The Best Alternative Beaches In Florida: Not Here, But Try There

Famed Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said that “no one goes to that (place), it’s too crowded.”

That is the problem of many of Florida’s top beaches – if you don’t get there early, you might not get a decent parking space.  These famed beaches are also usually filled with people, screaming kids, and blaring music. As I get older, I don’t like such crowds.

So here are some ideas for visiting nearby alternative beaches that offer almost the same quality beach and accessories (food, parking, drink) but with less crowds and often less price tags.

On Miami Beach, every tourist thinks of South Beach – it’s the Malibu of South Florida minus the mountains and surfboards.  It is great to walk the boardwalk, look at the models in volleyball tournaments, and take in the cafes. After all that if you want a huge, wider beach – try Haulover Beach Park.   WARNING: it has a nude beach section.

On Key West, most arrivals pass huge Smathers Beach with its restrooms and recreation rentals by the dozens.  It is free but the water is shallow and dusty.  If you want to avoid the crowds and snorkel in the rocky parts, the beach at Fort Zachery Taylor State Park is hidden from a lot of Key West first timers.

floridatraveler KEY WEST FORT ZACK PARK

This Key West beach (Fort Zack) is a calm treat.

Some people love the pier, the automobiles, the action of Daytona Beach although  I am not a big fare of hard, wet sand.   You get the same beach without the crowds and noise to the north at New Smyrna Beach and there are neat shops and food spots to visit.

floridatraveler NEW SMYRNA BEACH

Where are the cars?

Palm Beach has a narrow beach with very limited access for visitors and little parking. If you can’t get invited to a tycoon’s beach party, I suggest you travel north to John D. MacArthur State Park, the only state park in Palm Beach County.  Besides the natural beauty of the dunes and sands, there is a great rock reef offshore for divers.

floridatraveler John D MacArthur Beach

John D. MacArthur State Park

Sanibel Island is wonderful as a beach spot if you staying in one of the island’s tropical resorts, but it has its serious shortcomings for walking for food.  I prefer the lovely but small Captiva Island Beach, whose only shortcoming is limited parking.

floridatraveler CAPTIVAL ISLAND best

For people who want a more action-filled beach, you should go to the Times Square section on north Fort Myers Beach.  But if you want a South Sea Islands isolated beach spot, you should wander around the beaches at Lovers Key State Park, an island further south.

Everyone will tell you the best beach in the heart of the Suncoast is Siesta Key in Sarasota County and I will NOT reject that headline, but if you don’t like the crowds of families and activities, drive southward.  Crescent Beach has the same cooling white sand and more privacy.


Point of Rocks at Crescent Beach on Siesta Key

And there is a great bonus here for at the southern end of Crescent Beach is Point of Rocks, one of the best snorkeling spots on the Florida Gulf Coast.

 Clearwater Beach has been voted the best urban beach in the nation, but the parking lots are crowded and the crowds soon fill Pier 60.  If you arrive early and want to park next to the best grouper sandwich restaurant and the 1930’s beach pavilion, turn north until you see the park next to the Art Deco hotel.  This North Clearwater Beach spot is best.   #mcbobleonard  #florida  #beaches


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Budget Guide To Dining Outdoors at Walt Disney World

March and early April are the best months to visit Walt Disney World due to reasonably mild temperatures, the lowest humidity of the year, and a low probably that your expensive day will be ruined by heavy rains.

The parks will still seem crowded and the newer attraction like Toy Story will require FastPass to ride. If you wait until August 29 when the Star Wars section opens with about 50% of the planned activities, they might have to close Hollywood Studios by noon.    WDW couldn’t afford to wait until December to cash in on the audiences.

Most of you will correctly expect that few outdoor sections of expensive table service restaurants will be booked and most of the better counter service places with outdoor seating will be crowded.   This is about less expensive meals with neat views.

What do I do when I visit WDW?  How about a relaxing fifteen-minute boat ride away from the noise of Magic Kingdom and eat lunch with a scenic lakeside meal?   Take the small launch at the boat docks that sails to Wilderness LODGEDon’t worry: they don’t check tickets or Magic bands – WDW would actually like some park guests to eat lunch at the half-empty hotel spots.


