TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

2018 Destination Guide: Florida

By
Susan
Elnicki Wade

St. Augustine, Fla.

In 1513, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed his ship on this part of Florida in search of the fountain of youth. He didn't stay long, but he did lay the groundwork for what would become America's oldest city. For almost 400 years, St. Augustine's 42 miles of white sand beaches would witness wars and storms and population growth. Remnants of this unique history remain in structures such as the Gilded Era luxury hotels built by Henry Flagler and the 165-foot-tall lighthouse erected in 1871 to guard the port. Today this seaside resort town bustles with superb restaurants, boutiques, galleries, museums and performing arts venues. You can fill your days with historic discovery or simply relax along the water enjoying the sun and surf.

Eating: Some of its fine waterfront eateries include Café Alcazar, Oak Room Restaurant & Lounge, Purple Olive, Aviles Restaurant & Lounge and Costa Brava Restaurant.

Docking: Accommodating vessels up to 130 feet, Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor offers courtesy cars for provisioning and sightseeing along with ValvTect fuel and onsite marina services from Camachee Yacht Yard.

Palm Beaches, Fla.

The 47-mile stretch of beach along the Atlantic coast from Jupiter to Boca Raton hosts a string of marvelous oceanfront towns called the Palm Beaches, each with its own magic and charisma. The area, especially Palm Beach, was once frequented by foreign aristocrats, prominent socialites and legendary tycoons. Still a playground for the affluent, visitors enjoy land and water sports, one of the largest polo clubs in the country, coral reef and wreck diving on the world's third-largest barrier reef, and fabulous shopping.

Eating: For a taste of Old Palm Beach, the chic Ta-boo Restaurant lends itself to afternoon cocktails and sophisticated dining, and the high-end bistro Buccan features tantalizing dishes near the famous Breakers Hotel and the new Worth Avenue hot spot, Costa Palm Beach. Other great stops include Palm Beach Grill, Avocado Grill and Pistache French Bistro for lunch.

Docking: Palm Harbor Marina combines comprehensive boater amenities and unmatched location to set the standard for superyacht ports. Palm Harbor Marina offers concrete floating docks for yachts up to 250 feet, fully furnished lounge, fitness center and Epicurean Center stocked with gourmet foods and spirits. Four miles north of the Palm Beach Inlet, Old Port Cove Marina can handle yachts up to 200 feet and offers first-rate amenities including a full-service restaurant, captain's lounge and a fitness facility.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

This gorgeous seaside city has matured to a major manufacturing, maintenance and recreation center for boaters. It's known as the Yachting Capital of the World for having 300+ miles of waterways and for hosting the largest boat show in the world. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District brings music festivals, cultural events and theater within walking distance to the beach. Palm trees, chic boutiques, lounges and hundreds of top restaurants line its streets, especially Las Olas Boulevard.

Eating: Dine at the newly renovated Boatyard on 17th Street, S3 Restaurant and Casablanca . For an easy-going vibe, visit Coconuts, Nanou French Bakery & Café, Park & Ocean, and Waves Rooftop Pool Bar & Grill.

Docking: Pier Sixty-Six Marina's modern facility along with berths up to 350 feet make for a true superyacht destination. Directly adjacent to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Bahia Mar Yachting Center can handle vessels up to 300 feet and offers boaters high-speed fueling and access to some of the city's top attractions. The spectacular Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina accommodates yachts up to 350 feet. On the southeast side of the 17th Street Causeway, The Sails handles vessels up to 500 feet in length, and offers fuel and concierge services.

Miami Beach, Fla.

As a sunny collection of urban districts, seaside villages and unique ethnic neighborhoods, Miami Beach has an international flavor all of its own. The Design District sports more than 130 art galleries, antique dealers and one-of-a-kind shops. The stand-out Wolfsonian-FIU Museum displays 180,000 objects from the 1850s to the 1950s. Miami Beach's stunning architecture is showcased during Art Deco Weekend in January. Often called the American Riviera, South Beach is one of the most photographed and filmed areas in the country. Along with glamorous nightlife and shopping promenades like Lincoln Road, there actually is a spectacular beach. Nearby Collins Avenue is home to the Miami Salsa Congress, a fiveday music and dance event held in July. The food scene in Miami Beach is as diverse as it is delicious.

