* Florida—the bucket list

This is my first request for help with the bucket list in over a year.

I lived in Florida in the ‘80’s and have visited every place listed in the United States version of 1000 Places to see Before you Die.  I have collected my supplemental list for Florida and am ready to solicit the collected wisdom of the Jolly Swaggerers.   

I know about the major attractions.  Been there, done that, had my face painted, got the baseball cap.  You know what I’m looking for, places along blue highways, events unknown outside the county limits, and people—friends, family, asylum escapees.  I await your advice.

Here is what I have so far.

Northwest Florida

Amelia Island.  Bypassed by the railroad Flagler built in the 1890’s, it has remained unspoiled.  Many Victorian and Queen Anne homes.

North Central Florida

Ocala National Forest, and The Enclave.  I have spent many nights camping in Ocala NF and hiked many miles across her 600 square miles.  There are a few tiny towns within the park.  I recall meeting up with a homeless cyclist there back in the ‘80’s who told me the location of a hippie enclave deep in the forest.  I drove back in and found a couple of dozen people settled in for the winter in a patchwork of tents, aging vans, and refrigerator cartons.

I was talking to a hobo the other day in Pensacola who asked me where I was heading.  When I mentioned Ocala NF, he asked if I was going to The Enclave.  I am wondering what that little camp of the ‘80’s may have morphed into.  Stay tuned for a full report.

Gulf coast

I’ve toured a few miles of the western end of the Gulf Coast and I see a firing squad of condos lining the beach backed up by a single highway lined with pizza joints, boat rentals, real estate offices, and convenience stores.  Here small towns are gobbling up the beach like Pac-Man.

I’ve have a few leads of places which have resisted the condo tide, malls, or even traffic lights.

Graydon

Mexico Beach, check out Lookout Lounge at happy hour, on CO386  

Port St. Joe

Port George

Two places this traveler has already stopped to his pleasure.

Pensacola, Museum of Naval Aviation, on the Naval Air Station.  I was blown away by the magnificence of this blogworthy display.  My blog for this place is already in the can and will be posted on Wednesday, December 28th.

Gulf Islands National Seashore and Fort Pickens maintained by the National Park Service.  An interesting old fort dating from 1834 adjacent to a pleasant, inexpensive, beachside campground.

West Coast

Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island.  Renowned for the shells on the beach.  Pine Island is a 3-acre park that is home to 68 people.

Tarpon Springs.  A Greek fishing village that thrived on harvesting sponges until synthetics wrecked the business.  I am told the town retains the charm of its earlier heyday.

Southeast

I had not planned to venture too deeply into the 100-mile coastal strip city known and Miami-Fort Liquordale-Palm Beach.  But if there is a really worthwhile place, I could be tempted.  I will definitely not be visiting the Southport Raw Bar.

13 Responses to * Florida—the bucket list

  1. bobmarcus says:

    carole is in bradenton fl…..

  2. karen wittgraf says:

    I know Sanibel and Naples and LOVE it there- just for the great celebrations of the sunset! The wealth there, however, is obscene.

    Jerry hit the Keys a few years back and thought the place was a riot, along with being beautiful. Might go there and try out Hemmingway’s favorite bar.

  3. Hemingway’s “favorite bar”…there are several if you believe the hype… is a tourist trap. The house and grounds are however quite beautiful, 6 toed cats lolling around doing whatever polydactyl felines do. Spectacular sunsets which draw hundreds each evening, although I’m
    reminded of Sarah Miles acid reflection on Kenyan mornings in the film White Mischief, “God, not another beautiful fucking sunrise.”

  4. Colleen Rae says:

    Sorry, no help from me as all the cool places I’ve been in Fla you already know about. Looking forward to your writings however, on The Enclave (I’ve heard of it for years). There are way too many people in Fla for my taste.

  5. Tony Bacon says:

    Al, I would tell you to see 2 places. First is Cedar Key which is an artist city that was destroyed by a tital wave. The 2nd is see Tallahassee as they have wonderful museums and hsitorical stuff on Florida. You could spend a couple of days there. Get them to give you a tour of the achives. It is a wonderful city and lots to see there. It you go over the border into Georgia you can see the plantations and beautiful homes.
    Tony Bacon

  6. Bill W says:

    Mt. Dora where my parents retired to! They painted the whole downtown area pink for the movie “Honky Tonk Highway” and then repainted everything back to new. Dad was an extra with his beard. Pretty, quiet area with pretty homes. We used to fly our airplane into Leesburg from Denver to visit. We flew on down to Key West several times and enjoyed the tourist trap atmosphere.
    We intend to start our RV run in the Tampa area attending a couple of “Rallys” at Lazy Days. Then go from there looking for <$450/mo RV park rates to stay for a few of the winter months. None of the Southeast strip – been there looking for a good boat way back when – till we found a good broker – lol.

  7. Sheri Cohen says:

    Our apartment in Fort Lauderdale. Good food, nice view, so-so company depending on your expectations (we are not great literary minds but have lots of local knowledge about the changes since you were last here).
    Sheri

  8. Wayne says:

    Darleen’s Tammy is in Tampa.
    Try Panama Hatties in St Augustine. Great shrimp in beer.
    http://panamahattiesbar.com/

  9. Dick Newick says:

    Al, We are eager for news of Reeta.
    And see The Barnacle, home of Commodore Munroe a pioneer weho designed some very practical modified shsrpies. It is in Coconut Grove. Looked after by the USPS. I was lucky to have a special tour by Munroe’s grandson who once lived there. Nat Herreshoff spent his last winters there talking boats, making and sailing models with the Commodore.
    Dick

  10. Ellen says:

    The first time I went to Florida, I stayed with friends who took me to the Corkscrew Swamp (southwest coast, near Naples), a 2 mile walk on a boardwalk thru a lovely little swamp complete with turtles and alligators and tall purple irises. Heading north, there’s the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. Didn’t spend much time in the art section, but having dreamed about joining the circus as a kid (to be a trapeze artist of course, along with “that daring young man” in the song), I was fascinated by the circus memorabilia (who knew there was a real Tom Thumb? I didn’t!)
    Moving across the state, I confess to drinking butter beer and riding a broom at Harry Potter’s Wizarding World at Universal Studios. I did not buy a wand tho – the $29.95 price tag was a bit much. It was also crowded (lots of tourists visiting Hogwarts and Hogsmeade) so, unless you’re a Harry Potter fan, it may not be your thing!
    On the east coast, the Kennedy Space Center was fascinating.
    Heading south again, there’s a HUGE flea market in Fort Lauderdale – don’t actually remember much about it, as we dashed thru…
    I did not dash thru the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. It was especially poignant as I was staying with my grandfather’s former secretary, a Jewish woman who’d helped him in the resistance during the war, and I went to the memorial with her sister, who had survived the camps. When someone looks at a photo set in the wall and says, “He was with the Judenrat; I knew him” or points to the name of one of the camps and comments matter-of-factly, “that was my alma mater” it’s hard to float thru and distance yourself from the experience…
    Anyway, that’s my little cross-section!

  11. Andrew says:

    Scuba diving in the Keys is still one of the most memorable things that I have done in my life. The highlight was by far a night dive. As a topper our boat was “pulled over” by an armed Coast Guard ship. Wouldn’t you know it that the scuba boat Captain did not have the proper paperwork on board so the Coast Guard followed us all the way back to Key West.

  12. Ellen says:

    Just remembered – the Blue Springs State Park – a manatee refuge…

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