Just for your information, Oracle staffers are not always in the newsroom slaving away to put out a newspaper all the time. Here are several places we like to go to unwind.
Sanibel Island, situated off the coast of Fort Myers Beach, is probably one of my favorite spots in Florida. Closer to Tampa than the tourist-overrun Key West, it has much of the charm that Key West used to be famous for.
Long beaches and beautiful plant life give one the opportunity to get far away from it all without having to drive too far. Hotels, while on the pricier side, often have deals for students, especially in the summer months.
It’s probably one of the nicest vacation spots in Florida. But that’s not the only reason the island will always be associated with fond memories for me. I went there for my honeymoon.
Sebastian Meyer, Opinion Editor
Since I prefer to be inside (the blazing sun makes me look like a lobster), I try to find as many things as I can to do indoors. One of my favorites is to visit Poppy’s Place, a local pool hall. To be able to play a game without getting sand in unmentionable places or getting dunked in a body of salty water makes time at the pool hall worthwhile. Also, I don’t have to run all over creation looking for a place with an frosty drink or a yummy snack. If this place isn’t already the best, I just think to myself: I don’t have to try to go swimsuit shopping.
Bridgette Martin, Features Editor
Ever dream of Daytona without the hustle and bustle? Well, turn off Interstate 4 a bit earlier and you may just find it. Relatively tourist- and pollution-free, New Smyrna Beach is a short drive from both Daytona and Orlando, which makes it the perfect destination for the Tampa day-tripper fed up with the clutter of Clearwater’s shores.
There’s 13 miles of white, sparsely populated sand for the beachgoers and a quaint, artsy downtown for the beachgoer’s pasty friends. Restaurants abound, and for once, you can trust the seafood. Just take I-4 east to Exit 118 and head east on State Road 44 — but fill up before you get there; gas is expensive on the beach.
Brad Bautista, Copy Chief
Crystal-clear and icy cold, Rainbow Springs State Park exudes the perfect atmosphere for getting away from all life’s troubles and getting closer to nature. There’s camping, picnicking, snorkeling, swimming and, my favorite activity, canoeing. Though the water is freezing no matter what time of the year it is, in the summertime the springs are a welcome relief from the scorching and humid Florida summer. Several places along the river are perfect to come ashore and explore. Several ropes are tied from the treetops so visitors can swing like Tarzan into the water. Rainbow Springs is the third-largest spring in Florida and is located about two hours north of Tampa in Dunnellon.
Sherry Mims, Copy Editor
Moving to the Sunshine State at the age of 11, I grew accustomed to certain traditions on the East Coast. During the summer, especially, I found myself going with my mom or friends to Cocoa Beach. Cocoa Beach, while not known for its soft sand, is definitely the place to be for Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day. The City of Cocoa hosts surf fests that attract beach bums statewide, myself included. I love to hang out at the Cocoa Beach Pier and eat lunch at one of the various restaurants or watch the surf competitions take place. So whenever I can get back home to Melbourne during one of those holiday weekends, I always try to make a pit stop at Cocoa Beach.
Stefanie Green, Editor in Chief
Perhaps I am biased because it is home, but my travels throughout the state have confirmed that Miami is the best vacation spot. All wants and desires, honorable or not, can be fulfilled there. The food, the first standard by which any place should be judged, is not only on the whole excellent and right around the corner from anywhere; it is extremely diverse and, just as importantly, available late. During the day, every activity one could think of is available, and if sitting around is your deal then the “ogling” is quite good. No review would be complete without mentioning the nightlife, but there is more to it than the now-clichÃ© South Beach, which still makes Ybor look tired and lame. An excellent alternative is Coconut Grove, the best features of which are less walking and fewer tourists than the beaches.
Victor Griley, Photographer
Just an hour south of Tampa via Interstate 75, Sarasota is a world of its own. Its waters put others in Florida to shame. Siesta Key Beach has some of the whitest sand in the world, and the waters at the beaches and the Sarasota Bay are bright, clear blue.
The city’s nightlife is a change of pace from the Tampa scene, serving up scotch and martini drinks in laid-back lounges and piano bars populated with locals who greet strangers with a warm welcome. It also offers a wide array of dining experiences beyond chain restaurants, from sandwich joints to fine cuisine from all over the world.
One of my favorite things to do there is browse the independent downtown bookstores, which have truly unique selections of books, rare, used and new.
I grew up and lived in Sarasota until five years ago, and have visited other places all over Florida — and I would still rather go there than any other place in the state.
Erika Cole, Copy Editor