Get an insider's view of Florida marine ports and airports.
Watching as a 10-story “gantry” crane swings containers like an acrobat from ship to shore is something most members of the public rarely get to see close up, or even at all. But at Florida’s marine terminal and airport tours, visitors can see the inner-workings of ports, where typical mega-cranes might move 30 containers an hour.
“This gives the members of the community an opportunity to see the port and see what it does,” says Anne O’Roake, spokeswoman for Port Manatee, the Manatee County Port Authority. “They can see the ships that are in that day.” Tours at Port Manatee, which sits south of Tampa and north of Bradenton, are given every Monday and Wednesday from October to May. These are free public tram tours, which O’Roake says are popular with snowbirds.
Tour topics include Del Monte’s fruit import operations and a conservation spoil island created with dredge material.
Like marine ports, airports also offer tours of their inner workings and some even hold special open houses. Aviation Day is a free, annual community event held in November at Page Field in Fort Myers. Attractions in clude vintage WWII aircraft, big band performances, children's activities, police and firefighter demonstrations and much more. Details about the event may be found at www.flylcpa.com.
Airports and ports across the state offer tours. Here are but a few:
• The Miami International Airport offers daily tours by reservation. Call 305-876-7487 or visit online at www.miami-airport.com/tours.
• Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport offers tours that expose your community group to the dynamic aviation industry through education and hands-on experiences. For tour information, visit www.broward.org/airport/community/pages/airporttours.aspx or call 954-359-6100.
• Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport offers tours for groups by appointment. Call 941-359-2770 or visit www.srq-airport.com