Old Cedar Key Walking Tour and More Adventures

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour and More Adventures

The Old Cedar Key walking tour is on my list of things to do but first we need to check in.

At the Faraway Inn their Office sign is turned to Open. Obi and I step inside.

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour - Obi and mosaics
Obi checks out the mosaic wall on 2nd Street in Cedar Key, Florida. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

The manager looks up. She immediately nails my dog’s number.

“Oh, a Welsh Corgi!

What’s your name?

Obi?

Would you like a cookie?”

Would he ever. She gives him three. They bond on the spot.

Forget chocolates on the pillow.

Dog treats rule here.

Both Faraway Inn’s architecture and ambiance are throwbacks to the 1950s. Located along the waterfront, the Inn consists of a cluster of small cottages and motel rooms decorated in eclectic beach whimsy and they are dog friendly.

Every guest we meet has a dog or two and everyone walks their dogs. There is even a doggie bag station at Faraway Inn for those who forget to bring the necessities.

Old Cedar Key walking tour - Faraway Inn
Faraway Inn in Cedar Key is pet friendly. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

In Cedar Key traffic is so scarce you and your dog could walk in the middle of the street (just saying, not suggesting).

We find early morning and evening strolls are the best. Midday tends to be quite hot, the air still and streets lacking in shade.

Even though sidewalks are scarce Cedar Key is eminently suited for walking. How does such a rare thing – a high walkability index – happen?

Simple. Cedar Key, Florida, sits at the end of a road.

Where State Road 24 ends, Cedar Key begins – a series of inhabited islands butting up against the mangrove- encrusted edges of the Gulf of Mexico.

Traffic that comes here stops here.

If you arrive for a day visit, park, walk along 2nd Street to see the art galleries, shops and studios, then turn down to Dock Street with its restaurants, you will come away with the impression Cedar Key is flat.

Not so. Stay longer. Venture further inland.

Obi and I discover walking around Old Cedar Key (upland from the dock area) involves a series of gently rolling hills. It is intriguing and inviting – what is over the next rise?

An extra added attraction – we stroll past a plethora of historic houses.

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour – get the guide book

If houses with a history tweak your interest, do obtain a copy of the Old Cedar Key Walking Tour Guide Book ($7.50), with 50 places of interest. Each has a photo and explaining paragraphs. The guidebook is for sale at the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum located at 609 Second Street.

Old Cedar Key Walking tour - Historical Society Museum
Cedar Key Historical Society Museum. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

While there pick up a free map of Cedar Key compliments of Kayak Cedar Keys (by the way Kayak Cedar Keys are celebrating their ten-year anniversary and have added paddleboards to their lineup).

The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum is the two-story white building with all the flags, directly across the street from Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, famous for its award-winning clam chowder.

Our last visit to Cedar Key was five years ago. Walking around town, the uptick in home and landscape improvement is immediately obvious. Side yards boast well-maintained flower and vegetable gardens. Old houses have new paint.

Speaking of vegetables – on 2nd Street there we find a Community Garden dedicated in 2012, Raised boxes overflow with vegetables, herbs, flowers and tomatoes. It is a lovely sight. Surprising isn’t it, how well vegetables grow in salt-tinged air?

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour - community garden
A piece of the community garden, Cedar Key, Florida. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

From talk of vegetables we move to talk of dining out and here we are disappointed.

Dock Street, home to restaurants, cafes, bars and grilles is quite run down compared to five years ago.

Several restaurants are closed. Others haven’t seen fresh paint in a while. A second-story eatery that gets good reviews is reachable by a flight of stairs – but first there are empty cardboard boxes and trashcans to navigate on the ground floor. Not appetizing.

The Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce has a free Visitor’s Guide that includes a dining guide. The free Visitor’s Guide is on their Web site and also in paper form at local outlets (like museums).

Those restaurants that are dog friendly (i.e. outside dining) have a paw icon. This is helpful. Obi and I are well taken care of at Big Deck Raw Bar & Grill on Dock Street.

The next morning we have high hopes for a dog-friendly breakfast place on SW State Road 24. Their Web site says they open at 7 a.m. We arrive at 8 a.m., delightfully decadent. But a sign on the door says “New Hours 9-3”. Bummer. Why wasn’t that on the Web site?

