Florida Is Ousting Changing Clocks To Get More Sunshine

Florida lawmakers in the Sunshine State want snowbirds, tourists, and residents to get more “sunshine” on their vacations.

The bill called the “Sunshine Protection Act,” would ask the United States Congress to give the state permission to make Daylight Saving Time permanent year-round. The bill passed the Florida Legislature with little opposition.

FLORIDATRAVELER the sunshine state postcard

Hawaii and Southern Arizona already got Congress to allow them to stay on Standard Time.  Hey!  These are tourist rivals of us Floridians!

The Florida change has its opposition particularly since Panhandle Florida would no longer be in a different time zone and would be two hours off nearby Alabama six months of the year. I guess it would tell people in Pensacola to stay in state to shop.   It might also solve the issue of Miami newsmen declaring Gore the winner in Florida before the polls closed in the Panhandle where Bush got 60% of the vote.

FLORIDATRAVELER warm weather in florida

To be truthful it was a Saint Petersburg tourist promoter/newspaper guy in the 1880’s that coined the idea that Florida was “the Sunshine State.”  It was the start of a winter honeymoon of Northerners coming to Florida by train.

In reality some six states, including Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico have more days of sunshine than Florida.  BUT Florida has the highest average temperature of any state, including Hawaii.

Colorado (45.1 F), Nevada (49.9 F) and New Mexico (53.4 F) are not exactly the best places to wear a bathing suit in January.  Perhaps Florida should be renamed “the warm weather state” for that is why we get more winter visitors than any other state.

FLORIDATRAVELER Florida is further south than california

Look at how far south Florida is vs California and how far West

Any change in time in Florida will have a big impact on scheduling sports events in Florida if you want them to reach Eastern Standard Time audiences.  But if you take a look at Florida on a map – you will notice Florida is actually a most western state.  Are we Floridians really in the Southeastern USA?

Miami (80-11-38 degrees W) is further west than Pittsburgh, PA (79-59-46 degrees W) and Pensacola (87-13-0 degrees W) is almost as far west as Chicago (87-37-47 degrees W).

FLORIDATRAVELER Southernmost-Point-64154

Thanks to millions of Key West visitors who photograph the marker, most people know Florida is the southernmost spot in the Continental USA.  Only Hawaii is further South.

But did you know that Florida’s most northern spot (Fernandina Beach at 30-66-96 degrees N) is further south than San Diego (34-09-28 degrees N).  Heck, we in Florida think of California is a Northern state.

The Pacific water at Santa Monica Pier averages 59 degrees F with a high of 66 degrees in July.  Miami Beach is 71 degrees in January and 86 degrees in July. Only San Diego can hit that 71 degrees in mid-August.

FLORIDATRAVELER dog days of summer florida huskies

Those Beach Party Bingo kids should have been wearing wet suits when they made that movie in November.

The only trouble with this sun and temperature stuff is after many years residing  in Florida your blood system seems to thin and you start complaining when the temperature drops into the 60’s.   Florida kids wonder if school will be cancelled everytime a cold front hits the state.  That’s Florida for you.

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Old Florida Attractions Can Be Refreshingly New

Before the Mouse and Harry Potter and all the robotics, there were Florida theme parks and large attractions that featured Florida’s natural beauty – its climate and its fauna and flora.  Many of those Floridana sites are gone or replaced – like Legoworld replacing Cypress Gardens. Legos don’t water-ski too well.

Fortunately, many of them have survived or have been rescued by the State of Florida and turned into state parks less expensive but still natural attractions.   Spring time is a wonderful time to visit parks and outside sights, but the crowds at the big parks of Florida are overbearing and prices are at their max.

Here are some less crowded more natural attractions you might want to visit in Florida:

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Located fifty miles north of Tampa off US19, Homosassa Spring is a natural spring with the remains of a large animal zoo and one of the first floating observatories to see the springs and the mix of fish.  It is still a wonderful place to see manatees.

floridatraveler HOMOSASSA MAP

When I first visited it years ago Ivan Tors, the TV producer of shows like Flipper, had some of his star attractions here.   I went face to face with Gentle Ben (I mean real name Bruno), the star of the movie and TV show.  In the book Ben was supposed to be a brown bear in Alaska, but Ivan moved the scene to a friendly black bear in the Florida Everglades.


