Planning your summer car trips? Florida offers a spectacular variety of attractions and experiences. From the cultural to historical, here’s a round-up of some stops I’ll be making when my kids are out of school:
Lakeland – This Central Florida town is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world. Glide past these architectural delights, plus the lovely Lakeland Swans, and Hollis Gardens on a Segway Tour!
Osprey - One hundred years ago, Mrs. Potter Palmer arrived in the Sarasota area. Catch a garden tour or living history event at her stylish bayfront home called Historic Spanish Point,
Wewahitchka – Nature buffs and bees both love ‘Wewa,’ home of the tupelo honey made famous in the Peter Fonda movie, "Ulee's Gold." Four historic lighthouses, some of which date back to the mid-19th Century, dot the coast of Gulf County.
Santa Rosa National Seashore - Sand here is as fine and white as powdered sugar. It is indescribably pretty next to the emerald green waters of the Gulf. Grab your camera and take photos for your Facebook page! Afterward head out to the highly-acclaimed Le Grand Cirque, which will be performing through August at Sandestin’s Grand Arena.
St. Augustine – Gold and silver plumbed from the Atlantic make the St. Augustine History Museum a must-see. Catch the Old Town Trolley for a full-day excursion through the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States.
Jupiter’s slower vibe provides a respite from the hurly burly. Canoe out to the restored camp of Trapper Nelson, the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee," or walk out to see the Atlantic spray at Blowing Rocks Preserve.
Homestead – Florida means citrus, but the Schnebly Redland's Winery in South Miami-Dade County makes wines from exotic fruits. Head over for one of the romantic evening events or afternoon tastings.
John Pennekamp State Park –Swim, snorkel or take one of the glass-bottom boats (invented in Florida!) to see nature’s undersea majesty, the coral reefs in Key Largo.
Marco Island - If it’s mangroves you’d like to explore, Marco Island Ski & Watersports provides a unique, eco-friendly guided Waverunner tour of the Ten Thousand Islands mangrove forest or go for a Dolphin Watch cruise.
Naples –The von Liebig Art Center puts on a royal show, literally. A collection of the late Princess Diana’s gowns is on view through June. Then take a picnic tp Delnor-Wiggins State Park, winner of the National Gold Medal for beaches. It’s on the Great Florida Birding Trail, so bring your binoculars!
Punta Gorda was first explored by the Spanish centuries ago, and you'll find memorials to Juan Ponce de León at the park named for him. Bicyclists and birds love these trails. Go for a tour of the Peace River Wildlife sanctuary on the grounds.
Afterward, head across the bridge to Coral Cay Adventure Golf in Port Charlotte for miniature golf. The sunset views are nothing short of spectacular on this riverfront, unique course.
Lake Placid – This land of lakes is on U.S. 27. Go antique shopping and view the 34 stylized murals painted on historic downtown buildings. In August, the entire area is awash in color, as this is the Caladium Capital of the World!
Dade City – Take the trolley tour to investigate the charming downtown, tour the Historical Museum and stop by the restored depot to learn about Florida’s railroad history.
Weeki Wachee – The refreshingly cool water from the Weeki Wachee Springs and its 99.8% purity makes this one of nature’s grandest swimming holes. Kids will love Buccaneer Bay's spring-fed water and the variety of slides.
Still looking for interesting sites for your route? Trace the Spanish Colonial history in Florida or check out our "Been There, Haven't Done That" list of unique Florida places.
Drive safely and remember to buckle up!