A view that doesn’t seem like crowded WDW

From the wharf at the Wilderness Lodge, head for the rustic resort, but don’t go inside. Walk around the pool area toward the Wilderness Villas on the left side of the complex. There lakeside is the open-air covered Geyser Point Bar and Grill, open for lunch, dinner, and wonderful sunset views of Bay Lake, the only natural lake at WDW.

FLORIDATRAVELER geyser-point-bar-and-grill2

The place accepts some Disney dining plans and serves the burgers, sandwiches, salads, and kids meals as well as alcoholic drinks.  The view is so relaxing, few people are watching the sports events in the bar television.

With all the new attractions, including the Mickey Mouse movie opening this summer in the Chinese Theater, Disney Hollywood Studios will be crowded.  The counter service places are generally poor.  One of the best restaurants is the expensive Hollywood Brown Derby, a replica of the lost California landmark.


Look for the maroon umbrellas around 11 am

But notice the maroon umbrellas to the right on the restaurant entrance.  The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge opens at 11 am and serves more than just dozens of cocktails. It has the famous Cobb salad, Derby sliders, cheese boards and lush desserts.

It also has a wonderful view of the people in the Main Square.

FLORIDATRAVLER flame-tree-barbecue-seating-2-600x465

Animal Kingdom has a lot of outdoor fast food spots, many with little cover from the sun.  If you have kids – the best food and the chance of a table by the River is found at the Flame Tree Barbecue.  Ribs, chicken, pulled pork, salads, kids meals with beer and cocktails in a wooded picnic sitting.

FLORIDATRAVELER Tiffins_Restaurant_Animal_Kingdom

This spot becomes a riverside lounge-restaurant at night

But there is a secret spot.  A great evening spot for adults is The Nomad Lounge, almost hidden behind the expensive Tiffins Restaurant.  This porch overlooking the exotic Animal Kingdom River serves small plates like truffle poutine and wagyu beef sliders.

It’s a lounge so the beer, wine, and cocktail menu is vast.

Disney Springs has an incredible amount of good restaurants and none of the inexpensive counter service spots have A+ outdoor locations.  So where do I do?  I walk ride down the wharf between the Amphicar and the at upscale Boathouse Restaurant to the bar with table seating at the end of the wharf.

FLORIDATRAVELER -boathouse-at-disney

With a nice lake view of all of Disney Springs as well as the boat-cars going past and the huge collection of antique boats, I can order a beer and a dockside bucket of clam strips or shrimp or something from the main menu.

I must admit that outdoor dining at Epcot is poor since restaurants dominate the lake front.  The best seating at a counter service place is to come early to the outdoor Mexican spot: grab a table and get someone to buy the margaritas and the tacos.

FLORIDATRAVEER La-Cantina-de-San-Angel-3

Good seating at La Cantina fills up quickly!

The best waterfront outdoor spot of the expensive table service spots is the seating right by the water at England’s Rose and Crown.

Have a happy “outdoor dining experience” at WDW!

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Small Town Florida At Its Best: Dade City

Last week I took my annual trip up to Dade City.  The more I visit Florida’s small towns, the more I realize how much of Florida’s personality an charm is lost of tourists who jam into the booming coastal resorts and amusement parks.

 DADE CITY, capital of Pasco County, is named for Major Francis Dade, who with 110 other soldiers was slain December 28, 1835, in a Seminole ambush. The founding of Fort Dade at Lachoochee protected homesteaders in the region but it wasn’t until the arrival of the railroad in 1884 that the present-day Dade City boomed. Judge Samuel Pasco was U.S. Senator when the county was established in 1887.

Most travelers will exit I-75 some thirty miles north of Tampa and drive eastward. It’s worth the stop to visit the historic village of San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO, five miles to the west, was started in 1881 by Edmund Dunne, former Chief Justice of Arizona Territory and lawyer for land baron Hamilton Disston who gave Dunne 50,000 acres for his legal services. Dunne set up a refuge for Irish and German Catholics.

pasco san antonio st charles inn 1913b.JPG

Five miles east, TURN LEFT (north) ON CURLEY STREET (FL 577),  Just north of this intersection is the 1913 ST. CHARLES INN, a double-balconied two story built by Charles Barthle to serve the Orange Belt Railroad. It was for years  a bed and breakfast now and while it is a beautiful building, it is now for sale as subdivisions have surrounded it..

