Small Town Weekend Trips: Dade City

I spent last weekend on a little trip from my home in Tampa to do some antique shopping in Dade City and eat at the famous Lunch at Limoges luncheon at the 1908 Williams Department store.  You are missing the Real Florida when you don’t visit a few of Florida’s wonderful small rural towns.

Dade City is a one hour drive north of the Tampa Bay area on I-75 at the FL 52 exit or an hour and a half from Orlando west of I-4 and northwest on US98 in Lakeland.

People coming from I-75 had the added treat on diverting North off Curley Street to see rustic downtown San Antonio with its old Catholic school and the 1913 St. Charles Inn, built by Charles Barthle for the long gone Orange Belt Railroad.

 Continuing east on FL 52 you reach the lakeside campus of St. Leo College started in 1890 as a monastery by the Benedictine monks. While St. Leo has a lovely school campus, the institution offers classes online all over the USA and on military bases.
You should stop at the  St. Leo Abbey Church (1948), a Lombardic-Romanesque structure with Indiana limestone trim noted for its famous interior and marble Christ crucifix. You’ll recognize the image as a replica of a certain controversial cloth in Europe.

pasco-st-leo-abbey-church-1936

St Leo Abbey: Please Go Inside

Stroll over to St Leo Hall (1915), a four-story concrete building designed by Brother Anthony Poiger. The new boys dorm was named for actor Lee Marvin, despite throwing a youth out a second-story window while a student in 1941. Across FL 52 is a rough trail which contains the Garden of Gethsemane (1935) leading to the Our Lady of Lournes Grotto.

CONTINUE EAST ON FL52 along Meridian Avenue into DADE CITY. If you like  Victorian masterpieces I would turn right on 15th Street and then left onto Church Avenue’s Historic District. At 37412 Church is the First Presbyterian Church (1894), a wooden Gothic, As you travel east along Church toward downtown, you can’t help to notice the fine Victorian houses and large yards that showed that in its agricultural days the town was quite prosperous with citrus and cattle.

floridatraveler DADE CITY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

CROSS 12TH STREET. The last house on the left, opposite the Gothic First Methodist Church (1889), built of heart pone and cypress by James E. Lee, is the Gray Moss Inn (1910), 37641 Church, the Mediterranean Revival Brummer House when President Calvin Coolidge lunched here in 1923..

FLORIDATRAVELER pasco dadec grey moss inn front

The Gray Moss Inn Minus Calvin Coolidge

TURN RIGHT ON MERIDIAN AND LEFT ON 9TH STREET to see the Edwinola Inn (1912), once a two-story concrete inn, now a large retirement center. RETURN TO MERIDIAN and TURN LEFT to reach the commercial district.   Like so many small Florida towns many of the old stores are now antique shops, filled with items you may not find in large towns.

As you CROSS 8TH STREET, on the left is the 1924 Coleman-Ferguson Store , Meridian Street. In 1884 Henry Coleman and William Ferguson started a store which promoted the tiny town. Next door is the Bank of Dade City (1917), a financial institution that did not survive the Florida Land Bust and became a store.

The stores on Meridian downtown are the oldest in town; the Treiber Building at 37846 was built in 1900 as a hardware shop.   More interesting is the Old City Hall , now a store, past the courthouse toward the Old Railroad Depot, a classic structure.

FLORIDATRAVELER PASCO COURTHOUSE

People coming from Orlando will arrive downtown on 7th Avenue (US301) and should park to tour the downtown antique shops.  The center of town is the Pasco County Courthouse (1909), a two-story brick Beaux-Arts classic by Artemus Roberts. The nearby 1921 band-shell is a landmark.

 WHERE TO HAVE LUNCH: After a visit around Historic Downtown Dade City, you will hopefully have reserved a spot at (20) LUNCH ON LIMOGES , 14139 South Seventh Street, a wonderful bistro located in the middle of the 1908 O. N. WILLIAMS DEPARTMENT STORE. People travel for miles to eat here. In your downtown travels you will find other restaurants and even a tea house.

FLORIDATRAVELER pasco pecan grouper at limoges

I Had The Pecan Grouper

After downtown VISIT THE Pioneer Florida Museum (567-0262), four miles north on US301. You’ll love the 1864 Trilby Depot, the 1864 Overstreet House, the Lacoochee School, and the Enterprise Methodist Church.