We return again at 9:30 a.m. and it is still closed. Humm. There is Island Time and then there is Why Bother Time.

My hopes for a savory southern breakfast (think shrimp and grits – I saw it on the Web site menu) are dashed.

But life is not all about food (Obi might disagree).

Both location and layout favor Cedar Key as a go to place for outdoor adventures. Come prepared.

Bring comfortable shoes and a wide-brim hat. Take the Old Cedar Key Walking Tour (self-guided).

Bring your bike or rent one (Faraway Inn, for example, has free loaners for guests). Bike Florida named the Town of Cedar Key as one of its Top 10 places to ride. It is easy to agree with that – the lack of traffic and lovely changing views make for a smooth ride. Not to mention all the stops along the way including the Cedar Key Museum State Park and Cedar Key City Park with a small public beach and restrooms.

Kayakers (your own or a rental) have easy nearby destinations such as Atsena Otie Key and Seahorse Key. Go on your own or take a tour. A plus – the Market at Cedar Key on SW State Road 24 is a good place to build your lunch that goes with you in a cooler.

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour - sunset
Sunset, Cedar Key, Florida
Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

Sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are a free thrill. They are, of course, weather permitting. Most nights you see them. Some nights the clouds win. Many good viewing places around town including benches facing west, a place to sit, donated in someone’s honor. A very nice touch.

And that is a small sampling of things to do, right up to twilight.

Night falls. The fun begins.

Stargazers from around the world are drawn to Cedar Key. The night sky is easy to see.

It is that “end of the road” thing again – remember the small town’s location at the end of the road then factor in nearby national refuges – Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (think thousands of acres with no artificial lighting) and conditions are right for the night sky to be highly visible. To know more visit this stargazing Web site.

Let’s have a last look at local food – did you know Cedar Key has a reputation as a clam capital? Well earned. Cedar Key is the largest producer of farm-raised clams in Florida. Aquaculture rules here.

On our way out of town I stop at Southern Cross Sea Farms to buy a bag of littleneck clams.

Steamed clams and linguine – it is what’s for dinner tonight along with fresh salad from the garden well seasoned with memories of Cedar Key.

 

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Wauchula – go there on 3rd Saturday

Wauchula – go there on 3rd Saturday

Where is Wauchula?

It is the place to be on the third Saturday of every month.

Seriously.

The city’s web site describes Wauchula as being one hour from anywhere – the public relations way of saying we’re small but we are near the big guys – Tampa, Orlando and beaches are not far away.

This southwest Florida town is described as the “last bastion of beautiful old South Florida.”

Who could resist?

I’m all about visiting last bastions.

Main Street Wauchula cinched my desire to visit by starting a new event the third Saturday of every month – Downtown Wauchula Heirlooms & Originals Main Street Market, antique, handmade, homemade.

Wauchula - old fishing lures at Main Street Market

A very long name!

Wauchula is the place to be the 3rd Saturday of the month

The market debuted the third Saturday in October and I was there.

In downtown Wauchula (about three blocks long on Main Street) vendors set up tables along winding sidewalks in the small, sweet Heritage Park, a lovely landscaped park of about one city block anchored with a large fountain as its centerpiece.

 

 

 

Wauchula - main street market collectibles for sale

Collectibles caught the eye. Recycle letters made from a tin roof in Missouri. War posters from World War II next to a box full of old folding knives, a popular stop for men folk.

Home made quilts. Home made candles. All the while the fountain is gurgling and the sun is shining.

Photos from the 19th Century jammed into cardboard shoeboxes. The subjects sat still and stared into the camera. Across the years their eyes look into ours.

Wauchula - portraits from the past.
.

I wonder – what is their story? Why did they sit for the portrait? Novels could be written just trying to decipher the enigmatic expressions on the faces of forgotten men, women and children now faded to soft sepia tones.

I bought three portraits. Perhaps they will tell me their stories.

This first market day was a delightful start to what is billed as a one-year commitment for now. Main Street Wauchula, the organizers, has committed to the Market on the third Saturday of every month, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the next 12 months.

