As the summer months rapidly approach and the first semblance of normally in well over a year appears on the horizon the question shifts from when to what.
For months we have asked ourselves when things will go back to the way they used to be and now we must ask what we will do now that it is, and in the summer months only one thing is on the mind — Vacation.
Despite an increase in vaccinations the Center for Disease Control is still suggesting that air travel should be limited to necessity, so roadtrips are still somewhat of a necessity. But the trips to the panhandle and 30A are well overdone, in its place here are two drivable vacation spots in the South that will have Instagram followers itching to visit themselves.
Florida’s Forgotten Coast — Crystal River, Fla.
Amidst the noise and craze of Florida’s beaches and it’s mouse-like mascot sits Crystal River, a hidden gem known only to those who call it home and to the round sea cows that inhabit the cooler waters. Crystal River is a small slice of Old Florida, one of the lone parcels on untouched land yet to be overrun by the tourism industry, it’s not glamorous and the lack of five-star hotels is evident, but it’s charm is a sight to behold and the chance to swim amongst the manatees is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,
Perhaps the most unique attraction of the area is the small Greek fishing town of Tarpon Springs. With the highest percentage of Greek-American’s in the entirety of the United States, Tarpon Springs is reminiscent of stepping into a foreign country. The Greek architecture and way of living is seeped into every brick of the small town, it’s a place you have to see to believe. And while you’re there make sure to make a stop for lunch at the family-run Hellas Restaurant for a taste of true Greek cuisine.
The First Settlement — St. Augustine, Fla.
Before Jamestown and before Plymouth there was St. Augustine, a small Spanish settlement nestled on the coast of Florida. Founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565 the town has remained largely untouched. The coquina shell walkways and buildings, carved out centuries ago are unlike any other construction in the world.
Visit the Castillo de San Marcos, the largest masonry fort in America, enjoy fresh seafood while the waves off the Atlantic brush beneath your feet at Cap’s, and tour Flagler College established within the once grand Ponce de Leon Hotel. Spend a day in 1565 with a reenacted tour of old school houses, hospitals and farms. And when you’re done taking in the sights walk up and down Main Street, popping into all the old boutique shops for some much needed retail therapy. But before you leave this historic town make sure to grab a scoop at Mayday Ice Cream, because nothing caps off a day in Florida better than a refreshing cone.