The best of Florida agriculture is on display at the 2019 Florida State Fair on the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa from Feb. 7 to Feb. 18. With Florida’s mild winters, the Florida’s is the nation’s earliest state fair.
Of course, a state fair has a whole lot more than farming on display. Food, as at almost any state fair, is varied but heavy on fried dishes and anything you can eat on the move. But there are also banana-covered funnel cakes, ribs, pulled pork, catfish and other Southern fare.
As entertainment, any decent state fair deserves a blue ribbon, and the Florida version is a good one, billing its midway as the biggest in the U.S. Adults and youths compete for prizes in everything from baking to raising and showing market steers and hogs, dairy cattle, goats and sheep. It’s a fun sight when a steer is led into the judging ring by a youngster who’s a foot shorter than the animal. (Those steers become meat, and yes, there are tears when some are sold.)
There are fun things to do and see, including more than 100 rides, including the country’s tallest traveling Ferris wheel. Other attractions include works of art, crafts, pig races, the Budweiser Clydesdales, onstage musical acts, acrobats, a tractor pull, a demolition derby, a daily science show, and a two-day rodeo. Some of the more pleasing displays star draft horses, equal parts beauty and beast. Kids who’ve never set foot outside the city or suburbs can even sign up to work on a model farm.
Most events, including much but not all of the music, are covered by your admission ticket, with grandstand seating free.
Here’s a tasty idea: Drive over to Lake Worth for the South Florida Garlic Festival, Feb. 9 and 10.
It’s billed as “The Best Stinkin’ Party in South Florida,” and no wonder. For two days, you can wander Gourmet Alley and experience meals that prominently feature the fragrant seasoning.
Garlic is a mainstay in many a recipe, and at the Garlic Festival, in every recipe. Try some Garlic Festival favorites: flaming chicken or shrimp scampi, garlic crab cakes, garlic bruschetta, garlic pizza, garlic Argentine BBQ with garlic black beans and rice, and garlic Portobello sandwiches. For dessert, there’s garlic ice cream—seriously. A complete menu will be released closer to the festival.
You can even tell yourself this trip will be good for your health. Besides tasting great, garlic is loaded with antioxidants and helps to rid the body of toxins. It is not true that the toxins leave your body just to flee the smell.
Date: Feb. 9-10, 2019
Times: Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Place: John Prince Park, 4759 South Congress Ave., Lake Worth, FL
Cost: $12 in advance, plus $2.85 taxes and fees, tickets online; at the gate, $12 before 6 p.m. Saturday, $20 after 6 p.m.; Sunday, $12 all day; children 12 and under, free. NOTE: The ticket gets you into Garlic Fest, but you must pay individual vendors for the food you eat. Prices vary by vendor and dish.
Directions: John Prince Park is about a 2¼-hour drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
Parking: Parking for passenger vehicles is free at the Department of Motor Vehicles lot at 501 S. Congress Ave. in Delray Beach, with roundabout buses running every 45 minutes. The last bus returns to the lot at 11:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parking within the park is $20. Parking at Palm Beach State College is $10 with a free shuttle. Parking details online. RV parking is no longer available.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons
Aarrgh! Pirates are about to conquer Tampa. Hoist anchor on your land yacht. Fun is on the horizon, and it’s only about a 2-hour drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
Official Gasparilla Pirate Fest events begin each January and extend into March.
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, which sanctions the series of events, was formed more than 100 years ago to promote economic vitality in Tampa and nearby communities. It’s worked. Hundreds of thousands of people gather in Tampa yearly to attend some of the biggest attractions of their type in the country. The organization and related agencies help charities throughout southwest Florida.
The group’s name invokes the legend of 18th and early 19th century Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar, known as Gasparilla and considered the last of the buccaneers. From his base in western Florida, the pirate and his crews plundered shipping along the Spanish Main in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. He is said to have secreted a treasure in Gulf Coast Florida that has never been found.
