Florida’s Most Expensive Thrill Ride Costs $4,950 plus tax

floridatraveler ZERO-G

Summertime across the USA is the time people hit the thrill rides at amusement parks and beaches.  Florida has its share of traditional fun rides, but there is one experience offered in three locations that might be the the most expensive thrill ride in Florida.

Since 2004 ZERO-G has been flying customers in specially modified Boeing 727s to 34,000 feet at a 45 degree angle (1.8 Gs) and pushing over to produce 20 to 30 seconds of zero gravity.  Gently pulling out so people can stabilize on the aircraft floor, the pilots repeat the parabolic arcs 12 to 15 more times.

Flights can be booked (406-546-9345) for Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX) and Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) .  The firm also offers a Non-Flyer Guest Package for people who just want to watch their friends and family members do pre and post flight activities.

Besides the flight and special training, customers get their own ZERO-G flight suit, merchandise, a certificate of weightless completion, and photos and video of your experience.

If you own a business, you might want to spend $165,000 to take 35 employees or participates on a private charter ZERO-G Experience, taking off at Cape Kennedy Space Center.


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Florida Island Vacations Only Via A Ferry Boat

Florida Island Vacations Only Via A Ferry Boat.

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Florida Island Vacations Only Via A Ferry Boat

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There are hundreds of island resorts in Florida, but very few of them are only accessible by ferry or private boat.  Our choices here show the strange diversity of the remaining unattached island vacation choices.

FOR THE VERY RICH: You can almost swim over from South Beach to the expensive Fisher Island Hotel and join the 226 households on what was once the one-family island retreat of the Vanderbilts.  Fisher Island is the richest per capita island in the USA and staying here will make you feel you are Oprah Winfrey or Julia Roberts or Andre Agassi..

FOR THE SIMPLE ADVENTURER, we have the Pelican Inn on Dog Island on St. George Sound in the Panhandle.  There’s just eight small A/C kitchenettes, but you’re right on a beautiful, probably deserted beach.  Dog Island got famous when a You Tube group satirized Dog Island as a retreat only for dogs.  You can bring Fido to the Pelican but that will be $10 per day extra.

FOR THOSE WHO WANT PRIVACY, I suggest renting a beach house on Don Pedro Island, north of Boca Grande in Charlotte County.  Rental prices are incredibly low for modern vacation homes and condos, but you’ll need to ferry over all your food and drink. Part of the island is State Park, again accessible only by boat so your moonlit walks on the beach will mean you might be all alone.

FOR FAMILIES: (see photo) Just north of Don Pedro is Palm Island, with the southern part dotrted with beach homes and the northern half Palm Island Resort. There are condos and beachside villas of all sizes, but the resort has the Rum Bay Restaurant and Coconut Cafe for those who want to entertain others. And tons of recreation facilities and pools and boats to rent.


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Best Florida Snorkel Spots Outside the Florida Keys

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Some Florida visitors believe you have to go to the Florida Keys and even rent a boat to snorkel in Florida.  While it is true, Florida’s shoreline limits snorkeling locations, there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel off Florida beaches.

Here are our choices of the BEST SHORELINE SNORKELING SPOTS:

BATHTUB REEF PARK (picture) on the south end of Hutchinson Park in Stuart is a mile long, usually clear snorkeling fun place.  A short swim at low tide puts you in the best conditions for fish.

JOHN U. LLOYD STATE PARK in Dania Beach has a nice reef in front of Parking Lot 1.  You can even rent kayaks to explore the entire area.

The DATURA AVENUE SNORKEL TRAIL in Launderdale-By-The-Sea is well-marked with white buoys, but disregard the shipwreck myths about the site.

On the Gulf Coast South SIesta Key in Sarasota has a great spot just south of the CRESCENT BEACH ROCKS and a good but deeper location at Point of Rocks opposite Beach Access 12.

EGMONT KEY STATE PARK requires a snorkel boat trip to the island, but on some days the shallows by the old lighthouse make you think of the Bahamas.

The ST. ANDREWS STATE PARK jetties in Panama City have been a popular snorkeling area although the lack of dive buoy enforcement has been an issue.

The shallow sea grass beds of ST. JOSEPH BAY provide an exotic and different type of snorkeling.  The other snorkelers you’ll see will probably be licensed scallop collectors.



