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My next adventure...need ideas for FL
Old 03-06-2010, 08:08 PM   #1
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My next adventure...need ideas for FL

I have to start planning my next "Escape from Noo Yawk" adventure - doctor's orders.

This time my destination is the Atlantic coast of FL. I will of course fly into Orlando.

I know a lot of you have traveled to FL, so if anybody has a favorite little town or place, AWAY FROM THE CROWDS, that they would recommend, I'm all ears.

My adventure specifications:
- Budget - I have $2K to spend for the entire trip, airfare, rental car, gas, food (primarily cooking at condo), mad money. I can go up to $3K if necessary.
- Time frame is end of April or early May.
- I want to rent a beachfront 1BR condo, i.e. I like to enjoy my coffee every AM looking right at the waves. Within walking distance of the ocean doesn't count.
- Length of stay is between 14-16 days.
- Less than 1 to 1.5 hours driving distance north (2nd preference is south) of Cape Canaveral. I just gotta go tour the Space Center.
- Smaller quieter town is preferred for my safety (traveling solo).
- I could care less about the theme parks in the area. BTDT back in 1979.
- I won't go out at night by myself, so nightlife is not a requirement.
- Planned activities are beach walking, kite flying, reading on the balcony, plus short day trips by car to museums, aquariums, art exhibits, simple cheap stuff.

All suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:36 PM   #2
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I'd vote for early May . You then miss all the spring breaks and the prices drop plus the water is warm enough at that point .
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:32 AM   #3
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The only place we have spent any time in that area is St. Augustine. I don't know what a "smaller quieter town" means in that area of Florida but it is pretty laid back. On the other hand, there are a lot of tourists to put up with. In any event, I recommend it.

A couple years ago, friends of ours rented a condo in Satellite Beach for several months. We drove down and spent three days with them. There seemed to be as much traffic there as in St. Augustine so who knows.

We did visit the Kennedy Space Center with them. That is one of those "don't miss" experiences. There is a flight simulation in which you are launched into orbit in a Space Shuttle. I still haven't figured out how they simulated the "G" force but the feeling of all that pressure was amazing. Definitely don't miss that. And that iMax theater... just as if you were the astronaut taking the space walk.

Good for you. Enjoy your time there. (Can I assume it is not a serious medical reason that sends you there.)
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:41 AM   #4
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Good for you. Enjoy your time there. (Can I assume it is not a serious medical reason that sends you there.)
I happened to read FB's earlier post about her doctor's order. Heck, I did not need any doctor to tell me I needed an RV!

About St. Augustine, it was nice. We also went to Savannah on the same trip. And talking about Savannah, I have not seen Sarah here at the forum for a while.
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:48 AM   #5
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..Good for you. Enjoy your time there. (Can I assume it is not a serious medical reason that sends you there.)
Yes, I am in excellent health. TY for inquiring.
To put it simply...I have recently returned to counseling to help me w*rk through some unresolved issues. This is a positive move on my part. I am a firm believer in the self-help program.
I used to travel a fair amount when w*rking. I live out in the boonies in a real cultural void. I love the place in nice weather, but the winter is the pits. Travel is a good solution.
It was recommended to go on these solo trips to regain my sense of independence, ease my restlessness about being stuck here in wintertime, and just plain have fun. I am FIREd after all.
Note my list of simple leisure activities in my specs.
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:00 AM   #6
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St Augustine does look interesting, and is within a 2 hour drive of the airport in Orlando.
I'm also going to look at some of the smaller towns just south of St Augustine.
Anything further away could be inconvenient on my departure day if I have an early flight and have to battle traffic on a weekday. Or...I can be flexible and return to Orlando for the night before my departure day.

Keep those ideas coming.
.
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:03 AM   #7
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Try Melbourne Beach if you want more of a small town atmosphere. Indialantic would be next followed by Indian Harbor Beach/Satellite Beach. If you want more "rural" feel, try south of Melbourne Beach and North of Sebastian Inlet.
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:46 PM   #8
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I second the idea of a beach town near St. Augustine actually St. Augustine beach is next to it. St. Augustine is beautiful and historic and has lots to see and do plus it is driving distance to Cape Canaveral .
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:51 PM   #9
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We go to the Daytona Beach area every year...have for about 12 years...and have found a lot of things to do around there. There are a lot of historical homes and estates, the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona is worth an afternoon of time to visit.

There's the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum and the Marine Science Center just around the corner a block or so. There are also a couple of restaurants right across the street from the lighthouse....or drive about a mile or so north on S. Peninsula Dr. (the street the lighthouse is on) to Inlet Harbor Marina's restaurant...we go there everytime we're down that way, and the food and service has ALWAYS been great!!! And they have an "Early Bird" menu as well as the "Catch of the Day"! And being right on the Intracoastal Waterway you'll be treated to watching porpoises playing in the water, as well as oodles of pelicans and other birds! And maybe...just maybe...a manatee or two! You can sit inside or out on the covered deck.

