler’s history and the Gilded Age. Railway enthusiasts swoon at the sight of Henry Morrison Flagler’s private Railcar No. 91 exhibited in the Pavilion.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: THE CITY OF DAYTONA BEACH; HENRY MORRISON FLAGLER MUSEUM; © NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB; JIMMY COHRSSEN/THE CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

BY SUSAN B. BARNES


Gallery on Broad Street in downtown Naples

SOUTHWEST The Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art, open seasonally from September through June, is 30,000 square feet spread over three stories with 15 galleries and a glass-dome conservatory. The entrance gates were designed by metal artist Albert Paley and, once inside, look up to see chandeliers by glass artist Dale Chihuly. Inside the galleries there are worldclass paintings, sculpture and drawings. Though its name is most commonly associated with circuses, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, which opened in 1931, features a stunning collection of American, Asian and European masterworks, including Rubens, van Dyck, Velázques, Titian, El Greco and more. And, yes, a circus museum. Not to be missed on the museum’s grounds is Ca’ d’Zan, the waterfront mansion the Ringlings called home, a masterpiece unto itself.

Living room exhibit from Tiffany's Laurelton Hall Estate on display at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park

CENTRAL EAST The Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach is not only home to a series of Broadway shows, but also the London Symphony Orchestra, the Daytona Beach Symphony Society and the Daytona Beach Civic Ballet.

CENTRAL The world’s largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art is found at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park, a quaint, treelined town just outside of Orlando. Impressive works of art include the chapel interior Tiffany designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, not to mention the leaded-glass windows and lamps. Also in Winter Park, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College features a combination of original and traveling exhibitions, from early Renaissance to contemporary, which means ever-changing exhibits. Be sure to check out the museum’s permanent collection, boasting more than 5,000 objects, including works by Matisse and Picasso. The Orlando Museum of Art, closer to the downtown area, has drawn art lovers into its exhibits for nearly 90 years. In addition to the

10 to 12 exhibitions it hosts annually, the museum produces 13 off-site exhibitions and award-winning art enrichment programs, furthering its reach into the community. For more than 25 years, the Enzian Theater in Orlando has been dedicated to connecting the community with independent feature films and providing a venue for intimate musical performances. Its community outreach is cemented with its hosting of several festivals, including producing the acclaimed Florida Film Festival. Built in 1928 by J.E. Casale, the Polk Theatre

in Lakeland stays true to the movie palace splendor. Independent feature films, cult classics and live musical and comedic performances fit the bill at this glorious old movie palace.

CENTRAL WEST Designed by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz, the riverfront building, which houses the Tampa Museum of Art, is considered artwork unto itself. Step inside and find galleries filled with changing exhibits to suit everyone’s tastes.

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ARTS AND CULTURE

Just down the road, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts exhibits works by locally, nationally and internationally known photographers, as well as historical collections, providing an intimate look at this classic art form. The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg continues to have a huge impact in the arts world, and was recently named one of the world’s 20 most beautiful museums by Flavorwire.com. The 20,000-square-foot museum is dedicated to the world’s most comprehensive collection of masterpieces by the artist himself, including 96 oil paintings; more than 100 watercolors and drawings; and 1,300 graphics, photos, sculptures and objets d’art. The surrealism begins even before you walk through the door. Fragile glass is bent, twisted and manipulated into incredibly delicate yet aggressive works of art on display at the Chihuly Collection, also in St. Petersburg. You’ll be amazed at the sheer and defying beauty of the pieces on display. The Armed Forces Military Museum in

Largo is 35,000 square feet—with 15,000 square feet of outside display space—of permanent, interactive exhibits, including replicas of wartime scenarios, from World War I to present day. Broadway-caliber shows often make their way to the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, not to mention comedians and musical acts, delighting audiences time and again. With music director Stefan Sanderling at the helm, The Florida Orchestra is considered one of the best in America, and performs nearly 100 concerts annually throughout the Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg areas. Designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater boasts near-perfect acoustics and has received rave reviews from artists, technicians and audiences through the years. Seeing a movie or concert at the Tampa Theatre is a magical experience. Definitely arrive early at the 1926 theater for a Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ performance before the main event, or take a tour for a behind-the-scenes peek.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER AREA CVB; JACKSONVILLE CVB; TALLAHASSEE CVB

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville

The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg 42

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA


FEATURED LINKS

Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee

NORTHEAST The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville is a terrific introduction to movie palaces built throughout the state in the late 1920s, many of which feature Mediterranean-influenced design with balconies, windows, columns, fountains and night skies with twinkling “stars” overhead. Historic riverfront gardens and nearly 5,000 works of art combine to delight more than 110,000 visitors a year at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville. The museum is nationally recognized for its programs for both adults and children.

NORTH CENTRAL The Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee provides an extensive look into the state’s history through its collection and preservation of past and present cultures in Florida. The museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits are always enthralling. It’s in Gainesville where you’ll find the largest natural history museum in the American southeast—the Florida Museum of Natural History, where more than 30 million fossils of birds, butterflies, fish, mammals, plants and more are displayed. Also in Gainesville, the Samuel P. Harn Museum on the University of Florida campus is

one of the largest university-affiliated art museums in the U.S. Since 1990, the museum has been dedicated to inspiring and educating people with its extensive collection of photography and Asian, African, modern and contemporary art.

NORTHWEST Military buffs will want to plan a visit to the 37acre National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, the world’s largest museum of its kind. More than 150 restored aircraft are on display, representing the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Aviation. Be sure to watch The Magic of Flight IMAX® movie. You’ll feel like you’re flying with the Blue Angels! Built in 1936, the Martin Theatre in Panama City has gone through a renaissance of its own and today sets the stage for live productions.

WEIRD SCIENCE Hands-on, interactive exhibits, laser and star shows, IMAX theaters, and even ropes and zip line courses delight kids of all ages! Check out the Museum of Science & History in Jacksonville, Orlando Science Center, Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science, and the Miami Science Museum. FL

Chihuly Collection chihuly.com Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College rollins.edu/cfam Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens cummer.org David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts strazcenter.org Dezer Collection Museum dezercollection.com Elliott Museum elliottmuseum.org Enzian Theater enzian.org Florida Museum of Natural History flmnh.ufl.edu Florida Museum of Photographic Arts fmopa.org Florida Orchestra floridaorchestra.org Henry Morrison Flagler Museum flaglermuseum.us Martin Theatre martintheatre.com Miami Science Museum miamisci.org Museum of Discovery & Science mods.org Museum of Florida History museumoffloridahistory.com Museum of Science & History themosh.org Museum of Science and Industry mosi.org National Naval Aviation Museum navalaviationmuseum.org Norton Museum of Art norton.org Olympia Theater gusmancenter.org Orlando Museum of Art omart.org Orlando Science Center osc.org Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art thephil.org/museum/museum.html Peabody Auditorium peabodyauditorium.org Polk Theatre polktheatre.org Ruth Eckerd Hall rutheckerdhall.com South Florida Science Museum sfsm.org Tampa Museum of Art tampamuseum.org The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art ringling.org

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THE EVERGLADES

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES

CAPTURING THE BEST OF FLORIDA

Dawn at Red Reef Park Beach, Boca Raton

F

lorida is a unique photographic canvas of people, places and natural beauty, making it impossible to capture its diversity in a single image. Subjects ranging from bustling cityscapes, expanses of incredible blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds, schools of tropical fish swimming in turquoise waters, tranquil mangrove swamps, popular amusement parks and pristine beaches, plus its distinctive flora and fauna of paradise, all combine into a magnificent tapestry that make up the Sunshine State.

GOLDEN MOMENTS

Great white egret

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Subject matter isn’t the only quandary challenging photographers; they also face additional situations presented by intense sun, which can cause over and underexposure problems and often creates harsh, unflattering shadows on people’s faces. Simple underexposure can darken skies and sandy beaches, but shadow areas often go too dark to hold detail. Most photographers find that shooting in those “golden hours”—the hour or two before sunset or after

sunrise—is the only way to soften images. Shooting pictures during these hours helps create better images, but other simple techniques can be added to produce great photos. Using fill-flash when taking outdoor groups or closer-in photos of people helps to illuminate shadow areas. Most point-and-shoot digital cameras offer automatic fill flash. While the range of those flashes is limited to a close six or eight feet, DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras usually have more powerful flash units and can add an accessory flash unit, which attaches to the camera’s hot shoe, allowing greater camera-to-subject distance. Using flash to fill shadows also permits the sun’s angle to be shining from the side or back of the photo, so subjects aren’t squinting as often occurs when the sun is directly behind the camera. Another simple technique is to shoot subjects in the shade, rather than direct sunlight.

PROFESSIONAL TIPS Shooting brightly sunlit beaches can also produce poorly exposed photos. Many simple

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: FLORIDASTOCK/SHUTTERSTOCK; FLORIDASTOCK/SHUTTERSTOCK; OLIVES JEAN-MICHEL/SHUTTERSTOCK; NIALAT/SHUTTERSTOCK; SONGQUAN DENG/SHUTTERSTOCK

BY TIM RIBAR


Colorful pink flamingo

Crocodile teeth close-up

cameras have a beach or snow setting that compensates for this problem; check your camera’s guide on how to dial-in this feature. More advanced DSLR cameras also provide over or underexposure compensation modes. Another technique these advanced cameras allow is recording images in raw format. This method bypasses the digital camera’s computer, which usually generates a file in jpeg format. Raw image data is taken and stored on the camera’s data card without converting the photo to a final and possibly improperly-exposed jpeg image. Photographers then later download their raw image files to a computer using photo programs to produce final image files and allow exposure and color-correction changes over a wide range of exposures. Programs like Adobe’s Lightroom or PhotoShop or a camera manufacturer’s proprietary software can be used to output these raw format images into final jpeg or tif files. Wide expanses of beaches or palm trees pose problems by often blending together. Photographers can zoom into a scene using a telephoto lens or shoot closer-in images of their subjects with wide-angle lenses, often transforming a boring picture into a dynamic photograph. Interesting pictures can also be taken when shot from high or low camera angles. Looking down from a high-vantage point, such as a balcony or lookout tower, onto a pool, beach or wildlife scene can help turn a so-so picture into

Miami South Beach street view

something more interesting. Boats, especially those clustered on a beach with colorful hulls or multicolored sails, can also add the needed intensity to embolden an ordinary picture. Equipment choices naturally vary with the expertise of the photographer. Great travel photos can be taken with simple point-andshoot digital or film cameras, providing one knows and works within the limitations of the camera. Advanced amateur or semi-professional photographers find that DSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses offer the best combination for taking great pictures. Lens selection varies with subject matter, but at minimum, a wideangle to telephoto zoom lens makes a good choice. Adding a full-frame fisheye or ultra wide-angle lens and a long telephoto lens can add perspectives that can’t be produced with standard zoom lenses. Using a telephoto lens to zoom into a flock of brightly colored flamingos or herd of striped African zebra at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can create realistic photos from a distance. External accessory flash units are useful for fill-flash photos. Tripods usually aren’t required for travel photos unless one is shooting nighttime skylines or needing steady videos. Lastly, an essential piece of any good amateur and semi-pro photographers gadget bag is a laptop computer equipped with photo-editing software and a supply of camera and USB memory cards so photos can be downloaded

and edited on a daily basis and file back-ups can be produced—so important images aren’t lost.

UNIQUE SETTINGS In addition to Florida’s 700 miles of beaches, subject matter varies as one travels across the state. Beginning in the Keys, Key West offers delightful rustic homes and incredible sunsets. The Everglades National Park presents a wide range of wildlife and landscapes from swamps to woodlands. Miami offers the flavors of an international city with Little Havana and city skylines from across Biscayne Bay. South Beach’s art deco district boasts unique architecture, pastel hotels and a parade of glamorous people. Gulf of Mexico towns offer a more relaxed lifestyle, but quaint shopping and fishing villages abound from Naples in the southwest to Fort Walton Beach in the Panhandle of Northwest Florida. The Panhandle area also offers photographers natural beauty from deserted beaches and beach resorts to woodlands and swamps. Toward the middle of the state near Orlando and Tampa, theme parks, zoos and various animal attractions offer more typical, but also interesting photo opportunities. Central areas of the state are dotted with lakes, springs and rivers and provide something other than beach-type water activity pictures. Florida is simply a unique place to take photos. Using creativity and these simple techniques can help improve many photographers’ images—and don’t forget to take plenty of pictures. FL

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THEME PARKS

CREATING FAMILY MEMORIES

BY BARB AND RON KROLL

W

hen adults and children share experiences in Florida’s theme parks, family bonding is inevitable. From interactive adventures at Universal Orlando Resort’s The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Disney’s 3-D Star Wars to viewing sea turtles through belowwater windows at SeaWorld, the shared activities are as diverse as the participants.

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT® Universal Orlando Resort is home to two theme parks—Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure—as well as more than 50 great restaurants, a shopping and nighttime entertainment complex— Universal’s CityWalk and three family-friendly AAA Four Diamond Award on-site hotels, which offer exclusive benefits to theme park guests. Universal Orlando features theme park attractions based on pop culture’s most

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compelling stories and characters, such as the all-new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Shrek 4-D. Each attraction immerses guests in a powerful adventure they can experience with their family and friends. Located within Islands of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter brings to life the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films. This amazing entertainment experience features Hogsmeade Village, Hogwarts Castle, Three Broomsticks restaurant and three great attractions, better know as rides. Located within Hogwarts castle, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction allows guests to narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match, and more. Best of all, when you stay at an on-site hotel you enjoy early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one hour before the theme park opens (valid admission required)!

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: UNIVERSAL ORLANDO®; UNIVERSAL ORLANDO®; BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY; VISIT ORLANDO.

Universal’s Superstar Parade

Hogsmeade Village at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


On a separate nearby property, Universal’s 25-acre Wet ’n Wild water park has more themed, multi-person thrill rides than any other Orlando water park. Its family water-play area, Blastaway Beach, has 15 water slides and 160 interactive water elements.

WORLDS OF DISCOVERY SeaWorld Orlando combines marine life education and entertainment with theatrical shows and amazing rides. One of the most exciting experiences on the property is Journey to Atlantis, a watercoaster/flume ride that includes wet plunges, waterfall encounters and cruising through dark, watery passageways. For more thrills, adventuresome types can ride Manta, a flying roller coaster. In addition to animal encounters, SeaWorld features several informative whale, sea lion and dolphin shows. The park’s educational and animal interactive program incorporates behind-thescenes tours where visitors can learn about rescued manatees and swim with highly sociable beluga whales. At Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive park, families can snorkel with stingrays, feed tropical birds and swim with dolphins. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s South Pacific-themed water park, features wave pools, a tube slide through a dolphin pool, river tubing, waterslides and sandy beaches. On Omaka Rocka, Aquatica’s high-speed tube slide, riders

plummet almost vertically through water funnels and half-pipes.

BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY A combination amusement and wildlife park, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay features more than 2,000 animals, along with exciting rides, live entertainment and themed restaurants. Park visitors have up-close encounters with exotic animals such as Bengal tigers, hippos, lions, hyenas and orangutans. Rides include a whitewater rafting expedition, an off-road jeep African wilderness adventure and a water-soaked log flume ride. For ultimate thrills, the SheiKra roller coaster climbs 200 feet, reaches speeds of more than 70 mph and plunges 90 degrees straight down. One of the all-time favorite rides at Busch Gardens is the legendary Gwazi, one of the largest and fastest wooden roller coasters on the planet, achieving speeds of 100 mph. Shows include Kinetix, which offers modern music and pyrotechnic effects and an adorable musical featuring Elmo and his friends from Sesame Street. Also popular with youngsters is the park’s Sesame Street-themed Safari of Fun with rides and shows, as well as meet-andgreets and dining with the characters. Don’t miss the Cheetah Hunt coaster and Cheetah Run habitat, where you can see these beautiful wild cats up close.

Iceploration acrobatic monkeys in the rainforest, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

SPECIAL EVENTS JANUARY–MARCH Busch Gardens Real Music Series

FEBRUARY–MARCH Bands, Brew & BBQ at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens

FEBRUARY–APRIL Universal Studios Mardi Gras

MID-MARCH–MID-MAY Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

MID-APRIL–EARLY MAY SeaWorld’s Viva La Musica

JUNE–JULY Universal Orlando Summer Concert Series

LATE SEPTEMBER–MID-NOVEMBER Epcot Food & Wine Festival

LATE SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights

OCTOBER SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular

EARLY NOVEMBER–MID-DECEMBER Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in WDW Magic Kingdom

LATE NOVEMBER–DECEMBER 31 SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

EARLY DECEMBER–JANUARY 1 Universal Orlando’s Grinchmas & Macy’s Holiday Parade

DECEMBER 31 New Year’s Eve at Busch Gardens Omaka Rocka at Aquatica

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THEME PARKS Soar at Epcot’s Future World, Walt Disney World Resort

LEGOLAND Florida

Twenty miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort has four theme parks, two water parks, three full-service spas, five golf courses, a wedding pavilion, a sports complex, an entertainment-dining-shopping complex and more than 20 on-property resort hotels. Theme park activities include everything from a Magic Kingdom jungle cruise to an undersea voyage in Epcot’s Future World, dining on Moroccan cuisine in World Showcase at Epcot, riding through movie scenes in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and photographing giraffes on Disney’s Animal Kingdom safari. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Tours– The Adventures Continue, a new 3-D attraction, brings riders to Star Wars destinations to interact with characters in 50 story variations. Walt Disney World Resort entices families with a nine-hole family-play course, in addition to four 18-hole championship golf courses. Each of Disney’s 18-hole courses is certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary. A sand trap on the championship Magnolia Course is shaped like Mickey’s head, and an image of the world’s most famous mouse appears on the practice green at Disney’s Osprey Ridge Golf Course. On-property accommodation ranges from upscale hotels to value-priced, themed resorts popular with families. Unique options include the new Disney’s Art of Animation hotel, the

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Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge overlooking an African wildlife preserve. There is no need to leave the family pet at home. Fido is welcome at Walt Disney World Resort’s Best Friends Pet Care, a luxury pet resort featuring covered outdoor runs, play areas, a grooming salon and gourmet treats.

LEGOLAND FLORIDA Located near Winter Haven, 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa, LEGOLAND Florida opened in 2011. The 150-acre family theme park features more than 50 rides, live entertainment and thousands of LEGO models. Its 10 zones include Miniland USA, with LEGO brick versions of Florida, Las Vegas and other cities, and LEGO City, a kid-sized town where children can attend driving, flying and boating schools. Shows range from a 4-D theater to a water stunt show.

FEATURED LINKS Florida’s theme parks visitflorida.com/theme_parks

Aquatica aquaticabyseaworld.com

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay buschgardens.com

Discovery Cove

WHAT’S NEW

discoverycove.com

In Universal Orlando’s newest 3-D ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, families go on a hilarious and heart-warming journey with Gru and the minions. An updated Blue Man show features new music and gigantic iPad encounters. The Amazing Adventures of SpiderMan has new music, HD film animation, high-tech 3-D glasses and 16-channel audio for 3-D sound. The Hollywood Drive-In Golf attraction, daily Superstar Parade and Universal’s

LEGOLAND Florida florida.legoland.com

SeaWorld Orlando seaworldorlando.com

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter universalorlando.com/HARRYPOTTER

Universal Orlando Resort universalorlando.com

Walt Disney World disneyworld.disney.go.com

Wet ’n Wild wetnwildorlando.com

FROM LEFT: VISIT ORLANDO; FLORIDA/MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS

WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

Cinematic Spectacular—100 Years of Movie Memories nighttime show—are also new. New SeaWorld Orlando encounters include otters and marmoset monkeys at Freshwater Oasis in Discovery Cove and sea turtles at TurtleTrek, which also features a 3-D, 360-degree animated movie. Antarctica–Empire of the Penguin opens in spring 2013. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has a new Animal Care Center and Iceploration, an international-themed ice show. At Walt Disney World Resort, new attractions will double the size of Fantasyland. Under the Sea–Journey of The Little Mermaid and Storybook Circus, with a new coaster and dueling Dumbo rides, open in 2013. In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, guests become apprentice sorcerers. Disney princesses will greet visitors in the new Princess Fairytale Hall. In 2013, construction of an Avatar-themed land begins in Animal Kingdom. The new LEGOLAND Water Park features a wave pool, tube and body slides and DUPLO Splash Safari, a toddlers’ interactive water-play structure. Families can build and float rafts along a lazy river. FL


BEACHES

BY JEFF OSTROWSKI

PLEASURE BY THE SEA

“We’re really lucky in Florida—we don’t have any bad beaches,” says Stephen Leatherman, who produces a widelywatched annual list of the nation’s top 10 beaches. “Some are better than others. It depends on what you’re looking for.”

WHAT’S YOUR PREFERENCE?

Blue lifeguard stand on South Beach, Miami

F

irst came the beach. Before the theme parks and nightclubs and shopping malls, Florida’s original tourist attraction was the strip of sand where sea meets land. For many visitors, it’s still the best thing about the Sunshine State. With more than 1,000 statute miles of coastline and warm, usually calm waters, it’s no surprise Florida boasts some of the world’s best beaches.

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Whether you’re seeking solitude or a party scene, Florida offers something for beachgoers of every stripe. In Miami Beach, you’ll find an international party destination just steps from the sand. Fort Lauderdale, Cocoa Beach, Jacksonville Beach and St. Petersburg Beach also offer city-meets-sea vibes. If you prefer a peaceful beach, destinations such as Canaveral National Seashore on the Atlantic coast and Caladesi Island State Park near Tampa, will take you away from civilization. At these remote locations, you might see more pelicans and dolphins than people. And if you’re looking for something in between, plenty of beaches offer equal helpings of civilization and tranquility. View a sunset

at Naples Pier or stroll past the mega-mansions in Palm Beach. Gulf beaches are known for their white sand, green waters and multitude of shells. The waves are generally tiny, and water temperatures can get well into the 80s in the summer and quite chilly in the winter. The Atlantic waters can be a bit rougher, and temperatures don’t swing as much. South Florida’s coast is warmed by the equatorial Gulfstream current, and water temperatures range from the low 70s in the winter to the low 80s in the summer. In Central and North Florida, the Atlantic can dip into the 60s and even 50s during winter.

DR. BEACH’S FAVORITES To identify some of Florida’s can’t-miss beaches, we turned to Leatherman. Also known as Dr. Beach, he’s the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. Leatherman travels North America to grade beaches on a 50point scorecard, which includes facilities and sand and water quality.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: VISIT MIAMI; JAMES SCHAEDIG/SHUTTERSTOCK; WWW. SARASOTAFL.ORG

Fort Lauderdale Beach


Among his top picks from south to north:

Bahia Honda, Big Pine Key The Keys are mostly known for fishing and diving, but Leatherman recommends this spot for swimming in the Keys.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne Cross the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami to Key Biscayne, and you feel like you’re stepping into another world. Cape Florida State Park, located at the south tip of Key Biscayne, provides clear, emerald-colored waters and gentle surf, and you can climb the Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Siesta Beach, Sarasota This stretch of sand along the Gulf of Mexico won top honors in Leatherman’s 2011 rankings. Leatherman lauds the wide, sugar-sand beach and the quality of the water. “The powdery sand is nearly pure quartz crystal,” Leatherman says. “The beautiful blue-colored water is clean and clear, making it so inviting to bathers and swimmers.” The beach park at Siesta Key includes showers and bathrooms, snack bars, grills and

picnic tables. Leatherman gave the beach extra credit for banning smoking. He offers a couple of caveats: The beach gets crowded during the summer, and the water can be chilly during the winter. Fall and spring bring the right combination of lighter crowds and warmer water.

Fort De Soto State Park, Tierra Verde This beach is near the bustle of St. Petersburg, but it’s also removed. “It has so much to offer,” Leatherman says. “There’s fishing from the piers. There’s shelling. They also have a dog beach now.”

Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin Most Florida beaches are cheap and accessible. Not Caladesi Island. You’ll pay $8 a vehicle to enter Honeymoon Island State Park. From there, a 15-minute ferry ride costs $14 a person for adults and $7 for children 6 to 12. Or, if you don’t mind a long walk, you can get to Caladesi Island by taking a two-mile stroll up the beach from Clearwater, Leatherman says. Either way, getting there is worth it, fans of the island say. Rewards include powdery sand, clear water and few crowds. Leatherman named it the nation’s

top beach in 2008. Caladesi Island offers showers, restrooms and a cafe, which sells fish and chips, burgers and smoothies. You can rent umbrellas, beach chairs and kayaks, and there’s a hiking trail. The plentiful wildlife includes ospreys, turtles and stingrays. The rays aren’t aggressive, but they’ll sting if you step on them. Park manager Pete Krulder suggests the “stingray shuffle”: As you’re wading in Caladesi’s waters, shuffle your feet along the bottom. According to Leatherman, nearby Honeymoon Island also has emerged as a good pick. He downgraded the beach because of debris left from a failed development. But Honeymoon Island’s beach has been cleaned up, and there’s now a nature center.

St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Like Caladesi Island, this is another beach that’s tough to reach—which is just the way Leatherman likes it. “That’s a bird-lovers paradise,” Leatherman says. “It’s in the Panama City area, but a world away. It’s beautiful and unspoiled. Not a lot of people go over there because of access.”

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park near Eastpoint This Panhandle beach boasts brilliant white sand and clear waters. Birding and fishing are popular, and there’s camping and hiking. FL

FEATURED LINKS Bahia Honda State Park bahiahondapark.com

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park floridastateparks.org/capeflorida

Caladesi Island State Park floridastateparks.org/caladesiisland

Canaveral National Seashore nps.gov/cana

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park floridastateparks.org/stgeorgeisland

Fort De Soto State Park fortdesoto.com

Siesta Beach visitsarasota.org/siesta-key

St. Andrews State Park floridastateparks.org/standrews Family on a Sarasota beach 2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

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FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

INSPIRING ADVENTURES FOR ALL

BY JENNIFER WYLIE FAUSER

Monkey Jungle resident

B

eyond theme parks and beaches, Florida offers family recreation that promises unique experiences, outrageous education and family bonding that builds memories for a lifetime.

SOUTHEAST There are few places where your kids can feed a giraffe and ride a camel at the same place. Worldrenowned Miami MetroZoo offers both, along with more than 2,000 animals, comprising 500 different species, 40 of which are endangered. As you stroll through the beautiful landscaped walkways visiting more than 100 exhibits, be sure to check out the Amazon and Beyond exhibit, which, of course, hosts the infamous anaconda as well as giant river otter, jaguar and harpy eagle. Want a monkey’s view of life? Switch places with the primates to be the one in the cage while monkeys roam free at Miami’s Monkey Jungle. Your family will have the rare opportunity to watch and learn how monkeys naturally interact in the wild as nearly 400 primates run free on a 30-acre nature reserve. Monkey Jungle is one of the few protected habitats for endangered primates in the country that is also open

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for the general public to explore. Welcomed by nearly 80 Java monkeys and given the privilege to watch the unpredictable lifestyle of the jungle’s orangutan family, your family will simply go bananas over this experience. After all the rest and relaxation at the beach, get your heart pumping again with a visit to the Everglades Alligator Farm. Notorious for some of the largest alligators, the farm is located near the main entrance to the Everglades National Park and is home to more than 2,000 alligators. Your day promises to be full of thrills and value including gator feedings and shows, exotic snake viewings and even an airboat tour (included with admission). You’ve not experienced a children’s museum quite like the Miami Children’s Museum. Here kids climb through a two-story sand castle, walk through a six-foot piggy bank, and investigate a 900-gallon marine tank. Merriment and learning go hand-in-hand as your family boards a cruise ship, takes a grocery shopping challenge, and goes for a little friendly rockwall-climbing competition. The museum’s 14 galleries give families a day of creating, playing and bonding perfect for any vacation.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU/ WWW.GMCVB.COM; GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU/WWW.GMCVB.COM; SARASOTA CVB; VISIT ORLANDO CVB.

Miami Children’s Museum


Siesta Key

SOUTHWEST Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples believes that when children play they learn. When families play together, they learn, connect and create memories of a lifetime. Plan a day to explore the Banyan Tree exhibit, journey through the Everglades, let your kid be a super hero who saves the world, and pique artistic interest at the fine art collection that focuses on children and animals. Great for a rainy day or to escape the sun, just be sure to come any day but Monday when it’s closed. Looking for the perfect place to soak up the sun? Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral offers high-speed water slides for the thrill seeker, including a five-story free-fall slide and frolicking for the little ones at the Tot Spot. This 14-acre water park is a wave of amusement for everyone! Southwest Florida has even more to offer including the Imaginarium in Fort Myers, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Circus Sarasota, Sarasota Jungle Gardens and the Bishop Planetarium/Parker Manatee Aquarium at South Florida Museum.

Daytona USA, Daytona International Speedway

CENTRAL EAST Beach time is key in this region of Florida. However, be sure to take some time away from the rays to experience all it has to offer. Daytona International Speedway, home to the Daytona 500, will blow the sand off your shoes with its unique tours and experiences. Take the family to explore NASCAR garages, Pit Road, victory lane and all that makes this place the world center of racing. Got a need for speed? Indulge in the ultimate NASCAR fan experience and jump in the fast line for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Depending on your adrenalin-seeking level, choose to sit shotgun with a NASCAR instructor as you reach speeds up to 160 mph, or grab the wheel for an experience of a lifetime and drive the car yourself. Whatever the choice, this experience will claim the checkered flag of pleasure. Explore a piece of world history at Kennedy Space Center in the Cocoa Beach area. A visit to the space center will be a full-day, inspiring adventure as you learn about the history and future of the space program, meet a retired NASA astronaut and explore hands-on, interactive space attractions. Home to The U.S.

Astronaut Hall of Fame, which features the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, guests will be “over the moon” with intrigue when they experience simulation exhibits such as the Shuttle Launch Experience and the Astronaut Training Experience. This trip will be one small step for man and one giant leap of high jinks for your family.

Beyond the beautiful shores of the Central East Florida region, be sure to show your family more about Florida’s marine life by visiting the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet. Wow them by standing next to a full-size manatee, see how they measure up to a giant leatherback turtle, check out a real whale skull and be in awe of the 300-year-old brain coral.

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CENTRAL

Clearwater Marine Aquarium trainer

Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise, Clearwater

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Before you book all your vacation days at the theme parks, don’t forget Central Florida offers unique, amazing attractions that don’t include a mouse, whale or Harry Potter. Save a couple of days (or perhaps just a few afternoons) for these great Central Florida family attractions, not to be missed. Get up close (without becoming lunch) to Florida’s iconic “giant lizards” at Gatorland, the alligator capitol of the world. Catch live gator feedings, learn about various exotic reptiles, catch a glimpse of the white alligators, and cheer on the gator wrestlers. This half-day attraction also offers a splash park for kids, included with admission. Expand your visit and book a family adventure not to be forgotten on the Screamin’ Gator Zipline Tour. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the park’s alligators, including a wild ride over the gator mating marsh. A family trip to Gatorland in Orlando takes the bite out of boring vacations. For the adventure lover who’s had his or her fill of roller coasters, iFly Indoor Orlando takes the family skydiving to satisfy the cravings of the extreme attractioner. This high-adventure indoor skydiving facility lets you experience what it feels like to really skydive without having to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Safety instruction, safety gear and thrills are all included in the price of admission. Ready for a little less adventure and a little more mind-sharpening time with the family? WonderWorks in Orlando turns your vacation upside down, offering more than 100 hands-on exhibits that tweak the mind and pique interests. Experience an earthquake, feel the chill of the water the night the Titanic sank, muscle up the brain to move a ball across a table, and build

the theme park ride of your dreams, then ride it using virtual technology. After feeding your brain with a day of wonder, feed the tummy and giggle at the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show (reservations recommended). If you’ve got a spare morning or evening to experience some more Central Florida fun, consider the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, Ripley’s Believe or Not Museum (located on International Drive in Orlando) or a back-to-nature airboat tour with Boggy Creek Airboat Rides.

CENTRAL WEST If your kids are dolphin crazy, or perhaps just crazy for Winter, the beloved dolphin of the movie, Dolphin Tale, they will flip over meeting the star face to face at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Get up close and feed the stingrays, wade with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (additional fee) and get to know all of the rescued dolphins, sea turtles, otters and sharks at the aquarium for an afternoon of heart-warming thrills. What’s a trip to Florida without a little pirate adventure? Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise in Clearwater is the original pirate adventure in Florida and is worth its weight in gold. You’ll get lost in pirate antics of treasure hunts, face painting and dancing as the ship sets sail in search of bountiful dolphins to spy during the cruise. Wild water life is all the rage in Central West Florida. Be sure to also check out Crystal River Tours, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and the Florida Aquarium during your visit to the Gulf Coast.

NORTHEAST Northeast Florida offers great history, shopping and fantasy for everyone. America’s oldest city, St. Augustine is a gem of world history. Tour Castillo de San Marcos, the still-standing fort

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER AREA CVB; ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER AREA CVB; VISIT ORLANDO CVB; FLORIDASHISTORICCOAST.COM.

Airboat ride at Boggy Creek

FA MILY ENTERTAINMENT


Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

built between 1672 and 1695 by the Spanish. Try to reclaim your youth at Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth and get schooled at the Oldest Wooden School House, constructed more than 200 years ago. Beyond history, St. Augustine boasts amazing and unique shopping, and great ghost tours where you and your first mates journey through 300 years of highseas adventure spying rare pirate artifacts. Heading to Jacksonville? Your visit won’t be complete without a trip to Marineland where you’ll get more dolphin experience than if you lived in the ocean yourself and, of course, the Jacksonville Zoo where you can feed the giraffes.

NORTH CENTRAL Beyond great universities, North Central Florida is home to antiques, thrills and chills. Journey to Lake Alice in Gainesville to see alligators in the wild. Be sure to only view from afar, they are wild you know. When dusk hits, head across the street to the Bat House for a little nocturnal exploration. Speaking of things that fly, Florida’s Museum of Natural History on the campus of the University of Florida immerses you in a 6,400-square-foot butterfly wonderland like none other. Get your heart pitter-patterin’ when you test your fear factor during the Big Bend Ghost Trackers

Historical Ghost Tours in the most haunted small town in the country, Monticello. And be sure to putter your afternoon away checking out the cool antique cars at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum before you cruise on home.

NORTHWEST Very few free attractions are worth an extra drive, but the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is the sure exception. This is one place where you can look and touch. Climb inside the cockpit, play with the control sticks and flip the switches. Home to the Blue Angel training squadron, motion-based simulator and flight

simulator exhibits, this museum soars. The Florida Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach is a marine adventure park where you’ll discover turtles, fish, penguins, stingrays and dolphins. Offering an array of additional animal encounters (extra fee and reservations required) including feeding penguins, splashing around with otters, or getting nose-to-nose with the dolphins, a day at Florida Gulfarium promises to be a real splash. Still looking for more to do? Check out the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise, the Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida and the Five Flags Speedway while you’re in town. FL

FEATURED LINKS Airboat Rides at Boggy Creek

Gatorland

bcairboats.com

gatorland.com

Oldest Wooden School House oldestwoodenschoolhouse.com

Bat House

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

Ripley’s Believe or Not!

wec.ufl.edu/extension/wildlife_info/wildlife_uf/bathouse.php

cmon.org

ripleys.com/orlando

Big Bend Ghost Trackers

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

bigbendghosttrackers.com

gulfarium.com

sarasotajunglegardens.com

Butterfly World

iFly Indoor Skydiving

Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida

butterflyworld.com

iflyorlando.com

Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise

Imaginarium Science Center

captainmemo.com

imaginariumfortmyers.com

Castillo de San Marcos

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

nps.gov/casa

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens centralfloridazoo.org

Circus Sarasota circussarasota.org

Clearwater Marine Aquarium seewinter.com

Crystal River Tours

jacksonvillezoo.org

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex kennedyspacecenter.com

Marine Science Center marinesciencecenter.com

Marineland Dolphin Adventure marineland.net

Miami Children’s Museum

crystalrivertours.com

miamichildrensmuseum.org

Daytona International Speedway

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

daytonainternationalspeedway.com

Everglades Alligator Farm everglades.com

caribbeangardens.com

National Naval Aviation Museum navalaviationmuseum.org

Five Flags Speedway

Miami Seaquarium

5flagsspeedway.com

miamiseaquarium.com

Florida Museum of Natural History

Monkey Jungle

flmnh.ufl.edu

monkeyjungle.com

scienceanddiscoverycenter.org

Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise piratecruise.net

South Florida Museum/Bishop Planetarium/Parker Manatee Aquarium southfloridamuseum.org

St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum piratesoul.com

Tallahassee Automobile Museum tacm.com

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo www.lowryparkzoo.com

The Florida Aquarium flaquarium.org

The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park fountainofyouthflorida.com

WonderWorks wonderworksonline.com/orlando

Zoo Miami miamimetrozoo.com

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

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ROAD TRIPS

SCENIC DRIVES AND IRRESISTIBLE PLACES

BY CHERYL BLACKERBY

C

onvertibles are one of the most popular rental cars in Florida because it’s a state made for driving vacations. Hundreds of miles of beaches, quaint cattle towns, lovely sunrises over the ocean and spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico make for a great trip. And where else can you drive over the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys and four-milelong Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning Tampa Bay, both a frequent setting for car commercials? Get out the camera for the ride of your life.

U.S. 1

Christ the Abyss statue in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo

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Through the Florida Keys 111 miles, 2–4 hours The ride on the “Overseas Highway,” which takes you over 42 bridges including the famed Seven Mile Bridge, from Key Largo to the end of the line in Key West, is much like a cruise. From your car you can often see dolphins arcing out of the water, fly fishermen casting their lines, sports fishermen on the trail of tarpon, and shrimp boats out on the horizon. Harried travelers heading south can feel their blood pressure drop with each mile

marker. Key Largo is the first island in the chain. Look for mile marker 100, the official start of a Keys trip. The island is known for its dive shops, fish restaurants and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a 178-nautical-square-mile watery wonderland of coral reefs and sea-grass beds. Park excursions include snorkel and dive trips as well as glass-bottom boat trips to the reefs. The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier is your best bet for viewing the exuberantly pink roseate spoonbill, owls, falcons and hawks. Wild birds, too, flock to the lagoon enclosures to hang out with injured birds that have swallowed fishing lines or been hit by cars. At Robbie’s Marina on Islamorada, jump at a chance to feed the four-foot tarpons that swim around the pier, which makes a great photo op considering fishermen pay $600-plus a day to search for these prized game fish. Serving excellent seafood since the 1940s, the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant is next door. At Grassy Key, the Dolphin Research Center, a non-profit organization and a haven for sea lions and dolphins, gives visitors an opportunity to swim with or just pet these

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: STEPHEN FRINK/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU; ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER AREA CVB; BRADENTON AREA CVB; VISIT FLORIDA; VISIT FLORIDA.

