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27 April 2011

A long strange trip

Photo illustration by Marlena Skrobe

One of the lucky ones sweating it out in Miami this summer? If you’re not careful summer in South Florida can feel like one long sunburn. Ditch the beach and hit the road. Plan a weekend road trip and embrace the kitschiest corners of the Sunshine State.

Cocoa Beach

Can’t bring yourself to cut the beach umbilical cord? Florida’s got plenty of coastline, at least make it out of Miami-Dade this sumemr. Head up I 95 to Cocoa Beach, the “quintessential beach town,” where there are plenty of totally touristy spots. Visit the Kennedy Space Center and mourn the demise of the shuttle program; hit the 52,000 square-foot Ron Jon Surf Shop and blow way too much money on super cool surf-wear; or simply lie in the sand and count the shoobies.

Visit cocoabeach.com or kennedyspacecenter.com for more information. Ron Jon Surf Shop is located at 4151 North Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach.

Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee is a natural spring about an hour north of Tampa. Technically a state park with campsites and canoes, Weekie Wachee is best known as an enchanted spring, luring visitors to the park with real live mermaids. OK, so the mermaids are actresses wearing fins that put on an underwater show that’s some kind of cross between synchronized swimming and ballet. It all might sound a little tacky… but that’s cause it is. Weeki Wachee is cheese-tastic.

Weeki Wachee State Park is located at 6131 Commerical Way, Weeki Wachee. Visit weekiwachee.com for more information.

Spook Hill

Legend has it the Seminole Indians first discovered the spirit of Spook Hill, but in the ‘60s and ‘70s it became a place for dorky dads to drag their kids. This little-known spot is sure to give even the most hardened cynic goose bumps. In Lake Wales, just down the road from Spook Hill Elementary School (where the mascot is Casper the Friendly Ghost) is a faded white line. This marks the spot where you put your car in neutral, and watch as it happens, your vehicle begins to roll… uphill! Is it an optical illusion or spooky spirits?

Spook Hill is located on Dr. J. A. Wiltshire Avenue East, Lake Wales. Follow the signs.

Ybor City

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa with a sweet nightlife. Originally founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers, there are still plenty of smoke-filled holes in the wall. Bar hop in a town where a beer won’t run you $6 or more, or plan a weekend trip during GaYbor Days, an annual celebration of all things fabulous at the end of June. Be sure to check out the Salvador Dali museum in Saint Petersburg while you’re in the area.

Visit ybor.org or gaybor.com for more information. The Salvador Dali museum is located at 1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Laura Edwins may be contacted at ledwins@themiamihurricane.com.