The Wonderful Fish Bowl with Manatees

Bruno and Tors are gone, but Lu the hippopotamus that grabs full heads of lettuce like an NFL tight end is still performing, and the park has a nice, peaceful river trip from the entrance on US19 to the site. I have seen white-tailed deer, river otters, and gators along the route of crystal clear waters.

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs, just off I-75 in Ocala, was Florida’s first natural tourist attraction for steamboats in the 1880’s came from the St. Johns River to the Ocklawaha to the Silver River to visit the deep and beautiful springs.  Since the state took over in 2013, the animal attractions are gone, but the famous glass-bottom boats are still operating.

floridatraveler Silver_Springs_State_Park_

The Springs has a museum and environmental center as well as campgrounds and ten luxury cabins.  The area is filled with wild boars, white-tailed deer, armadillos, and gopher tortoises.

floridatraveler the monkeys on island

Monkeys Say: “Get Off Our Island Unless You Bring Food!”

You can canoe or kayak along some of the best scenery in Florida.  The colony of non-native rhesus macaques are still on Monkey Island making a commotion.  They are probably mad that they were put there in 1938 by a tour boat operator, who promoted them as cast members of a Tarzan movie.  It has been revealed that the film never used any monkeys so “movie stars they are not.”

Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee State Park is located off US19 in Spring Hill, north of Clearwater, and is famous for the underwater mermaid shows in the beautiful Weeki Wachee River.  Being closer to larger populations, the p[ark maintains a water park called Buccaneer Bay and several animal attractions.

floridatraveler mermaid show

While first time visitors should see the mermaid show, a creation in 1947 by stunt diver Newt Perry, the real beautiful of the river, its manatees, and wildlife is best scene in nature walks and boat trips.

floridatraveler WEEKI WACHEE boat trip

Old Florida Is Peaceful and Calming

In 2007, the Karst Underwater Research team executed dangerous exploration dives into the park’s underwater caves and went 6,700 feet to a depth of 407 Feet Fresh Water Flow (ffw).  This makes the cave system probably the deepest known fresh water cave systemn in the United States.

Lion Country Safari near West Palm Beach

I will confess that this is a commercial zoo, ranked in 2009 as the third best zoo in the nation.  It is also the first “cageless zoo” when it opened in 1967, and thanks to creative management a 600 acre drive-through safari park, petting zoo, and amudement center.

floridatraveler ostrish acts like car

“If I Pretend I’m A Car Maybe I Can Escape This Joint.”

When I went here in the early days, the lions roamed freely in an area seperated from the other animals and one lioness decided to rest on the hood of my automobile.  Now the lions are behind fencing and deep water pits, because “the dumb visitors” keep ignoring the warning signs and keep opening their car doors. I find it amazing our species is still alive on this planet.

floridatraveler RHINO and car

You can get right next to the zebras and antelopes, but the park again has to prevent drivers from driving too close to rhinos, who love to exercise by turning tires into junk.  I call it “animal road kill in reverse.”









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Florida’s Brewery and Brew-Pub Businesses Are Booming

When I was a student at the University of South Florida, it was exciting to go down to the Anheuser- Busch beer plant and drink a free beer while we watched the flamingos.  Today, the Tampa brewery is gone, replaced by a huge amusement park and admission is a little more than free.

floridatraveler-florida-brewing-company 1896

The Florida Brewing Company in Ybor City 1896

Ironically, Florida’s oldest brewery, the Florida Brewing Company (1896) is still standing in Ybor City as legal offices.

In 2018 college students of drinking age are more likely to visit one of Florida’s 250 breweries and brewpubs.  More breweries seem to spring up every week, many branches of popular drinking spots.

