It’s (not) beginning to look like Christmas

It last snowed in Tampa in 1989, according to the National Weather Service. With an average daily temperature in the high 70s, it’s not surprising that the winter spirit can be in low supply. 

However, there are still plenty of ways to have a great holiday, even if that doesn’t include snowmen and cocoa.

 

Hiking

 

Trekking out into the middle of the wilderness in the blazing summer heat may be a nightmare for most. But Florida’s regular unseasonably warm winters provide the perfect climate for nature walks.

Several parks in the Tampa area are open during the winter season, so pack the water and trail mix, lace up those boots and hit the trail.

The Florida Trail, a 1,400 mile hike from end to end, spans the length of the state with parks scattered throughout. The nearest limb is Cypress Lakes Preserve in Ridge Manor — Northeast of Tampa.

 

Fruit salad

 

Sure, in-season fruit in Florida is like sand on the beach, but winter boasts its own unique rotation of delights that many have heard of but never tried.

Most people with a TV or access to YouTube have seen or heard of the Orbitz Gum commercial with the tame fake cursing. 

“Oh, pickle you, kumquat!”

But what is a kumquat? It’s an olive-sized, tangerine-flavored fruit with an edible rind. 

To that proverbial fruit salad, you can add some Carambolas — often called star fruit — and some Rambutan, which taste like the love child of a lychee and a pear.

But the list doesn’t end there. More seasonal fruits can be identified on rodalesorganiclife.com.

 

Winter festivals

 

There are an abundance of festivals all across Florida this winter. One in particular has been celebrating the Christmas season for nearly 30 years. 

The Winter Festival — A Celebration of Lights, Music and the Arts will be in downtown Tallahassee for those making the trip up north for the break. The event will feature food, ornament making and a lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

However, the festival is on Saturday, so only those with no exams need consider it.

Meanwhile, at the Florida State Fairgrounds off US-301, WinterFest will be taking place on Dec. 12 at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a Toys for Tots event featuring a car and motorcycle show. More information can be found at ildswinterfest.com. 

 

Adventure trips

 

Outdoor Recreation at USF offers a number of opportunities for students to travel across the southeast region and explore nature. These trips cost anywhere between $15 and $245 and many are overnight excursions.

The nearest trip, 10,000 Island Kayaking, will take place Dec. 13. The registration fee of $245 will cover transportation, gear and food, among other things.

Among the other trips held this month were the Egmont Key Snorkeling trip and the Cayo Costa Beach Camping excursion.

More information and listings can be found on the Outdoor Recreation website, campusrecshop.usf.edu.

 

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