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Prime Fishing Spots When the Temperature Drops


WITHOUT A DOUBT, 2020 was a crazy year, and many travel plans have changed or were cancelled due to the pandemic. Traditionally, the winter months signal a desire to explore a new destination, fishing spots, or return to a favorite state, island or country that has a special place in one's and angling memories.

Sea Sport Fishing Boat - Fishing Destinations - Marinalife
Sea Sport Fishing Boat from Wikimedia Commons

And, while the winter months are often the off-season for many island resorts and much of the U.S. mainland, a few fishing spots still let you enjoy some prime fishing when the temperature drops at home.

Keeping in mind that travel requirements are changing daily, we've put together a list of destinations where fishing can be stellar and accommodations range from simple to five star. In these uncertain times, please check the Centers for Disease Control's website and your state's requirements as well as those of your destination before making plans.

The Bahamas

Well known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, luxurious hotels and exceptional fishing, The Bahamas are a favorite cold weather = destination for snowbirds. Although winter isn't the peak time to visit the islands for fishing, the close proximity of The Bahamas to the United States provides an opportunity to plan a trip on short notice by boat or plane when a stretch of warm weather is in the forecast.

Miles of sandy bottom flats laden with turtle grass throughout much of The Bahamas are home to bonefish and permit. On warm winter days, you can cast shrimp with a spinning rod or flies with the long wand to both species as they feed on the bottom and signal their location with tails breaking the surface.

On cool days when the wind can make flats casting difficult, many wrecks and reefs near and offshore produce tasty bottom species that include several types of grouper and snapper.

Offshore action is far from the peak of the spring season, but look for white marlin and mahi mahi offshore and sailfish closer to shore along the reefs. High speed trolling will produce wahoo of up to 100 pounds along the southern island chain including Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador and Rum Cay.


With more than 1,300 miles of mainland coastline, Florida offers unlimited fishing opportunities. However, when thinking of Florida in the winter, two locations immediately come to mind for awesome fishing action.

Mahe Beach by J. Strzelecki - Fishing Spots - Marinalife
Mahe Beach by J. Strzelecki

If sailfish are your target, it's tough to beat Florida where spindlebeaks are stretched out from the Treasure Coast south through The Keys. Leave the bathing suit at home and instead pack a sweatshirt, long pants and foul weather gear for protection from ocean spray if you hope to score with sailfish as winter cold fronts blast though the area.

The Gulf Stream is closer to the U.S. mainland off Florida than anywhere else, and northerly winds get the sailfish in a feeding mood. It's often possible to see pods of sailfish chasing schools of baitfish.

Look for the best action off Stuart and Fort Pierce while trolling ballyhoo, but from Palm Beach south through The Keys live baiting with goggle eyes, greenies and small jacks is the popular approach. When conditions are right, expect to fly a rigger full of sailfish release flags from the Treasure Coast south to The Keys.

With more than 120 miles of roadway from Key Largo to Key West, the Florida Keys present numerous fishing challenges for winter anglers. In addition to the outstanding winter sailfish action, near-shore wrecks and reefs offer fine fishing for grouper and snapper that make excellent table fare. Barracuda, sharks and a variety of jacks add excitement to any inshore trip.

The famed backcountry, including Flamingo Bay, is home to redfish, snook and trout as well as sharks, jacks and barracuda. Tarpon, permit and bonefish are tough to find during the winter but often surprise anglers in the skinny water on warm winter days.


Like Florida, Mexico offers a plethora of travel destinations for winter-weary anglers. Mexico's East Cape lies along the western side of the Sea of Cortez and offers a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Cabo San Lucas. Roughly 45 miles north of San Jose del Cabo Airport, the tiny town of Los Barriles is home to Van Wormer Resorts with three properties that provide plush accommodations. Van Wormer's fleet of charter boats includes pangas and deluxe sportfishing cruisers.

Deepsea fishing - Fishing Destinations - Marinalife
Deepsea Fishing from Wikimedia Commons

Although the best billfish action kicks off in March, you find enough striped marlin, blue marlin, black marlin and sailfish offshore to make things interesting. Trolling with lures and live bait will produce strikes, and billfish often tail on the surface, which will have crews tossing live baits to draw hookups.