Here is my 2018 List of Best Breweries (not in order):

 Motor Works Brewing – Bradenton

Voted last year, the Best Large Brewery in the Best Florida Beer Championships, this huge taproom and garden complex is at 1014 9th Street West, a few blocks north of Bradenton’s popular Village of the Arts district.   Their TV Win Motorworks lager was a former medalist as was their strangely tasty Pulp Fiction Grapefruit Gold Medalist.

floridatraveler MOTOR WORKS Bradenton

Big Outdoor Garden and Game Area

People drive from fifty miles away in part due to the beer but also due to the largest beer garden in Florida, one filled with a bocce ball court, a dozen corn-hole sets, games, and big 22-foot projection screen.  There are always two food trucks parked at the complex whenever Motor Works is open.

M.I.A. Brewing – Miami  (Doral)

 M.I.A. is far enough west of downtown Miami to give the alligators a sniff of the brew, but this newbie brewery at 10400 NW 33rd Street in Doral has become instantly popular for its Miami Weiss and MIA 305 golden ale.

floridatraveler MIA BREWING miami choices

Choice Is The Word at M.I.A. Brewing

The 54 draft lines at the bruhaus are packed every evening and this brewery has the largest and most diverse menu in Florida from prime steak to Mexican and Cuban and the standard dogs and burgers and salads.  M.I.A. is settingthe bar high for its competitors.

Cigar City Brewing – Tampa

 This WestShore institution at 3924 West Spruce Street has been given a best beer award by Thrillist.  All I know is that its Florida Cracker and Jai Alai IPA brands are all over town. There is even a Cigar City Brewing bar in Tampa International Airport.

floridatraveler Cigar-City-Brewing-tap room

Cigar City Tap Room Will Soon Be Packed

They do sell cigars, but you have to smoke them out on the patio.  Don’t smoke by the food trucks or you’ll upset some people.  And believe me, the many food trucks fight to get a single day invitation to park here.

The popularity of Cigar City has brought in so many people that there is a bottle club and a growler bar to separate the slow pokes.  That, I guess, is the problem when you become so well known that passengers just off airplanes from South America want to know the location of this brewery.

Swamp Head Brewery – Gainesville

 You can’t talk craft beer without mentioning a college town and up in Gainesville at 3650 SW 42nd Avenue is a brewpub (2008) funky enough for the University of Florida crowd but good enough to recruit serious beer drinkers from good distances.

floridatraveler SWAMP HEAD gainesville

College Size Thirst in Gainesville

Their Cottonmouth Belgian Witbier, Stump Knocker Pale Ale, and Big Nose IPA is starting to appearing outside of North Central Florida.  Not open for lunch on weekdays, Swamp Head is packed on weekends where there are events and more food choices.

Intuition Ale Works – Jacksonville

 I don’t visit North Florida so I asked several traveling friends and more mention this downtown brewery (929 East Bay Street) as a complete brewery and brewpub.  They picked People’s Pale Ale, Irish Red, and Dark Star as their top choices.

floridatraveler INTUITION ALE WORKS in jax

Started in 2010 by Ben Davis, Intuition has a restaurant firm operating the kitchen whenever Intuition is open so the menu is more extensive than most craft breweries.  IAW also has entertainment on most weekends.

Ten10 Brewing Company – Orlando

 Orange County has a lot of fine brewing companies, even an inconsistent brewpub at Walt Disney World on the Boardwalk, but I picked this popular spot at 1010 Virginia Drive east of Lake Ivanhoe.

floridatraveler ten10 orlando

The Lab at Ten10 Orlando

Some people just come here for the great sandwich selections, but the East West IPA is a big winner.

NOTICE:  A few weeks along I did an article on railroad rides and sadly announced that the wonderful train ride in Lake County seemed to have been terminated.     I was in Mount Dora a week ago and was happy to ride the train (the original people didn’t renew one of the trains).  They were even preparing a Mardi Gras train ride that weekend.  So take the train the next time you are in Mount Dora.

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Florida’s Best Islands For Trips or Vacations

Florida has 4,510 islands over ten acres, second only to Alaska, and much of Florida’s attraction and recreation relates to the relationship that Floridians have with their islands.

I thought it would be interesting and perhaps useful to residents and travelers to give awards to my favorite islands of various categories – with a few honorable mentions when I had difficulty making a final selection.

