Florida Roundups

Six cool outings for hot Florida weekend getaways

Rock Spring Run at Kelly Park

Chill at a Florida spring: This is Rock Spring Run at Kelly Park

It’s hot, but that doesn’t mean you have to seal yourself in air conditioning for the next five months. You can enjoy the natural and authentic Florida, even in the summer.

Here are six weekend outings that are perfect for a hot, sunny summer weekend:

1. Bicycling. Try Jupiter Island.

Why is it cool? The tree-shaded road on Jupiter Island gets ocean breezes. As long as you keep peddling, you stay cool from the air movement. And you can stop along the way and take a swim to cool off. (My guide to bicycling Jupiter Island includes what appears to be the lone but unmarked beach-access point where you can get to the sand and swim.) The scenery is lovely and the rich residents are all at their summer homes, so traffic is slim. More on bicycling Jupiter Island.

2. Kayaking on a Florida spring. Try Blue Spring State Park.

Why is it cool?  Blue Spring stays a steady 68 degrees. In the winter, that’s warm enough to draw hundreds of manatees. But with manatees safely elsewhere, the spring becomes a vast swimming hole with multiple entry points, so before, during and after you kayak, you can take a chilling dip. Blue Spring Run and the St. John’s River offer an unbelievably wild environment for paddling, both north and south of the park.  Here are more springs that are perfect for summer weekends.

3. Tubing. Try Ichetucknee State Park.

Why is it cool?  The Ichetucknee has bracingly cold, gin-clear water and passes through a pristine forest .  This spring near Gainesville is Florida’s favorite tubing destination, and for good reason. It has been declared a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. (You can also kayak and canoe the river.) Details on tubing Ichetucknee. This link includes other popular tubing spots, such as Blackwater River State Park  in Holt, in the Panhandle; Blue Springs State Park  in Orange City in Central Florida, and Rainbow Springs State Park,  in Dunnellon, west of Ocala

4. Snorkeling from shore.  Try Peanut Island

Why is it cool? Peanut Island is a man-made island in the middle of the Port of Palm Beach. Its rocky shoreline and its location directly in the mouth of the inlet make it a magnet for colorful fish and creatures, from rays to manatees to small sharks. It is well-known for having some of the best easy-access snorkeling in South Florida. Some other great places to snorkel from shore: Red Reef Park in Boca Raton, Cannon Beach at John Pennekamp State Park and Indian Key in Islamorada. And here’s a neat idea: A snorkeling trail at  Phil Foster Park, which is an island on the Blue Heron Bridge at Riviera Beach.

5. Discover a new beach.  Try one of the best beaches in Florida.

Why is it cool? You already know Florida summers were meant for beaches, but have you been to all of the awarding-winning beaches that have nade the annual list compiled by “Dr Beach”? If not, any of these beaches is special enough to warrant a weekend roadtrip.  I just visited Caladesi Island State Park, near St. Petersburg, and it was a terrific kayak/beach combo.  But pick any one on the list; they’re all “best beaches.”

6. Hang out in a tiki bar. Try a classic tiki bar in the Florida Keys.

Why is it cool? Between waterfront breezes and frosty beverages, tiki bars help you forget the twin 80s (temperature and humidity — but maybe the whole decade, too.)   In the Keys, tiki bars – or chickee-bar or cabana bars — are about being outdoors and overlooking the water, particularly at sunset.  Keys tiki bars are some of the best places to eat fresh fish and fried anything. They are usually family friendly, because kids at an outdoor table can wiggle and make noise. And they are the epitome of the Keys attitude — sit back, relax, be entertained by fish snapping up breadcrumbs or the passing clouds. You can find classic tiki bars elsewhere, too.  Florida Rambler likes Archie’s on Hutchinson Island because it’s right on the beach.

Where do you go to stay cool in Florida’s hot summers? Please use the comment field to add your suggestions.

 

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