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Bonnie Gross

The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.

Visiting here, I found myself amazed that places like Anna Maria Island survive — a low-rise beach town with quaint cottages and a spectacular beach. Daytrippers will be happy to learn they can skip the weekend traffic and parking hassles with an affordable new ferry service from Bradenton.

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There’s a good reason Boca Grande is a favorite among the rich and famous: It’s beautiful, unspoiled and preserves the charm of Old Florida. It makes a satisfying daytrip, especially on a bike. Another plus: The historic lighthouse at the southern tip just reopened 16 months after being slammed by Hurricane Ian.

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Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs has survived since 1936. Now it’s a small but serene spot to enjoy glorious flora, colorful birds, gators and more. It’s located on Old 41 Road, a pocket of Old Florida that is having a renaissance.

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Shangri-la Springs is a historic hotel surrounded by eight acres of gardens with fountains, ponds, towering trees and the original spring the town is named for. You are welcome to visit the grounds or have breakfast or lunch at its restaurant, which serves produce from its organic garden. It’s an Old Florida hidden gem!

Read More about Shangri-la Springs: A 1921 hotel in 8 acres of idyllic gardens in old Bonita Springs