Most Mysterious Island To Visit

 Half way down the Florida Keys on the Bay side is Indian Key State Historic Site.  If you don’t have a boat or canoe or kayak, you’ll have to arrive by tour.  At first it is hard to believe this was once the county seat of Monroe County.

floridatraver ISLAND Indian-Key-c-Andy-Newman-

Only The Ghosts Live Now On Indian Key

It was also the home of the ruthless wrecker Jacob Housman and his band.  In the early morn of August 7, 1840, a large party of Spanish-speaking Indians attacked the village, killing 13, including US consul to Mexico Dr. Henry Perrine.  The town never recovered from the absolute destruction and it became a ghost town.  Now all you see are the remains of roads, cisterns, and ruins.

Best Island On Which To Party

We have a tie here.  Once you decide what type of partying you want to do.  If you want a laid-back, casual kind of Caribbean party feel than you can’t beat Key West (Monroe County).  That island could turn into the Venice of America if global warming keeps raising the ocean, but I think the Conchs will continue to build up and party.

floridatraveler KEY WEST PARTY ISLAND

Main Street in Key West Is A Party

If you want an international, urban party feeling than Miami Beach has become a global destination during the winter months.  South Beach amazes me for as a college student in the 1960’s the Art Deco district meant great beach, Joe’s Stone Crabs, and a cheap hotel room.

Best Island Beach

 When Dr. Beach and Tripadvisor both name a beach the best in the nation, it must have great sand and clear water.  Siesta Key is a barrier island just south of Sarasota has sugar-white, quartz crystal sand that feels refreshing even if it is July and 95 degrees F.

floridatraveler siesta-key- ISLAND

Sugar White Sand and No Junk At Siesta Key

Also ranked as the fifth best beach in the world Siesta Key is an ideal laid-back family vacation spot with small motels and condos and good restaurants.  The Turtle Beach section is also one of the Gulf’s best snorkel locations.

 Best Island For Surfing

 After seeing dozens of Ron Jon Surf ads while driving to Florida, most visitors assume that Cocoa Beach is the place to surf in Florida.  Well, real surfers are heading further south to Hutchinson Island where 23 miles of Florida’s best surf is found.

floridatraveler surfing HUTCHINSON ISLAND dollman beach

Surfer at Dollman Beach

Sebastian Inlet State Park and Fort Pierce Inlet State Park allow camping surfers to have an inexpensive outdoor adventure.  Dollman Beach in Jensen Beach on North Hutchinson is viewed by some as just as challenging.

Most Exclusive Vacation Island

 Certainly Palm Beach is famous for its rich and Presidential palaces and Jupiter Island is loaded with Who’s Who, but I like the idea of leaving Miami Beach by boat and going to Fisher Island.

floridatraveler FISHER ISLAND

Fisher Island Is Exclusive

This was once a one-family island of the Vanderbilts until the 1970’s and there have been financial wars for the last few years over control.  Still, you can book a room at the famous Fisher Island resort.  I just looked: Only two rooms left at just $1,375 per night.  At that price, I think some of the island’s past owners like Oprah Winfrey should pay house calls.  The US Census lists no one living below the poverty level here.

My Favorite All-Round Vacation Island

 I love Amelia Island.  You can stay at the #5 in Florida Ritz Carlton on the beach or another beach hotel or one of the island’s incredible Victorian bed and breakfast houses.  There are dozens of blocks of vintage Florida homes and mansions dating from the Civil War to the 1920’s.  On the northern tip is historic Fort Clinch seized by the Yankees in the Civil War.

floridatraveler Amelia-Island-Map_original

Floridians (and South Georgians) have discovered the island is a great weekend getaway with boating, fishing, surfing, swimming, and golf.  The number of quality restaurants and bars keep increasing every month although the Palace Saloon remains Florida’s oldest continuous bar.  The state’s oldest hotel the Florida House Inn (1857)

hosted Cuban Revolutionary Jose Marti while he was chased by both Spanish and American agents.

floridatraveler downtown AMELIA ISLAND

Happy island hopping in Florida!