Here are some highlights of Gasparilla season:
If you like your pirates pint-sized, or if you’re taking your children or grandkids, this is the parade for you. The alcohol-free celebration is billed as the largest children’s parade in the U.S. Thousands of kids are pushed in strollers before the children’s parade, where thousands more march. Participants add a Mardi Gras touch by tossing beads to the hordes who watch and cheer. Participants include those sponsored by businesses, community organizations, neighborhood groups, schools and dance academies. And, of course, there are plenty of marching bands. Other events include a jazzfest brunch and VIP events.
Re-creating Gaspar’s conquest of old Tampa, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla “invades” each January aboard its tall ship. The ship Jose Gasparilla looks like a wooden 18th century sailing vessel but in fact is a modern steel-hulled, custom-made craft. Invasion by 750 pirates is at 11 a.m.—not, coincidentally, when the sun hits the yardarm. On the high seas, that meant the first rum of the day. The marauders, as they do annually, capture the key to the city.
The Pirate Fest Parade makes the children’s version look like—well, child’s play. It’s bigger—the third-biggest parade in America—longer, and a whole lot rowdier, with lots a beads for attendees. The parade features more than 100 floats, about 50 organizations, and marching bands. It travels 4.5 miles into downtown Tampa.
This February event through Ybor City, a historically Cuban section of Tampa, is festively lighted. The parade is free if you stand in one of the many free viewing areas or watch from your on lawn chair. Floats are illuminated after sundown. It’s quite a sight. There are pirates on parade, beads flung out to attendees, floats, bands and community organizations marching. Ybor City has many Latino eateries and cafes. Details online.
Only in Tampa would the entire city party when pirates arrive, and party again when they leave. It’s your last chance to see the Jose Gasparilla pirate ship as it sails from a dock outside the Tampa Convention Center. The afternoon features free live music, festivities and food. The pirates return the key to the city before boarding their ship, heading out to sea and firing their cannons in salute as they sail off. The party rolls on into the evening. Details online.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons
It’s time for some holiday happenings. Places along the Suncoast of Florida—and other communities in the state—have lots going on from now through New Year’s Day. Here are some highlights.
One of the area’s premier holiday events is the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights. Except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Holiday Nights run from Nov. 23 to Dec. 30, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
The estates open daily for tours at 9 a.m., apart from the Holiday Nights. Although there is not a Holiday Nights event on Christmas Eve, the estates are open for tours that day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist Henry Ford were friends, and they built winter getaways next door to each other in Fort Myers in the early 20th century. Being neighbors fit two of the men with America’s most fertile minds to a (Model) T. Edison’s laboratory, where he conducted botanical research, including a quest for a domestic source of rubber, was funded them and tire magnate Harvey Firestone, a frequent visitor. The properties, which are well preserved, host events year-round. Perhaps none is as anticipated as the Holiday Nights.
The lush gardens and homes are lighted for the Christmas season. That’s only appropriate, with Edison having given us the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb. His breakthrough was so ahead of its time that it and later versions only now are being pushed aside by more efficient electronic technologies.
In addition to thousands of lights, hundreds of historic decorations put visitors in a holiday mood.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive on Nov. 23. Nina Rose Events, named after Mrs. Edison, will feature baked goods, beer, wine and cocktails at the Ford Cottage Shoppe. Victorian carolers will entertain.
Sundays and Mondays are Lee County Resident Nights, with $5 off adult admission.
Other nights feature live piano or hammered dulcimer music. On family nights, Santa and sometimes Mrs. Claus will return. A few Holiday Nights will feature craft beers from Millennial Brewing.
Waltzing Waters will make the estate’s fountains dance this year.
Go online to find a complete Holiday Nights events schedule.
Give yourself time to tour the Edison Ford Museum and Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory, both open until 9 p.m. on Holiday Nights. Also open until 9 are the Ford Cottage Shoppe, Museum Store and Garden Shoppe.
Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights
Venue: Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Address: 2350 McGregor Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Cost: Holiday Nights: $20, age 20 and older; $10, ages 13-19; $2, ages 6-12; free, Edison Ford members. Holiday Tradition Tour: $30, age 20 and older; $25, ages 13-19; $18, ages 6-12; $10, Edison Ford members. Inside-the-Homes Holiday Tours: $50.
