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Pilots arrested, suspected of being too drunk to make Glasgow-Toronto flight

A flight bound for Canada from Scotland was grounded and rescheduled Monday after cabin crew members reported that the plane's pilots appeared to be too intoxicated to make the trip.

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Police Scotland said in a statement that the men, ages 39 and 37, were arrested "in relation to being allegedly impaired through alcohol."

The captain and first officer were scheduled to fly an Air Transat flight carrying about 250 passengers from Glasgow to Toronto on Monday afternoon, the CBC reported. The flight was canceled and rescheduled for Tuesday, according to the Press Association.

Air Transat acknowledged the arrests in a statement. A spokesperson said the airliner would not comment further on the incident as the case winds its way through the court system.

"The safety of our crews and passengers is, and will remain, a top priority at Air Transat," the statement said, in part.

Travelers expressed frustration on social media over the delay.

In an exchange with one frustrated passenger, Air Transat said "for operational reasons we have no choice" but the cancel the flight.

"(I) just found out what 'operational reasons' means, and I'd like to thank Scotland police for preventing a possible tragedy," Twitter user Sean Brown responded.

Discover the Stetson Mansion, Florida's First Luxury Home

When John B. Stetson (he of hatmaking fame) wanted a large winter home for his family, first he chose the central Florida town of DeLand as its location and then he chose architect George T. Pearson to design it.

You might think a 10,000-square-foot circa 1886 mansion resting on more than two acres is impossible to miss -- but you'd be wrong.

Hidden just a few blocks south of Highway 44 in DeLand sits the palatial three-story Victorian-style Stetson Mansion.

But is it really Victorian? Well, yes, but it turns that it also includes a unique architectural blend of Gothic, Moorish, Polynesian and Tudor styles.

Sadly, most people don’t even know that Florida’s first luxury home exists. But it does thanks to JT Thompson and partner Michael Solari who purchased the house in 2005. Structurally sound, they completely restored the interior and exterior of the Stetson Mansion and successfully incorporated a few modern conveniences into the home such as updated electric and kitchen appliances.

One of the grandest homes built during the 19th Century, Thompson points out that the home is "the epitome of the Victorian era.”

With a Little Help from My Friends

Sponsors from around the country aided the restoration by donating everything from appliances to paint to furniture. One sponsor, Blenko Glass, gifted all the glass vases inside the mansion after learning that John B. Stetson was likely a client.

The work paid off. Visitors immediately notice the spacious front porch and exquisite Tiffany stained and leaded glass windows. Around the estate are multiple fountains, a putting green, gazebo, pool and tranquil meditation garden, complete with hammock. The gardens have a fresh and modern feel, while still melding seamlessly into the overall design of the estate.

Inside are intricate parquet floors in the world, many of which are designed in 3D patterns that change from room to room. One of the most striking features of the home is a glass and wood wall the Stetsons purchased from a French chateau and had disassembled and shipped to DeLand over several years. The wall remains in pristine condition, and the glass is original and dates to the late 1700s.

The lavish home contains pieces from many different eras, including Victorian furniture from the 1880s and from later generations. While none of the furnishings is original to the home, many are similar to those the Stetson family would’ve chosen during their early trips to DeLand.

In Good Company

When Henry A. DeLand, the founder of DeLand, heard that his good friend John Stetson was seeking a warmer climate for his health, he invited him to Central Florida. John liked what he saw, purchased 250-plus acres for use as an orange grove, and built the mansion in less than a year.

Elizabeth, his wife, thought the area was lacking in culture and insisted John cut the size of the house in half. Still, the mansion was one of the largest and most elegant residences of the time.

DeLand became the Stetson family's winter home, and they traveled from Philadelphia each year to enjoy six months of warm weather and sunshine. The Stetsons were some of Florida's first true snowbirds, and they spent their winters entertaining many of the era's most influential and wealthy families.

President Grover Cleveland and King Edward VII were both guests at the Stetson estate, as were the Vanderbilts, Astors, Tiffanys, Carnegies and Mellons. Another guest, Thomas Edison, left his mark on the mansion during construction; the Stetson Mansion was one of the first homes in the world to be equipped with Edison electricity.

Edison was good friends with the Stetsons and stayed in the house to oversee the electrical installation. Some of Edison's original light fixtures remain in the mansion, and the original Thomas Edison circuit box hangs inside the breezeway that connects the kitchen and dining room. Edison’s handwriting is still visible on tags inside the box.

Early guests would have been impressed with the mansion's ornate details and phenomenal craftsmanship. The home was built during the Gilded Age, but before the machine age, so all the elaborate embellishments were done by hand or with steam-assisted machinery.  

Stetson spared no expense when building the house, using the best wood available and even building closets in the bedrooms, which was rare for Victorian-era homes.

Public Tours and Events

Today, visitors can tour the mansion year-round and are treated to the entire estate. No rooms are roped off, and visitors can even look inside the current owners' bedroom and bathroom.

The master bedroom closet is also open for examination and is a new addition to the house. Originally the servants' bedroom, Thompson and Solari have converted it into a large, walk-in closet, complete with three leather walls, a window and an original Edison light fixture on the ceiling.

Tours run 60 to 90 minutes, depending on whether visitors choose the Standard or Grand tour, and begin in the Reception Parlor on the first floor. In this room, visitors learn a little about the history of the mansion while standing beneath a ceiling painted to look like abalone shell.

There’s also a magnificent piano, a Dali lithograph, and a fireplace dating back to 1886. As the tour proceeds through the home's many rooms, visitors hear about the mansion's renovations and the Stetson family‘s life.

Art-loving visitors will enjoy the home’s more-recent decorations, too; different artists from around the country have contributed to the beauty of the mansion’s walls, ceilings and windows.

Winter is a popular time to tour the estate, and the mansion is extravagantly decorated during the holidays to create a magical wonderland of ribbons and lights. Tours to view the award-winning decorations start Nov. 15 and run through Jan. 15.

Individuals or groups can also visit the mansion for Sunday tea in the schoolhouse. Following a quick tour of the mansion and a surprise visit from “Elizabeth Stetson,” sandwiches, scones and tea are served beneath the schoolhouse's 15.5-foot Polynesian ceiling. Local businesses cater the tea, which is hosted by the Stetson Mansion Foundation.

Reservations are necessary for tours and tea, and the estate is available for weddings, parties and other private events. The Stetson Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

If You Go... Stetson Mansion 1031 Camphor Lane DeLand, FL 32720 (386) 873-0167

Explore Ocala-Marion County in 60 Seconds

See what the Ocala-Marion County area has to offer — all in just 60 seconds.