Eating: Among the myriad of options are Prime 112, an innovative high-end steakhouse with sexy décor and energetic vibe; Lure Fish Bar, with fresh sushi, oysters and butter-poached lobster; Otentic Fresh Food Restaurant, for French fare in an intimate setting; and Taquiza Tacos, a petite Mexican eatery serving handmade tortillas, and Bing Pink, a retro diner with 200 menu items.

Docking:Miami Beach Marina, in the heart of South Beach, offers plenty of deep water slips for vessels up to 250 feet. Sunset Harbour Yacht Club offers 125 slips for yachts up to 150 feet and a full-range of services and access to restaurants and provisioning within walking distance. Just north of Miami, Turnberry Isle Marina accommodates yachts up to 180 feet and offers luxury amenities.

Key Largo, Fla.

Just an hour south of Miami Beach lies Key Largo, the luscious island made famous by the Humphrey Bogart movie. Key Largo is home to scuba diving paradise John Pennekamp State Park, Everglades National Park and the only living coral barrier reef in American waters. Ocean Reef Club, on the north end of the key, is an upscale private club with luxurious lodgings, a dozen restaurants and lounges, water sports, a newly remodeled spa, mini-golf for kids and two championship 18-hole courses for adults. The next three tropical islands Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Keys are renowned for deep sea fishing, snorkeling, easy living and cool cocktails at sunset.

Eating: Restaurants recommended by the locals: Alabama Jacks, The Fish House Restaurant & Market, Buzzard's Roost Grill & Pub, Sundowners, Skippers Dockside, The Catch and Gianni Ristorante.

Docking: The refined private Ocean Reef Club exudes the very essence of the Florida Keys with poolside service, boutique shopping and a wide range of events and excursions yachts up to 175 feet are accepted.

Key West, Fla.

Key West is a tropical heaven for water lovers on board all kinds of vessels from kayaks and jet skis to catamarans and superyachts. The footloose and spirited irreverence that characterizes the Keys is amplified in the pastel houses and festive atmosphere that blanket the island. The blended cultural heritage was inspired by Bahamian wreckers, commercial fishermen, spongers and Cuban cigar makers. Many visitors begin the day savoring a café con leche before visiting the Ernest Hemingway House, Truman Little White House, or simply bicycling around. Fishing, swimming, diving and snorkeling in the balmy waters are premium activities. The Hemingway Rum Co., home of Papa's Pilar Rum, recently opened a tasting room with distillery tours located within walking distance of the Key West Bight. From midday until late at night, live music and laughter drifts out of breezy waterfront saloons on Duval Street.

Eating: Seafood and Latin-inspired cuisine abound at Santiago's Bodega and Garbo's Grill. Upscale eateries: Latitude's, Louie's Backyard Restaurant and the Commodore. Kick-back cooking happens at Blue Heaven, Nine One Five and Salute on the Beach. Locals like to hang out at Pepe's Café, Sandy's and El Siboney.

Docking: Conch Harbor Marina can take vessels up to 200 feet and provides ValvTect fuel, an expansive pool, and two onsite dining options. Key West Bight Marina, at the historic seaport, handles yachts up to 140 feet in length with 33 deepwater slips. Stock Island Marina Village welcomes vessels up to 300 feet with state-of-the-art floating docks, shuttle service to downtown Key West, and an on-site boutique hotel with swimming pool. Key West's newest luxury property, Oceans Edge Key West Resort and Marina features panoramic ocean views, six amazing pools and an open-air waterside restaurant and bar and can host vessels up to 125 feet with 25 feet dock depth.

ACTIVITIES IN FLORIDA

Tournament Players Club Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

As the world headquarters of professional golf, the courses at TPC Sawgrass present an unparalleled sports experience. It boasts two immaculately maintained golf courses, both designed by the renowned Pete Dye. The Players Stadium Course and Dye's Valley Course offer two distinct styles of design and play.

Seminole Golf Club, Juno Beach, Fla.

One of the most exclusive private clubs in America, this course is a staple on golf enthusiasts' bucket lists. Flanked by the Atlantic Ocean, the course is expertly routed over two sand dunes, offering elevation changes not often found in Florida golf. The club is well known as Ben Hogan's favorite spot to warm up for The Masters.

International Polo Club Palm Beach, Wellington, Fla.