I love to eat...so it's no surprise that I have a bunch of favorite restaurants in that area! There's "Boondocks" just a few mile north of Ponce Inlet and also on Peninsula Dr. It looks kind of funky, but it's clean, they have good service, reasonable prices, and FRESH fish! Try the Fish Rueben...it's AWESOME!!! (It's also right on the Intracoastal Waterway) Again, seating is available outside or inside the building...we always sit outside!

In New Smyrna Beach there is "Blackbeards Inn", and they serve great food....lots of seafood and (according to my neighbor) extremely good prime rib! If ya go, get the salad & soup bar with your meal, and have the Fish Chowder!!! It is GREAT!!!

Over in Sanford (which is just off I-4 NE of Orlando on Lake Monroe) there is a nice river cruise that serves a very nice lunch, with appetizers, salad, main course with trimmings (several choices of meat, fish, or vegetarian), and of course...dessert! It's the Rivership Romance. It's a nice 3 or 4 hour cruise down the St. Johns River with narration of what's in and along the river. By the way...The St. Johns actually flows NORTH to it's outlet at Jacksonville!!! During the time frame your pondering, besides alligators, there will also be manatees swimming in in the river.

There are also loads of plays, musical performances, and that sort of thing all over the area in and around Daytona Beach:

Ocean Center

Peabody Auditorium

And several other places!

Here's a couple of sites that I always check on to see what's happening:

Visit Daytona

Daytona Beach area

And finally...I think....a good seafood restaurant in Titusville (right by the Kennedy Space Center and Port Canaveral) that we've been to several times over the years....Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant....good food and ya won't walk away hungry!!! Go early, because they pack the place in the evening!!!

As for distances.....Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna Beach, etc. is an easy drive from Orlando heading east/northeast on I-4......about an hour to hour & half....depending on traffic and cruising speed! And I-4 ends right behind the Daytona Beach International Airport, and turns into Beville Rd.

St. Augustine is roughly an hour north of Daytona, KSC is about an hour south of Daytona, and Sanford is about 45 minutes southwest of Daytona......oh, and Jacksonville is about and hour & a half north of Daytona.

-----------------------------

I'm sure I'll remember more stuff, and will post it when I do!
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:51 PM   #11
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And over the past few years, I've found TripAdvisor to be one of my bestest friends for help in choosing our hotels!!! I haven't been steered wrong yet! Three of the hotels that we stayed at on our recent Florida trip, were ones that we had never been to before, and they turned out to be excellent choices.....they were all rated very highly on TripAdvisor by individual contributors!

I also use it, and Urban Spoon for restaurants! Although I trust TripAdvisor more than Urban Spoon.....it might just be a familiarity factor, since I just came across Urban Spoon recently.

You can also contact local and state visitors' bureaus to have them send you info on places you're interested in, or might be interested in.

I also peruse the internet sites of places we intend to visit...whether hotels, restaurants, or cities...for coupons! On our recent trip, the Rivership Romance in Sanford had an "internet only" discount of $7 off each ticket...and they let you use that discount even if you called on the phone and just mentioned it! So instead of paying $38 each, we only paid $31 each...the group that we normally have traveled to Florida with paid the full $38 fare! (Right now for March their discount is $5 off.)

Coupons are also my friends!
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Old 03-08-2010, 05:20 AM   #12
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Thanks for taking the time to fill me in on all these great travel tips. I'm reading all of the posts and putting it all together.
Once I figure out my airline options, it will be easy to find a place to stay, be it condo or a room with kitchenette. I can get very cheap airfare with JetBlue out of Syracuse NY as long as I avoid the business traveler time slots. Last time I went, I got a RT ticket for $304 including the extra leg room seat charges and taxes.
The beauty of FIRE is I can select any days and length of time I want. This is infinitely more fun than being locked into multi-hop travel itineraries I had to endure in the pre-FIRE days.
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Old 03-08-2010, 07:44 AM   #13
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If you don't mind the connection, jetblue will take you into Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale, though I myself usually drive down to Syracuse and take the short hop into Orlando, then make the 3 hour drive to our place in Fort Myers.

Just discovered Direct Air out of Plattsburg, which might be of interest, depending where you live.
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Old 03-08-2010, 07:51 AM   #14
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I'd check the Criags list of the town you are going to for rentals .
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:07 AM   #15
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We go to the Daytona Beach area every year...have for about 12 years...and have found a lot of things to do around there. There are a lot of historical homes and estates, the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona is worth an afternoon of time to visit.
!
can you tell me more about historic home tours in that area?

down in Fort Myers there is the Burroughs home and the Edison Fort estate
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:01 AM   #16
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Sanibel Island (near Ft Meyers) in the summer is pretty quiet. Has all you are looking for. Many beachfront condos to choose from. Toll bridge to get out there might make it a tiny bit safer.
Beautiful beaches. Lots of shells if the time is right.
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the island.
Edison/Ford museum in Ft Meyers.
Corkscrew Wildlife Sanctuary is very nice if you are into bird watching. It is about an hour's drive away.