Refreshments: For sale at each event.
Directions: The Edison Ford Winter Estates are just over a 20–minute drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
Festival of Lights at Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda
If you’d enjoy Christmas shopping in stores amid a million holiday lights—quite literally—try Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. The annual Lighting of the Village will be Nov. 15, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Fishermen’s Village has a mall, a waterfront with restaurants, and a harbor with tours. The lights stay on through New Year’s. There’s Santa, of course, who’s available for photos, and a team of elves to make everyone feel festive. An angel tree in the mall offers an opportunity to contribute gifts to folks who might not otherwise have much of a Christmas.
The waterfront offers private surrey rides, charter cruises, and harbor and lighted canal tours. A Pearl Harbor ceremony is scheduled Dec. 7.
New Year’s Eve features celebratory cruises and family-oriented onshore festivities.
Music of many varieties, from high school bands to chorales and regional rock musicians, is presented over the 48 days of the festival.
Festival of Lights
Venue: Fishermen’s Village
Address: 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Suite 57A
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Events: Lighting of the Village, Nov. 15, 5:30-9 p.m.; New Year’s Eve Family Celebration, 5 p.m.-midnight.
Cost: Free for events; tour and ride prices vary.
Directions: Fishermen’s Village is about a 35-minute drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
If you moved from a snowy climate and miss a white Christmas, or you’ve always wished you could experience one, try the Glitter, Glisten and Snow event in Lake Eva Park, Haines City. Machines make snow so you slip and glide your way to fun on the snow slide. Sip on free cider or hot chocolate and munch on cookies, or try some roasted chestnuts—made on an open fire, we hope.
Local school children will entertain.
Glitter, Glisten and Snow
Venue: Lake Eva Park
Address: 555 Ledwith Ave.
Haines City, FL 33844
Date: Dec. 1, 2018
Time: 6-9 p.m.
Directions: Haines City is about a 2-hour, 20-minute drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
Looking for real Halloween ghosts? Here’s information on a few ghost tours around Florida.
Some are walking tours. Others offer a trolley-type bus to make sure you’re not—please pardon the expression—dead tired after the tour. You can hit up a tour that’s nearby, or you can venture into another area of the state for a day or two of fun on the road.
The Don CeSar Resort, with a sprawling hotel known as the “Pink Palace” for its flamingo color and sandcastle looks, has been entertaining America’s elite—and everyday folks, too—since 1928. Tradition says the hotel’s upper corridors are haunted by the spirit of a young lady who died there of a broken heart. You can stay at the hotel for upwards of $209 a night, choosing between views of the Gulf or Boca Ciega Bay. Online reservations are available.
The St. Petersburg Ghost Tour, which costs a mere $20, is a candlelight walking tour starting at 8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 30. Costumed tour guides explain the haunting of the hotel and other spots in the city by its many spirits. Online reservations are available.
The drive is just 2 hours from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
Ghosts & Gravestones Frightseeing Tours visit the ancient city’s haunts with tourists on its Trolley of the Doomed. It’s a bus, so although you may be doomed, you won’t be tired. In addition to the tour guide, actors spice up the experience at some of its stops. With the ride included, it’s a good option for taking along kids and grandkids. Learn about Osceola, the great Seminole chief, and the boy in the oak tree in Tolomato Cemetery, who many believe was a victim of the yellow fever epidemic. Some on the tour say they have seen the boy. There are also the Old Drugstore, where hundreds of haunting experiences have been reported, and Potter’s Wax Museum, where the story of pirate Andrew Ransom’s gruesome death is recounted. The tour runs an hour and 20 minutes. You’re encouraged to bring a camera. Children age 4 and under are not allowed.
Reservations are available online or by calling 866-955-6101.
The St. Augustine tour, which forms at 1305 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd., is about a 4¼ to 4½-hour drive from Cypress Trail. The cost is $28 for adults and $16 for children 5-12 years old.
In addition to having an abundance of spirits—evidence has shown up on photographs, according to participants—Amelia Island is gorgeous. You’ll have plenty to do and see not just at night, but also by day on this barrier island.