Palm Beach is a premier polo destination, hosting the largest field of high-goal teams and the most prestigious U.S. polo tournaments. World-renowned players and polo enthusiasts come to Wellington's Polo Club each winter season to share their love of the sport. Matches are open to the public, with a wide range of accommodations including elegant grandstand viewing, field tailgating, stadium seating and exclusive sponsor boxes (January-April).

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Approaching its 59th consecutive year, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is the largest show in the world, with exhibits ranging from yacht builders and designers to exotic cars and brokerage yachts (October 31 – November 4, 2018).Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami, Fla.The 250-seat planetarium unveils the mysteries of the heavens, while the three-level aquarium explores the region's aquatic ecosystem. Other engaging exhibits investigate issues such as living in outer space without gravity, the story of flight from feathered creatures to rocket ships, and the complexities of vision in robots and humans.

Art Basel Miami, Miami Beach, Fla.

Art Basel stages the world's preeminent modern and contemporary art shows, held annually in three locations: Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach. Each show is defined by its host city with events at public museums, private collections, nonprofit spaces and art galleries. The Miami show offers a comprehensive look at the dynamic state of art today (December 6-9, 2018).

Ocean Reef Club Vintage Weekend, Key Largo, Fla.

Honoring classic transportation by land, sea and air, Ocean Reef Club hosts Vintage Weekend, a four-day celebration of antique and classic planes, automobiles and yachts (first weekend in December).

Key West Super Boat Races, Key West, Fla.

Watch some of the fastest powerboats in the world at the Key West World Championship. An international collection of boat owners and manufacturers shows off their finest to an audience of celebrities and fans. Company and private boats will give participants thrilling fun runs through the local waters around Key West (November 4-11, 2018).

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Beyond Disney: 10 Cool Family-Friendly Places to Visit on Florida's Coasts
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OUTER SPACE. RACE CARS. ANIMAL SAFARIS. PIRATES.

These experiences are all part of a dream vacation to one of Florida’s famous theme parks. But the cool thing is that the Sunshine State offers these same topics as real, hands-on, family-friendly adventures. Here’s a Top 10 to try.

1. St. Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoological Park

Kids who love dinosaurs will love this park. Founded in 1893, some of the oldest and largest alligators are in captivity here. Plus, the Land of Crocodiles exhibit features 24 global species including the African dwarf, rare Nile and familiar North American crocodile.

Beyond crocodiles, “Some visitors like the colorful parrots, others prefer our python cave, the nesting wading birds in our rookery, or our wildlife shows,” says John Brueggen, director.“The more adventurous enjoy zip lining over the animals.”

Where to Dock: Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor

2 .Daytona International Speedway

race cars on the Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway | Credit DIS

The NASCAR season kicks off on February 19, 2023, with The Great American Race – the Daytona 500. However, any day is perfect for a speedway tour. The hour-long tram ride hits the highlights from an infield stop at the start/finish line to a view from high atop the tower seating. At a stop at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, kids can enjoy a wow moment looking at Michael McDowell’s 2021 Daytona 500 victory car.

“The Magic of Lights returns to the Speedway’s World Center of Racing in November through Jan. 1. It’s a dazzling display of more than 1 million sparkling lights and magical scenes, all viewed from the comfort of the guest’s vehicles,” says Russell Branham, Southeast Region director of track communications.

Where to Dock: Daytona Beach Marina

3. Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Chat with a real astronaut. Train on high-tech simulators inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Go behind the gates of a working spaceflight facility. Experience microgravity like inside the International Space Station. The 42-acre complex on Merritt Island brings to life the U.S. space program’s epic story in an up-close, hands-on way.

“Kennedy Space Center is best known for rocket launches like the historic Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. Now, it’s known for the commercial companies with rocket launches happening almost every other week,” says Rebecca Burgman, senior manager for public relations and communications. The Visitors Complex offers some of the closest public launch viewing locations in the area.  

Where to Dock: Titusville Marina

4. Mel Fisher Treasure Museum

Lift a real gold bar at the famed treasure hunter’s museum in Sebastian, on the Indian River waterfront. “Kids especially like to look, touch and feel the weight of a solid gold bar from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the most famous and valuable shipwreck to ever be recovered,” says Nichole Johanson, the museum’s director and Fisher’s granddaughter.

