I’d like to continue the review of our travels in 2020 where we left off in June. That’s when Florida began to re-open. Restaurants and bars were allowed to have inside operations, some of the attractions opening their doors and even some shows and activities started up again.
In late June we headed to the Prestige Hotel in Vero Beach where we booked a room with an ocean view. The third floor balcony easily is one of the best vistas we’ve enjoyed – especially on the Atlantic Coast.
We found some great little places to eat in the area as well. We revisited Mrs. Mac’s Fillin’ Station with it’s automotive decor and great breakfast selections. We also stopped back at the Vero Beach TooJay’s Deli and of course we hit an old favorite at Waldo’s in the Driftwood Inn.
One of the nicest discoveries in Vero was the Indian River Citrus Museum where we got a private tour and a sneak peek at a new citrus label poster program. It really only got its start at the end of this past year. As part of the review of our travels in 2020 we’d say this was a gem.
Our July travels continued to take us to many new and interesting places. We had ice cream at the Venice Avenue Creamery in Venice as well as The Frost Bite in beautiful downtown Frostproof. We enjoyed wonderful dinners at Nokomo’s Sunset Hut in Nokomis and The Krazy Greek in Winter Haven.
Also in July we took a run over to cattle country in Okeechobee and enjoyed the Milking R Dairy. Not only are their products superb, we had a chance to look at their operation. There’s also a fun little play park for kids. Following our ice cream treat, we stopped in at the Center Mass gun range. It’s state of the art – with facilities for young, old, experienced and inexperienced shooters.
In August we also took a few day trips, stopping n at the Egg City Diner and Surf’s Up in Haines City, The Pantry in Auburndale and the Crooked Spoon restaurant in Clermont. One of the coolest things we found in Clermont was the Showcase of Citrus.
This place is a compendium of what really is Florida. There’s grove after grove of u-pick citrus. Also on site is a petting zoo, a playground, swamp buggy rides, a giant store, a restaurant and more. It was easy for us to loose ourselves there in just strolling the grounds, people watching and soaking up the sights.
Near the end of the month, our travels in 2020 took us back down to Vero Beach where we revisited the Prestige Hotel. Although this time we did not have that magnificent ocean view. That area is becoming a favorite place for us to enjoy the ocean and the many things to see and do.
On our September trip to Vero, we took a tour through the McKee Botanical Gardens. Although fairly small by comparison to other such facilities we have toured, it was packed with wonderful natural and man-made features. The day we were there, dozens of sculptures made from melted-down flip flops were the featured exhibits.
The month of October took us into the central part of Florida and Desoto County. There, in Arcadia, we found a couple of unexpected gems. First, was Martin’s Country Market. I thought it was Amish but was corrected -apparently, they are Reformed Mennonite. Regardless, the food was terrific and there also was a great little market where we stocked up on baked goods and other delectables we had not seen in the past.
Another find in Arcadia was the Bizarre Bazaar. Arcadia is famous for its antique stores, but this is one with attitude. Located upstairs in the Arcadia Opera House, it is a compendium of small shops and themed rooms with everything from vinyl records, to clothing, games, toys, clothing. housewares and collectables.
We took another quick getaway back down to Nokomis in October and also had a new adventure. Our travels in 2020 took us up into Crystal River. We found a great little lodging at the Crystal Manatee. Not only was it comfortable, but it was quite convenient for us to walk to the Heritage Village shopping area. The area was lined with restaurants and specialty shops. It’s the kind of place we love.
Sadly, we did not have an opportunity to explore half the places we wanted to see. But gladly, that means we’ll be headed back this year to make up for lost time. One great treat was The Biscuit Barn, where we found actual cat head biscuits cooked to perfection. They have rated our top biscuits so far in Florida.
We also had the BubbaQue experience in the Heritage Village district. It was fun place with some great barbecue – and a wide variety of sauces.
November brought us a new experience as we headed down to Casey Key. Located just north of Nokomis Beach, the Gulf Shores Beach Resort truly is a fun and funky lodging. Our room was located just off the Venice Inlet, where we watched the sun come up and enjoyed some early morning water traffic.
Across the street, we had access to a large tiki hut where we could watch the Gulf. Or, we could take a path down to the beach and enjoy the water for ourselves up close and personal. This was a great little retro resort that really gave us the feel of old Florida.
We also found A Good Day Cafe, where we had one of the better breakfasts we’ve enjoyed in Florida.
Finally, in December, problems with our web page hampered our ability to post many of the places we have visited and experienced.
However, we did go to the Surf Coast and enjoyed New Smyrna Beach. We found some great restaurants like Norwood’s and The Garlic. There’s also a great little distillery called Sugar Works. One of our favorite experiences came at the Little Drug Company which really is a hidden gem.
Our travels in 2020 literally took us thousands of miles around the Sunshine State. We went to the Gulf and the Atlantic as well as interior areas of Florida. And yet there still are so many places we have to visit.
Stay tuned, as we take the month of January to catch up on some places we have not yet shared, and plan some new getaways your can enjoy with us. Our thanks to you for enjoying Florida Fun Travel and we hope that the coming year will be the best yet.