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Florida’s Performing Arts Scene Is Not All Imported Shows

Barbara and I attended the second annual Walt Disney World International Festival of the Arts and I must confess watching top Broadway singers like Ashley Brown (Broadway’s original Mary Poppins) and Josh Strickland (original Broadway Tarzan) do the best Disney songs  is a real treat.


Brown and Strickland Do Disney Well

So many of the singers and bands that used to do the Disney Flower Power and Food Festival shows have retired or sadly like Davy Jones and Paul Revere passed on to a new place.  Unless they had several hits I don’t remember many of the 1980’s groups now performing at these freebie WDW shows.

Looking at the crowds of tourists and locals, it made be wonder how many people think Florida’s performing arts scene, is mainly winter concerts by visiting groups.  Not too long ago that was the image of Florida – when the wealthy winter people leave for Europe or the mountains, the theaters and galleries close up.

That is not at all true, but people may still get that impression since the most advertising for the arts they see on TV and the Internet is for the traveling Broadway shows and star entertainers at places like the Carol Morsani Hall (2,600 seats) at Tampa’s Straz Performing Arts complex or the 2,400 seat Ballet Opera House at the Adienne Arsht Center in Miami.


The Straz: An Example of Florida’s Support for the Arts

In reality the Straz has four other smaller theaters, the Tampa Opera Company, and 20 practice studios.  The Arsht has two vast theaters and a pedestrian walk that even straddles Biscayne Boulevard.  More towns are finding the arts brings in more money than constructing a baseball park.

Every major urban center has a performing arts high school.   In Tampa, where I live, it is Blake High downtown across the Hillsborough River from the Straz.  Florida colleges have 22 theater schools, 11 music programs, and 7 dance programs, with my college Florida State University hosting 25 programs and scoring a Five Star Rating in the performing arts.


Jacksonville’s Jacoby Hall Is Concerts Only

When I arrived in Florida in the 1960’s Florida orchestras were few in number and their annual programs were usually less than the strings on a viola.   Now in its 50th season the Florida Orchestra in Tampa performs over 100 concerts in three venues.  The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra has the largest endowment of any arts group in Central Florida.

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra has its own concert hall in the 1,700 seat Robert E. Jacoby Hall.  The home of the Artis Naples Philharmonic contains two great performance halls and a fine arts museum.  There is even the Beethoven Sympathy Orchestra in tiny Key West.


Home of the Sarasota Opera Company

Florida has sixteen opera companies.  The Florida Grand Opera performing at Miami’s Ziff Ballet Opera House and the Au Rene Theater in Fort Lauderdale is now the seventh oldest opera in the USA.   The amazing Sarasota Opera company turned the old Edwards Theater into their domain.

There are few towns in the United States the size of Sarasota with such an extensive and highly ranked reputation for the performing arts.  The Ringling complex not only includes the world famous State Ringling Art Museum, but it is the home for the multi-theater Florida State University Center for Performing Arts.


The 1798 Asolo Theater Seems a Time Warp

Although it is only used for special events, my favorite site at Ringling is the historic 1798 Asolo Theater, built in Italy, and reassembled on the Florida West Coast.  Watching anything here is like entering a wonderful time machine.

Sarasota, of course, has a Sarasota Ballet which under the leadership of Iain Webb has produced 36 world premieres.  Its dance company has 56 dancers selected from around the world.  There are fourteen other residence dance companies in Florida, not counting colleges and high schools and dancing schools.


The Naples Philharmonic

The performing arts area perhaps effected adversely the most in the world of big budget Broadway visitors, popular music concerts, and fairs has been smaller drama companies, who fight for Florida’s entertainment time and money. I particularly have been impressed with the cooperation of stage companies from Jupiter to Key West in Southeast Florida to promote their activities.

If you are a resident or a tourist you can see what is happening in Southeast stage performances at the South Florida Theatre League and Florida Theater On Stage websites. They do a great job showcasing Florida theatre groups.

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Some of My Favorite Unuusual Florida Restaurants

This is the time of year in Florida when winter tourists and snowbirds are driving the highways visiting their favorite attractions and friends.  If you want to add some unique and different dining experiences in your travels, here is a really diverse listing to consider.

