Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Great State of Florida


The Great State of Florida


While Florida may be a sunbathers and theme park lovers paradise, hidden gems tucked away along the state’s coasts and in between await visitors from both near and far.  Whether travelers have just a few hours or a few days, there is something to entice everyone.

Nature lovers will find canoeing along the Loxahatchee River at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, FL, just north of Jupiter, FL, making for a peaceful afternoon.  After a relaxing day on the river, guests can spend the night in one of the cabins available for rent.  For those who love nature, but are looking for an experience in the water, look further north to Fort White, FL.  Just six miles long, the Ichetucknee River is famous for its premier activity of tubing.  Visitors can bring their own tubes, or rentals are available at private vendors near the park.  Guests can also snorkel, scuba, swim, and hike among other activities.

There are also attractions for people who are looking to have a close-up encounter with living creatures.  Considered the first undersea park in America, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park provides scuba and boat tours in addition to its most famous activity of snorkeling.  At mile marker 102.5 on the Overseas Highway heading though the Florida Keys, the park is located on the northernmost key of Key Largo.  Folks who prefer to be a bit further from the crowd, but still close enough for viewing, Blue Spring State Park in the central Florida city of Orange City is a designated Manatee Refuge and growing home to West Indian Manatees.  While swimming with the manatees is prohibited, visitors will find plenty to do among the spring’s crystal clear water.

Florida is also home to a few landmarks.  Among the hidden jewels is Bok Tower and Gardens in Lake Wales, FL, a National Historic Landmark.  With gardens, trails, and butterflies, nature can be viewed at its best in this Central Florida attraction.  For a more hands-on visit, guests can golf, dine, stay or do all three at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL.  Top off a visit here with a hands-on cooking class taught by the Biltmore chefs.  Both adults and children can take classes designed for all levels.

Foodies are also welcomed in the Sunshine State.  The Reef Restaurant in Vilano Beach, FL (just north of St. Augustine) provides incredible views of the ocean as diners nosh on delectable dishes.  Sundays are known for the fantastic brunch served, and diners can opt to sit on the outdoor patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  For a grand view of the gulf coast while dining on delicious seafood or steak, stop in at The Breakers in Panama City Beach, FL.  Dine and enjoy a beautiful sunset on the west coast of Florida.  For a taste of Europe without having to fly across the Atlantic, enjoy a bit of Germany right here in Florida.  The famous Hofbräu Bier is served in two locations at opposite ends of the state.  Along the southeast coast, guests will find the Hofbräu Beer Hall in Miami Beach.  Northwest visitors can visit the Hofbräu Beer Garden in Panama City Beach.  Each location serves five of the most popular Hofbräu brews, and offer authentic German dishes.  And finally, enjoy fresh fruit, homemade jams and jellies, and incredible milkshakes made with fresh fruit at Robert Is Here fruit stand in Florida City, FL.  The Key Lime milkshake is a treat!  Local musicians provide live entertainment on weekends during the winter months.

Whether it is nature, historic parks and landmarks, or just a good meal, from coast to coast Florida has something for everyone.

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