By Rani Chehal-Bassi
Most visitors to Florida are planning the very typical kind of vacation inspired by a very endearing and mythical cartoon rodent… a great alternative is to skip a day from the long lines of amusement parks and the tourist shopping traps for a more exciting and true Florida adventure. Start your day watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of the sunshine state near Cape Canaveral. Then, head down to ‘Simply Delicious Café & Bakery’ in Cocoa Beach for an amazing home cooked breakfast in a cozy atmosphere. After you belly is sufficiently filled to your liking, head over to The Kennedy Space Center… where for the first time in 50 years they are conducting tours of the shuttle launch pads, control center and vehicle assembly building before they shut those areas down for good. Be sure to book ahead as tours are limited daily and are available only until the end of 2012.
Next stop, downtown Lakeland (located in the heart of the high-tech corridor) and a great mid-point for the day. Head to the beautiful and nearly undiscovered (even by locals) downtown waterfront. Browse antique shops, wander into art galleries, head over to ‘The General Store’ to pack some snacks to munch on later and then grab lunch at the local ‘Black & Brew Bistro’. Well known for having some great sandwiches and a killer cup of Joe.
Located just a short driving distance away is one of Central Florida’s hidden treasures… Florida Southern College (FSC), founded in 1883, and voted by the Princeton Review as the #1 most beautiful college campuses in America. FSC is comprised of more than 60 buildings, a mixture of Ivy covered halls and cutting edge facilities, while being situated on 100 acres off the shore of Lake Hollingsworth. It’s a great place to experience Florida’s nature and amazing architecture in one setting. FSC is also home to the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright designed structures anywhere in the world. It’s an architecture aficionados’ heaven and a nature lovers’ paradise in one.
Next, hop back onto Interstate 4 and head towards the Tampa Bay area to catch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico! While there are plenty of spots to view the wondrous and natural phenomena, many are unaware that a most magnificent viewpoint is well within reach. Spinners Revolving Roof-Top on St. Pete beach offers a 360-degree view while dining on a gourmet meal and sipping on some classic beach inspired cocktails. Not only are you are able to end you day on a great sampling of Floridian fare such as fresh seafood and Cuban delights… you will be able to relax and see the sun set on the same day on which you started with salutations to the same Golden God on the opposite coast of Florida. Something the ‘Great Mouse’ can’t even provide! Do remember to tote along some good sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and camera. You will be sure to fill the entire memory card up on this unique excursion.