FLORIDATRAVELER pasco 1860 john overstreet house pioneer museum

The Overstreet House Furnished Like 1860

There is a complete packing plant and a collection of some of the finest Victorian carriages and a unique oil carriage which supplied area farmers. ADMISSION is charged.  NOTICE:  The cows and horses surrounding this quiet spot are now part of the museum – they are real Dade City residents.

 

Posted in attractions, dining, Florida Food, florida history, florida vacations, food, Historic Buildings, Historic Hotels & Inns, mcbobleonard, museums, Restaurants | Leave a comment

Products and Industries You Don’t Identify With Florida

When you say “Florida products” to most Americans, most will think oranges and grapefruit, perhaps winter vegetables, motor homes and trailers, and lots of beach items like boats and water skis.  Florida’s economy is much more diverse today and some things are just unusual.

 CAVIAR production in Russia has been so seriously crippled by pollution, poaching, and huge prices that other places in the world are raising sturgeons. One of those places is Florida where Russian sturgeons grow in farms like the Ever Farm in Pierson and Healthy Earth in Sarasota.  With Florida’s fancy touristy restaurants there is an instant market for Florida’s eatable black gold.  One day Florida might produce more caviar than mother Russia.

floridatraveler CAVIAR

 PRIVATE AIRPLANES are made in Florida by firms like Piper and Embraer (a Brazilian firm).  Florida has more business jets than England, France, and Japan combined.  Only monster Texas with its oil guys has more private jets. There are 87,000 Florida workers in 2,000 aviation and aerospace firms.

FLORIDATRAVELER john travolta house and airplane

Plane is in: John Travolta is home.

           Many of the 80,000 servicemen stationed in Florida leave to join these firms. Airplanes have to be serviced, tested and get new parts.  There are even airplane oriented residential communities in Florida where pilots like actor John Travolta fly up to his front door.

NUDIST COLONIES are part of Florida’s economy. Florida is the center of nudist colonies in the United States with the headquarters of the American Association for Nude Recreation in Kissimmee, just minutes down the road from Walt Disney World. Lutz (Pasco County) is sometimes called “the nudist capital” with its many camps, including the 111 acre resort complex at Lake Como.  Most Floridians do not know that Haulover Beach near Miami Beach was voted one of the ten best nudist beaches in the world.

FLORIDATRAVELER lake-como-a-family-nudist

Lake Como Nudist Has RV and tents, motel and condos etc

IT EQUIPMENT is associated with California, but the first mass personal computer started in Boca Raton (IBM PC).  Florida has 4,200 digital media firms, 14,100 software companies, large photonics clusters, 300 MST centers, and 7,300 telecom firms since Miami is a center for communications with Latin America.

FLORIDATRAVELER TECH DATA clearwater IT

Tech Data Complex Is Huge

          Tech Data, started in Clearwater, Florida, in 1974 by Edward C. Raymund is the largest distributor of IT products and services in the world.  It is Florida’s second largest public corporation.  Jabil Circuit of Saint Petersburg is the third largest contract manufacturer in the world, with 175,000 employees in 90 plants in 23 countries.

FLORIDATRAVELER DESERTE MORMON RANCH

On The Huge Mormon Ranch

CATTLE RAISING began in Florida in 1521 before any other state existed and Florida has the third largest number of cattle of any state each of the Mississippi. Florida is a cow-calf state raising a million calves each year to be shipped to Western states to fatten up.  The largest brood cow herd in the nation is the Deseret Ranch outside St Cloud and it is owned by the Mormon Church.  There are 125,000 milk cows serving the state.

THE WINE INDUSTRY started in Florida outside Tallahassee by Frenchman Emil DuBois in 1890. Prohibition and disease ultimately ended Chateau Du Bois, but his White Chateau won awards and spread across the South fostering a Southern wine industry.   By the end of World War II the wine industry started again in Florida and now contains 27 wineries, 12 major vineyards open to the public, and 8 pick your own grapes places.

FLORIDATRAVELER Lakeridge_winery_vinyards1_sm

Vineyard Outside Clermont, Florida

In 2010 Lakeridge Winery garnered 42 medals from eight different international competitions including the Los Angeles Wine Competition, where the Sunshine State has made giant inroads.