Return southward and go left on Pennslyvania Avenue; on the left is the SAN ANTONIO CITY HALL (1933),32819 Pennslyvania Avenue, a stone W.P.A. building which originally contained the city council, police, and fire departments. Across  BICENTENNIAL PLAZA, a European style park with a Memorial to Dunne, a nifty bandstand, and recreation facilities. The town’s RATTLESNAKE FESTIVAL is held here. It was the center of the Catholic community when Dunne developed the colony.

pasco san antonio 1885 arnade 219 n main

The Arnade House

South ON MAIN STREET, lined with old Victorian frame houses,  My biased favorite is the ARNADE (1896), 219 Main St., residence for years of Dr Charles Arnade, editor of Latin American Review and my Latin American history professor..

On the south side of the park is a stone grotto and statue to St. Anthony next to the ST. ANTONIO CHURCH (1911), a twin-towered stone church replacing the 1883 original. Next door is the SAINT ANTONY SCHOOL (1922), begun in 1883 when Mrs Cecilia Morse invited the Benedictine Sisters to the village. The school and church are among the olest Catholic centers on Florida’s West Coast.

pasco san antonio 1911 st anthony of padua hall inside

Inside Padua Church

You can join FL 52 at College Road and travel east. TURN LEFT ONTO THE CAMPUS OF ST. LEO COLLEGE, started in 1890 as a monastery by the Benedictine monks. While St. Leo has a small school campus, the institution offers classes online and in person all over the USA and on military bases.  The main attraction on the west side of campus is

ST. LEO ABBEY CHURCH (1948), a Lombardic-Romanesque structure with Indiana limestone trim noted for its fine interior and marble Christ crucifix. Go inside and you’ll recognize the image as a replica of a certain controversial cloth in Turin.

Stroll around the beautiful campus and walk down to Lake Jovita.  It is one of Florida’s most scenic colleges.   Lee Marvin and Desi Arnez went to school here.

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St Leo Abbey

Five miles down  along Meridian Avenue into DADE CITY. The area west of downtown has many streets with Victoria masterpieces so a little block by block driving is in order for people who love well-preserved residences.

TURN RIGHT (south) ON 15TH STREET and TURN LEFT onto Church Avenue’s Historic District. At 37412 Church is the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH(1894), a wooden Gothic, the site of Central Florida Normal College.  As you travel east along Church, you can’t help to notice the fine Victorian houses and large yards.  The RAYMOND-WARD HOUSE at 37335 has a huge wrap-around porch.    The BAPTIST CHURCH was moved here from across town in 1910.

Church Avenue is filled with notable houses: JAMES KNOX WARD HOUSE (1892), at 37805 Church, on the southside. is a classic Victorian house, home of a blacksmith who became Mayor from 1903-1904. His wife took in boarders at the house..  The ROBERT ROSS-LARKIN HOUSE (1882), 37603 Church, was once a three room cottage. Cattleman William Larkin, who introduced the Santa Gertrudis strain to Florida once  at 37604 is the JOHN W. PLATT HOUSE, used as the district Methodist parsonage from 1894 to 1905.lived here.  The Dutch Colonial style of the KNIGHT HOUSE (1900), at 37508 Church, is unusual for the area.

The entire block has older homes but on your right at the end of the block is the 1888 JASPER CARTER HOUSE.  As you travel toward downtown Dade City, you will be impressed with the homes.  Note the  Gothic FIRST METHODIST CHURCH (1889), built of heart pone and cypress by James E. Lee, is the GRAY MOSS INN (1910), 37641 Church, a Mediterranean Revival house when President Calvin Coolidge lunched here in 1923.

pasco dade city at the gray moss inn chucrh st

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. As you CROSS 8TH STREET, on the left is the 1924 COLEMAN-FERGUSON DEPARTMENT 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  HALL, now a store, past the courthouse toward the OLD RAILROAD DEPOT. It is a classic structure.

pasco dade city lunch at limogues interior 2019

Lunch on Limoges Is Behind The Store

You have reached 7th Avenue (US301) and should park to tour the downtown antique shops and visit the ) PASCO COUNTY COURTHOUSE (1909), a two-story brick Beaux-Arts classic by Artemus Roberts. The 1921 bandshell is a landmark.