 

 

Wauchula - recycled letters made from a tin roof

 

Do go!

But be advised Main Street has many empty storefronts and few choices for meals. One restaurant sign said it was open Monday through Friday, not helpful for the Saturday Market.

 

Wauchula - Heritage park fountain

Wauchula and Arcadia together make a good road trip

Suggestion:

Do the third Saturday Main Street Market in Wauchula then head south about 30 minutes to Arcadia, famous for its downtown antique district and yes, they have restaurants, tearooms, cafes and an ice cream shop.

Here is a plan:

Make a third Saturday of the month your antique, collectible, handcrafted road trip day. Discover last bastions and small towns off the beaten path from anywhere.

Story and photographs ©2015 Lucy Beebe Tobias. All rights reserved.

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Florida Art Museums are Cool – Let’s Visit

Florida Art Museums are Cool – Let’s Visit

September in Florida can be cruel. An early morning breeze caresses our cheeks like a lover’s touch and then bam! An hour later the thrill of fall is gone, replaced by yet another hot day and humid night – enough already!

So here is your September survival plan – stay in air conditioning a little longer. But don’t do this at home. Head for your nearest Florida art museum. Seriously. The AC is turned on. Florida art museums have exciting exhibits you don’t want to miss. Gift shops are loaded with temptations. An art museum café is a great place for taking a food break.

Sounds like a plan. I beat the heat and head to St. Petersburg to see the special Escher exhibit (Aug. 22, 2015 through Jan. 3, 2016) at the Dali Museum.

Florida art museum, Dali window view, St. Petersburg
View of St. Pete waterfront from the second floor of the Dali Museum. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

Escher has long fascinated me. His intricate playing with positive and negative space (birds flying one way with the spaces being birds flying the other way) makes the viewer wonder – how many levels of reality are there? Good question.

The Escher exhibit is included in the price of admission to the Dali. I recommend the free audio guides. Museum hours are 10-5 with extended hours on Thursday (10-8). Parking onsite costs $10 for non-members but there are nearby surface lots and street parking too.

Close by on Beach Drive the venerable Museum of Fine Arts has a visiting exhibit called Five Decades of Photography (June 20 through Oct. 4) and another one called 50 Artworks for 50 Years. Notice a lot of “5’s” in the titles? That is because in 2015 MFA celebrates 50 years as a Florida art museum.

See the admission page for fees. MFA is open Monday through Friday from 10-5, Thursday from 10-8 and Sunday from noon -5.

Come back to MFA for a launch party on Oct. 21 when, as part of their anniversary celebration, they will launch a new cookbook called Food and Art, their first new cookbook in 40 years.

Over the Skyway to a Unique Art Museum

Just over the Skyway Bridge in Sarasota is the famed Ringling Museum of Art. Admission prices vary. On Mondays the museum is free while admission is required for other buildings on the grounds such as the circus museum. John and Mable Ringling, of circus fame, traveled widely, collected wildly and brought home every bit of Europe they could carry. The result – an exciting, restless collection of buildings that house in depth collections and changing exhibits.

Florida art museum, statue, Ringling Museum, Sarasota
A statue in the courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

One current exhibit called Back and Forth: Thinking in Paint (Aug. 14-Oct. 25) is a dialog between contemporary painting by the faculty of Florida State University and the Ringling’s permanent collection.

Florida Art Museum Buildings Are Worth Exploring

Buildings housing Florida art museums get a lot of attention. The Dali museum building and grounds, modern and playful in the Dali “look at me” spirit, can be a destination in itself but what’s inside is even better than the outside.

The same is true of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine. The setting is the former Hotel Alcazar built in 1887 by railroad magnate Henry M. Flagler. It is grand, elegant, meant to be a showpiece. And it works – inside and out.

 

Florida art museum - Lightner Museum, St. Augustine
Lightner Museum, St. Augustine. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

Chicago publisher Otto Lightner bought the building in 1946 to house his extensive collection of 19th century life, often called “The Gilded Age”. Wander all three floors of the old hotel. Rooms are filled with cut glass, Victorian art glass, costumes, furnishings, paintings and my personal favorite – a section with the stained glass work of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Admission prices vary. The Lightner Museum is open every day (but Christmas) fro 9-5. Last admission is at 4 p.m.