Edit to add: I see the time frame is April/May. Probably still a good time to go -- but it's not near Orlando. Nice airport in Ft Meyers, Southwest Florida Regional, I believe, RSW.
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:05 AM   #17
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just to fill out the list - basically think of Marco Island up to Gasparilla as one big city, all day tripable

Starting at the top -
- Sarasota Barnum and Bailey Museum and Mansion tour
- Gasparilla Inn, small strip of shops and Lighthouse (Area History) Museum
- Babcock Wilderness tour
- Punta Gorda Fisherman's Wharf mall and boat tours
- Arcadia antique row
- Matlatcha shops (small strip off of the Cape)
- various ferry's to islands
- Downtown Fort Myers River District clubs (careful after dark with surrouding area!)
- Burroughs Mansion Tour (I think just Fridays)
- Captiva (shelling at sancap gap, greenflash restaurant)
- Sanibel (lighthouse park and pier, Ding Darling nature walk/drive/bike/kayak, go low tide dawn/dusk)
- Lovers Key park, Dog Beach Park, low tide!!!
- Ferry to Key West
- Bell Tower Shops, Total Wine, Barnes & Noble & World Market across street
- 6 mile slough park on 6 mile Cypress Fort Myers, free tour at 9 am I think
- Sun Harvest Citrus on 6 mile Cypress (great Orange ice cream)
- Dinner Train murder mystery
- Gannons Antiques on trail
- Coconut Mall (outdoor, big!, expensive)
- Koreshan Historic Site (old cult site)
- Estero River Kayaking tour, amazing
- Corkscrew Swamp boardwalk park, gators!
- Miromar Outlets (cheap!)
- Waterside Mall (expensive!)
- Naples 5th avenue (expensive!)
- 5th Avenue Segway tour based west of Tin City
- Naples Pier and shopping area over there (can't remember which street)...insanely expensive
- Tin City Naples (cheap! tacky touristy, great for lunch)
- Conservancy everglades electric boat tour
- Marco Island Tiger Tail Beach, go at low tide, trust me
- Marco Island Stilts Restaurant - go low wind day
- Everglades City, Park, Airboat tours (I have not been down there yet)
- Ave Maria town (if you are Catholic or are curious about unusual stuff)
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:09 AM   #18
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If you don't mind the connection, jetblue will take you into Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale, though I myself usually drive down to Syracuse and take the short hop into Orlando, then make the 3 hour drive to our place in Fort Myers.

Just discovered Direct Air out of Plattsburg, which might be of interest, depending where you live.
Syracuse is the closest and most convenient airport for me. I know I can get better fares out of Albany or Rochester, but the driving distance and parking cost for 2 weeks is a factor. I can have dh2b or a retired friend provide the transportation to/from Syracuse much more easily.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:40 AM   #19
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A very safe quite beachy town is Anna Marie Island . It 's about forty minutes from Tampa airport . Beautiful beaches , Ringling museum , St.Armand's circle ( shopping & dining area ) , downtown Sarasota and lay back residents .
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:36 PM   #20
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can you tell me more about historic home tours in that area?...
Although we haven't done any exploring of old homes or estates, I've seen ads and article on them for all the years we've been going down there. We've been past the Casements numerous times, since it's along a main thoroughfare from beachside to the mainland....E. Granada Blvd which is SR40.

"The Casements" is the former estate of J.D. Rockefeller, and is located in Ormond Beach (Ormond Beach adjoins to Daytona Beach's north border). There are tours of the home, picnic areas, and being located on the east bank of the Halifax River, you can sit and watch the river or fish a bit. They also have concerts on the grounds, though I don't know the schedule. You should be able to find updated info on it on the Ormond Beach Website (though there's nothing there right now...I believe they are updating the site), or Volusia County's site.

Volusia County also has some info on other homes/estates like Samuel Frederick DeBary's, and Mary McLeod Bethune's....and also a few other places to visit and things to do.

OK....now here's some more odds and ends to add to my list of stuff that I posted previously.....

First I'll add another restaurant to the list....don't have a clue how I forgot it before! It's Sherry's Kitchen at 1500 S. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach! We've eaten there for several years, and it's great homemade, southern soul/comfort food!!! Good ol' down home cookin'!!! It's exactly like the food I grew up on in my family's kitchens, and that I still eat today!!! Next to my Mom's, they have the best fried chicken I've found! They have a full breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, and dinner buffet...with ALL of the goodies!!! It's family owned and operated, and they are THE nicest people you'll come across!!! It's my favorite restaurant in the area!

Next on the list is the Cracked Egg Diner in Daytona Beach Shores. It's a small place that serves good food (only breakfast and lunch), is very clean, and has great service! It's owned by 2 brothers, and they know how to take care of their customers! It's a place where the 'locals' hang out.

The Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center also has several show and concerts throughout the year.

If you want to enjoy the peace and quiet, and the beauty of nature, you can go the the Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens in Port Orange (southwest edge of Daytona Beach) near the intersection of FL-5A and SR421, on Old Sugar Mill Rd.

And something I just found the other day that, as a big railroad nut, intrigues me! It's "Florida Rail Adventures". They run lunch and dinner trains in restored passenger cars from an era gone by! They also have excursion trains that go on short 1 1/2 hour jaunts. They're located in Eustis, which is just north of Orlando a bit.
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