The entire state of Florida was very sparsely populated until the 1920’s when wealthy Northerners started traveling to the South in order to escape the brutally cold winters. Now the third largest state in population behind New York and California, Florida’s economy which started out as natural resource based is now fueled by tourism, real estate and retirement services.
Built around the spring fed Kings Bay, Crystal River is often called “Home of the Manatee.” Since the springs are always 72 degrees, this is the perfect environment for manatees year round. During the winter months when the Gulf of Mexico cools down, it’s not unusual to see 400-500 manatees frolicking in Kings Bay.
Home of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, this is another great manatee watching locale. In fact, they even have a floating observatory to get up close and personal. The park is also home to river otters, black bears, American alligators…even a hippopotamus!
Tarpon Springs is both a wonderful historic and tourist destination and the sponge capitol of the world. It also boasts one of the largest Greek populations in the country. Spend the afternoon at the Tarpon Springs Aquarium, stroll the beach collecting unique shells, then watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
Take a fun and educational spongeboat tour out into the Gulf of Mexico where you’ll see a demonstration of how sponge is harvested and prepared for sale. You will learn the history of sponge diving in the Gulf, how sponge grows, and how to identify different types of sponges.
Thomas Edison Museum
The former winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford have been combined to a fascinating 20 acre estate of museums, exhibits and botanical gardens. This tour also includes access to the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory, one of the most unique and interesting experiences on the entire estate.
The largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island is home to tropical white sand beaches, fresh off the boat seafood, dolphin sightseeing tours, Everglades swamp buddy rides, unique shops, bars and restaurants.
From their priceless art museums to historic circus museums, the Ringling Museums also owns the Asolo theater. Purchased by Ringling in the late 1940’s the theater was dismantled in Italy and rebuilt in Sarasota, FL. Moved again and completely restored, America’s only 18th century European theater now is located on the Ringling Museum estate.
X-press Passenger Service to Key West
Take the high speed catamaran ferry from Ft. Myers Beach to the southernmost city in America, Key West. Concessions are available along with a wonderful open-air deck for enjoying all the spectacular sights.
Key West Conch Tour Train
Climb aboard at the Front Street Depot for a ninety minute tour through time. You’ll see and experience Old Town Key West, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Key West Lighthouse, Southernmost Point, the Key West Butterfly and Museum along with fine art galleries, unique shops and great local cuisine restaurants.
Historic Bok Tower and Sanctuary
This botanical garden and bird sanctuary located in Lake Wales, was designed in 1921 by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. The Bok tower, a 205 foot neo-Gothic art deco Singing Tower, overlooks 250 acres of gardens filled with ferns, palms, oaks, azaleas, camellias and magnolias.
Highlights shown above are just a few of this area's top attractions.
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