SALES AND RENTAL CARS crowd the highways of Florida.  On a busy weekend night in South Beach the majority of the automobiles on the streets are rentals.  With little long range public transportation, Florida is a drive-happy consumer state.  Florida doesn’t make cars, but we certainly buy and rent them.   The largest auto retailer in America is Fort Lauderdale’s AutoNation which also owns a few rental car firms like Alamo, National, Value, Spirit, and Snappy.

FLORIDATRAVELER autonation fort lauderdale

Home To America’s Global Auto Dealer

    Founded in 1996 by H. Wayne Huizenga, who once started a company called Blockbuster, AutoNation is spreading across the globe.  Not bad considering Huizenga started his entrepreneurship with a small waste one truck disposal firm called Republic.  Speaking of rental cars, I should mention that Hertz now makes its headquarters in Estero, Florida, population 18,000.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE is a major part of the $150 billion in goods that flow into and out of Florida’s seven large hub airports and its many ports.  Miami is 11th in the world in cargo, but when one looks at Miami’s location, it is clear Miami is the airplane gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.  It is international trade, not domestic, that fills up the Florida trade cash register, which includes $73 billion in merchandise exports.

FLORIDATRAVELER international trade

Florida Is The Start of Our Latin American Trade

ALLIGATOR HUNTING is not a major industry in Florida, but I thought some of you might be wondering about the reptiles.   You must be licensed but you don’t need a hunting license since most people use a snare and even a big knife.  If you shoot a gator, it will sink into the muck.  Gator meat is more profitable today than alligator hides.  When is the last time you saw someone with alligator shoes or purse?

 

Posted in attractions, business, environment, florida history, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, travel | Leave a comment

Things In Florida That Scare Visitors: Fact and Fancy

As a person who writes blogs and articles about Florida, I get a lot of emails about whet people like and don’t like about my state.  It may shock some of you that there are people in the USA who not only haven’t visited the Sunshine State, they are afraid to visit here.  Here are some of the major Florida fears:

Ask people from other states what they dislike about Florida and many will say “hurricanes.”  I once met a lady from Oklahoma who told me that she liked to visit Florida, but not in the hurricane season.  It scared her.  I should have asked her how many days does she have to get ready when a tornado appears on the Tulsa radar screen.  Most Floridians know that living next to the beach may mean packing up the automobile and hoping your house is still standing when you return, but I find that safer than living on a California earthquake fault.

FLORIDATRAVELER HURRICANE -hurricane-fran

This Is Hurricane Fran

Hurricanes have always played a big part in Florida history.  Oddly most people associate hurricanes with Florida’s summer months, but Florida’s biggest storms have come in September. In 2004 four major hurricanes hit Florida: Charley (Punta Gorda August 13); Frances (Stuart September 5), Ivan (Pensacola September 5) and Jeanne (Stuart again September 25).  The routes of Frances and Charley would cross at a point along US27 at Avon Park.  I drove past and could see all the trees bent one way on one side of the highway and bent the opposite way on the other side.

High Humidity:  Visitors always tell me they couldn’t live in Florida in the summer because of our high humidity.  We don’t hide the fact that Florida has a humid subtropical climate.  Appropriately, a Florida doctor John Gorrie is noted as the first inventor of air conditioning way back in the 1851.  The good news is that when there is sweltering summer heat we head to our oceans, lakes, and rivers with nice breezes.

FLORIDATRAVELER HUMIDITY -nov-warm-pattern

Of America’s big cities,  Jacksonville (74.3% average humidity) ranks second to New Orleans in average humidity with Orlando 4th (74.1), Tampa 5th (74.1), and Miami 8th (73.2).  Gainesville (74.4%) is our most humid city but it ranks only 67th of all US cities with 50,000 or more people.  It should be noted that when there is a huge national heat wave it is people in the slums of New York, Chicago, and Detroit who are dying.  Floridians have fans if they have no air conditioning.

Sharks:  Florida is the “shark bite” capital of the world, but globally there are only 98 shark attacks reported each year with an average of six fatalities.  We humans kill between 30 and 100 million sharks per year so it is a good thing no shark is reading this book.  Florida has more shark attacks than California and Australia for we have relative warmer water and swimmers in huge numbers all year around.