Going to Dade City not only antiquing but also having lunch and most famous is   (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.

If you can’t get into Limoges or want a bigger menu, there is KAFE KOKOPELLI at 37940 Live Oak, located in a converted Ford motor building.  Beware: it has a huge stuffed wild animal collection, including a tiger and a black panther.

If all of this is not enough, after downtown visit 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. 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.

It is one of Florida’s best heritage museums.  ADMISSION is charged.  #mcbobleonard #florida  #dadecity



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The Saltwater Crocodile Is Florida’s Least Known Local Resident

Florida has l.5 million American alligators and as saltwater intrusion continues in the Everglades, the activity of transporting wandering gators from South Floridians’ swimming pools and backyards has increased as gators move northward.

There are so many gators that there is a hunting season (with limited licenses) – you hunt with spears since a shot reptile might sink into the swamp’s muck.  Most professional hunters use the hides and sell the meat to seafood restaurants.

There is another prehistoric creature that is slowly moving northward and most Floridians have never seen one.

Florida’s saltwater crocodiles, most living until recently on the tip of the Everglades away from populations, are rare sights.  Crocs are Federally and state protected and only number around two to three thousand in numbers in Florida.

FLORIDATRAVELER oceanside -crocodile-sightings-20180125

It May Seem Strange to See An Oceanside Croc Capture

It should also be noted that the American crocodile, unlike alligators, tries hard to avoid people and is less aggressive.  Most research on crocs have taken place in the Cape York Peninsula of Northern Australia where the saltwater crocs number 100,000, but reside far from large populated areas and are studied under more natural habitat.

In recent years, however, the Florida crocodile is moving into the Florida Keys, killing small pets and scaring people.  Part of the problem is the reality that the canals in the Keys are saltwater and people often swim in the canals – and they even swim at night when crocs and gators (who can tolerate salt water for a few days) are hunting.

FLORIDATRAVELER Nile croc seen in Florida crocodylus_niloticus6

Nile crocs are very imposing …

At present, Florida authorities will remove the crocs and move them back into the Everglades, but there are more limited locations to place them since throwing crocs in with gators is not a good idea.

Even of more concern to some Floridians is the discovery of some Nile crocodiles in Florida. These are large reptiles whose behavior in Florida’s animal population is not researched.  Florida is not Africa.

As climates change slowly around the globe, there is reason for Florida scientists to be on the look out for more exotic species from the Caribbean, South America, and even Africa.   #mcbobleonard

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Floridians and Visitors Love Florida Food Festivals

With mild weather and little rainfall this time of year is a great time for one of Florida’s favorite outdoor activities – food festivals.

In the summer almost every Panhandle town has a seafood festival and in the fall Walt Disney World’s Epcot houses the gigantic Wine and Food Festival, which erases the notion that the Fall is a more quiet time to visit Orlando.   In the late winter and early spring, Southeast Florida, however, holds the most food festivals.

If you like celebrity chefs and simply decadent cuisine and wild tastings, you’ll need to get tickets for the 18th Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival, a five-day event starting February 20 this year.  SO big it is sponsored by  the Food Network, Cooking Channel, and Food & Wine magazine.

FLORIDATRAVELER south beach wine and food

Over 100 food events at South Beach Wine & Food Festival

While some of the social events will break most bank accounts there are dozens of events around Miami that will cost under $100 and make your dining friends envious.  The Festival attracts some 60,000 people and presents over 100 events that raise millions in funds for charity.

If casual food is your thing, there are two food festivals in March that honor Florida’s favorite transplanted sandwich – the Cuban sandwich.  On March 2, at Kissimmee’s beautiful Lakeside Park, the 4th Annual Kissimmee Cuban Sandwich Festival will bring the top sandwich makers together in competition.