Uncle Charlie, who served patrons of the Palace Saloon and died in his hotel room, still makes an occasional appearance, according to patrons. (Unconfirmed is how many spirits the witnesses had.) And a construction worker who fell to his death building the old schoolhouse is said to have reappeared and, just as he did before dying, crawled to a window and placed his bloody hands on the sill.
Diane Blanton of Amelia Island Ghost Tours leads a half-mile, two-hour tour. She shares Amelia Island history and legends. Participants are encouraged to bring cameras and reorders. Reservations are available by phone (904-548-0996). Friday and Saturday are public tours—$20 age 16 and over, and $15 age 15 and younger; other nights are available and considered private tours, with prices available at the phone number.
Amelia Island Trolleys Ghost Tours form at 7 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Fernandina Beach Marina parking lot. (Fernandina is the town’s original name.) Tours run an hour. The tour guide points out where paranormal activity was reported in the old town and downtown historic districts, and in Bosque Bello Cemetery. Reservations are by phone (904-753-4486), with 10 people total required for a tour. A special tour Monday, Oct. 22, ends with treats at the Amelia Island Museum, which is the old jailhouse. Tickets, available from the bus driver, are $16, ages 12 and older, and $11 for children.
Amelia Island is just under a 6-hour drive from Cypress Trail.
Photo Credits: E.C Cavanaugh
Fall opens up a season of entertaining events throughout Florida, with some of the biggest annual gatherings of the year. Airplanes, cars, beer and brats, and juried films are all available for your enjoyment.
Here are just a few don’t-miss activities, all within a reasonable distance of Cypress Trail RV Resort, some just a half-hour away.
Miami International Auto Show
If you love cars, SUVs and pickups, both new and old, you can see plenty at the Miami International Auto Show, and even get to drive some. Among the highlights: Topless in Miami, which displays the best convertibles available in the U.S., as judged by members of the Southern Automotive Media Association; and Havana Classics, featuring mostly 1950s classics, including a 1959 Mercedes 300D used by deposed President Fulgencio Batista, and then Fidel Castro, plus a 1950 Pontiac Catalina, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and 1957 MG-A. Many 2019 models will be on display, and a Ride and Drive event allows drivers 18 or older (21 on some models) to drive some 2018 and 2019 vehicles on South Miami streets.
Miami International Auto Show
Location: Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Dates: Oct. 5-13
Cost: $16, age 13 and over; $7, ages 6-2; free, age 5 and under
Directions: The convention center is about 2 hours, 25 minutes’ drive from Cypress Trail.
Florida International Air Show
Let your spirits soar at the 37th Florida International Air Show at the Punta Gorda Airport. Highlights include a Vietnam-era MiG 17F fighter demonstration by Randy Ball; the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s educational program and P-51C Mustang World War II fighter, painted to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African American pilots; and the RedLine Air Shows Aerobatic Team.
Florida International Air show
Location: Punta Gorda Airport
Dates: Oct. 19-21
Cost: $30, one day and night ($5 child); $45, weekend pass
Directions: The Punta Gorda Airport is just a 30-minute drive from Cypress Trail.
Cape Coral Oktoberfest
Getting from Cypress Trail to Munich, Germany, for Oktoberfest would be one heck of a ferry ride. You’re in luck. There will be plenty of sauerbraten, brats, schnitzel and, of course, domestic and German bier at the annual Cape Coral Oktoberfest the last two weekends of the month, and it’s just a 30-minute drive to get there. Need a little oom-pah music? Bands, including two from Germany, will perform continuously. There are less-traditional music and food, too. Enjoy three stages and two dance floors.
The German American Social Club of Cape Coral does its best to mimic Munich for the festival each October, but this is a family event, with a carnival area or children featuring rides and games.
Cape Coral Oktoberfest
Address: 2101 SW Pine Island Road, Cape Coral, FL 33991
Dates: Oct. 18-21 and 26-28
Cost: $5 in advance; $6 at the gate
Tickets: (239) 283-1400
Directions: The German American Social Club of Cape Coral is about a half-hour drive from Cypress Trail.