Another Florida Attraction: Staying Longer

As the sun sets on your Sunshine State vacation one more day could be just the Florida fix you need to tide you over… until you return.

Here are a few suggestions to make more memories with your extra day:


After the thrills of Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios treat yourself to the Blue Man Group experience.  And try one of CityWalk’s restaurants before or after the show.

Restaurants entertainment venues and 40 shops line the Disney Springs waterfront district. Visit the largest Disney store on Earth (51 000 square feet!) enjoy a free concert or hit the water by renting a boat or riding the free water shuttle around Village Lake.

Take in the sights of quaint Orlando on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour on Lake Osceola. Central Florida’s oldest community offers a history lesson during its hour-long guided cruises meandering through three lakes and narrow man-made canals.

Fort Lauderdale Miami

The beaches in South Florida will beckon you back to the water. After all Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” – so why not enjoy a gondola ride? For the more adventurous take up kite surfing.

An ultimate pledge to a lost love manifests itself in 1 100 tons of coral rock at the Coral Castle. Engaged to his true love Agnes Scuffs Edward Leedskalnin was devastated when she canceled their wedding the day before the ceremony. Heartbroken Leedskalnin spent the next 28 years carving a monument to Scuffs. The sculptures surrounded by coral walls were crafted in secret with hand tools until its completion in 1951.

Art Deco rules on trendy South Beach but for a variety of Latin-inspired styles grab some café con leche and take in the architecture of Little Havana. From 1920s Miami bungalows to Mediterranean to masonry design Little Havana is a melting pot of building and decorative styles from around the world. Before or after your stroll hit Calle Ocho – the main drag of this Latin Quarter – to peruse art galleries cigar shops and of course restaurants.

Fort Myers

The most popular keepsakes from southwest Florida come from mastering the “Sanibel stoop.” Before heading home with your collection of shells take in the history of an ancient Calusa Indian shell mound on Cabbage Key. Built in the mid-to-late 1930s by the son of playwright and novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart a cozy inn features a dining room wallpapered with $70 000 in autographed $1 bills. Walk the nature trail to the wooden water tower and a view of Pine Island Sound.

Cabbage Key is accessible only by boat as is Useppa Island a private island club that covets its continuous occupation of more than 10 000 years. The Pink Promenade (pathways) lush vegetation and “old Florida” architecture celebrate its exclusive membership for residents. .

Nearby Naples was voted among the "top 25 Arts Destinations in the United States" by AmericanStyle Magazine and it’s easy to see why with more than 100 nationally renowned art galleries. Most are located in Old Naples and the Third Street South shopping district.

Panama City

Explore unspoiled natural Panama City by renting a pontoon boat and cruising to Shell Island a 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island. Native Americans Spanish explorers and even pirates have tried to settle here but hurricanes wiped out those attempts. Now it’s home to deer shorebirds ghost crabs and loggerhead and green sea turtles.

Because of its high concentration of bottlenose dolphins you may catch a pod frolicking offshore. There are no tourist conveniences such as restrooms shaded pavilions or concession stands.

Jacksonville St. Augustine

Downtown Jacksonville bursts with energy along the St. Johns River with waterfront dining entertainment and cultural attractions. For a slower pace and less than an hour’s drive try the nation’s oldest city – St. Augustine.  Discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 St. Augustine is filled with more than 60 historic sites including Castillo De San Marcos – a fort and jail that watches over the Atlantic Ocean coast.

Amble along the brick-paved St. George Street – no cars allowed – where you’ll find the oldest wooden school house quaint shops and restaurants. Tour the former Hotel Ponce de Leon built in 1888 which is now part of Flagler College.

If you can imagine riding into the sunrise on horseback with the wind in your hair and the beach spray at your feet just gallop over to Amelia Island State Park for this romance-meets-adventure experience with Kelly Seahorse Ranch. An hour-long excursion on the white sandy beaches at the southernmost end of the island is one of the only places in Florida where riding horseback is allowed.


Cruise the world’s longest continuous sidewalk while standing on two wheels – a Segway tour of Tampa with Bayshore Boulevard as the highlight. With the bay on one side and lavish homes on the other it’s a favorite spot for joggers and walkers. It’s also the path for the annual Gasparilla celebration – when pirates invade the town and shower parade goers with beaded necklaces Mardi Gras-style. Also worth the trip across the bay Segway tours of downtown St. Petersburg show off the Pier Vinoy Park Dali Museum and city-wide collection of sculptures.

Swim with Florida’s gentle giants in Crystal River where manatees float and frolic especially during the winter months. The emphasis here is on passive interaction – let the manatees approach you.

West Palm Beach

Palm Beach County is most known for golf – it has the largest number of golf courses in the United States. Worth a look: polo a faster-paced sport also involving grass a ball and sticks.

After grabbing fresh pastries and fruit at the GreenMarket take your homemade picnic to the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. Bring a lounge chair – or a blanket will do – and enjoy your feast while watching the match.

Shopping is a sport in West Palm Beach boasting four main districts vying for your wallet’s attention with a variety of price points: Antique Row - 40 shops of rare eclectic and high-end gems; City Place an Italian-inspired open air center with popular shops including Banana Republic Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret; Clematis Street – in the historical heart of downtown known for its home furnishings and accessories; and Worth Avenue – think Rodeo drive with the world’s top designers collected just steps away from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida's Shoreline Treasures

The whir in my headphones rises in volume, signaling something metallic lies beneath the search coil of the metal detector. I quickly stoop, raise the detector slightly so it’s away from the surface of the ground and employ a scoop that gobbles up a big bite of beach sand. A sweep of the hole reveals no whir, so I know whatever set off the detector lies snuggled in the scoop.

As I dump the sand next to the hole, my fingers sift through it until I grasp a hard flat object about the size of a quarter. Cleaning off more sand, its irregular shape and black tone sets my heart aflutter.

It’s a Spanish reale, an undated silver treasure coin lost nearly 300 years ago.

A Treasure Shower

In 1715, 11 Spanish galleons left Havana Harbor. Their sails picked up the trade winds as they followed the Gulf Stream along the Florida Straits and close the shorelines off Florida’s central east coast. They hoped to remain on a northerly course until ultimately branching off and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Spain.

None of the ships made it, wrecking and scattering their cargo close to the shorelines from Stuart to Cape Canaveral. Millions of dollars worth of gold and silver coins, jewelry, ship artifacts and other relics were strewn along the east-central coast of Florida. While much has been salvaged from the wrecks, plenty remains – which means there’s plenty for you to find.