FLORIDATRAVELER cuban sandwich festival

Orlando and Tampa have Dueling Cuban Sandwich Contests

There will be music, food of all types, and an attempt to oust the 161-foot long Cuban sandwich made by the Latin Times Media of Tampa.  And guess what?  On March 30, the Orlando winners will be facing the Tampa restaurants in the International Cuban Sandwich Festival at the Centro Asturiano in Ybor City. Some 100 food booths, live music, dance performances, and art will celebrate Florida’s Latin heritage.

More in line with the major Florida image is the 43th Marathon Seafood Festival, held this year on March 9 and 10. Some 20,000 visitors from Miami to Key West pour into the Middle Keys to consume huge amounts of stone crabs, spiny lobster, shellfish, and seafood.

FLORIDATRAVELER marathon seafood fest

An Ocean of Seafood At Marathon Seafood Fest

Marathon Community Park is filled with some 220 vendors and even if you don’t like seafood, there will be plenty of other selections.  For a small town, this festival is amazing!

The Bacon and Bourbon Fest in the Wellington/ Delray Beach area May 22 and 23 at the Wellington Community Center is a rather unique food blend.  The number of bacon and pork-related food selections almost matches the huge selection of bourbon and whiskeys to select.

There’s even bacon ice cream for the kids.  I’ll pass on that one.

FLORIDATRAVELER bacon-bourbon-fest-pictures-20160316

April is the time for some historically large but different food festivals.  On April 5, Fort Lauderdale’s famous Las Olas Boulevard is closed so some seventy of South Florida’s most notable restaurants entertain in the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival.

This is an adults-only event costing $130 to $150 for the American Lung Association.  That price allows you to buffet away for five blocks of food and wine samples by some very expensive restaurants which may cost you that much for a full meal in just one.

I must say that A Taste of Saint Augustine held at the Amphitheater on Saint Augustine Beach April 28, is a more family-oriented affair, held in the daytime, but the diversity of cuisine from some twenty-five local restaurants is wonderful.

FLORIDATRAVELER a taste of st augustine

You purchase $1 “taste-tickets” and run around like a kid on Halloween.  There is music and activities for the entire family.




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In Winter Florida Really Loves Its Manatees

This is the time of year when Floridians, snowbirds, and visitors alike head to the warmer waters of springs and electric plants and even nuclear plant complexes to watch our favorite manatees.  While people call manatees sea cows, the female is the cow and the male the bull.

You can see them all year long in Florida waters and salt water bays, but in winter the West Indian manatees and their young gather in sometimes very large numbers in warmer waters.  I think we get so excited about this because we realize that it is essential for the manatees to seek out warm waters for their mere survival. Manatees have a hard time surviving water temperatures under sixty degrees.

Manatees usually swim alone or in pairs and occasionally in an aggregation, which is a group of around six of the gentle creatures.  To see dozens together is a rare except when the water temperatures start to drop to the lower sixties.

floridatraveler manatees at big bend

Tampa Bay is 56 degrees so the manatee head to Big Bend and warmer waters

It is difficult to not like the manatee, of which about 7,000 exist in Florida. Their survival is still endangered by changing world temperatures, speedboats, and possible diseases.  They are non-territorial herbivores that seem to except snorkelers and scuba divers provided you don’t touch them or get between the mothers and calves.

Where are the best places to find large numbers of manatees?

 TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach is where I take my visitors since I reside in Tampa and Northerners are surprised that manatees would hang out in a huge industrial complex like the Big Bend power plants.

The best place for winter visitors to snorkel and swim alongside manatees is at the Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, 90 miles north of Saint Petersburg. The large spring area can get pretty bust with fishermen, boaters, and dive boats.

floridatraveler manatees crystal river west indian manatees

Normally underwater visitations with manatees is not promoted in Florida but the area’s experienced divers assure people are not trying to feed the manatees or interrupt their slow, casual wanderings around the warm springs.

Down in Southwest Florida the Lee County Manatee Park in Fort Myers offers a front row seat of manatees seeking warm waters.  Prior to the park, people required a good canoe or kayak trip around Lovers Key State Park or a tour boat up the Caloosahatchee River to appreciate the large numbers of manatees in the region.

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Manatee Park in Fort Myers

in Miami cooler weather seems to send the manatees southward toward the Florida Keys, but I have been told that some brave manatees are seen in Oleta River State Park and along the Miami River. In summer manatees are all along the canals of Coral Gables.

