By Danielle Charbonneau
Some of the best advice I was ever given is,
“If you live like a tourist in your own town, you’ll never get bored.”
I have found this advice to be remarkably true. As an adventurer by heart and a columnist covering fun things to do in South Florida, I’ve spent the last several years exploring and experimenting. From kite boarding to scuba diving, wake boarding to cooking classes, sensory deprivation to turtle watching, indoor skydiving to high-speed go-carts — I have now tried at least four dozen of South Florida’s most entertaining activities. I have compiled a guide for your summer bucket list, broken into by category.
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DAY-TRIP TO THE BAHAMAS
Did you know you can take a round-trip Fast Ferry to Bimini from Miami, or Grand Bahama Island from Fort Lauderdale, for just over $100? Go experience the crystalline waters of the Bahamas for a day or weekend getaway. Visit gobahamasplus.com.
WEEKEND TRIP: Road Trip: St. Augustine
St. Augustine: the oldest city in the United States. Traveling through this marvelously historic city is a journey through time and history — going back to the earliest beginnings of the discovery of America and the very first footsteps of Europeans on the continent. While Christopher Columbus is widely accredited for discovering America, it is believed in fact, to be Ponce de Leon, who was the first to officially discover Florida in 1493 and claim it for Spain. St. Augustine itself was founded in 1565 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, making it the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the contiguous United States.
Taking a weekend trip to this unique, charming and historic city is a memorable experience you should not neglect. Look west from the central square and you will see towering what used to be the legendary Ponce de Leon hotel. An architectural wonder of its time, it was legendary Henry Flagler’s first hotel and today is the home of Flagler College.
Directly across the street is the equally revolutionary Alcazar hotel, also built by Henry Flagler. Today, the Alcazar is home to the Lighter museum, which houses an impressive collection of 19th century antiques and art, as well as Café Alcazar, a restaurant located inside the old indoor-pool of the former historic hotel.
Some fun things to do include: visiting the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress with drawbridges; taking a ghost tour of some of the city’s oldest sites; touring the St. Augustine Distillery (with complimentary samples); visiting the Pirate and Treasure Museum; or exploring the Colonial Quarter.
DAY TRIP TO HOMESTEAD: The Coral Castle & Florida’s Most Unforgettable Milkshake
Set out to Homestead, Fla. to visit one of South Florida’s most renowned and mysterious monuments, the Coral Castle. The castle is known as Florida’s own Stonehenge. No one, not even scientists, can agree on how the 1,100-ton structure was created, by one man, in secret, with no modern machinery whatsoever. Its construction was inspired by unrequited love, and was the inspiration behind Billy Idol’s song and music video “Sweet Sixteen.”
The structure looks, at first glance, rather dull for a “castle” — a coral stone wall surrounding an open-air sculpture garden with chairs and tables made entirely of coral stone. But, as your raconteur tour guide begins recounting the tall tales behind the castle — the quirkiness of the man who built it, his near insane obsession with his long-lost love Agnes, the rich fantasy life he incorporated into the castle’s imaginative design, the secretiveness of its construction, and how no one really can figure out how in the hell he did it (some stones weigh as much as 90 tons) — the castle really transforms into something whimsical. The castle is an ode to love, madness and physics.
The Coral Castle is located at 28655 S. Dixie Highway, Homestead, FL 33033, 305-248-6345, coralcastle.com
WHILE YOU’RE IN HOMESTEAD…DRINK AN UNFORGETTABLE MILKSHAKE: ROBERT IS HERE
Robert is Here started as a tropical fruit stand in Homestead and soon became renowned for their milkshakes; most notably, their Key Lime Pie milkshake. Throughout the year, Robert is Here also carries 500 unique types of exotic fruit including cherimoya, jackfruit, guanabana and sugar apples. Be adventurous and try something new. The market is an excellent place for a summer afternoon with family and friends. There is also a petting zoo where kids can hand-feed the farm animals.
9200 SW 344th St, Homestead, robertishere.com, 305-246-1592
GO GLOBAL: with Insider Excursions
Insider Excursions is Point! Publishing’s newest media travel venture. Insider Excursions takes individuals and groups from South Florida on media tours of cool destinations around the world. Then, Insider Excursions features your adventures in Point! Publishing’s three South Florida magazines. Insider Excursions has several upcoming trips, including a culinary-focused trip to Quebec City, an urban tour in Cartagena, Colombia and an epic adventure in the jungles of Belize. Check out all our upcoming trips at insiderexcursions.com.
THIS SUMMER ADVENTURE GUIDE IS A SIX-PART SERIES…
Click below to find more great activities to add to your summer bucket list:
PART ONE: GAMES & PLAY | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures to bring out your inner child, challenge your mind and free you to play.
PART TWO: EXPERIENCE NATURE | This part of our summer adventure guide will get you in touch with nature.
PART THREE: ADRENALINE JUNKIES | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures for adrenaline junkies.
PART FOUR: CREATE & LEARN | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures that will get you learning and inspire your creativity.
PART FIVE: RELAX |This part of our summer adventure series has relaxing activities to rejuvenate your mind, body & soul
PART SIX: ROAD TRIPS, DAY TRIPS & BEYOND | This part of our summer adventure series has day trips, road trips and a few travel ideas.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]