Not only do finds large and small continue on a daily basis, you get to keep what you find on the beaches (note that this is on the beaches only; not in the dunes, the water or any state parks) for a few miles north and south of Sebastian Inlet – the epicenter of what’s become known as the Treasure Coast. I found my first reale about two miles south of the inlet just above the beach’s high-tide line, where my metal detector also sniffed out a musketball only a few feet farther away.

While a metal detector can help unearth what’s unseen beneath the surface, simply eyeballing the areas as you walk along the surf can be productive. Look for a metallic gleam, of course – gold “escudo” coins, priceless necklaces and other jewelry have been found by beachcombers – but also note anything dark and misshapen such as oxidized silver or other unusual debris.

Where to Look

Treasure salvors still have leases to search the waters, so stay on the beaches beyond the surf line. You also must respect private property whenever encountered between where the beach sand ends (known as the escarpment) to U.S. Highway A1A that parallels the coast.

Look for the high-tide line where the sand is softest and walk along it, as that’s frequently proven to be productive. Sort through the debris and inspect anything unusual. A screened device at the end of a handle can reduce a lot of stooping, but simple garden tools, such as a hand scoop or pail, will suffice.

Another good zone involves the “wet sand” that’s exposed as the surf recedes after each wave. If you notice something worth checking out, keep your eyes fastened on that spot so you don’t lose it and move quickly before the next wave washes in.

When it’s safe to do so, hit the beach soon after a storm’s come through off the ocean. The heavy wave action stirs up the sediment and at times picks up objects, like coins, and tumbles them right onto the beaches.

Look for areas with more shell deposits than others, as this might indicate where strong currents are sweeping across the bottom and depositing loose objects onto the beach sand.

One of my favorite locations involves Vero Beach. I stay at the Vero Beach Holiday Inn due to its proximity to other productive beaches. I also work the beaches just north and south of the hotel, where I found four silver coins on only two visits.

The Right Stuff: Equipment and Etiquette

While eyeballing can and has resulted in thousands of treasure coins being found, you can’t beat having the ability to detect what’s under the sand as well. A metal detector does just that, and they’re easy to operate.

Of course, such equipment varies in capability, with simple metal detectors costing only $100 or so and more sensitive models exceeding $1,000. One of the more popular types for a saltwater environment involves pulse induction detectors, such as my Garrett Infinium. A set of headphones helps block out extraneous noise so you can quickly detect the increased sound level when the detector head sweeps over something metallic.

I’ve found the most success being methodical. I’ll mentally grid an area and work it slowly, taking one step per sweep of the metal detector in front of me as I hold it just above the sand. Depending on the quality of the detector and the buried metal object, I’ve found things as small as a dime 12 inches below the surface. Larger objects or those buried a long time that emanate a metallic “halo” effect can be dug up several feet down.

Using a metal detector is easy once you get the hang of it, and to me and many other enthusiasts it’s just plain fun. I like finding things, and when it’s something of value it’s really a blast. Even though none of the coins I’ve found exceed $100 in value, the fact I found them and perhaps they would have remained hidden in the ground for many more years – or forever – makes it that much more special.

When using a metal detector, it’s important to not only respect private property but also to not make any messes. Always refill any hole you dig so it’s not unsightly and doesn’t serve as a safety hazard for others walking along the beach.

If you do see people sweeping the sand with metal detectors – and you will in many areas on a daily basis – let them move along without disturbance. I sure wish I had a dollar for every time someone’s walked up and asked, “Have you found anything?” While I don’t mind stopping and removing my headphones to converse, particularly with curious kids, some treasure hunters don’t want any disturbances that break their concentration.

Besides the Vero Beach Holiday Inn area, sites where I’ve had the best luck include:

Any of the beaches three miles north or south of Sebastian Inlet State Park, in particular, Bonsteel Park north of Sebastian Inlet

Wabasso Beach

Melbourne Beach

Aquarina Beach, about 11 miles south of Melbourne Beach

Pepper Park Beach near Fort Pierce

 Ode to Treasures: McLarty State Treasure Museum

Consider it an absolute must to visit the McLarty State Treasure Museum, a small but fascinating museum on A1A just south of Sebastian Inlet. Besides hearing informal presentations by staff about the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet and the history of all the treasure that’s been salvaged, they have a movie room that offers a flick showing treasure salvors, various finds and other interesting details.

Glassed showcases display gold and silver coins, glittering jewelry and historical objects such as navigational equipment used in the 17th and 18th centuries found among wrecks. Since it’s finders-keepers, people often come by to show off their finds – and the staff is glad to tell you where recent discoveries have been made.

Park Services Specialist Ed Perry is also glad to provide insights on the area’s treasure history and even advice on improving your odds of finding something.

Though the museum is replete with valuable treasures, it only costs $2 to enter. There’s a short boardwalk behind the building that overlooks the beach where many treasure discoveries have taken place over the years. Some of the galleon cannons were found literally right where the tide breaks onto the beaches.

When I recently visited the museum, the kindly woman at the entrance offered that the hottest site where finds were being made involved Bonsteel Park. Off I headed to the park about three miles north of Sebastian Inlet. After parking, I strode to the beach via the boardwalk. I noted three people metal detecting to the north along the beach, so I sauntered about a quarter mile south before seeing a promising location with lots of debris and shells near the high-tide mark.

After about an hour of sweeping the detector over the sand and turning up nothing but junk, I registered a faint hit. My scoop dug into the soft sand, and a subsequent sweep of the hole with the detector resulted in a stronger tone in my headphones. I sank to my knees and scooped out the sand with a right hand as the left kept the detector aloft.

I grasped a clod of sediment and held it over the hole. Lightly cleaning away caked-on sand and small shells, I broke open the mass. I couldn’t believe it.

Something resembling an old tin container pulverized in my fingers. In a frenzied excitement, I swung the detector back over the hole – another strong signal.

My hand felt something solid and seconds later I clutched two silver reales. The coins possibly were kept in the tin along with perhaps tobacco, and the heavier coins eventually sank beneath the deteriorative tin.

To say I felt overjoyed would be an understatement – I let out a whoop so loud that a nearby seagull walking the beach took to the air. I had once again found Spanish treasure.

If you’ve got gold fever in your heart – and so many of those with an adventurous heart do! – plan on spending an extra day or two on your next vacation looking for real Spanish treasure. Not only might you literally strike gold, the whole family will enjoy the beach experience that much more.