Naples International Film Festival
A presentation of Artis—Naples, the Naples International Film Festival enters its 10th year. Narrative films include some established stars—Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Brian Cox, Rosanna Arquette, Tom Wilkinson, French actress Miou-Miou. Documentaries examine topics including bias, the effort by science fair participants to break new ground, sexual abuse, Studio 54, haute cuisine, and the life of legendary performer Sammy Davis Jr. There are also short subjects and student films.
There’s an opening night gala, replete with a red carpet, and a closing night awards ceremony plus a closing celebration with comics Steve Martin and Martin Short. (The Martin & Martin event is sold out, but tickets are available for the awards ceremony.) Tickets are available for all other events. Note: Some films may not be appropriate for children.
Both venues—Artis-Naples and Silverspot Cinema, where films other than the one on opening night are shown—are about a 45-minute drive from Cypress Trail. Note: There is no designated RV parking, but passenger vehicles park free.
Naples International Film Festival
Locations: Artis—Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples, Florida 34108-2740; Silverspot Cinema, 9118 Strada Pl #8205, Naples, FL 34108
Dates: Oct. 25-28
Cost: Varies by film and events; $18 to $69
Tickets: opening night; awards ceremony; films
Directions: Artis—Naples; Silverspot Cinema
Photo Credits: Wikipedia
If you love the art of quilting, you’re covered: Prep the RV for a trip Sept. 20-22 to Jacksonville. Those are the dates for Quiltfest 2018.
It’s about a 5-hour drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort to the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, where the show is held annually in late September. You can choose from a more rural route via Gainesville or more urban routes through Orlando. (For a side trip, you can probably find something to do in Orlando, don’t you think?)
Now, don’t make the mistake of figuring, Oh, it’s just another quilt show. This is the quilt show in Florida. We’re talking up to 500 entries in the competition every year, with quilt makers competing for parts of $8,000 in prize money. Just walking the aisles and observing provide hours of entertainment.
The show is a good place to see the different styles and techniques that go into quilting. You’ll see quilts from all over the state of Florida and the United States. You can just look and enjoy, you can buy quilts, or you can buy a chance at winning a quilt.
There’s more to do than just watch. If you’re a quilter, attend workshops and demonstrations and maybe learn a thing or three—and share some tips of your own.
The show supports charitable efforts by its organizing clubs, the Seven Sister Guilds. They are quilting clubs from Jacksonville, Neptune Beach, Orange Park and St. Augustine.
A silent auction helps to finance the local Shriners Transportation Fund for transporting children in the area for medical care and treatment. Me Dolls go to local children's hospitals. Receiving pillowcases are Wolfson's Children’s Hospital, Nemours Children’s Clinic and Pedscare as a part of the ConKerr Cancer Project. The Quilters Walk funds the QuiltFest Educational Grant, which supports continuing quilting education by the guilds.
Quilts include those made by individuals, by two people, or by three or more. You’ll find classic patterns; more modern looks; original-design Art Quilts; and quilts that celebrate holidays, including Christmas. There are pieced quilts, large, intermediate and small; and appliquéd quilts, where appliqué covers more than 50 percent of the quilt surface.
Young Quiltmakers’ Quilts are made by those under age 18, or under age 12.
Many quilts are for sale.
Decorative quilts measuring less than 24 inches on each side are donated for the silent auction. You submit your written bid, and you take the quilt home if you’re the high bidder at the close of bids.
Quilting demonstrations are held throughout each day, many staged by some of the 70 vendors who set up at the fest. If there’s a technique you wish to learn, whether for handmade or machine-made quilts, here’s a great place to find out from experienced quilters what you need to know. A schedule of demonstrations appears in the program.
Chances are sold to win one of seven quilts, each donated by a sponsoring quilters guild. You don’t have to be present at the drawing to win.
If you’re bringing your children or grandchildren along—children 10 and younger enter free—the Kids’ Corner gives them a hands-on quilting experience. Participating children may make a quilt block.
Adults who get the urge can sit and sew charity projects, including pillowcases. There also are Me Dolls to be stuffed before they’re sent to children’s hospitals.
