Articles written by: Bonnie Gross

Bonnie is co-founder of Florida Rambler. She spent four decades searching for places to enjoy the natural beauty and fascinating history of Florida. After a long career at the Sun Sentinel, including as executive producer of its website, she started sharing her experiences here in 2010. She lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and travel partner David Blasco.

(c) Can Stock Photo

Five romantic things to do in Florida’s outdoors

Make Valentines Day plans now. From a comfy B&B to a vast and perfect beach, here are five natural, wild and thoroughly romantic places Florida Rambler style.

2017-18 Key West house tours: A chance to peek inside Key West homes

2017-18 Key West house tours: A chance to peek inside Key West homes

It’s a rare opportunity: You can peek inside the beautifully restored private homes in the Key West historic district on home and garden tours. Next tours: Feb. 16 – 17.

Crocodiles are much rarer than alligators but are often seen near Flamingo in Everglades National Park. Photo by Adam Fagen.

Where to spot wildlife in Florida in winter

There are a lot of things I love about winter in Florida, but high on the list is spotting the wonderful variety of wildlife here. You might not get lucky and view all these animals, but you’ll visit wild and beautiful sites on your quest.

Armadillo races at 2015 Swamp Cabbage Festival. Photo courtesy Pete Cross.

Swamp Cabbage Fest marks 52 years, Feb. 24-25, 2018

You can get gator tail and swamp cabbage at this festival. But the real reason to go is to revel in a last corner of small town America in Florida — beauty pageants, high school bands, armadillo races and a rodeo.

Largest Civil War re-enactment in Southeast occurs near Jacksonville at Olustee Battlefield Historic Park Feb. 14-16.

Civil War buffs: Florida’s biggest battle, Olustee, re-enacted Feb. 16-18, 2018

At Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park near Jacksonville, Florida’s largest Civil War battle will be re-enacted, with gun smoke, booming cannons and cavalry. Three of the famous “Colored Regiments” were among 10,000 troops that fought here.

Priscilla the Parrot Fish is made out of plastic toys, buoys, toothbrushes and other plastic garbage picked up on beaches.the sculpture if one of 10 on exhibit at Mounts Botanical Garden until June 3, 2018. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mounts Botanical Garden: Art from sea debris in a lovely garden

Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach is a lovely spot, especially worth visiting this winter with the Washed Ashore exhibit of giant sculptures made of plastic trash picked up on beaches. These sculptures, the pinnacle of recycling, do their job: They delight us but they also make us think.

Strangler fig along Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk along the Tamiami Trail. (Photo: David Blasco)

Tamiami Trail: Scenic drive exploring Everglades

The Tamiami Trail, linking Miami and Florida’s west coast, gets you close to alligators, cypress swamps and Everglades scenery. It also offers outstanding stops along the way, particularly the Shark Valley area of Everglades National Park.

Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery has an inviting outdoor area for trying the wines and beers.

A day exploring the Redland: Agriculture and rustic charm thrive near Miami

The historic agricultural area surrounding the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park offers so many cool experiences — a park where you can see and sample exotic fruits, free tours of a spectacular orchid grower’s estate, a local tropical-fruit winery and famous fruit milkshakes and cinnamon rolls.

Gilbert's Resort, the first lodging once you cross into the Florida Keys, is a great place to watch a Florida Keys sunset. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

36 hours in Key Largo: Gilbert’s Resort and kayaking the wreck at Garden Cove

For a quick trip to the Keys, consider Gilbert’s Resort. The upgraded 1950s-era motel and tiki bar is the first lodging you reach on the road to Key Largo. Then, kayak nearby Garden Cove and discover its picturesque sunken barge, a good place to snorkel.

Pigeon Key, as viewed from the old bridge

Pigeon Key: Island on Seven Mile Bridge has scenery, history

As you cross the Seven Mile Bridge, you pass the little green island with yellow cottages and palm trees surrounded by dazzling blue water. Stop and visit: Pigeon Key is one of a kind. It offers fascinating history, tropical beauty, even great snorkeling.