And when you happen upon all the men, women and children waving metal detectors, give them a thumbs-up signal – you just might be wishing me good luck as well.

Florida's Turnpike: What You Need to Know

Driving through the Sunshine State? Odds are, if you’re heading up or down or even across the central spine of the state, you’ll find yourself on Florida’s Turnpike.

Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s Turnpike:

What is Florida’s Turnpike?

It is 461 miles of toll roads that make traveling more efficient because of fewer exits and less traffic. It is operated by Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, part of the Florida Department of Transportation. 

Why do I have to pay a toll?

The Turnpike is largely paid for by the drivers who use it. Toll revenue goes to operate, maintain and expand the Turnpike system.

When was the Turnpike built?

The first section of Florida's Turnpike opened in 1957.

Why is it called the Ronald Reagan Turnpike?

The main line, from Miami to Wildwood, north of Orlando, was designated the Ronald Reagan Turnpike in 1998 by the Florida Legislature to honor the 40th president of the United States.

How much are tolls?

They depend on the section of the Turnpike you’re on and how far you're going, but are priced by mile and by the number of vehicle axles. See a toll calculator here.

How do I pay tolls? Do I need to have cash?

You can pay by cash or by SunPass, the state’s prepaid toll program, which discounts tolls about 25 percent and saves time at toll booths. Where all-electronic tolling is in effect, you can also pay by Toll-By-Plate, where a camera takes a picture of your license plate, and you are mailed a bill for tolls plus a $2.50 service charge.

How do toll booths work?

Turnpike signs will let you know what kind of toll booth is coming up, and the toll amount. At cash booths, you pay the toll and can get change. At unmanned cash booths, you will need exact change in coin. If you have a SunPass, it is scanned by an electronic reader and tolls are deducted from your prepaid account.

The Miami section of the Turnpike no longer accepts cash. Drivers use SunPass or Toll-By-Plate, which takes a picture of your license plate and mails you a bill for tolls and a $2.50 administrative fee per monthly invoice.

What is SunPass?

SunPass is the state’s prepaid toll program. To use it, you buy a SunPass device called a “transponder” that attaches to the inside of your windshield. When you drive through a SunPass toll plaza, the toll is deducted from your prepaid account.

What is a SunPass transponder and how much is it?

There are two kinds of SunPass transponders. The SunPass Portable is $19.99 plus tax and attaches to your windshield with suction cups. It is removable and can be used on any vehicle with a windshield, including motorcycles. The SunPass Mini Sticker is $4.99 plus tax, and permanently attaches to windshields. It cannot be used on motorcycles. Both require a $10 minimum balance to activate.

How does SunPass work?

When you drive through a SunPass toll lane, the SunPass transponder transmits a radio signal to sensors in the toll plaza and the toll amount is deducted from your prepaid account. Find more info here.

Where can I buy a SunPass?

Online, by mail or fax, or at nearly 2,000 retail outlets in Florida, including Publix Super Markets, CVS Pharmacies, Walgreen's, Amscot Financial branches and AAA South offices. Transponders are also sold at Turnpike service plazas, Turnpike gas stations and SunPass Service Centers. The SunPass Mini Sticker is sold at 24-hour vending machines at three Welcome Centers and one rest area. See locations here.  

How do I activate a SunPass?

To activate your SunPass, you need to put a minimum of $10 in your prepaid account. You can activate online, at 1-888-TOLL-FLA (1-888-865-5352), at a SunPass Payment Center or a SunPass Service Center. You can use your activated SunPass immediately in "SunPass Only," "E-Pass Only" and "Leeway Only" lanes. You can use your SunPass after 6 a.m. the morning after activation in other lanes.

Should visitors get a SunPass?

You are not obligated to buy a SunPass, but it will save you money and time. You will save about 25 percent on tolls, and you won’t have to stop at cash lanes.

Can I use other state transponders in Florida?

Georgia's Peach Pass and North Carolina's NC Quick Pass are accepted. Motorists must use the "SunPass Only" or "EPass Only" or "Leeway Only" toll lanes for these transponders to work.

Where does the SunPass work?

SunPass can be used on all Florida toll roads and nearly all bridges. If you sign up for Easy Pay and link a credit or debit card to your SunPass, you can use it to pay parking fees at the Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Orlando and Palm Beach airports.

What if I go through a SunPass lane by mistake?

A picture of your license plate will be taken, and you will receive a notice about the unpaid toll. Read more here.

What is Toll-By-Plate? How does it work?

Toll-By-Plate is a tolling system that works by taking a picture of a vehicle’s license plate as it passes under a tolling station. The vehicle’s owner is invoiced for tolls every 30 days, plus a $2.50 administrative charge. It is available on the Turnpike system roads where all-electronic tolling is in effect — Florida's Turnpike in Miami, The Sawgrass Expressway west of Fort Lauderdale and the Veterans Expressway in Tampa.

To open a prepaid Toll-By-Plate account, visit or call 1-888-TAG-TOLL (888-824-8655). Or just drive and you will receive an invoice in the mail.

Are other Turnpike toll booths converting to all-electronic/no cash?

Yes. Hollywood Boulevard (Exit 49) and Griffin Road (Exit 53) in Broward County are scheduled to convert in late 2015.

For updates, check the current projects web page.

How do I pay tolls if I rent a car?

Most major rental car companies can include tolls in your rental agreement. Some rental cars have a SunPass. If your car does not, Turnpike cameras take a photo of the rental car's license plate as it goes through a toll lane and bills the rental company. Your credit card is charged or you are billed for tolls, plus any service fees. Ask your rental car company for fees and terms.

What if I have a SunPass and rent a car?

You can use your own SunPass transponder in a rental car. Just let SunPass know the rental car’s license number, and remember to remove the transponder when you return the vehicle.

Experience Greater Fort Lauderdale in 60 Seconds

See what the Fort Lauderdale area has to offer — all in just 60 seconds.

Experience Kennedy Space Center in 60 Seconds

Experience Kennedy Space Center — in just 60 seconds.

Discover the Palm Beaches in 60 Seconds

See what the Palm Beaches have to offer — all in just 60 seconds.

A Full Deck of Florida: 52 Winning Experiences

Deal yourself a winning hand from this full deck of Florida — 52 must-have experiences in the Sunshine State.