FLORIDATRAVELER shark and man

I Suggest You Avoid Doing This

          You are 132 times more likely to drown on a Florida beach than tangle with a Florida shark.  Heck – you are 391 times more likely to be killed in a Florida boating accident.  But if you really want to lower the odds of meeting a Florida shark, here are some pointers: don’t surf or swim out to sandbars. Avoid murky waters.   As a resident of Tampa, I suggest you go to the Gulf of Mexico since the shark attacks since 1882 favor Atlantic Ocean beaches 10 to 1 in shark attacks over the Gulf.

Alligators:   Gators are twice as likely to eat you in Florida than sharks.  The death of a two year old boy at the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World created global headlines.  A “Do Not Swim” sign clearly did not concern a family from gator-less Nebraska, but most Floridians know male alligators during mating season from April to June are more aggressive, will roam across golf courses let alone vacation parks, hunt at night for food, and even ignore their natural fear of humans.   There are more shark attacks per year than gator attacks in Florida, but a gator attack is slightly more likely to result in death.  A gator bite is almost twice as strong as the bite of a great white shark.   Fortunately 95% of those attacked escape or at least that are the odds of the people we know were attacked.

FLORIDATRAVELER ALLIGATOR postcard

Floridians Usually Laugh At These Dumb Posed Cards But …

          Considering the fact Florida has 20 million people and 1.25 million alligators, it may shock you there have been just 24 alligator deaths since 1973.  Most years incidents of gator bites number less than a dozen.   To improve these odds, I highly recommend: never feed any alligators, never swim at night in any freshwater Florida lake or river, and never wander off a swampy trail into tall grass.  Few alligators have practiced jumping up at people in trees like alligators at Florida gator zoos, but alligators can move faster than you for thirty yards.

Coral Snakes and Rattlesnakes:  Florida is a warm place so it is home to lots of not nice snakes.  In the last five years there were 42 snake bites in populous Southeast Florida – 21 by water moccasins, 11 from coral snakes, 3 from pigmy rattlesnakes, 2 from eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, and 5 unknown.  No one died. Most were camping or fishing in the Everglades.  When I looked up the number of people who died of snakebites in the United States, I discovered there were no coral snake deaths or Florida deaths in the last ten years and all the deaths were by rattlesnakes, mostly in rural areas of the Western United States.  It was then that I realized Florida is quite urban and access to a hospital with anti-snake venom explains why few people will die of snake bites in Florida.  I have never seen a coral snake or a rattlesnake except in a cage in fifty years.

There are some things you should fear more than the above:

Lightning Now here is a Florida danger that tourists forget.  Central Florida between Tampa and Daytona Beach is the “lightning capital of the USA.”  Lightning is more fatal than hurricanes since we now can predict the latter days before the storm’s arrival. Since 1953 hurricanes have killed 216 people in Florida, but lightning has killed 468 people.  82% of all those struck by lighting are male because golf, fishing, and boating are the major activities of people while getting hit by lightning.  What makes lighting so dangerous in Florida is that it often precedes the arrival of rain by several miles.  If you see a dark cloud coming toward you in the distance, get out of the water or the open field and head for cover.

FLORIDATRAVELER lightning at disney

Bad Bugs:  People who fear bugs are not likely to love Florida.  There is a reason that some bug men here drive a Lexus.  Visitors don’t want to hear about scorpions and black widow spiders.  We have three of the former and two types of the latter.  Florida scorpions can not deliver a fatal sting.  The spiders are more painful.   People who leave their backyards with debris or put their garden gloves and sneakers on an open back porch are giving these little creatures a place to nap until nightfall.  I have never seen a live scorpion in my fifty plus years in Florida.

FLORIDATRAVELER mosquitoes dept of health ad

If you are on a hot Florida beach at noon and you feel a sharp bite on the back of your neck, don’t blame mosquitoes.  Those nasty long-legged uglies rarely attack in warm sunlight.  Mosquitoes are just one of three blood-sucking flies that can ruin your day.  Lousy biting midges, also known as sand flies or no-seeums do attack people, but mainly hit at dusk and dawn.  The probable bad insect in this case is the stable fly (or dog fly), a light colored house fly that likes to dive bomb people even on warm days.  If you see these guys around you, pick another spot on the beach.

