Florida Vacations With Baseball, Beer And Gators

Florida Vacations

Photo by Gerard Walen

Sure, there are Florida vacations that center on Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, but everyone's doing that. Don't follow the crowd, at least not all the time.

Some of the best Florida vacations are those with less popular itineraries or that focus on an aspect of the Sunshine State that's tough to find anywhere else.

Here are three ideas for different kinds of Florida vacations.

Spring Training

For about a month beginning in late February, fifteen Major League Baseball teams call Florida home for their spring training games.

The "Grapefruit League" holds games every day through that season in Florida. Vacations can be centered on watching a favorite team play, or catching games at all the stadiums, which are clustered relatively close, ranging roughly from Fort Myers and Jupiter in the south to Kissimmee to the north.

These games are great opportunities to see the teams close up and score autographs from favorite players, and there seems to be an infinitely better chance of catching a fly ball than in one of the big baseball parks.

Florida Beer

3628372010, Flickr – Big Sound Scotch Ale is a special brew by Cigar City Brewing.

Once home to only the big national beer companies, The Sunshine State over the past decade or so has flourished for travelers who want their Florida vacations to revolve around local microbreweries and brewpubs and the great craft beer they produce.

There are dozens of these small breweries in the state right now, many making a splash on the national scene with awards and other recognition.

Among the most notable are Cigar City Brewing and The Tampa Bay Brewing Co. in Tampa, Saint Somewhere in Tarpon Springs, The Funky Buddha in Boca Raton, Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville (also home to a massive Budweiser brewery), and the Pensacola Bay Brewery in downtown Pensacola.

Many of the breweries offer tours; call ahead first, though, to make sure tours are scheduled the day of your visit.

Old Florida Attractions - Gators Included

kissheartoffl, Flickr – Albino Gator at Gatorland. Wonder if he sunburns.

Before Walt Disney began secretly purchasing large parcels of land in Central Florida for his new theme park project, the state was rife with funky little tourist attractions along the pre-Interstate highways and byways.

Many of them are still active, so folks can plan Florida vacations that focus on them. Catch the live mermaid shows at Weeki Wachee Springs in Spring Hill, see a LOT of alligators and other wildlife at Gatorland in Orlando, observe wild fish and manatees in their natural environment at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Citrus County, or take a glass-bottom boat ride at Silver Springs Park in Ocala.

Other attractions you could add to one of these Florida vacations include the Citrus Tower in Clermont, the Historic Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales, or Marineland in Miami. Keep your eyes open, though; Florida is dotted with lots of smaller old attractions, and don't forget to load up on tacky, old-school souvenirs at the gift shops!
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