The “cards” can be sorted into six themes: 

WHAT'S THE ATTRACTION? Unique ways to experience Florida’s well-known attractions

WILD LIFE – Al fresco fun for outdoorsy types

GO GONZO – Stuff that’s off the chain and off the wall

JUST BEACHY – Ahhhh, sand and sea and thee

LOCAL FLAVOR – Just say “yum!”

CULTURED PEARLS – History, art, unique traditions and funky festivals 

Shuffle the cards and lay out a vacation spread of the best experiences Florida has to offer. With this dynamic deck, everyone’s a winner!


Quaff Butterbeer The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando Nothing will transport you and your senses to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry quite like a souvenir mug filled with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s secret recipe for this non-alcoholic treat. There’s a little something for all Muggles — a smooth, cold version or one that’s blended with ice, with the flavor of a Werther’s Original caramel candies mixed into a cream soda.

Release the Kraken SeaWorld Orlando SeaWorld may be famous for its animal shows and marine exhibits, but the park also has a legion of devoted fans that flock to its high-flying amusement park thrill rides. In 2000, SeaWorld Orlando opened Kraken, a speeding steel roller coaster named after the vicious fictional sea monster kept caged by Poseidon. The coaster has a 119-foot loop and a zero-gravity roll, but lacks one very important peace-of-mind feature: a floor. 

This Bud’s for You Daytona International Speedway The Sprint FANZONE is the place to be for thousands of race fans who flock to Daytona Beach every February for the Daytona 500, one of NASCAR’s premier events. You can watch world-famous drivers walk across the stage before the race, see the cars get their technical inspections, meet your racing idols and listen to live driver interviews. True racing aficionados should crack open a cold one at the Budweiser Bistro, an open air bar in the FANZONE, and just take it all in. 

Go Global for Happy Hour Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando Drinking around the world is a favorite pastime of imbibing Disneyphiles who come to the 11 countries represented at Epcot’s World Showcase. Enjoy a Carlsberg beer in Norway, limoncello in Italy, some sake in Japan, an avocado margarita in Mexico — you get the idea. Just make sure you pack plenty of money and get a designated driver, or better yet, book a room at one of the many area hotels that offer bus service to and from the park. 

Eat Astronaut Ice Cream Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral We’re not saying it’s the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted. But there’s a certain nostalgia involved in munching freeze-dried astronaut ice cream from the Space Shop at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. While touring the visitor complex, grab a pack in flavors like Neapolitan and cookies-and-cream for $3.99, let it melt in your mouth and dissolve on your tongue and be transported back to the glory days of the now-retired space shuttle launches that once thrilled a nation of little kids hoping to one day soar into outer space.

Dine in Royal Style Cinderella's Castle, Walt Disney World Cinderella’s Castle greets you as you walk into the Magic Kingdom and represents everything the fantasy world of Disney has to offer. Not everyone knows you can actually go inside and enjoy a royal feast. For $30 to $60 (on top of the park admission fee), you can dine in an opulent chamber with Gothic arches and stained glass windows. The Royal Table restaurant is known for its prime rib and other sumptuous fare. You can even have your picture taken with the lovely lady who rose from the ashes and started it all. Reservations required. 

Meet a Cheetah Busch Gardens, Tampa Busch Gardens in Tampa has an attraction called Cheetah Run, and it lives up to its reputation as a place to see the fastest land animals on the planet let it all out in a burst of black spots and speed. The cheetahs will sometimes come right up to the glass to meet you. In 2011, the park adopted an orphaned cheetah named Kasi, who then became best friends with a Labrador retriever mix named Mtani. Their daily play dates became one of the park's most popular features. When you’ve had your fill of watching animal antics, you can get on board the Cheetah Hunt, a roller coaster designed to move — you guessed it — just like a cheetah. See to Believe Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Orlando No, you didn’t drink too many Butterbeers on your Orlando vacation. That building really is crooked. But wait. Is it? That’s the fun of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium. It’s home to a collection of weird and wonderful objects that will tickle your imagination, from a set of miniature terracotta warriors to a 25-foot high mural of Jimi Hendrix made of playing cards to a real shrunken head to wax figures, puzzles and fossils. And then there’s the showstopper: a picture of Beyoncé made completely of candy. Sweet!


Spot Key Deer National Key Deer Refuge, Big Pine Key Once you cross into Big Pine Key, you start to see road signs warning you to stay on the lookout for endangered Key Deer. Visitors can travel through the refuge among the area’s forests, wetlands and mangroves, founded in 1957 when the Key Deer population was at a low of 27. The diminutive deer, which average about 80 pounds, now number in the hundreds and can be seen prancing along roadsides or sometimes taking a siesta among the trees. 

‘Survivor: Fort JeffersonDry Tortugas National Park Put your camping mettle to the test and star in your own private version of “Survivor” at Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park. The park’s seven islands are a mix of beach and coral reef, plus historical artifacts, including the 19th century fort. For those who camp near the fort on Garden Key, it’s primitive all the way, meaning no showers or convenient water spigots to wash your dishes. You bring what you need — water, sleeping bags, flashlights and, of course, your camera — and board the Yankee Freedom ferry to get to the island and camp out under the stars. 

Crack a Coconut Sugarloaf Key About a 15-minute drive from Key West, secluded Sugarloaf Key is full of channels perfect for kayaking and lined with towering palm trees that drop coconuts into the water. Snag one on your kayak trip and get to work. You’ll need a hammer and a chisel, or just really strong biceps and a firm slab of cement. But the work will pay off when you bust the outer layer to meet the hairy little brown fellow inside, and then crack that open for a rush of fresh coconut water. Bake the coconut in the oven to loosen the meat and then blend it up with some rum and pineapple juice for the freshest piña colada you’ll ever taste.

Meet the Manatees TECO Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach When Tampa Electric opened a unit in 1984 that heated the water as a result of its cooling process, it attracted manatees, which seek warm temperatures when temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico drop below 68 degrees between November and April. Now hundreds of the gentle sea cows winter at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, and about 200,000 people make their way through the viewing station each year, snapping pictures and getting to know manatees by name. Some of the manatees have been returning to the same spot for years. 

Hunt for Fossils Peace River Paddle down Florida’s Peace River and you might find more than natural beauty. The subtropical river, which runs 105 miles from Polk County south all the way to Charlotte Harbor, has some of the state’s best fossil hunting. Professional guides can take you to known fossil grounds and help you hunt. They’ll also help you get the necessary permit (you need one to keep anything except shark teeth) and will take pictures of you with your prizes. 