“The bar weighs about five pounds, and you can still see the markings that tell its story like ownership, tax, purity, assayer and weight.” Kids get a fun and educational treasure hunt game to do while exploring the exhibits, with scavenger hunt items and riddles.  

Where to Dock: Sebastian Inlet Marina

5. Countryside Citrus

Children jumping on a "jumping pillow" on a bright sunny day
Courtesy of Countryside Citrus

Oranges are Florida’s top agricultural product, and its freshly squeezed orange juice, soft-serve orange ice cream and orange slushies are some of the kid-friendly draws at this Vero Beach farm. Another is the Fall Festival and Corn Maze in October.

“There are activities such as a jumping pillow, kiddie zip line and air cannon, not to mention the maze and great food offerings,” says Cheryl Roseland, owner-manager. Kids and parents can U-Pick strawberries from the farm’s patch from December to February. Countryside operates its El Sid Taqueria on Ocean Drive in Vero Beach, a more convenient location to marinas for fresh citrus ice cream and slushies.

Where to Dock: Loggerhead Vero Beach Marina

6. Everglades Safari Park

To ride on the wild side, travel less than an hour west of downtown Miami on Route 41, the Tamiami Trail. The chance to take an airboat tour through the Everglades National Park is well worth the time!

An airboat is a flat-bottomed open-air boat with an aircraft-like propeller in the back and a car engine for power that can glide over the waterways and sawgrass of the glades at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. On a half-hour tour, see wildlife, alligators and anhinga birds. Guides make stops to talk about natural and human history, such as how Native Americans used cat tails to make natural gauze.

Where to Dock: Black Point Park & Marina

7. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The words “under the sea” have a whole new meaning when sight-seeing America’s first undersea park in Key Largo. At 70 nautical miles, it’s a huge natural water park. You can go canoeing and kayaking, fishing and swimming, or choose a glass bottom boat tour, or a scuba and snorkel tour.

“The snorkel tour is an excellent way for families to experience the Park,” says Tim Linafelt, communications manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Recreation and Parks. “After a 10-minute coaching session, swimmers can get up close and personal with coral reefs and marine wildlife.” Plan ahead by checking out the park’s new 360-degree coral cam that streams a live feed. Lemon sharks, parrotfish and angelfish have made on-camera appearances.

Where to Dock: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Marina

children snorkeling the shoreline at the Dry Tortugas with crystal clear blue watersu
Dry Tortugas | Credit Yankee Freedom III

8. Dry Tortugas National Park

Play in a 19th century fort in this seven-island park located in the Gulf of Mexico. To get there, book a ride on the Yankee Freedom III, a high-speed catamaran that departs from Key West for the two-hour, one-way trip. Then, have kids watch for Fort Jefferson on approach.

“The enormity of the fort is indescribable. It’s the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere – made with 16 million bricks. It’s fun to explore with its endless halls,” says Piper Smith, VP of marketing for Historic Tours of America. Beside exploring the fort, it’s fun to swim or snorkel around the outside of the moat. The waters are filled with tropical fish, lobster, turtles and game fish.

Where to Dock: Dry Tortugas National Park

9. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Sharks, sea turtles and manatees, oh my! These sea creatures star in exhibits at this marine research organization’s aquarium in Sarasota. “Our resident turtles and manatees are much loved, each with its own personality, and they also provide valuable educational opportunities.

For example, green sea turtle, Hang Tough, resides in a specialty rounded exhibit after being blinded in a boat strike. Families can see and understand how Mote biologists care for her while also highlighting the negative impacts of unsafe boating,” says Sean Stover, communications coordinator. Make the visit extra special with an Adopt an Animal Program, which includes everything from sea turtles to sea horses plus jellyfish and octopus.

Where to Dock: Longboat Key Club Moorings

10. Air Force Armament Museum

Florida’s northwest panhandle is a national center for military aviation. Pensacola is called the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” and is the official home of the Blue Angels. One hour east, this museum sits across from Elgin Air Force Base.

Kids whose favorite toys are airplanes will light up at the number of crafts on display during the drive into the grounds. Look for World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Gulf War aircraft, as well as the fastest plane ever built, the SR-71 Blackbird. Inside, please- touch displays include a fighter cockpit simulator.

