It doesn’t always have to be Miami or transcontinental to be a spring break vacation spot. Sometimes it’s nice to stay close to home and relax.
If you’re trying to avoid the crowds and clichs next week, the editors of The Oracle have some suggestions.
Golf and hiking
Nothing says relax like a nice pair of woven slacks and 18 holes on the golf course.
Yes, for amateurs it can be a frustrating activity as you wade through trees to find your wayward drive off the tee, but golf is a great activity for a group of friends and a good exercise option. According to the Health Benefits Channel, walking an 18-hole golf course helps build muscle tone and endurance.
The area around USF also has an abundance of hiking options and spring break is the perfect time to go exploring.
Grab an old pair of shoes, a backpack, your iPod and a sandwich and head east on Fletcher Avenue until it becomes Morris Bridge Road. The Wilderness Park off-road trails system is a great place for exercise, relaxation and a nature experience.
The park – open from sunrise to sunset – offers a number of trails in various layouts and difficulties for hiking or bicycling. There are even picnic facilities and canoeing opportunities, which is a great idea for an afternoon date.
– Kerry Klecic, Editor in Chief
To avoid the spring break crowds sure to pepper Miami beaches, try driving to Sanibel Island off the coast of Ft. Myers. This little beach town is home to several small hotels and “mom and pop” restaurants that are perfect for anyone looking to sleep, eat and relax.
Sanibel beaches, due to their orientation, are famous for their seashells. Spend a day relaxing in the water or hunting for a perfect conch.
A lighthouse completes the picturesque shoreline.
Fishing is also a great pastime enjoyed by many locals. With its shallow, clear waters and plentiful mangrove estuaries, it’s not uncommon to see fishers out well before dawn.
For great seafood, be sure to check out Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. The restaurant is also hosting author Randy Wayne White on March 7-8 for a signing of his latest book, “Deep Shadow.”
– Nicholas Trobiano, Scene and Heard Editor and Asst. Montage Editor
Known as the psychic capital of the world, Cassadaga was founded as a spiritualist community in 1894 and is famous for its mediums and ghostly orbs.
The 57-acre community boasts only 55 residents, according to its Web site.
Of those residents, about 25 are mediums who give readings and counseling from their homes. But they aren’t the only reasons the area is reported to boast high psychic energy.
Spirits still seem to linger for some tourists who bring back photos taken on the nighttime orb photography tours.
The community also has a new museum and various religious services.
It’s unique origins and psychic atmosphere makes it a fun day trip for both skeptics and believers. The camp is located off of Interstate 4 near Orlando and Daytona.
– Emily Handy, Montage Editor
Florida road trip
While many students may be tempted to spend their leftover scholarship money this spring break, a great way to save up for next semester is to hit the road and visit friends at other state universities. With free lodging and hopefully a free meal or two, the only major expense would be gas.
For travelers making their way to the University of North Florida, the world’s biggest McDonalds, located off I-4 in Orlando, provides an unusual atmosphere for big appetites.
The two-story restaurant houses a 60-foot super slide, arcade games and dishes ranging from the classic Big Mac to gourmet pasta.
The Russell Stover factory candy outlet, located in Wildwood, makes a convenient stop on the way to the University of Florida in Gainesville. The store sells candies at discount prices and offers plenty of free samples.
Just a few miles away from Flagler College is the St. Augustine lighthouse, located on Anastasia Island. Nine dollars gets you a bird’s eye view of the island or ghost tours at night.
If students ever find themselves playing host, there are many unusual attractions next door. Just five miles from campus in Plant City, Dinosaur World is an outdoor attraction that boasts “over 150 life-size dinosaurs,” according to its Web site. Admission is $12.50 However, it’s free for active military personnel and pets.
– Anastasia Dawson, News Editor
For a technically in-state trip that can be done as a day trip or a week-long vacation, the Florida Keys is a great spring break destination.
One can visit Mile Marker 1, Ernest Hemingway’s house or walk along the streets lined with shops and restaurants. For those who stay long enough to experience it, Key West hosts the Sunset Celebration – an arts festival held each night in Mallory Square.
But to get away from the crowds in Key West, Islamorada and Marathon are other options. Beaches line both sides of US-1 – the main road in the Keys. Many of these areas are open to the public, do not require a fee to park and are typically less crowded than Key West.
– Mia Schuler, Asst. News Editor
If you want to skip the beach this year, visit the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which blows the Florida Aquarium out of the water and isn’t much more expensive.
The Georgia Aquarium is one of the top attractions in Atlanta boasting more than eight million gallons of fresh and salt water, according to its Web site. It is the only aquarium outside of Asia to house whale sharks, the largest species of fish on the planet.
Other exhibits include sharks, manta rays and beluga whales. The aquarium also features an online gallery of celebrities who have visited, many of whom, including Al Rooker and Wolfgang Puck, have filmed segments of their TV shows there.
For an extra $15, visitors can go on a river tour and stand atop the world’s largest exhibit, Ocean Voyager, which hovers over a whale shark tank.
– Michael Hardcastle, Opinion Editor
Consider a hidden gem that is both affordable and local if you’re struggling to find a nice place to spend an afternoon with friends or a significant other.
Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales offers breathtaking scenery in a relaxing setting. A walking trail surrounded by beautiful gardens eventually leads to “The Singing Tower,” a gorgeous structure built in the late 1920s and dedicated as a national historic landmark by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929.
Sitting adjacent to “Iron Mountain,” one of Florida’s highest hills, the tower was named after Edward Bok, the late Dutch editor and Pulitzer Prize winning author who lived on the property after his retirement. It is the perfect place to go for a date, picnic or just spend time with loved ones.
Bok Tower Gardens is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Visitor’s Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission for adults is $10, while tickets for children ages 5 to 12 cost $3, and children under 5 get in free.
– Ian Lanphier, Copy Chief