When you nonetheless are uneasy about getting on an airplane or a cruise ship (or paying the excessive costs), it could be time for a Florida staycation.
Two not too long ago up to date journey books — Visiting Small-City Florida and 100 Issues to Do in Tampa Bay Earlier than You Die — provide good concepts for staycations and day journeys, so you possibly can benefit from dwelling in a spot that vacationers flock to. Most of their options keep away from the massive, well-known sights, providing native gems which might be off the crushed path.
Journey guides can have a brief shelf life, so it helps that each books revisited and up to date their suggestions and journeys. Tampa native Bruce Hunt not too long ago launched his fourth version of Small-City Florida, providing bite-sized profiles and restaurant and purchasing suggestions for “79 of Florida’s most fascinating small cities.”
Kristen Hare, a journalist with the Poynter Institute and contributor to the Tampa Bay Occasions, simply launched the third version of her information to dwelling like a vacationer within the Tampa Bay space. The premise is a bucket record concept that took on a larger resonance for her in the course of the pandemic.
“Whereas that wink on the bucket record felt cute with the primary and second editions, in the course of the pandemic it has taken on a brand new sense of urgency for me,” Hare mentioned. “Life is brief. Nothing is assured. How we spend our time — and the folks we spend it with — is as much as us.”
Some options from the authors coincide. Think about Small-City Florida’s suggestion to search out tiny Ozona.
“Palm Harbor has grown up round Ozona, however the little village nonetheless manages to hold on to its quiet, quirky attraction,” Hunt writes. You’ll discover a scenic part of the Pinellas Path bike overpass and a few good meals at Ozona Pig and Molly Goodhead’s Uncooked Bar, housed in a circa 1919 home. For purchasing, Antiques and Uniques subsequent door to Ozona Pig “has a treasure trove of classic collectibles.”
As with lots of the small cities in Hunt’s guide, it solely takes a day to see its sights. However Ozona is near a few of Hare’s day journey options. In close by Tarpon Springs, the affect of its Greek immigrants and sponge divers make a go to “really feel extra like a global journey,” Hare writes. Don’t miss the Spongeorama Sponge Manufacturing facility for purchasing and its setting for historic films, take a tour by water on the St. Nicholas Boat Line and get nice Greek meals at Mykonos restaurant.
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100 Issues to Do in Tampa Bay
Different options from Hare’s guide that may be became a staycation for a few days embrace:
Lakeland: Get to the Polk County city for lunch at the Joinery food hall with a spread of distributors and sit on the patio overlooking a good looking lake. Take a tour of Florida Southern College, the one campus architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed. Close by purchasing on Kentucky Avenue has enjoyable retailers like Scout and Tag and the Lloyds of Lakeland vintage store. There are additionally nice eating places all alongside Kentucky.
Williston: Positioned about 30 miles northwest of Ocala, it’s horse nation with rolling hills. “It must be on anyone’s bucket record to snorkel or scuba dive at Satan’s Den, a pure spring inside a cave,” Hare mentioned. Reservations prematurely are required to swim within the 72-degree blue water. Make reservations at 352-528-3344 or devilsden.com. Cedar Lake Woods and Gardens, on the identical road as Satan’s Den, is a beautiful botanical backyard with waterfalls, swans and numerous ranges to stroll round historical reside oaks and luxurious gardens.
North Port: Soak within the Heat Mineral Springs, 12200 San Servando Ave., on this spot about an hour south of Tampa. “It’s a hoot. That is Previous Florida at its oldest,” Hare mentioned. At 85 levels, the water smells a bit funky due to the sulfur, and Hare recommends bringing a pool noodle to drift within the deeper sections — it’s imagined to be nice for the pores and skin. “It’s like a Florida spa day.”
Visiting Small-City Florida
Hunt is now on his fourth version of Visiting Small-City Florida, which he first produced in 1997 as “the antithesis of the Disney information.”
From North Florida to the Florida Keys, he focuses on cities which have fewer than 15,000 folks. He likes to search out mom-and-pop diners, historic normal shops and outdated inns nonetheless in enterprise that supply a window into Florida historical past.
A superb instance is Evinston. Take a street journey to go to Cross Creek, about 22 miles south of Gainesville, that at the moment remains to be as rural and scenic as when writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings immortalized it in The Yearling and Cross Creek. Reread the traditional books and tour the Rawlings home that is still as she left it. Then do some vintage purchasing in close by Micanopy, the place there are historic homes and a cemetery price seeing.
Hunt then suggests you drive round Orange Lake to the opposite facet of Cross Creek to search out the little village of Evinston. “There may be nothing there besides the Wooden and Swink normal retailer. But it surely has been there since 1882, and it’s actually cool and nonetheless a functioning normal retailer,” Hunt mentioned.
Apalachicola: He’s a fan of the Panhandle and suggests Apalachicola, lengthy often known as the oyster capital of Florida (though oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay is at the moment suspended till 2025).Perhaps spend just a few days renting a home on close by St. George Island with its fairly seashores. “It’s very laid again with some good meals and vintage retailers. They usually’ve carried out a fairly good job of preserving the historic really feel of Apalachicola’s downtown.”
Dade Metropolis: The east Pasco County city is turning into a foodie vacation spot. In addition to the well-known Lunch on Limoges — Florida Cracker Kitchen, there may be the native staple Olga’s Bakery and Deli, in addition to Inexperienced Door on eighth and Steph’s Southern Soul Restaurant. Along with its well-known vintage purchasing, Dade Metropolis has many meals gems price exploring, Hunt mentioned.
Cedar Key: A couple of two-hour drive north of Tampa Bay, there are nice galleries, eating places like Tony’s Seafood and Steamers Clam Bar, and rustic settings to loosen up and go fishing or kayaking. The historic Island Resort has been restored to its former glory, and its eating room is understood for its native Florida seafood dishes.
Visiting Small-City Florida
By Bruce Hunt
Pineapple Press, 283 pages, $19.95
100 Issues to Do in Tampa Bay Earlier than You Die
By Kristen Hare
Reedy Press, 142 pages, $17
Kristen Hare: The Tampa Bay Occasions contributor will be part of radio present host Ernest Hooper concerning the new third version of her journey guide 100 Issues to Do In Tampa Bay Earlier than You Die at 7 p.m. April 22 at Tombolo Books, 2153 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Free; RSVP at tombolobooks.com/events.
Hare may even be in dialog with Occasions columnist Stephanie Hayes at 3:30 p.m. April 24 at Oxford Alternate, 420 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Tickets are $5 at oxfordexchange.com/pages/calendar.