You’ll work up an appetite walking the aisles, but there’s no need to leave the convention center for food and drink. A food court is located inside, and there are coffee and snack stands by the demonstration rooms. Across the street from the convention center is a privately owned restaurant serving food from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, 1000 Water Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204
Days: Thursday, Sept. 20, through Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Parking: Free in convention center lot, accessed off Bay Street.
Image credits: http://www.quiltfestjax.com/
Pensacola Naval Air Station is host to the National Naval Aviation Museum, the world’s biggest naval flight museum. The museum’s displays ably demonstrate that that since the World Wars, the modern Navy’s place is as much in the air as on and under the sea.
Don’t think that all you’ll do is see a bunch of airplanes in and outside a big building, although you will see plenty—historically important propeller-driven and jet aircraft. Many are restored versions of planes that served combat roles in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Carrier planes, land-based planes, seaplanes—they’re all represented.
If you get there early enough you may catch the Blue Angels aerobatics team in flight during one of the pilots’ practice runs.
Want to take your turn flying a Naval jet? An ultra-realistic flight simulator lets you experience flight without leaving your seat.
Have you ever seen Marine One—the president’s helicopter? One of the former presidential flying taxis is on display. So is a restored version of the World War II fighter plane flown by former President George H.W. Bush, who had been the youngest commissioned combat pilot in the war.
A 300-plus seat giant-screen theater offers movies on flight, carriers, the Marine Corps and spaceflight. (Fee: $8 teens, $9 adults.)
The naval air museum is a day’s drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort. NOTE: Access to visitors who do not have a Department of Defense ID card is through the Naval Air Station Pensacola West Gate off Blue Angel Parkway (1878 S Blue Angel Pkwy).
Some National Naval Aviation Museum highlights:
Here’s where Blue Angels pilots perfect their precision air shows. These days, the Angels are flying F/A-18 Hornets in a four-jet diamond formation and with two solo pilots. You must arrive before 9:30 a.m. to have any hope of seeing a practice run. And the museum warns that practice runs may be canceled at any time. There is no charge to see the flights.
If you don’t see the Blue Angels fly live, see them in the Blue Angels 4D Experience. Special effects are built into the theater, not just shown onscreen, and synchronized to give audience members an immersive experience. You’ll feel like you’re flying in formation—not bad for $7.
Ever wonder what it feels like to do a barrel roll in a fighter jet? To climb almost straight up? To perform high-speed maneuvers? You’ll find out on a museum flight simulator. This high-tech marvel simulates combat flight with six directions of movement, high-definition imagery and surround sound. Your video games can’t begin to rise to this level of entertainment and involvement. (Fee: $20)
No, the USS Gerald Ford’s flight deck will not fit in the museum. But there’s a huge scale model of the carrier—and models of many others—that help you appreciate life aboard these floating cities.
There’s a hulking World War I-era bi-winged seaplane that crossed the Atlantic. Fighters and dive-bombers of World War II carrier fame live on. You’ll also find jet fighters and bombers that flew over Vietnam and Iraq.
Among the aircraft displayed:
Summer is a great time to sample craft beers from micro breweries in the Clearwater-St. Pete area, and there are quite a few.
OK, honestly, if you like beer, any season is good for a brewery road trip. Many brewers craft some of their beers especially for different seasons, so you’re bound to benefit from a variety of choices if you repeat the trip to one or several of the breweries.
The St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail includes more than 30 microbreweries. The stops, of course, make this tour enjoyable, but you want it to be safe one. Don’t drink and drive. Consider downloading the Uber app or the Lyft app to your iPhone or Android device. The apps are free and will safely get you back to wherever you’re staying. A few places on the tour offer accommodations.
If you study this link, you’ll be able to plan for hitting several of the breweries on one trip. Here are just a few highlights of the 30-plus brewery tour:
Every saloon ought to have a touch of the West, and Two Frogs Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs doesn’t disappoint. It’s set up in a former drugstore to look like an old saloon. You’ll find such Old West touches as cowboy boots and bullhorns. Two Frogs maybe should be called Two Guys: It’s operated by a father-and-son team who are descendants of a brewer. Phosphates and cherry Cokes are no longer the staples at this counter. The tiny brewery specializes in American-style ales.