Cruising through Florida with the top down


incredible marine mammals. Nearby in Marathon, the Turtle Hospital encourages visitors to see recuperating endangered sea turtles that have been injured. The Seven Mile Bridge starts at Knight’s Key. An excellent historic stop is Pigeon Key, a collection of yellow clapboard houses built for the bridge workers in the early 1900s. You can walk the two miles on the old bridge to the camp or take a shuttle. Bahia Honda State Park on the other side of the Seven Mile Bridge is an outstanding beach stop. In the Lower Keys, particularly Big Pine Key, look out for the diminutive Key deer, and plan a stop at the National Key Deer Refuge. The Overseas Highway ends in Key West, a lively town of all-night bars including Sloppy Joe’s—Ernest Hemingway’s hangout. Stay in a historic inn in Old Town and take a walking tour of historic buildings and “conch” houses. End the day at Mallory Dock for the traditional sunset celebration with fire-eaters and tightrope walkers.

ISLAND HOPPING Anna Maria Island to Gasparilla Island 70 miles, 2 hours Believe it or not, there are Gulf Coast islands that are not packed with tourists and traffic. The islands on this trip are uncrowded and offer unpretentious waterfront restaurants, small hotels and cozy beach cottages. Start this Gulf Coast trip in St. Petersburg and drive across the spectacular Sunshine Skyway Bridge that gives a seagull’s eye view of Tampa Bay. Exit onto U.S. 19, drive to Bradenton then west to Anna Maria Island. This island is still very much like it was in the 1960s with newspapers instead of tablecloths spread on the tables at seafood restaurants and white-sand beaches blessedly free of tourists. Start at the top of the island at City Pier where you can have lunch or dinner at the open-air restaurant at the end of the pier. Drive south along Gulf Drive and stop at Manatee County Beach and Coquina Beach, which have showers and lifeguards. Bradenton Beach has a tiny, historic downtown with a Victorian-style city pier, as well as shops and restaurants. Next up on the chain of barrier islands is Longboat Key with new condominiums and

gorgeous public beaches. After a quick detour to U.S. 41 in Sarasota, and stops at the Ringling Center of Cultural Arts and the Mote Marine Aquarium, you’re back on the barrier islands at Siesta Key. Blessed with glistening white sand, Siesta Beach has been named one of the best beaches in the world. Go back to U.S. 41, then cross over to Venice Beach on a barrier island known for the large number of sharks’ teeth that wash up onshore. Nokomis Beach and North Jetty Park have showers and concession stands. After another quick detour to U.S. 41, you’re back on the barrier island at Manasota Key and Englewood, both of which have amazing beaches. The last stop is Gasparilla Island, where old-moneyed guests, such as the Vanderbilts and DuPonts, stayed at the posh Gasparilla Inn & Club. More recently, former President George H.W. Bush and his sons—former President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and their families—rented the inn’s villas. The preferred mode of transportation is a golf cart, which makes it easy to get around the elegant town. The best beaches are in Gasparilla Island State Park, which surrounds the Boca Grande Lighthouse on the south end of the island.

Picnic in the dunes on Anna Maria Island

Historic Bradenton Pier

Boca Grande Lighthouse

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

57


Lake Okeechobee Bok Tower in Lake Wales

THE HEART OF FLORIDA

Fantasy of Flight in Polk City

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Ocala to Clewiston on U.S. 27 214 miles, 4 hours U.S. Highway 27 was the Route 66 of Florida bringing the first automobile tourist traffic in the 1940s and ’50s long before Florida’s Turnpike, I-75 and I-95 were built. The historic road runs from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Miami, but the most storied route is surely its path along the spine of Florida. RVers, bikers, even bicyclists love this road. The highway takes a fairly straight path south through atmospheric railroad and cattle towns, by hundreds of lakes including 730square-mile Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states. For a taste of U.S. 27, drive south starting at Silver Springs in Ocala, where glass-bottom boats were invented in 1878. River cruises glide over crystal-clear springs and wildlife includes alligators, panthers, turtles and snakes. The 226-foot-tall Florida Citrus Tower, built in 1956 in Clermont, beckons visitors to see miles of citrus groves. The tower shop sells orange-blossom perfume and honey. Nearby Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, Florida’s largest premium winery, hosts wine tastings and jazz concerts on the estate.

Fantasy of Flight, “The World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection,” offers a chance to board a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress and see aerial demonstrations of vintage aircraft. The kids will want to stop at LEGOLAND in Winter Haven, four miles from U.S. 27, to enjoy more than 50 rides, shows, restaurants and gardens. In Lake Wales, Bok Tower Gardens makes a soothing stop with its carillon of 60 bells and meandering paths by gardens and tranquil ponds. Nearby Chalet Suzanne offers charming and quirky rooms in its inn and a Mobil 3-Star restaurant, built in 1931. In Sebring, the Sebring International Raceway, the oldest permanent road-racing track in North America, hosts the annual 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race, part of the American Le Mans Series. Lake Placid is another must with its 44 outdoor wall murals throughout the small community beautifully illustrating the town’s history. How do you tell an alligator from a crocodile? You can see for yourself at Gatorama in Palmdale, one of Florida’s oldest attractions. And have some gator gumbo while you’re there. Last stop on this trip is Clewiston, “America’s Sweetest Town” and heart of the state’s sugarcane industry. The Clewiston Inn serves home-cooked breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: VISIT FLORIDA; R. PETERKIN/SHUTTERSTOCK; VISIT FLORIDA; CHET MITCHELL /SHUTTERSTOCK; ST. AUGUSTINE, PONTE VEDRA & THE BEACHES CVB.; MARINELAND DOLPHIN ADVENTURE—GEORGIA AQUARIUM.

ROAD TRIPS


BEACH ROADS Fernandina Beach to Daytona Beach on A1A 119 miles, 3 hours Start your coastal journey on famed A1A on the east coast at Fernandina Beach in the northeast corner of the state. Florida’s oldest continuouslyoperating bar, the Palace Saloon, is the heart of a 50-block historic district built next to the Amelia River. The 19th-century Fort Clinch and the beach are within walking distance. There are plenty of Victorian-era B&Bs and restaurants. This is the place to go horseback riding on the beach and kayaking in the marshes. South of Amelia Island, take a ride on the Jean Ribault car ferry across the St. Johns River from Fort George Island to Mayport Village, a .9-mile ferry transit that saves motorists 24 miles over a driving route that uses the bridge. At $5 per car, the ferry is a sightseeing bargain. Spending a day in St. Augustine is a must—

the nation’s oldest city has so many attractions including a house dating from the early 1700s, the oldest wooden schoolhouse, and the impressive 300-year-old Castillo de San Marcos. Stay in one of the many B&Bs and boutique inns in Old Town or drive across the bridge back to A1A and camp at Anastasia State Park on one of the prettiest white-sand beaches in the state. The drive south is one gorgeous beach after another. Stop by Marineland Dolphin Adventures just south of Crescent Beach, but be sure to reserve dolphin encounters in advance. Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, the remains of a sugar plantation attacked in 1836, makes a great picnic stop. Rent a canoe and explore Bulow Creek. In Daytona Beach, park your car on the hardpacked sand of the beach, stay in a 1960s beachfront hotel or rent a new condo, and catch a race at the Daytona International Speedway. FL

FEATURED LINKS Anastasia State Park floridastateparks.org/anastasia

Anna Maria Island annamariaisland.com

Bahia Honda State Park bahiahondapark.com

Bok Tower Gardens boktowergardens.org

Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park floridastateparks.org/bulowplantation

Chalet Suzanne Restaurant and Country Inn chaletsuzanne.com

City of Clewiston www.clewiston-fl.gov

City of Fernandina Beach fbfl.us

Daytona Beach daytonabeach.com

Dolphin Research Center dolphins.org

Fernandina Beach Marina

Fantasy of Flight fantasyofflight.com

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center fkwbc.org

Fort Clinch State Park floridastateparks.org/fortclinch

Gasparilla Inn & Club the-gasparilla-inn.com

Gatorama gatorama.com

Havana havanaflorida.com

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park pennekamppark.com

Lake Placid lpfla.com

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards lakeridgewinery.com

LEGOLAND Florida Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine

Anastasia State Park Beach, a surfer’s haven

Florida.legoland.com

Marineland Dolphin Adventure marineland.net

Robbie's of Islamorada robbies.com

Sebring International Raceway sebringraceway.com

Silver Springs silversprings.com

St. Johns River Ferry stjohnsriverferry.com

The Florida Keys & Key West fla-keys.com

Town of Longboat Key longboatkey.org

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

59


CAMPGROUNDS

Beach camping, Marco Island

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

T

here’s no better way to discover Florida’s wide-open spaces than on a camping excursion. Freshwater lakes, campfires, fishing, swimming and even a few waterparks beckon. Pitch a tent or hop in your RV and read on!

SOUTHEAST Whether in Miami-Dade County or farther south in the Keys, stellar campgrounds offer unique experiences. In the Florida Keys, there are several premier camping sites, some more remote than others. Almost 70 miles west of Key West and completely surrounded by water, Fort Jefferson & Dry Tortugas National Park is a primitive camping site accessible only by boat or seaplane, and campers are required to bring everything they need. Because the site is so rugged, folks must also clean up all their refuse

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before departing. It’s worth it simply for the view and the massive 19th-century Fort Jefferson that sits on the site. A little north on Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda State Park, blessed with several white, sandy beaches, is consistently ranked among the top 10 on “Best Beach” lists. Here, campers can enjoy excellent snorkeling and sunbathing as well as nature trails, a nature center and full facilities. The view from the Old Bahia Honda Bridge is priceless. In Marathon, Curry Hammock State Park is a 28-site campground, which offers kayaking through the tranquil mangroves, a 1.5-mile walking trail and biking along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. In Miami, the 270-acre Larry and Penny Thompson Park welcomes campers with woodland, bridle trails, hiking paths, a freshwater lake featuring a beach and waterslide, and full electrical hookups for RVs.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: THE MONROE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL; NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB; VISIT SARASOTA COUNTY.

BY JOSIE GULLIKSEN

CAMPERS’ DELIGHT


North of the Miami area in Broward County, the 138.6-acre urban T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park in Hollywood summons you to 61 paved RV sites, each with 50-amp electrical service and Wi-Fi, water, sewer, a grill, a picnic table and the refreshing Castaway Island water park. The unique Rent-a-Tent campground at petfriendly Quiet Waters Park in Fort Lauderdale features 25 tent and two tepee sites with a cool fire ring, perfect for roasting marshmallows. Firewood can be purchased at the park office. In Oakland Park, the 46.6-acre Easterlin Park’s Designated Urban Wilderness Area is a heavily wooded campground with 45 full hookup RV sites and 10 tent sites. The 250-year-old and 100-foot-tall cypress trees provide striking scenery and keen birdwatching. Peanut Island Campground in West Palm Beach County is a tropical-island campground located on the Intracoastal Waterway with 20 campsites, an observation platform, a reef habitat for snorkeling, chickee huts, picnic areas with grills, a fishing pier and beach frontage offering swimming beaches and a snorkeling lagoon. And one of the area’s best-known attractions, Lion Country Safari, features an award-winning KOA campground with 233 cabins, pull-through sites and tent sites, RV hookups and a camp store. At the 400-site luxury RV Vacation Inn Resort in West Palm Beach, lush landscaping, an owner’s clubhouse with exercise room, library and sauna complement the party, meeting and game rooms for high-end camping.

SOUTHWEST On Florida’s Cultural Coast on the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota’s Turtle Beach Park campground has 40 sites for tents and RVs on 2,600 feet of beachfront, a kayak and canoe launch area, fishing, free Wi-Fi and nearby shopping facilities. Also in Sarasota, with 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands, Myakka River State Park offers both primitive and full-facility camping, as well as lodging in five palm-log cabins. Two lakes are perfect for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing and kayaking, or try hiking along the park’s scenic trails.

Kayaking on the Myakka River

The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto Park consists of 1,136 acres on five interconnected islands. Featuring one of the state’s top-rated beaches, the park’s 238 campsites accommodate tents, vans and pop-up campers with water and electrical hookup along with a camp store. Nature trails, snorkeling and fishing round out the experience.

CENTRAL EAST In the Ormond Beach area, you will find the pet-friendly Seaside Park Campground with 31 RV sites. Adjacent to the Coral Sands Resort, it has the distinction of being the only oceanfront resort with a campground on the east coast, complete with water and sewer hookup and amp service. Campers can also enjoy all the amenities at the resort.

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

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CAMPGROUNDS

CENTRAL It turns out Walt Disney World Resort is more than just about attractions. The Fort Wilderness Resort has more than 750 acres of woodlands filled with lush pine and cypress trees, four different types of campsites, along with cabins and the Meadow Recreation Area featuring a nightly marshmallow roast, trails, swimming and outdoor games. Orlando S.E./Lake Whippoorwill KOA has 112 sites including lakeview RV sites, a private boat ramp, and canoe and banana bike rentals. The 355acre spring-fed lake is great for canoeing, and the Kamp K9 Pet Playground and General Store with country-style gift items are added bonuses. Nearby Lake Kissimmee State Park in Lake Wales features Florida’s third largest lake, 13 miles of hiking and equestrian trails, incredible evening stargazing, cowboy heritage demonstrations and both full-facility and primitive camping. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing and viewing wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, bald eagles, bobcats and sandhill cranes, are popular activities. Segway Personal Transporter Tours are a fun way to get around the park.

Southport RV Park Campground & Marina located on West Lake Tohopekaliga is a 25-acre wooded lakeside park with full hookup sites, tent accommodation, airboat rides, wildlife viewing and fishing. With 215 RV sites, the exclusive Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort in Webster, located 45 miles west of Orlando, boasts a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse with multiple recreation and meeting rooms, a library and fitness center, full kitchen and a 2,500-square-foot heated all-season swimming pool. At the Westgate River Ranch Resort’s RV Park—a southern dude ranch—the cowboy experience comes to life with horseback rides and lessons, trail rides, hayrides, a Saturday night rodeo, and airboat excursions. Even at the country western ranch, modern-day amenities such as Wi-Fi are available. Nestled along the bend of the Kissimmee River is Camp Mack’s River Resort. The wideopen spaces here are ideal for RV camping; however, there are also one- and two-bedroom log cabins and a waterfront river house available. The clubhouse features a pool and

barbecue facilities, while nature tours, airboat rides and fishing at one of two lakes provide endless outdoor activities.

CENTRAL WEST St. Petersburg’s KOA Madeira Beach is a petfriendly, mid-county campground with campsites and cabins. Shuffleboard, bocce ball, mini-golf and volleyball provide fitness opportunities while the on-site entrance to the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail makes it ideal for hiking, cycling and rollerblading. North of Clearwater and east of Honeymoon Island State Park is the Clearwater-Tarpon Springs Campground. Situated near the Lake Tarpon freshwater lake, it has one-bedroom cabins and also accommodates RVs and tents. Nearby Tarpon Springs, famous for its sponges and authentic Greek restaurants and bakeries, is a great day excursion option. The 6,260-acre Alafia River State Park east of Tampa in Lithia has a full-facility 30-site campground for tents and RV camping, as well as a 12-site equestrian-friendly campsite. The park is home to 20 miles of equestrian trails, 17

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: CENTRAL FLORIDA VCB; JACKSONVILLE CVB.

Segway tours at Lake Kissimmee State Park

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2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA


miles of bike trails, ranging from beginner to advanced. Canoeing, kayaking and fishing are popular activities as well. The abundance of wildlife found along Alafia’s trails will delight any birdwatcher or nature enthusiast. Opened in 1938, Hillsborough River State Park is one of Florida’s first state parks. The park offers full-facility camping as well as a primitive campsite accessible via a foot trail. Hikers can explore more than seven miles of nature trails and the Hillsborough River provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Amenities include a cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch daily and sells camping and picnic supplies, as well as souvenirs. The 325 sites at Belle Parc RV Resorts in Brooksville are surrounded by a pool and spa pavilion, spacious waterfront dock, fenced dog park and clubhouse with an outside kitchen. A stocked pond, library, paddleboat and fishing dock add to the luxurious atmosphere. At the Quail Run RV Resort in Wesley Chapel, 292 sites vary in size and include larger pull-through sites. Amenities include a stateof-the-art laundry facility, 4,500-square-foot clubhouse, and free cable and Wi-Fi service at each site. The motto here is: “No rig is too big.”

NORTHEAST Featuring what is considered one of the bestpreserved forts of the 19th century, Fort Clinch State Park has ideal camping with campfire circles, six miles of nature trails tailored for walkers and cyclists, surf, pier fishing and fantastic wildlife observation spots. Jetty Park in Port Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast has 150 campsites, a 4.5-acre beach, a 1,200-foot fishing pier, and a perfect spot for surfers and cruise ship enthusiasts. A few campgrounds top the rest in St. Augustine. Located between St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach, the 30-acre wooded North Beach Camp Resort spans the barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway (North River). Here, 140 sites consist of full hookup, pull-through sites to tent campsites, with cabin accommodation also available. The resort features a swimming pool, bathhouse and laundry facilities, a convenience store and two family restaurants within easy walking distance. At St. Augustine Beach, the 18.5-acre

Camping at Kathryn Abbey Park, Atlantic Beach

full-service Ocean Grove RV Resort has a kids’ pool and play area, Jacuzzi, pool, cable TV, boat ramp and fishing pier. Bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals are also available on-site. Anastasia State Park, on what’s considered Florida’s Historic Coast, covers 1,600 acres with 139 campsites for RVs and tents, and features self-guided nature trails, cycling, ancient sand dunes and four miles of pristine beaches. In Jacksonville, the top campground is at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, an oceanfront park along the Timucuan Trail with sandy beaches, freshwater lakes, natural dunes and

nature trails. There’s even a surfing spot known as “the poles.” Hang ten here, canoe or kayak. Additionally, the 288-site, 52-acre Flamingo Lake RV Resort sits on the only certified swimming and fishing lake in Jacksonville. A recent addition here includes a water park called Flamingo Lagoon with four inflatable water contraptions, including a jungle gym and the challenging “Rock It.” The on-site restaurant’s menu has been expanded, the laundry facility now features commercial-grade machines, and a new 13-shower bathhouse has been added to the east section.

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CAMPGROUNDS

NORTH CENTRAL Tallahassee’s numerous campgrounds are among the best. Apalachicola National Forest features 571,000 acres of botanical splendor, including Munson Hills, which offers off-road bikers and runners 7.5 miles of the most varied terrain in the Apalachicola Forest. At Ochlockonee River State Park, (meaning yellow waters) brackish, tidal surge and fresh water converge making it an ideal place for fresh and saltwater fishing. Full-facility camping is available here with campfire circles, and hiking and nature trails that are home to diverse wildlife. The Coe’s Landing RV Park is another beautiful, secluded full-service RV center with

electricity, water, hot showers, dumping station, picnic area, Internet access, boat landings and a fishing pier. 

NORTHWEST St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach is located on the peninsula in a 1,260-acre area with more than 1.5 miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon, allowing for camping along the shore and plenty of fishing and kayaking. Nestled near Panama City, St. George Island State Park is a 2,023-acre area flanked by Apalachicola Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other making it the perfect spot for fishing, shelling and viewing shorebirds,

such as black skimmers and willets. Primitive and full-facility camping is available. The “A” grade Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort in Panama City Beach is a 171-site resort with 10 premium lakefront pull-in sites for class-A motorhomes and 22 park model cottages, eight of which feature RV pads, all facing a pond. Additional amenities include a saltwater swimming pool with waterfall, clubhouse, and two bathhouses with private showers and bathroom facilities, one of which features an exercise center and game room. There is also a dog run and dogwashing station, playground equipment and sports facilities. All roads, RV pads and parking are brick-paved providing an elegant atmosphere. Fort Pickens, the largest of four forts in Pensacola, has a campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. Campers can swim at the area’s famed sugar-white beaches plus enjoy walking trails and historic Fort Pickens. Migrating birds, bottlenose dolphins and sea turtles are the stars in these waters. Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna is one of very few parks with dry air-filled caves, which make for a unique experience. Formations of limestone stalactites and stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies are visible here. Horseback riding is also popular, however, the caves are the main draw. FL

FEATURED LINKS

64

Alafia River State Park

Florida Caverns State Park

floridastateparks.org/alafiariver

floridastateparks.org/floridacaverns

Myakka River State Park floridastateparks.org/myakkariver

Anastasia State Park

Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort

North Beach Camp Resort

floridastateparks.org/anastasia

floridagrande.com

northbeachcamp.com

Apalachicola National Forest

Fort Clinch State Park

Ocean Grove RV Resort

fs.usda.gov/apalachicola

floridastateparks.org/fortclinch

oceangroveresort.com

Bahia Honda State Park

Fort De Soto Park

Ochlockonee River State Park

floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda

pinellascounty.org/park/05_Ft_DeSoto.htm

floridastateparks.org/ochlockoneeriver

Belle Parc RV Resorts

Fort Jefferson & Dry Tortugas National Park

Orlando S.E./Lake Whippoorwill KOA

belleparcrvresorts.com

nps.gov/drto

orlandokoa.com

Camp Mack’s River Resort

Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

Peanut Island Campground

campmack.com

disneyworld.disney.go.com

pbcgov.com/parks/locations/peanutisland.htm

Clearwater-Tarpon Springs Campground

Gulf Islands National Seashore Park

Quail Run RV Resort

clearwatertarponspringscampground.com

nps.gov/guis

quailrunrv.com

Coe’s Landing RV Park

Jetty Park

Quiet Waters Park

leoncountyfl.gov/parks/camping.asp

portcanaveral.com/recreation/beaches.php

broward.org/parks/quietwaterspark

Coral Sands Oceanfront RV Resort

Hillsborough River State Park

Southport RV Park Campground & Marina

coralsandsinn.com/campground.cfm

floridastateparks.org/hillsboroughriver

southportpark.com

Curry Hammock State Park

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

St. Andrews State Park

floridastateparks.org/curryhammock

coj.net

floridastateparks.org/standrews

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park

KOA Madeira Beach

T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park

floridastateparks.org/stgeorgeisland

koa.com/campgrounds/st-petersburg/

broward.org/Parks/topeekeegeeyugneepark

Easterlin Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park

Turtle Beach Park

broward.org/parks/easterlinpark

floridastateparks.org/lakekissimmee

scgov.net/TurtleBeachCampground

Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort

Larry and Penny Thompson Park

Vacation Inn Resort

rvresort.com

miamidade.gov/parks/parks/larry_penny.asp

vacationinnrvpark.com

Flamingo Lake RV Resort

Lion Country Safari's KOA Campground & R.V. Resort

Westgate River Ranch Resort

flamingolake.com

lioncountrysafari.com/koa_overview.html

wgriverranch.com

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB; LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU/FORTMYERS-SANIBEL.COM; NICHOLAS A. COLLURA-GEHRT.

Beach soccer, Panama City Beach


PETS

BY JEN KARETNICK

FOR FIDO—AND FRIENDS Aerial of Lee County Dog Beach on Lovers Key

Paw Playground, Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg

I

n the days before frequent flyer miles, folks took road trips, which allowed them to easily include their animals. The long history of welcoming guests who liked to travel with pets not only still exists in Florida, it’s experienced a resurgence, no matter how they arrive—by plane, boat, train and, yes, good old car.

DOGGONE FRIENDLY MALLS There’s proof of pet acceptance everywhere, like the Aventura Mall located between North Miami Beach and Hollywood in Southeast Florida where kiosks even sell the carriages in which small breeds can rest their paws. Keep in mind, however, that while toys and miniatures are usually perfectly acceptable in strollers or being carried along the main thoroughfare, they’re not always allowed in individual stores. And food courts are another story altogether.

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PETS For a shopping experience with your dog, hit the Coconut Point Mall in Estero in Southwest Florida, where there are marked water fountains for dogs as well as “clean-up” stations.

POOCH PLAYGROUNDS

Pampered guests at The Lodge at New Tampa

PET LODGINGS If you need a spot for Spot (and his doggie relatives) to stay in Southeast Florida while you’re nearby, check him into Camp Canine, where you can send your dog off to play for the day. A “country club and spa” for both dogs and cats, animals have the run of the place—literally. The three locations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood are cage-free, and pets have the luxury of communicating with each other, hanging with the camp counselors, and indulging in plenty of playtime. Grooming and shuttle services—yes, they come to you— can also be arranged. Ditto The Lodge at New Tampa. Not only does this canine hotel in Central West Florida provide special accommodation complete with exercise lanais attached to an air-conditioned suite, you can make arrangements for the pup

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to go for a swim at the beach-entry pool, have a private ball toss with a staff member, get a HydroSurge massaging bath and, of course, play in the park. Feline guests are welcome too. If you’d rather stay with your pet while in Central Florida, the Wyndham Orlando Resort permits furry members of the family, as does the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort (formerly known as the Sheraton Safari Hotel & Suites), both of which have recently undergone significant renovations. The Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando allows pups on the premises, plus gives you a hand with pet beds, food and leashes. (Other hotels in the Wyndham, Sheraton, and Hard Rock chains, including the

nightlife-driven Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, may have pet-friendly rooms or floors, depending on their locations and policy; it’s best to call ahead and ascertain just how friendly the property is before booking.) Residence Inn by Marriott, like the one in Sebring in Central Florida, allows Rover and friends; for other Residence Inns, just call and ask. For a more urban stay while in Northeast Florida, check out the chic Aloft Hotel brand, such as the Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park. (There’s also one at the Jacksonville Airport and in downtown Tallahassee, with four more outlets opening by the end of 2013 in Panama City

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: THE LODGE AT NEW TAMPA; THE LODGE AT NEW TAMPA; VISIT JACKSONVILLE.

If you and your pet prefer the great outdoors, public dog parks and beaches abound. Sanford, in Central Florida, is perhaps one of the most canine-catering communities. It’s known for the Paw Park, the oldest off-leash dog site in Central Florida. With a separate play area for small breeds, self-watering bowls, plenty of live oak shade trees and even showers to cool down your critters on sweltering days, the Paw Park is clearly a puppy paradise. South of Cocoa Beach in Central East Florida, at the end of Eau Gallie Boulevard in Indian Harbour Beach, Canova Beach Dog Park has become a popular dog hangout. Be sure to enter the beach through the south crossover to avoid any fines. For more water recreation and exercise, as well as raised bathing tubs and an agility course, dogs and their owners can visit Northeast Florida’s off-leash Dog Wood Park, a fenced, multiple-acre facility in Jacksonville. Indeed, dozens of parks and beaches not only allow owners and their animals to frolic, but also offer special facilities for them. Some, however, require six-foot leashes.


Pet-friendly Memorial Park, Jacksonville

FEATURED LINKS To scout out dog-friendly spots nearby even when you’re on the go, see Florida Pet Pages (floridapetpages.com). For a full listing of pet-friendly hotels, visit bringfido.com/lodging/state/florida.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA Aventura Mall aventuramall.com

Balans Café Lincoln Road balans.co.uk/Miami/Lincoln_Road.php

Bare Bones Beach Shop barebonesbeachshop.com

Camp Canine campcanineflorida.com

Coconut Point simon.com

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood seminolehardrockhollywood.com

The Van Dyke Café thevandykecafe.com

W Fort Lauderdale

Beach, Miami, Doral and Orlando). At Aloft, the saying goes: “Pets are more than just fun— they’re family, too!”

DOGTROTTING BOULEVARDS If you want to show off your family member in Southeast Florida, Lincoln Road, the famous walking mall in Miami Beach, is the place to stroll, especially if you’re rooming at the “pupular” palace known as the W South Beach, which provides a special pet bed and dogwalking service. Whether you own a senior rescue mutt from a shelter or a purebred Chinese crested, there’s always someone on Lincoln Road ready to admire it, as well as plenty of outdoor cafes, such as Balans Café and The Van Dyke Café, with bowls of cool water for lapping. You can do the same at the W Hotel Fort Lauderdale, then spend a lovely afternoon in and out of the cafes and art galleries on North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard (where the hotel is located) or East Las Olas Boulevard. Many of the proprietors at the latter are tolerant of “purse-carried” pups, and nearly every single outdoor cafe, such as YOLO (which existed before teenagers everywhere adopted the term), will welcome a well-behaved canine curled up under your table. Wild East Asian Bistro even has “dog-friendly” seating, so you don’t have to worry about winding up near someone who is fearful of pooches. Or stroll down Duval Street in Key West to take in some exotic pet viewing.

Ferrets try to make themselves invisible against the walls of art deco or conch-style boutique hotels while iguanas perch on tanned, buff shoulders and Burmese pythons curl around tattooed biceps. There are even roosters that ride around in bicycle baskets. Be careful about getting too close to someone else’s parrot though. Just because your cockatoo adores people doesn’t mean that African grey is going to be just as forthcoming with chatter and bird kisses.

wfortlauderdalehotel.com

W South Beach wsouthbeach.com

Wild East Asian Bistro wildeastbistro.com

YOLO yolorestaurant.com

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA Canova Beach Park brevardcounty.com/ParksRecreation/South/Canova

CENTRAL FLORIDA Hard Rock Hotel

PAWFECT HANGOUTS Well, Fido deserves a souvenir, and fortunately, many pet boutiques have sprouted throughout Florida. The Bare Bones Beach Shop in Key West has appropriately tropical fashions (think sunglasses!) for your canines, as well as carriers and carriages for when the little ones get too tired to stroll down Duval Street any longer on their own feet. Pawfection Bakery in Jacksonville knows how to tempt your babies with appealing cakes made from human-grade ingredients, as well as toys. Likewise, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming of Winter Park, as the name suggests, offers plenty of treats, but also caters to the grooming needs of your pet. Whatever community you visit, try searching for “pet boutiques” at Dogster.com and you’re bound to find something to take home for the furry loved one in your life. FL

hardrockhotelorlando.com

Residence Inn by Marriott Sebring marriott.com

Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort sheratonlakebuenavistaresort.com

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming woofgangbakery.com

Wyndham Orlando Resort wyndham.com

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA The Lodge at New Tampa thelodgefordogs.com

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Aloft aloftjacksonvilletapestrypark.com

Dog Wood Park jaxdogs.com

Paw Park of Historic Sanford pawparksanford.org

Pawfection Bakery pawfectionbakery.com

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M O N E Y- S A V I N G T I P S

BY JILL MARTIN

SAVE BIG AND ENJOY MORE

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f you’re trying to make your vacation dollars stretch further (and who isn’t?), here are some practical tips and tricks compiled from locals in-the-know. You’ll find advice on everything from where to find discount attraction tickets to lesser-known websites that can save you hundreds in the Sunshine State.

PLAN AHEAD WISELY

Omaka Rocka, Aquatica

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Florida is a big state so seasons vary greatly from north to south. In January, the average high temperature in Panama City Beach is 62 F, but in Key West, it’s a much warmer 74 F. Know your seasons, and you’ll know when and where to find the best deals. Winter will yield great rates in northern Florida; in the heat of summer, head to southern Florida. Orlando has its own seasons, which coincide with school calendars. Meaning, if you’re like most families and have to travel during spring, summer or winter breaks,

prices will be higher. Travel during off-peak times (especially January–February and September–Thanksgiving) to pay less and find fewer crowds.

THEME PARK SAVINGS If you plan on spending time in any of Florida’s theme parks, such as Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Universal Orlando Resort and LEGOLAND Florida, do some pre-planning and purchase tickets before you arrive at the gate. There are many reputable ticket brokers you can find online: Mousesavers.com, Ticketmomma.com, UndercoverTourist.com and OfficialTicketCenter.com—all well known and respected. In a glance, you can see ticket prices and any other discounts you may qualify for (military, wholesale clubs and automobile clubs). Brokers also have tickets to dinner theater shows, such as Pirate’s Dinner Adventure and Arabian Nights, as well as other area attractions and special events.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: VISIT ORLANDO; VISIT MIAMI; VISIT ORLANDO; VISIT ORLANDO.

Matheson Hammock Park


COLLECT COUPONS Locals have their go-to coupon books but the secret is, you don’t have to be a local to use them. You just have to know where to get your hands on one. A favorite is the Entertainment Book. Simply go to entertainmentbook.com and enter a city or zip/postal code. Buy it, then pack it! One book has literally thousands of dollars in coupons; it will pay for itself in just one day. You’ll also find coupons in the service plazas along the Florida Turnpike. Stop in and take a moment to notice the racks of brochures. Many have coupons inside.

OPT FOR ROOMIER ACCOMMODATION You don’t have to sit through a two-hour vacation ownership presentation to take advantage of comfortable, spacious, condominium-style accommodation with multiple bedrooms and full kitchens. You just have to know where to make your reservation. Thousands of timeshare owners post units they are unable to use at RedWeek.com and you can reap the roomy benefits. You can also visit vacation ownership resorts’ websites directly, check availability and book. Even if you can’t stay for the entire week (as timeshare units are normally leased in weekly increments), the savings will still be worth it, especially during the off-season. Favorite websites include flcondoalliance.com; LegacyVacationResorts.com; WestgateResorts.com; and MyResortNetwork.com. You may never stay in a hotel room again.

MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNTS Score even more discounts by joining local clubs and/or organizations, if you’re not already a member. For instance, the American Automobile Association (AAA) offers discounted rates on everything to do with travel, from car rentals to hotel rooms. Wholesale shopping clubs offer travel discounts as well.

KIDS’ CLUB PROGRAMS Many resorts offer programs for kids as part of their amenity package. These programs provide supervised childcare during certain hours of the day—or night—however they are a far cry from being a babysitting service; they provide educational, entertaining and non-stop enjoyment! While your children are singing

karaoke, dancing the conga, creating arts and crafts or learning about marine life, you and your spouse can enjoy some relaxing “we” time. What’s even more appealing is when these programs are complimentary or included with the daily resort fee, as they are at the Panama City Beach Holiday Inn Resort, the Harbor Beach Marriott in Fort Lauderdale or Club Med Sandpiper Resort in Port St. Lucie. Do your research and be sure to ask your resort if they have a program, if they charge a fee, and what the age requirements are for participation.

Pre-plan and purchase tickets to theme parks and attractions online at discounted prices.

AIRFARE ALERTS Everyone has heard, “book at least 21 days in advance for the best price and seat availability,” but there are exceptions. Visit websites such as TripAdvisor.com or AirFarewatchdog.com and register for airfare alerts. You’ll be sent an email when fares on routes you’re interested in drop, and when they do, jump on it. Florida also has a few airports of which you might not be familiar. In 2011, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) was the first international airport to be built in the U.S. in more than a decade. Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) offers easy access to Fort Walton Beach and Destin; and Tampa International (TPA) is only an hour or two from Orlando and flight deals are frequently offered.

BE SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY Whether you love it or hate it, there are benefits to social networking. On Facebook, it’s common for resorts, hotels and attractions to

offer “Fans Only” discounts. Like them on Facebook and you could get a free night, free meals or a percentage-off discount. Be social media savvy and you will most definitely save. Resorts and attractions love to Twitter their deals—in 140 characters or less.

WATCH FOR FREEBIES If the best things in life are free, especially in Florida, then get outside. Many beaches, parks and festivals don’t charge an entrance fee, or if they do, it’s only a few dollars. In Miami, ride a bike into Matheson Hammock Park along the mangrove-lined bike path (and sidestep the entry fee). You’ll find a beautiful city skyline waiting and the busiest kiteboarding beach in the south. You can also find off-the-beatenpath attractions, such as the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier, south of Key Largo. Admission is free (donations are welcome) and you can stroll the boardwalk to the bay, past resident owls and hawks. FL

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WILDLIFE VIEWING

Bring your binoculars

Birders

S

nowbirds aren’t the only ones who take flight for warmer weather once the chill of winter descends upon them. At the same time, hundreds of species of birds find their way to Florida during their annual migration, not to mention those that make the Sunshine State their home year-round. So it’s no surprise that Florida attracts birders from around the world.

A 2,000-MILE TRAIL More than 500 species of birds have been documented in Florida, and with the right planning, you can most likely spot a few to mark off your Life List. The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT), a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is a 2,000-mile highway trail of nearly 500 sites designed to promote bird and wildlife-watching opportunities, as well as encourage conservation. Before you get started, download the checklist

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of Florida’s birds and keep track of the different species you see on your expeditions. The trail is divided into four sections— south, east, west and the Panhandle—and nine “gateway” sites have been designated at exceptional birding locations: • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary east of Naples and Arthur R. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge near West Palm Beach in the south; • Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, and Tenoroc Fish Management Area in Lakeland in the east; • Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park near Gainesville and Fort De Soto County Park in St. Petersburg to the west; and • In the Panhandle, Big Lagoon State Park due west of Pensacola and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge south of Tallahassee. These gateway sites have staffed visitor centers complete with birdwatching tips, loaner optics and copies of free trail guide booklets.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: VISIT FLORIDA; © NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB; VISIT FLORIDA; JO CREBBIN/SHUTTERSTOCK

BY SUSAN B. BARNES

A BIRDER’S PARADISE


Flamingo in Fort Lauderdale

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT

SOUTHERN SIGHTINGS Head to southern Florida and birders will find more than 116 sites crisscrossing the state from Sarasota south to Naples along the west coast, through the Everglades, and east to Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Florida Keys. Of the 40 most sought-after birds in Florida, the scarce masked booby, purple gallinule and white-tailed kite may be spotted here.

EASTERN EXPOSURE The East Florida section of the GFBWT was the first to open in 2000 and is home to the bald eagle, the elusive yellow rail, and the nearly extinct Florida grasshopper sparrow. More than 180 birding sites can be found from Amelia Island, Jacksonville and St. Augustine south through Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach to Port St. Lucie, and west through Orlando and Lakeland north to Ocala.

WESTERN SPECTACLES One hundred and fifteen sites make up the West Florida section of the GFBWT, which encompasses Madison in northern Florida hugging the west coastline through Tampa and St. Petersburg, south through Bradenton and Anna Maria Island, with a few inland counties thrown into the mix. Here birders will find the magnificent frigatebird, piping plover, snowy plover and swallow-tailed kite.

