Fall in Florida

Thanks to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, most of us have seen a substantial increase in TV commercials touting the finer points of Florida travel. Even my 6-year-old can tell you that Florida’s beaches are clean and open to the public… and we live in Wisconsin.

Given all that has transpired in the last few months, I figured I would give Florida some coverage in this blog. Not Orlando. After all, the home to the world’s most famous mouse helps the state top travel lists as one of the most visited places in the United States. Rather, I plan to focus on some lesser known Florida hot spots. Sure, you might know that the Sunshine State boasts more than 800 miles of white sand beaches, but did you also know that it features a number of incredible natural wonders and historic villages?

Take a look:

Amelia Island: If you want to give your kids a hands-on history lesson, then head to Florida’s Amelia Island. Located in the northeastern-most part of the state, the island is perfectly preserved in an old-fashioned way. It doesn’t reek of commercialism like other parts of Florida. Rather, it celebrates the Victorian era with miles of stunning mansions. Highlights include walking tours of the downtown area, where you will find the Amelia Island Museum of History, and leisure river cruises along the island’s scenic waterways. Share a sunset with your family during a relaxing sail and keep an eye out for dolphins, manatees and alligators.

St. Petersburg/Clearwater: Nature lovers will feel right at home along the 35-mile St. Petersburg/Clearwater coastline. The area is known for having some of the softest, whitest sand in the state. That’s a plus for beachcombers, who can collect colorful shells and unique rocks, with little effort. For adventurous travelers, the area is also home to Caladesi Island, an unspoiled retreat that can only be reached by ferry. The sunsets there are beyond compare. What’s more, because the island is so isolated, you won’t have to worry about bumping elbows with hundreds of other tourists on the beach.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.