Two Frogs Brewing Company is about a 2½ hour drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort.
Here’s a microbrewery that operates a brewpub, so you have a choice of plenty to eat while you enjoy whatever beers are on the menu. Beers rotate throughout the year and by season. The LagerHaus Brewery is a family operation, and that family goes back to a 17th century Austrian brewer. The bratwursts, sausages and schnitzels are all made on premises. There’s Austrian-style pasta, too, and pizza, if you’re so inclined. Beers are widely divergent. There are a Belgium Blonde, a tripel, English ales, Wild Berry Bourbon, and for the truly strong of heart, 44 Magnum, with a 22 percent ABV. Typically around 20 brews are on tap.
LagerHaus Brewery and Grill is just over 2 hours from Cypress Trail.
Try this for a change of pace: craft beer and a movie. You can savor a beer with a movie-themed name and actually watch a film. Grindhaus Brew Lab shows classic, cult and B movies on Friday and Saturday nights. Other entertainment is staged, too. There’s a BBQ restaurant attached for those with an appetite for more than beer, and sometimes the Brew Lab offers food. You can buy a four-draft sampler that includes a brewery tour.
Grindhaus Brew Lab is 2 hours north of Cypress Trail.
Remember when you were a kid and you enthusiastically told your friends, “And some day, you’ll be able to take a vacation in outer space!”
And they all laughed. Hard.
Guess what? The last laugh may be yours. The day of getting your kicks in space, if not on Jupiter and Mars, isn’t far off. You can learn a lot about private spaceflight by visiting the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, just north of Cape Canaveral and an hour east of Orlando. All U.S. government manned space flights have been launched from Cape Canaveral, including trips to the moon. If you time it right, you can even watch—just as you envisioned—private space flights being launched.
So far, private SpaceX flights are unmanned, but today’s launches and spacecraft recoveries—even the rockets will be reused—are all leading to the day when you’ll park the RV, prepare for spaceflight and take off. Boeing is partnering with SpaceX to resume human space flight launches from the Cape.
Kennedy Space Center is about a 3½ hours’ drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort, regardless of the route you choose.
Privately owned SpaceX, headed by Elon Musk, launches fights from the government facility periodically. And NASA still launches there, too, as it did March 1 by sending a weather satellite into orbit. Check online for the launch schedule. Another launch is planned for an undetermined date in March.
Private SpaceX Falcon 9 launches are scheduled for April 2 and April 16. SpaceX intends to launch a government-sponsored crewed flight to the International Space Station some time this year. It would be the first crewed spaceflight launched from the U.S. since the last Space Shuttle flight in 2011.
Even if you visit on a day with no launch planned, there’s still plenty to do and see, in
cluding interactive exhibits.
Until those private space flights arrive, astronauts are still a pretty exclusive club.
NASA schedules appearances by U.S. astronauts throughout the year. Visitors can take a tour with the astronauts, hear th
em speak and have lunch with them. To s
ee who is appearing and on what dates, check the events schedule.
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center, enshrines the original U.S. astronauts, the Mercury 7, and more than 80 others. Among them are the late Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and the late John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. A statue of Shepard stands at the entrance.
If you’re a golfer, imagine how far you could hit a golf ball on the moon, where gravity is lower. Shepard, who was known for his mischievous sense of humor, didn’t imagine; he actually did it. That was some sand trap. Other Hall of Fame members include the late Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon, and the late Sally Ride (“Ride, Sally, ride!”), the first American woman in space.
On April 21, two more astronauts will bring total membership in the hall to 95: Dr. Thomas D. Jones and Capt. Scott D. Altman. Tickets will become available. Check the events schedule.
Admission: $50 per day/adults; $40/children age 12 and over; $46/military adult age 12 and over; $37 military child 3-11 years; $46/seniors 55 and over. One-year unlimited admission, $75/12 and over; $6
Three auto races that are among the world’s best-known will be held during the first three months of the year — all in Florida.