Roseate spoonbill

UP IN THE PANHANDLE In the Panhandle section of the GFBWT, there are 78 sites at which birdwatchers will want to roost, from Pensacola to Panama City to Tallahassee and points in between. Keep an eye out for Bachman’s sparrow and the quite rare limpkin and roseate spoonbill (often mistaken for flamingos) in this part of the state. Birdwatching tours and events are scheduled throughout Florida, year-round. For more information on these events and an up-to-date listing, visit floridabirdingtrail.com. FL

To make the most out of wildlife-viewing excursions, good binoculars are a must. Binocular choice is quite personal. Ideally, they should be waterproof (not just water repellent) and nitrogen purged; provide long eye relief with an adjustable eyepiece (not the fold-down type); comfortable in your hands; and easy to focus. Choose good quality lenses over higher magnification. Best for all around wildlife observations is the 8 or 8.5 power because the lenses are brighter, provide a somewhat wider field of view than the 10x and typically provide a closer focus to see details. Plan on spending a minimum of $400 for quality binoculars. Rather than a neck strap, consider a harness or pack strap. The harness leaves both hands free, holds the binoculars against the chest (to minimize swinging) and keeps them at a convenient level when you need them. The harness is excellent for hiking, spending long hours standing at a viewpoint and you don’t have to fumble for your binocs when you spot something. Spotting scopes are invaluable for observing more distant wildlife and birds. A tripod with adjustable legs is also recommended and must include an attaching mount. For serious wildlife photography, you will need an SLR with a 400 mm lens and a tripod. For general vacation photography, any good point-and-shoot camera will suffice, however a camera that provides “super zoom” and wide-angle capabilities precludes the need to carry extra lenses. If you’re a fledging when it comes to birding, you may want to take advantage of GFBWT’s complimentary Loaner Optics Program, available at the nine gateway sites and 18 additional sites. Simply stop in and borrow a pair of binoculars free of charge in exchange for a driver’s license or credit card, which is kept as collateral until the binoculars are returned safely. When you are ready to buy, be sure to purchase equipment from a store or website that specializes in birding and wildlife watching.

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ECOTOURISM

BY SANDRA FRIEND

FLORIDA AU NATUREL

An Everglades outpost in South Florida

L

ong before theme parks came on the scene, visitors ventured to Florida to marvel at the scenery, the flowers and the unusual creatures found here. Florida’s vast network of public lands and thousands of miles of trails provide ample opportunities for experiencing natural Florida, from wading through the wilds of the Big Cypress Swamp to watching a migration of monarch butterflies along the Gulf Coast. The cradle of the National Wildlife Refuge system—founded in 1903 with Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, just off the coast of Sebastian in Central East Florida—and home to 160 state parks, Florida provides both on-your-own explorations of wild places and guided ecotours that educate and entertain.

MUST SEE, MUST DO “There are no other Everglades in the world,” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the journalist

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who gained fame in her lifelong fight to protect them. So opens her book River of Grass. Known worldwide, the Everglades in south Florida are visited by millions who want a glimpse of sawgrass prairies, tropical tree islands and tangled mangrove forests. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Everglades encompass the tip of the Florida peninsula and are home to Florida’s rarest living things—the Florida panther, the American crocodile, the liguus snail and the ghost orchid. Everglades National Park is the main gateway to this vast wilderness, where a tram tour at Shark Valley, a boat trip from Everglades City, a road trip down the Tamiami Trail, or a long, slow drive down the Main Park Road will engage you in the uniqueness of these landscapes. Accessible on foot, by swamp buggy and by kayak, the Big Cypress Swamp is the

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: MATTHEW CONNELLY/SHUTTERSTOCK; FLORIDASTOCK/SHUTTERSTOCK; HOLBOX/SHUTTERSTOCK; CHERYL E. DAVIS/SHUTTERSTOCK .

Boardwalk and nature center at South Florida wetlands


White egret at Sebastian Inlet

Airboat in Big Cypress National Preserve

more tropical side of the Everglades. Beneath a canopy of leafy cypress with colorful bromeliads and orchids, guided swamp walks, offered each Saturday at Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery, provide a tactile immersion into this watery wilderness. In Southeast Florida, America’s first underwater park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, offers the rare opportunity for snorkeling and scuba diving a living reef off Key Largo. The Florida Keys feel like a piece of the Caribbean, where tiny Key deer roam Big Pine Key beyond the bounds of National Key Deer Refuge; tropical forests host unusual indigenous trees at sites like Crane Point Hammock in Marathon; and offshore islands such as Indian Key await exploration.

WINGED MIGRATIONS Central East Florida’s prime location along the

Atlantic Flyway means a birding bonanza in fall, winter and spring. While you’ll find moorhens and white ibis year-round at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, winter means spotting migrators, such as lesser scaup, American avocet and sora while walking along the Cruickshank Trail or slowly rambling down Black Point Wildlife Drive. More than 300 species of birds have been counted here, with the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival an excellent introduction to tracking down the region’s wildlife bounty. One of the more thrilling sights for a birder is to watch young whooping cranes in formation behind an ultralight aircraft as they learn to fly south for the winter. Since 2001, Operation Migration has worked to establish a flock of migrating whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida to winter at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in

Central West Florida. Each year’s youngsters— and the pilots in their crane costumes—can be seen at annual flyover points such as the Dunnellon Airport in January or February. In October, it’s the slightest flutter of wings that draws attention to the skies as clouds of monarch butterflies—and their look-alike cousins, the queen and viceroy—make one final stop in Florida before their migration to Mexico. At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, just south of Tallahassee in North Central Florida, volunteers tag these delicate beauties to follow their epic journey across the Gulf. Visit during the Butterfly Festival to see butterflies gathering en masse on seaside shrubs to feed.

TURTLE CRAWLS Sea turtle injuries, unfortunately, are still common, particularly entanglement in fishing lines. In the Florida Keys, the Turtle Hospital in Marathon is Florida’s premier facility for the care of injured sea turtles, but other rehabilitation centers also provide the public a chance to see these deep-sea dwellers, including the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota in Southwest Florida as well as the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach and the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, both in Southeast Florida.

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ECOTOURISM John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

During the summer months, sea turtles are drawn to the sandy shores of Florida to create their nests. With greatly reduced populations, the green turtle, leatherback turtle, and Kemp’s Ridley turtle still arrive on Florida’s beaches but are tough to spot. It’s possible, however, to watch loggerhead turtles lay their eggs in the sand. From Sebastian Inlet State Park in Central East Florida, the Friends of Sebastian Inlet offer “Turtle Walks” in June and July at the park and at nearby Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, established to preserve sea turtle nesting sites.

Hawksbill sea turtle

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Along Florida’s coastal communities, it’s not uncommon to see dolphins frolicking in the surf or in the wake of boats and rounding up fish in the shallows. In partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota—where a dolphin and whale hospital provides care for injured marine mammals—the Dolphin Explorer heads into the Ten Thousand Islands daily from Marco Island with all hands on deck helping to survey dolphin behavior, movement and distribution along the Southwest Florida coast as part of a scientific study started in 2006. During much of the year, kayakers encounter manatees along Florida’s largest waterways, especially coastal inlets and lagoons. To escape winter’s chill, manatees—gentle, enormous mammals once mistaken by sailors for mermaids—migrate to warmer water inland, at the outflow pipes of power plants and at several of Florida’s larger springs. At Blue Spring State Park in Central East Florida, manatees crowd by the hundreds each winter in a narrow spring run, with a boardwalk trail above offering excellent views of manatee mothers and babies, family groups and lone manatees grazing on vegetation. Follow their riverine explorations—and learn a lot more about wildlife—on a guided boat trip with St. Johns River Cruises departing from the park. Ideal for young children, the nearby Manatee Observation and Education Center in Fort Pierce offers touch tanks and other interactive activities in addition to its manatee viewing area along the waterfront. Manatee tours to Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Central West Florida, such as the snorkeling tours led by Bird’s Underwater, enable visitors to see manatees up

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: BRETT HILLIARD/SHUTTERSTOCK; OFF AXIS PRODUCTION/SHUTTERSTOCK; BRIAN LASENBY/SHUTTERSTOCK

MARINE MAMMALS IN THE WILD


FEATURED LINKS close in this collection of springs in the middle of a broad river. A special rehabilitation center for injured manatees is nearby at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where manatees and other native Florida wildlife can be seen daily.

AMONG THE ANCIENTS Ancient cypress trees attract rare species of birds that require them for roosting and nesting, leading to delightful discoveries in Florida’s oldest forests. At Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, a virgin stand of bald cypress provides shelter for a rookery of the endangered wood stork. Florida’s most beautiful boardwalk trail meanders for more than two miles through this wonderland of ancient swamp forest, home to the rare and delicate ghost orchid, glimpsed some summers in the high canopy. In the midst of busy Central Florida, a cruise with Premier Boat Tours down the Dora Canal sweeps you back in time to a slice of a primordial river canopied by massive cypresses. Otters slip across logs while osprey wheel overhead with their latest catch. The swallow-tailed kite, symbol of the Great Florida Birding Trail, is most commonly seen along the Suwannee River and its tributaries, where these showy raptors roost in the tallest of cypresses. A paddle down the river on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail is an expedition into the heart of wild North Central Florida, 170 miles of hidden springs, forgotten beaches, and limestone bluffs tapering off to swamp forests along the Gulf of Mexico. Five river camps provide screened tent platforms and restroom facilities. American alligator on the banks of the Suwannee River

The search for the ivory-billed woodpecker focuses on the ghostly cypress swamps of the Choctawhatchee River basin in Northwest Florida. Canoeing along Holmes Creek surrounds you in the ancient grandeur of this untouched forest, with watercraft available at the Holmes Creek Canoe Livery.

ISLANDS OF DIVERSITY An island chain stood above ancient seas before Florida emerged from its oceanic cradle. Today, these high, sandy ridges in the Florida Peninsula host endangered plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. In Central Florida’s Ocala National Forest, crystalline springs teeming with aquatic life punctuate the largest sand pine scrub forest in the world, a high, dry, desert-like habitat. Near Orlando, Lyonia Preserve protects the Florida scrub-jay, a colorful and friendly bird that only inhabits diminutive scrub forests. It is one of the few places to observe them up close. The Nature Conservancy’s Tiger Creek Preserve protects a swath of the Lake Wales Ridge, nearly 5,000 acres devoted to rare plants such as cutthroat grass and rare animals, such as the Florida sand skink, which “swims” beneath the sand.

GATOR GROWL For a close-up look at Florida’s most feared creature—the alligator—in its native habitat, a hike on the La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in North Central Florida features gators en masse at the home of the Florida Gators—Gainesville. Wetlands parks provide excellent alligator-spotting opportunities.

STATEWIDE Florida National Scenic Trail www.floridatrail.org

Great Florida Birding Trail floridabirdingtrail.com

Hawkwatch International hawkwatch.org

SOUTHEAST Big O Airboat Tours bigofishing.com/airboat.html

Billie Swamp Safari billieswamp.com

Crane Point Museum and Native Center cranepoint.net

Curry Hammock State Park floridastateparks.org/curryhammock

Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands pbcgov.com/parks/locations/greencay.htm

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center gumbolimbo.org

Indian Key Historic State Park floridastateparks.org/indiankey

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park floridastateparks.org/pennekamp

Loggerhead Marinelife Center marinelife.org

National Key Deer Refuge fws.gov/nationalkeydeer

Shark Valley Tram Tours sharkvalleytramtours.com

The Turtle Hospital turtlehospital.org

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands pbcgov.com/waterutilities/wakodahatchee/

SOUTHWEST Babcock Wilderness Adventures babcockwilderness.com

Big Cypress National Preserve nps.gov/bicy

Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery clydebutchersbigcypressgallery.com

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary corkscrew.audubon.org

Everglades National Park nps.gov/everg

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/dingdarling

Mote Marine Laboratory mote.org

The Dolphin Explorer dolphin-study.com

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ECOTOURISM Hikers in Everglades National Park

FEATURED LINKS CENTRAL EAST Archie Carr National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/archiecarr

Blue Spring State Park floridastateparks.org/bluespring

Friends of Sebastian Inlet State Park, Inc. friendsofsebastianinletstatepark.org

Lyonia Preserve lyoniapreserve.com

Manatee Observation & Education Center manateecenter.com

Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/merrittisland

Pelican Island National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/pelicanisland

Sebastian Inlet State Park floridastateparks.org/sebastianinlet

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org

RANCH ADVENTURES Florida’s ranchers have opened their doors to invite guests to see the connections between working the landscape and preserving native wildlife. One of the earliest to do so, Florida EcoSafaris, is based at Crescent J Ranch west of Melbourne in Central East Florida. Take a swamp buggy ride, explore the vast open spaces on horseback or ride a zip line through the canopy at their Forever Florida preserve. Northeast of Fort Myers in Southwest Florida, the Telegraph Swamp is a vast mosaic

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of cypress strands and open prairies. Explore these wild spaces, where Florida panthers hide and sandhill cranes roam, on a guided swamp buggy tour at Babcock Wilderness Adventures, centered on a working cattle ranch.

St. Johns River Cruises sjrivercruises.com

CENTRAL Bill’s Airboat Adventures airboating1.com

Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida

BACKPACKER’S DELIGHT

floridaecosafaris.com

During the winter months, backpacking season in Florida is at its peak, and there are thousands of miles of trails from which to choose. Stretching from the Big Cypress Swamp in Southwest Florida to Pensacola Beach in the Panhandle, the 1,400-mile Florida National Scenic Trail attracts hikers from around the world to experience its extreme diversity, from the sparkling sands of Pensacola Beach to the vast prairies of Central Florida. A 60-plus-mile segment in the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida is the most popular section, leading past beauty spots such as Juniper Springs and Alexander Springs. Near Pensacola, a 43-mile section follows the Blackwater River and its tributaries through Blackwater River State Forest, with its rolling hills and shady pine forests. Nearly 60 miles of the trail follow the bluffs of the Suwannee River, offering places to camp on sandy shores and rugged climbs in and out of ravines. Hiking in Florida differs from the rest of the United States: trails are best enjoyed from October through April, when insect hordes diminish and temperatures are cooler. Flatter terrain does not mean easier walking, since soil composition differs tremendously, and includes both soft sand and slippery muck. It can freeze during Florida’s winters, so be prepared with suitable clothing and gear when backpacking. FL

Ocala National Forest fs.usda.gov/ocala

Orlando Wetlands Park cityoforlando.net/public_works/wetlands

Premier Boat Tours doracanaltour.com

Tiger Creek Preserve nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/ unitedstates/florida/placesweprotect/ tiger-creek-preserve.xml

CENTRAL WEST Bird's Underwater Inc. birdsunderwater.com

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/chassahowitzka

Crystal River Manatee Tours floridamanateetours.com

Crystal River National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/crystalriver

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings

Operation Migration operationmigration.org

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA St. Marks National Wildlife Reserve fws.gov/saintmarks

Suwannee River Wilderness Trail floridastateparks.org/wilderness

NORTHWEST Holmes Creek Canoe Livery holmescreekcanoelivery.com

PHOTO: GEORGE BURBA/SHUTTERSTOCK

In Central Florida near Lakeland, Circle B Bar Ranch has its own “Alligator Alley,” where hikers need to be alert to alligators sunning. Orlando Wetlands Park is a prime location for gators and migratory birds. With comfortable boardwalk strolls for families, both Green Cay Wetlands and Wakodahatchee Wetlands are oases of nature near West Palm Beach in Southeast Florida. Need more distance from these toothsome reptiles? An airboat ride may be just your speed. Not all airboat rides are created equal—some focus on thrills rather than education—so go with a guide who’s knowledgeable about wildlife. Billie Swamp Safari, on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in Southeast Florida, showcases native fauna from their airboats, as does Big O Airboat Tours, treating you to an unparalleled panorama along one of America’s largest lakes, Lake Okeechobee. In Central Florida, Bill’s Airboat Adventures offers an up-close look at the St. Johns River with a knowledgeable guide who’ll tailor the tour to your interests.


GOLF

SIGNATURE LINKS FOR ALL LEVELS

THE PLAYERS Championship, Sawgrass TPC Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach

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f you’re a golfer, there’s no place quite like Florida. Close to 1,500 courses dot the state with more under construction and several still on the drawing board. Players of every skill level can find a suitable test that will fit their budget and itinerary. First-time golf tourists are often surprised by what they don’t find in Florida. Contrary to popular beliefs, the courses aren’t all flat and straight, the fairways aren’t all packed with players and the tee times aren’t all reserved for members only. True golf lovers will quickly recognize that no other region comes close to matching the variety and history of Florida. And the weather isn’t bad either. Take a look.

SOUTHEAST

Golfer swings on hole 8, at Doral Golf Resort

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When Bill Clinton brought his clubs to Miami, he enjoyed playing the Biltmore Golf Course on the grounds of the historic Biltmore Hotel

in Coral Gables. Donald Ross designed the course in 1925 and, besides Clinton, the list of luminaries that have played the Biltmore is dazzling and eclectic: Babe Ruth, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Bing Crosby and assorted Al Capone-era gangsters. The “Blue Monster” course at Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami has played host to PGA Tour events since 1962. Over the years, Doral has drawn plenty of celebrity players of its own, among them Jackie Gleason, Joe Namath, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Richard Nixon. In 2012, Donald Trump bought the resort and promised sweeping improvements. The PGA National Resort & Spa course in Palm Beach Gardens has a history of distinguished events: the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship, many PGA Seniors’ Championships and now the annual Honda Classic in February. The signature feature of PGA National’s championship course is the

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT PHOTOGOLFER /SHUTTERSTOCK; ST. AUGUSTINE, PONTE VEDRA & THE BEACHES VCB; VISIT FLORIDA

BY CHERYL BLACKERBY


“Bear Trap,” the water-guarded 15th, 16th and 17th holes Jack Nicklaus designed to confound the world’s best golfers. In Pompano Beach, Greg Norman redesigned the city’s Pines Golf Course, turning it into one of the state’s top public layouts. The course reopened late in 2012. Norman said the project is special to him: “I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have access to public facilities when I was growing up. This is the heartbeat of golf right here.”

lakes, marshes, fairways and greens stretch along a preserve that is a favorite to local birdwatchers. The course is a Mark McCumber design par-70 that offers something for players of all levels. Australian Greg Norman designed the two courses at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples and the result was a European links course with a Down Under attitude. Sod-wall bunkers guarding the greens and coquina shell waste areas are signature features.

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA SOUTHWEST FLORIDA The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club on Sanibel Island is a nature lover’s paradise where 75 acres of

In Daytona Beach, the Ladies Professional Golf Association/LPGA International has two courses, which earned Golf Digest’s four-star rat-

ings. The LPGA Golf Academy is one of the most highly regarded teaching facilities in the country. The PGA Village in Port St. Lucie is home to the PGA Museum of Golf, as well as 54 holes designed by Pete Dye and Tom Fazio. It’s the ideal place to study the game and its history.

CENTRAL FLORIDA There are more than 200 golf courses within an hour’s drive of downtown Orlando and still more under construction. Jack Nicklaus designed the 45-hole championship layout at Grand Cypress Golf Club. Here you can find Scottish links in the steamy heart of Florida. Not far away is Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, home to the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and Arnie’s teaching academy. Just west of Orlando, the sleepy town of Howey-in-the-Hills (population 1,500) has three meticulously-groomed courses that are economical to play. Don’t miss the elegant Mission Inn Resort & Club’s historic El Campeon—the third oldest course in Florida— where you’ll be hitting some of your tee shots about 85 feet above sea level, a dizzying altitude in flat Florida. If you prefer something larger in scale, the Orlando World Center, the largest Marriott property on the planet, has Hawk’s Landing Golf Club and offers an extensive variety of golfing packages. Robert Cupp Jr. re-designed Hawk’s Landing in 1998, adding large Bermuda grass greens and putting water in play on 15 holes.

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA

Mission Inn Resort & Club, Howey-in-the-Hills

In Palm Harbor, the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort, has played host to numerous pro events, U.S. Open qualifiers and NCAA championships. “If I could only play one course the rest of my life,” says Curtis Strange, two-time U.S. Open champion, “it would be Copperhead.” Mangrove Bay Golf Course in St. Petersburg ranks among the top municipal facilities in the United States. Green fees are inexpensive and the course is well maintained. Arnold Palmer designed the two courses at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, and the Saddlebrook Golf Academy Learning Center has a national reputation for developing young talent.

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GOLF

Golfing in Seminole County

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Golf at sunrise in Daytona Beach

FEATURED LINKS Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge bayhill.com Copperhead Course at Innisbrook innisbrookgolfresort.com Doral Golf Resort & Spa doralresort.com Grand Cypress Golf Club grandcypress.com/golf_club LPGA International lpgainternational.com Mangrove Bay Golf Course stpete.org/golf/mangrove_bay.asp Marcus Pointe Golf Club golfmarcuspointe.com

When it comes to changing elevation, the Pine Barrens Course at World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville may be the best in Florida. Meandering through pine forests, the course routinely rates among the nation’s top 100 in rankings by golf publications. The undulating fairways and side-hill lies are challenging even to accomplished players.

FROM LEFT: SEMINOLE COUNTY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU; VISIT FLORIDA

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Even people with only a casual interest in golf know about the signature 17th island green hole at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, where many a golf ball has found its watery grave. Located in the Jacksonville suburb of Ponte Vedra Beach, TPC at Sawgrass was a gift to golf from designers Pete and Alice Dye. The Ocean Hammock Golf Club just north of Palm Coast might be Florida’s answer to Pebble Beach. It is a true oceanfront layout where the temperamental Atlantic winds put a premium on club selection and Jack Nicklaus architecture makes bunker play inevitable. At Amelia Island Plantation, the newly renovated Oak Marsh Golf Course has tight fairways framed by salt marsh creeks and moss-draped heritage oaks. If you think this sounds scenic, you’re right. Golf Digest included Oak Marsh in its list of the “Top 75 Resort Courses in the U.S.”

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA In North Central Florida, the SouthWood

Golf Club in Tallahassee is one of the state’s under-appreciated jewels. This creation of The St. Joe Company was named one of the “Top 35 New Courses in America” by Golf Magazine. Masters champion Fred Couples turned rolling hills, century-old oak trees and erstwhile grazing pastures into a bucolic test of creative shotmaking. Meadowbrook Golf Club, a public course in downtown Gainesville, has several holes that look like they belong in the Carolina mountains, not Florida. Meadowbrook, which opened in 1985, was the first course Florida architect Steve Smyers designed and it still is an attractive bargain today.

Meadowbrook Golf Club playmeadowbrook.com Mission Inn Resort & Club missioninnresort.com Ocean Hammock Golf Club hammockbeach.com/resort-golf Orlando World Center marriottworldcenter.com/golf.aspx PGA National Resort & Spa pgaresort.com PGA Village pgavillage.com Pines Golf Course, Pompano Beach mypompanobeach.org/parksrec/golf/golf_course.html Saddlebrook Resort

NORTHWEST FLORIDA The Wyndham Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach has the only Jack Nicklaus-designed course on the Florida Panhandle. The layout is famous for its “illusionary” bunkers that are strategically placed to tempt players to go for the flag when, well, maybe they really shouldn’t be so brave. In Pensacola, the Marcus Pointe Golf Club’s Marcus Pointe Course is one of the few courses in the western part of the state with changes in elevation. Fees are modest, the atmosphere is kept casual, and the club welcomes players of all calibers. The Raven Golf Club at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-design that consistently ranks among the nation’s top 100 non-private courses in the US. FL

saddlebrook.com/golf.html Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort sandestin.com/Golfers.aspx SouthWood Golf Club southwoodgolf.com The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club dunesgolfsanibel.com The Villas of Amelia Island Plantation aipfl.com Tiburon Golf Club tiburongolf.com TPC Sawgrass tpc.com/tpc-sawgrass World Woods Golf Club worldwoods.com Wyndham Bay Point Resort wyndhambaypoint.com

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WEDDINGS AND HONEYMOONS

Bride in Lightner Museum courtyard, St. Augustine

Newlyweds on Anna Maria Island

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listening beaches, spectacular sunsets, centuries-old churches and an iconic castle are all exceptional backdrops for any fairy-tale wedding. With its endless array of alluring locations, Florida is an ideal choice for memorable marriage ceremonies and celebrations.

SOUTHERN FLORIDA CHARM Flanked by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida offers hundreds of miles of coastline where couples can share oceanfront “I do’s.” In Islamorada, one of the upper Florida Keys, Pierre’s Restaurant is one of the best places in Florida for a sunset ceremony. With a westward-facing beach dotted by leaning palms and an elegant two-story plantation house, this locale blends casual beach with polished chic like nowhere else in the state. On the southeast coast, Fort Lauderdale offers 23 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches; however, its proximity to one of Florida’s largest ports makes it an ideal choice for couples departing on a honeymoon cruise. Several cruise lines depart from Port Everglades.

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Sarasota and its neighboring islands in Southwest Florida have long since been a popular destination for beach weddings. Couples can choose an elegant affair at the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton, which boasts a variety of oceanview reception sites on its 11-acre property. At nearby Longboat Key, couples can opt for a barefoot event on the snowwhite sands of the Longboat Beach Club & Resort. Consider nearby Anna Maria Island where the unassuming, but award-winning Sandbar Restaurant will serve guests frozen cocktails with the area’s best seafood alongside a dazzling sunset.

CENTRAL FLORIDA FANTASIES The true princess-at-heart longs for a fairy-tale wedding, which is exactly what Disney delivers to more than a thousand couples each year. The sky is the limit when it comes to ceremony and reception sites thanks to an endless array of locations across the resort’s sprawling theme parks and palatial hotels. With Cinderella Castle perched in the distance, the Wedding Pavilion is always a favorite for classic nuptials, but couples can instead opt

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ST. AUGUSTINE, PONTE VEDRA & THE BEACHES CVB; DARA CAUDILL; VISIT ORLANDO.

BY KRISTEN MANIERI

LIVING THE DREAM


A horse-drawn coach for the happy couple

for some uncommon locales to tie the knot by choosing one of the countries at Epcot’s World Showcase. Imagine getting married in Italy or in France without the transatlantic flight. Afterward, receptions can include safarithemed affairs at Animal Kingdom or glitzy, star-studded occasions at Hollywood Studios. Then come the pleasant details, such as transportation—think royal carriages and vintage cars—private fireworks, herald trumpeters and visits from Disney characters. Book a mariachi band, a string quartet or rockin’ DJ. If you can dream it, chances are, Disney can make it happen. Just over an hour east of Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line departs Port Canaveral and offers another ceremony and reception option. Say “I do” on board the ship or choose a beachside ceremony on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Whether on land or at sea, every bride and groom plans their dream Disney wedding with the help of a Disney wedding specialist, experts in creating unforgettable weddings both big and small.

HISTORICAL NORTHEAST FLORIDA As the oldest city in the U.S., it doesn’t get more historic than St Augustine. Couples choose this charming city for its seaside setting on Florida’s northeast coast as well as for the picturesque architecture sweeping through the tiny town. Several churches, many nearly two centuries old, provide the venue for formal ceremonies, while a bevy of nearby reception sites host the after party. Couples can celebrate with guests aboard a pirate ship, inside historic homes or at one of many area museums, such as the castle-like Lightner Museum, built by Henry Flagler in 1887. Casa Monica, the city’s most luxurious hotel, is a favorite thanks to its opulent ballrooms and artful decor. Play up the historic theme with horse-drawn carriage rides, a private trolley charter, or haunted walking tours for an event guests won’t soon forget. Less than 90 minutes north of St. Augustine, Amelia Island also boasts its fair share of history. This 13-mile-long barrier island on the northeast corner of Florida has a noble and notorious past filled with pirates and princesses. Besides a stunning coastline, the island is

home to Fernandina Beach, a 50-square-block downtown district named one of the country’s Top 10 Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Majestic 19thcentury homes, several of which have been converted into charming B&Bs, reflect an array of architectural styles such as Queen Anne and Italianate. Bed and breakfasts, such as The Addison and The Amelia Island Williams House, regularly host intimate weddings filled with old-Florida charm. Larger weddings can be hosted at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation or The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

TOP 5 HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS Florida Keys: Take a lazy road trip through the Keys, mile marker by mile marker, until Key West comes into view, where a kitschy collection of bars and museums make for night and day fun along the infamous Duval Street and beyond.

Orlando: Tackle the theme parks, take in world-class shows and outlet shop ’til you drop in one of the most fun honeymoon destinations in the world, home to several lavish hotels with world-class spas ideal for quiet downtime days. St. Petersburg: Hours spent on white sandy beaches followed by trips to local gems like the Dalí Museum make for an unforgettable getaway to St. Petersburg, the cosmopolitan city perched on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. FL

FEATURED LINKS Casa Monica Hotel casamonica.com

Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons disneyweddings.disney.go.com

Lightner Museum lightnermuseum.org

Longboat Key Club & Resort longboatkeyclub.com

Miami: Home of South Beach with its iconic art deco boutique hotels and miles of sandy shores, Miami calls to honeymooners seeking beach bum days, but also high-end shopping and glitzy nightlife.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation omnihotels.com

Pierre’s Restaurant pierres-restaurant.com

Sandbar Seafood & Spirits sandbar.groupersandwich.com

The Addison on Amelia Island

Naples: Ten miles of award-winning beaches as well as acres of untouched wildlife parks make Naples a favorite for outdoorsy couples. Having the Everglades just a few miles away is an added bonus.

addisononamelia.com

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island ritzcarlton.com/AmeliaIsland

The Amelia Island Williams House williamshouse.com

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S PAS

WHERE SOOTHING TREATMENTS FLOURISH

BY ROCHELLE LASH

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Lower pool at the Trump International Beach Resort, Sunny Isles Beach

TIP Watch for Spa Week deals. Imagine

SOUTHERN FLORIDA

half-price manis and pedis, massages

Miami’s sexy South Beach—North America’s epicenter of cool—attracts the young and gorgeous to fashionable boutique spas such as Bliss South Beach at the W Hotel, which rocks with funky music and a delectable brownie bar. Hot stuff here includes he-waxing, laser hair re-

and facials at the best Florida spas. Spa Week (spaweek.com) takes place annually, April and October, across the state.

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lorida’s temperate weather, magnificent shores, sparkling waters and lush forests are a potent combination, powerful enough to make you feel good and look great the natural way. But you can boost wellness, fitness, rejuvenation and relaxation to another level at the Sunshine State’s superb spas. Florida’s spectacular beauty and wellness centers are as mainstream as shopping, sunbathing and dining out, with menus of excellent aesthetics, curative massages, weight loss without deprivation, creative exercises and expert medical counseling. Spas throughout the state channel the riches of Florida’s land and waters. The mineral-rich ingredients of the Atlantic Ocean and the lush essences of Florida’s abundant fruit and flora— orange, hibiscus, eucalyptus, pomegranate, coconut and mango—are essential ingredients for soothing aromatherapy and skin care. As a result, spa life is flourishing in every region of Florida.

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

moval, slimming lessons and bridal tips. Nearby, the super-stylish Standard Hotel, on an island near legendary Lincoln Road, has an outstanding spa inspired by the bathhouses of ancient Europe, the Middle East and Asia. After steeping in steam, herbs or mud, patrons can indulge in therapeutic massages and recuperative mind-body healing, plus unique chi paddleboarding, skin care clinic, acupuncture, and the Juice Program. The landmark grandes dames of Miami Beach have suitably aristocratic wellness and beauty centers, including Elle Spa at the Eden Roc Renaissance and Lapis at Fontainebleau. Florida’s Gold Coast, a shimmering Atlantic oceanfront strip of sand, sun and glamor, is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of grand resorts, all with luxury spas featuring excellent exercise specialists, masseurs and aestheticians. The sunset-pink Boca Raton Resort & Club is a Waldorf Astoria Resort with a luxurious, pastel interior design. Boca’s Spa Palazzo is an opulent fountain of youth with manicured gardens, Moorish baths and facials that use the essence of caviar. At the iconic Spa at The Breakers in posh Palm Beach, insiders opt for the Moonlight Massage, Golf Pilates and the Guerlain Abeille Royale Facial with bee products. The landmark Westin

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: TRUMP INTERNATIONAL BEACH RESORT; NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB; NICHOLAS A. COLLURA-GEHRT/VISIT ST. PETE/CLEARWATER

Resort spas feature indulgent treatments including couples’ massage.


Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood has superb oceanfront and golf environments. The spa is there for all, with signature services such as the Green Tea Body Scrub, the Gentleman’s Retreat and the Mud Body Mask. The innovative Atlantic Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale is a sanctuary inspired by ocean therapeutics, incorporating purifying sea salts and restorative plants. Located in the buzzing, burgeoning community of Sunny Isles, Acqualina Spa by ESPA at Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach—the height of luxury and languid living—has swept every “top” list in America. A splendid Mediterranean villa encompasses a superlative spa with soothing ocean views, a Roman waterfall, stunning hot and cold baths and customized holistic and Ayurvedic treatments for body scalp and face. The Trump International Beach Resort is an exciting neighbor of Acqualina. Trump’s magnificent Aquanox Spa features exceptional anti-aging facials and specialized pampering for moms-to-be and couples. Aquanox massages use Hawaiian and Asian techniques and sumptuous body potions of coconut oil, aloe and peppermint. Farther south in the idyllic Florida Keys, the Calm Waters Spa at Hawks Cay Resort has created the intoxicating Key Lime Mojito treatment while the Jala Spa at Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa uses eco-conscious Primavera products, all delicately crafted from 125 plants. The secluded, romantic SpaTerre on Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys offers the Wellness Package, complete with a massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga and a detox seaweed body mask. The legendary Golden Door at the Naples Grande Beach Resort in Southwest Florida is where the southern Gulf Coast meets a Japanese Zen ambiance, heightened by mesmerizing waterfalls and a meditation labyrinth. The Marco Island Marriott Resort & Spa, thoroughly revamped with a holistic mineral pool and blazing outdoor fire-pits, has created aromatic citrus soaking baths.

CENTRAL AND NORTHERN FLORIDA In Central East Florida, the Ocean Waters Spa in Daytona Beach synthesizes ocean salts and

FEATURED LINKS SOUTHEAST FLORIDA Acqualina Spa by ESPA acqualinaresort.com/spa

Aquanox Spa trumpmiami.com

Bliss World South Beach blissworld.com/spa

Boca Raton Resort & Club bocaresort.com

Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa canyonranchmiamibeach.com

Elle Spa at Eden Roc edenrocmiami.com

Hawks Cay Island Resort hawkscay.com

Jala Spa at Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa

keywest.hyatt.com

Lapis Spa

soothing lavender for its aromatherapy glow. In the Gulf Coast city of Clearwater Beach in Central West Florida, the spa at the Sandpearl Resort, now LEED-certified, features an ocean wave massage, sand exfoliation and algae-based lotions. The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville in Northeast Florida, blends Florida sugarcane with honey from its own hives for its signature body scrub.

fontainebleau.com

Pritikin Longevity Center pritikin.com

Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale ritzcarlton.com

Spa at The Breakers thebreakers.com

SpaTerre littlepalmisland.com/florida-resort-spaterre.aspx

Standard Hotel standardhotels.com

The Atlantic Resort & Spa atlantichotelfl.com

The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa diplomatresort.com/spa

FAMILY-FRIENDLY Family life is paramount at the Gulf Coast communities of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Naples and Tampa. Sharing manis and pedis with your preteen is the rage at the Aquagëne Spa at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa on an island near Fort Myers. Across the state, the lavish Spa at The RitzCarlton in Fort Lauderdale gives youngsters the royal treatment while mom and dad can luxuriate with a warm Sapphire Sea Treatment in pearl and kelp mud at Fort Lauderdale’s only AAA five-diamond hotel.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Aquagëne Spa aquagenespa.com

Golden Door waldorfastorianaples.com/Golden-Door-Spa

Marco Island Marriott Resort & Spa marcoislandmarriott.com

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA Ocean Waters Spa oceanwatersspa.com

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com

Spa Jardin

MEDICAL WELLNESS Florida is home to world-class spas that target health habits, weight loss and fitness, all in plush surroundings. At the Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach and the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, guests are in the capable hands of nutritionists, exercise physiologists, life coaches and doctors. FL

spajardin.com

The Spa at Sandpearl sandpearl.com/spa

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Sawgrass Spa sawgrassmarriott.com/spa

NORTHWEST FLORIDA WaterColor Inn & Resort watercolorresort.com

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SPORTS

A SPORTSMAN’S PLAYGROUND

BY JEFF OSTROWSKI

Marlins Park, Miami

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hether you’re seeking a seat at the big game or aiming to reel in a prize fish, Florida offers a wealth of opportunities to watch sports, or to break a sweat yourself. For sports fans, Florida has a bit of everything—including auto racing, baseball, basketball, football, hockey and tennis.

RACE-CAR FANATICS In Florida’s auto-racing world, no event looms larger than the Daytona 500. NASCAR’s biggest race is scheduled for February 24, 2013, at Daytona International Speedway, which is home to other events throughout the year. For fans who prefer to know what it feels like to ride shotgun or to sit behind the wheel, the Richard Petty Driving Experience lets you ride in and even drive a stock car on the famous 2.5-mile oval. The Homestead-Miami Speedway also hosts a NASCAR race and other events. Like Daytona, this track also gives fans a chance to drive. Its Mario Andretti Racing Experience

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sells training sessions that include either a ridealong or solo drives for five or eight racing minutes in an open cockpit, full-size Indy car.

BASEBALL SEASON Baseball is a big deal in Florida, where the Major League Baseball season starts early. Each March, Florida’s Grapefruit League is home to spring training for 15 clubs, including the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays. The state’s spring-training stadiums have undergone a major upgrade over the years. Fans no longer sit on metal bleachers. Instead, the ballparks have turned into smaller versions of Major League stadiums, complete with luxury suites. For instance, Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter (spring-training home to the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals) was designed by the same architecture firm that drew up the wellregarded Camden Yards in Baltimore.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: GREATER MIAMI CVB; VISIT ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER; GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU; PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg


The Florida Panthers in Sunrise

For years, Florida’s big-league baseball ended in April, when the players headed north. But now Florida is home to two big-league teams, the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Marlins, who won the World Series in 1997 and 2003, play in a striking new stadium in Miami. Because the Marlins Park has a retractable roof, rainouts no longer pose a problem. Among the new park’s quirky features are an outfield sculpture that twirls when a Marlin hits a home run and a bobblehead museum. The Rays, who reached the World Series in 2008, play in Tropicana Field, an indoor stadium in St. Petersburg.

BASKETBALL COURTS Florida has emerged as a basketball powerhouse, too, thanks to LeBron James’ high-profile decision to join the Miami Heat in 2010. The Heat reached the NBA Finals in 2011 but lost, then won the NBA championship in 2012. The state’s other NBA team, the Orlando Magic, has reached the NBA finals twice. College hoops are big news, too. The Florida Gators have won two NCAA championships and Florida State and the University of Miami field strong teams.

