We spent an entire month in Florida but not on purpose. We were trapped by the delusions that set in with too much sun. You begin to fear leaving for if you do the next place might rain, or be cold or run out of rum.
Like most humans we savor the days spent on a beach. Bathing in the sun, relaxing to the rhythmic sounds of the waves and watching people eat it when they lose their balance on a skimboard. But here is something unlike most humans, I have a very unreasonable and debilitating fear of sharks. If you have ever met me, even just once, I likely worked this fear into a conversation. Because of this fear there is no scuba diving and no surfing, aka all the fun and active stuff that keeps people busy for days. Shark fear, you are shitty.
So here we go, since we visited so many places in Florida let’s turn on efficiency mode and break out the list. We will start with Silver Springs State Park. It was near the end of our trip but it is the number one place in Florida we recommend visiting.
Silver Springs State Park
We met Dawn and Marshall in New Orleans at an RV resort. We were fast friends, staying up late telling stories, drinking wine and whisky and ultimately singing Adele at the top of our lungs. Our story has just begun, it is still be written.
When we hit Florida, their home state, we made immediate plans to visit them. These are warm and hospitable folks and so arranged to have our trailer set up next to them, introduced us to their friends and set up a little show so I could sing my songs. By the end of our trip their friends were our friends and we had a new home away from home.
The crescendo of our time though was a boat trip in Silver Springs State Park, home to the largest artesian spring in the world. When I die, please Lord let this be my heaven. We took a slow ride up the Silver River, clear as glass, where we were flanked at times by alligators, egrets and monkey’s, the latter being remnants of a ploy to draw in tourists in the 1930’s. So far, our trip had felt void of expected wildlife sightings and this trip alone filled those gaps.
The clarity of the water is irresistible. The river grass 20 feet below is clear and crisp, Gar fish and plethora’s of turtles swam on unperturbed by our slow-moving boat. Artesian springs dot the length of the river, appearing as deep blue and turquois orbs. The river shoreline is a vibrant jungle with overarching trees with fingerlike roots that stand in the water.
This is what we remember first about Florida, this is the experience, above all others, that we recommend. We were lucky to visit but far luckier to have Dawn and Marshall to share it with. We love you guys!
Apalachicola National Forest
First stop in Florida landed us in the panhandle. We stayed in the Apalachicola National Forest, next to Wright Lake and spent our days taking short hikes and day trips to the beach. Hikes here are essentially low-grade walks with the benefit of calming and redundant scenery. We recommend this as a stop along the way to somewhere else and not an end all destination unless you just want a nice quiet location close to the beach.
Crystal River is said to be a premier location to see Mantatee’s in Florida. We parked our trailer and headed out for a day of snorkeling. The company we booked with forewarned us the waters were cloudy due to a recent lack of rain. This was indeed the case but we still had a good experience. On an ideal day, the water is clear and the Mantatee’s can be observed in their natural habitat. When we ventured out we had the odd luxury of having to track them, where we waited for the telltale spout of water so we could head out and begin our search. This ended up having a movie thriller effect, where you are waiting and waiting and finally just when you’ve given up you find yourself floating directing on top of a Manatee. You know this because the only thing you can see is a large algae speckled body just inches from your face.
Our team had a bit of a change in St. Petersburg, Matt flew out for a bachelor party and my parents flew in to take his place. For these few days, it felt like a true vacation in Florida that included a harbor dinner cruise, a tour on the American Victory Ship, beach time and a night out in historic downtown St. Pete’s.
Oscar Scherer State Park
We shacked up for several days in Oscar Scherer State Park between Siesta Keys and Venice Beach. We booked our stay and then stayed longer. Here’s why.
- The nearby beaches all deserve a visit, with my personal favorite being Siesta Key. The town is chill with diverse food options as well as a lively night life. Also, the beach is expansive and just dreamy for a late light night skinny dip.
- The camping is prime in the park. Each spot is secluded and surrounded by lush jungled vegetation. One of our favorite places to park it so far.
Harry Potter World
I literally can’t even. It is so weird, even to me, how freaking much I love Harry Potter.
St. Augustine is the oldest “continuously occupied” city in the United States…that’s all I have.
I am going to get real here. We spent almost a month in Florida and by the time we made it to St. Augustine we were just over it. Done. Our lives on the road have never felt like a vacation until we came to Florida. And you know that feeling you have sometimes after a vacation, where you just need a vacation from a vacation. This was it.
I stayed at our campsite and hooked up my electric guitar and played psychedelic melodies every day until we left. It happens.