The Lincoln Road Antique Market Is Florida’s “One of a Kind” Place

floridatraveler Lincoln_Road_Antique_Market

Across Florida October means Florida’s extensive and popular flea markets are starting to expand as snowbird and vacationing vendors double the number of shops.  There are some great antique and collectible markets like Mount Dora, but to me nothing beats the bimonthly Sunday showcases on exclusive Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

The Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market attracts some 125 vendors who feature stock clothing, collectibles, and “one of a kind items” from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.  Vintage Gucci and Fiorucci clothing still on a table next to 1950’s early rock and roll 45s.

The entire western side of Lincoln Road from the 800 to 1000 blocks is turned into a laid back atmosphere that attracts buyers from across Dade County.  There are lots of Sunday restaurants along the way – even a sports pub to send away the menfolk for the NFL games.

Get there early.  You’ll find some of the top buyers arriving at 8 am since Lincoln Road is a good place to outfit your Art Deco Miami Beach condo with original pieces and funky furniture.

When are the showings?  You can go to their website or just circle October 26, 2014, and then jump every other Sunday all the way to May of next year.  The website is

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Florida’s Version of Clam Chowder Really Packs A Punch

floridatravelr MINORCAN CHOWDER

The oldest continuous families in Florida originated from the Balearic Islands.  Most arrived with Dr. Andrew Turnbull’s New Smyrna colony and moved north to Saint Augustine when Turnbull’s community folded by 1777.

Fishing and shop-keeping were major mainstay occupations of many Minorcans in North Florida so it was not shocking they merged Florida products with those from the Hispanic world.  Datil peppers were probably brought to Saint Augustine from Cuba.

The most notable use today of these peppers is in Minorcan clam chowder, which looks like Manhattan clam chowder until it reaches the back of your mouth.  The clams, tomatoes, corn kernals, and potatoes are power-zipped by the datil peppers.   Over the years tourists to the Oldest City became hooked on the dish – even New Englanders who’d never touch a New York chowder.   Saint Augustine became the world’s top producer of the datil pepper.

Chris Way, founder of Barnacle Bill’s Seafood place at 14 Castillo Drive, even started a commercial datil pepper under the Dat’l Do-It brand.  Minorcan chowder is a popular menu item at Barnacle Bill’s with locals and visitors.  They even put datil on their crusted fried shrimp.

My favorite St. Johns County chowder house is the no frills café called O’Steen’s at 205 Anastasia Boulevard.  There is something rustic and seaworthy to have clam chowder in an unfancy establishment.  Unfortunately, chowder lovers have found the place and it is usually packed.

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Florida’s Booming College Population Makes A Lot of #1s

Florida’s Booming College Population Makes A Lot of #1s.

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Florida’s Booming College Population Makes A Lot of #1s

floridatraveler ucf

It’s football season, a big time in the South, and a friend called me after hearing from a sports announcer that the University of Central Florida in Orlando was “Florida’s largest college.”  “Could this is true?” he asked.  More than you know.

Not only is in true but within a few years UCF will be America’s largest university. UCF ranks #2 behind Arizona State, but with 59,770 students and climbing, it will soon be tops.

The University of Florida (#8 at 49,042) is actually third behind Florida International University at #4 with 52,980.   The University of South Florida has more students than Florida State University, which at least can say they’re #1 in football.

The largest community college and educational school in the USA is Miami Dade College with 174,000 students on multiple campus locations.    The largest private university in the South is the University of Miami with 16,935 students.

Florida A&M University is the largest historically black university in the USA with 12,057 students in 2012.  Only two schools in South Africa have more black students in the world.  Florida is a higher education center when it comes to numbers.

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The Inside The Box Cafe Is Tampa’s Diamond in the Rough

floridatraveler INSIDE THE BOXa

Inside the Box resembles most of the fast service lunch spots on Tampa Street, Tampa’s downtown restaurant row.  Even many of the customers rushing in to get a one-half sandwich, one-half salad meal-to-go or one of the weekly specials do not know the success story of Inside the Box.

Every meal you purchase at this luncheon spot provides a meal for a person in need through Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries.  The idea for the restaurant came from Chef Cliff Barsi, a volunteer at Metro.

With a small grant and a lot of effort and community pride, Inside the Box has been a major success.  The management is by former Metropolitan Ministries residents and the staff are interns and graduates of Uplift U., a program to train current residents in the food industry.

The culinary arts program has been a shining star for the social entrepreneurship initiative at Metropolitan Ministries.   Besides lunch, the restaurant does a catering business.

How good is the food?  All you have to do is go online and read the raves at Yelp and Urbanspoon.

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Miami’s Latest Attraction Is An Engineering Landmark

floridatraveler Port_Miami_Tunnel

Open for just over a month, Florida State Road 887, better known as the Port Miami Tunnel, has become a tourist attraction.  While undersea tunnels of 4,200 feet are not unusual in other parts of the USA, this is the longest, most costly tunnel in Florida history.

In fact, if not for a short tunnel in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the most noticed tunnel in Florida allows drivers to go under Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World to arrive at the Contemporary Resort.  Florida is not designed for land-based tunnels.

This one billion dollar plus project is a unique public-private partnership (a P3) in which ten international banks joined to provide senior debt financing.   This is really a global project: 90% of the equity came from Luxembourg’s Meridiam Infrastructure Finance and 10% from France’s Bouygues Travaux Publics SA.

The project reveals how important the tunnel system is to not only the growth of the Port of Miami, but also reducing the congestion in downtown Miami.  The Port will now be directly connected to the east/west Interstate 395 and Interstate 95, a big boost to the thousands of trucks using the Port of Miami.

For Floridians, spending an entire sixty seconds driving through the fifteen foot high tunnels – “Trucks on the Right.” – is a thrill ride.  Four million cruise passengers will be using the tunnel this year to get to “the World’s Greatest Cruise Ship Port.”

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Pigeon Key Is A Unique Florida Keys Vacation

floridatraveler PIGEON KEY

Three million visitors vacation in the Florida Keys each year, most of them looking for a secluded island with a private beach and unique experiences.  Most of them drive right past or even bike right over Pigeon Key.

Four acre Pigeon Key was the work camp for 400 employees of Flagler’s incredible railroad to Key West and there are eight original buildings still on the island.  The Old Seven Mile Bridge, now used by bikers and hikers, does not connect to Pigeon Key.  You have to take a ferry from Knights Key to visit the island now administered by the Pigeon Key Foundation and Marine Center.

You can rent a guesthouse in a newly restored cottage or even rent the entire island for a wedding or a campground for 70 people.  But don’t expect privacy – there are historic tours everyday, a summer camp for kids,  and marine biologists doing their thing.

And don’t forget the thousands of people photographing the island as they speed down the Overseas Highway.

Still, staying at Pidgeon Key gives you your own private beach, small dock, snorkeling lagoon, and four acres to explore.  How many tourists can say they vacationed on their own island?

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