Florida West Coast North
There are many things to do in Florida; a lot depends on how you arrived and where you will be. I love Disney but there are many things to do near Orlando and several of the parks will offer transportation from Orlando International included. If you are a little more adventurous and don’t mind driving there is a lot to do on the West Coast. Let’s begin up near Crystal River you can swim with the manatee and there is wonderful fishing in both fresh and salt water. It is a much slower pace up there and the people are mostly local or lifelong transplants. There are also a lot of wonderful wildlife parks that are trying to preserve the local habitat. They are state-run and survive mostly on donations. My favorite is in Homosassa, Ellie Schiller Wildlife Park. I loved it as a kid it was privately owned then. They use to have a big machine that you put quarters in and it created an alligator out of hot wax. It had closed for a few years until the State took over. My favorite animal was the Hippopotamus. I was excited when I discovered he was the same one that was always there named Lu. I liked the monkeys too but apparently no one else did so they were removed. Lucky for me they did not go far they now live on Monkey Island just around the corner at Riverside Resort.
After you have visited all the wonderful little shops and bars along the way, head south down 19 to Weeki Wachee. This is another old-time Florida favorite. The claim to fame are the underwater singing Mermaids, they also have a lot of birds and wildlife. Travel on 19 can get a bit nerve-wracking it is stop and go traffic but plenty to eat and buy along the way. Another all time favorite is Tarpon Springs sponge docks. Here you can take a cruise out to pick shells or learn about the sponge divers. Greek food is also plentiful and the best. When you are full, walk off your meal by shopping. My best guess is there are over 50 little souvenir shops in the short quarter-mile strip. Before you head home go to Hellas and take home dessert. Now we are about halfway down the coast so if you are thinking it is time to stop for the night we found a really nice place. Residence Inn Tampa ( its in Lutz ) it is clean and they are all very friendly. This hotel offers free breakfast and several evening get togethers offering complimentary horsd’oeuvres and drinks. There is also a nearby Flea Market on Fri , Sat & Sundays if you are a bargain hunter. Look for a later post on things to do from here to the Southern end of the state.