Also expect to catch mahi mahi, wahoo and an occasional yellowfin tuna. Near-shore action with cabrilla, grouper, Pacific sierra, snapper, yellowtail and roosterfish can make your arms ache.

Cancún and Isla Mujeres are also billfish anglers' favorites where the winter sailfish bite can be off the charts. Unlike Florida where winter cold fronts drive the fishery, Isla Mujeres typically enjoys warm winter weather though trade winds often can make sea conditions a bit "sporty."

During winter, sailfish are on the feed and are often found cutting through bait balls of sardines. Trolling with ballyhoo is the common approach and when conditions are right, expect to ring up serious numbers of releases.

Look for blackfin tuna, kingfish, wahoo and mahi mahi to bite between sailfish strikes during the winter offshore, while near-shore action finds snapper, grouper, hogfish, amberjack and barracuda receptive to natural and artificial offerings.


When it comes to bucket list destinations, Panama is an often mentioned spot for many die-hard anglers, and one place has been an angler magnet for decades. Opened in 1963 on Piñas Bay in the Darién Gap jungle, Tropic Star Lodge is a world-class fishing resort that receives rave reviews from anglers and travel critics.

Charter Fishing Boats - Fishing Destinations - Marinalife
Charter Fishing Boats from

Winter is prime time to visit Tropic Star Lodge as the weather is warm, and windy, rainy days are virtually non-existent. Lodging includes deluxe rooms, villas, suites and a three-bedroom home, and the fleet of reconditioned Bertram 31s and Hatteras 45s is equipped with the finest inshore and offshore tackle and is crewed by local captains and mates who worked with the lodge for decades.

Situated less than five miles from the venerable Zane Grey Reef, it's a short run to catch blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish, tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo. Should you tire of catching billfish, the waters near the lodge are home to monster roosterfish as well as the very tasty cubera snapper, grouper, jacks and tarpon.

Costa Rica

Another gem for anglers is Los Sueños Resort & Marina in Costa Rica. Californian developer Bill Royster discovered the Herradura Bay area's beauty and sampled its fishing in the early 1990s. Royster saw the fishing potential of the area and envisioned the creation of a world-renowned destination resort.

Today, the marina harbors many American boats, who in fall make the journey through the Panama Canal either on their own or aboard a transport ship to cash in on the area's fabulous and famous billfish.

December through April is the region's prime time, when excellent numbers of sailfish, blue marlin, black marlin and striped marlin as well as mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna and wahoo swim relatively close to shore. Winter is the region's dry season, so you can expect to rarely encounter rain and count on hot weather and flat calm seas that make this an ideal spot for anglers who are not rough water fans.

Striped marlin - fishing spots - marinalife
Striped marlin right off the coast of Carrillo from Wikimedia Commons

Los Sueños Resort offers a wide range of luxury accommodations including a full-service Marriott Hotel within the resort. Visitors who want the ultimate in luxury can rent single-family villas or one-, two- or three-bedroom condos. Amenities include a golf course, swimming pool, hiking trails, zip lines, spa and private beach club.

Maverick Sportfishing offers a fleet of excellent charter boats ranging from 32 to 50 feet with English-speaking crews and the finest tackle and gear. Expect to get arm weary here as Pacific sailfish run larger than their Atlantic cousins, and days of releasing 20 or more are common during winter.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is one of the few destinations where catching multiple blue marlin on a single day is more common than rare. Winter is a great time to visit the DR, as most of the blue ones caught then are less than 300 pounds, making this a light-tackle haven.

Expect to find blue marlin anywhere from minutes away from the slip to about 50 miles away, based on the part of the island you sail from. Best action for blue marlin occurs on the days leading up to a full moon. White marlin is a rare catch here, but you can tangle with yellowfin tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi during the winter as well.

