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You live in the Northern part of the United States, and are tired of shivering, scraping ice from your windshield, shoveling snow and your costly heating bills. So you’ve decided to head for Florida, hoping to warm up on a beautiful beach.

Consider flying into the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport. Another solid choice could be the beautiful new airport in Fort Myers.

Just blocks from the Sarasota airport one finds the Ringling Circus Museum. their magnificent art gallery and their palatial home.

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Just down the street you my want to visit the Sarasota Jungle Garden, which is certainly worth the small effort required.

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Looking for truly warm water to soak in after you arrive? Consider North Port’s 30,000-year-old Warm Mineral Springs, where the water is a constant 87 degrees. It never changes, even on days when a cold front swoops down from Alaska or the Canadian wilds.

Warm Mineral Springs draws visitors from as far away as Eastern Europe

Warm Mineral Springs draws visitors from as far away as Eastern Europe

http://www.warmmineral.com/index.html

People arrive from as far away as Eastern Europe, convinced they will benefit from the Springs’ “healing waters.” Divers have found evidence humans were living in the area 10,000 years ago.

A side note. While in North Port you can pick up tasty ethnic pastries and foods sold in small European style stores along US-41. They meet local needs. For example, there are several thousand  Ukrainians living in the city.

Just west and north of North Port one finds the amazing Gulf of Mexico beaches of Englewood, Venice, and Sarasota – often voted to be the finest or among the finest beaches in the world. In Venice people search for ancient shark’s teeth, to use for jewelry.

th-19 th-15http://www.veniceflorida.com/shark.htm

It also is possible you have been wanting to take the children or grandchildren to Orlando to visit Disney World or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

http://www.experiencekissimmee.com/theme-parks/?utm_source=Madden&utm_medium=BingCPC&utm_content=ThemeParks&utm_campaign=DM-FLKiss

About 40 miles south of North Port you will find Fort Myers. There is a huge banyan tree above Thomas Edison’s well preserved lab. If you cross the street  you can visit Edison’s winter home. Next door to the Edison Place you can see where Henry Ford spent his winters.

Statue of Edison beneath the banyan he planted.

Statue of Edison beneath the banyan he planted.

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There is so much more to do in Florida.

If  you are a Northern birder growing weary of looking at chickadees, nuthatches, and blue jays at your snow-capped feeder, come to Florida where you can add several new birds to your lifetime list. There is the long Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.

http://floridabirdingtrail.com/index.php/trip/trails/

You also can try your hand art sea kayaking. (My wife and I have kayaked extensively out to small, remote Islands of the frigid Atlantic coast of Maine, fighting the extreme tides.)  But kayaking here in Florida is warm and relaxing.

Siesta Key has broad beaches of white sand.

Siesta Key has broad beaches of white sand.

http://www.familyvacationcritic.com/attraction/adventure-sea-kayak/sanibel-and-captiva-islands/ th-12

There is plenty of information on where to go and what to do.

http://www.familyvacationcritic.com/sanibel-and-captiva-islands-family-vacation/dfv/

However, if you plan to visit the Orlando area, closer to the center of Florida and want to see birds in the spring, consider joining the overnight Panhandle trip from May 1 to May 3, with the Orange Audubon Society and enjoy guided birding.

http://www.orangeaudubonfl.org/oas_field-trips.htm

Further south, near Fort Myers, you will find the world-famous Ding Darling National Wildlife refuge, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico,

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling/

There are plenty of places to stay, with a variety of prices. And in the spring there are a variety of baseball training camps that draw fans from the North.

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http://www.springtrainingonline.com/features/master-schedule.htm

But for now we will stick to birding because, as with the baseball Grapefruit League,
Florida has so much to offer.
http://www.familyvacationcritic.com/sanibel-and-captiva-islands/rentals/34616/

Heading further south to Naples? Be sure to visit the Audubon’s Corkscrew Sanctuary. The boardwalk is roughly two miles long. My wife and I sat on a bench there one afternoon and watched alligators swimming well below our feet lunge at daring long-legged wading birds that were carefully taunting alligator

th-14http://corkscth-12rew.audubon.org

 

 

Keep going south along the Gulf coast and stop at San Marco Island.

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