For Fine Dining:  Market 17 in Fort Lauderdale

Market 17 at 1850 Southeast 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale looks like a classy American and seafood restaurant and it is.  What makes the place unique is it offers diners an option to eat their food in semi-darkness.   This is not only intentional; it is why romantics come here.

floridatraveler DINING IN DARK rom at Market 17

This room is for “Dining In the Dark”

The Dining in the Dark room is not such a gimmick.  You won’t be eating strange plants and animals or even Florida road kill.  Most of the menu contains classic dishes, but the waiters are trained to “educate your taste buds” with options and choices.  A lot of stressed out business people describe the visit like a trip to a restfull spa.

For A Nostagic Meal: Bob’s Train Restaurant in Sarasota

A little bit north of downtown Sarasota at 2211 Fruitville Road stands a rather odd sight – three former Ringling Brother’s circus railroad cars in a somewhat warehouse environment.  When you see the people coming for lunch, you realize this is a food stop.

floridatraveler bobs train3

Bob’s Train Might Not Travel But It Might Grow Longer

It’s Bobs Train Restaurant and customers don’t mind the ugly parking facilities for the food and ambiance of the place is that good.  This is more than a food spot – it is a museum of the history of the circus for Bob Horne collected an archive of material in his many years working for Ringling.  It is clear from one photo he even served as a ringmaster.  A lot of places like this fall short on the menu but read Yelp and other online food reviews and you will see this is a genuine restaurant choice.

floridatraveler bobs train

For Pizza and Fast Food:  Satchels Pizza in Gainesville

To students at the University of Florida, Satchel’s Pizza at 1800 NE 23rd Avenue is more than a highly rated place to get pizza and comfort foodies, it is a place to take friends and parents who are visiting.   At first glance, it looks like a dump or at least a poorly designed flea market.

floridatraveler SATCHELS PIZZA 1

Satchel’s is a cash only place and since it wants to be artsy and full of communication there are no televisions blaring even if the Gators are playing a football game.  There are huge salads, but everyone seemed to be consuming pizza and their homemade cane sugar sodas.

floridatraveler SATCHELS 2

The outside area is extensive and very funky with tables in a greenhouse, tables under an airplane, and seats in an old VW bus which is always jammed with diners.  I know a PhD student who in three years never got into that vehicle despite many visits.

For Old Florida Dining: Bean Depot Cafe in El Jobean

The Bean Depot Café is found at 4370 Garden Rd off FL 776 near the Tampa Bay Rays spring training camp in El Jobean, south of Sarasota.  As my father was the newspaper editor down in Charlotte County, I have seen this building for decades, but never with so many automobiles around it.

floridatraveler BEAN DEPOT El_Jobean_Post_Office

This small Cracker cottage is in fact, the historic 1922 El Jobean Post Office.   It is a cash only Old Florida kind of place where the menu is limited but the food is quite good.  In reality, if the food was bad, Charlotte County’s residents who come from all across the North, would avoid such a tiny place.

floridatraveler BEAN DEPOT menu

The seafood is fresh and delicious.  The burgers are popular with kids.  There is a mini-museum preserving the story of this little hamlet on the Myakka River. Some evening there is a blue grass band playing, but some nights the place may close early.  Try lunch.
For Urban Socializing and Dining: Broken Shaker in Miami Beach

Even in the days when there was no Art Deco district as college students my friends and I would go to Miami Beach to socialize. Here is a place, however, where most local night owls have heard about it but could not find it.

All visitors need to discover the place is to know it is buried inside the Freehand Hotel at 2727 Indian Creek Drive.  Some will say the spot is lost back in the hipster 1990’s. The restaurant doesn’t even have a sign.  Everything is funky slow and casual.

floridatraveler BROKEN SHAKER miami beach

Good Weather Makes The Garden Setting Best At Night

  And since it is a hotel, a lot of residents start their evening prowl at the bar, which has become famous for a wide, wide list of strange drinks.   There is often a long wait at the small bar since the monstrous drink list contains stuff you think were invented that evening.

floridatraveler BROKEN SHAKER food

From Strange To Typical Is The Menu

The Beach is all about nightlife and that is when the garden with its pool becomes the main hang-out in good weather.  There are heaters for colder nights. You can get a cheeseburger and quesadillas, but expect someone next to you having octopus tacos and artichoke fries.