Take Off in an Airboat The Everglades Gators, snakes, raccoons, the rare Florida Panther, egrets — you might see them all while cruising through the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Because of its massive size — the Everglades stretches from coast to coast in South Florida — you can find tours from just about any point of entry. Take a ride on a flat-bottomed airboat, the most popular way to explore the region without putting a propeller in the water. There are plenty of outfitters and guides ready to take you on a magical tour of the “River of Grass.”

Get Tubular Ichetucknee River Imagine reclining in an inner tube and letting the clear, cold water guide you where it will. If you have a few hours and a bathing suit, you can float down the Ichetucknee River at Ichetucknee Springs State Park near Gainsville. You can rent a tube at the park or at any of the outfitters along the river, some of which even offer drop-off and pick-up service, so all you have to do is sit back and hum your own version of “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” 

Find Fine Feathered Friends Sanibel and Captiva islands Bird-watching boring? No way. Not at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, one of the best places in the state to spot wading birds such as egrets, roseate spoonbills, herons and ibis. If you venture farther afield to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, be on the lookout for hawks, swallows, wrens and mockingbirds. Keep a running list and make a contest of it with family and friends. 

Get Teed Off Destin This small town in the Panhandle is known as the “World's Luckiest Fishing Village," but it’s also a lucky destination for visitors who want to hit the greens. Destin has become a major destination for avid golfers seeking some of the best courses in the country. Golf stars such as Tom Fazio and Greg Norman have opened golf courses in the area. Destin is also known for its beautiful beaches, so if you book a trip here, there’ll be something for everyone in the family. 

Paddle All the Way The Suwannee River Take in a liquid path fringed by pines and cypress trees, relax as the river widens to springs and limerock shoals along the way, and be proud that you did the whole thing. That’s right, you can cruise almost the entire length of the Suwannee River. It’s a multi-day excursion — the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail starting in White Springs is 170 miles long. There are river camps situated along the way with raised and screened-in sleeping platforms, showers and restrooms for those days when you want a break from roughing it.


Sleep With the Fishes Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo Jules’ Undersea Lodge is not your ordinary overnight accommodation. You have to scuba dive to get to the hotel under the sea, which is the only one of its kind in the country and is situated five feet off the bottom of Emerald Lagoon near Key Largo. The 600-square-foot cottage can accommodate up to two couples or a family of six. It has hot showers, a kitchen and comfortable beds against windows where you can watch fish swim by as you drift off to sleep. 

Hoist the Jolly Roger Gasparilla Pirate Parade, Tampa Arrrr! Avast, me hearties! If there’s one place in Florida where upstanding citizens can get away with wearing corsets and tricorn hats and generally swashbuckling up a storm, it’s at the Gasparilla Pirate Parade. The annual pirate invasion comes to Tampa each February in tribute to José Gaspar, a fictional Spanish pirate captain. The city’s well-heeled residents mingle with its rowdiest denizens on the waterfront along Bayshore Boulevard, drinking grog and catching beads during a daylong, sun-soaked pirate parade of elaborate floats. And if you spy your orthodontist wearing a petticoat and a parrot, it’s best to keep it mum, matey. 

Fly Like an Eagle Wallaby Ranch, Davenport If “soaring like a bird” is on your must-do list, you can come close by hang-gliding at Wallaby Ranch in Davenport, the birthplace of hang-gliding in 1991. The ranch is open every day of the year for folks yearning to glide through a secluded area filled with wildlife and beautiful scenery. You can camp in a tent or RV on site and find plenty else to do while you're there, including activities for the kiddos. But the main event is free-flying for 15 minutes at 2,000 feet in the air with an experienced certified instructor. An all-inclusive flight is $175, and for an extra $60, you can get the whole thing captured on DVD. 

Snack on Snake The Wild Game Feast, DeLand Held each May at the Volusia County Fairgrounds, the Wild Game Feast welcomes guests to spend $50 each to sample from heaping helpings of exotic delicacies, including venison, gator tail, frog legs, crawfish, pulled pork, wild boar stew and the Pièce de résistance, fried rattlesnake. The event raises money for local non-profit organizations, so you can feel warm and fuzzy while noshing on something long and slithery.

Zip It Good The Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tour, Ocala Fear of heights will evaporate in the exhilaration of racing down a zip line at Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tour in the Ocala National Forest. Guests can tackle nine different lines on the nearly 100-acre plot at Canyons, traversing over water, across ravines and through shady, majestic oaks. For the regular price of $89, you get the service of two experienced guides to take you on a three-hour zip line tour that includes rope bridges, a nature walk and a rappelling opportunity. If you’re feeling really bold, you can try it at night on special tours only offered a few times a year. 

Party Down in a College Town University of Florida, Gainesville You’re only young once, true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t revisit your glory days with a weekend tour of Gainesville, home to the University of Florida. Hang out with a slew of real Gators at The Swamp Restaurant, an old house that once belonged to a UF professor and is now the hub of activity on game days (and most other days). After a dinner there (try the sweet potato fries), hit the streets for a tour of college dive bars and loud dance clubs chock full of people at the most optimistic point in their lives. 

Spin Some Hot Wheels Ocean Drive, Miami Maybe you’re not normally the type to jump in a neon-bright Lamborghini and rev it up and down Ocean Drive while onlookers marvel. But if you plan it right, you can be, just for a day. Exotic car rentals are plentiful in flashy Miami and can range from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on how long you want to ride in style. Ocean Drive is as much a place to see and be seen as it is a roadway, so whether you go for a Ferrari or an Audi, an Aston Martin or even a Rolls Royce, just make sure it's gleaming, glitzy and worth every penny. 

Grapple with a Gator

Gatorland, Orlando If you're fascinated by alligators but would prefer to see them in a controlled environment where professionals do the wrestling, check out Gatorland in Orlando, home to thousands of alligators and crocodiles, as well as a thrilling zip line attraction that lets you soar at a safe distance above the toothy reptiles. At Gatorland, you can watch someone who knows what he's doing wrestle the beasts. And maybe if you get your courage up, you can do it yourself. Gatorland experts will pose the animals and let rookies give wrestling a try. Smile for the camera — you’re only doing this once.

Fear the Spear! Florida State University home game, Tallahassee Fans of the Florida State University Seminoles football team, which won the 2013 NCAA national championship, pack into Doak Campbell Stadium for games and make sure to get there early to witness one of the most thrilling rituals in all of college sports. A student dressed as legendary Seminole Indian leader Osceola gallops down the field on an Appaloosa horse named Renegade. He then takes a flaming spear and thrusts it into the ground midfield to mark the start of the game. If that doesn’t get you pumped for a gridiron battle, nothing will.