Two races are for sports cars, and the other for NASCAR stock cars.
RVs are welcome at all three events, with multiple days of activities available. Nearby campgrounds and RV resorts also are available online.
Here are the three events:
A twice-round-the-clock endurance race for sports cars, the Daytona 24 is part of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Drivers typically take hours-long shifts, but each car is intended go full-out for a full day, with stops for fuel, tires, driver changes and repairs. Many cars succumb to the stresses on engines, suspensions and cooling systems.
The checkered flag is waved after 24 hours, and the winner is the car that has traveled the farthest. It’s entirely possible that a car that has led for hours can fail with minutes to go because of a blown tire, a failed bearing — or an empty tank.
Date: Jan. 27-28. Location: Daytona International Speedway. RV Cost: $200 (plus race tickets) to $920 (including tickets for two). Tent camping: $40-50 per car (plus race tickets), to $400 per car (includes 2 infield race tickets).
This is the first, richest and most famous race in the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The cars have identical purpose-built chassis covered by bodies that simulate those of street sedans. They’re powered by modified V8 engines. The 2018 Daytona 500 will be the 60th. The race culminates 10 days of events, beginning with practice. Pole qualifying will be Feb. 11, and qualifying races for the remainder of the field, Feb. 15. The 500 runs the Sunday of President’s Day Weekend. Supporting races fill the week.
Daytona racing began on the actual beach — even Henry Ford raced there. The first speedway race was in 1959. The high-banked oval is super fast.
Premium RV campsites for $2,700 and $2,915 are already sold out, but others may be available.
Date: Sunday, Feb. 18 Location: Daytona International Speedway. RV Cost: $640, $1,030, $1,250, $1,480 (all include 2 infield passes). RV Cost outside raceway: $600 or $1,600 (must have already purchased race tickets). Tent camping: $429 or $800 per car (includes two infield passes).
This is the 66th year of the 12-hour international sports car race, which began as a 6-hour event on a converted airstrip. Many improvements have been made to the facility since the early days.
Like the Daytona 24, the Sebring race is a stop for sports car manufacturers and drivers pursuing the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It may be only half as long, but it’s no drive in the park. Last year’s winners covered more than 1,300 miles — at speed. The race starts in daylight and ends at night — 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
RV parking is much cheaper at Sebring than at the other venues, and for a good reason: There are no RV hookups. So, if you go with your RV, you’ll be dry camping. Showers are available onsite, however, and there are many food vendors. Advance reservations are recommended. Buy race tickets at the same site.
Date: March 14-17. RV Cost: $95 or $125 (add $5 if purchased at gate).
Spring training has arrived for all baseball fans. According to a recent Gallup Poll, nearly half of all Americans love this pastime with a passion. Luckily if you are vacationing at Cypress Trail RV Resort in Fort Myers, FL you are going to be near a few exceptional training facilities and stadiums for Major League baseball. You can also plan a special trip to Cypress Trail because it’s the perfect place to stay with access to all the action. Get tickets now to some pre-season games to satisfy your baseball fever before the regular season begins in April. The two training facilities that are closest to Cypress Trail in Fort Myers are for the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox. Both of these American League teams have passionate fan bases, therefore these are spring training games you won’t want to miss. Get out there to enjoy the sun, fun, and friendly confines of these two modern baseball facilities, which are just a short drive away from Cypress Trail.
When traveling with the little ones, it’s vital to gear some activities especially for them. When you are a grandparent this is especially true. Fort Myers, Florida luckily near the Cypress Trail RV Resort, is ripe with kid friendly locations to make your children or grandchildren happy for hours on end. Happy kids equals happy grandparents, right? It sure does, so when you are planning your vacation, spend a little time at any of these kid-centric locations. Here are 5 great things to do with your grandkids in Fort Myers.
Everyone has been to your run of the mill museums all over America. Did you ever think about going off the beaten path a bit for a museum experience that is a little different? It’s not all about art and history in the museum world. Here are 10 unique museums to visit in the Florida that will be extremely memorable and fun for the whole family.