Most of the pros work the areas where FADs (fish attracting devices) are deployed as they attract bait that draws gamefish. Marina Casa de Campo is right in the heart of the action and is the gold standard on the island. In addition to their world-class marina, land accommodations include lavish rooms, villas and suites. Three championship golf courses test your skills, and there's plenty of watersports and shopping to enjoy.

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Florida's Fall Calendar of Events 2022

From the Gulf to the Atlantic and every bay in between, boaters and their families have plenty to look forward to on the Florida coasts this fall. Start the season with a couple of pints at Oktoberfest and spooks at a haunted ghost tour, throw in a boating event or two, and round it out with a lighted boat parade.


Black trolley with "Ghosts and Gravestones" logo on the side
Source: Adonis Paul Hunter


St. Augustine


Learn about the haunted history in the oldest city in the United States through the lens of the undead. Get tickets for haunted pub crawls, trolly tours and walking tours. You’ll get in the Halloween spirit and learn the stories behind St. Augustine’s most spirited locations from professional storytellers with just the right amount of spook. Kids are welcome on trolly and walking tours, and pets are allowed on walking tours! Check out Ghost Tours of St. Augustine or Ghosts & Gravestones.

Where to Dock: Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor

Band walking in a parade playing tubas
Oktoberfest | Credit Pixabay


Jacksonville Beach, Tampa

October 7-9

Kick off the fall season with Oktoberfest on the Atlantic or Gulf Coast with Beaches Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest Tampa. With Tampa’s event ranking in the top five in the country and Jacksonville Beach’s being the largest in the state, you’re sure to find the brew for you!

Where to Dock: Fort George Island Marina (Jacksonville), Westshore Yacht Club (Tampa)


Apollo Beach

October 20-23

Just across the Bay from Tampa and St. Pete, Apollo Beach is teeming with wildlife on land and on the water. At this four-day festival, you’ll find a free expo with nature organizations and artwork, daily field and boat trips to sites not accessible to the public, and expert wildlife and conservation seminars. Nature aficionados won’t want to miss this opportunity at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Suncoast Youth Conservation Center.

Where to Dock: Apollo Beach Marina


West Palm Beach

October 22

Has your dog always wanted to be an (un)professional racer? Now is Fido’s time to shine! Register your pup for a day full of zoomies, Doggie Costume Contest, and plenty of BBQ and entertainment for the whole family. Proceeds benefit Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch.

Where to Dock: Palm Harbor Marina

Jazz band on stage under bright lights playing instruments



October 14-16

No matter your music taste, you’re sure to find something to jam out to at this three-day festival, from smooth jazz and blues to funk and zydeco. You’ll find plenty of vendors at the festival, and Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood offers old-school charm and Latin American eateries. St. Petersburg offers hip breweries, coffee shops and more.

Where to Dock: Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina



October 22

Join in a celebration of life at the Water Lantern Festival this fall. Start the day with food trucks, music and family- friendly fun, and end by releasing your personalized lantern on the water at sunset.

Where to Dock: Marina Jack

Two dark grey mega-yachts docked at the boat show
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show | Credit Informa Markets


Fort Lauderdale

October 26-30

The largest in-water boat show in the world offers viewings and demos of everything from superyachts to kayaks and fishing gear. Stop by the Superyacht Village to sip a cocktail on one of the most luxurious boats in the world, the Convention Center for watersport and innovative boating gear demos, and take the family to a kid-friendly fishing seminar.

Where to Dock: 17th Street Yacht Basin, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Pier 66 Hotel & Marina



October 28-30

Join the Old Naples Waterfront Association in the historic center to kick off stone crab season! Eat stone crab to your heart’s content in a prime harvesting location of the tasty crustacean and enjoy plenty of entertainment, from live music to local galleries and craft vendors. florida-seafood-festivals-calendar

Where to Dock: Naples Bay Resort & Marina


close up view of a seafood platter with vegetables, salmon, scallops, and shrimp
Florida Seafood Festival | Source VISIT FLORIDA



November 4-5

Cruise to the charming Apalachicola, tucked away among expansive wildlife reserves and just a bay away from the Gulf. Along with some of the best oysters and seafood you can eat, the whole family will enjoy a parade, carnival, Blessing of the Fleet, hours of live music every day, and competitions such as the oyster shucking contest and blue crab races.  