Where to Dock: Two Georges Marina

THREE MUST-PLAY WATERFRONT PUTT-PUTT GOLF COURSES

palm trees on a minigolf course surrounded by turquoise waters
Courtesy of Fiesta Falls Mini Golf

Playing putt-putt Mini Golf is a ‘must- do’ shore thing on a Florida vacation. Best of all, many courses are near the beach. Lighthouse Cove Mini Golf in Jupiter is one block from the white sands. The two 18-hole courses weave around sea life, waterfalls and boats in a tropical fishing village theme. Play both! A new app lets golfers order drinks without leaving the greens.

Likewise, you can nearly see the sea from Fiesta Falls Mini Golf in St. Augustine. A 60-foot ship is a focal point, plus eight waterfalls make for cool fun. On the west coast near St. Petersburg, the Smugglers Cove Adventure Park in Madeira Beach is 18-holes around a pirate theme. That’s not all. Golf with gators! Win or lose, afterward you can stop to feed live alligators in an educational exhibit.

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Fun at Florida's Boat Shows
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Whether You're Buying a Yacht or Not

Two dark grey mega-yachts docked on the water at the boat show
Credit Informa Markets

The twin sets of upward sloping on the superyacht, Thunder, looked to me like stairways to heaven. To say these were only a small part of the eye-candy features of this 164-foot Oceanfast, one of the largest yachts for sale on display at this year’s Miami International Boat Show, says a lot.

Inside, the master suite boasted a ceiling retractable Smart LG TV, chandeliers in the main salon were part of the $8.8 million asking price, and a 22-foot-long crystal blue pool surrounded by sun loungers on the foredeck proved irresistibly inviting on this warm February day.

Best of all to me was the upper deck dining salon and its floor-to-ceiling windows. I could imagine cruising the world and looking out at breathtaking ports from this perch. And it afforded an incredible view of the enormity of the Miami International Boat Show, which is spread out over six downtown locations. Last year, nearly 100,000 attendees walked the docks, and sales were just shy of $1 billion.

I wasn’t in the market for a new boat. Window shop yes; buy no. Still, I wouldn’t miss visiting the Miami Show and many others held in the Sunshine State each year. That’s because these marine events offer so much more.

“Like a festival for boaters, hundreds of exhibits display a variety of vessels, from kayaks to luxury yachts. Food vendors and entertainment attract audiences of all ages. Several large boat manufacturers or brokers host hospitality events on board luxury yachts or in air-conditioned tents, catering to clientele who love to talk about boats,” says Andrew Doole, president of the U.S. Boat Shows division of UK-headquartered Informa Markets, a leading global exhibitions organizer that owns and operates five major Florida shows. “The shows present a way to see the latest in marine products and how to enjoy life on the water.”

Shows Aplenty

Visitors walking the docks at the boat show surrounded by multiple mega-yachts
Credit Informa Markets

Second to Alaska, Florida boasts the most coastline of any U.S. state at 1,350 miles. Add a year-round climate conducive to boating, and it’s easy to see why the marine scene is big here. Each year, the state hosts close to two dozen boat shows. The calendar runs from September to April, corresponding to the top tourism months for visitors from the north.

In September, there’s the three-day Daytona Beach Boat Show, and the Suncoast Boat Show closes out the season in April. In between, Informa hosts its shows: Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in October, St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show and Jacksonville Boat Show in January, the Miami show in February, and Palm Beach International Boat Show in March.

“Record-setting attendance at the St. Petersburg and Sarasota shows in the past year now rivals the big shows in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Miami. In fact, the annual boat show held in downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront is the second largest event in the city, behind the Firestone Grand Prix in terms of attendance, revenue and logistics,” says Cindy Dobyns, president and owner of AboveWater Public Relations & Marketing, who handles press for the show.

What’s Happening under the Tents?

Exhibitor for "Electrosea" discussing the product with a customer

Beyond boats for sale, you can discover so many things to see, do, eat and drink, toe-tap and clap for at Florida’s boat shows.

One of the most fun sights at the Miami Boat Show was watching a professional flyboarder in action at Pride Park in AquaZone. Standing on a skateboard-size board attached by a hose to a jet ski below that powered the water toy, dual jet streams of water propelled the rider some 15 feet in the air above the 40,000-gallon freshwater pool.