Delray Beach International Tennis Championship

FOOTBALL GAMES Florida fans are passionate about all their sports, but football has the strongest hold. The state is home to three NFL teams—the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars. Florida fans love their pro teams, however they’re even more excited about their college teams. Florida, Florida State and Miami all have produced NCAA championships and Heisman Trophy winners. The football teams at the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida also have stepped up their games in recent years.

HOCKEY TEAMS Hockey doesn’t generate the same passion in Florida fans as other sports, but the Sunshine State boasts two NHL teams nonetheless. The Florida Panthers play in Sunrise, near Fort Lauderdale, and the Tampa Bay Lightning skate in Tampa. Both teams have enjoyed occasional success. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004, and the Panthers reached the NHL finals in 1996.

TENNIS TOURNAMENTS While hockey isn’t exactly synonymous with Florida, tennis is. The Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne offers spectators the chance to see some of the sport’s biggest stars. In 2012, Novak Djokovic won the men’s tournament and Maria Sharapova reached the women’s final. The 2013 event—rechristened the Sony Open—is scheduled for March 18–31. The annual Delray Beach International Tennis Championship also draws a big crowd.

THE HORSEY SET Florida is home to a dozen high-profile

teams and a number of big-time events, but there are plenty of highlights that’ll never make SportsCenter. For horsepower on four legs rather than four wheels, check out the Palm Beach International Equestrian Club, a mecca for the horsey set in Wellington, west of Palm Beach. The 120-acre club hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival, the nation’s largest and richest grand prix jumping event. Olympic equestrian athletes from around the world compete. Wellington also is home to International Polo Club Palm Beach, which attracts players from around the world.

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SPORTS Diver, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo

If you’d rather participate than watch, Florida offers no shortage of opportunities. Florida is most famous for its water sports, and fishing tops the list. Anglers can find plenty to like in Florida, a state that counts more than 2,000 miles of tidal shoreline, 7,000-plus lakes and more than 10,000 miles of rivers. The state is responsible for some 700 world-record catches, according to the Florida Sports Foundation. Saltwater anglers can cast from the beach or from one of the state’s dozens of piers, and they can reach deeper waters by boat. In the Atlantic, there are blue marlin, grouper, amberjack, wahoo, dolphin, snook, redfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel, among other species. Gulf catches can include sea trout, grouper, pompano, shark, mackerel, snapper, snook and tarpon. For freshwater anglers, the primary prize is the largemouth bass. March and April, when the bass swim into shallow water for spawning, are prime time for catching bass. The largemouth bass is the most common type of bass Fishing off Islamorada in the Florida Keys

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in the lakes of Central Florida and South Florida. In North Florida, anglers can catch the smaller Suwannee bass in the Suwannee River, the Ochlockonee River and the Santa Fe River. Even if you don’t land a record fish, you can witness the feats of anglers who have. At the International Game Fishing Association Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, nearly 200 specimens that broke world records are on display, including a 2,664-pound great white shark. The museum includes interactive and educational displays, an outdoor wetland and a library filled with books and videos about fishing.

UNDERWATER PARADISE If you’d like to get up close to Florida’s marine life, the state’s warm, clear waters are ideal for snorkeling and diving. Among the easily accessible snorkeling destinations are John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo and John MacArthur State Park in Palm Beach Gardens. The state’s reefs and shipwrecks are a paradise for divers. The waters off the Keys are home to numerous shipwrecks that have

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ANDY NEWMAN/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU; BOB CARE/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU; VISIT ORLANDO.

ANGLER’S HAVEN


FEATURED LINKS Alafia River State Park floridastateparks.org/alafiariver

Daytona International Speedway daytonainternationalspeedway.com

Florida Gators gatorzone.com

Florida Grapefruit League floridagrapefruitleague.com

Florida Panthers panthers.nhl.com

Florida Sports Foundation flasports.com

Florida Trail Association floridatrail.org

Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon & Half Marathon a1amarathon.com

Gasparilla Distance Classic tampabayrun.com

Gate River Run gate-riverrun.com

Homestead-Miami Speedway homesteadmiamispeedway.com

International Game Fishing Association igfa.org

International Polo Club Palm Beach Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon

turned into reefs. Closest to Miami is the Spiegel Grove, a 510-foot Navy ship, which was sunk in 2002 after it was retired. The vessel sits in 130 feet of water. Now covered with sponges and corals, it attracts schools of tropical fish. Experienced divers can enter the old vessel, but dive operators steer beginners away from swimming inside the Spiegel Grove.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Among the big events in 2013 are the Walt Disney World Half Marathon (January 12) and Marathon (January 13), the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon (scheduled for January 27), the Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon & Half Marathon (February 17), Tampa’s Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K (February 23) and Jacksonville’s Gate River Run 15K (March 9).

jaguars.com

HIT THE TRAILS

miami.marlins.mlb.com

HARD-CORE MARATHONS Florida offers some of the best ocean swimming you’ll find anywhere, so be sure to pack your goggles. If you’re interested in more than just a casual swim, consider one of Florida’s open-water swim races. Swim Miami hosts races ranging from one mile to 10 kilometers in April, and the Tampa Bay Open Water Swim stages one-mile and half-mile swims in May. Truly hard-core endurance athletes can sign up for the 12.5mile Swim Around Key West, held each June. In 2012, the winner completed the course in less than five hours. For athletes who like to bike and run after they swim, Florida offers a busy schedule of triathlons. The Miami and Tampa regions host a number of tris, and Clermont, just west of Orlando, has emerged as a hub for athletes who want to go faster. Clermont’s National Training Center includes a 76-yard pool and physiology lab. Runners looking for warm weather and flat courses are attracted to Florida’s winter races.

internationalpoloclub.com

If you prefer trails to pavement, Florida offers hiking and mountain biking— but you might have to search for trails that are firm amid Florida’s sandy soil. Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach—home to a series of trail races and offroad triathlons—is an oasis of calm in the midst of the bustling city. You can canoe and kayak in a natural preserve and watch dolphins and manatees. If you want to break a sweat, try hiking, mountain biking or trail running on the park’s twisting single-track trails. Alafia River State Park, east of Tampa, is another hot spot for hiking, mountain biking and trail running. This park south of Brandon includes 37 miles of trails on gently rolling terrain. Florida’s serious hikers love the Florida Trail, a 1,400-mile network of hiking paths through the middle of the state. Marked with a distinctive bright-orange blaze, the Florida Trail offers plenty of opportunity to spot alligators and birds. FL

John MacArthur State Park macarthurbeach.org

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park pennekamppark.com

Mario Andretti Racing Experience andrettiracing.com

Miami Dolphins miamidolphins.com

Miami Heat nba.com/heat

Miami Marathon and Half Marathon ingmiamimarathon.com

Miami Marlins National Training Center usantc.com

Oleta River State Park floridastateparks.org/oletariver

Orlando Magic nba.com/magic

Palm Beach International Equestrian Club palmbeachpolo.com/equestrian.aspx

Richard Petty Driving Experience drivepetty.com

Roger Dean Stadium rogerdeanstadium.com

Sony Open www.sonyopentennis.com

Spiegel Grove spiegelgrove.com

Swim Around Key West swimaroundkeywest.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers buccaneers.com

Tampa Bay Lightning lightning.nhl.com

Tampa Bay Open Water Swim swimacrossamerica.org/TampaBay

Tampa Bay Rays tampabay.rays.mlb.com

Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Marathon rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon

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VACATION HOMES

A QUICK GUIDE TO FLORIDA’S REAL ESTATE MARKETS

Luxury waterfront condos in Miami

W

Coastal home for rent in Florida

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ouldn’t it be great to extend your vacation in Florida? Instead of spending just a few days relaxing on the beach, golfing, boating or shopping, why not spend a few weeks or months in the Sunshine State—or even become a permanent resident? Many visitors enjoy Florida’s lifestyle so much that they wind up purchasing a vacation home in Florida or booking a long-term rental for their next visit. After all, there are plenty of benefits to owning your own place in the sun. It can also be an excellent financial investment—particularly since prices have fallen dramatically in the past five years, according to Florida Realtors, the statewide real estate association. Today, Florida offers something for everyone: elegant luxury penthouses priced in the millions, beachfront condominiums along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, townhouses and estate homes in golf and country club

communities, over-55 adult communities for retirees and moderately priced homes and condos for families and friends to unwind in the sun. Almost 20 percent of all Florida real estate transactions involve a foreign buyer—the highest rate in the nation, according to Florida Realtors. As a result, Florida has large secondhome communities filled with Canadian, British, Scandinavian, Russian and Latin American buyers. Whatever your native language or culture, you can probably make new friends in Florida!

LOCATION OR LIFESTYLE? When beginning a search for a Florida home, there are two basic approaches to consider: location and lifestyle. You may already know where in Florida you want to live—perhaps near your parents’ home in Sarasota, close to the grandchildren in Tampa or within walking

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: CHERYL CASEY/SHUTTERSTOCK; BARTUCHNA@YAHOO.PL/SHUTTERSTOCK; CHERYL CASEY/SHUTTERSTOCK; RITU MANOJ JETHANI/SHUTTERSTOCK.

BY RICHARD WESTLUND


distance of the nightclubs on South Beach. In that case, you should familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods, look at typical houses, condos or townhomes, get a sense of the prices and contact a real estate agent or broker who knows the local market and can help you make the right choice. Another strategy is to focus on your desired lifestyle, such as living in a private golf community, a high-rise on the beach or a scenic, rural location. That allows you to compare homes, prices and amenities in different communities around the state. For example, a four-bedroom estate home might be $750,000 on the Gulf

Coast, but only $500,000 in a Central Florida inland location. If living by the beach isn’t important to you, buying the less expensive home could save you $250,000. Again, a real estate professional can help you with the purchase.

TYPES OF HOMES If you’re considering a move to Florida, be aware that there are some differences in home design and construction compared with houses in cooler climates. For instance, few Florida homes have a basement, because of the underlying hard limestone rock and high ground water level. Newer homes may be more spa-

Aerial view of tropical townhomes in a coastal community near Pensacola

cious and feature modern kitchens, baths, floorings and fixtures. Florida’s leading singlefamily homebuilders include Lennar, Toll Brothers and Minto, who have developed residential communities throughout the state. Condominiums and apartment buildings also vary widely in design and construction, and often develop distinct “personalities.” The size of the building or community can also make a big difference in terms of lifestyle, amenities and costs. A high-rise condo with 600 units is like a miniature city with many services and amenities, and a higher monthly maintenance fee. However, if the purchase price and monthly fees are a big consideration, you may prefer a smaller building that may have a pool, spa or entertainment area—or no amenities at all. Since condos have been a major part of the Florida market since the 1970s, the age and condition of a building can affect its desirability and price. A recently constructed residence may have a more appealing design, new appliances, marble baths and other modern features compared with an older unit that has never been updated. However, the older unit may still appeal to buyers on a tight budget and those who plan to spend more time outdoors on their visits.

CONSIDERING A RENTAL?

Oceanfront apartments in Sunny Isles Beach

If you love the Florida lifestyle, but aren’t ready to buy, consider a seasonal rental. You can enjoy the beach, boating, golf, shopping and all the attractions for several weeks or months without making a permanent financial commitment. It’s also a good way to “sample” different locations and lifestyles to see where you feel most comfortable if you do decide to buy in the future. Almost any type of home, condo or apartment can be used as a seasonal rental at locations around the state. For example, the Condominium Alliance of the Tampa Bay Beaches handles vacation resort condo rentals in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. Buying a vacation club membership or a time-share unit is another “in-between” option. With a timeshare—sometimes called “interval ownership”—you can purchase one or two weeks in a professionally managed community located in your favorite destination. Many buyers like the familiarity and peace of mind that comes from returning to the same Florida community year after year. However, most vacation clubs and

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Golfer’s Paradise Premier Naples location. Two top-rated courses. Lavish Clubhouse. Free Golf Membership with new home purchase. Single Family & Estate Homes from the low $500s to $800s (877) 844-5014

Recognized as one of America’s “Best Places to Retire” by Portfolio.com. A stunning master-planned community at Tradition in Port St. Lucie with every imaginable amenity including world-class recreation and entertainment. Single Family Homes from the $190s to $300s (888) 897-2657

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Rare opportunity in Bonita Springs – Grand Opening This Spring Minto Communities is creating a private residential oasis unlike any other. An elegant lakefront community with a lavish islandstyle clubhouse and amenity center that is sure to be the talk of the town. Single Family Homes & Luxury Paired Villas from the low $200s to $350s. Join our VIP list to receive priority information and updates at www.mintobonitaisles.com (877) 467-4022

Named one of the 10 best towns in America by Family Circle Magazine Enjoy an incredible Royal Palm Beach location and endless fun at the community’s clubhouse complete with every imaginable resort amenity. Single Family Homes from the mid $200s to $400s. (888) 817-2575

To learn more about our other award-winning homes and communities, visit mintofla.com. minto creates better places to inspire life


VACATION HOMES An art deco condominium complex in Key West

around the world. The primary appeal: owning a home near Orlando’s theme parks and just a short drive from the beach. The Panhandle primarily attracts buyers from throughout the Southeastern U.S. With its miles of beaches and small-town communities, the state’s northwestern region appeals to families and friends seeking a weekend getaway within a few hours drive from home.

Florida-style beach houses

interval-ownership programs allow you to “swap” your vacation weeks and spend that time in other locations. Or you may be able to put your unit into a rental pool if you won’t be using the time yourself.

BUYING PATTERNS While U.S. and international visitors purchase homes and condos throughout the state, four regions tend to attract the largest share of second-home purchases: Southeast, Southwest, Central and the Panhandle. Southeast Florida has traditionally attracted buyers from the Northeast U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach

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have many waterfront condominiums and apartments that appeal to “big-city” residents accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle. As the largest metro area in the state, Southeast Florida’s real estate appeal includes plenty of cultural, shopping, dining and sports activities. Southwest Florida, from Naples to Sarasota, historically appeals to buyers from the Midwest, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Golf, boating and white sandy beaches are among the major attractions. This is a preferred destination for affluent empty nesters and retirees who want a relaxing lifestyle. From Orlando to Daytona Beach, Central Florida is prime family vacation territory, attracting buyers from throughout the U.S. and

Throughout Florida, home and condominium prices have fallen dramatically in the past five years, but now appear to be stabilizing. Be sure to take a close look at the local market, though, since prices can vary dramatically from neighborhood to neighborhood or building to building. One word of caution: avoid buying a foreclosure or other distressed property, unless you want to spend your next few vacations fixing it up. Better to look for a home or condo in “move-in” condition so you can enjoy the ownership experience. Since financing a second home is an important consideration, take the time to talk with several lenders about mortgage terms and conditions. One source is the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals, which offers an online directory. It’s also a good idea to talk with an attorney before buying a home, particularly if you’re not a U.S. resident. Getting legal advice in advance can help you protect your investment and minimize potential tax liabilities. Under U.S. immigration law, you may also need to address visa issues. The Florida Bar offers an online “find a lawyer” service. While it may take a little time to navigate the legal and financial issues, purchasing a Florida home can turn a great short-term visit into an appealing long-term lifestyle. FL

FEATURED LINKS Condominium Alliance of the Tampa Bay Beaches flcondoalliance.com

Lennar lennar.com

Minto minto.com

Toll Brothers tollbrothers.com

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: CHUCK WAGNER/SHUTTERSTOCK; CHUCK WAGNER/SHUTTERSTOCK; GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CVB; SHAWN HEMPEL/SHUTTERSTOCK.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE


GAMBLING

A SURE BET FOR ENTERTAINMENT BY RICHARD WESTLUND Gulfstream Racing and Casino Park in Hallandale Beach

F

or many Florida visitors, gambling is a favorite vacation activity. No matter where you travel, you won’t be far from a casino, racetrack or jai-alai fronton. You can even take a gambling cruise and enjoy casino excitement while at sea. Among the options: • Thoroughbred and harness racing, including many high-profile events; • Greyhound racing, a longtime Florida favorite; • Jai-alai, where individuals or two-man teams compete in the world’s fastest sport; • Poker rooms, where you can play cards to your heart’s content; • Slot machines, available in most of the state’s parimutuel facilities; • Casinos, with exciting Las Vegas-style games, such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat. Today, many Florida gambling venues offer a combination of these gaming activities. You could watch the dogs at a nearby track while placing a bet on a simulcast thoroughbred race in Maryland and dropping a few quarters into a slot machine. Many of the larger facilities also have retail shops and restaurants, with live music, concerts and other special events. Here’s a closer look at some of the state’s leading gambling venues.

Poker player with pocket aces

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GAMBLING

Gamblers at slot machines

SOUTHEAST Southeast Florida has the widest collection of gambling venues. Since voters in Miami-Dade and Broward counties authorized the introduction of slot machines a few years ago, the region’s racetracks and frontons expanded their facilities and added new games and poker rooms to their offerings. Tribal gambling is also popular in the region, with Vegas-style games, which expand the exciting options for visitors. Magic City Casino is Miami’s first and only casino to feature Las Vegas-style games, including roulette wheels, craps tables and 800 slot machines. There’s also a poker room, live greyhound racing and simulcast wagering. Casino Miami Jai-Alai features 1,000 slots, a poker room, dominoes and live entertainment as well as live jai-alai. To the west off U.S. 41, the

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Miccosukee Casino offers 24-hour gambling, including 1,900 gaming machines, 32 poker tables and high-stakes bingo. Calder Casino & Race Course in Miami Gardens is active with 1,200 slot machines, thoroughbred horse racing and year-round simulcast action, as well as plenty of dining options, all on one smoke-free floor. Frequented by celebrities, musicians and fans from around the world, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood is one of the region’s most popular attractions. There are 2,500 Vegas-style slots, 100 tables for blackjack, baccarat and other games, poker action and more on a nearly three-acre casino floor. It’s also home to a Hard Rock Hotel, 17 dining options, shopping, nightclubs and live entertainment at the 5,500-seat Hard Rock Live arena. Nearby, the Seminole Hollywood

Casino boasts more than 1,000 slot machines, 10 poker tables, and high stakes and “lightning” bingo action. To the north, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek recently completed a $150-million expansion and features more than 2,400 Vegas-style and bingo-style slot machines, along with 65 live tables including blackjack and baccarat. To the west, Seminole Casino Big Cypress offers a “no frills” casino experience at Billie Swamp Safari off I-75 (Alligator Alley). Considered one of the most important venues for horseracing in America since 1939, Gulfstream Racing and Casino Park in Hallandale Beach features the world’s top thoroughbred contenders hoping for Triple Crown glory, from January through April. Today, Gulfstream also features 850 slots, electronic table games and high-stakes poker. Dania JaiAlai in Dania Beach offers live jai-alai action, along with a poker room and simulcast wagering on thoroughbreds, harness, dogs and jai-alai. Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach opened its doors in 1934 as The Hollywood Kennel Club. In 2006, an extensive renovation project added 1,100 slot machines and a Big Easy poker room to this landmark property, which also offers simulcast greyhound, harness and thoroughbred races. Mardi Gras Casino is home to four stakes races—The Hollywood Futurity, Hollywood World Classic, Joe Ryan Jr. Memorial, and The Hollywoodian. The Isle® Casino Racing in Pompano Beach features 1,500 slots, 38 live-action poker tables, six restaurants, live harness racing and live entertainment seven days a week—all in a smoke-free environment. The Isle recently introduced new gaming technology where you can play games such as roulette, craps and Sic-bo with a real wheel and real dice but no dealer. The Isle also offers simulcast wagering and hosts four major poker tournaments throughout the year. In West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Kennel Club features greyhound racing, simulcast action, a 60-table poker room, many special events, fine and casual dining and more. A new option is the Black Diamond Casino Cruises, a 500-passenger gaming ship, which sails twice daily from the Port of Palm Beach. It has a casino with slots, roulette, blackjack and poker, as well as dining and live entertainment.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CVB; ANDRESR/SHUTTERSTOCK; PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB..

A greyhound dog track in Fort Lauderdale


Sail out of the Port of Palm Beach on the Black Diamond Casino Cruises

FEATURED LINKS Black Diamond Casino Cruises blackdiamondcasinocruises.com

Calder Casino & Race Course calderracecourse.com

Casino Miami Jai-Alai casinomiamijaialai.com

Dania Jai-Alai www.dania-jai-alai.com

Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room daytonagreyhound.com

Ebro Greyhound Park & Poker Room goebro.com

Ft. Pierce Jai-Alai & Poker jaialai.net

Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino

SOUTHWEST A long-time regional landmark, Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing & Poker in Bonita Springs operates year-round with greyhound racing, simulcast dog and horse racing and a casino-style poker room. To the north, Sarasota Kennel Club in Sarasota offers a similar combination of gaming attractions.

CENTRAL EAST Since 1948, Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker has been a mainstay in the area’s entertainment landscape. Located near Daytona International Speedway, the club offers live greyhound racing, as well as simulcast greyhound, thoroughbred, harness and jai-alai wagering with a large poker room. To the south, Melbourne Greyhound Park and Club 52 hosts Las Vegas-style poker action, live greyhound racing and simulcast wagering. Ft. Pierce Jai-Alai & Poker has live and simulcast gaming action along with poker tables and tournaments.

CENTRAL Ocala Poker and Jai-Alai in Reddick (midway between Ocala and Gainesville) is a nonsmoking facility, which hosts poker tournaments and live games, as well as simulcast wagering. Orlando Jai-Alai in Fern Park has live jai-alai action and simulcast wagering.

CENTRAL WEST Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa is one of the world’s largest casinos with more than 5,000 slot machines and 90 table games,

gulfstreampark.com

which include blackjack, baccarat and poker for non-stop gaming action. It’s also home to Florida’s largest and smoke-free poker room, with 50 live-action tables. The property also features a wide variety of restaurants and bars, as well as a Native American arts and crafts store. Welcoming visitors since 1926, Tampa Bay Downs is the only thoroughbred racetrack on the Gulf Coast. It offers live and simulcast-racing action, poker games and even has a practice golf facility where guests can “tee off ” while watching the races. Tampa Greyhound Track and Lucky’s Card Room has live greyhound racing, simulcast wagering and a large poker room.

Isle® Casino & Racing Pompano Beach pompano-park.isleofcapricasinos.com

Jacksonville Kennel Club jaxkennel.com

Jefferson County Kennel Club jckcgreyhounds.com

Magic City Casino magiccitycasino.com

Mardi Gras Casino Florida playmardigras.com

Melbourne Greyhound Park and Club 52 mgpark.com

Miccosukee Casino www.miccosukeeresort.com/gaming

Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing & Poker naplesfortmyersdogs.com/visitcontact.html

Ocala Poker and Jai-Alai

NORTHEAST

ocalapoker.com

With three locations in Jacksonville, Orange Park and St. Johns, Jacksonville Kennel Club makes it convenient for visitors to enjoy poker, greyhound racing and simulcast wagering.

Orlando Jai-Alai

NORTH CENTRAL

Seminole Casino Big Cypress

orlandojaialai.com

Palm Beach Kennel Club pbkennelclub.com

Sarasota Kennel Club sarasotakennelclub.com

Jefferson County Kennel Club in Monticello is one of the state’s longest-running dog tracks. Just minutes from the Georgia state line, the club operates year-round with live greyhound racing and a variety of simulcast events, as well as fine dining in the renowned Turf Club.

seminolebigcypresscasino.com

Seminole Casino Brighton seminolebrightoncasino.com

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek seminolecoconutcreekcasino.com

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood seminolehardrockhollywood.com

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

NORTHWEST

seminolehardrocktampa.com

Since 1955, Ebro Greyhound Park and Poker Room has brought exciting racing action to Northwest Florida. Located northwest of Panama City, Ebro has live racing, a popular poker room and simulcast wagering, along with trackside dining. FL

Seminole Casino Hollywood seminolehollywoodcasino.com

Tampa Bay Downs tampabaydowns.com

Tampa Greyhound Track and Lucky’s Card Room luckyscards.com

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PHOTO: BRADENTON AREA CVB

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SOUTHEAST FLORIDA

A DIVERSE Landscape

The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens

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rom the quaint streets of Key West and the nightclubs of South Beach, to the restaurants and shops of downtown Fort Lauderdale and the mansions of Palm Beach, Southeast Florida serves up a stunning variety of culture, entertainment and recreation. The warm, blue waters of the Atlantic form the eastern boundary of Southeast Florida, the swampy Everglades and Lake Okeechobee the western boundary. In between, you’ll find topnotch art museums, world-class restaurants, plenty of shopping and hundreds of golf courses.

WHAT’S NEW The newest addition to the Miami skyline is a ballpark. Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins play in a striking indoor-outdoor stadium, Marlins Park, which has been winning rave reviews since it opened in April 2012. The Marlins long shared a home with football’s Miami Dolphins, but the new baseball-only venue is air-conditioned (no more sweating) and has a retractable roof (no more rainouts). Continuing the sports theme,

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB; DEZER COLLECTION; VISIT MIAMI.

BY JEFF OSTROWSKI


Florida Atlantic University completed construction of its new football stadium in Boca Raton in late 2011. Farther north, the Lake Worth Casino (there’s no gambling, that’s just the name for the beachfront complex of eateries and shops) finished a major overhaul in late 2012. If you’re an auto buff, check out developer Michael Dezer’s new auto museum in North Miami. The Dezer Collection Museum & Pavilion boasts a stash of 600 cars divided into sections such as Hollywood Cars of the Stars, European Classics and American Classics. The James Bond exhibit includes a Soviet tank, snowmobiles and, of course, Aston Martins. Viewing the vehicles isn’t cheap. Dezer’s collection is divided into two buildings, which cost $25 each to tour. On Fridays, $5 tickets to the entire museum are available to anyone under 18 using a promotion code on its website.

Dezer Collection Auto Museum, North Miami

HERITAGE AND CULTURE The visual arts have become an integral part of the scene here. To see the most post-modern artwork, hit the galleries and warehouses in Miami’s Design District and Wynwood Arts District. If you’d rather look than buy, head to the museums, including the Miami Art Museum, the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, or the Boca Raton Museum of Art. In Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Art hosts traveling exhibits and has a noteworthy collection of works from Europe’s CoBrA movement while the Museum of Discovery and Science promises a day of exploration on two floors of fascinating interactive exhibits. The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach owns paintings by some noteworthy Impressionists and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County features exhibitions by local artists at their gallery located at 601 Lake Avenue. Florida isn’t known as a wine-producing region, but here’s something different: Schnebly Redlands Winery & Brewery in Homestead makes wines from exotic fruits such as mango, lychee, guava, passion fruit and Carambola. Schnebly Redlands is just one of the intriguing spots in the area between Miami and the Keys. Miami Tropical Bonsai boasts a collection of 10,000 miniature bonsai trees collected from

Florida Everglades Airboat Ride

around the world. R.F. Orchids offers a wide selection of orchids that can be shipped nearly anywhere in the world. 

INSIDER’S TIP Water Taxi Miami, the newest transportation

MUST SEE, MUST DO

mode in the Miami area, offers hop-on/hop-

South Beach is perhaps the most iconic destination in Southeast Florida. The art deco architecture, wide beach and vibrant nightlife draw pleasure seekers from everywhere. Take a walking tour of the historic district, peoplewatch from the News Café on Ocean Drive or hit the clubs. Across Biscayne Bay lies Miami, an international city that can feel like it’s more part of Latin America than the United States. To get a taste of the Cuban culture that helped

off service between Miami and Miami Beach/South Beach downtown Miami and the new Marlins Stadium. Passengers can buy single, round-trip or all-day passes. Check them out at watertaximiami.com.

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SOUTHEAST FLORIDA

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Riverwalk Park, Fort Lauderdale


Schnebly Redlands Winery & Brewery in Homestead

Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: FLORIDASTOCK /SHUTTERSTOCK; PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB; VISIT MIAMI; VISIT MIAMI.

Boca Raton Museum of Art

transform Miami, head to Calle Ocho and enjoy a café con leche or vaca frita at landmark restaurants Versailles and La Carreta. A more somber venue awaits visitors at the Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation in Miami Beach. A few hours south is Key West, which boasts fishing, snorkeling and diving, not to mention the bars of Duval Street and the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. Visitors can see the rooms where the author of The Old Man and the Sea wrote and drank. Also on display are dozens of cats, descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed white feline, Snowball. Extra points for a visitor who’s ambitious enough to ascend all three of Southeast Florida’s lighthouses. There’s Key West Lighthouse near the Hemingway house, Cape Florida Light on Key Biscayne near Miami and Jupiter Lighthouse at the northern end of the region.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE Nothing says Florida like Joe’s Stone Crab, the Miami Beach eatery that’s famous for its succulent crustaceans. However Southeast Florida’s dining options encompass much more

than just seafood. Whether you crave fare from Asia or Brazil, Europe or Cuba, you’ll find an abundance of excellent choices. For the best selection in eating and nightlife options, head to one of Southeast Florida’s many vibrant town centers. The region’s downtowns, once neglected, have come back strong in recent years, with areas such as Hollywood’s Broadwalk, Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard and Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue. Hollywood’s Broadwalk (no, that’s not a typo) stretches for more than two miles, with the beach on one side and cafes, restaurants and boutique hotels on the other. Las Olas Boulevard is another hotspot for dining and partying. So is Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach’s main drag, which starts near the lively Boston’s on the Beach bar and heads west with restaurants, bars and cafes along the way. Boca Raton’s Mizner Park is a hub for eating and drinking, and if your budget is as expansive as the blue Florida sky, Palm Beach’s high-end restaurants are reliably excellent.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Southeast Florida is famous for its water sports. The warm, clear waters of the Atlantic offer

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SOUTHEAST FLORIDA

some of the best ocean swimming anywhere. The fishing, diving and snorkeling also are world-class. Among the easily accessible snorkeling destinations are John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo and John MacArthur State Park in Palm Beach Gardens. Speaking of state parks, Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach is an oasis of calm in the midst of the bustling city. You can canoe and kayak in a natural preserve and watch dolphins and manatees. If you want to break a sweat, try hiking, mountain biking or trail running on the park’s twisting single-track trails. If you prefer a leisurely stroll, visit one of the region’s piers—the list includes Dania Beach Pier, Commercial Pier in Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach Pier, Lake Worth Pier and Juno Beach Pier.

BEST PLACES TO SHOP The epicenter of South Florida shopping lies in Sunrise, home of Sawgrass Mills, a huge outlet mall said to be the No. 2 tourist attraction in Florida, after only Walt Disney World. Legend has it that airlines have been forced to send extra planes back to Latin America to accommodate all the purchases made at Sawgrass Mills. It might be an outlet mall, but there’s no shortage of luxe retailers. Burberry, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus and Saks are represented here.

Sawgrass Mills was so successful that it inspired a competitor, Dolphin Mall, to open west of Miami. Dolphin Mall boasts restaurants and some 240 stores. Sawgrass Mills and Dolphin Mall aren’t the only shopping venues in Southeast Florida, of course. Just north of Miami is Aventura Mall, home to six department store anchors, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, more than 300 specialty stores and restaurants and a 24-screen AMC movie theater. Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale is anchored by Dillard’s, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus and offers an array of shops, including Apple, Sephora and Williams-Sonoma. Town Center Mall in Boca Raton is another high-end shopping destination anchored by Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. And Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens is home to just about every retailer you can think of, from A (for Apple and Abercrombie & Fitch) to Z (for Zales). If malls aren’t your style, Southeast Florida offers plenty of shopping in more authentic environments. Lincoln Road in Miami Beach is an outdoor strip of galleries and boutiques where the street is closed to traffic. Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard also offers stores and art galleries. Vying for the title of ritziest shopping area in Southeast Florida is Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Socialites check

FESTIVALS & EVENTS JANUARY Art Deco Weekend, Miami Beach Las Olas Art Fair Part I, Fort Lauderdale Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach

FEBRUARY ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival, Jupiter Delray Beach Garlic Fest Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Miami International Boat Show

MARCH Boca Bacchanal, Boca Raton Honda Classic, Palm Beach Gardens Jupiter Sony Ericsson Open, Key Biscayne Las Olas Art Fair Part II Major League Baseball Spring Training, Winter Music Conference, Miami Beach

APRIL Delray Affair Lauderdale Air Show Palm Beach International Film Festival

MAY Sunfest, West Palm Beach

JULY Hemingway Days, Key West Miami Swim Week

AUGUST Brazilian Film Festival of Miami

AUGUST—SEPTEMBER International Ballet Festival, Miami

SEPTEMBER Miami International Wine Fair

OCTOBER Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Italian Film Festival, Miami Key West Goombay Festival

NOVEMBER Miami Book Fair International Miami Short Film Festival

Art Basel Miami Beach Boca Raton Holiday Boat Parade Design Miami Winterfest Boat Parade, Ft. Lauderdale

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PHOTOS: VISITMIAMI.

DECEMBER


NEED MORE INFO? Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency downtowndelraybeach.com Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau sunny.org Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau miamiandbeaches.com Hollywood Office of Tourism gohollywoodfla.com Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau South Beach, Miami

out the wares at such retailers as Tiffany, Gucci, Cartier and Chanel. For a more relaxed vibe, try Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. A variety of specialty shops sell antiques, books, clothing, artwork, jewelry and more. The area is also known for its numerous fine-dining establishments, cafes and bakeries. Another outdoor shopping complex is Mizner Park in Boca Raton, a mix of upscale boutiques and bistros. Bal Harbour Shops, located in a trendy enclave north of Miami, is one of the region’s ritziest shopping areas. The outdoor mall counts Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Thomas Pink and Jimmy Choo among its tenants.

Islamorada, Key Largo, Marathon Key and Big Pine Key. Dawn and dusk are prime times for birdwatching. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot great blue herons, white cranes and bald eagles. Check FloridaRambler.com’s Mile-Marker Guide to know where to stop and when. For more wildlife viewing, head west on Tamiami Trail, where you’ll spot alligators and turtles. To see more gators, head to Shark Valley, a paved trail off Tamiami Trail that’s perfect for biking and walking.

palmbeachfl.com Sunny Isles Beach Tourism and Marketing Council sunnyislesbeachmiami.com The Monroe County Tourist Development Council fla-keys.com

If bass fishing is your thing, take State Road 80 west from West Palm Beach. Once you leave the urban area, you’ll be surrounded by sugarcane fields all the way to the small town of Belle Glade, which borders Lake Okeechobee.

SCENIC DRIVES For a stunning short drive, head east from downtown Miami. If you choose the Rickenbacker Causeway, you’ll see the ships at the Port of Miami and the downtown skyline, and you’ll quickly be transported to the oldFlorida feel of Key Biscayne. Take the MacArthur Causeway to Miami Beach to see the ships from a different angle, and you’ll be headed straight for the new Florida vibe in South Beach. For another classic drive, cruise along any stretch of State Road A1A from Deerfield Beach north to Palm Beach. You’ll pass some of the world’s priciest oceanfront mansions, and you’ll be treated to views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. If a short jaunt isn’t enough, drive from Miami to Key West on the single-lane Overseas Highway, which crosses the Seven Mile Bridge. Surrounded as you are by water on both sides, you might imagine you’re floating through

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SOUTHEAST FLORIDA FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT While galleries and museums are wonderful for the mature mind, nothing beats family adventures like a day at the zoo. Zoo Miami, formerly called Metrozoo, boasts more than 2,000 animals available for viewing in a cage-free setting. Another family favorite is Miami Seaquarium on Key Biscayne. Home to dolphins, manatees, crocodiles and a 7,000-pound killer whale, Miami Seaquarium offers exhibits and performances. If you really want to get close to the animals, visit its Dolphin Encounter, where you can pay extra to swim with dolphins. Jungle Island is another fascinating place to view tropical creatures up close. Just off the mainland, on the way to South Beach and conveniently across from the interactive Miami Children’s Museum, where there’s everything from a faux supermarket to a recording studio, Jungle Island is renowned for its wonderful bird and wildlife shows. Boasting some 150 species and more than 20,000 butterflies in its aviaries and gardens, Butterfly World in Coconut Creek advertises itself as the largest butterfly facility on the planet. The place abounds with passionflowers and

other nectar-rich plants. Butterfly World is also home to hummingbirds and The Bug Zoo with scorpions, spiders and, if you’re not feeling too squeamish, giant Asian cockroaches. There’s nothing cuter than baby turtles and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach has them by the tankful. The Marinelife Center serves as both animal hospital and tourist attraction. Injured and sick turtles wind up here, where they’re nursed back to health by marine biologists. Once the turtles are healthy, workers and volunteers cart them by stretcher to the beach, where they’re returned to the ocean. While the turtles recover, you and the kids can get a close look at them—babies, juveniles and adults are divided among half a dozen or so waist-high tanks. If your kids are more interested in primates, Monkey Jungle offers jungle safaris, orangutans, a western lowland gorilla and an Amazonian rainforest with hundreds of exotic monkeys. In December, kick off the Holiday Season at the Winterfest Boat Parade, a spectacular sight where more than 400 lighted boats promenade along the Intracoastal Waterway through Ft. Lauderdale to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Another is the Boca Raton Holiday Boat Parade. FL

FEATURED LINKS Aventura Mall aventuramall.com

Boca Raton Museum of Art bocamuseum.org

Boca Raton Town Center simon.com

Butterfly World butterflyworld.com

Cultural Council of Palm Beach County palmbeachculture.com

Delray Affair delrayaffair.com

Delray Beach Center for the Arts delraycenterforthearts.org

Delray Beach International Tennis Championships yellowtennisball.com

Dezer Collection Auto Museum dezercollection.com

Dolphin Mall shopdolphinmall.com

Downtown Delray Beach Village by the Sea downtowndelraybeach.com

Flagler Museum flaglermuseum.us

Historic Redlands Tropical Trail redlandtrail.com

Jungle Island jungleisland.com

Las Olas Boulevard lasolasboulevard.com

Lincoln Road lincolnroad.org

Loggerhead Marinelife Center marinelife.org

Miami Children’s Museum miamichildrensmuseum.org

Miami Design District miamidesigndistrict.net

Miami Seaquarium miamiseaquarium.com

Mizner Park miznerpark.com

Monkey Jungle monkeyjungle.com

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens morikami.org

Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale moafl.org

Museum of Discovery and Science mods.org

Norton Museum of Art norton.org

Pelican Cove Resort pcove.com

R.F. Orchids, Inc. rforchids.com

Sawgrass Mills simon.com

Shark Valley Tram Tours sharkvalleytramtours.com

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum hemingwayhome.com

Winterfest Boat Parade winterfestparade.com

Worth Avenue worth-avenue.com

Wynwood Arts District wynwoodmiami.com

Zoo Miami miamimetrozoo.com

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MIAMI

RAYS, GLITZ Glamor & BY ELIZABETH CLARKE

Ocean Drive nightlife

M

ix beaches and business. Combine art, couture and international cultures. Throw in celebrities, music, outdoor wonders, balmy breezes and palm trees to create a city unlike any other. In Miami, adventures of all kinds await, whether its foreign cuisine, blue waves or art festivals.