Where to Dock: Apalachicola Marina


Fernandina Beach

November 5

Celebrate the annual return of the North Atlantic right whale to the coasts of Florida and Georgia to give birth and nurse their young in historic Fernandina Beach. Learn about threats and conservation efforts for these gentle giants, participate in a beach clean-up, and enjoy family fun at educational exhibits, athletic events, and food and craft vendors.

Where to Dock: Oasis Marinas at Fernandina Beach


Key West

November 6-13

Cruise to Key West for three days of epic racing and a full week of family-friendly fun. Don’t miss the World’s Fastest Boat Parade on the first Sunday, or any three of the races throughout the week: the Truman Waterfront Cup, Southernmost Continental Champion, and Championship. Use downtime to explore the Race Village at Truman Waterfront and try out local pubs, shops and restaurants.

Where to Dock: Conch Harbor Marina

crowd on the beach admiring a large sand sculpture
Credit JJS Photo



November 11-14

Visit Siesta Key Beach to watch sculptors from around the world turn piles of white sand into sculpted masterpieces. Professional competitors have 24 hours to build their pieces, and visitors have the chance to participate in amateur sand-sculpting competitions and see the masters at work.  

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Siesta Key



November 19-20

Art connoisseurs and amateurs alike will love this boutique art competition and festival in the scenic cultural center of Sarasota. Masters of different media—ceramics, jewelry, graphic art, painting, and more—will put the best of their work on display for patrons to browse and buy to their hearts’ content.

Where to Dock: Marina Jack

Mansion at night-time with palm trees filled with warm white holiday lights
St. Augustine Night of Lights | Source Om Flickr


St. Augustine

November 19-January 31

Ready to get in the holiday spirit? Cruise back to St. Augustine as early as before Thanksgiving for a dazzling display of more than 3 million lights in the historic district. Gaze in awe at the twinkly lights and find photo ops at the Bridge of Lions and the Christmas tree at the center of Plaza de la Constitución. Enjoy the sounds of the All Star Orchestra on the first night and stroll to businesses open later than usual.

Where to Dock: St. Augustine Municipal Marina



Miami Beach

December 1-3

Since the 1970s, this annual art extravaganza brings works of contemporary and modern pieces by renowed and emerging artists from around the world to showcase in Miami. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, for three days the public can gaze upon unique masterpieces presented by leading galleries from five continents.

Where to Dock: Sunset Harbour Yacht Club


Key Largo, FL

December 1-4

This annual four-day event showcases classic antique yachts, automobiles and aircraft to celebrate those who restore vintage collections. Experience a full schedule of events kicking off with a welcome party and dinner buffet on Thursday, then a weekend packed with drive-bys, shows, dinners, cocktail receptions, a costume party and more.

Where to Dock: Ocean Reef Club


With so many spectacular lighted boat parades on the coasts of Florida, we couldn’t choose just one! Dock at any of these coastal towns on the first three Saturdays of December to ring in the season on the festive Florida waterfronts.

Palm trees lined with warm white holiday lights and a sunset with boats in the background
Credit Florida Historic Coast

Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade
December 3

Palm Coast Yacht Club Holiday Boat Parade
December 3

The Seminole Hard Rock Winter Boat Parade
December 10

St. Augustine Regatta of Lights
December 10

Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade
December 10

Northwest Cape Coral 2nd Annual Boat Parade
December 17

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Maritime Museums in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is well known for its clear blue tropical waters. But as rich as it is in beauty, the islands have an even greater wealth of his- tory. Luckily, museums are located across the region to share the stories and significant events that can provide glimpses of what maritime life was like throughout the years. Their exhibits, relics and archives will have you looking at the region in a whole new light.