Pros also gave the public a wakeboard experience via a simulator. Crystal Kayaks, Seabobs and Hobie Cats were brands featured for a demo at the Fort Lauderdale Show. In Palm Beach, the intercoastal waterway served as the natural aqua zone. eFoil electric surfboards were an especially big hit.

New last year, the St. Petersburg Boat Show partnered with the Annapolis School of Seamanship to offer one-hour on-water training sessions held multiple times daily. Topics included Women at the Wheel, Basic Boat Operator and a Junior Captains Program. All were free. The only catch is buying tickets ahead of time and pre-registering for the sessions.

Seminars are a sought-out reason to attend boat shows. Every show offers them, and many shows invite local celebrity speakers. A good example is the Jacksonville Show, where last year Captain Tim Altman of HooDoo Sportfishing Charters and founder of the Wahoo Junkies brand gave two talks on wahoo trolling with bait and high-speed trolling.

One of the best-known seminar presenters on Florida’s boat show circuit is Captain Don Dingman, star of the Hook the Future TV show. Dingman hosts interactive fishing clinics full of demos for kids ages four to 16. At the Fort Lauderdale Show, each kid received a free Hook the Future/Carolina Skiff custom rod and reel combo. It shows how boat show seminars can hook the whole family.

Fred’s Shed is worth the cost of admission if you’re a DIY fan. Launched over a decade ago by the Chicago- headquartered National Marine Manufacturers Association, this up close and personal educational experience is held at NMMA events like the Miami Boat Show. Topics range from installing marine electronics to detailing and service and maintenance tips.

Food and entertainment make shows extra festive. There’s no need to leave the fun. On-site at the St. Petersburg show, for example, you can gobble up everything from stone crab claws to Greek gyros, street tacos and wood-fired picanha steak.

The Windward VIP Experience at several shows includes an open bar, wine and spirit tastings, gourmet food such as oysters on the half shell, as well as early access to the show and a shady air-conditioned oasis to sit and relax. Most shows feature live bands with oldies, classic rock and top 40 hits on tap.

View the Boats

A center console passing by a big yacht in front of a house on a canal in Florida

Of course, it’s the boats that float these shows. “All types of watercraft are featured, including fishing boats, cruisers, ski boats, pontoons, inflatables, personal watercraft, and more,” says Erin Johnson, administrative director of the North Florida Marine Association that puts on the annual Jacksonville Show.

Vendors, from national brands to local shops, exhibit and sell all the boating go-withs. There are nearly 100 of these at the Suncoast Boat Show, and more than 1,000 at shows such as in Fort Lauderdale.

Mega and superyachts are here too, just like Thunder. You’ll find the bulk of the 100- to 200-foot-plus vessels at the Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami shows. All it takes is the price of a show ticket to walk the docks and dream.

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Florida's Amazing Creatures Challenge
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Sea turtle swimming through coral reef in clear blue waters
Sea Turtle | Credit Matt Botha

“WHAT’S THE DEAL with a flamingo wearing a top hat and puffing on a Cuban cigar or a mustached manatee strumming a guitar at a tiki party?” That’s what many travelers wonder when they come to the Sunshine State.

The answer is rather simple. From beaches and coral reefs to everglades and tropical islands, Florida is home to a diverse array of ecosystems. Toss in a balmy year-round climate, and it’s got habitats that spawn a dazzling display of marine life.

These amazing creatures are so beloved by Floridians that they’ve been integrated into the local pop culture in celebration of the state’s indigenous beasts. Native aquatic creatures are elevated into iconic symbols, reflecting the region’s diversity, unique groove and reverence for the water.

TRACK DOWN ICONIC IMAGES AND FEEL LIKE A FLORIDIAN

close up view of a flamingo
Flamingo | Credit Pixabay

While you roam around Florida this season, you’ll likely visit the state’s many marine sanctuaries, research centers and protected habitats. But Marinalife also challenges you to join the local fun by finding caricatures, logos and iconic symbols that playfully incorporate these unique creatures into images directed at everyday life.

You’ll discover many of them on sports teams’ logos or mascots, bar napkins, restaurant menus, clothing (shirt, hat, etc.), pool floaties, ads for products, road signs, products in stores, souvenir shop merchandise, glassware, food and beverage labels, boats, flags and more.

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