JUST BEACHY Castles Made of Sand The Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota The annual contest, which has been around more than 40 years, attracts some of the world’s most talented professional sand sculpture artists to Siesta Key Beach, which was named one of the 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 25 U.S. Beaches. Amateurs are also welcome, and even if architecture isn’t your forte, it’s fun to feast your eyes on the amazing creations, which can range from mermaids to Volkswagens to pirates to Angry Birds to giant dogs drinking out of giant bowls. And there’s the occasional traditional — but elaborately constructed — sandcastle, too. 

Hit the Beach on Horseback Amelia Island Is there anything more romantic than cantering along the waterline on a beautiful Florida beach? If you own a horse, you can take it for a ride at Amelia Island State Park, one of the only horse-friendly beaches on Florida’s east coast. If you need a steed, several companies based in the area rent horses and provide guides, usually for around $70 to $80. It’s small price to pay for a memory — and a Facebook photo — that will last a lifetime.

Retreat to the Beach New Smyrna Beach There’s something magical that happens as you drive down the east coast of Florida, out of Daytona and into New Smyrna Beach. The restaurants and hotels fade, replaced by private beach houses on stilts. You can rent one from seasonal residents for $100 and up a night, depending on how large a house you want and how close to the water it is. The waves are tall and the vibe is all about seclusion and relaxation. One place that’ll tempt you to leave your seaside retreat is Capt. JB’s Fish Camp & Seafood Restaurant, a complex with a waterfront dock, kayak rentals and a cheeky little sandwich called the “Crabulous,” a sinful concoction of mayonnaise and pure crab. 

Cowabunga! Catch a Wave Daytona Beach Good surfers make it look so easy. The rest of us need a little help. You can fulfill your dream of catching a wave in surf hotspot Daytona Beach by patronizing any number of outfits along the beach that deliver personal or group lessons, usually for about $50 and up per hour. This is a high-traffic area for visitors, so be prepared to submerge yourself in the tourist lifestyle. The soft, swelling waves are good for beginners and kids, as well as those who have a bit more confidence and experience. 

Perch at the Pink Palace Loews Don CeSar Hotel, St. Pete Beach The towering Loews Don CeSar Hotel is a registered Historic Hotel of America known around the world as the Pink Palace for the way its rosy majesty is silhouetted against the sky on St. Pete Beach. Built in 1928, the hotel has played host to Clarence Darrow and F. Scott Fitzgerald and has been the setting for movies and music specials. You can spend all day in the vicinity of pink paradise, visiting the dockside restaurants and bars, grabbing an ice cream cone or getting a pedicure. Overnight guests have access to two swimming pools and a private beach, plus sun-kissed cheeks to match the hotel’s hue. 

Dig Your Toes in the Sand St. George Island This barrier island off the Florida Panhandle is home to bustling restaurants, bars and multi-million dollar homes, but it also has a laid-back feel and pockets of peaceful seclusion unmatched by other Florida beaches. Surround yourself with sea oats and pine trees, and enjoy miles of undeveloped white sugar sand. Your toes will thank you for the break.

LOCAL FLAVOR Say ‘Yes’ to Ya Ya The Fish House, Pensacola Ready to try a real Southern delicacy that’s also fun to say? Indulge in a plate of Grits a Ya Ya at the Fish House in Pensacola. The famous meal serves up a combo of jumbo Gulf shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, bacon and cream over Gouda cheese grits for $20. At the Fish House, you can eat dockside while gazing out at Pensacola Bay and Seville Harbor. If grits aren’t your thing, you can choose from a mouthwatering array of local seafood, steaks and sushi. But really — grits should be your thing. 

Grab Some Grouper Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, Clearwater Beach If you live in Clearwater and are hosting out-of-towners, there’s one hard-and-fast rule of thumb — everyone must go to Frenchy’s! The signature eatery of Clearwater Beach was founded in 1981 and has expanded into four restaurants and a motel at different locations on the beach. But the best view by far comes from Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill right on the sand. Eat a big filet of grouper — fried, grilled or cooked Cajun or Buffalo style — or upsize to the massive Super Grouper sandwich. Get a side of luxurious She Crab soup and slurp it as you watch the sun go down. 

Get Into the Grove Al’s Family Farms, Fort Pierce To truly squeeze the juice from a Florida visit, you have to tour an authentic orange grove. Al's Family Farms in Fort Pierce in the Indian River citrus district has been in business for more than 35 years and three generations. Depending on the time of year, you can sic your taste buds on some juicy Valencia oranges, Ruby Red grapefruit, Royal Honeybell tangelos and other citrus delights, plus take a tour of the packing house to see how the fruit is processed. 

Tong for Oysters Apalachicola Bay Got a taste for oysters? You could sit at a swanky restaurant and slurp some down, or you could take matters into your own hands in the waters of Apalachicola Bay. More than 90 percent of the state’s oysters are harvested there, raked by hardworking harvesters wielding tongs that resemble a set of giant salad forks. Oysters must be at least 3 inches long to be taken from the bay, and if you're doing it for fun and not business, you can only harvest two bags per person. If you want to know where to look and how to tong, there are charter operations you can hire in Apalachicola and on St. George Island

Sleuth for Scallops Steinhatchee Maybe you’re not a fan of oysters, but you’re wild about their fellow filter-feeders, scallops. Scallop season runs from July to September and there are plenty of places you can while away the day snorkeling the grass flats and plucking the blue-eyed beauties from their hiding places. In the small fishing village of Steinhatchee, west of Gainesville, find a recreational charter boat, slap on a snorkel and mask and keep your eyes open as you swim along. Be sure to check the rules regarding how many you can harvest. Scallops aren’t so easy to clean, so consider taking your haul to a local scallop shucker or a restaurant in town that will prepare them for you. 


Smoke a Stogie King Corona Cigars, Ybor City, Tampa Ybor City is a vibrant Tampa neighborhood that was once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” King Corona Cigars in the heart of the historic entertainment district sells a large selection of handmade cigars to both regulars and visitors, along with wine, imported beer, pan cubano (Cuban toast), yucca chips, Cuban coffee and a selection of guayaberas, also known as Mexican wedding shirts. But the real draw is sitting at a sidewalk table puffing a stogie in the late afternoon without a care in the world, just before the streets start to fill with pleasure-seekers ready for a big night out in Ybor’s happening clubs. 