Here are eight Maritime Museums: 

National Museum of Bermuda Flagpole


You can find this treasure trove of artifacts in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of North Carolina, the nearest land mass to this collection of islands. The museum shows how maritime events shaped the history, people and culture of Bermuda. It is located at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard within Bermuda’s largest fort. Exhibits cover 500 years of the country’s history from how the German U-505 submarine was captured by the U.S. Navy and concealed in Bermuda to how sailing races from North America to Bermuda have influenced the development of ocean-worthy boats and blue water sailing. Be sure to experience the museum’s unique spaces by strolling through the two-story boat loft to catching a dolphin show at the Keep Pond Terrace to taking in the expansive ocean views at the flagpole.

Where to Dock: Kings Wharf or Heritage Wharf


Turks and Caicos National Museum opened in 1991 to store artifacts found in the excavation of the Molasses Reef shipwreck, an unknown Spanish ship that sunk in 1515 on the Caicos Bank. The museum spans two locations: the Guinep House on Grand Turk Island, believed to be more than 180 years old and named after the large guinep tree on its property, and the Village at Grace Bay on Providenciales, where visitors can tour the Heritage House, an historically correct rendition of a typical 1800s Caicos dwelling. In addition to showcasing shipwreck artifacts, visitors also learn about the evolution of The Grand Turk Lighthouse as well as the rise and fall of the island’s salt industry. On Museum Day, the first Saturday in November, visitors can tour the exhibits for free, and in May, the Village at Grace Bay holds a “Back in the Day” event with activities reflecting historical life on the island.

Where to Dock: Blue Haven Resort & Marina

Map of the driving routes on the Grand Cayman Heritage Trail
Grand Cayman Heritage Trail Driving Routes | GCHT


If you like to take in history outdoors, these exhibitions are for you. The trail consists of 36 stops across all three islands (Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands) and is best traveled via car. Each stop is marked by a road sign that shares a notable historic event or contribution related to the maritime industry. Learn how turtling shaped the islands’ early economy, how ships were cleaned and repaired before boat lifts by a process called “careening”, and hear stories of notable shipwrecks. If you prefer to learn Cayman Island history in one place, you can check out the Cayman Islands National Museum, housed in Cayman’s oldest surviving public building, which has a series of permanent and rotating exhibits.

Where to Dock: The Barcadere Marina


Completed 500 years after Christopher Columbus arrived on the island of La Hispaniola, the Faro a Colon (aka The Columbus Lighthouse) is one of the Dominican Republic’s most popular attractions. Constructed in the shape of a Latin cross spanning the width of two soccer fields, the lighthouse was created to recognize the first “encounter between two worlds.” It includes a mausoleum that houses Christopher Columbus’ remains as well as a museum displaying original and replica artifacts from the time of Columbus’ voyage. The lighthouse also has a library containing documents and maps displaying some of the earliest drawings of the Americas.

Where to Dock: Marina Zarpar

Boats in the water with green hills in the background
Nelson's Dockyard | Source Alexa Zizzi


The Antigua Naval Dockyard, now named Nelson’s Dockyard, was built in the mid-1700s to serve as a strategic post and support the Royal Navy battle against the French and protect trade routes in the region. The dockyard officially closed in 1889 and reopened in 1961 as an historic site. In addition to exploring the dockyard, take advantage of the park’s 12 miles of hiking trails, two forts, and tours such as the “Rum in the Ruins” where you can listen to stories of the dockyard while sipping on a cocktail. If traveling by boat, get the best view of the gorgeous English Harbour and snag a slip at nearby Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, the only continuously working Georgian Era dockyard in the world.

Where to Dock: Nelson’s Dockyard Marina


Opened in 2020, the Bequia Heritage Museum includes the Boat Museum and Annexe that display and educate visitors about the boatbuilding and whaling industries as well as artifacts dating back to the period of the island’s European settlement. Vessels on display at the museum include a traditional Amerindian dug-out canoe and the decommissioned boat, Rescue, that was originally used for whaling.

Where to Dock: Bequia Marina

Curaçao Maritime Museum | Credit CP Hoffman


Located in a mansion built in 1729 on the Waaigat inlet, the Curaçao Maritime Museum shares with visitors the story and events that influenced Curaçao’s involvement in the maritime industry. Learn how trade ebbed and flowed in and out of Curaçao’s ports, reflective of the events happening around the world to the arrival of the first cruise ship in 1901 from New York, sparking the cruise tourism industry until the 1970s when air travel took over as the primary way for tourists to visit the island. Visitors can explore the museum at their own pace or take a guided tour.

