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Archive for florida

Florida Art

By Linda Tancs

The Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, includes the standalone Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, a distinctive venue showcasing only Florida art. In fact, it’s home to the largest collection of Florida art in the world and features a rotating collection of 2,600 state-themed oil and watercolor paintings. The facility is named for billionaire Hyatt Brown and his wife Cici, two of Florida’s most generous philanthropists. The museum’s grand central gallery features its signature pieces, comprising the most significant paintings from the Brown’s own collection. Throughout the year the smaller galleries showcase rotating collections with Florida themes. 

The Jewel of Ormond Beach

By Linda Tancs

Designated a Florida Heritage Site and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Casements was the summer home of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller Sr. Located in Ormond Beach and lauded as its jewel, the property is named for the large, hand-cut casement windows that adorn the mansion. Christmas was a particularly festive time of year for Rockefeller, when he entertained friends like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. Holiday festivities continue today with The Casements Guild, whose volunteers guide visitors through the manor as docents.

The Highway that Goes to Sea

By Linda Tancs

In 1912 millionaire Henry Flagler built what became known as the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad from Miami to Key West. An engineering marvel of its time, it fell into disuse after being badly damaged in a 1935 hurricane. It later served as the blueprint for the Overseas Highway, a span of U.S. Highway 1 from Key Largo to Key West boasting 42 bridges spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. No wonder it’s dubbed “the highway that goes to sea.” The route is populated with coral and limestone islets comprising the Keys, locales that boast everything from yacht clubs to wildlife refuges. One of the best-loved spans of this idyllic road is its longest—the Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon, surrounded by water from start to finish. The highway was designated as Florida’s first and only All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways program, one of a short list of other roadways in the nation that have earned this prestigious title.

The Luckiest Fishing Village

By Linda Tancs

Destin, Florida, is known as the “world’s luckiest fishing village.” Situated along the closest access point to the 100-fathom curve in the Gulf of Mexico, anglers can quickly reach all depths of fishable water featuring 20 types of edible game fish. Snapper reigns supreme, including gray snapper, lane snapper, mutton snapper and red snapper. You’ll also find grouper and mahi-mahi. Not surprisingly, Destin Harbor has the largest charter fishing fleet in the country. But if you’d rather go solo, then try your hand at “sight-casting” off the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier.

Golf’s Hall of Fame

By Linda Tancs

The World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida celebrates golf and preserves the legacies of those who made it great. The facility is the centerpiece of World Golf Village in St. Augustine, a vacation destination featuring two championship golf courses and luxury accommodations. Museum exhibits include the Challenge Hole, a 132-yard island green reminiscent of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. A complimentary shot is included with admission and additional shots can be purchased onsite, so bring your A game. And you better hurry; in late 2023, the museum will close as a result of a merger with the United States Golf Association. Many of the facililty’s assets will be relocated to a USGA museum that will open in Pinehurst in 2024.

Circus Splendor in Sarasota

By Linda Tancs

Circus mogul John Ringling and his wife Mabel wintered at a Mediterranean Revival-style mansion in Sarasota, Florida. It was modeled after the palazzos of Venice, Italy, and completed in 1926. Named Cà d’Zan (Venetian for “house of John”), the 36,000-square-foot palace reflects all of the splendor of the Gilded Age. You can explore the first floor of the manor, which includes living, dining and entertainment areas, all furnished just as in the days of the Ringlings’ residence. The home is part of a 66-acre museum complex adjacent to Sarasota Bay known as The Ringling, featuring the State Art Museum of Florida, Circus Museum and Bayfront Gardens. Museum admission alone does not include the mansion, so be sure to add it to your ticket purchase.

Shrimping in Florida

By Linda Tancs

Florida’s Amelia Island is known for its stunning beaches and Civil War history, but its maritime history is equally significant. In fact, the locale is known as “the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.” At the Shrimp Museum at the City Marina in downtown Fernandina Beach, you can learn about the families that brought modern shrimping to Florida and their descendants who keep alive the traditions. And this time of year (the first weekend in May), the annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival attracts over 100,000 visitors to this barrier island in the northeast. The event features a pirate ship parade, fireworks, free concerts and, of course, shrimp vendors.

A Rare Lake in Florida

By Linda Tancs

Florida’s Grayton Beach State Park is more than just another beach park and a backdrop for golden sunrises. The 2,000-acre park is also home to coastal dune lakes. These lakes are a rare natural phenomenon found in only three other countries (Australia, New Zealand and Madagascar) and one other state (Oregon). They’re unique because their water levels are maintained by an interchange between saltwater and freshwater, providing for an interesting mix of plants and marine species. At Grayton, you’ll see three of these lakes: Alligator, Little Redfish and Western lakes. A kayak or stand-up paddleboard is the perfect way to explore. Bring your own or rent one at the ranger station.

West of Key West

By Linda Tancs

Seventy miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is accessible only by a daily ferry, private boats, charter boats or seaplane. It’s worth the effort, considering that one of the nation’s largest 19th- century forts (Fort Jefferson) is there. This 100-square-mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. With so little dry ground, it’s best to see it by swimming, snorkeling or diving. Your reward will be corals and seagrass communities among the most vibrant in the Florida Keys.

100 Years of History in Key West

By Linda Tancs

When Casa Marina opened 100 years ago it was Key West’s most glamorous destination. The Florida resort was conceived by American railroad tycoon Henry Flagler as an accommodation for wealthy customers of Flagler’s Overseas Railroad, which spanned from Key West to the Florida mainland. Its designers were as famous as Flagler; architects Thomas Hastings and John M. Carrere also designed New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, New York Public Library and the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings in Washington, D.C. The hotel hosted politicians and Hollywood’s elite. It was even requisitioned by the military for use during World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Located just minutes from historic Old Town, it boasts the largest private beach in the city.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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