For most Florida visitors, the bugs will be your biggest complaint.

 

 

 

Posted in adventure vacation, conservation, environment, florida education, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, Recreational Experiences, travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

March Is Flower Blooming Season In Florida

March is perhaps the best season to visit Florida’s dozens of beautiful, flowering parks from Jacksonville and Pensacola to Miami and Naples.  There is a great diversity of plants in March in Florida which is famous worldwide for its azalea gardens this time of time.

Begonia, bougainvillea, roses, gardenias, hibiscus, oleanders, and camellias all have their March fan base.  Other visitors want to see the flowering trees like the jacaranda, royal Poinciana, white champaca, and, of course, cherry trees.

Here are my favorite major gardens for March:

BOK TOWER GARDENS (Lake Wales) is unlike few gardens in the United States.  Built up on the Florida peninsula’s tallest hill in 1929 by journalist Edward Bok, Bok Tower Gardens is topped by a masterpiece 205-foot art deco Singing Tower carillion.  The 157 acres contain winding paths along small ponds and exquisite views of the tip of Florida’s Central Highlands.

floridatraveler-bok-tower-gardens-expansion

Bok Tower’s gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr who did the Jefferson Memorial, the Biltmore grounds, and Rock Creek Park.  Also on the grounds are the 8 acre 1930 Pinewood Estate and the Pine Ridge Trail, once a chain of islands 298 feet above sea level.

MARIE SELBY BOTANICIAL GARDENS (Sarasota) has nine acres of orchids, bromeliads, and tropical plants on an incredible nine acre garden on Sarasota Bay.  There is a lovely museum and plant research center as well as seven large greenhouses the home to dozens of unique plants.

floridatraveler-marie_selby_gardens

Down A Quiet Path In Sarasota Just A Few Feet From US41

ALFRED B. MaCLAY STATE GARDENS (Tallahassee) is a 308-acre estate built in the 1920’s by New York sportsman Alfred Maclay and later donated to the State of Florida.  March is azalea blooming time and thousands flock to see the lush foliage and plants around the lakeside park.  I love the dogwood trees here in the Tallahassee Hills.

floridatraveler-maclay_gardens_state_park

In complete contrast is the MORIKAMI JAPANESE GARDENS (Delray Beach), a 200-acre masterpiece and gift of Japanese farm leader George Morikami.  With lovely bonsai gardens, waterfalls, and ponds with arched bridges, it is one of the most romantic sites for outdoor weddings in Southeast Florida.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The end of March is a major tourist time at Morikami for it is the blooming of the cherry trees.  I noticed Melanie Trump visited last week for ideas for the new wing of the White House gardens.

foridatraveler-wedding-at-morikami-museum-and-japanese-gardens

The Japanese Gardens Make A Great Wedding Site

If you want to take a driving tour of rugged terrain or at the opposite side of the spectrum, hike up and down hills and take swinging bridges than RAVINE STATE GARDENS (Palatka) is your place.  The 1.8 mile loop around the gardens which are near the St. Johns River is unlike any other gardens I have visited in Florida.

floridatraveler-ravine-gardens-state-park

Rugged Terrain At Ravine Gardens

March is the time when the 100,000 azaleas at Ravine Gardens are in bloom as well as the flowering trees.  This popular spot started in 1933 as a Civilian Conservation Corps project.

 

Posted in attractions, conservation, environment, florida history, Florida parks, Historic Buildings, mcbobleonard, Recreational Experiences, travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Florida’s Biggest Stadium Does Not Have A Football Field

Spring training is just around the bend in Florida and I’m teaching a class as an adjunct in the building almost next door to the largest spring training stadium in the Florida Grapefruit League, George Steinbrenner Park, spring home of the New York Yankees.

Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Florida

Florida’s Biggest Spring Field Has Exact Yankee Stadium Field Dimensions

I’m getting out at the time the spring games start in Florida so I just realized I might have to consider a new route home to avoid a traffic delay on busy Dale Mabry Highway.  The oldest spring training facility anywhere is down in Bradenton – beloved MeKechnie Field (1923) now used by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It’s been renovated twice but not moved from what is now a residential neighborhood.

floridatraveler-mckechnie-field-bradenton

Bradenton’s MeKechnie Field (1923) Is The Oldest

Floridians love their sports stadiums but the largest stadium is not a football stadium.  It is the second largest sports facility in the United States – the Daytona International Speedway with a capacity of 167,785 seats.   As you probably now suspect the nation’s nation stadium is the Indianapolis Speedway.

floridatraveler-daytona-speedway

This Is Florida’s Largest Sports Stadium

College football stadiums beat professional football stadiums in Florida.  Ben Griffin Stadium, seating 88,548 and home to the University of Florida Gators, is the largest football stadium.  Their rival Florida State University plays at Doak Campbell Stadium, capacity 79,560, second in size.

floridatravele-ufla-ben-hill-griffin-stadium

The Home of the Gators

The largest professional football stadium is Hard Rock Stadium (once known as Sun Life Stadium), capacity of 78,468, home of the Miami Dolphins.  But it is also the playing field of the University of Miami.  The stadium is not in the City of Miami, but in Miami Gardens.

When the Orlando City Soccer team started play in the 1936 Florida Citrus Bowl (capacity 70,158), they were playing in the large professional soccer field in the nation.

floridatraveler-soccer-citrus-bowl

Look Carefully, Folks, Floridians At A Soccer Match?

You could argue that stadiums tell you football rules over baseball in the Sunshine State.  The largest professional baseball stadium is domed Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins, with a capacity of just 36,742, and the Tampa Bay Rays play in another indoor field, Tropicana Field with the smallest (31,042 seats) in the MLB.

floridatraveler-marlins-park-baseball

Florida Baseball Is An Indoor Sport – The Marlins

Professional Basketball is competitive size wise in Florida.  The Miami Heat’s downtown American Airlines Arena was a capacity of 21,000, just 1,000 more than the Miami Magic’s Orlando Amway Center.

At the college level Florida State University’s Donald L. Tucker Arena with 13,800 seats is the fourth largest in the powerful ACC with has Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, seating 35,446, the nation’s biggest college basketball site.  Then I discovered that tiny Jacksonville University is playing games in the Jacksonville Memorial Auditorium which fits 14,091 seats.

Professional Hockey is doing near capacity business in a state where no lakes freeze over. The largest hockey rink is the BB&T Center in Sunrise, home of the Florida Panthers.  It’s official capacity is 20,737.

SONY DSC

Guess What Sport Are These Skybox Fans Watching?  See below

But not all stadiums in Florida showcase the biggest team sports.  The Gainesville Raceway, now known as Auto Plus Raceway, is a quarter-mile drag strip surrounded by 30,000 seats and VIP Skybox Suites which you associate with a football stadium.

floridatraveler-gainesville-dragstrip

Gainesville and the Gatornationals Are A Dragstrip Showdown

Tennis is still popular in Florida and the Tennis Center at Crandon Park is not used for other sports.  It has a capacity of 13,800 seats so it resembles a basketball arena.

floridatraveler-tennis-center-at-crandon-park

The Tennis Center At Crandon Park – Williams Sisters Turf

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in attractions, environment, florida history, Florida parks, Historic Buildings, Recreational Experiences, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Art Festival Time In Florida

February and March are big months for huge outdoor art festivals in Florida.

Last weekend was one of my favorite events to visit – the 20th annual art festival in downtown Dunedin.  Main Street was filled with artists and craftsmen from all around Florida and all over the United States. This small town has the ideal location for the park with the artists is surrounded by good restaurants, even some that accept pets.

It is an expensive investment to come to Florida and exhibit at the art festival circuit.  There is a processing fee at each fair, strict requirements for quality photographs of samples of your best work and one of your outdoor exhibit tent, usually limited to 10 feet by 10 feet. If you are accepted and there are no guarantees, you must pay entry fees.

While the larger fairs have several thousand dollars in prizes, the real reward is finding customers and that requires knowing the Florida market.  There may be more upscale buyers in Mount Dora and Winter Park or Palm Beach or Sarasota, but your art work might find a major niche with nature lovers and outdoor people anywhere.