Museum Galleries Galore in Gainesville

In Gainesville the Historic Thomas Center occupies a former private residence and hotel built in Mediterranean Revival Style. The popular center has galleries in rooms with high ceilings and lovely light. The current exhibit is Beauty and the Beasts (June 26-September 19). To know more, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at 352-393-8532 or visit www.gvlculturalaffairs.org.

The Harn Museum of Art on the University of Florida campus offers rotating exhibits in well-appointed galleries. It is a year for birthdays. The Harn is celebrating its 25th birthday.

Admission is free. Open Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m. Open the second Thursday evening of each month from 6 – 9 p.m. for Museum Nights. The Museum is closed on Mondays and state holidays. The Harn Museum Store is open during museum hours.

Downstairs at the Harn is the Camellia Court Café, a lovely spot for a light lunch or coffee break.

At the other end of the art museum building spectrum, the Morse Museum of American Art in downtown Winter Park occupies a building so bland it could pass for generic office space. Looks are deceiving. The inside is pretty exciting.

Florida Art Museum - Morse Museum of Art, Winter Park
Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

The collection of work by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) includes jewelry, paintings, pottery, leaded glass lamps and windows. There is no other Tiffany collection this comprehensive anywhere.

Best of all (in my humble opinion) is the recreation of his chapel interior for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Admission varies. Museum hours are 9:30–4:00 Tuesday through Saturday (Open until 8:00 p.m. Friday, November through April and 1:00–4:00 Sunday. Closed Monday and most major holidays

Note: During the month of September holders of Sunrail tickets – show your tickets and get free admission.

There is an air-conditioned Florida art museum near you. Here is Artcyclopedia’s list of Florida art museums with both fine art collections and an online presence.

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Florida’s Outdoor Coolest Spots for Summer

Florida’s Outdoor Coolest Spots for Summer

What would outdoor Florida be without wading along the shoreline, swimming, tubing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, boating and fishing?

Definitely a sorry place indeed – I honestly wonder how many of us would stick around without all these wonderful wet places we take for granted.

Fortunately for visitors and residents alike, aquatic preserves, the Florida Springs initiative, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Coral Reef Conservation all ensure these ecosystems will be around for a long time, thank goodness.

Let’s explore a bit of what we take for granted – Florida’s outdoor coolest spots.

Floating over Another World in Florida’s Outdoor Coolest Spots

A small group of us took up the offer to go on a free snorkeling trip to explore the estuarine world of Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve in Southwest Florida near Punta Gorda and Placida.

Florida's outdoor coolest spots - Snorkeling in Gasparilla Sound.
Snorkeling in Gasparilla Sound.

Off we go on a pontoon boat. Even non-swimmers felt comfortable about getting wet. The water depth was, at most, four feet so it was easy to stand up at any time.

What a difference a mask and snorkel make! I float along, hands loose at my sides, looking down at swaying clumps of sea grass. Schools of little fish dart back and forth. A young grouper goes by giving me the eye but moving on quickly. I’m in their water world now – a visitor in a foreign land and it is fascinating.

I stand up with reluctance. Our two hours are up. Bummer. I promise myself I’ll be back.

In the upper Florida Keys at Key Largo is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Land sits next to water with its living communities of protected coral reefs. Naturally, snorkeling tours are immensely popular. Make reservations at (305) 451-6300. The two and a half hour tour take you out by pontoon boat. You are in the water for an hour to an hour and a half. Bring gear or rent equipment there (prices on Web site). Snorkeling tour fee is $29.95 for an adult, $24.95 for children under 18.

Springs Bubble with Blue Beauty

Florida's outdoor coolest spots - divers at Ginnie Springs
Divers at Ginnie Springs

Forty-four parks, mostly in Central and North Florida, have accessible springs – get wet, canoe, bring a picnic lunch, dive, even float on an inner tube, carried by the current on clear blue water. Some samples: Ginnie Springs Outdoors near High Springs. Ichetucknee Springs State Park where tubing down the river carries on as a family tradition over the generations and Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, the last undeveloped habitat in Kings Bay with 30 known springs. This is a refuge for West Indian manatees.