Where to Dock: Seru Boca Marina


With a decent internet connection, you can visit the Grand Bahama Museum from the comforts of your remote anchorage or mooring. Bahamian history and culture are explored through digital exhibits ranging from the islands’ natural landscapes and the history of the port authority to the role the Bahamas played during the Golden Age of Piracy. Learn about the first recorded piece of mail sent from the Bahamas in 1761 and the evolution of mailboats. Or savor a dark and stormy while reading about the Bahamas’ role in the rum-running industry during U.S. Prohibition. The Grand Bahama Museum was originally housed at The Garden of the Groves but was unfortunately destroyed by weather and time. To reach a wider audience and share Bahamian history and culture, the museum decided to move to a digital platform.

Where to Dock: Grand Bahama Yacht Club or Flamingo Bay Hotel & Marina

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This or That: Beaufort vs. Fernandina Beach



Fernandina Beach | credit Patrick Farrell


Beaufort lies on an inlet leading south to the Atlantic and is considered part of North Carolina’s “Inner Banks” and the Crystal Coast. The Crystal Coast spans 85 miles of stunning coastline in southern North Carolina, including 56 miles of protected beach of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.


Located on historic Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Visitors will find easy access to Jacksonville, the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, and coastal destinations in southern Georgia such as Cumberland Island.


Beaufort History | credit Dori Arrington


Established in 1709, Beaufort was originally known as Fishtown, having been a fishing village and port of safety since the late 1600s. In addition to fishing, Beaufort was a hub for whaling, lumber, shipbuilding and farming. The earliest settlers made their mark by building Bahamian and West Indian-style homes, and the Plan of Beaufort Towne can still be seen in a 12-block historic district.


First settled in 1562, this town on historic Amelia Island went through many transformations under eight flags before it became what it is today. After the Civil War, Fernandina Beach became a bustling seaport and popular destination, called “The Queen of Summer Resorts” by many Northerners. Today’s visitors find themselves surrounded by the town’s lovely relics of the past — an historic district, Civil War port and the first cross-state railroad remain.


Fernandina Beach | credit Deremer Studios LLC


Beaufort has a thriving scene for anglers. Cast your line off a dock downtown, book a charter or head north to Cedar Island Wildlife Refuge to catch flounder, trout and redfish. Boat tours and private charters are a popular way to experience the stunning views and wildlife of the Crystal Coast. See porpoises, dolphins and wild horses on the beach. Better yet, book with Cruisin’ Tikis Beaufort to imbibe while you observe. Dock at Beaufort Docks.


Pier fishing is huge on Amelia Island, and anglers should head to the George Crady Bridge, which spans one mile of Nassau Sound. Snag a variety of fish in the area, including redfish, whiting, seatrout, tarpon and flounder. Boaters can start aquatic excursions in either the Atlantic Ocean to the east or Amelia River to the west. Go on a solo adventure, or join a tour or charter by boat, kayak or watersport with the likes of Amelia River Tours, Amelia Adventures & Kayak or Riptide Watersports. Dock at Fernandina Harbor Marina.


Beaufort | credit Dori Arrington


History buffs will feel right at home in Beaufort. Visit the Beaufort Historic Site to learn the town’s story through nine preserved historic homes in the middle of town. Three different maritime museums, including the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and the Bonehenge Whale Center offer marine merriment for the whole family. And for a taste of Crystal Coast wildlife, head over to the Rachel Carson Reserve where wild horses and countless birds, reptiles and aquatic mammals roam free.


Fernandina Beach is known for its easy living. Amelia Island Welcome Center is a great place to revisit Fernandina’s history and plan your day. Make your way to Centre Street on the water to browse eclectic shops and bustling art galleries, taste wild-caught shrimp at a bistro, or grab a pint at the Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest tavern. If you’re in town on a Friday, you might stumble upon Sounds on Centre, a local concert series.

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