Here are some of my favorite art shows coming up in the next few weeks:

floridatraveler-naples-art-show

The Naples Show Surrounded By  Royal Palms

The Naples National Art Festival (February 18 & 19) fills Cambier Park with 260 exhibitors in the heart of prosperous Naples.  The art market here is traditional and more upscale than most Florida festivals.

floridatraveler-key-west-art-old_island_days_art_festival_key_

Fish, Boats, and Sunsets Sell Best in Key West

If you prefer a more funky exhibition of boat and landscape paintings than the Old Island Days Art Festival (February 25 and 26) in the heart of Historic Old Town in Key West is the place to go.  It is a tropical themed show of only art work, no crafts.

On March 3 and 4 in Fort Lauderdale is the 29th Annual Las Olas Art Fair with over 200  artists lining Broward County’s best boulevard for shops and restaurants.

Across the state on March 4 and 5 is the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts now located on the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.  327 exhibitors pack the grounds next to the Tampa Museum of Art.

floridatraveler-gasparilla-art-festival

Big Money and Big Buildings Highlight Gasparilla Art

The big prize money recruits not just highly successful artists, but many massive and unusual exhibits.

There is little protection from the sun at Gasparilla, but that is not the case with the Under The Oaks Art Festival on March 10 to 12 held in scenic Riverside Drive in Vero Beach.  This show attracts 215 very competitive artists and artisans.

floridatraveler-vero-beach-art

Vero Beach Artists Get Oak Tree Shade

 

 

If you prefer to catch some sun on the beach, you can do that at the 29th Annual Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center Art Fest held right off South US Highway 1 at Juno Beach.

floridatraveler-palm-beach-med-center-art-fest

Palm Beach Art On Beach (David R. Randall)

Whatever the environment – riverside or beach side, urban or rural – the quality of art work at these winter shows seems to get more impressive every season.

 

 

 

 

Posted in attractions, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, Recreational Experiences, travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Can You Tell A Real Floridian From All the Visitors and Newcomers?

This is the time of year when Floridians feel they are outnumbered on the highways and stores by visitors and “snowbirds.”

I know some people don’t like that term.  Texas calls them “winter Texans” and that’s OK with me.  But dozens of winter people belong to clubs using the term, including some 100,000 Canadians that are now enjoying our beaches and attractions.

If you wonder if we Floridians can tell apart the natives from the visitors  now that rental cars don’t use special plates that benefit our criminal crowd – the answer is a big, fat YES.  Just like a Parisian can tell the Americans as they walk past the cafes, Floridians can be distinguished from our visitors.

floridatraveler-sarasota-gator-and-tourist

Funny But Elderly Floridians Would Never Sit Here

Here are some observations I have made while living in “The Warm Winter Weather State” since 1961:

When we Floridians enter a large parking lot, we know where the few shady spots are located and if there is no decent shade, we park our cars facing  away from the sun. If we have a sun shade, it will be silver and custom fitted.

We only smile when a tourist bitches about the heat in July, particularly if they are spending a mint at Walt Disney World.

Unless it is frigid cold, we wear flip flops to nearly every occasion. 

floridatraveler-florida-gators-women-s-thong-flip-flop

When we hear lightning even if it is far away, we are the first to run for cover.  I don’t care if there isn’t a cloud above our heads.

floridatraveler-lightning-at-disney-article-disney-1-0703

This Is Not Disney’s New Nighttime Production

Floridians won’t accept an invitation in the summer to go to Walt Disney World unless your visitors have reservations for a window seat at California Grill about the time the Magic Kingdom is closing.

Floridians won’t leave their beach vacation when they hear a hurricane has entered the Eastern Caribbean.  We got a day or two of nice weather and can get home in a few hours.

floridatraveler-summerheat

You Decided To Vacation In July – Hot Rain Hot Rain

Floridians don’t foolishly jump off a pier without looking.  I can’t list all the living things that like the shade of a pier.

floridatraveler-jump-off-a-pier-eckerd-college

At Least This Is Saltwater – No Gators

Floridians do not feed seagulls or pelicans especially if we are at a family picnic.

We are the first to head in the opposite direction when we see an alligator on the pathway in front of us.

floridatraveler-biker-and-gatorsfloridatraveler-biker-and-gator2

Isn’t That Jud’s bike and Mary’s?

We will look bored when people start talking about how things are done elsewhere.  After-all,  you came to Florida – we didn’t go where you came from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in disney, environment, florida education, florida history, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, Walt Disney World, wdw | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment