Tag: weekend getaways
The Weekend: Go for a bike ride in Tallahassee. The 20.5-mile Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail isn’t just for serious cyclists. Average bikers can make the journey along the canopied paved bicycling trail from state capitol to the the fishing town of St. Marks within a couple of hours, including stops for photo-ops and rest areas with water fountains.
Start Here: To make a weekend out of it, start in Talllahassee and plan for an overnight in St. Marks. The Shell Island Fish Camp has simple motel-style rooms as well as quaint stand-alone two-bedroom cabins with porches. The marina and supply store are popular with fisherman, so you'll likely hear a few fish tales while you relax.
1. Along the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, you can take on side trails provide for an extra off-road challenge. The 7.5 mile Munson Hills trail — considered the best off-road experience in Florida — passes by ponds and hammock ecosystems and scales sand hills through the Apalachicola National Forest.
2. Stop for a rest at the San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park’s fort, occupied by Andrew Jackson in the 1800s, and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, home of whooping cranes and monarch butterflies.
3. The fried grouper basket and smoked mullet served with drawn butter are always a sure bet at the Riverside Café, a classic Old Florida-style eatery overlooking the St. Marks River.
- The Weekend: Go on an oyster binge in Apalachicola. If you like oysters, no doubt you've savored Florida's best: the large, briny ones that hail from this quaint fishing town in the Big Bend region of Northwest Florida. The secret? Apalachicola is a peninsula within a peninsula, surrounded by the Apalachicola River, Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay. The protected waters serve as the perfect incubator of oyster beds and support of the most diverse marine ecosystems in North America.
Start Here: Guests and locals mingling on the Victorian wraparound porch, swaying in rocking chairs while sipping cocktails from the bar inside, make the Gibson Inn a comfy spot for a weekend getaway. And you can't beat the location, just over the bridge at the entrance to the historic district, within walking distance of just about everything.
1. Oysters from the brackish bay are a main attraction in Apalach (as locals call it), and Boss Oyster is the place to go for tastes you won’t find anywhere else. The dress the sweet, plump bivalves more than 20 different ways, with feta, mushrooms, bacon, jalapenos and more. Even if you just have them plain (everything is shucked to order) they taste sweeter on a deck overlooking the Apalachicola River.
2. Hit the water with Journeys on neighboring St. George Island, your ticket to Gulf, Bay and River excursions. During boat tours of the Bay, guides jump into the water to grab a few oysters from the water, then serve them right on board with crackers and Tabasco.
3. Stop by photographer Richard Bickel’s studio in the historic Downtown District to see his gorgeous images of Apalachicola and surrounding areas. His gritty yet beautiful portraits of watermen give insight into the people who have cultivated the area's bounty for generations.
- The Weekend: Kick back with a Jimmy Buffet-style beach stay in Pensacola Beach. Pensacola Beach’s strip of white sand and emerald green water is home to indie restaurants and barefoot bars filled with friendly locals doing exactly what you want to do: letting the day take you where it will.
Start Here: Inspired by a Jimmy Buffet song, Margaritaville Beach Hotel has all the resort amenities a Parrothead could want, including a poolside tiki bar, beach views and a calendar of events ranging from SUP races to margarita tastings that will have you singing “Pour me something tall and strong …”
Weekend To Dos:
1. Life here centers around the crystal-clear water and sandy bottom of this Gulf Coast stretch, so plan to spend a good part of the day planted on the beach, sunning, strolling and bodysurfing.
2. After a day on the beach, hop aboard the brightly painted local trolley; it runs from 4 pm to midnight, late May to Labor Day, between Portofino Resort and the Fort Pickens Gate, making plenty of stops along the way.
3. What beach weekend is complete with out a cheeseburger in Paradise? They serve them topped with blue cheese at Paradise Bar & Grill, or opt for fried oysters or peel-n-eat shrimp instead — all made even tastier thanks to an oceanfront setting and live music by local bands.
- The Weekend: Cruise Fort Lauderdale’s waterways. A winding river and countless canals leading to the ocean have earned Fort Lauderdale the nickname “The Venice of America.” Don't have a boat? Don't worry — there are still plenty of ways to enjoy it.
Start Here: Stay in the middle of the action by booking a room at Las Olas Boulevard’s historic Riverside Hotel. Executive Tower rooms have private balconies overlooking the yachts that cruise the New River, and the hotel is less than two miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach, so the water is always nearby.
1. Ditch expensive cab fares and take the Water Taxi to get around town. The big yellow boat cruises the New River along Las Olas Boulevard, stopping near the chic street’s hottest restaurants and bars. Or stay onboard for the entire trip to explore the river itself and enjoy hours of gorgeous, watery vistas.
2. Tour the city’s canals with a rod and reel. Captain Carl Ball of AWOL Fishing Charters knows the ins and out of the waterways — and where to find fish to hook the biggest tarpon in South Florida, along with snook, barracuda and more.
3. Watch the water while you eat at the casual Coconuts. The restaurant sits directly on the Intracoastal and has tasty bar food (think crispy conch fritters and coconut shrimp) and piña coladas. Live music Thursdays through Sundays enhances your viewing pleasure.
- The Weekend: Experiment with water sports in the Middle Keys. Duck Key is your one-stop shop for fun on the water.
Start Here Hawks Cay, smack in the middle of the Florida Keys, is the central spot for waterborne adventure. The all-inclusive resort is home to Sundance Watersports, who will set you up with everything you need and guide you through the best ways to enjoy yourself above, on or under the Atlantic Ocean.
1. Strap yourself to a giant kite and let the wind take you during kiteboarding lessons. There’s a definite learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be bounding from the water in giant leaps (and landing safely back on the water) under the direction of highly-trained instructors. Warning: The adrenaline boost can be addictive.
2. Take a dive with a snuba excursion. It’s like scuba, but your 30-foot air hose is tethered to a boat at the surface — and you don’t wear a cumbersome tank on your back. Sights of coral reefs that look like alien landscapes (along with tropical fish, moray eels and more) await beneath the surface.
3. Become the dolphin whisperer at the resort’s Dolphin Connection. Get fully in the water with a playful marine mammal for swimming, splashy tricks and unforgettable hugs.
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