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The Best Florida Lighthouses To Visit

FHIC bocagrandelight

It’s summer in Florida and its the time the native Floridians really hit the beaches. Popular attractions are some of Florida’s surviving 30 lighthouses which are open to the public, thanks in part to groups like the Florida Lighthouse Associations.

The lighthouse was an important asset in protecting shipping along Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline. Boaters along the Keys know there are operational lighthouses still keeping ships away from the dangerous reefs. I prefer lighthouses I can visit in my car.

The Best Lighthouses To Visit: PONCE DE LEON LIGHTHOUSE (Daytona) is “Big Red”, at 175-feet and 213 steps, the active light is the second tallest brick light in the USA. There are also three keepers dwellings, an oil storage house, and a pump house to see.

CAPE FLORIDA LIGHTHOUSE (Miami) was rebuilt in 1846 after the Seminoles attacked it and with its Lighthouse Keeper’s Museum, is a great attraction at Bill Baggs State Park.

SAINT AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE (1871) resembles a 167-foot barber shop pole and is wonderfully haunted. Kids under 44″ are restricted from the 219 steps. Nice museum.

BOCA GRANDE LIGHTHOUSE (see photo) is unlike the others for it and its twin keeper’
s house are 44-foot white frame buildings, that survived 150 mph hurricane a few years back.

PENSACOLA LIGHTHOUSE is a 150-foot conical tower, white on the bottom and black on top. It is not only an active lighthouse – the U.S. Coast Guard will be your host.

KEY WEST LIGHTHOUSE is a 86-foot white conical brick tower used from 1847 to 1969 and open daily.

CAPE CANAVERAL LIGHTHOUSE is a 1848 masterpiece of 145-feet and 179 steps. You will need to contact Patrick AFB to take the Wednesday and Thursday full tours.

(This will be part of a series “BEST OF FLORIDA” seen at this blog at my other sites.)

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Florida’s First Controversial Film Is 100 Years Old

Florida's First Controversial Film Is 100 Years Old

The Florida Enchantment (1914, Vitagraph Company), Florida’s first controversial motion picture was distributed across the nation one hundred years ago.

Variety announced that “The picture should never have been put out.” Virginia Woolf loved the movie.

The film, based upon a 1891 novel and 1896 play by Archibald Gunter and Fergus Redmond, was a gender-bending comedy of manners in which a woman discovers magic seeds that transform women into men (and men into women) without seriously altering their outward appearance. The woman takes the seeds in response to her fiancee’s womanizing activities.

The male star and director of the film was Sidney Drew, uncle of John Barrymore, and the woman was played by Edith Storey. They would later team up in other film comedies. What is unusual was the controversial film about gender was that Drew directed the film in Fort Lauderdale. The movie industry had boomed in Jacksonville, but was slowly moving to California at this time.

The film would be very unpopular if shown on today’s screens since all the roles of African-Americans were played by whites in black makeup. Yet this lesser known movie is often shown today by women’s film groups for its study of female and male roles in society.

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St Pete’s Home Shopping Network Started With 112 Can-Openers

floridatraveler hsn-officeIn 1977 Lowell “Bud” Paxson, owner of WWQT 1470 AM Radio in Saint Petersburg had a problem – an advertiser dropped out leaving the station with 112 avocado green-colored can openers.

Paxson assigned his top on-air personality Bob Circosta three hours station time to unload the can-openers for $9.95 each. The can openers easily sold and Paxson realized the power of using the media for home shopping.

As a result of the can-opener crisis, Paxson and Roy Speer in 1982 started the Home Shopping Club, on a local cable channel in Pinellas County. The popularity of the televised sales pitch boomed and three years later the Home Shopping Network was offered to cable firms around the nation.

Bob Circosta was the original HSN selling over 75,000 different products in over 20,000 hours of live television for a value over “one billion dollars.” Circosta, who lives in Clearwater, now helps other firms make use of television and the social media.

With call centers all over the nation, a Spanish network, other electronic retail ventures, websites, and retail outlets, locals in Florida often forget HSN’s roots. Just off I-275 is the headquarters of HSN and their far-reaching studio and broadcasting facilities.

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