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My Favorite Florida Museums Are Quite Diverse

Florida has over 400 museums and historic sights for residents and visitors looking for an experience on a rainy or bad beach day.  For a fraction of the cost of visiting a theme park or in many cases no cost, you can visit some of these places.

The website of the Florida Association of Museums is the best place to discover the diversity of attractions found in Florida, but I would like to mention some of my favorite spots.

My Favorite Historic Site

 The Dade Battlefield Historic State Park and Museum in Bushnell just off I-75 would probably attract thousands of visitors if it were not for the stupidity of one George Armstrong Custer in his campaign against the Sioux at Little Big Horn. For here during the Second Seminole War was the second worst Indian “massacre” in U.S. history as Major Francis Dade led 110 soldiers into an ambush in 1835.

floridatraveler DADE BATTLEFIELD

Except for reenactment day, the museum and grounds are usually deserted. Instead of dozens of confusing monuments there are a few simple markers and a reproduction fortification of the soldier’s last stand. The museum does a nice job explaining the Seminole Wars (the longest and most expensive in US history) and the story of the Seminoles in Florida.

My Favorite Art Museums

 While the state John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota has one of America’s greatest collections of Renaissance and Baroque Art, my wife and I are lovers of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works so we think the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach and the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown St. Petersburg have the best coverage of American and World Art.

floridatraveler DALI MUSEUM 1

Dali Would Have Loved This Funky Dali Museum

But if you want to have fun with the family, I suggest the funky Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg for the building and grounds are exhibits in themselves.  Barbara doesn’t like Dali but admits this museum is a great place for an outing particularly in good weather.

floridatraveler DALI MUSEUM 2

Widest Selfie – Stick Head In Space

My Favorite House Museum

 Florida may not have the Biltmore, but it has in John Ringling’s Ca d’Zan in Sarasota and the Henry Flagler Whitehall mansion in Palm Beach some great and historic buildings.  But nothing tops the incredibly beautiful 1914 home of agriculture machine magnate James Deering in the Coconut Grove section of Miami.

floridatraveler villa-vizcaya

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens contain ten acres of the most exquisite landscaping in the nation and every room in the estate is beautifully decorated. Some rich homes are just gaudy – not Vizcaya.

My Favorite Military Museum

 Florida has some twenty military museums and collections honoring American military heroes and events, but I found nothing as amazing as the collection of airplanes and artifacts at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.


It seems half the navy is at this museum.

My Favorite Historic Complex

 Many Florida communities have thankfully been preserving the state heritage of historic buildings, sometimes gathering buildings in a single location.  It would be hard to match the Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.

floridatraveler EDISON LAB

The Edison Lab Looks Ready For Invention

For one admission charge you’ll see 13 buildings and 20 acres of wild tropical gardens, an amazing lab with 100-year old “continuously lit” light-bulbs, and a huge collection of unused Ford automobiles.  Edison came to Florida at the order of a doctor, but obviously the workaholic inventor spent more time in the lab than Florida’s first pre-fab swimming pool.

floridatraveler EDISON & BANYUN

The “Ghost of Edison” Looking Over One of his Trees

Ford, who got first pick on new inventions, wisely built his place across the street on the Caloosahatchee River waterfront.

My Favorite Archaeological Site

 Most of Florida’s surviving ancient Indian sites have been so leveled or changed, they are not education to the average visitor.  The Crystal River State Archaeological Site in Crystal River off US19 is the largest complex of mounds complete with a nice little museum.  Your kids will love to climb the steps up the high temple mound to see what is on the other side.

floridatraveler CRYSTAL RIVER mounds

The Temple Mound Leads To A Neat View

My Favorite Natural History Museum

 People who like to look at the skeletons of mammoths and mastodons or pretend they are climbing into a limestone cave will love a visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History on the campus of the University of Florida.  Best of all it is free.

















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