Water trails in Florida are called blue highways. They meander through mangrove, down rivers, along the coast, paddling can be very addictive – and for the super serious there is the CT, the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. It is the longest saltwater paddling trail in the continental United States. The keeper of all things related to Florida paddling is the Florida Paddling Trails Association.

Florida's Outdoor Coolest spots - canoeing at Alexander Springs
Canoeing at Alexander Springs.

For a truly other world experience, join A Day Away Kayak Tours for a black night/cold light bioluminescent night tour in the Indian River Lagoon. Bioluminescent season started in June and continues until October. See their calendar to know when the black nights (no moon) times are. Prices vary by weekday/weekend and whether you bring your own boat or use theirs. To know more call (321) 268-2655. No need to be a kayak expert – they’ll have you gliding along in no time.

Three of us went on this tour, leaving from the Haulover Canal Launch Site 20 minutes east of Titusville We pushed off at sunset stopping first in an area known for manatee sightings (not that night) then lazily making our way to the Lagoon. Now it is dark, pitch dark. I dip my paddle in the water and a trail of silver follows the paddle. A mullet swims by trailing bioluminescent in its wake. No one really knows what causes millions of tiny organisms in the water to light up when the water is disturbed and it only happens in certain months.

Overhead the sky is a huge inverted black bowl filled with stars. We rest our paddles. It is utterly silent and so beautiful it takes my breath away. Pictures? No. I didn’t even try.

This is one of those “you have to be there” experiences.

Florida’s outdoor coolest spots are waiting for  you – just do it!

 

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Florida Beaches are Simply Sublime

Florida Beaches are Simply Sublime

Wahoo! I was just there – Gulf Islands National Seashore in Pensacola – a long ribbon of bright white sandy beach so alluring it had to be singing a siren song:

“Come, sift the sand between your toes. Stay here. Stay here. Forget your worldly cares. Stay . . .”

Floarida beaches - beach sand
Different types of beach sand. Photo by David McRee

And the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico echo the beach promise of sun and fun.

Florida beaches will have their way with you

Yep. Florida beaches can and will have their way with you. The sand sighs as you take off your shoes, sink into the sand and sift sand between your toes. There is the promise of natural detox plus getting gritty and feeling great. All this without even getting wet yet. Just stroll and watch the pelicans skim the water’s surface. Bend down and do the shark tooth shuffle, looking for castoffs from the deep. Inhale. Renew. Revive.

And the sunsets, ah well, line up and enjoy the awesome sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s a thought – go to the Sandbar Waterfront Restaurant in Anna Maria, take an outside table and have a front row seat for the sunset.

Floarida beaches - sunset
Sunset photo by David McRee

Sunrises over the Atlantic are pretty spectacular too. Once a photographer and I showed up at Anastasia State Park early, before sunrise, to do a newspaper story on a gentleman doing sandcastle building practicing for a national competition. As the sun came up, casting golden light on the water and the beach, his castle grew taller and taller and more amazing. I looked around and thought: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

You are nodding your head. You know what I’m talking about. Still it comes as a nice surprise that others are nodding their heads too. Nine Florida beaches, including Gulf Island National Seashore in Pensacola are among the top 25 beaches in the United States, just named in a Travelers’ Choice 2013 award posted by tripadvisor.

The other beaches are Canaveral National Seashore, Titusville; Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin; Pensacola Beach, Pensacola; Clearwater Beach; St. Andrews State Park, Panama City; Fort DeSoto Park, Terra Verde; Siesta Key Public Beach, Sarasota; Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete Beach.

Florida beaches - Mexico Beach
Mexico Beach in the Panhandle. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

My goodness! The only other state to come close to those numbers is Hawaii. These Travelers Choice awards are like winning the Oscars. Everyone wants to go see the movies that won. Let’s go experience all the beaches that one – a nice spring project for you.

