As I was growing up, our idea of going on vacation was to blast as hard as we could to get to our destination, in an effort to spend as much time there as possible, then get in the turnpike and blast home in time to be back at work or school.

Exploring Florida is half the fun.

    However, as I have gotten older, my focus has changed somewhat. My wife and I now take longer routes to and from our intended destination. This allows us to go off the beaten path a bit – in search of stores, restaurants, entertainment, attractions and points of interest that we did not have time for on the way to our destination.
    Make no mistake, we still sometimes make tracks in an effort to “get out of Dodge,” – especially if there is a festival we need to get to at a certain time. There also are times that although we hustle to get somewhere, we then make plans to leave a little early so we can have some fun “noodling” our way back to the house.
    Generally on the way there, we spot a billboard, a restaurant, a town or a point of interest we’d like to take in, so we look at it on the internet and make note. Then on our return trip, we can take an alternate route, maybe a less traveled state road that provides a leisurely trip back which gives us an opportunity to explore.

Kissimmee’s Monument of States is quirky and fun

    I generally do the driving and I can tell you that many times, the secondary roads we take on the way back are just as smooth and well maintained as any interstate but with a fraction of the traffic. There might be the occasional stop light, but it is a small price to pay when there is virtually no truck traffic. In fact, many times there is no traffic at all, and you have the opportunity to hit a place that was a tourist stop back before “the interstate highway went through.”
   Yes, Florida is a lot more than the major theme parks and you can have a really good time stopping in some of the smaller towns that have periodic events and festivals. There are many places that have first, second or third Friday night events. From classic car shows, to art walks, to food truck rallies, the merchants stay open late and there are lots of locals that can tell you about fun and fascinating places to go.
   Here at the Florida Fun Zone, we post weekend events on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on our Facebook page, and some we even post here. We try to review the best restaurants and places to stay so that those exploring Florida have a good idea of what a given area has to offer.

Microtel is usually a good choice

   There are some hotel chains we rely on to hit that sweet spot in accommodations, and if we cannot find a funky little restaurant, there are some go-to chains on which we can rely. Even still, there are sites like Trip Advisor that have reviews by travelers that are very helpful to us when we are unfamiliar with an area.

   So when you visit our widely divergent Sunshine State, our recommendation is that you leave yourself a bit of “disposable time,” to look about. You might just find a hidden gem and the highlight of your vacation.
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