From museums to beaches, parks to small towns, Florida hosts many unique spots throughout the 67 counties. Florida Living® explores these locales.
Myth or Monster?
Tales of the Florida Skunk Ape
It was like a scene out of those old movies teenagers used to watch at drive-ins 50 years ago. It was Jan. 9, 1974, at dawn, and Hialeah Gardens police, with support from two helicopters, fanned out and searched the swamp near the intersection of US 27 and Hollywood Boulevard. They were trying to find the monster...the Skunk Ape.
They didn’t find the monster, but the episode made the Miami Herald and other news media. Reporters’ accounts of the incident reveal that shortly before 1 a.m., motorist Richard Lee Smith, 35, of Hollywood reported to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Charles Marrs that he had struck a seven- or eight-foot hairy creature on the roadway. He said the creature growled at him, charged at his Cadillac and then limped away. It sounded pretty far-fetched until other drivers reported to police that they, too, saw the beast limping along U.S. 27.
Florida Ranch Tours
The Sandhill Crane’s scolding wale seems to say “move on trespassers” as the Florida Ranch Tours open-air bus eases to a stop, allowing visitors a bird’s-eye view of the boisterous red-crowned cranes.
Around the next bend, a young boy points excitedly toward the roadside ditch and cries, “Look Mommy, alligator!” Everyone rushes quickly to that side of the bus for an up-close inspection of a wild Florida dinosaur in its natural environment. To prove that there’s a bit of fisherman in all of us, the little four-foot alligator is described by one enthusiastic observer to be at least 6 or 7 feet long—a claim unanimously affirmed by the others. Such is the way of the wild outdoors, where things often seem larger and more dangerous than they really are.
Winter and springtime in Florida are the best time to shop, eat and cook locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. With almost everything that grows in Florida reaching its peak during these months, produce markets in Florida will be offering a wide variety of locally grown products. Even with the most recent freeze, the stores are still stocked with many delicious ingredients.
Mission San Luis de Apalachee in Tallahassee
Stripped of its sacred objects – crucifixes, chalices, candlesticks, bells and carved images of the saints – the church, and also the nearby fort, the immense round council house of the Apalachee Indians, and the houses of the Spanish colonists and their Apalachee allies were all put to the torch in 1704. The colonists wanted to make sure nothing would fall into the hands of British raiders.
... Sea Shells by
Rising before the sun, guests on Sanibel Island can watch the morning light steam through the window as they feast on a breakfast of fresh island fruits and hot coffee. Staying at one of the B&Bs or hotels on Captiva or Sanibel can be a treat for those who are greeted by the spectacular view of the sunrise. The early start is a necessity if there is only one day to spend on Southwest Florida’s islands.