Florida beaches include some friendly for dogs

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Obi, my Welsh corgi, accompanied me to the Panhandle last week. Dogs are not allowed on Pensacola or the Gulf Seashore beaches but we found a small beach on a bayou that did the job. Obi isn’t about to get his paws wet. At Bayview Park dog park in Pensacola he enjoyed running around in the sand with other dogs while one dog got really serious about digging a deep hole at the waterline – all the way to China?

Florida beaches - dog beach
Dogs getting acquainted at Bayview Park, Pensacola. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

Patricia Collier is the keeper of a site for Florida Pets that includes lists of dog-friendly beaches. For example, one of the award-winning beaches, Fort DeSoto Park in Terra Verde has a Paw Playground and beach so if your best friend has four legs and likes water, here you go.

Florida is shaped like an upside down boot dipped in water on three sides with a total of 663 miles of beach and 2,276 statute miles of shoreline. Oh, and in addition, Florida has more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways – many of these shorelines sport sandy beaches.

The beach sands are calling. Will you answer the call? I have to go now, the sun is setting on Lido Beach and I don’t want to miss it.

Florida beaches - Lido Beach sunset
Lido Beach sunset, Sarasota. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

In my Florida travels I meet fantastic people who are travel writers, residents, newcomers, guides and entrepreneurs, all are digging into the Florida places they love and finding treasures worth keeping.

In his own words, here is David McRee whom I got to know when he served as Beaches Expert for VISIT FLORIDA the same time I served as Authentic Florida Expert. David loves Florida beaches and he is the real deal, he grew up near Florida beaches. Be sure to check out his beach blog. You will like it.

The continental United States has thousands of miles of beaches along its coastal states, but it is Florida’s beaches that reach into the warm waters of the Caribbean.

I started enjoying those beaches with my family before I could even walk. More than fifty years later those are still some of the fondest memories I have: Daddy teaching me to dog paddle, Mama trying to keep me covered with Sea & Ski suntan lotion, and me trying to eat an icy-cold banana popsicle from the beach snack bar before it melts under the hot July sun.

At the beach our senses are awakened. We inhale salty air mixed with coconut oil fragrance and we smell burgers cooking on the grill; we hear the laughing of gulls and the steady roar of the ocean; and we feel the salt from the sea drying to a crust on our skin under the summer sun.

In nature, the most vibrant places are often found at an edge, where forest meets field, where cold meets warm, where east meets west. The beach is the edge where the salt water wilderness meets the familiar.

The beach inspires wonder and invites contemplation. The stark simplicity of water, sand, and sky helps remove us from overwhelming busyness and technological distraction of modern life. We can hear ourselves think again.

Florida beaches - seashells
Seashells on the beach. Photo by David McRee

During my childhood years, my home beach was on Anna Maria Island, a seven-mile strip of white sand and tall Australian pines, with communities where the locals outnumbered the tourists for most of the year.

It was later in life that I discovered the curious variety of beaches in Florida. We have the most famous shelling beaches in the world: Sanibel and Captiva. We have some of the most important nesting beaches for Loggerhead sea turtles in the world on Brevard County’s Atlantic coast beaches.

Florida beaches - beach
Beach photo by David McRee

We have everything from crowded resort beaches with amenities that could challenge Disney World (Panama City Beach and Clearwater Beach) to quiet natural beaches on islands that can only be reached by boat (Anclote Key and Cayo Costa).

We have some of the purest white-quartz beaches in the world. But which is the whitest? It could be Siesta Key beach, or it could be one of the beaches in the western Florida panhandle, like those on Santa Rosa Island. You’ll just have to visit them all to decide for yourself.

But don’t think you have to have a beach with white quartz sand. How about looking for fossilized shark teeth on the dark gray sands of Venice? To really appreciate the beauty of Florida beach sand, dig your toes into the brown-orange sands of Ormond Beach or the biogenic sands of the Florida Keys, made up not of minerals and shell fragments, but of tiny bits of coral and forams–shells of tiny single-cell marine organisms.

Just because you’ve seen one Florida beach doesn’t mean you’ve seen them all. Explore. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

David McRee writes about Florida beaches and islands at BlogTheBeach.com

Floarida beaches - Beach scene
Beach scene. Photo by David McRee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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