 The large manatee groupings are found at the power plant locations by the Atlantic.  West Palm Beach’s Manatee Lagoon is by the Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy plant of Florida Power and Light.

floridatraveler west palm beach manatees

Palm Beach County Manatees Love Warm Waters

This is a real viewer friendly spot with a two-story museum, a gift shop, a snack center, and even a manatee webcam if it’s too cool outside the building.   There are dozens of programs for people wanting to know more about Palm Beach water life.

Equally interesting is the Manatee Observation and Education Center at Fort Pierce on Moore’s Creek on the Indian River Lagoon near the big power plant.  The neighboring Lisa’s Kayaks will put you into the middle of the action.

floridatraveler manatee view fort pierce stand

Of course, Florida’s many warm springs have waters over the 70 degree mark and are always popular with tourists.  I think Homosassa Springs (the river) and Blue Springs at Orange City are great spots for a nature trip.

So when it gets cold in Florida – give the manatees a little love.  #florida  #manatees




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Trip Idea: Take A Ferry In Florida

When my family first came to Florida, we landed at Tampa Airport, rented a car, went over the causeway and then “took a ferry” across the mouth of Tampa Bay from Saint Augustine to Bradenton.

Today, the “second” Sunshine Skyway bridge has long eliminated the ferry, but you can take some interesting trips – long and short – by ferryboat in Florida.  Some of the craft may resemble more speedboats than the old fashion ferries, but the feeling of a seaward trip is still an exciting addition to a vacation..

People in Southwest Florida (Fort Myers and Marco Island) and Key West share the Key West Express, a three-hour cruise between the three locations. The route skirts the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands.

floridatraveler key west ferry

Blasting Along the Gulf and Fort Myers Beach

Travelers can spend the entire day visiting the sites of Key West or relaxing on some of the best beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.  The jet-powered catamarans ships are large vessels that offer a bar and food galley, flat-screen televisions so you miss no sports, and an open-air sundeck for those who want a tropical tan.

We all know that Miami is the “cruise capital of the world” but it might also be the ferry trip center of the nation.  FRS-Caribbean offers a fast $69 cruise from Miami to nearby Bimini island in the Caribbean.  You can also obtain use of the facilities at the Hilton resort in Bimini.

floridatraveler miami to bimini _frs-caribbean-san-gwann_c575987430

I wouldn’t worry about the waves of the Atlantic for the HSC San Gwann is a 170-foot long 400-passenger catamaran that makes the 50-fifty trip in two hours.     You get seven hours to visit Alice Town to enjoy the beaches and outdoor facilities or else visit some of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite dives and seafood spots.

floridatraveler fisher island ferry

While we are in Miami, I should mention the most exclusive ferry ride in Florida – the short sail from South Beach to Fisher Island on the Fisher Island Club Transportation Ferry Service.

 The bad news is this is a private ferry that will accept you only if you have made hotel reservations or are visiting some of the exclusive island’s famous celebrities or millionaires.  I’ll let you look up the costs of staying here.

The Biscayne Xpress is the water taxi for Miami and Miami Beach and for $30 daily ticket you can spend the entire day cruising from the Bayfront shops to the Hyatt on the Miami River to South Beach and other popular attractions.

floridatraveler miami watertaxi

Florida is dotted with islands which require a ferry ride to visit.  Here in Tampa Bay day-trippers have two great options.  You can ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park to Caladesi Island, the #7 beach in the USA in 2018.

floridatraveler caladesi ferry

During your four hour stay you can hit the warm waters, rent a kayak for a mysterious trip into the interior swamplands, or rest on three miles of pristine beach without sight of the high rises of Clearwater Beach to the south.

Another favorite ferry ride is leaving the huge Fort DeSoto County Park, an attraction of beach and Spanish-War fort in itself, to go to Egmont Key island.  The 25-minute trip puts you at the entrance to Tampa Bay on an island with a 150-year old lighthouse, the ruins of Fort Dade, and other buildings.

floridatraveler egmont key from air

The island is a great place to go shelling, snorkel in clear waters, swim, or explore the interior where huge tortoises roam.  You will note that on weekends Egmont is surrounded by private yachts.  #florida  #trips  #ferry  #vacations


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