TOP BEACH Check out Haulover Beach for a little of everything. Its shady picnic area near the dunes provides an inexpensive outdoor dining spot after surfing the waves or enjoying the park’s nine-hole golf course or volleyball courts. Or try your hand at flying kites in the ocean breezes in a special kite-flying area. To experience some international flair, visit the beach’s clothing-optional north end.

PHOTO: VISIT MIAMI

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE As the birthplace of New World Cuisine, Miami offers sensory sensations at every turn. Visit a coffee stand for café con leche. Relax after the beach with a Coco Frio, or chilled coconut. Sample the creations of hometown chef Michelle Bernstein at Michy’s on Biscayne Boulevard with 30 to 35

“luxurious comfort food” dishes all made from scratch. Or indulge in a variety of Latin flavors at Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill in hip Coconut Grove, where ceviches arrive in bite-sized white spoons. For a cheap and authentic bite, order a Cuban sandwich at Miami Beach’s Puerto Sagua. Late-night revelers can choose from clubs in the Design District, South Beach, downtown Miami or Little Havana.

ARTS, CULTURE AND SHOPPING Fashion, dance, art and music—they’re everywhere in Miami. In December, enjoy Art Basel Miami Beach, a distinctive international art show featuring modern works from more than 2,000 artists. Admire restored Miami modern-style architectural treasures while touring Miami Beach. Listen to the New World Symphony in its newly-designed home. Or visit the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for opera, ballet, music or theater. For shopping, enjoy the area’s pedestrian-friendly spots: the Design District for art, design and fashion; Lincoln Road for eclectic shops, galleries and outdoor dining; or Bal Harbour shops for high-end boutiques.

STREET SCENE The party never stops on South Beach, so spend a few hours people-watching here, especially after 11 p.m. Admire the fashionistas, the sandy beaches, the art deco architecture and the mix of restaurants.

INSIDER’S TIP Make the drive to Homestead/Florida City for a truly unique experience at Robert is Here. Founded in 1959, it’s a local fruit stand and farm featuring tasty fresh-fruit milkshakes, tropical fruit, flowers, canned goodies, plus seasonal live music and the animals: goats, emus, geese and donkeys that you might even get to feed. FL

FEATURED LINKS Art Basel miamibeach.artbasel.com

Bal Harbour Shops balharbourshops.com

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grille jaguarspot.com

Lincoln Road lincolnroad.org

Miami Design District miamidesigndistrict.net

Michy’s michysmiami.com

New World Symphony nws.edu

Robert is Here robertishere.com

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FORT LAUDERDALE

BREEZY BEACHES, RELAXED BY ELIZABETH CLARKE

Sophistication Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

M

oving past its image as the original home of spring break, Fort Lauderdale today offers an ideal place to enjoy all of Florida’s splendor—whether its to soak up the sun, savor local foods, explore natural wonders, stroll artsy neighborhoods or power-shop one of the largest malls in the United States.

TOP BEACHES

DINING Foodies—and people who simply enjoy good food—love Fort Lauderdale for its collection of luxury hotels and chefs adding their culinary delights to the area’s list of great restaurants. In the mood for elegant Italian with water views? Try da Campo Osteria at il Lugano Suite Hotel or Via Luna at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. For something more casual, taste the seafood and Caribbean-infused cuisine at Johnny V Restaurant and Lounge or the international menu at The

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Dining alfresco in Fort Lauderdale

Grateful Palate. Waterfront dining options include Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill on the Intracoastal Waterway, The Blue Moon Fish Co., and the everpopular Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on A1A.

ARTS, CULTURE AND SHOPPING Enjoy a sunny day at the Las Olas Art Festival— January 5/6 and March 2/3—when hundreds of artists exhibit paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, ceramics and more at a free event complete with live music and delectable food. Or visit the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, home to a permanent exhibit of more than 6,000 works. Immerse yourself in shopping possibilities at Sawgrass Mills, where more than 350 stores attract the second-most visitors in Florida.

INSIDER’S TIP Make dinner memorable, with an evening Water Taxi from Fort Lauderdale Beach to a nearby dock-and-dine destination. On the return trip, enjoy stunning views of the yachts and mansions lighting the way along the New River and Intracoastal Waterway. FL

FEATURED LINKS Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill biminiboatyard.com

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. bubbagump.com

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov

The Blue Moon Fish Co.

STREET SCENE For upscale boutiques and leisurely browsing, visit Las Olas Boulevard. The downtown Fort Lauderdale neighborhood oozes charm and local ambiance with 65 shops, 30 alfresco dining options and 10 international art galleries.

bluemoonfishco.com

The Grateful Palate thegratefulpalate.net

The Ritz-Carlton ritzcarlton.com/FortLauderdale

Water Taxi watertaxi.com

ALL PHOTOS: GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CVB.

Catch some rays while checking out the varied personalities of the area’s eight cities on the beach. From quaint shopping districts to a retro boardwalk to the most powerful lighthouse on the eastern seaboard, each spot offers a unique view of the area’s blue waters and golden sands. See that lighthouse and peek at some of the area’s most luxurious homes with a trip to Hillsboro Beach. Enjoy the clear water and near-shore reefs of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, considered the “shore dive capital” of South Florida. Just steps off the beach, snorkelers and scuba divers easily spot fish and other colorful sea life. Or explore 2.5 miles of pedestrian promenade at Hollywood Beach, with its bike lanes, jogging paths and outdoor cafes featuring everything from organic produce to juice bars, gourmet meals and ice cream treats.


SUNNY ISLES BEACH

THE ISLE OF Plenty

BY DARIEN ARDEN

Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach

ARTS, CULTURE AND SHOPPING Sunny Isles Beach is a small 2.26-square-mile tract of land brimming with galleries, museums, historic architecture and more parks than most major cities. Heritage Park is home to a walking path, playground and entertainment center, and hosts the annual Jazz Fest featuring renowned acts and notable local jazz artists. The historic Newport Fishing Pier, a halfmile-long walkway stretching over the turquoise blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, has been a destination for vacationers since the mid-1930s. Renovations are scheduled for completion in early 2013, with the restaurant expected to open in the summer of 2013. A short drive from Sunny Isles Beach lands you in the shopping districts of Lincoln Road, Aventura Mall and Bal Harbour Shops, where you can find everything from antique to chic.

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DINING AND NIGHTLIFE You don’t have to travel far when everything from beachfront bars to five-star hotel restaurants and casual delis are packed within a few miles. Bella Beach Club is the newest addition to the Trump International Beach Resort. A dining hot spot on the sand during the day best enjoyed with a signature Bella Sunrise cocktail, it’s also popular for live music, fashion shows and pétanque competitions on the weekends.

ACCOMMODATION The Sunny Isles Beach strip is riddled with luxury hotels, beach resorts and small inns, where you’re guaranteed a perfect getaway destination. For instance, the Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach espouses the sophistication of a Mediterranean villa with an oceanfront landscape. Overlooking the Atlantic, the 390-room Trump International Beach Resort is a lavish oasis, complete with its own private and pristine beach and a delightful grotto-style pool complex.

cabana or renting a paddleboard, Jet Ski and snorkeling gear to explore the ocean. Other activities, such as boating, fishing, golfing, tennis, hiking and biking, make this an ideal island destination for honeymooners, vacationers, families and adventure-seekers alike.

INSIDER’S TIP It’s all about convenience. Don’t fret if you’re without transportation because a free community shuttle service runs seven days a week. Also, city parks are Wi-Fi spots, as is most of the beach, so Internet access is possible whether you’re on the go or relaxing. FL

FEATURED LINKS Acqualina Resort & Spa acqualinaresort.com

Aventura Mall aventuramall.com

Bal Harbour Shops balharbourshops.com

Bella Beach at the Trump Towers bellabeachclub.com

City of Sunny Isles Beach sibfl.net

OUTDOOR LIFESTYLE TripAdvisor ranked Sunny Isles Beach the No. 1 U.S. destination in 2008 and it’s easy to see why. Countless activities on this barrier island include relaxing on the beach in your own

Lincoln Road lincolnroad.org

Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Fest sunnyislesbeachjazz.com

Sunny Isles Beach Tourism and Marketing Council sunnyislesbeachmiami.com Trump International Beach Resort trumpmiami.com

PHOTO: TRUMP INTERNATIONAL BEACH RESORT

S

ituated between the cosmopolitan cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Sunny Isles Beach is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets. Set on a pristine sandy white beach, this diverse community is a melting pot of culture and exclusive shopping and dining venues.


DELRAY BEACH

A TRAVELERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S Haven

BY DARIEN ARDEN

Outdoor dining in Delray Beach

D

elray Beach, Florida, is a relatively small town with a big personality. Founded in the early 1900s, Delray Beach sits snuggly against the coastline, boasting a pristine view of the Atlantic Ocean, and has become a thriving mecca of culture, history and uniqueness.

The hub of Delray Beach is Atlantic Avenue, a strip lined with art galleries, retail shops, eateries, spas and more. The city is a two-time All-American City Award winner and excels in diverse activities. You may find yourself strolling on Saturday mornings through the local GreenMarket for fresh produce and crafts, or searching for art during one of the many open-air art festivals held throughout the year. Pineapple Grove Arts District is a necessity for people-watching, sidewalk art, off-the-map pubs and boutique shopping. Join a Friday Night Art Walk and visit an open house of all the numerous local galleries and art shops. Artists Alley, which is a back-route collaboration of all things art, is a new warehouse arts area featuring painting, pottery, sculpture and more. The Delray Beach Center for the Arts features year-round activities, performances and workshops. This Center is on the National Register of Historic Places and comprises early 20th-century buildings now

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PHOTOS: DELRAY BEACH DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.

ARTS, CULTURE AND SHOPPING


A view of Delray Beach

acting as a hot spot for numerous downtown attractions. Cultural possibilities are endless when you can browse ever-changing art collections in the Cornell Museum of Art and American Culture; participate in community events and fairs in the Vintage Gymnasium; attend shows at the Crest Theatre; partake in classes, such as printmaking and photography, at The School of Creative Arts; and enjoy year-round events and festivals at The Pavilion.

TOP BEACH The two-mile coastline stretching along the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean features a white-sand beach with a non-stop tropical breeze. Rand McNally and USA Today recently named Delray Beach the “Most Fun Small Town in America,” so dive in and join the festivities. The Colony Hotel & Cabana Club, a historic property with a tropical, romantic atmosphere, boasts a beachfront Cabana Club with a heated saltwater pool. The Seagate Hotel & Spa, another premier hotel, features a private Beach Club, a beachside swimming pool and fine dining restaurants. If you’re feeling energetic, rent a paddleboard, kayak or snorkeling gear from the oceanfront rental shop—Delray Beach Watersports—and explore the beach and a local sunken shipwreck.

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DELRAY BEACH

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE

OLD AND NEW There is a strong “new” and “old” vibe to Delray Beach. Trendy stores tucked between 75-year-

Art and jazz performances on the Avenue, Delray Beach

FEATURED LINKS old businesses bring a certain charm and history to the streets. The historic Sundy House has undergone a boutique facelift and offers guests uniquely themed quarters and access to a natural swimming pond and lush Taru Gardens surrounding the property. In operation since 1934, Hand’s is the oldest retailer in Delray Beach and stocks an eclectic inventory of office furniture and art supplies, stationery, greeting cards and novelty items.

Artists Alley

INSIDER’S TIP

Hand’s

Watch for these special events. Savor the Avenue features Florida’s longest dining table and a four-course dinner from local restaurants, and the Delray Affair is the largest arts and crafts festival in the southeastern U.S. Also, a 100-foot Christmas tree in the heart of downtown lures onlookers with holiday scenes, visits with Santa and a carousel. FL

Hyatt Place Delray Beach

artistsalleydelray.com

Arts Garage artsgarage.org

City of Delray Beach mydelraybeach.com

Delray Beach Center for the Arts delraycenterforthearts.org

Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency delraycra.org

Delray Beach Watersports delraybeachwatersports.com

Delray Downtowner delraydowntowner.com

Downtown Development Authority of Delray Beach downtowndelraybeach.com handsdelray.com delraybeach.place.hyatt.com

Richwagen’s Bike & Sport delraybeachbicycles.com

Sundy House Inn & Restaurant sundyhouse.com

The Colony Hotel & Cabana Club thecolonypalmbeach.com

The Seagate Hotel & Spa theseagatehotel.com

PHOTO: PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB

Peppered with myriad clubs, art lounges and galleries, and local restaurants boasting farmto-fork dining and stunning ethnic cuisine, the Avenue offers visitors social, non-stop energy with a laid-back attitude. Boston’s on the Beach, a beachfront restaurant and music venue, features live entertainment almost nightly. At 32 East, a dining must, the menu rotates daily and features fresh ingredients with a modern twist, offering guests a big-city bistro ambiance in a comfortable, local setting. The Arts Garage is a fusion of creativity and talent, featuring visual artists, musicians, performers, film presenters and arts educators. The schedule boasts everything from opera singers to blues guitarists, offered in an intimate setting. If you don’t feel like walking, the Delray Downtowner, a free local golf-cart taxi service, is always available to get you where you need to go. The Avenue is also very bike friendly, so rent a bike from Richwagen’s Bike & Sport to explore the strip on two wheels.


CULTURAL COUNCIL OF PALM BEACH COUNTY

BY ELIZABETH CLARKE

A Celebration OF ART, CULTURE AND HISTORY

F

ilms, festivals, music, culture, history, art shows and more. With so much happening, it is no wonder Palm Beach County is known as Florida’s Cultural Capital®. And it’s all part of the work done by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, where even the employees at the multifaceted arts agency immerse themselves in art, culture and history in their new digs—actually a historic movie theater built in 1940—located in downtown Lake Worth. Visit the council’s Streamline Moderne building and stroll through 2,500 square feet of galleries featuring local artists or check out the Uniquely Palm Beach Store stocked with jewelry, accessories, books and other creations made exclusively by local Palm Beach artists. You can also pick up brochures on venues throughout the county at their Cultural Information Center.

FESTIVE EVENTS If you visit in late February, you can step outside the Cultural Council Building to watch more than 400 artists turn asphalt into artwork at the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival. This free event attracts people of all ages to admire the transformation of city streets into rich canvasses of original art and masterpiece reproductions.

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Viewing sea turtles in new tanks

Later in the year, head south to Delray Beach for the 51st year of the Delray Affair, which runs from April 5–7, 2013. Considered the largest arts and craft festival in the Southeast United States, the Delray Affair takes place on the palm-tree-lined streets of downtown Delray Beach. In 2012, it featured artists from 30 states and 12 countries. For an Eastern flair, spend time at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. On January 13, welcome in the year of the snake at the New Year Celebration with a customary rice-pounding, a sado tea ceremony, hands-on calligraphy and other activities. Or celebrate spring on March 23–24 at the Hatsume Fair, with taiko drummers, martial art

demonstrations and Asian food vendors. Later in the year, honor those who have died at the Bon Festival on August 17 with traditional Japanese folk dancing, ghost stories and a street fair. At sunset, watch as Morikami Pond becomes a sea of lanterns guiding the departure of ancestors’ souls. If movies light up your life, attend the Palm Beach International Film Festival from April 4– 11 in Boca Raton. If you love music, join the fun at SunFest, the largest music and arts waterfront festival in Florida, which takes place in downtown West Palm Beach from May 1–5. Consider an outdoor adventure at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum and its surrounding “Outstanding Natural Area,” a federal designation protecting the 120 acres from development. This unique spot—at the junction of the Indian and Loxahatchee rivers in northern Palm Beach County—features 25 special status species, 5,000 years of history and a nature trail to an observation tower overlooking a manatee refuge. FL

FEATURED LINK Cultural Council of Palm Beach County PalmBeachCulture.com

FROM TOP: PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB; THE CULTURAL COUNCIL OF PALM BEACH COUNTY.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach


Surfer on Palm Beach shore. (FLORIDASTOCK/SHUTTERSTOCK)


HOLLYWOOD

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a brick-lined, oceanside promenade

CHARMING, FRIENDLY & BY ELIZABETH CLARKE

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n Florida, Hollywood doesn’t mean glamor and movie stars. It stands for an eclectic vibe, local shops, international cuisine, a wide beach boardwalk and a friendly downtown. In this Hollywood, which was incorporated in 1925, charming Old Florida blends with modern redevelopment efforts to beautify and transform a spot on the National Register of Historic Places into a hidden gem of food, art, culture and nature, minutes from Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Family outing, Hollywood Beach

Eclectic STREET SCENE

Rent a bicycle to get a local’s feel for Hollywood. Enjoy breakfast downtown, then head to the beach to play in the sea and sand. Then pedal northwest just half a mile to the Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park where you can jump into a canoe and step back in time. You’ll feel miles away from civilization, paddling through the mangroves and seeing Florida in its native state.

INSIDER’S TIP Separated by less than a mile and connected by a city trolley ($1 per ride), Hollywood’s Broadwalk and its downtown core complement and energize each other. To the east, the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk features 2.5 miles of car-free, brick-lined, oceanside promenade, with hotels and restaurants on one side and the sandy beach on the other. To the west, the downtown area surrounds the ArtsPark at Young Circle with unique stores, restaurants, art galleries and more.

DINING On the Broadwalk, head to the south end and Josh’s Organic Market for fresh produce and exotic tropical smoothies blended up at its seaside stand. For a meal, check out familyfriendly options, such as the Sugar Reef Tropical Grill, the lounge-y Taco Beach Shack or Ocean Alley Restaurant for its Florida-fresh seafood offerings. Downtown, take your pick from a wide variety of Asian restaurants,

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including Huang’s Mandarin House and the elegant Nakorn Thai and Sushi. Or choose from many other international offerings, such as the Argentango Grill or the Ginger Bay Café with its Caribbean food and live music.

ARTS, CULTURE AND SHOPPING Relax at the 10-acre ArtsPark at Young Circle, a family-friendly park, which regularly features free glass-blowing demonstrations, concerts in the open-air amphitheater, festivals, and other entertainment and educational activities. Or visit the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood with its contemporary gallery exhibitions and live-stage performances. Mom-and-pop shops in the area provide excellent window shopping and unique gift options. For even more variety, the Aventura Mall is only minutes away.

Cruisers receive an extra-special welcome in Hollywood, which both Port Everglades and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport call home. The cruise lines offer a City Pass, which covers luggage storage and transportation to the airport and includes discounts and ideas on how to spend a day or two exploring Hollywood. FL

FEATURED LINKS Anne Kolb Nature Center visithollywoodfl.org/anne_kolb.aspx

Art and Culture Center of Hollywood artandculturecenter.org

ArtsPark at Young Circle visithollywoodfl.org/artspark.aspx

Aventura Mall aventuramall.com

Hollywood Office of Tourism gohollywoodfla.com

PHOTOS: HOLLYWOOD, FL COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY

THE HOT SPOTS


SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

A PRESERVATION

Playground

BY KATHERINE SGROI

New entrance to the Nature Center at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida

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urquoise Gulf waters, sun-kissed beaches, nature preserves and small-city sophistication define Southwest Florida. Diverse cultural amenities, such as museums, art galleries and philharmonic theaters, co-exist with beautiful beaches and water sports. Bordered by the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota to the north and Fort Myers and Naples to the south, Southwest Florida has a distinctive natural landscape coupled with a spirited dedication toward its preservation. Sprinkled with small towns and barrier islands, this scenic stretch of coastline offers abundant vacation options for everyone.

WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW Preservation of its natural resources and environment is the mission of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Founded in 1964 by a group of residents passionate about protecting the unique natural environment in Collier County, the Conservancy has grown to meet the

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: DENNIS GOODMAN; MILES MEDIA | WWW.SARASOTAFL.ORG; THOMAS EDISON & HENRY FORD WINTER ESTATES, INC.

Ringling rose garden in Sarasota

challenges of protecting the water, land, wildlife and future of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties and is now investing in the future with a $20-million expansion of the Conservancy Nature Center. Scheduled to celebrate its grand re-opening in 2013, the sustainable Nature Center includes several new facilities for scientific testing and learning at the Eva Sugden Gomez Environmental Planning Center, the Dalton Discovery Center, the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, the interactive Ferguson Learning Lab and the Eaton Conservation Hall featuring the Jeannie Meg Smith Theater. Upon entering the Conservancy Nature Center, a dramatic new bridge over the Smith Preserve Way provides a viewing platform into the natural habitat of gopher tortoises. Filter marshes filled with sweeping vegetation clean the water runoff from a nearby commercial development. The Dalton Discovery Center teaches young and old about ecosystems in the area through exhibits containing 125 live animals living in their natural habitats. Educational videos document the research work on the Conservancy, including Florida panthers, gopher tortoises and the importance of protecting the natural resources. A “touch tank” filled with live horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and other small marine life that live near the shore provides a hands-on experience. Today the Wildlife Clinic shelters injured, sick and orphaned native wildlife, providing medical assistance and rehabilitation. More than 3,200 native animals are now cared for annually and approximately half are returned to their native habitats. The new von Arx Wildlife Hospital has the capacity to double the number of animals that are getting a second chance. The new facilities embrace “green” technologies, such as geothermal, LEED and energy management systems to protect the future of Southwest Florida. Electric boat rides and kayak tours up the Gordon River offer enjoyable excursions. Or explore the walking trails to observe the natural environments. The grand re-opening is scheduled for Earth Day Weekend in April 2013.

Thomas Edison’s guesthouse in Fort Myers

HERITAGE AND CULTURE The cultural landscape of Southwest Florida is well developed and sophisticated. The Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples presents an exciting variety of visual and performing arts in a state-of-the-art theater. Broadway shows, musical entertainers and the Miami City Ballet are examples of the exceptional options. The Phil, as it is known by locals, also houses the nationally recognized Naples Philharmonic Orchestra whose inspirational performances of classical, pops, chamber and opera are truly memorable. The Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers provide a glimpse into the past of inventors Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Set on the Caloosahatchee River, the estates are a tropical paradise with 20 acres of botanical gardens containing more than a thousand varieties of plants, flowers and trees. Visit their homes, museum and the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory. A trip to Sarasota is not complete without a visit to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art located at the Ringling winter estate— the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. The complex includes

art galleries, a sculpture garden and a circus museum featuring the world’s largest miniature circus that kids won’t want to miss.

MUST SEE, MUST DO Just a short ride from the picturesque streets of downtown Old Naples is the western edge of the largest subtropical wilderness—the Everglades. Showcasing the area, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve contains nature trails, a butterfly garden and learning centers.

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SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Biking in paradise

Admiring a sunset on the Gulf coast

JANUARY Creative Coast Weekends (through April)

FEBRUARY Sanibel Shell Fair & Show Edison Festival of Light Stadium Show

MARCH Spring Training: Red Sox, Twins, Pirates, Rays and Orioles Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival

JULY Tropical Fruit Fair

OCTOBER Oktoberfests J.N. “Ding” Darling Days

NOVEMBER Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival American Sandsculpting Championship and Beach Festival Taste of the Town, Fort Myers Cape Coral Coconut Festival

DECEMBER Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

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TOWN AND COUNTRY The cities of Southwest Florida offer urbane amenities, as well as tropical natural environments. The downtown Naples areas of Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South teem with shops, restaurants and art galleries.

The delightful town of Boca Grande is located on Gasparilla Island—a barrier island situated in both Charlotte and Lee counties. Reminiscent of times gone by, this picturesque village exudes charm and history. Stroll along Park Avenue for casual shops, art galleries and nautical artifacts. Celebrated for the world’s best tarpon fishing, Boca Grande is graced with sugary beaches, excellent shelling, familyfriendly activities and quaint inns. Beyond Marco Island, Southwest Florida backcountry leads to Everglades City—the Gateway to the 10,000 islands and Everglades National Park. Once a small fishing village, Everglades City began its growth in 1923 when Barron Collier purchased most of the land. Today, historic buildings stand downtown, reminiscent of the city’s trading-post past. The Museum of the Everglades showcases the history of the area and is a focal point in town. Experience this vast natural wilderness by airboat, kayak or canoe through local tour companies.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE The cities and small towns of Southwest Florida are dotted with a wide range of dining options from elegant and pricey to island-style and affordable. On Longboat Key, hidden in a tangle of tropical plants and palm trees is Euphemia Haye Restaurant where award-winning cuisine includes fresh fish, excellent steaks and luscious desserts. Upstairs in the Haye Loft, have a drink

PHOTOS: THE BEACHES OF FORT MYERS & SANIBEL

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

The Visitors Center delights with hands-on experiences and live exhibits such as the gopher tortoise exhibit, a 2,300-gallon aquarium filled with native fish, a nature store, picnic area and art gallery. Check the website for which day of the week the “touch tank” program is open for children to see and touch crabs, starfish or conch. Most Fridays in the summer are free for kids. Outside, a boardwalk with a viewing platform and three nature trails along Henderson Creek enable visitors to view the indigenous plants and natural beauty of the coastal habitat. On the first Friday and Saturday of each month, Village of the Arts in Bradenton holds an Artwalk. Funky art galleries offer the opportunity to meet the local artists and purchase collectibles, jewelry and artwork. Cafes offer tapas, wine and music. Lions and tigers and bears—and many other animals—can be found at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. Hand-feed a giraffe, see cheetahs up close, and watch alligators being fed in their natural habitat as you stroll through the tropical plants and garden pathways. Meet a zookeeper and learn about these magnificent animals.


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as you enjoy music, appetizers, selected entrees, specialty coffees and desserts. Downtown Naples offers an abundance of restaurants, such as Trulucks, Sea Salt, Chops City Grill and Cafe Lurcat. Many restaurants feature entertainment during dining hours and for late-night dancing. For fresh fish served with an Asian flair in a nautical setting, try USS

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Panoramic views of tropical nature, skillfully crafted fairways and expertly designed resort and public golf courses bring golfers back time and time again to Southwest Florida. To find a course that energizes your game, check out SarasotaGolf.net. Spring in Southwest Florida attracts baseball fans to various venues along the coast to watch their favorite teams warm up for the season. The Florida Spring Training website contains all the information fans need to see the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays play. A defining characteristic of Southwest Florida is its natural habitats, which are decidedly different from other areas of Florida. To preserve and celebrate these distinctive regions, several botanical gardens and conservation areas have evolved. The Naples Botanical Garden has grown into seven cultivated worldclass gardens and natural habitats. Grasses, wildflowers and exotic plants from Florida and the Caribbean are only a sampling of the bounty exhibited. Nearby, nature comes to life in the 1.5-million-acre subtropical wilderness at Everglades National Park. Ride an airboat to get a close-up look at crocodiles, alligators, marine life and birds. Kayak or canoe on a guided tour in the tropical waterways and visit the Visitor Center for art exhibits.

BEST PLACES TO SHOP Chic designer shops, charming small-town centers, discount outlets and flea markets in Venice and Fort Myers provide shopping opportunities in Southwest Florida. Miromar Outlets in Estero has 140 top designer and brand-name stores set in a tropical outdoor mall where covered walkways, discount prices and a good selection of restaurants complete the picture. Shady palm-lined streets welcome you to Fifth Avenue South in Naples. Sophisticated and unique stores intermingle with world-class restaurants, art galleries and businesses to create an exciting shopping experience where jewelry, home accessories, art and fashion take center stage. The Waterside Shops just north of downtown Naples glisten in the tropical sun. With bubbling fountains and the sounds of flowing water, this Shopping on Fifth Avenue South in Naples 126

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CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: NAPLES MARCO ISLAND EVERGLADES CVB; DREAMSTIME.COM; VISIT FLORIDA.

At USS Nemo, the miso-broiled sea bass is exceptional.

Nemo on Tamiami Trail. Its signature dish of miso-broiled sea bass is exceptional and you can also enjoy sake, tempura and prime tuna. The Blue Martini at Mercado in North Naples features live entertainment nightly. A selection of 42 martinis, fine wines, spirits and tapas will excite your senses. Enjoy the casual outdoor patio, the stage room or the VIP section. The Columbia Restaurant located on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota has an indoor dining room and expansive covered patio. The Spanish cuisine includes seafood dishes, such as its Paella “A la Valenciana,” as well as sangria and crusty Cuban bread. Its legendary “1905 Salad” is a wonderful meal containing the freshest ingredients. Tapas, chorizo sausage, shrimp, steaks and fish round out the innovative menu. In downtown Sarasota, Pastry Art Bakery Cafe has the aroma of craft-roasted coffees and espresso and a creative menu of soups, salads and sandwiches. You can satisfy your sweet tooth with pastries and sweets baked fresh daily. The cozy dining room at The Cottage on Siesta Key offers tapas, fresh seafood and steaks in a casual setting. Live music entertains diners on the lush back patio.


Columbia Restaurant in Sarasota

INSIDER’S TIP Enhance your experience at the Naples Botanical Garden by downloading its mobile app for detailed information about each garden and future events.

upscale shopping venue comprises top-end stores, such as Saks, Louis Vuitton, Coach and Ralph Lauren, as well as several restaurants. St. Armands Circle is Sarasota’s shopping and dining crown jewel. Strolling along the walkways, shoppers find one-of-a-kind boutique shops and inviting sidewalk cafes.

SCENIC DRIVE Birds soar overhead and dolphins frolic in San Carlos Bay as families picnic, swim and fish on small islands off the Sanibel Causeway. As you drive onto Sanibel Island, azure waters, lush vegetation, cyclists, shell-strewn beaches and tropical environs greet you; you’ll soon note

that buildings here are no taller than the palm trees. Coast along Sanibel-Captiva Road and cross a tiny bridge at Turner Beach onto the casual, bucolic island of Captiva where bougainvillea, cactus and sand dunes dot the landscape. Small cottages and beach homes with tropical names populate the winding road to the downtown village of Captiva where restaurants and a small number of shops offer

unique treats. Kick back, swim, fish and go shelling on the soft, sandy beaches. Familyfriendly resorts and condos are plentiful for those who wish to linger a while longer.

FAMILY ATTRACTIONS A string of barrier islands with beautiful beaches, caressed by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, stretches along the coastline. These islands

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offer exciting experiences for everyone—swimming, water sports, fishing, boating trips and relaxation. The No. 1 beach in the United States, according to Dr. Beach, is Siesta Beach on Siesta Key. This small island off the coast of Sarasota has bright, white sand that is always cool to the toes due to the nearly pure quartz content. More than 100 species of marine life, including dolphins, manatees, sharks and sea turtles, can be observed at the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota. Learn about where they live and watch sharks feed in the shark tank. Known for world-class shelling, the tropical islands of Sanibel and Captiva, located near Fort Myers, also offer cycling, shopping, water sports, boating and fishing. On Sanibel, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge provides enjoyment for all. The refuge features reptiles, birds, mammals, bike and walking paths, and winding canoe trails.

PHOTO: VISIT FLORIDA.

Kids on Siesta Key


Couple golfing

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS From seafood festivals (February in Everglades City) and swamp buggy races (January, March and October in Naples) to a profusion of festivals that celebrate art from juried artists, glass and metal sculpture, photography, jewelry, as well as local arts and crafts, diverse annual events are held in towns and cities up and down the coast. Sarasota’s St. Armands Circle hosts the Annual Art Festival in January. In February and March, Sarasota welcomes visitors to its downtown Festival of the Arts and Art and Craft Festival. The Naples National Art Festival, held in February, showcases the talents of more than 250 artists from across the country in a competitive, juried event. Additionally, during most months of the year, Naples presents art and

crafts at fairs on Fifth Avenue South and at Cambier Park. A celebration of films and filmmaking takes place in April in Sarasota and in November in Naples when film lovers can view independent films from around the world and meet filmmakers in an educational and creative setting. FL

FEATURED LINKS Collier County Museums colliermuseums.com Conservancy of Southwest Florida conservancy.org Edison & Ford Winter Estates edisonfordwinterestates.org Golisano Children's Museum cmon.org Florida Spring Training floridagrapefruitleague.com J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge fws.gov/dingdarling Miramar Lakes Beach & Golf Club miramarlakes.com John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art ringling.org Miromar Outlets miromaroutlets.com thephil.org Royal Shell Vacations royalshell.com St. Armands Circle starmandscircleassoc.com Sun-N-Fun Lagoon napleswaterpark.com Waterside Shops watersideshops.com

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PHOTO: THE BEACHES OF FORT MYERS & SANIBEL.

Philharmonic Center for the Arts


THE BEACHES OF FORT MYERS & SANIBEL

FLORIDA’S NATURAL GULF COAST BY SUSAN B. BARNES

Beauties

Sanibel Lighthouse

birds and much more. For a different perspective, dive below the water’s surface at the USS Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef. Another fun day can be spent browsing the art galleries on Matlacha and Pine Island.

eeking an island getaway? Look no further than The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel located on the Gulf of Mexico on the southwest coast of Florida. As you drive along the area’s 590-mile shoreline and explore more than one hundred barrier islands, you’re sure to find a spot that’s perfect for you. Each location offers its unique personality and activities, such as shelling, boating and kayaking. And every day ends with an incredible, breathtaking, toast-worthy sunset.

FORT MYERS HIGHLIGHTS Back on land, take time to explore downtown Fort Myers on a historic walking tour, browse through antique stores and grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes. Check out Miromar Outlets and Tanger Outlets to find the deals you’re looking for. Then, just south of downtown Fort Myers, visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates—a discovery outing that’s perfect for all ages. FL

TREASURE ISLANDS Among the coastal islands, one of the most popular is Sanibel Island, known worldwide for its amazing shelling. More than 400 varieties of shells are marooned on the island’s beaches! However the beach itself is beautiful as well and has been named one of the Top 10 Secluded Beaches in the U.S. by Shermans Travel editors. Nature lovers should visit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island to view myriad exotic species of birds and plants. True seclusion is found on Captiva Island, where the main attraction is, well, nothing at all! The island’s natural beauty is reason enough to visit, and the best sunset views are captured at the locals’ favorite hangout—Mucky Duck on the north end of the island. Family favorite is Estero Island and Fort Myers Beach, long recognized as one of the

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“world’s safest beaches” due to its gently sloping shoreline. Seafood lovers will enjoy it, too— local restaurants serve the freshest catch, as Estero Bay is home to an extensive shrimping and fishing fleet. Just south of Fort Myers Beach is Lovers Key State Park, named one of CoastalLiving.com’s Top 10 Romantic Retreats, with a boardwalk that straddles tidal lagoons and nature and kayaking trails. Speaking of kayaking, you’ll definitely want to paddle the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail—a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail through the area’s coastal waters and inland tributaries. Be on the lookout for manatees, dolphins, hundreds of species of

FEATURED LINKS The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel fortmyers-sanibel.com

Edison & Ford Winter Estates edisonfordwinterestates.org

Fort Myers Beach leeparks.org

Great Calusa Blueway calusablueway.com

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge fws.gov/dingdarling

Miromar Outlets miromaroutlets.com

Tanger Outlets tangeroutlet.com/fortmyers

The Mucky Duck muckyduck.com

PHOTOS: THE LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

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Kayaking the Estero River


CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA

THE ULTIMATE Journey BY KEVIN FRITZ

Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

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he birthplace of modern racing, two of the country’s most renowned beaches, and home to the American space program is just the beginning of an exhilarating journey that awaits you in Central East Florida. An area that stretches approximately 175 miles from the jam-packed adventures in world-famous Daytona Beach to the quiet, sport fishing town of Stuart to the south, this slice of Florida is where many Sunshine State memories have been captured for years. Offering both family fun and romantic getaways, you can find everything you’re looking for on Florida’s eastern central coast.

WHAT’S NEW The permanent home of Space Shuttle Atlantis will open at John F. Kennedy Space Center in July 2013 on the Space Coast. The $100-million, six-story-tall exhibit will encompass some 65,000 square feet. Space Shuttle Atlantis’ legacy includes 32 missions, traveling 120,650,907 miles.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: SPACE COAST OFFICE OF TOURISM; SPACE COAST OFFICE OF TOURISM; SPACE COAST OFFICE OF TOURISM; RICK MCKEE/LOWRY MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY

Historic Downtown Titusville

Atlantis will be on display at an angle with its 60-foot-long payload bay doors open as if it were flying high above Earth. Guests can walk around the entire exterior of the shuttle to take in its majesty. Test your skills at grabbing satellites with the exhibit’s interactive activities and simulators. The exhibit includes displays on the numerous servicing missions space shuttles conducted on the Hubble Space Telescope, and explanations on how the International Space Station was assembled in orbit by Atlantis and the rest of the fleet. Even though the shuttle program has been retired, observing a rocket launch first-hand is still an option at the Space Center. Commercial and U.S. government rockets lift off into the wild blue yonder throughout the year so check the KSC website before finalizing your plans.

HERITAGE AND CULTURE If you’ve never seen a sea cow, the Manatee Observation and Education Center in Fort Pierce gives you that chance at Moore’s Creek. Note that the best time for viewing these 10foot-long, graceful mammals is during the winter months as they seek warmer waters. Named one of the top 100 small art towns in America, New Smyrna Beach hosts an array of art festivals and is home to the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where exhibitions and events are held throughout the year. Stroll down Flagler Avenue as part of Art Walks that take place throughout the year, or make your own trek in and out of its famed galleries such as Galleria Di Vetro and its one-of-kind glasswork. Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum in Sebastian is a favorite with the kids—and adults—as displays of salvaged coins and weapons from a Spanish fleet that wrecked off the coast in 1715 tell the story of a time long gone by. Is it an attraction or a museum? The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is one of the most extraordinary, thrilling family getaways in Florida. Be greeted by real astronauts who walk the grounds and answer questions as you marvel at the size and magnitude of the rockets on display in the “Rocket Garden.” You can crawl through a

Cruising along the Space Coast

model of the International Space Station, and many guests happily strain their necks in wonder of the five-story screens in two IMAX theaters delighting viewers with actual footage shot by NASA astronauts during missions. Inland, the Athens Theatre in DeLand is said to be a “jewel of Italian Renaissance architecture.” Designed in 1921, the theater offers film festivals, classic movies, independent art films, concerts, dramas, musicals and other live performances.

MUST SEE, MUST DO Undisturbed Hutchinson Island invites you to walk, drive, bike, or ride horseback on its 21 miles of pristine coastline located just east of Port St. Lucie. Here you can soak in the island life, relaxing at beachside restaurants and tiki bars, such as Latitude, and experiencing oldFlorida-style hotels. This barrier island is only a couple miles from the mainland, but feels like it’s worlds apart. Although “The Birthplace of Speed” is a moniker for Ormond Beach just north of Daytona Beach, the latter city has become the racecar mecca, highlighted by the Daytona

Drinks and dinner on the patio

International Speedway, which hosts NASCAR’s exalted Daytona 500. But it’s Daytona USA at the Speedway that offers yearround activities for racing fans of all ages. Work with a pit crew, drive a simulated racecar, or if you are really up for a thrill, ride in a racecar driven by a professional instructor at speeds exceeding 160 mph. Possibly the most famous sun ’n’ fun location of its kind in the world, the Ron Jon Surf Shop first opened in Cocoa Beach in 1963. Today, the four-level, two-acre surfer’s paradise is flush with sportswear and beach gear. And don’t worry about running late—it’s open 24 hours a day.

TOWN AND COUNTRY Vero Beach has a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, but in reality anyone can enjoy this well-to-do community. Because it is located in a climatic transition zone, aged oak trees and pine forests blend with majestic palms and floral blooms. Be sure to sample or purchase some fresh, sumptuous juice on your visit. The area is recognized as the “Citrus Capital of the World,” and tenders some of the

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DINING AND NIGHTLIFE

INSIDER’S TIP

The Cove on Port Canaveral’s waterfront is not just for those waiting on a cruise ship to disembark. Fresh seafood abounds as do a multitude of bars, most of which offer live music. At Rusty’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, indulge in oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, mussels, or sample the bacon-wrapped sea scallops. Dine on the outside patio overlooking the water or find a stool at the full-service bar and watch as the

Discover the Daytona Beach area by trolley. It’s great family entertainment and free one-day passes are available at area hotels. The City Line Trolley travels from Ormond Beach to Daytona Beach Shores, with excursions covering historic Beach Street and the Halifax Harbor Marina.

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bartenders shuck your fresh oysters. Daytona Beach is home to whatever your palate craves, but is known for its casual seafood restaurants, live music, high-energy clubs and more. Check out the Oyster Pub located right on the beach—it’s the city’s largest oyster and sports bar. The famed Ocean Deck Restaurant & Beach Club features deck seating, beach parties and pig roasts in the summer. Specialties include the Bread Bowl Clam Chowder and the Rasta Fish Dip. Capt. Hiram’s has been serving up the freshest seafood at its restaurant on the Indian River in Sebastian for more than 20 years. Try the Lump Crab Cake Sandwich, an original authentic Maryland recipe served with Abaco aioli. Part of a quintessential beach resort, it also features the Bahamian-style SandBar with live music seven nights a week. Shutters at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort offers American food in a casual, family setting. The restaurant’s vibe is old-Florida tropical with its ceiling-high windows, wood beams, oversized shutters, and glass-enclosed porch. You’ll love the Surfside Seafood Dinner Buffet.

GREAT OUTDOORS One of the premier saltwater fishing spots on Florida’s east coast, Sebastian Inlet is popular for catching snook, redfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Three miles of beaches are buffered by waterfront pavilions, picnic areas and full-facility campsites.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: VISIT FLORIDA; VISIT FLORIDA; SPACE COAST OFFICE OF TOURISM.

Father and son at New Smyrna Beach

most premium, hand-picked Indian River citrus you will find anywhere. Historic DeLand transforms you to a place where southern hospitality is still the norm. Founded in 1876, the city is home to Stetson University, and gift shops and restaurants intermingle in the downtown district with a sense of rich heritage and culture. The Cocoa Beach area is likely the destination offering the most bang for a diverse vacation in Central East Florida. The surfing capital of the east coast and home to many surfing champions, this beach town was first made popular by the television show I Dream of Jeannie. You can even take a drive down I Dream of Jeannie Lane. Watch a rocket launch from the beach, learn to surf from some of the best in world or take a quiet kayak journey into the Banana River Lagoon. Cocoa Beach is only seven miles from Port Canaveral, 12 miles from Kennedy Space Center, and less than 20 miles to the Brevard Zoo.


Kayaking near Sebastian Inlet

Off the shores of Sebastian in the Indian River Lagoon, Pelican Island, the first federaldesignated wildlife refuge in the United States, is accessible by a public viewing area to watch tropical birds in their natural habitat. You can also navigate around the island by renting a boat, kayak, canoe or personal watercraft from local companies offering guided tours. Thirtyplus species of birds use Pelican Island as a rookery, roost or feeding ground. Described as an overlay to NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is 140,000 acres of coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries, marshes, scrub, pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks, creating an ecosystem for more than 1,500 kinds of plants and animals. It is home to more federally endangered species than any other refuge in the United States. Take the Black Point Wildlife Drive or walk the Scrub Ridge Trail. Since 1938, Indian Hills Golf Course has been challenging golf enthusiasts in Fort Pierce. Indian Hills also offers quality instruction by PGA professionals, which include private instructions,  group lessons and junior golf instruction. Or check out nearby Port St. Lucie

PGA Village, featuring three championship golf courses and a museum. In March, the crack of the bat beckons you to the annual rite of Spring Training. Take in a game at Port St. Lucie’s Digital Domain Park, which plays host to Major League Baseball’s New York Mets or at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, home of the Washington Nationals.

BEST PLACES TO SHOP Scores of small independent shops in Vero Beach showcase items that cannot be found elsewhere. Known for its upscale boutiques in which to find that perfect gift or treasure, men’s and women’s apparel shops are also popular stops to add some fun to your wardrobe. For the charm of historic Florida, shopping along Flagler Avenue and Canal Street in New Smyrna Beach is a place to stroll and explore unique wares for sale. If surf and skate shops are more up your alley, the Cocoa Beach area features at least a dozen such shops that dot the Space Coast town and adjoining Indialantic and Merritt Island. There is also no shortage of clothing boutiques and kitchy gift shops.

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CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA Fishing, Daytona Beach

SCENIC DRIVE The Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail is a 30-mile double loop that offers gorgeous views of natural scenery along the coast. The road provides access to the Atlantic Ocean as well as state, city and county parks offering trails, boating, fishing, hiking, swimming and bicycling. You may even see an offshore whale or dolphin!

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS Seafood is king from Ormond Beach to Stuart in East Central Florida, offering mouth-watering, fresh-from-the-sea dishes for the whole family. Looking for something out of the ordinary? Every January in Fellsmere, an historic small town south of Melbourne, the Frog Leg Festival attracts thousands of people to sample its unique foods, including gator tail. All proceeds benefit children’s recreational programs. There’s plenty to do outside of eating including live entertainment and a midway.

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For almost 40 years, the Grant Seafood Festival has attracted as many as 50,000 people a year to this two-day event in February just south of Melbourne on the Treasure Coast. Delicious seafood is freshly prepared on the spot by local community volunteers at what has become one of the largest and longest-running festivals of its kind in the Southeast United States. Two of the largest events in Central East Florida are both held in Daytona Beach. In March, Bike Week attracts thousands annually as does the Daytona 500 in February. Dating back to 1937, Bike Week is now a 10-day festival with hundreds of events for motorcycle enthusiasts. A smaller, yet no less energetic version of the event called Biketoberfest is held in October. The Daytona 500, dubbed “The Great American Race,” has been burning up the track at the Daytona International Speedway for more than 50 years. Other notable festivals of interest include: • Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville (January) • Downtown Stuart Art Festival on St. Lucie River (February) • Easter Surf Festival at the Cocoa Beach Pier and Shepard Park (March) • Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival (November) FL

FEATURED LINKS Capt. Hiram’s hirams.com

Disney's Vero Beach Resort disneybeachresorts.com

Elliott Museum elliottmuseum.org

Hontoon Island State Park floridastateparks.org/hontoonisland

Hutchinson Island visitflorida.com/hutchinson_island

Kennedy Space Center kennedyspacecenter.com

Manatee Observation & Education Center manateecenter.com

Mel Fisher’s Treasures melfisher.com

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge fws.gov/merrittisland

Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail ormondscenicloopandtrail.com

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge fws.gov/pelicanisland

Sebastian Inlet State Park floridastateparks.org/sebastianinlet

The Cove portcanaveral.com/recreation/dining.php

The Old Spanish Sugar Mill planetdeland.com/sugarmill

Treasure Coast treasurecoast.com

Vero Beach Outlets verobeachoutlets.com

PHOTO: DAYTONA BEACH AREA CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU.

At DeLeon Springs State Park, north of DeLand, griddle your own pancakes at your table at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. Each table has a griddle and wait staff brings you pitchers of homemade pancake batter and all the fixings for a delicious, fun meal. After filling up on pancakes, take an eco/history boat tour of the Spring Garden Run. Keep an eye out for alligators, otters, bald eagles and wading birds.  West of DeLand, board a boat to Hontoon Island State Park on the St. Johns River. The island is accessible only by private boat or park ferry. Your family can observe evidence of Native American habitation while hiking through the park. Picnic areas include tables, grills and a playground. In Melbourne, the Brevard Zoo opened five years ago to the enjoyment of all ages. It offers unique perspectives, such as a behind-thescenes tour, treetop excursions, giraffe feeding and guided kayaking tours through “Expedition Africa.”


MARTIN COUNTY

A BOUNTY OF

Treasures

BY ELIZABETH CLARKE Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island

TOP BEACHES For a quiet morning stroll, try Bathtub Beach at the southern end of Hutchinson Island. A small reef about 100 feet offshore provides easy access to snorkeling and diving and ensures kid-friendly calm waters, thus its name. Farther south on Jupiter Island, winter storms and extreme tides can churn up quite a show at Blowing Rocks Preserve. When seawater gets forced through holes in the 100,000-year-old Anastasia limestone rocks on the shoreline, it can shoot 50 feet in the air. For peoplewatching, try Jensen Beach. This family-friendly beach offers picnic pavilions and volleyball courts.

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BOATING AND WATER SPORTS Boating, fishing, diving, paddleboarding, windsurfing and almost any other water sport can be enjoyed in Martin County, with its 21 miles of beach coastline and 114 miles of inland waterways. That includes water on both ends and allows for a unique experience: watch the sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean, then follow the river and waterways west to see the sunset on Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in the state.

unique shops of downtown Stuart and Jensen Beach to find some more recent local treasures.

SPECIAL NEIGHBORHOOD For a scenic drive, head east from Hobe Sound over the bridge to Jupiter Island. Here, you’ll find a quiet beach and a tiny town filled with oceanfront mansions and wealthy residents. It’s one of the richest towns in the United States. Keep an eye out for resident Tiger Woods.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE

INSIDER’S TIP

Seafood is a must when you’re this close to the freshest fish around. In downtown Stuart, consider the cozy Black Marlin. For old-Florida waterfront, arrive by car or boat at The Deck at the Harbor Inn & Marina on the north fork of the St. Lucie River or Conchy Joe’s Seafood in Jensen Beach. They’re both great spots for sunset cocktails and casual food.

Don’t worry about digging for change for parking meters in Martin County. The area’s stress-free, laid-back attitude includes a free-parking mentality. From the beaches to downtown, you’ll never pay for parking here. FL

FEATURED LINKS

ARTS, CULTURE AND SHOPPING

Conchy Joe’s Seafood Restaurant & Bar

Experience a unique era in history with a stop at The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar. Built in 1876, it served as a lifesaving station for shipwreck survivors. Today, it’s the oldest building in the county and a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. Or poke around the

Harbor Inn & Marina

conchyjoes.com harborinnandmarina.com

Martin County Convention & Visitors Bureau DiscoverMartin.com

The House of Refuge elliottmuseum.org

PHOTO: VISIT FLORIDA

S

ituated midway between Miami and Cocoa Beach on Florida’s east coast, Martin County offers an undiscovered destination for water-lovers and fun-lovers of all ages. It’s part of the Treasure Coast, named for the spoils left behind by the likes of 19th-century pirate Don Pedro Gilbert. Some of those treasures can still be found on area beaches. Many people also appreciate the area for its high-rise rules. Government ordinances prohibit buildings taller than four stories. That means nothing gets between you and the view—or the balmy ocean breezes.


CENTRAL FLORIDA

MILES OF NON-STOP

Delight BY KRISTEN MANIERI

Hot-air balloon ride

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ALL PHOTOS: VISIT ORLANDO CVB.

E

ncasing one of the Sunshine State’s most beloved destinations— Orlando—Central Florida’s borders boast more attractions and adventures than could ever be crammed into a week-long vacation. Thrill seekers return again and again to the area’s theme parks, zoos and aquariums. Central Florida’s seasons welcome visitors year-round; warm springs and hot summers drive families to the beaches, while the temperate fall and winter climates are ideal for theme-park hopping and exploring endless outdoor adventures and tranquil state parks. Once a national hub for agriculture, cattle, and citrus, Central Florida’s history dates back to the 1800s, but its relatively recent boom can be attributed to one particular historical event: the opening of Walt Disney World. Unveiled in 1971, the sprawling vacation resort ushered in a new era of economic development in Central Florida, resulting not only in population growth, but also in an explosion in tourism. These days, more than 50


million tourists visit the area every year, making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.

WHAT’S NEW With already so much to see and do in Central Florida, it’s hard to imagine adding anything new. However, to keep visitors coming, the area is constantly changing and evolving with the addition of new attractions and experiences. In spring 2013, SeaWorld Orlando unveils Antarctica—Empire of the Penguin, a journey to the world’s coldest continent and home to the world’s most resilient wildlife. While visitors will have to wait until 2014 to preview the complete $425-million expansion to Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland, and even longer to check out Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-themed-land expansion, families visiting in early 2013 will be among the first to experience the new princess-themed Enchanted Forest, which will include a Little Mermaid ride, and a 550-seat Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant called “Be Our Guest.” Several new hotels will open this year in Central Florida, including Aloft in downtown Orlando, B Hotels in the Downtown Disney area, and Streamsong Resort, which will be built on 16,000 acres of land between Orlando and Tampa and will open to overnight guests in the fall of 2013. Finally, the much-anticipated arrival of a Four Seasons Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort is planned for early 2014, as well as the opening of the new Cabana Beach Resort at Universal Studios.

HERITAGE AND CULTURE Take a stroll through Central Florida’s many museums and art corridors and it becomes clear that culture is an important part of the area’s identity. In Orlando, the 45-acre Loch Haven Park provides a home for the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and Mennello Museum of American Art—all excellent ways to bide the day. Downtown Orlando boasts the Downtown Arts District, a hip little neighborhood housing

Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, Winter Park

Orlando Science Center

a handful of art galleries, public art installations and shops. The nearby Orange County Regional History Center provides a glimpse into the area’s colorful past. In Winter Park, a trip to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is a must. Not only does the site house the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, but the museum also features a major collection of American art pottery, painting, graphics and decorative art. While in the area, pay a visit to the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, a lovely lakeside historical site featuring the work of Czech sculptor Albin Polasek, as well as a small collection of art in the gallery inside Polasek’s former home.

SeaWorld in Orlando

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CENTRAL FLORIDA Cypress Canopy Cycle at Forever Florida

Lake Eola, downtown Orlando

INSIDER’S TIPS There’s much to see and do in Central Florida, which means some of the lesser-known attractions often go undiscovered. Veer slightly off the well-beaten path and those seeking the area’s secret gems will not be disappointed. Get your palms read at the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, a tiny town said to have mystical powers. Travel by elevator 226 feet to the observation deck of Clermont’s Citrus Tower and take in panoramic views of hundreds of acres of citrus trees and scenic rolling hills. Stroll through Harry P. Leu Gardens, an unforgettable 50-acre botanical oasis just minutes from downtown Orlando. Those visiting around the first Friday of the month will be treated to an outdoor screening of a film on the garden’s giant alfresco screen. Films typically start at dusk. Finally, pay a visit to the Monument to the States in Kissimmee, a 50-foot assortment of more than 1,500 fossils and rocks from every state, as well as more than 20 countries.

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MUST SEE, MUST DO

TOWN AND COUNTRY

Even if there were no theme parks in Central Florida (don’t worry, there are nearly a dozen) Central Florida would have no trouble keeping visitors occupied. At Forever Florida, a nature preserve about 40 minutes outside Kissimmee, visitors can zip line, round up cattle by horseback or go on a safari. Folks can also zip line at the newly installed course at Gatorland, which sends fearless flyers over some of the 6,000 gators that call this kitschy 110-acre animal attraction home. With a recently opened river otter exhibit, the Central Florida Zoo continues its commitment to showcasing and preserving local wildlife. This smallish zoo and botanical garden, which features a fabulous kids’ playground and splash park, has plans for a 16-acre safari expansion set to open in the next few years. Spend a few hours strolling around Lake Eola, downtown Orlando’s pristine green space where you can rent a swan paddleboat, feed ducks, and dine at a handful of great lakeside eateries.

While it may be tempting to stick to Central Florida’s major tourist zones, the area’s small towns offer plenty of intrigue and charm. About 40 minutes northwest of Orlando, Mount Dora welcomes visitors for weekend getaways at several quaint bed and breakfasts. Boutiques, teashops, scenic boat trips on Lake Dora, nature Segway tours, historic carriage rides and excellent dining options make this a popular destination for couples and families alike. A visit to Celebration, Disney’s residential creation located about 20 minutes from Walt Disney World, is definitely a memorable stop. This Pleasantville-esque community boasts hundreds of picturesque homes, as well as a sweet little downtown with restaurants and shops. Take a trip to Lake Wales, a quintessential Old Florida town just 60 minutes south of Orlando. Housing commercial and residential historic districts, the not-to-be-missed Bok Tower Gardens, as well as the renowned Chalet Suzanne Restaurant and Country Inn, this old turpentine town is a lovely little jaunt.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: FLORIDA ECOSAFARIS; VISIT ORLANDO CVB; MELISSA KELLY; VISIT ORLANDO CVB

Amur leopard at Central Florida Zoo


Couple dining at PRIMO

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE Fueling up for all the fun to be had in Central Florida is actually one of the best parts of visiting the area; the foodie scene here is on fire. With a multitude of independent eateries in eclectic dining districts, as well as all the national favorites, the options for breakfast, lunch and dinner are never-ending. Greater Orlando has more than 5,000 restaurants, including dinner theaters with themes ranging from buccaneers at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure and Treasure Tavern, Orlando’s hottest nighttime show and dining experience, to comedy at WonderWorks, jousting at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, and gangsters at Capone’s Dinner & Show. Outside the theme-park zone, locals love Sand Lake’s Restaurant Row offering a mix of national chains, such as Morton’s Steakhouse, along with a multitude of award-winning independents. And in nearby Celebration, the Columbia Restaurant is a popular choice. Just north of the city, Park Avenue in Winter Park features a collection of upscale eateries, most with patio seating and views of the swanky, brick-lined street. Once a hub for antique shopping, the newly rebranded Ivanhoe Village is emerging as one of Orlando’s best dining destinations thanks to a handful of boutique but unfussy eateries, such as White Wolf

Café, which is renowned for its homemade breakfast cinnamon rolls. Lovers of the farm-to-fork movement are flocking to restaurants such as PRIMO at the JW Marriott Orlando, which sources some of its ingredients from its on-site organic garden. Others known to jump on the sustainable-food bandwagon with delicious results are Napa at the Peabody, as well as The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park. Nothing is more casual than grabbing something from a local food truck. The mobile meal scene has become increasingly popular in Orlando where weekly and monthly food truck events across each city offer a wide variety of eclectic yet gourmet delights. Visit dailycity.com for a full listing. Outside of Orlando, several popular restaurants await in Mount Dora, including the award-winning Goblin Market, as well as Pisces Rising, which provides wonderful lake views of Lake Dora.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Central Florida is paradise for outdoor lovers thanks to an endless array of adventures. Wander through a tranquil state park, such as Wekiva Springs where a pristine spring-fed swimming hole and excellent hiking trails await. Rent a canoe or kayak to float down the

FESTIVALS & EVENTS JANUARY Zora Neale Hurston Festival

FEBRUARY Mount Dora Arts Festival

FEBRUARY THROUGH APRIL Universal Studios® Mardi Gras

MARCH Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival

APRIL Florida Film Festival, Orlando

MAY Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival

JULY Red, Hot and Boom

SEPTEMBER TO OCTOBER Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

NOVEMBER Festival of the Masters

DECEMBER Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

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CENTRAL FLORIDA Kids’ play space at Florida Mall

FEATURED LINKS Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens polasek.org

Bok Tower Gardens boktowergardens.org

Celebration Town Center celebrationtowncenter.com

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens centralfloridazoo.org

Columbia Restaurant columbiarestaurant.com

Forever Florida foreverflorida.com

Harry P. Leu Gardens leugardens.org

Holiday Inn Club Vacations hiclubvacations.com

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament medievaltimes.com

Orlando Museum of Art omart.org

Orlando Premium Outlets premiumoutlets.com

Orlando Science Center osc.org

Orlando Shakespeare Theater orlandoshakes.org

Orlando Watersports Complex orlandowatersports.com

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

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BEST PLACES TO SHOP Miles and miles of boutique-lined streets and bargain-packed outlets make Central Florida one of the Sunshine State’s favorite shopping destinations. In Orlando, fashionistas ought to set aside two days for the Premium Outlets International Drive and Premium Outlets Vineland Avenue, which together house approximately 330 stores offering incredible discounts. Park Avenue, Winter Park’s swanky bricklined boulevard, boasts an upscale shopping scene of one-off boutiques such as Charyli, as well as some of the area’s best restaurants. Winter Park Village, about a mile away, is where shoppers find national chain favorites such as Ann Taylor Loft and Coldwater Creek. When it comes to malls, Florida Mall reigns as the biggest thanks to its 1.9 million square feet of space and more than 250 stores. However, visitors tend to gravitate to the Mall at Millenia, a luxury spot home to haute haunts such as Tiffany & Co., Chanel and Jimmy Choo.

piratesdinneradventure.com

SeaWorld seaworldparks.com

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art morsemuseum.org

The Citrus Tower citrustower.com/clermont

The Florida Mall simon.com

The Mennello Museum of American Art mennellomuseum.org

Titanic The Experience titanictheexperience.com

Treasure Tavern treasuretavern.com

Universal Orlando Resort universalorlando.com

Walt Disney World Resort disneyworld.disney.go.com

Wekiwa Spring State Park floridastateparks.org/wekiwasprings

Wet ’n Wild wetnwildorlando.com

PHOTO: VISIT ORLANDO CVB

river where sightings of river otters or whitetail deer are possible. Water ski or wakeboard at Orlando Watersports Complex, where beginners and experts alike can hit the waters via cableway or behind boats. For a glimpse of alligators in their natural setting, book a trip on an airboat. These loud and speedy jaunts, offered by several outfitters throughout Central Florida, provide a glimpse into the area’s abundant swamplands. With more than 150 golf courses in the area, hitting the links is a viable option as well. Courses for all levels and budgets, including many designed by some of the PGA’s legends, abound. Early birds will appreciate the breathtaking views from a hot-air balloon taking flight daily a few miles from Walt Disney World Resort. Rising before the sun, these colorful balloons float into the morning sky for an hour-long ride over the Central Florida landscape before heading back to earth to allow riders to enjoy a champagne breakfast.


Wet ’n Wild, Orlando

SCENIC DRIVE Take a break from Central Florida’s main highways, such as the always-congested Interstate 4, and venture into the more picturesque scenic routes that often go unnoticed. In Lakes Wales, the Ridge Scenic Highway extends 38.7 miles to Haines City and gives travelers a glimpse of Central Florida’s rural communities and pastoral vistas. While in Lake Wales, be sure to pay a visit to Spook Hill, a natural phenomenon that gives the illusion that cars are coasting up hill.

There is a reason Central Florida is often considered the world’s No. 1 vacation destination for families; the family-focused activities and adventures are truly endless. No doubt, Orlando reigns supreme thanks to its theme parks, but it’s also home to the Orlando Science Center where interactive permanent and traveling exhibits delight the imagination. Favorite features include the Dr. Phillips CineDome, a 310-seat theater showing films in a format that is 10 times larger than a conventional film theater, as well as NatureWorks, a hands-on exhibit hall showcasing Central Florida’s diverse array of insects, plants and animals. Visitors enjoy hands-on experiences at Green Meadows Farm where folks are encouraged to mingle with animal inhabitants, such as goats and pigs. Other memorable moments include riding a pony or milking a cow. International Drive, the area’s kitschy tourist esplanade, offers dozens of delightful diversions including a Wet ’n Wild water park; Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium; a few mini-golf spots; an indoor skydiving facility; and the new CSI: The Experience, a mustsee for fans of the criminal forensic television show. International Drive’s I-Ride Trolley, which has dozens of stops along International Drive, makes it easy to visit several of the area’s attractions without having to continually find parking. FL

PHOTO: VISIT ORLANDO CVB

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT


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CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA

LIMITLESS Choices

BY SUSAN B. BARNES

Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg

T

here are plenty of places from which to choose when planning a trip to the Sunshine State, and each has its unique flavor. If you’re looking for the perfect combination of theme parks, electric nightlife, fine dining, world-class museums and sandy white beaches, look no further than Central West Florida!

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts moved into its new space in 2012 and has quickly become part of the core of the downtown Tampa Arts District. It has also made quite an impact on the face of downtown with the six larger-than-life photos that adorn some of the windows of The Cube. The museum features traveling and permanent exhibits to delight photographers of every ilk.

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PHOTOS: VISIT ST.PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER.

WHAT’S NEW


HERITAGE AND CULTURE Several world-class museums are located in Central West Florida. Take The Dalí Museum, for instance, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of art from the master himself. The building itself was recently named one of the 20 most beautiful museums in the world by Flavorwire, a popular cultural blog. Then, there’s the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg featuring

the glassmaker’s masterpieces. The collection is displayed in a building designed specifically for the exhibit—that’s impressive! Central West Florida is rich in history, including Ybor City. During its heyday, the small city within a city contained numerous cigar factories where workers would roll millions of cigars a year. It was once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Today, the old brick streets are lined with shops and cafes and you can still find some hand-rolled cigars to sample. Tarpon Springs

To get a real feel for Tampa and its surrounds, take a bike tour with City Bike Tampa. When you’re done riding, stroll over to the University of Tampa campus where the Henry B. Plant Museum is the focal point with its unmistakable minarets. The building was originally the Tampa Bay Hotel, built by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant for his railway guests to enjoy at the end of their journey from the northeast U.S. Northwest of Tampa is the small fishing village of Tarpon Springs. The sponge industry brought the Greeks. Today, that Greek influence still prevails in the community’s culture and in its plentiful choice of restaurants, which are highly recommended after you walk through town or take in a sunset cruise.

MUST SEE, MUST DO Named the country’s best zoo by Parents Magazine, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo offers thrills for kids and kids at heart. More than 1,500 animals—including leopards and tigers—can be found within the zoo’s 56 lush acres just a few miles north of downtown Tampa. Be sure to check out the zoo’s website for special events year-round. What’s that rustling in the trees? Could it be a dinosaur? It may just be, if you find yourself at Dinosaur World just off I-4 in Plant City. One hundred and fifty life-size dinosaurs, from Brachiosaurus to Triceratops, call this home. Docile manatees, or sea cows, make their cold-weather homes in the warm (at least 72 F) waters throughout Central West Florida, and there are many places to sneak a peek at these gentle giants. The viewing platform and boardwalk at the Tampa Electric Company in Apollo Beach is ideal. Folklore has it that sailors, in their delirium after months at sea, mistook manatees for mermaids. For nearly 60 years, crowds have gathered at Weeki Wachee Springs to watch these “mermaids” swim. The inspirational, real-life story of Winter, the dolphin, splashed onto the silver screen in Dolphin Tale. As a juvenile dolphin, her tail became entangled in a crab trapline. She subsequently lost her tail, yet survived! Winter’s the first dolphin to have a prosthetic tail, and you can visit her at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she happily resides much to the delight of thousands of fans.

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CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA

TOWN AND COUNTRY INSIDER’S TIPS The Suncoast Beach Trolley offers quick transportation along the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area beaches and to downtown St. Petersburg. The air-conditioned, natural gas-operated trolleys run along Gulf Boulevard as far north as downtown Clearwater and as far south as St. Pete Beach’s Pass-A-Grille neighborhood. The system also takes visitors from Treasure Island on the beaches to downtown St. Petersburg. Trolleys operate every day 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cost is $1 per ride or $2.50 for the day. A little-known site in Tampa is actually Cuban soil. A little park—just 0.14 acres—is dedicated to Cuban poet and freedom fighter Jose Marti, and has belonged to Cuba since 1956. The park is gated and locked most of the time, but sneak a peek of Cuban soil right here in the U.S.!

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Central West Florida is home to a variety of cities and towns, with something to suit everyone’s tastes. The metropolises of Tampa and St. Petersburg offer big-city living, while the quiet beach towns along the Gulf of Mexico have a laid-back vibe—flip-flops only! Dunedin is a town rich in its ties to its Scottish roots, not to mention its love of the arts. To the east, Plant City is known as the Strawberry Capital of the World, and Dade City is popular for its antique stores and historic architecture.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE The Cuban influence is prevalent in restaurants in Tampa. For a real treat, make reservations at The Columbia. Since 1905, fans of Spanish food have made their way to Florida’s oldest restaurant in Ybor City. Originally serving Cuban sandwiches and coffee to local cigar workers, today the restaurant spans 15 dining

rooms and features flamenco dancing performances every night except Sunday. Another Central West Florida dining institution is Bern’s Steak House. For more than 50 years, Bern’s has served aged prime beef, caviar, organic vegetables and wines from an extensive cellar—about 6,500 labels. Try the tableside Caesar Salad and make reservations for the Dessert Room. Seafood often finds itself in the spotlight in Florida and numerous restaurants offer the catch of the day. Island Way Grill and Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber Restaurant in Clearwater Beach, as well as Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores are three that do it right. When the sun sets in Central West Florida, there are plenty of places to celebrate the day’s end. If you’re at the beach, toast the sun dipping into the Gulf at Frenchy’s or at Palm Pavilion right on Clearwater Beach. In Tampa, head back to Ybor City to enjoy its myriad restaurants and bars. SoHo (South Howard), also in

PHOTO: NICHOLAS A. COLLURA-GEHRT/VISIT ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER.

Highland Games, Dunedin


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CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA Part of 35 miles of white sandy beaches in St. Pete/Clearwater

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Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin

Tampa, is another hot spot, featuring several restaurants and bars that party into the night. In St. Petersburg, there are also plenty of choices, from live music venues to nightclubs along Central Avenue that are hopping into the wee hours.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: VISIT ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER; ASPEN PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK; VISIT ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER; VISIT ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER.

GREAT OUTDOORS Warm sunshine and cool breezes make Central West Florida the place to be for Spring Training. Whether you’re a New York Yankees’ fan (Tampa), pull for the Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater) or root for the Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin), you’ll find a game to enjoy along with the fine weather. Once the season officially starts, the Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Baseball isn’t the only game in town, though. The Tampa Bay Rowdies take to the pitch to rival soccer teams from summer into fall, and once autumn comes around, cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Through the

winter months, the Tampa Bay Lightning take to the ice. If you’d rather play than spectate, a number of public and semi-private golf courses for all skill sets abound throughout the region. Saddlebrook Resort and Innisbrook Golf Resort incorporate the game on the greens into their properties with great ease. Of course, Florida’s premier attractions nearly anywhere you go in the state are its beaches, and there’s no shortage in Central West Florida. In fact, the area boasts some of the best beaches in the U.S., including Honeymoon Island. Fort De Soto is also a top spot and was named America’s best family beach by Parents Magazine due to its 1,136 acres and three miles of sandy white beaches. It’s also one of the area’s only dog beaches. If you just want to walk, jog or rollerblade, head to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa—the world’s longest continuous sidewalk at 4.5 miles.

Dining downtown St. Petersburg

Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Palm Harbor

FESTIVALS & EVENTS JANUARY Downtown Dunedin Art Festival Gasparilla Pirate Festival, Tampa

FEBRUARY–MARCH Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City

MARCH Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

APRIL Highland Games and Military Tattoo, Dunedin Mainsail Arts Festival, St. Petersburg

NOVEMBER Ybor City Heritage & Cigar Festival

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CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA Serengeti Safari, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

FEATURED LINKS Adventure Island adventureisland.com

Bern’s Steak House bernssteakhouse.com

Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber Restaurant bobheilmans.com

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay buschgardens.com

Chihuly Collection St. Petersburg moreanartscenter.org

City Bike Tampa citybiketampa.com

Clearwater Marine Aquarium seewinter.com

Dalí Museum thedali.com

Dinosaur World dinosaurworld.com

Florida Grapefruit League (Spring Training) floridagrapefruitleague.com

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts fmopa.org

Fort De Soto unitedparkservices.com

Frenchy’s frenchysonline.com

Glazer Children’s Museum glazermuseum.org

Henry B. Plant Museum plantmuseum.com

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com

With anchor stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, not to mention boutiques including Tory Burch and Gucci, and international favorite H&M, the International Plaza in Tampa has become a destination unto itself. For more boutiques, make your way to Hyde Park Village. Tucked away between sprawling homes on tree-lined streets, shops in a European-like village make this quiet residential neighborhood one of Tampa’s hot retail spots. If you’re looking for a souvenir, try Johns Pass Village & Boardwalk in Madeira Beach, where dozens of retailers sell everything from T-shirts and shells to artwork and more. The Central Avenue Corridor is an enjoyable stroll in downtown St. Petersburg. As you pop in and out of fine art galleries, record and vintage clothing shops and antique stores, you never know what you may find on this eclectic stretch of 15 or so city blocks.

SCENIC DRIVES Put the top down and let the warm breeze blow through your hair as you drive along the

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beaches on the west coast. Is there anything better than the sun overhead, tunes on the radio and the feel of the open road? In Tampa, gorgeous mansions have fantastic views of Tampa Bay to the east along Bayshore Boulevard.

hydeparkvillage.net

International Plaza and Bay Street shopinternationalplaza.com

Island Way Grill islandwaygrill.com

Johns Pass johnspass.com

Manatee Viewing Center

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT There's plenty to choose from to keep busy in Central West Florida. Everyone will enjoy the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa—and they won’t even know they’re learning! Don’t miss the Sky Trail® Ropes Course and Zip Line! Have a roaring good time at the Glazer Children’s Museum in downtown Tampa, Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg and Dinosaur World in Plant City, just off of I-4 on the way to Orlando. Thrills are a mile a minute at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and its water park, Adventure Island. Surf ’s up! The biggest family attractions, though, are the beaches in Central West Florida. Set up a chair, throw down a towel and enjoy a day by the water! FL

tampaelectric.com/manatee

Museum of Science and Industry mosi.org

Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar palmpavilion.com

Salt Rock Grill saltrockgrill.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers buccaneers.com

Tampa Bay Lightning lightning.nhl.com

Tampa Bay Rays tampabay.rays.mlb.com

Tampa Bay Rowdies rowdiessoccer.com

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo lowryparkzoo.com

The Columbia columbiarestaurant.com

Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce tarponspringschamber.org

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park weekiwachee.com

Ybor City Chamber of Commerce ybor.org

PHOTO: BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY

BEST PLACES TO SHOP

Hyde Park Village


ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER

AMERICA’S AWARD-WINNING BY SUSAN B. BARNES

Beaches St. Pete Beach, TripAdvisor’s #1 Beach in the U.S.

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Dalí Museum in downtown St. Petersburg

the aquarium home: turtles, dolphins and otters, to name a few. Whether you spend the day on the beach or at any of the myriad attractions, you have to eat. Fortunately, there are plenty of dining options from which to choose. For a local favorite, order a grouper sandwich on the beach; the best can be found at any one of Frenchy’s four locations, and Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is right on the sands of Clearwater Beach. Central Avenue and Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg are lined with outdoor cafes and

other restaurants offering a terrific assortment of culinary delights and a dizzying array of nightlife options. Celebrate each day’s end with Sunsets at Pier 60 at the northern end of Clearwater Beach’s Gulf-front promenade Beach Walk. Every evening, street performers and local craftsmen kick off the celebration as the sun sinks into the Gulf of Mexico. And once the sun sets, it’s time to enjoy the nightlife. Check out the beachfront bars where live music and good times go on till the wee hours. However you spend your time in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, you’ll have ample opportunity to soak up the sun and your surroundings. FL

FEATURED LINKS Clearwater Marine Aquarium seewinter.com

Frenchy’s frenchysonline.com

Sunsets at Pier 60 sunsetsatpier60.com

The Chihuly Collection chihulycollectionstpete.com

The Dalí Museum thedali.com

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater visitstpeteclearwater.com

PHOTOS: VISIT ST. PETE/CLEARWATER

L

ocated on the central west coast of Florida, the St. Petersburg/ Clearwater area boasts 35 miles of award-winning, white-sand beaches, including St. Pete Beach, which was named TripAdvisor’s top pick for “Best Beach Destination in the U.S.,” and No. 5 “Best Beach Destinations in the World” for 2012. Now that’s impressive! The area also holds the Guinness Book of World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine—768, to be exact. If you so choose, there are plenty of ways to spend your time in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area other than at the beaches. Take the art scene, for example. The Dalí Museum in downtown St. Petersburg houses the most comprehensive collection of works by surreal artist Salvador Dalí outside of Spain, all within a building that is quite fantastic itself. It’s truly a work of art! Another artist, Dale Chihuly, showcases his famous glass works at the Chihuly Collection in the downtown area as well. A must-do is a trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to local celebrity, “Winter,” and star of the big-screen Warner Bros. hit Dolphin Tale. In addition to seeing Winter with and without her prosthetic tail, you can take an up-close look at some of the props used in the movie, as well as the other animals that call


NORTHEAST FLORIDA

LAND OF BEAUTIFUL

Discoveries

BY JUDY WELLS

Castillo de San Marcos on Matanzas Bay

V

isitors have been discovering Florida’s First Coast since Ponce de León spotted its shores on Palm Sunday, April 2, 1513, claimed it for Spain and dubbed the land Pasqua de Florida—Feast of Flowers. French Huguenots sailed to what became Jacksonville for religious freedom; Spain settled St. Augustine (and wiped out the French Huguenots) to protect its treasure ships; and African slaves fled plantations in search of freedom, making Fort Mose near St. Augustine the first free African-American settlement in North America. Pirates found booty sailing its seas and sanctuary in the coastal bays, rivers and inlets, and at one point took over Fernandina. Yanks and rebels alike decided it was a good place to live, returning and settling at war’s end. Northerners found relief from winter’s cold; the Bartrams, father John and son William, found botanical treasures; movie-makers used the scenery for films before Hollywood had a name; and literary lights from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and John Grisham were inspired. Today’s visitors will find whatever they seek.

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16th-century style paella, St. Augustine

WHAT’S NEW In 2013, St. Augustine/Ponte Vedra celebrates the 500th anniversary of Ponce de León’s landing with an exhibit of works by Pablo Picasso January 12–April 19; re-enactments; a Native American Gathering and Healing Ceremony; and an International Spanish Food & Wine Festival in October.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: STACEY SATHER/FLORIDASHISTORICCOAST.COM; B. GOLDEN/ST. AUGUSTINE, PONTE VEDRA & THE BEACHES; JEFF KINSEY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

HERITAGE AND CULTURE Collections spanning the centuries from pharaohs to Florida Highwaymen painters, innovative programs for children, idyllic riverfront gardens—one Italian, the other English in style—make The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens a must-see in Jacksonville’s Riverside area. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown Jacksonville focuses on the art of today. Together with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, they form the city’s cultural core. Surrounding them is a vibrant arts scene, which puts Jacksonville in AmericanStyle magazine’s top 15 big cities for art. Artists flock to cooperative spaces from CoRK in Riverside to the Art Center Cooperative and Studio 121 downtown. Theatre Jacksonville in San Marco is the oldest continuously operating community theater and nearby MOSH, the Museum of Science and History, entertains children and parents alike. Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Artist Series brings the excitement of Broadway to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, and small, but no-less talented, performers take the stage at the Florida Theatre, St. Augustine’s Amphitheater and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Major acts regularly fill the Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Arena while the Alhambra Theatre and Dining mounts consistently good productions, often with nationally known performers. With their quaint streets and rich history surrounded by natural beauty, St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island have long attracted artists, galleries, writers and literary groups. Actors find outlets recreating historic characters from native Timucuas and conquistadors to pirates and captains of industry. The Ritz Theatre and La Villa Museum hosts traveling exhibits, the popular Amateur Night and a permanent display of African-American history in Jacksonville. The Black Heritage Trail

Gator Bowl Parade in Jacksonville

includes nine sites in Nassau, Duval and St. Johns counties and highlights significant locations in the struggle for civil rights. Get the free ACCORD Freedom Trail Audio Tour from the Visitors Center in St. Augustine. Football is not just part of the culture, it’s a passion on the First Coast. From the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL and Sharks of the Arena League through college and high

school to peewee leagues, pigskins rule. Then come the Jacksonville Suns, our boys of summer.

MUST SEE, MUST DO Belly up to the bar at Fernandina’s Palace Saloon, the state’s oldest, and mingle with the locals the way barons of industry—guests of the Carnegies at Cumberland Island—once did.

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NORTHEAST FLORIDA

FESTIVALS & EVENTS JANUARY Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl Classic, Jacksonville

FEBRUARY Noche de Gala, St. Augustine

MARCH Amelia Island Concourse d’Elegance Florida Azalea Festival, Palatka

APRIL

Hit a waterway for a different perspective. Kayak along rivers or through estuaries; go to sea on a fishing boat, take a sunset cruise or just hop on a water taxi at the Jacksonville Landing to get from one side of the St. Johns River to the other. Take a dip in the Atlantic and walk the wide beaches in search of shells and sharks’ teeth. Wander the narrow cobbled streets of St. Augustine’s historic district and tramp the battlements of Castillo de San Marcos, named a national monument the same year as the Statue of Liberty.

George’s Springing the Blues, Jacksonville Beach

MAY Blue Crab Festival, Palatka Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Fernandina Beach Jacksonville Jazz Festival The Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach World of Nations Festival, Jacksonville

MAY–JUNE Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival

JUNE Drake’s Raid Reenactment, St. Augustine

OCTOBER Georgia-Florida football game, Jacksonville Jacksonville Sea & Sky Spectacular, Jacksonville Beach

NOVEMBER–DECEMBER Nights of Lights, St. Augustine

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DINING AND NIGHTLIFE St. Johns Town Center has the monopoly on major chain restaurants from upscale to family budget. Prefer locally owned, locally sourced? For upscale contemporary try Blue in Flagler Beach; Salt at The Ritz-Carlton or PLAE on Amelia Island; Matthew’s, Bistro Aix, b.b.’s, Biscotti’s, Café Nola at MOCA or Corner Bistro in Jacksonville. For breakfast, try to snag a table at Metro Diner in San Marco or dine with the politicos at The Fox in Avondale. Meet the neighborhood at The Brick in Avondale, Taverna or The Grotto in San Marco; Burrito Gallery in downtown Jacksonville; Uptown Market in Springfield, Pele's Wood Fire in Five Points; Ragtime in Atlantic Beach; and Slider's in Neptune Beach.

Ethnic picks: For Thai, Indochine downtown. Asian fusion? Definitely Blue Bamboo. French cuisine stars at Orsay in Avondale, JJ’s in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach and Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine. Shoes and shirts of almost any kind will get you in for seafood at Singleton’s in Mayport, Lulu’s Waterfront Grille in Palm Valley or Salt Water Cowboy’s in St. Augustine. The parking lot is always full at Latitude 30 with its mix of upscale bowling, live music, food, bar, banks of TVs and arcade games. Freebird Live in Jacksonville Beach keeps the Lynyrd Skynyrd vibe humming with live performances in a variety of genres. On Wednesday nights, join the locals at the Casa Marina Hotel for good bar noshes, live music and a great view. What Ragtime Tavern & Seafood Grill in Atlantic Beach started with its brewpub almost 30 years ago has grown like yeast, filling the area with microbreweries and brewpubs: A1A Aleworks in St. Augustine; Café Karibo and Karibrew Brew Pub in Fernandina Beach; Pinglehead Brewing in Orange Park; Green Room and Engine 15 Brewing in Jacksonville Beach; and River City Brewing Co., Intuition Ale Works and Bold City Brewery in Jacksonville, to name a few. Dahlia’s Pour House in Riverside with 85 taps is the latest spot to taste their wares.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: FLORIDASHISTORICCOAST.COM; FLAGLER COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VISITOR’S CENTER.

Cap’s Restaurant, St. Augustine


Kayaking in Flagler County

INSIDER’S TIPS

THE GREAT OUTDOORS With 111,669 acres of parks—the country’s largest—within Jacksonville’s 848 square miles, outdoor activities are always nearby. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park in Atlantic Beach and the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, a national park that encompasses parts of Jacksonville, Fort George and the Talbot Islands, are the stars. The Timucuan Trail State and National Parks is a unique co-op involving city, state and national park services to preserve one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the east coast.

Boating, swimming, fishing, camping, birdwatching, ranger talks and historical sites, such as Kingsley Plantation, attract thousands to the parks’ ocean, lake, river and stream shores. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Flagler Beach features gardens to its west, unique coquina rock beaches to the east. Ravine Gardens in Palatka is spectacular January through April when the azaleas, Chickasaw plums, dogwoods and camellias are in bloom. Fish from piers on Amelia Island, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Flagler beaches. Palatka is the Bass Capital of the World.

Join the locals in monthly free Art Walks. Tour galleries and museums after hours, sip a beverage along the way and be entertained by performers. On Amelia Island, it’s 5:30–8:30 p.m. the second Saturday of the month; in Jacksonville, 5–9 p.m. first Wednesday; St. Augustine, 5–9 p.m. first Friday; Atlantic and Neptune Beaches, 5–9 p.m. third Thursday; San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, 5–9 p.m. last Saturday. Frazzled? Jacksonville’s signature oak trees will realign your priorities. Picnic or just spend a quiet moment contemplating the wonders of nature under Jacksonville’s Treaty Oak on the Southbank or admire the massive limbs of the Cummer Oak at the museum in Riverside. A stroll along the city’s Riverwalks, south or north bank, won’t hurt either.

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FEATURED LINKS ACCORD Freedom Trail

Shops at San Marco Square

accordfreedomtrail.org

in Jacksonville

Adventure Landing adventurelanding.com

Amelia River Cruises ameliarivercruises.com

Beacher's Lodge beacherslodge.com Elizabeth Point Lodge B&B, Amelia Island

Casa Marina Hotel casamarinahotel.com

City of Palatka palatka-fl.gov

Clay County exploreclay.com

CoRK facebook.com/Corkartsdistrict

EcoMotion Tours ecomotiontours.com

Elizabeth Pointe Lodge elizabethpointelodge.com

Flagler County Chamber of Commerce visitflagler.org

Florida Agricultural Museum myagmuseum.com

Florida Theatre floridatheatre.com

Fort Clinch State Park floridastateparks.org/fortclinch

BEST PLACES TO SHOP AND STAY St. Johns Town Center has the lock on national stores from Abercrombie & Fitch and the Apple Store to Tiffany’s and Luis Vuitton. You’ll find bargains at the St. Augustine Outlets, but if you

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prefer the unique, seek out boutiques: Five Points for young, cutting-edge fashions at Edge City; San Marco, especially designer Linda Cunningham’s; the Shoppes of Avondale; and the stores in Fernandina’s and St. Augustine’s quaint downtowns. Stay or just take some spa time at a Northeast Florida resort: The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Sawgrass Marriott, World Golf Village or Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. For relaxation, Elizabeth Pointe Lodge on Amelia Island ranks ninth in Travel and Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards.”

SCENIC DRIVES Winding roads canopied by giant oaks mark the Bartram Trail/Mandarin Road drive. Follow the ocean, mansions and maritime forests along A1A from Fernandina to Flagler Beach. Drive along the river, through the neighborhoods of San Marco, Riverside–Avondale and Ortega, where “Dangerous Dan” McGirt is said to have buried treasure.

hammockbeach.com

Jacksonville Black Heritage Tour visitjackasonville.com/itinerary/details /black-heritage-tour

Jacksonville Jaguars jaguars.com

Jacksonville Landing jacksonvillelanding.com

Jacksonville Sharks jaxsharks.com

Jacksonville Suns milb.com

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra jaxsymphony.org

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens jacksonvillezoo.org

Kayak Amelia kayakamelia.com

Kona SkatePark konaskatepark.com

Marineland Dolphin Adventure marineland.net

Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville mocajacksonville.org

Museum of Science & History themosh.org

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort omnihotels.com

PHOTOS: VISIT FLORIDA.

Kayak Amelia will lead or direct you through the marsh trails; Kelly Seahorse Ranch will mount you on a horse for a beach ride; and Ecomotion tours will take you for a Segway tour. Surfers head to Hanna Park, the area around the Jacksonville Beach Pier, Mickler’s Landing in Ponte Vedra and south of the Flagler Pier. Cyclists pedal along Hanna Park’s 20 miles of bike trails and Jacksonville’s Kona Skateboard Park is famous among the wheeled-board set. Between the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, TPC Sawgrass The Players Stadium and Pete Dye’s Valley courses, and the LPGA courses in Palm Coast, golfers are in hole heaven. In all, more than 1,000 holes of golf await the balls of duffers or scratch shooters. Tennis fans will find worthy courts at the resorts on Amelia Island, Ponte Vedra Beach, Sawgrass and Palm Coast.

Hammock Beach Resort


Marineland Dolphin Adventure, St. Augustine

FEATURED LINKS Ponte Vedra Concert Hall pvconcerthall.com

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club pontevedra.com/inn-and-club

Ravine Gardens State Park floridastateparks.org/ravinegardens

Ritz Theatre and Museum ritzjacksonville.com

San Marco mysanmarco.com

Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa sawgrassmarriott.com

St. Augustine’s African American Heritage Trail visitflorida.com/St_Augustine/black_heritage_trail

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park alligatorfarm.com

St. Augustine Amphitheatre staugamphitheatre.com

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum piratesoul.com

St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau floridashistoriccoast.com

St. Augustine Premium Outlets premiumoutlets.com/staugustine

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT Kids of all ages love the award-winning Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on the banks of Trout River—especially the Range of the Jaguar and Great Apes exhibits, feeding the giraffes, riding through the Plains of Africa on the train or going around in circles on its carousel. On rainy days, head over to MOSH. Heat getting to you? Take the gang to Adventure Landing’s water park in Jacksonville Beach. Practice your “arrrghs” in St. Augustine at

the Pirate and Treasure Museum and catch the wildlife at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. For a real treat, swim with the dolphins at Marineland. Let the young ones climb the walls while you soak up history at Fort Clinch, ride horses on the beach or go kayaking in Fernandina Beach. With tractor rides, cracker cattle and horses, and mud-wallowing pigs, the Florida Agricultural Museum in Palm Coast is a lot more entertaining than its name implies. FL

St. Augustine Visitors Center ci.st-augustine.fl.us

St. Johns Town Center simon.com

The Art Center Cooperative, Inc. tacjacksonville.org

The Artist Series artistseriesjax.org/peo

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens cummer.org

The Shoppes of Avondale shoppesofavondale.com

Theatre Jacksonville theatrejax.com

Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve nps.gov/foca/index.htm

Treaty Oak Park jaxfountain.com

Visit Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau jaxcvb.com

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park floridastateparks.org/washingtonoaks

World Golf Hall of Fame worldgolfhalloffame.org

World Golf Village worldgolfvillage.com

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA

THE QUIET GRACE OF

Yesteryear

BY JANET GROENE

U

ntil the 1950s, North Central Florida was one of the nation’s breadbaskets. Then canneries clanked to a stop. Interstates stole traffic that once sustained small towns. Passenger trains were replaced by freight cars. Only the timeless Suwannee River continues to stream across this portion of the state, a recreation resource that goes on giving to in-the-know paddlers, anglers, birdwatchers, hikers, campers and cave divers from all over the world. This is the Old South, just below the Georgia border, where cattle graze and huge hay baling machines sweep across fertile fields. Except for Tallahassee and Gainesville, populations are sparse. White Springs is home to one of the state’s oldest hotels and it’s a major outfitting point for Suwannee paddlers. Once-affluent towns including Monticello, Micanopy, Quincy and Madison still have mansions built by wealthy lumber and railroad barons a century ago but many are now museums or B&Bs. Madison has

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: ARKORN/SHUTTERSTOCK; VISIT TALLAHASSEE; VISIT TALLAHASSEE.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, a perfect family destination


Downtown Tallahassee

the most and best surviving homes. Take a driving or walking tour to see block after block of architectural treasures. This region has been a major trading route since before European settlement. Thanks to an elevated natural ridge above the swampy terrain Native Americans travelled to the Atlantic to trade with tribes there. The Spanish settlement at St. Augustine relied on the agrarian Apalachee tribe in present-day Tallahassee for corn, squash and other vegetables. Early settlers arrived by steamboat and ox cart. Then time stood still. Travelers in search of an unhurried vacation in a natural setting of bubbling springs and babbling rivers will find North Central Florida an uncrowded, almost unknown, tourism discovery.

WHAT’S NEW At Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, old species thrive in the prairie environment. It became Florida’s first state preserve in 1971, and three years later it was designated as a National Natural Landmark. The Prairie continues to be new and exciting as populations increase. Climb the viewing tower at the Visitor Center. With luck you’ll spot bison or wild mustangs. At the Tallahassee Museum, a new zip line attraction has 70 games and challenges and 10 lines for adventurous nature watchers. Select from three levels of difficulty topped by a twohour commando course through the treetops.

HERITAGE AND CULTURE Long before the Spanish era, Native Americans in this region fished, hunted and tilled fields for corn and squash. With European settlement came vast plantations. Surviving from that time is Goodwood Plantation, now an oasis of lawns and live oaks surrounded by high-rise buildings in Tallahassee. Take a guided tour of the mansion to learn about families who lived here until the 1970s. Don’t miss the grounds, outbuildings and gardens. From the Civil War era, the Battle of Olustee is remembered each year near Lake City in February. See more than a hundred authentically dressed “Yanks” and “Rebs” re-enact the fight that kept Union forces from capturing Tallahassee. It was the only Confederate capital

Goodwood Museum & Gardens, Tallahassee

that did not surrender. Other special events take place at Olustee’s battlefield, which is worth a pensive visit any time. The South’s cultural history lives in its music at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park north of Live Oak. Situated on the banks of the Suwannee River, it hosts a variety of festivals featuring big-name stars of country, bluegrass, folk and western music. Covering more than 500 acres, the park has campsites, cabins, fishing, equestrian trails, birdwatching, canoeing, kayaking and an arts and crafts village. Folk music is preserved at Stephen Foster State Cultural Park, especially during the annual Jeanie and Stephen vocal auditions held here. Young people compete for music scholarships while dressed in fashions from the 1800s. Throughout 2013, VIVA Florida 500 is a statewide anniversary celebration of the state’s founding by the Spanish. Special museum exhibits and events focus on the Sunshine State’s Spanish heritage. A new permanent exhibit with a second phase opening in 2013 at the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee is “Forever Changed: La Florida 1513–1821.”

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA Scenic view of the Steinhatchee River

including the state’s largest bamboo collection. Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee is also known for its camellias, spring blooms and year-round activities, such as trail riding, hiking and picnics. The Tallahassee Antique Car Museum is more than cars. A private collector has amassed enormous collections of “things” from knives and bicycles to toys and rare Steinway pianos. Wheeled vehicles alone range from fire trucks to kiddy cars. Rail memorabilia fills an entire section. Arrive early because you’ll stay here longer than you planned.

MUST SEE, MUST DO INSIDER’S TIPS Ichetucknee Springs State Park offers a rare peek into an unspoiled outback. Sit in an inner tube to float down a spring “run” through a primeval wilderness whispering with wildlife. The North Central Region borders Georgia, so don’t overlook taking in such sites as Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta, historic Thomasville with its many antebellum mansions and the giant flea markets at Lake Park just over the state line. Interstates 10 and 75 cross at Lake City, a hub for chain hotels and restaurants that are also found along both interstates and in Tallahassee and Gainesville. If you are collecting frequent guest points, you’ll find member properties galore in this region. Except for the two university cities, public transportation is sparse in the region. Tallahassee has the best frequent air service, but many visitors also fly into Valdosta, Georgia or Jacksonville.

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Established in 1656, Mission San Luis in Tallahassee was burned to the ground by the Spanish and their Apalachee Indian allies in 1704 to prevent its capture by approaching English troops. Now much of the village and fort have been rebuilt on-site in compliance with original Spanish plans. Buildings include a church and a massive council house replicating the one used for Apalachee tribal meetings. Interpreters in period costume describe tribal life. Through the year there are historical re-enactments and “villagers” in period dress gardening, blacksmithing or cooking over open fires. At the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, accent is on locally found fossils, Native American history and a Butterfly Rainforest with hundreds of living specimens plus a research laboratory. A Waterways and Wildlife exhibit follows the flow of water through Northwest Florida, said to be the most biodiverse region of the state. Don’t miss the museum gardens. Also in Gainesville, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens has a huge assortment of plants

Tallahassee, the state capital and western bookend of this region, has upscale restaurants and posh hotels including a new Sheraton downtown, the stately Governors Inn and the boutique Hotel Duval, which is also an “in” spot for dining and nightlife. The home of Florida State University, Tallahassee also has an abundance of pubs, clubs, sports bars and other “happening” places. The Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center features Broadway shows and musical performances. As a university city, Tallahassee also has a wealth of ethnic restaurants and student hangouts serving budget meals. Gainesville’s University of Florida lends youthful pizzazz and a cultural component to the region’s other large city. International students come from all over the world. For visitors that means a wide choice of authentic, economical ethnic restaurants.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE For a unique family dining experience, seek out The Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, where author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived just down the road in a simple cabin surrounded by flora and fauna described in her books. The restaurant is homey and unpretentious, yet it captured the coveted Golden Spoon Award from Florida Trend magazine. Eat traditional foods or try venison, cooter, alligator and other native critters. The Rawlings homestead nearby is a state historic site open to the public. Cross Creek/Hawthorne is 14 miles from Gainesville.

FROM TOP LEFT: WILLIAM SILVER/SHUTTERSTOCK; TALLAHASSEE CVB.

TOWN AND COUNTRY


Georgio’s, with two locations in Tallahassee, is a place to celebrate gourmet Italian and Greek food, good wine and attentive service. Food Glorious Food, affectionately known as FGF by locals, has a varied menu with flamboyant deli desserts. In Gainesville, Mildred’s Big City Food features farm-to-table, local, sustainable foods. It won a Golden Spoon Award for its extensive, eclectic menu and comprehensive list of wines by the glass or bottle. High Springs, popular with paddlers and other serious outdoor types, is the home of the Great Outdoors restaurant, known for allAmerican steaks, hand-carved roast beef, signature salads and bodacious burgers. In Live Oak, Big Daddy’s is a fresh, family-owned barbecue place decorated with hunting motifs and taxidermy. Choose the buffet or order from an extensive menu that includes smokehouse barbecue and much more. Because some counties still prohibit the sale of alcohol, nightlife is spotty outside Tallahassee and Gainesville, where nightspots offer all types of music, quaffing and dining. Very local but

trendy spots for wining, dining and song are also found in Micanopy, Madison, Alachua and High Springs.

FESTIVALS & EVENTS JANUARY

THE GREAT OUTDOORS The Great Florida Birding Trail is now complete statewide including the rich, varied avian habitats of North Central Florida. It isn’t one contiguous trail, so plan your trip with the help of the website. The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail follows the river through this region and ends at the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the route can be driven by car but the best portions include primitive, but well-maintained, campgrounds that can be reached only from the river. Popular start-stop points include White Springs, which has outfitters, and Advent Christian Village in Dowling Park, which also has lodgings and restaurants. The Santa Fe River is also popular with paddlers; outfit at the Canoe Outpost in High Springs. Among the best spots in the area for cave and cavern diving is Blue Grotto near Williston. An extensive cavern system, the site features an

Stephen Foster Day at Stephen Foster State Culture Park

FEBRUARY Civil War Re-enactment of the 1864 Battle of Olustee

MARCH Suwannee Springfest Music Festival

APRIL Springtime Tallahassee Festival

JUNE Blueberry Festival, Wellborn

SEPTEMBER Railroad Days Heritage Festival, Live Oak

NOVEMBER Downtown Gainesville Festival & Art Show Four Freedoms Festival, Madison

DECEMBER Christmas Boat Parades

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The old Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee


FROM LEFT: HARRY B. LAMB /SHUTTERSTOCK; IRINA SILAYEVA/SHUTTERSTOCK.

University of Florida, Gainesville

air-filled diving bell about 30 feet down where several divers at a time can observe the underwater world. Permanent guidelines throughout the system go as deep as 100 feet, but divers are urged to stop at 60 feet unless they have extensive, advanced cave-diving training and experience. Like the region’s other springs for divers and swimmers, this is a year-round attraction where water stays 72 F winter and summer. Any of the area’s springs that are open to the public (usually as state parks) are of interest and almost all have an unusual history or feature. At Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee, take a boat tour to see the jungle where many Tarzan movies were filmed. A rustic lodge offers meals and overnight accommodation.

BEST PLACES TO SHOP Oaks Mall in Gainesville and the Governor’s Mall in Tallahassee are anchored by major chains, such as Sears, Penney’s and Dillard’s. Monticello, Madison, Havana, Quincy and Micanopy are popular for antiques and artisanal works. Market Day held at Advent Christian Village, Dowling Park, on the first Saturday of each month, features bluegrass music, crafters from throughout the region and special sales at the village’s unique shops. Have lunch overlooking the Suwannee River.

SCENIC DRIVES Driving west from Lake City to Tallahassee on U.S. Route 90, visitors see communities frozen in time. Find all the quiet grace of yesteryear in towns, such as Monticello with its grand old 1890 opera house, and Madison with its many blocks of historic homes. Take a self-guided walking or driving tour through the history of American architecture dating back to the 1700s. Just off the highway in tiny Greenville, see a monument to music icon Ray Charles, who grew up there.

FEATURED LINKS Alachua County Visitors & Convention Bureau visitgainesville.com

Battle of Olustee Battleofolustee.org

Blue Grotto floridacaves.com/bgrotto.htm

Governors Inn thegovinn.com

Great Florida Birding Trail floridabirdingtrail.com

Hotel Duval

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT Steinhatchee Landing Resort is a fairy-tale village with cute, self-catering cottages on the Steinhatchee (steen-hatchee) River just before it enters the Gulf of Mexico. Families can swim, fish, canoe, kayak and wade in shallow waters to gather scallops. Family vacations in the North Central Region primarily involve nature and the outdoors. Places, such as Paynes Prairie, Suwannee River, Fanning Springs, Stephen Foster and O’Leno state parks, represent what family holidays here are all about: camping, swimming, fishing, ranger-guided nature tours, snorkeling, picnics under centuries-old live oaks, hiking, scuba diving, canoeing and kayaking. FL

hotelduval.com

Goodwood Museum & Gardens goodwoodmuseum.org

Mission San Luis missionsanluis.org

Museum of Florida History museumoffloridahistory.com

Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park & Campground MusicLivesHere.com

Steinhatchee Landing Resort steinhatcheelanding.com

Suwannee River Wilderness Trail floridastateparks.org/wilderness

Tallahassee Antique Car Museum tacm.com

Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center tlccc.org

Visit Tallahassee visittallahassee.com

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NORTHWEST FLORIDA

A SPECIAL PLACE

In Time

BY SANDRA FRIEND

W

ith its rural landscapes, vast pine forests, historic cities, and beachfront communities, the sweep of Florida’s Panhandle from the Apalachicola River to the bayous of Alabama has its own special place in time. Much of it sits in the Central Time Zone and is home to some of the state’s oldest settlements. Well before Florida became part of the United States, this region had its share of explorers. In 1513, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León rambled through the region searching for gold, finding instead the deep waters of Pensacola Bay. Don Tristán de Luna established one of the New World’s first European settlements in 1559 along its emerald shores. Northwest Florida is a region of firsts. Where Gulf breezes shaped grand live oaks, Naval Live Oaks, a preserve set aside for cultivating the trees for shipbuilding in 1828, still stands today. Arcadia Mill, the state’s first water-powered industrial complex, processed lumber and textiles. In 1851, air conditioning was invented by Dr. John Gorrie in Apalachicola, the state’s first port city of signif-

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: VISIT SOUTH WALTON; PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB; PENSACOLA BAY AREA CVB.

South Walton getaway


icant size. Florida’s first railroad served the community of St. Joseph, now Port St. Joe. The bricks of Highway 1, Florida’s first cross-state road, are still visible near Milton. Florida’s fishing industry thrives here, with the state’s oldest seafood restaurants still serving up fresh harvests of shrimp, oysters, scallops, and fish caught just offshore. A long, linear region that touches Georgia and Alabama, Northwest Florida is easily accessed from Interstate 10. To savor a slower drive through the rolling ridges, follow U.S. 90 or S.R. 20; U.S. 98 connects oceanfront and bayou communities along the Gulf of Mexico.

WHAT’S NEW In Marianna, access the haunting Chipola River with ease at Hinson Conservation & Recreation Area. Riverfront caverns invite inspection as you canoe beneath ancient cypresses and oaks. Follow the lazy bends of the river from above while hiking or biking the Chipola RiverJackson County Greenway. Mountain bikers have room to roam at Conservation Park in Panama City Beach, a 2,900-acre preserve within a mile of the beach. More than 24 miles

of wooded, marked riding routes provide access for wildlife watching. Scramble ropes and canopy bridges at Baytowne Adventure Zone, where the zip line swoops across a lagoon at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Sky trail ropes, a euro-bungy, and a kids’ playground round out the family fun.

Panama City Beach Conservation Park

HERITAGE AND CULTURE Four fortresses once protected the deep-water port of Pensacola, the first European port in Florida claimed for Spain. Explore the Spanish influence at Fort Barrancas, site of a series of Spanish and English forts since the 1700s. A maze of brick passageways surrounded by sea and dunes, the more extensive Fort Pickens, completed in 1834, served the American military through the 1940s. The nearby National Naval Aviation Museum is the home of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s aerobatic squadron. Experience pioneer life in Florida on a visit to the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown, where a collection of 18 historic buildings sets a backdrop for living history on a Florida farm. Watch milk bottled right at the source at the Ocheesee Creamery, a rural dairy. Pensacola’s Old Christ Church, the oldest in Florida

INSIDER’S TIP Northwest Florida is one of the best places in North America to see carnivorous pitcher plants, with six varieties found in pine forest bogs. Late March to mid-April is the best time to observe the blooms. Tarkiln Bayou State Park, Garcon Point Preserve, Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park, Blackwater River State Forest, and the Apalachicola National Forest are hot spots for these botanical beauties.

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NORTHWEST FLORIDA

MUST SEE, MUST DO NEED MORE INFO? Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce apalachicolabay.org

Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce calhounco.org

Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau emeraldcoastfl.com

Gulf County visitgulf.com

Jackson County Tourist Development Council jacksoncountytdc.com

Liberty County Chamber of Commerce libertycountyflorida.com

Mexico Beach Community Development Council mexico-beach.com

Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau visitpanamacitybeach.com

Pensacola Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau visitpensacola.com

Visit South Walton visitsouthwalton.com

Washington County Tourist Development Council visitwashingtoncountyfl.com

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Head into the cool depths of the earth at Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, home of Florida’s only cave tour. Developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the underground route leads you past rimstone pools, sparkling stalactites and delicate soda straws. On a guided tour through Historic Pensacola Village, visit homes ranging from a simple 1805 French Creole cottage to a grand Victorian from the 1890s. The Museum of Commerce feels like a stage set from the 1920s, complete with a streetcar, while the interactive Museum of Industry offers the sights and sounds of fishing, timbering and railroads. Love lighthouses? Follow coastal U.S. 98 for tours with a view. The Crooked River Lighthouse stands inland near Carrabelle, while the Cape St. George Light dominates the barrier island of St. George Island. Towering adjacent to the sea, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse has resident bald eagles peering from the pines. Since 1859, the

Pensacola Lighthouse has guided sailors to the deep waters of Pensacola Bay. All of these lighthouses offer moonlight tours in addition to daytime climbs.

TOWN AND COUNTRY In Apalachicola, you can tour historic homes or you can sleep in them. Founded in 1831, this port city is part of America’s National Trust and easily explored on foot. Free tours of the Raney House offer insights into the plush delights of a cotton merchant’s life, while a stay at the Coombs House Inn lets you luxuriate in the finery of a lumber baron’s legacy. Home to Florida’s oldest continuously operating library and the “Southern Chautauqua,” the town of DeFuniak Springs, founded in 1885, is an architectural delight. Centered on a perfectly round lake, the historic residential district—bordered by the original Chautauqua meeting hall and a downtown with the renovated railroad-era Hotel DeFuniak—showcases Victorian architecture.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB; APALACHICOLA BAY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

Diners at the new Pier Park in Panama City Beach


Cycling through Apalachicola

FESTIVALS & EVENTS JANUARY Florida Chautauqua Assembly

APRIL Apalachicola Antique & Classic Boat Show Interstate Mullet Toss

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE Apalachicola oysters are their own food group, served up with sprinklings of parmesan, chives, or “raw as you like” at restaurants scant feet from the water. Try them at Captain Snook’s or The Hut in Eastpoint, or Papa Joe’s, Boss Oyster and the Apalachicola Seafood Grill in Apalachicola. In Fort Walton Beach, check out Angler’s Beachside Grill (a favorite for families with young children) and Staff ’s, serving up shrimp since 1913. At The Grand Marlin in Pensacola Beach, the source of each seafood delight is noted on the menu. Downtown Pensacola is the center for evening enjoyment at venues like Play, where playing Skee-ball while sampling micro-

brews is part of the scene at this adult “barcade.” Vinyl Music Hall serves up music acts and the Saenger Theatre trots out comedians, musicals and the Pensacola Symphony. Walk down Palafox Street for dining options ranging from sushi and Mexican to top-rated Jackson’s Steakhouse or walk a couple of blocks to savor the venerable waterfront Pensacola Fish House. Make the family smile with a visit to Thomas Donuts in Panama City Beach, where breakfast—not just donuts—comes hot and fresh. After dark, alive with the rhythms of the night, the condo-lined waterfront rocks at venues like Club La Vela. It’s America’s largest nightclub, with its themed dance spaces and VIP rooms.

MAY–JUNE Fiesta of Five Flags

JUNE Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival

AUGUST Florida Scallop & Music Festival

OCTOBER The Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival Destin Fishing Rodeo Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo Northwest Florida Fair

NOVEMBER Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show Florida Seafood Festival


NORTHWEST FLORIDA Fishing in Panama City Beach

FEATURED LINKS Adventures Unlimited adventuresunlimited.com

Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway byways.org/explore/byways/55330

Apalachicola National Forest fs.usda.gov/apalachicola

Bay Point Wyndham baypointwyndham.com

Big Bend Scenic Byway floridabigbendscenicbyway.com

Blackwater River State Forest floridastateparks.org/blackwaterriver

Blue Angels blueangels.navy.mil

Blue Mountain Beach visitsouthwalton.com/blue-mountain

Cape St. George Light visitgulf.com/cape-st-george-light

Cape San Blas Lighthouse visitgulf.com/cape-san-blas-lighthouse

Crooked River Lighthouse crookedriverlighthouse.org

Eglin Air Force Base Support Squadron eglinforcesupport.com

Florida Caverns State Park floridastateparks.org/floridacaverns

Florida Chautauqua Assembly florida-chautauqua-center.org

Florida Trail Association floridatrail.org

Florida Zip Line Adventures floridaziplineadventures.com

Fort Barrancas nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-barrancas.htm

Fort Pickens nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens.htm

Grayton Beach State Park floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach

BEST PLACES TO SHOP

Northwest Florida is the “in spot” for sport fishing, with Destin claiming to be the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” With deep water not far offshore, sailfish and cobia are prime catches. Milton is Florida’s canoeing capital, and for good reason. It’s where Coldwater Creek and Juniper Creek combine their waters into the clear, sand-bottomed Blackwater River in the heart of Blackwater River State Forest. Adventures Unlimited offers paddling and tubing trips, with cabins and camping on-site at a base camp for outdoor excursions. More than 250 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail rambles through the wild spaces of Northwest Florida. Backpack for a week over the rolling ridges of Nokuse Plantation and Eglin Air Force Base beneath ancient longleaf pines, or dip into shorter sections for day hikes.

Try a taste of the Caribbean at Pier Park, a themed open-air mall just a block from Panama City Beach, complete with amusement rides. Browse downtown Pensacola’s galleries for inspired creations. Stroll Apalachicola to find unique treasures on every block, from fish sculptures to handmade chocolates, sponges harvested from the Gulf, dressy apparel and nautical antiques. Go wild for retro style in Fort Walton Beach, where the antiques district offers dozens of boutiques, thrift stores and specialty shops.

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SCENIC DRIVES Follow Scenic 30A to discover one of the rarest shorelines in the world, defined by Florida’s coastal dune lakes. Connecting 15 beach communities along 18.5 miles of the Gulf of

Gulfarium Marine Adventure gulfarium.com

Hidden Lagoon Golf and Racetrack hiddenlagoongolfandracetrack.com

Historic Pensacola Village historicpensacola.org

Hotel DeFuniak hoteldefuniak.com

John Gorrie Museum State Park floridastateparks.org/johngorriemuseum

National Naval Aviation Museum nationalaviationmuseum.org

Naval Live Oaks nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/naval-live-oaks.htm

Nokuse Plantation nokuse.org

Panama City Beach Conservation Park pcbeach.com/conservation-park.htm

Panhandle Pioneer Settlement ppmuseum.org

Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum pensacolalighthouse.org

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB; DANNY E. HOOKS/SHUTTERSTOCK.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS


National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola

FEATURED LINKS Port St. Joe visitgulf.com/port-st-joe

Raney House apalachicolahistoricalsociety.org

Saenger Theatre pensacolasaenger.com

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort sandestin.com

Mexico in South Walton, Scenic 30A offers views across these pine-edged oceanfront lakes and access to the beach at dozens of points along the way, including the New Urbanism center of Seaside and the dunes of Blue Mountain Beach. In the Apalachicola National Forest, the Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway immerses drivers in the wilds of one of Florida’s most botanically rich regions. Along the Big Bend Scenic Byway, connecting Apalachicola with Carrabelle and points east, the views across calm Gulf waters and shimmering bays are almost as good as the fresh oysters at the seafood shacks.

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT Climb for the sky at Florida Zip Line Adventures, where 14 zip lines connect sky bridges, observation towers, and an aviary amid lush forests over Coldwater Creek in Milton. Get to Fort Walton Beach’s Gulfarium for upclose encounters with the mammals found along Florida’s Gulf Coast. With Southern Star Dolphin Cruises in Destin, search for dolphins in the sea. Play pirate on the Sea Dragon or slip down the waterslides at Shipwreck Island on Panama City Beach, a family vacation community that’s home to Hidden Lagoon, a massive go-kart and mini-golf complex. Lions and tigers also take center stage here at Zooworld. FL

Scenic 30A 30a.com

Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise piratecruise.net

Seaside seasidefl.com

Shipwreck Island Waterpark shipwreckisland.com

Southern Star Dolphin Cruises southernstardolphincruise.com

Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park floridastateparks.org/tarkilnbayou

Vinyl Music Hall vinylmusichall.com

Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park floridastateparks.org/yellowriver


RESOURCE DIRECTORY FLORIDA TIME ZONES While most of Florida is located in the Eastern Time Zone, a portion of Northwest Florida is in the Central Time Zone. The Apalachicola River is the dividing line between Central Standard Time in the western part of Northwest Florida and Eastern Standard Time in the eastern part.

Central Time Zone

Golfing at Cocoa Beach (Space Coast Office of Tourism)

Eastern Time Zone

ANNUAL FLORIDA FESTIVALS With more than 750 annual events happening throughout the Sunshine State, visitors to Florida are never at a loss for things to do and see. Here is a list of the state’s largest events, which represents just a smattering of what is planned. For more information on these and other scheduled events, log onto visitflorida.com or the Florida Festival and Events Association website at ffea.com.

DATES

FESTIVALS

WEBSITES

January 18–20, 2013

Art Deco Weekend Festival, Miami Beach

mdpl.org

January 23–28, 2013

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival, Titusville

spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org

January 26, 2013

Gasparilla Pirate Fest, Tampa

gasparillapiratefest.com

February 7– 8, 2013

Florida State Fair, Tampa

floridastatefair.com

Feb 8–17, 2013

Silver Spurs Rodeo, Kissimmee

silverspursrodeo.com

February 28–March 10, 2013

Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City

flstrawberryfestival.com

March 8–17, 2013

Bike Week, Daytona Beach

officialbikeweek.com

April 6, 2013

Springtime Festival, Tallahassee

springtimetallahassee.com

April 13, 2013

Dunedin Highland Games & Festival

dunedinhighlandgames.com

May 1–5, 2013

Sunfest, West Palm Beach

sunfest.com

May 23–26, 2013

Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Jacksonville

jaxjazzfest.com

May 24–26, 2013

Florida Folk Festival, White Springs

floridafolkfestival.com

July 13, 2013

Pensacola Beach Air Show, Pensacola

pensacolachamber.com

July 16–21, 2013

Hemingway Days Festival, Key West

fla-keys.com/hemingwaymedia

September 16–21, 2013

Pensacola Seafood Festival, Pensacola

visitpensacola.com/landing/seafood-festival

Late September—mid-November 2013

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Orlando

disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot /special-events/epcot-international -food-and-wine-festival

October 17–20, 2013

Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach

biketoberfest.org

November 2013

American Sandsculpting Championship Festival,

fmbsandsculpting.com

Fort Myers Beach November 16, 2013—January 31, 2014

Nights of Lights, St. Augustine

nightsoflights.com

December 2013

Winter Festival, Downtown Tallahassee

holidaylights.visittallahassee.com

December 5–8, 2013

Art Basel, Miami Beach

miamibeach.artbasel.com

December 14, 2013

Winterfest Boat Parade, Fort Lauderdale

winterfestparade.com

Dates and websites were correct at time of printing. Information is subject to change without notice. 2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

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AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURES (FAHRENHEIT) AND PRECIPITATION (INCHES) IN SELECTED FLORIDA CITIES

RESOURCE DIRECTORY JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

BOCA RATON

min/max precip.

58/76 F 2.78 in

58/77 F 2.76 in

62/80 F 3.00 in

66/83 F 3.40 in

71/87 F 5.73 in

74/90 F 7.31 in

75/92 F 5.94 in

75/92 F 6.91 in

74/91 F 7.01 in

71/87 F 5.73 in

66/82 F 4.24 in

61/78 F 2.46 in

BRADENTON

min/max precip.

51/72 F 2.94 in

52/73 F 2.66 in

57/77 F 3.36 in

59/82 F 1.83 in

66/87 F 2.85 in

71/90 F 7.41 in

72/91 F 8.71 in

73/91 F 9.43 in

72/90 F 7.25 in

65/85 F 2.88 in

59/79 F 2.35 in

53/74 F 2.45 in

CLEARWATER

min/max precip.

50/72 F 3.17 in

52/73 F 3.14 in

56/77 F 3.85 in

61/81 F 1.96 in

67/87 F 3.02 in

72/90 F 5.78 in

74/91 F 7.07 in

73/92 F 8.47 in

72/90 F 7.25 in

65/85 F 3.36 in

58/79 F 2.37 in

52/74 F 2.98 in

DAYTONA BEACH

min/max precip.

47/68 F 2.75 in

48/69 F 3.11 in

54/74 F 2.90 in

58/80 F 2.23 in

65/84 F 3.45 in

71/88 F 5.99 in

72/90 F 5.4 in

73/89 F 6.16 in

72/87 F 6.34 in

65/81 F 4.13 in

56/75 F 2.84 in

50/70 F 2.59 in

FORT LAUDERDALE

min/max precip.

57/75 F 2.22 in

57/76 F 2.93 in

62/79 F 2.76 in

65/82 F 3.37 in

70/85 F 6.65 in

73/88 F 9.58 in

75/90 F 6.64 in

75/90 F 6.77 in

74/89 F 7.56 in

70/85 F 6.52 in

65/81 F 3.94 in

60/77 F 2.17 in

FORT MYERS

min/max precip.

53/74 F 1.84 in

54/75 F 2.23 in

58/80 F 3.07 in

62/84 F 1.06 in

67/89 F 3.87 in

73/90 F 9.52 in

74/91 F 8.26 in

75/91 F 9.66 in

74/90 F 7.82 in

68/86 F 2.94 in

61/81 F 1.57 in

55/76 F 1.56 in

JACKSONVILLE

min/max precip.

42/64 F 3.31 in

44/67 F 3.93 in

50/74 F 3.68 in

56/80 F 2.70 in

63/85 F 3.55 in

70/89 F 5.69 in

72/91 F 5.60 in

72/91 F 7.93 in

70/87 F 7.05 in

60/80 F 2.90 in

51/73 F 2.19 in

44/67 F 2.72 in

KEY WEST

min/max precip.

65/75 F 2.01 in

65/75 F 1.80 in

69/78 F 1.71 in

72/82 F 1.75 in

76/85 F 3.46 in

78/87 F 5.09 in

80/89 F 3.61 in

79/89 F 5.03 in

78/88 F 5.85 in

75/84 F 4.42 in

71/80 F 2.84 in

67/76 F 2.02 in

MIAMI

min/max precip.

59/75 F 2.01 in

60/76 F 2.08 in

64/79 F 2.39 in

68/83 F 3.03 in

72/85 F 6.21 in

75/88 F 9.33 in

77/89 F 5.70 in

77/89 F 7.58 in

76/88 F 7.63 in

72/85 F 5.64 in

67/80 F 2.66 in

62/77 F 1.83 in

NAPLES

min/max precip.

53/75 F 2.01 in

54/76 F 2.17 in

58/79 F 2.08 in

62/83 F 1.99 in

67/87 F 4.21 in

71/90 F 8.18 in

73/91 F 7.98 in

73/91 F 8.05 in

73/90 F 8.11 in

68/87 F 3.60 in

62/82 F 1.99 in

56/76 F 1.53 in

ORLANDO

min/max precip.

51/71 F 2.33 in

50/71 F 4.00 in

55/77 F 3.24 in

61/84 F 1.30 in

67/88 F 3.10 in

71/90 F 7.53 in

73/92 F 7.15 in

73/92 F 7.07 in

73/89 F 6.27 in

66/84 F 2.86 in

57/77 F 1.65 in

52/73 F 2.01 in

PANAMA CITY

min/max precip.

38/61 F 5.74 in

41/65 F 4.71 in

47/70 F 6.22 in

53/76 F 3.73 in

61/83 F 3.86 in

68/88 F 6.01 in

71/89 F 8.74 in

71/89 F 7.52 in

67/87 F 6.14 in

55/79 F 3.50 in

47/71 F 4.53 in

40/64 F 4.06 in

PENSACOLA

min/max precip.

42/59 F 4.65 in

44/63 F 5.36 in

51/69 F 5.66 in

58/76 F 3.41 in

65/83 F 4.20 in

72/88 F 6.40 in

74/90 F 7.42 in

74/89 F 7.33 in

70/86 F 5.42 in

60/79 F 4.14 in

51/70 F 3.54 in

44/63 F 4.29 in

ST. AUGUSTINE min/max precip.

45/64 F 3.16 in

47/67 F 2.88 in

53/72 F 3.87 in

58/77 F 2.63 in

65/82 F 3.11 in

71/87 F 5.27 in

73/89 F 4.50 in

72/87 F 5.91 in

71/85 F 6.45 in

64/79 F 4.56 in

56/73 F 2.24 in

49/67 F 2.84 in

ST. PETERSBURG

min/max precip.

54/69 F 2.76 in

55/71 F 2.87 in

60/75 F 3.29 in

64/80 F 1.92 in

71/86 F 2.80 in

75/89 F 6.09 in

76/90 F 6.72 in

77/90 F 8.26 in

75/88 F 7.59 in

70/83 F 2.64 in

63/77 F 2.04 in

56/71 F 2.60 in

SARASOTA

min/max precip.

51/72 F 2.94 in

53/74 F 2.66 in

57/77 F 3.36 in

60/82 F 1.85 in

65/87 F 2.85 in

74/90 F 7.41 in

73/91 F 8.71 in

73/91 F 9.43 in

72/90 F 7.25 in

65/85 F 2.88 in

59/80 F 2.35 in

53/74 F 2.45 in

TALLAHASSEE

min/max precip.

38/62 F 4.77 in

40/66 F 5.52 in

47/73 F 6.21 in

52/80 F 3.74 in

61/86 F 4.75 in

68/90 F 6.93 in

71/91 F 8.82 in

71/91 F 7.53 in

68/88 F 5.58 in

56/81 F 2.92 in

46/73 F 3.87 in

41/66 F 5.03 in

TAMPA BAY

min/max precip.

49/70 F 1.99 in

51/71 F 3.08 in

56/76 F 3.01 in

60/82 F 1.15 in

67/87 F 3.10 in

73/90 F 5.48 in

74/90 F 6.58 in

74/90 F 7.61 in

73/89 F 5.98 in

65/84 F 2.02 in

57/77 F 1.77 in

51/72 F 2.15 in

WEST PALM BEACH

min/max precip.

56/74 F 2.80 in

57/75 F 2.69 in

61/79 F 3.66 in

65/82 F 2.91 in

70/85 F 6.13 in

73/88 F 8.09 in

74/90 F 6.14 in

75/90 F 6.02 in

74/88 F 8.53 in

71/85 F 6.60 in

64/80 F 4.69 in

59/76 F 2.49 in

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TOURISM INFORMATION SOURCES IN FLORIDA Florida Welcome Centers, Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Tourism Offices are located throughout Florida, and staff is always eager to offer assistance and help visitors make the most of their stay.

Shipwreck Island Waterpark, Panama City Beach (Panama City Beach CVB)

VISIT FLORIDA VISIT FLORIDA (VISITFLORIDA.COM) also operates Florida’s five Official Florida Welcome Centers at I-10E, 16 miles west of Pensacola; U.S. 231 near Campbellton; I-75S, four miles north of Jennings; I-95S, seven miles north of Yulee; and at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. When in Florida, drop by for a free glass of Florida orange juice and pick up a free Florida Vacation Guide, a large-print map of Florida and VISIT FLORIDA partner brochures.

OTHER FLORIDA TOURISM LOCATIONS

WEBSITES

Amelia Island Bradenton, Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key Central Florida Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands Clay County Daytona Beach Delray Beach Dunedin Florida Keys & Key West Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism Fort Lauderdale Fort Myers and Sanibel Hollywood Jacksonville Martin County Mexico Beach Miami Naples, Marco Island & Everglades New Smyrna Beach Orlando Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches Panama City Beach Pensacola Santa Rosa County Sarasota Sebastian River St. Augustine & Ponte Vedra St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sunny Isles Beach Tallahassee Tampa Bay The Palm Beaches & Boca Raton

ameliaisland.com annamariaisland-longboatkey.com centralflorida.org charlotteharbortravel.com exploreclay.com downtowndelraybeach.com palmbeachfl.com visitstpeteclearwater.com fla-keys.com visitspacecoast.com sunny.org fortmyers-sanibel.com gohollywoodfla.com visitjacksonville.com DiscoverMartin.com mexico-beach.com miamiandbeaches.com paradisecoast.com nsbfla.com visitorlando.com palmcoastandtheflaglerbeaches.com panamacity.com visitpensacola.com navarrebeachadventures.com visitsarasota.org exploresebastian.com floridashistoriccoast.com visitstpeteclearwater.com sunnyislesbeachmiami.com visittallahassee.com visittampabay.com palmbeachfl.com

FLORIDA’S PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 2013

Bok Tower in Lake Wales (VISIT FLORIDA)

Gulfarium, Walton Beach (Emerald Coast CVB)

January 1, New Year’s Day January 21, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day February 18, Presidents’ Day May 27, Memorial Day July 4, Independence Day September 2, Labor Day October 14, Columbus Day (most regions) November 11, Veterans Day November 28, Thanksgiving Day December 25, Christmas Day

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

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RESOURCE DIRECTORY E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport (Tommy Crow)

Trump International Beach Resort, Sunny Isles Beach (Trump International Beach Resort)

FLORIDA ASSOCIATIONS AND TRAVEL GROUPS

WEBSITES

AAA Auto Club South

autoclubsouth.aaa.com

AARP

aarp.org

American Association for Nude Recreation

aanr.com

American Camp Association

www.acacamps.org

CAA (Canadian Automobile Association)

caa.ca

Canadian Snowbird Association

snowbirds.org

Florida Amateur Baseball Association

floridaamateurbaseball.org

Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations

fadmo.org

Florida Association of Museums

flamuseums.org

Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds

campflorida.com

Florida Bicycle Association

floridabicycle.org

Florida Festivals & Events Association

ffea.com

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

myfwc.com

Florida Gardener

floridagardener.com

Florida Lighthouse Association

floridalighthouses.org

Florida Professional Paddlesports Association

paddleflausa.com

Florida Sports Foundation

flasports.com

Florida Trail Association

www.floridatrail.org

Good Sam Club (The World’s Largest RV Owners Community)

goodsamclub.com

International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

iaapa.org

International Game Fish Association

igfa.org

KOA (Kampgrounds of America, Inc.)

koa.com

PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association)

pga.com

Scooter and Wheelchair rentals for adults/kids

caremedicalequipment.com

CRUISE LINES

WEBSITES

American Cruise Lines

americancruiselines.com

Azamara Club Cruises

azamaraclubcruises.com

Carnival Cruise Lines

carnival.com

Celebration Cruise Line

bahamascelebration.com

Celebrity Cruises

celebritycruises.com

Costa Cruises

costacruise.com

Crystal Cruises

crystalcruises.com

Cunard Line

cunard.com

Discovery Cruise Line

discoverycruiseline.com

Disney Cruise Lines

disneycruise.disney.go.com

Holland America Line

hollandamerica.com

MSC Cruises

msccruises.com

Norwegian Cruise Line

ncl.com

FLORIDA CRUISE PORTS

WEBSITES

Oceania Cruises

oceaniacruises.com

Princess Cruises

princess.com

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

rssc.com

Royal Caribbean International

royalcaribbean.com

Silversea Cruises

silversea.com

Seabourn Cruise Line

seabourn.com

Jacksonville Port Authority Port Canaveral Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) Port of Key West Port of Miami Port of Palm Beach District Tampa Port Authority

jaxport.com portcanaveral.com porteverglades.net keywestcity.com miamidade.gov/portofmiami portofpalmbeach.com tampaport.com

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Phillies fans in Clearwater (Nick Collura)


FLORIDA STATE PARKS, FORESTS & REGIONAL RECREATION SPACES

Golfing at Walt Disney Resort (Visit Orlando)

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA and THE FLORIDA KEYS Apoxee Urban Wilderness Park Bahia Honda State Park Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Curry Hammock State Park Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Hugh Taylor Birch State Park Indian Key Historic State Park John D. MacArthur Beach State Park John U. Lloyd Beach State Park John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Key Largo Community Park Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park Long Key State Park Oleta River State Park Pinecrest Gardens San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park Sawgrass Sanctuary The Barnacle Historic State Park Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda floridastateparks.org/capeflorida floridastateparks.org/curryhammock floridastateparks.org/keylargohammock floridakeys.noaa.gov floridastateparks.org/forttaylor floridastateparks.org/hughtaylorbirch floridastateparks.org/indiankey floridastateparks.org/macarthurbeach floridastateparks.org/lloydbeach floridastateparks.org/pennekamp webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/lignumvitaekey floridastateparks.org/longkey floridastateparks.org/oletariver webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/sanpedro webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/thebarnacle floridastateparks.org/windleykey

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Cayo Costa State Park Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park Collier-Seminole State Park Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park Don Pedro Island State Park Estero Bay Preserve State Park Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park Gasparilla Island State Park Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park Koreshan State Historic Site Lake Manatee State Park Lee County Parks & Recreation Lovers Key State Park Mound Key Archaeological State Park Myakka River State Park Myakka State Forest Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest Oscar Scherer State Park Picayune Strand State Forest Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Stump Pass Beach State Park Sugden Regional Park

floridastateparks.org/cayocosta floridastateparks.org/charlotteharbor floridastateparks.org/collierseminole floridastateparks.org/delnorwiggins floridastateparks.org/donpedroisland floridastateparks.org/esterobay floridastateparks.org/fakahatcheestrand floridastateparks.org/gasparillaisland webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/koreshan floridastateparks.org/lakemanatee leeparks.org floridastateparks.org/loverskey floridastateparks.org/moundkey floridastateparks.org/myakkariver floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/myakka.html floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/okaloacoochee.html floridastateparks.org/oscarscherer floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/picayune_strand.html rookerybay.org floridastateparks.org/stumppass webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA Avalon State Park Blue Spring State Park Bulow Creek State Park Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park De Leon Springs State Park Fort Pierce Inlet State Park Gemini Springs Hontoon Island State Park Jonathan Dickinson State Park Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park Lake George State Forest Lakewood Regional Park Savannas Preserve State Park Seabranch Preserve State Park Sebastian Inlet State Park St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park Tiger Bay State Forest Tomoka State Park

floridastateparks.org/avalon floridastateparks.org/bluespring floridastateparks.org/bulowcreek floridastateparks.org/bulowplantation floridastateparks.org/deleonsprings floridastateparks.org/fortpierceinlet webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/hontoonisland floridastateparks.org/jonathandickinson floridastateparks.org/kissimmeeprairie floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_george.html webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/savannas floridastateparks.org/seabranch floridastateparks.org/sebastianinlet floridastateparks.org/stlucieinlet floridastateparks.org/stsebastianriver floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/tiger_bay.html floridastateparks.org/tomoka

Expedition Everest, Walt Disney World Resort (Visit Orlando CVB)

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem— Gru’s Lab (Universal Orlando®)

Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center (Tony Strong/Shutterstock)

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FLORIDA STATE PARKS, FORESTS & REGIONAL RECREATION SPACES

RESOURCE DIRECTORY

South Walton Artist of the Year, Alyson Craft (Tommy Crow)

The DalĂ­ Museum in St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area CVB)

Cycling on Daytona Beach (Daytona Beach CVB)

Omaka Rocka, SeaWorld Orlando (Visit Orlando)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park Colt Creek State Park Dade Battlefield Historic State Park Goethe State Forest Highlands Hammock State Park Lake Griffin State Park Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park Lake Kissimmee State Park Lake Louisa State Park Lake Wales Ridge State Forest Little Big Econ State Forest Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park Paynes Creek Historic State Park Rainbow Springs State Park Rock Springs Run State Reserve Seminole State Forest Silver River State Park Split Oak Preserve Wekiwa Springs State Park

floridastateparks.org/catfishcreek floridastateparks.org/coltcreek floridastateparks.org/dadebattlefield floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/goethe.html floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock floridastateparks.org/lakegriffin floridastateparks.org/lakejuneinwinter floridastateparks.org/lakekissimmee floridastateparks.org/lakelouisa floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/little_big_econ.html floridastateparks.org/lowerwekivariver floridastateparks.org/paynescreek floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings floridastateparks.org/rockspringsrun floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/seminole.html floridastateparks.org/silverriver webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/wekiwasprings

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA Alafia River State Park Anclote Key Preserve State Park Caladesi Island State Park Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park Crystal River Archaeological State Park Crystal River Preserve State Park Egmont Key Wildlife Refuge Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Fort Cooper State Park Fort Foster State Historic Site Gamble Plantation Historic State Park Hillsborough River State Park Honeymoon Island State Park Little Manatee River State Park Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site North Anclote River Nature Park Skyway Fishing Pier State Park Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park Withlacoochee State Forest Ybor City Museum State Park Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park

floridastateparks.org/alafiariver floridastateparks.org/anclotekey floridastateparks.org/caladesiisland webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/crystalriverarchaeological floridastateparks.org/crystalriverpreserve floridastateparks.org/egmontkey floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings floridastateparks.org/fortcooper floridastateparks.org/fortfoster floridastateparks.org/gambleplantation floridastateparks.org/hillsboroughriver floridastateparks.org/honeymoonisland floridastateparks.org/littlemanateeriver floridastateparks.org/madirabickelmound webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/skyway floridastateparks.org/weekiwachee floridastateparks.org/wernerboyce floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/withlacoochee.html floridastateparks.org/yborcity floridastateparks.org/yuleesugarmill

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Amelia Island State Park Anastasia State Park Big Talbot Island State Park Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park Cary State Forest Castaway Island Preserve Dunns Creek State Park Etoniah Creek State Forest Faver-Dykes State Park Fort Clinch State Park Fort George Island Cultural State Park Fort Mose Historic State Park Four Creeks State Forest Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve Jennings State Forest John M. Bethea State Forest Little Talbot Island State Park Matanzas State Forest Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park North Peninsula State Park Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest Ravine Gardens State Park River to Sea Preserve Washington Oaks Gardens State Park Welaka State Forest Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park

floridastateparks.org/ameliaisland floridastateparks.org/anastasia floridastateparks.org/bigtalbotisland floridastateparks.org/bulowplantation floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/cary.html webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/dunnscreek floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/etoniah_creek.html floridastateparks.org/faverdykes floridastateparks.org/fortclinch floridastateparks.org/fortgeorgeisland floridastateparks.org/fortmose floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/four_creeks.html floridastateparks.org/gamblerogers floridastateparks.org/georgecradybridge floridacoasts.org/gtm floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/jennings.html floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/john_bethea.html floridastateparks.org/littletalbotisland floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/matanzas.html floridastateparks.org/mikeroess floridastateparks.org/northpeninsula floridastateparks.org/olusteebattlefield floridastateparks.org/paynesprairie floridastateparks.org/pumpkinhill floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/ralph_e_simmons.html floridastateparks.org/ravinegardens webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/washingtonoaks floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/welaka.html floridastateparks.org/yellowbluff


FLORIDA STATE PARKS, FORESTS & REGIONAL RECREATION SPACES

Orlando Magic (Visit Orlando)

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park Big Shoals State Forest Cedar Key Museum State Park Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve Cofrin Nature Park Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park Dudley Farm Historic State Park Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail Econfina River State Park Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park Fanning Springs State Park Forest Capital Museum State Park Ichetucknee Springs State Park Lafayette Blue Springs State Park Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park Lake Talquin State Forest Lake Talquin State Park Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park Madison Blue Spring State Park Manatee Springs State Park Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park O’Leno State Park Ochlockonee River State Park River Rise Preserve State Park Ross Prairie State Forest San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park Suwannee River State Park Suwanne River Wilderness Trail Troy Spring State Park Twin Rivers State Forest Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park Wakulla State Forest Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park

floridastateparks.org/maclaygardens floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/big_shoals.html floridastateparks.org/cedarkeymuseum floridastateparks.org/cedarkeyscrub webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/devilsmillhopper floridastateparks.org/dudleyfarm floridastateparks.org/gainesville-hawthorne floridastateparks.org/econfinariver floridastateparks.org/wakullasprings floridastateparks.org/fanningsprings floridastateparks.org/forestcapital floridastateparks.org/ichetuckneesprings floridastateparks.org/lafayettebluesprings floridastateparks.org/lakejackson floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_talquin.html floridastateparks.org/laketalquin floridastateparks.org/letchworth floridastateparks.org/madisonbluespring floridastateparks.org/manateesprings floridastateparks.org/marjoriekinnanrawlings floridastateparks.org/naturalbridge floridastateparks.org/oleno floridastateparks.org/ochlockoneeriver floridastateparks.org/riverrise floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/ross_prairie.html floridastateparks.org/sanfelascohammock floridastateparks.org/sanmarcos fws.gov/saintmarks floridastateparks.org/stephenfoster floridastateparks.org/suwanneeriver floridastateparks.org/wilderness floridastateparks.org/troyspring floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/twin_rivers.html floridastateparks.org/waccasassabay floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/wakulla.html floridastateparks.org/peacocksprings

NORTHWEST FLORIDA Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Bald Point State Park Big Lagoon State Park Blackwater River State Forest Blackwater River State Park Camp Helen State Park Constitution Convention Museum State Park Deer Lake State Park Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park Eden Gardens State Park Falling Waters State Park Florida Caverns State Park Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park Grayton Beach State Park Henderson Beach State Park John Gorrie Museum State Park Oaks by the Bay Orman House Historic State Park Perdido Key State Park Pine Log State Forest Point Washington State Forest Ponce de Leon Springs State Park St. Andrews State Park T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park Tate’s Hell State Forest Three Rivers State Park Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Torreya State Park Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park

dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/apalachicola floridastateparks.org/baldpoint floridastateparks.org/biglagoon floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/blackwater_river.html floridastateparks.org/blackwatterriver floridastateparks.org/camphelen floridastateparks.org/constitutionconvention floridastateparks.org/deerlake floridastateparks.org/stgeorgeisland floridastateparks.org/edengardens floridastateparks.org/fallingwaters floridastateparks.org/floridacaverns floridastateparks.org/rockybayou floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach floridastateparks.org/hendersonbeach floridastateparks.org/johngorriemuseum webapps.dep.state.fl.us/DslParks/browse floridastateparks.org/ormanhouse floridastateparks.org/perdidokey floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/pine_log.html floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/point_washington.html floridastateparks.org/poncedeleonsprings floridastateparks.org/standrews floridastateparks.org/stjoseph floridastateparks.org/tarkilnbayou floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/tates_hell.html floridastateparks.org/threerivers floridastateparks.org/topsailhill floridastateparks.org/torreya floridastateparks.org/yellowriver

Fishing in Panama City Beach (Panama City Beach CVB)

The Tampa Theatre (Robert La Follette | RobertLaFollette.com) Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Tampa Bay (VISIT FLORIDA)

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RESOURCE DIRECTORY NATIONAL PARKS, MEMORIALS, MONUMENTS AND PRESERVES Much of Floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history is captured in its national parks, memorials, monuments and preserves and the National Park Service works hard to preserve it (nps.gov). SOUTHEAST & THE FLORIDA KEYS Biscayne National Park nps.gov/bisc Dry Tortugas National Park nps.gov/drto SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Big Cypress National Preserve nps.gov/bicy Everglades National Park nps.gov/ever CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA Canaveral National Seashore nps.gov/cana CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA De Soto National Memorial nps.gov/deso NORTHEAST FLORIDA Castillo de San Marcos National Monument nps.gov/casa Fort Matanzas National Monument nps.gov/foma Timucuan Ecological and Historic National Preserve, includes Theodore Roosevelt Area as well as Fort Caroline National Memorial and Kingsley Plantation nps.gov/foca NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA No national parks NORTHWEST FLORIDA Gulf Islands National Seashore nps.gov/guis Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (extends from North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida) nps.gov/guge

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MAJOR HOTEL CHAINS

WEBSITES

Best Western Hotels & Resorts

bestwestern.com

Cambria Suites

cambriasuites.com

Clarion Hotels

clarionhotel.com

Comfort Inn

comfortinn.com

Country Inns & Suites

countryinns.com

Courtyard by Marriott

marriott.com

Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts

ichotelsgroup.com

Days Inn

daysinn.com

Doubletree by Hilton

doubletree3.hilton.com

EconoLodge

econolodge.com

Embassy Suites Hotels

embassysuites3.hilton.com

Fairfield Inn & Suites

marriott.com

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

fairmont.com

Four Points by Sheraton

fourpoints.com

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

fourseasons.com

Hampton Inn & Suites

hamptoninn3.hilton.com

Hilton Garden Inn

hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

hilton.com

Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts

holiday-inn.com

Homewood Suites by Hilton

homewoodsuites3.hilton.com

Howard Johnson Hotels

hojo.com

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

hyatt.com

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

ichotelsgroup.com

JC Resort Condominiums

jcresorts.us

Knights Inn

knightsinn.com

La Quinta Inns & Suites

lq.com

Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts

starwoodhotels.com/LeMeridien

Loews Hotels & Resorts

loewshotels.com

MainStay Suites

mainstaysuites.com

Mandarin Oriental

mandarinoriental.com

Marriott Hotels

marriott.com

Quality Inn & Suites

qualityinn.com

Ramada Worldwide

ramada.com

Red Roof Inn

redroof.com

Renaissance Hotels

renaissance-hotels.marriott.com

Residence Inn by Marriott

marriott.com/residence-inn/travel.mi

Rodeway Inn

rodewayinn.com

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

starwoodhotels.com/sheraton

Sheraton Suites

sheratonsuites.com

Sleep Inn

sleepinn.com

Sofitel Luxury Hotels

sofitel.com

SpringHill Suites by Marriott

marriott.com/springhill-suites/travel.mi

Super 8 Hotels

super8.com

The Ritz-Carlton

ritzcarlton.com

TownePlace Suites by Marriott

marriott.com

Travelodge

travelodge.com

Trump Hotel Collection

trumphotelcollection.com

W Hotels

starwoodhotels.com/whotels

Walt Disney World Resorts

disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts

Westin Hotels & Resorts

starwoodhotels.com/westin


WEST PALM BEACH

TAMPA

TALLAHASSEE

SARASOTA

BOCA RATON

-

BRADENTON

201

-

45

CLEARWATER

239 45

-

DAYTONA BEACH

215 170 159

DELRAY BEACH

20

195 244 216

-

28

FORT LAUDERDALE

17

207 248 231 28

-

FORT MYERS

140 82

JACKSONVILLE

302 227 199 89

KEY WEST

195 353 394 408 213 178 271

494

-

MIAMI

42

343

153

NAPLES

118 119 160 241 131 104 37

317

234 107

ORLANDO

191 117 106 54

184 207 153

135

383 232 188

PANAMA CITY BEACH

519 367 327 331 541 535 445

261

696 558 479 334

PENSACOLA

613 461 421 425 626 628 539

355

790 652 573 428 103

ST. AUGUSTINE

266 211 185 53

38

458 307 286 100 292 386

ST. PETERSBURG

226 29

19

158 219 232 108

211

378 246 144 105 342 435 196

-

41

249 20

201

SARASOTA

197 12

57

183 193 201 70

240

341 214 107 130 380 473 223

41

-

287 54

172

TALLAHASSEE

427 275 235 233 435 442 353

163

604 466 387 242 98

249 287

TAMPA

217 41

191

385 247 155 85

WEST PALM BEACH

26

277

221 68

-

124 206 162 132

353 222 119 117 367 461 211

29

12

275 41

176

199

394 262 160 106 327 421 185

19

57

235 22

214

89

408 256 241 54

158 183 233 138

190

162

302

213 52

131 184 541 626 264

219 193 435 218

20

132

318

178 26

104 207 535 628 282

232 201 442 233

43

-

282

271 148 37

108 70

353 119

123

-

494 343 317 135 261 355 38

211 240 163 191

277

378 341 604 385

221

26

246 214 466 247

68

144 107 387 155

144

105 130 242 85

166

342 380 98

330

494

386

435 473 192 423

588

-

196 223 194 176

241

148

264 282 252

138 218 233 119

176 214 190 20

Polo match, Palm Beach (Steve Lash)

26

302 318 282

222 262 256 52

22

226 197 427 217

216 231 206

43

123

118 191 519 613 266

ST. PETERSBURG

ST. AUGUSTINE

159 244 248 124

PENSACOLA

227

PANAMA CITY BEACH

170 195 207 82

ORLANDO

195 42

NAPLES

302

17

MIAMI

JACKSONVILLE

140

201 239 215 20

KEY WEST

FORT MYERS

FORT LAUDERDALE

DELRAY BEACH

DAYTONA BEACH

CLEARWATER

FROM / TO

BRADENTON

BOCA RATON

MILEAGE CHART BETWEEN KEY FLORIDA CITIES

331 425 53

153 445 539 252

153 234 383 696 790 458 -

107 232 558 652 307 -

188 479 573 286 -

334 428 100 -

103 292 -

192 194

330 423 176

144 166 494 588 241

20

54

-

237

402

237

-

192

201 172 402 192

-

The new Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter (Palm Beach County CVB)

Indulge in a relaxing massage. (VISIT FLORIDA)

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

189


RESOURCE DIRECTORY CAR RENTAL COMPANIES

WEBSITES

BUS TOUR OPERATORS

WEBSITES

ACE Rent A Car

acerentacar.com

A.L.M. Transportation & Tours

almtransportation.com

Alamo Rent A Car

alamo.com

AMC Transportation

amctransportation.com

Auto Europe

autoeurope.com

Central Florida Tours

centralfloridatours.com

Avis Rent A Car

avis.com

Charter Bus America

charterbusamerica.com

Budget Rent A Car

budget.com

Classic Bus Lines

classicbuslines.net

Dollar Rent A Car

dollar.com

CM Tours & Travel

cmtoursandtravel.net

Economy Car Hire

economycarhire.com

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

enterprise.com

EasyShuttle

geteasyshuttle.com

E-Z Rent-A-Car

e-zrentacar.com

Empire Coach Line

empirecoachline.com

Florida Sun Car Rental

floridasuncarrental.com

Endeavor Bus Lines

endeavorbuslines.com

Fox Rent A Car

foxrentacar.com

Greyhound Lines, Inc.

greyhound.com

Global Rent a Car

interamerican-car-rental.com

Magic Carpet Ride

magiccarpetride.travel

Hertz Car Rental

hertz.com

Miami Coach & Tours

miamicoachtours.com

Honk Worldwide Car Rental

honkcarrental.com

Miami Jet Tours

miamijettours.com

National Car Rental

nationalcar.com

Need-A-Bus

need-a-bus.com

Payless Car Rental

paylesscar.com

Pegasus Transportation

pegasusbus.com

SIXT Rent a Car

sixt.com

Sawgrass Tours

sawgrasstours.com

Thrifty Car Rental

thrifty.com

Super Tours of Orlando

supertours.com

U-Save Car & Truck Rental

usave.com

USA BusCharter

usabuscharter.com

RV RENTAL COMPANIES

WEBSITE

Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Best RVs

americasbestrv.com

Camp USA Motorhome Rental

onfreewheels.com

Citrus RV Rental

citrusrvrental.com

Cruise America RV Rental & Sales

cruiseamerica.com

El Monte RV

elmonterv.com

Florida RV Rentals

floridarvrentals.com

Florida RV World

floridarvworld.com

Giant Recreation World

grwrv.com

Palm Beach RV Rental

palmbeachrvrental.com

RV Rentals of Orlando, Inc.

rvrentalsoforlando.com

Fishing in Panama City Beach (Panama City Beach CVB)

Cheetah Hunt, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)

190

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA


MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS IN FLORIDA CITY SERVED

PRIMARY AIRPORTS

WEBSITE

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB)

flydaytonafirst.com

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

fll.net

Fort Myers/ Naples

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)

flylcpa.com

Gainesville

Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV)

gra-gnv.com

Jacksonville

Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)

jia.aero

Key West

Key West International Airport (EYW)

keywestinternationalairport.com

Melbourne

Melbourne International Airport (MLB)

mlbair.com miami-airport.com

Miami

Miami International Airport (MIA)

Orlando

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB)

orlandosanfordairport.com

Orlando

Orlando International (MCO)

orlandoairports.net

Panama City Beach

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP)

iflybeaches.com

Pensacola

Pensacola International Airport (PNS)

flypensacola.com

Punta Gorda

Charlotte County Airport Authority (PGD)

flypgd.com

Sarasota

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ)

srq-airport.com

St. Augustine

Northeast Florida Regional Airport (UST)

flynf.com

St. Petersburg/Clearwater

St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE)

fly2pie.com

Tallahassee

Tallahassee Regional Airport (TLH)

tallahasseeregionalairport.com

Tampa

Tampa International Airport (TPA)

tampaairport.com

Valparaiso

Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS)

flyvps.com

West Palm Beach

Palm Beach International Airport (PBI)

pbia.org The Ocean Waters Spa in Daytona Beach (Daytona Beach CVB)

AIRLINE SERVICE TO FLORIDA FROM CANADA AND THE USA AIRLINES

WEBSITES

Air Canada

aircanada.com

Air Transat

airtransat.ca

AirTran Airways

airtran.com

Allegiant Air

allegiant.com

American Airlines/American Eagle

aa.com

CanJet Airlines

canjet.com

Delta Air Lines

delta.com

Frontier Airlines

flyfrontier.com

IBC Airways (VIP private jet charter)

ibcairways.com

JetBlue Airways

jetblue.com

Miami Air International

miamiair.com

Southwest Airlines

southwest.com

Spirit Airlines

spiritair.com

Sun Country Airlines

suncountry.com

Sunwing Airlines

flysunwing.com

United Airlines

united.com

US Airways

usairways.com

Virgin Atlantic

virgin-atlantic.com

Vision Airlines

visionairlines.com

WestJet

westjet.com

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

191


Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse (Jim Johnston/Palm Beach County CVB)

Florida

LIGHTHOUSES BY KATE POCOCK

ince most of Florida occupies a long peninsula that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico, the state has by far the longest coastline on the eastern U.S. coast. Most of the coast is low and sandy, broken occasionally by narrow inlets. Therefore, to ensure visibility from a distance, the Florida coast requires tall lighthouses. The Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA) works hard for the preservation of all the light stations. Florida has about 30 lighthouses, including several of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most famous light towers. Not all are open to the public. The following is a list of those people can visit, climb and access easily.

S

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA and THE FLORIDA KEYS Cape Florida Lighthouse in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park floridastateparks.org/capeflorida; key-biscayne.com/about/light.html Garden Key Harbor Lighthouse at Fort Jefferson National Monument: located on an island; part of Dry Tortugas National Park; good view available from top of the fort; grounds open, tower closed; access by ferry day trip only. nps.gov/drto Hillsboro Lighthouse: currently open to visitors eight times a year. hillsborolighthouse.org

192

2013 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum jupiterlighthouse.org Key West Lighthouse and Keeperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Quarters Museum| kwahs.com/lighthouse.htm

NORTHEAST FLORIDA Amelia Island Lighthouse: limited-access tours available first and third Wednesday of each month; property open to public for viewing on Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. fbfl.us

Loggerhead Key Lighthouse located on an island; part of Dry Tortugas National Park; access by private boat with permit. nps.gov/drto

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum staugustinelighthouse.org

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA

Boca Grande Lighthouse in Gasparilla Island State Park floridastateparks.org/gasparillaisland

St. Marks Lighthouse: located in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge; grounds open, tower closed. fws.gov/saintmarks

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA

Seahorse Key Lighthouse in Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge: open to the public during the annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival in October; accessible by boat. fws.gov/cedarkeys

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse on United States Air Force Base: must be a U.S. citizen to visit. canaverallight.org Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum ponceinlet.org

NORTHWEST FLORIDA

CENTRAL FLORIDA No lighthouses

Cape St. George Lighthouse seestgeorgeisland.com; stgeorgelight.org

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA Anclote Key Lighthouse in Anclote Key Preserve State Park: open on special occasions; accessible by ferry. floridastateparks.org/anclotekey Egmont Key Lighthouse in Egmont Key State Park: open on special occasions; accessible by ferry. floridastateparks.org/egmontkey

Cape San Blas Lighthouse: open for climbing on Fridays and Saturdays. visitgulf.com/cape-san-blas-lighthouse Crooked River Lighthouse crookedriverlighthouse.org Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum pensacolalighthouse.org



2013 Travel Guide to Florida