Story and photos by LoAnn Halden
Why is it that when houseguests show up, you suddenly think up a long list of interesting things to explore in your hometown, but when you're flying solo, there's never anything to do? Admittedly I've had to retrain my brain, but I'm trying to embrace the Staycation concept in the interest of bank account preservation. Plus, it reminds me that there's a reason so many travelers pick Florida as a destination.
Recently, I've pedaled the 15-mile bike loop at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, where my alligator head count collapsed after the two-dozen mark; snacked on guava pastries and heart-jolting Cuban coffee on Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana; and sampled wine made from passion fruit, starfruit and mango at the southernmost winery in the United States (in Miami's Redlands, near Homestead). None of the spots took more than 90 minutes to reach from my house in Fort Lauderdale, yet somehow I managed to go to gay bar Georgie's Alibi 4,732 times before noticing that I was in a rut.
Still on the to-do list: An overnight
canoe trip in the 10,000 Islands of southwestern Florida and snorkeling
with manatees in Crystal River, north of Tampa. Oh, and a visit to the
Coral Castle, a wacky Miami tourist stop dedicated to a pyramids-style
building mystery: a 100-pound man, without any outside help or machinery,
constructed this homage to his lost love out of more than 1,100 tons
of coral rock. Sounds weirdly awesome to me.
What's worth checking out in your backyard? Post your own Staycation stories here or send them to email@example.com. And if you've discovered something great in the Sunshine State, be sure to let me know!
LoAnn Halden is a contributing editor to OutTraveler.com. Check back often for more dispatches on her travel "loves."