Funky

2009 Freedom Swim. Photo courtesy the Sun Herald.

2018 Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim: Cool 4th of July ‘happening’

The 2018 Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim begins at 11 a.m. July 4, but while folks cross the 1.5-mile wide Peace River, this isn’t a race. It’s a “happening” and one of the few ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in Florida and stay cool.

Florida's dramatic sky at Tigertail Beach in Marco Island. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Off-the-beaten path in Marco Island: Go beyond your hotel pool

The beach town of Marco Island is all manicured and modern, but here are four adventures into the wild and authentic Florida that are within a quick drive. You can wade across a lagoon to a wild beach or have lunch in a funky fishing town or stroll on a boardwalk into a beautiful old growth cypress swamp.

Chicken in Key West cemetery

Key West chickens: Noisy, colorful, just like Key West

Key West has a lot of off-beat charms, but one of my favorites has always been the chickens that you hear crowing and see strutting everywhere.

Desert Inn at Yeehaw Junction

Historic Desert Inn stands tall at Yeehaw Junction

The billboards on the Turnpike are gone, and so are the discount coupons, but the legendary Desert Inn is still kickin’ at Yeehaw Junction.

Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery has an inviting outdoor area for trying the wines and beers.

A day exploring the Redland: Agriculture and rustic charm thrive near Miami

The historic agricultural area surrounding the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park offers so many cool experiences — a park where you can see and sample exotic fruits, free tours of a spectacular orchid grower’s estate, a local tropical-fruit winery and famous fruit milkshakes and cinnamon rolls.

Weeki Wachee Springs: Kayaking, manatees and mermaids

Weeki Wachee Springs: Kayaking, manatees and mermaids

The Weeki Wachee is being overwhelmed with visitors. It’s partly because of a viral video of people on SUPs watching a herd of manatees float by. But it is also because of this: It is SO BEAUTIFUL, as I was reminded when I paddled it last week.

Caps Place is the oldest restaurant in Broward County. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Cap’s Place: Historic South Florida restaurant is like a time capsule

It’s the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Broward County, and, thankfully, nothing has changed in years. It’s a rustic old wooden shack now surrounded by mansions and yachts. History and atmosphere make it worth the splurgy prices — and the food is good.

Cinnamon rolls at Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead: 80 cents each and irresistible.

Knaus Berry Farm: Beloved sweet spot in Homestead re-opens Oct. 31, 2017

The true sign of fall in South Florida: Lines start forming at Knaus Berry Farms. This 50-year-old institution south of Miami has generations of devoted fans. It’s a good stop for an Everglades trip or a day exploring the Redland.