Wildlife Abounds at Apalachee Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Entry Sign to Wakulla Springs

Wakulla Springs offers swimming, historic lodging, boat tours & more.

On the way to St. Marks Lighthouse I stopped by Wakulla Springs. For years I wanted to go to Wakulla to see the manatees. On the day of my arrival, I was told no manatees had been sighted. Still I purchased a ticket on the boat tour. Much to my delight a huge manatee swam beside me a few seconds after the tour began. Before the end of the tour, I saw 6 more manatees including 3 calves. 
A picture of a large manatee

This manatee outwitted the expert’s prediction.

The next day I headed to St. Marks. Once I arrived at St. Marks I realized I should have stayed at Crawfordville. Despite the name, Crawfordville is very lively and has much to offer like dining, shopping and pleasant hotels. There’s little see or do in St. Marks for landlubbers and the lodgings are subpar.  

A scenic view of St. Marks Wikdlife Refuge.

A scenic view of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.

After spending the night at a Bed and Breakfast Inn, I headed to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Besides the lighthouse, the Refuge has picnic areas, a beach, a welcome center and gift shop. I enjoyed a scenic and quiet drive to the lighthouse. The salt marsh, pine forest, egrets made for a picturesque backdrop. It’s a nature lovers paradise with eagles, alligators, bitterns, ducks, herons, ibises and more. 

Picture of St Marks Lighthouse

St. Marks Lighthouse had two female lightkeepers.

The St. Marks Lighthouse recently reopened after being closed for renovations for 6 months. It is the second oldest lighthouse surviving in Florida. It is listed on the National Register. The keeper’s house is attached to the 88 foot tower. 


Winning Strategies For Art Basel Miami Beach 

A painting by Barkley Hendricks

I saw a painting by Barkley Hendricks one of my favorite contemporary artists at Art Basel Miami Beach.

With over 200 galleries vying for attention at the Miami Beach Convention Center, it is easy to get lost in the maze of outstanding artwork if one does not have a game plan. When I went to Art Basel again, I came up with a winning strategy. 

A painting by Kehinde Wiley.

A painting by Kehinde Wiley who recently painted the official portrait of Former President Obama.

First a few days before Art Basel, I surveyed a list of artists participating from information on the internet. I then made a list of the artists whose works I admired. 

Second, I went into a different entrance. I entered on Washington Avenue— shorter lines and indoors. Talk about a new approach! 

Third, I charted my course for the day’s venture by pairing my list of artists with their galleries. I received valuable assistance from the knowledgeable staff at the information desk. 

A painting by Pablo Picasso.

I had time to stop by the Salon to look at works by old Masters.

Finally, my visit was more focused and meaningful. I had time to look at other artists not on my list at the Convention Center and the energy to go visit the dozens of pop up galleries in Miami Beach. Simple strategies that work! 

Free Transportation and Parking for Art Basel Miami Beach 2018

Art and fun in the sun.

Art and fun in the sun awaits at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Parking is always a premium in Miami. During Art Basel the competition and prices for parking will be at an all time high. Save yourself some cash, a headache and a parking ticket, catch one of the free shuttles.

See exciting installations and art at The Bass.

See exciting installations at The Bass.

Art Week Shuttle offers complimentary service that provides free transportation to the Miami Beach Convention Center, Midtown, Wynwood, Design District and more. Visit Art Fairs located throughout the city during  Miami Art Week and Art Basel Miami Beach with a breeze.

Enjoy free shuttle service aboard the Miami Beach Trolley. Get four hours of free parking at designated parking garages with a voucher from the trolley driver. 
For information on maps, bus stops, schedules and more visit MiamiBeaches.com


You May Hold the Key

Many lighthouses are owned by non profits.

Many lighthouses like the St. Augustine Lighthouse are owned by non profits.

In 2016, Florida Keys Reef Lighthouses were listed among the most endangered historical sites by a Preservation group. Now the fate of the Lighthouses may soon be in the hands of the public or non profits.
Five Keys Reef lighthouses have been declared excess by the Coast Guard. They will be offered for free to a non profit or government agency. If that fails the Lighthouses will be put up for public auction.
According to Adam Rondeau, regional public affairs officer for Government Services Administration, “The disposition of these lighthouses will be conducted in accordance with the National Lighthouse Preservation Act.” (Miami Herald)

The Arts Are Open 

My weekend ended with a visit to CORK Studios.

Friday, I headed to San Marco for Elbert Shubert’s Art Reception at Trends Art and Home Decor. The artist paintings were dazzling and alive with color. The exhibit of 21 paintings were a snapshot of the artist exploits. Scenes of landmarks and landscapes captivated the imagination of guests. Hors d’oeuvres and wine complimented the evening. 

Trends Art Reception.

Elbert Shubert and guests at the reception at Trends Home & Art Decir.

Saturday, my sister and I ventured to the historic neighborhood of Riverside for CORK studios’ open house. The first artist we met, Stephanie Zide, had just been accepted in one of the art shows at Miami Beach Art Basel. It was refreshing to talk to her about my Miami roots while transitioning into the Jacksonville art scene. 

My sister & I pose with the artist

My sister and I pose with Stephanie Zide the artist at CORK.

The CORK studio art complex was massive and housed in three separate warehouse buildings. We had fun exploring the artists’ studios and discovering new pieces of art. It was wonderful to spend the weekend engaging with a diverse community of artists.  

Installation at CORK Open House.

CORK Studios Open House.

Lions Adulting 

The Lions at San Marco Square donned birthday hats for the 21st Birthday Celebration. The landmark fountain was installed 21 years ago. The Venetian inspired square hailed visitors and locals to an afternoon of live music, vendors and free photos by the fountain. Restaurants and shops got in on the party by offering discounts on a picture perfect day. 

San Marco in Jacksonville, Florida is home to some of the area’s best restaurants as well as art galleries, Art Deco buildings, historic mansions, fashionable boutiques and more.