Monday, September 12, 2011

  A Visit to Beautiful St. Augustine

Click on the link above to view a slideshow
Photos and story by Marcia Biggs

The garden of the Westcott House (circa 1880)

My recent visit to historic St. Augustine 
was a delight to the senses. 

Historic Inns of Elegance, quaint cafes and sophisticated restaurants greet the casual stroller in Old Town.  A tour of the astounding collection of fine art at the Lightner Museum and an exceptional dinner in the museum's Cafe Alcazar were a highlight of the visit. Secret gardens and carriage rides, a walking tour of ethnic eateries,  a late-night martini at Rhett's where the piano bar coaxes you into a restful reverie.  

These are a few of the memories I bring home.

I stayed at the Bayfront Marin House, a short walk from the Bridge of Lions in Old Town. The Marin House is one of five Inns of Elegance where guests can expect the finest in historic bed and breakfast lodging.
Of course, the Getaway Girl needs adventure.
A dolphin watching eco-tour on an inflatable zodiac was a thrill ride, indeed.   A visit to the historic fort for astounding views of the Bay, a stop at the new state-of-the-art Pirate & Treasure Museum and a bicycle ride ended the day.

For an online guide to beautiful St. Augustine, click here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Scalloping on Florida's Gulf Coast

Here on the West Coast of Florida,  snorkeling for bay scallops is a pretty popular weekend activity. The recreational harvest season for bay scallops this year runs June 25  through September 25. Unfortunately, you can’t search for scallops in Tampa Bay – it’s not legal here because of the limited number of scallops. However, about two hours north you can find numerous charter boats that will take you out.

 The most popular ports for scalloping include Homosassa and Crystal River, Suwannee, Cedar Key and Steinhatchee. There is a daily limit of two gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or one pint of bay scallop meat per person. You are allowed to harvest bay scallops only by hand or with a landing or dip net. Divers and snorkelers are required to display a “divers-down” flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) while in the water and a fishing license is required.

If you think you would like to try scalloping, you can find a number of charter boats that go out daily. Click here for a guide to licensed boat captains who will take you out from the Homosassa and Crystal rivers for some Gulf Coast scalloping. Plan to rent a cabin or a hotel room nearby and make a weekend of it. Have fun!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kayaking Safety Harbor

By Marcia Biggs
If you're looking for a quiet getaway just minutes from Tampa and the beaches, the quaint town of Safety Harbor on Upper Tampa Bay is the perfect hideout. Many visitors like to stay at  Safety Harbor Resort & Spa. From here you can stroll up Main Street and visit a number of small shops and cafes, enjoy the bike trail or just walk along the Bayshore to beautiful Philippe Park.

The Safety Harbor Pier

One of my favorite things to do  in Safety Harbor is visit the fishing pier at the Marina. Here you can see a fantastic sunrise and the sunsets aren't bad, either. During cooler weather it's easy to spot manatees who hang out at the end of the pier at the warm springs.  

 Tocobaga Tours offers kayak tours from the Marina most weekends, weather permitting. It's run by local resident Ken Bambery, who is a great guide and instructor for children and beginners. Ken takes you around the pier and along the shoreline where the mangroves usually provide excellent bird watching opportunities. When you reach Philippe Park, you'll learn all about the Indian Mound there and the history of the Tocobaga Indians and the arrival of  Hernando De Soto. It's an easy paddle and a great introduction to this special area of Upper Tampa Bay.