In the past, people have thought of a “staycation,” as a stay-at-home affair. Hang around the house and maybe take a day trip or two. Not anymore.
The folks from VisitFlorida are re-defining the word. Staycation now means a vacation in Florida. After all, Florida is our home – and there is so much to see and do here. Of course, there are the major theme parks and attractions, but how about a trip to the coast? Well…which coast?
As those who follow us know, there are 12 Coasts of Florida and each has its own special allure. On the Atlantic there’s the First Coast – home to America’s Oldest City – St. Augustine. Or maybe you want to head on down to the Space Coast and watch the launch of a SpaceX rocket while you catch some sun and enjoy the waves.
Or how about the Gulf? Venice and Nokomis have some wonderful beachfront and restaurants. Then there’s Siesta Key – a Best Beach in America alumnus. Perhaps you want to get up to the Panhandle and enjoy the Emerald Coast with their blue-green water and white sand beaches.
But there’s also backwoods Florida. Did you know that Florida has 175 State Parks? From the original at Highlands Hammock to the newest one at Gilchrest Blue Springs – there’s a lot of flora and fauna to discover. You also have options. You can stay in the park by camping or glamping. Or perhaps just stay in a hotel and drive yourself into the park for as much nature as you can absorb in one day.
And for those who like a bit more manicure in their gardens, there’s the Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando. Some of the other most popular such attractions include the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales with its famous carillon or McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach,
If you like getting off the beaten path there are plenty of out-of-the-usual opportunities. How about Solomon’s Castle in Hardee County? That’s a one-of-a-kind experience based on the handiwork of one of the most interesting artists to grace the Sunshine State. There’s the world’s smallest police department in Carabelle and the world’s smallest post office in Ochopee. In fact, you can get a twofer there – as Ochopee also is the home to the Skunkape Research Center.
Maybe you’d like to visit Orange City and explore the ruins of Bongoland – the theme park before there were theme parks. Well, there are all of these staycation options and more. The state of Florida has allocated a $13 million dollar budget to encourage Floridians to get out and enjoy all their state has to offer. Officials of the hotel and lodging industry agree. The latest numbers show occupancy levels have dropped 40-percent.
But you couldn’t prove that by us. When we tried to book a room for the Labor Day holiday at our favorite lodgings – we were told they were booked solid. In the meantime, we have been going out on day trips and finding some wonderful attractions and some great places to dine. It seems like every place we visit has had a great attraction and a great restaurant.
For instance, on a recent trip through Clermont, we had an opportunity to visit the Showcase of Citrus and eat at the Crooked Spoon. We did not have time to stop at the Lakeridge Winery or the Citrus Tower. However, we vowed to hit those on our next trip through.
It has been said that outside every silver lining, there’s a big, black cloud. And to be sure – the coronavirus has been that cloud. But as the skies clear, Floridians have an opportunity to do some travel and find some great new staycation places to visit. It’s a chance to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Being as how September is “Shameless Promotion Month” I will urge you to come to Florida Fun Travel for some ideas. But you might also want to hit Atlas Obscura or Visit Florida for other destination suggestions.
Happy motoring! And as we continually say – “It’s always time to have fun in Florida.”
Photos courtesy of Barry Foster