After a year spent inside, feeling as if we’ve lived the same day over and over again, it’s time for a retreat. I usually spend all year planning for a summer trip to another country — letting my Pinterest boards and planning spreadsheets keep me sane. This year it’s been a definite bummer not to have that to look forward to, so I wanted to find some options right here in Florida that would make me feel like I’d stepped into, well, any place other than Florida (without stepping foot on a plane). If you’re ready for some new views but still want to play on the safe side, a road trip can be the perfect option to keep your travel bug fed this summer. Get inspired now and use the thought of those incoming 90 degree days on the road to keep you going through the rest of the semester. Find a couple of friends to split drive time with and get to work on your shared Spotify playlist to scream every word to. If you’re lacking ideas, here’s a list of four sure-fire places within Florida that would be the perfect destination for summer 2021.
- Coral Gables Venetian Pool
Just under four hours away from Orlando, you’ll find the Coral Gables Venetian Pool. This pool was built in the early 1920s from what once was a coral rock quarry. It was designed in an attempt to bring the Mediterranean style to America and is filled with beautiful details hinting at its roots from Venice, Italy. You can get a ticket for only $13 to spend the day basking in the sun, pretending you’re taking a break from your strolls around the Italian countryside.
- Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Get back the year you lost in quarantine at the Fountain of Youth! Just around two hours north of Orlando, you can walk the grounds with roaming peacocks and numerous historical exhibits. You can even snag a sip of the youthful tonic itself. Grab a bite while you’re there from their options of locally sourced, farm-to-table dining. Tickets are $18 and pets are welcome to come on the adventure with you.
- Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Another great option for appreciating international culture right here in Florida is at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. The land was donated to Del Ray Beach by Sukeji “George” Morikami, who immigrated from Japan to the United States when he was only 19 and farmed on the land. There’s a museum with exhibits to share Japanese culture, and even workshops and classes to further your exploration, such as a tea ceremony class that shares all of the important techniques used in this Japanese tradition. It’s about three hours from Orlando — in between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale — and tickets are $15.
- Old Spanish Sugar Mill
Located in De Leon Springs, just over an hour north of Orlando, lies the Old Spanish Sugar Mill inside of De Leon Springs State Park. You pay only $6 for entrance to the park and get access to kayak rentals, eco historical tours and the pancake house. The land is host to a restored sugar mill and during breakfast, you’re given pancake batter to make yourself at your table, which surrounds a hot griddle. They’ve even added vegan and gluten-free options, so everyone can enjoy them!
This year has put a huge emphasis on the journey over the destination. No matter where you end up, roll down the windows and drive anywhere you can with your best friends. Whether it’s one of these picks or to your favorite drive-thru at 3:00 am, remember that adventure will always return — even now.