Snuggle a Possum Possum Festival, Wausau It’s a favorite stop of campaigning Florida politicians, who like to have their photos taken holding the critters by their naked tails. The Wausau Possum Festival is a major annual event in the 1-square-mile town in Northwest Florida, and it comes complete with a pancake breakfast, a Possum King & Queen contest, a Possum Trot 5K run and hog-calling and horseshoe-throwing tests of will and skill. And, of course, you can gaze upon — and maybe even pet — some of the festival honorees. 

Be Queen for a Day Parkesdale Farm Market, Plant City In Plant City, just outside of Tampa, life moves a little slower and royalty is real. Each year the town crowns a Strawberry Queen and her court in a show of pageantry at the annual Florida Strawberry Festival. If you have royal aspirations of your own, visit Parkesdale Farm Market, the largest family-operated strawberry and citrus market in Florida. Sip one of their world-famous strawberry milkshakes and nibble some strawberry shortcake, and when you’re done, plop yourself onto the giant strawberry throne and pretend to be queen. They even provide tiaras. 

Get Spooked St. Augustine Take advantage of St. Augustine’s spooky historic vibe with one of the guided ghost tours on offer. The casual enthusiast will enjoy one with ladies in period garb guiding tours around cemeteries, narrow roads and the city's famous intertwining Love Tree, which bestows everlasting love to those who kiss below it. More sophisticated hunters of souls — such as the supernatural sleuths of SyFy network’s “Ghost Hunters” TV show, who were amazed by the paranormal activity at the St. Augustine Lighthouse — can take more technical tours. Either way, you’re sure to get back to your hotel and see your shower curtain move in the middle of the night. 

Spy Six-Toed Cats The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West Polydactyl cats have six — count ’em, six — toes. Writer Ernest Hemingway became a fan of the felines after receiving a six-toed kitty from a ship’s captain. Today, the descendants of Hemingway’s original cats roam the property of the Hemingway Home in Key West, along with other kitties sporting the usual number of digits. If you tour the property, you can often find them lounging by Hemingway’s typewriter, or by the expensive swimming pool built for the author’s wife, Pauline. 

Go On an Upscale Spree Worth Avenue, Palm Beach Head to Worth Avenue in Palm Beach to shop like the stars do at more than 200 exceedingly upscale retailers, including Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Neiman Marcus and Emilo Pucci, plus art dealers, jewelers and restaurants, all appealing to the kind of folks who stay at The Breakers, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spaand the Four Seasons hotels, among other luxe properties nearby. Remember, it’s fine to just look and not buy. 

Hunt for Treasure Mount Dora Your most treasured vacation souvenir needn’t be brand new — it could be lurking in one of the many antique stores in Mount Dora.  Browse to your heart’s content in venues that range from Renninger's Antique Center, with its weekend open air markets, to the Village Antique Mall, with more than 60 vendors. Mount Dora also has a full slate of antique, book, craft, bicycle and music festivals year-round.

Martinis in Miami Fontainebleau Miami Beach The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is situated on Millionaire's Row in Miami Beach, where it looks right at home. The luxurious hotel was originally designed in 1954 by Morris Lapidus and has been fully renovated. Its guests include some of the world's biggest celebrities. The Fontainebleau boasts 12 restaurants, including renowned chef Scott Conant's Scarpetta. And you don’t have to stay the night to get in on the glamour. You can pretend you’re Frank Sinatra while sipping a cocktail at one of the hotel’s clubs, such as Bleau Bar, Michael Mina 74 and Liv. Can’t you feel that “summer wind blowin’ in from across the sea”? 

Hear the Bells Toll Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales You can listen to recordings of the 60-bell carillon at Bok Tower Gardens online, but there’s nothing like experiencing it in person. A historic landmark in Lake Wales created by writer and humanitarian Edward W. Bok, Bok Tower Gardens is host to stunning swaths of azaleas and magnolias that dazzle the eye when in full bloom, an endangered plant garden, a reflecting pool and, of course, the 205-foot Singing Tower, which rings out for guests in the lush gardens below from 1 to 3 p.m. every day. 

Have an Artful Adventure John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota In 1911, circus pioneers John and Mable Ringling bought the vast property along the Sarasota waterfront where they spent their winters. Eventually, they filled the palatial estate with a world-class art collection and eventually left it all to the State of Florida. Today, there’s a museum housing an ever-expanding collection featuring works by Rubens, van Dyck, Velázquez, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Gainsborough and more, and has become a mecca for culture-seekers from around the globe. The Ringling estate also includes the jewel-box Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Ringling Circus Museum, the Ringling Bayfront Gardens and the Venetian Gothic-style mansion grandly named Ca’ d’Zan

Storm the Castillo Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the country and embodies the spirit of the early colonial era in America. Today, you can journey back in time when you step through the battlements and read about the epic battles and sieges that happened there, take a tour, view people in period garb giving weapons demonstrations or even pack a picnic lunch and nibble a sandwich beneath the fort's formidable walls.

Climb a Lighthouse Forgotten Coast They gleam mysteriously from a distance, sturdy beacons of light hundreds of years old that tower along Florida’s Forgotten Coast. A series of four lighthouses mark the 90 miles from St. Marks to Cape San Blas, structures hundreds of years old. Take a drive and visit the St. Marks Lighthouse, the Crooked River Lighthouse, the Cape St. George Light and the Cape San Blas Lighthouse. Time your visit for a full moon night when you can climb to the top of all but the St. Marks lighthouse for a moonlit view of the Gulf.

Go Native Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation Every Florida fan should know the basics about the state’s native peoples. Learn about the Seminole Tribe of Florida at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Clewiston. Guests can tour a mile of boardwalk cutting through a cypress swamp, learn how the tribe uses 67 different plant species and watch artists create wood carvings, woven baskets and beadwork. The museum houses more than 20,000 tribal artifacts, as well as life-size dioramas and other exhibits, and visitors can watch a movie explaining Seminole history. And you can take a bit of the museum home with you by purchasing a piece of Seminole art. 

Find the Toreador Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg Can you see him? It’s the “Hallucinogenic Toreador,” a famous work by surrealist master Salvador Dali, housed in new Salvador Dali Museum designed by French-American architect Yann Weymouth. The museum is open 363 days of the year on St. Petersburg’s waterfront and boasts 96 Dali oil paintings, plus drawings, prints, sculptures, photos and written works. The “Toreador,” meant to embody the disdain of Dali's wife Gala for the sport of bullfighting, is comprised of 28 Venus de Milo forms and myriad other elements that, when looked at just right, form the upper body of a bullfighter. 

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