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Zoo Travel / Green Travel / Florida Travel / Florida / Zoos / Animals / → All Tags
The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida isn't the largest zoo in the country, though it does clock in at a very respectable 50 acres. There are areas containing wildlife from Africa, Australia and Asia, and Florida. Then there's a section with with all kinds of jaguars, monkeys, reptiles, and (especially) vultures. The zoo's Wikipedia entry even features a digital marque promising that you can feed gentle giraffes. Just so there's no confusion, we like feeding gentle giraffes. We'd even be willing to feed non-gentle giraffes, if it came to that.
More importantly for the immediate circumstances, all-things-adorable blog Zooborns reports that the Brevard Zoo has just had its first ever birth of a Giant Anteater. The little guy or girlit turns out that you can't really tell the gender of baby Giant Anteaterswill spend the next year of his or her life riding on the back of mom Boo. She and father Abner are said to be pleased by how everything is progressing.
Florida / Florida Travel / Oil Spill / Oil Spill Travel / Travel Advertising / Travel Ads / Tourism Boards / Politics / Spirit Airlines / Beach Travel / Travel Alerts / → All Tags
Well that was fast. Spirit Airlines is pulling their ridiculously tone deaf travel ads that make light of the BP oil spill. You should check our full story on this for context and images, but it suffices to say that the airline never intended to keep the ad running. The entire stunt was part of their Ryanair-style "there's no such thing as bad press" advertising strategy, where they simultaneously get their name into the news cycle and solidify their low-rent (read: affordable) branding.
That said, this is the second time in a week where a travel ad playing off the catastrophe has been pulled. Many people still aren't sure what they're supposed to think about the consequences of the spill. And that confusion comes in no small part because they're getting two opposite messages from government officials and from the press.
As happened during the Big Ash disaster a few weeks ago, we were of two minds when we heard Florida's Gov. Crist describe how the BP oil spill had utterly devastated tourism in the Panhandle.
Tourists, laboring under the mistaken assumption that the spill had reached the state's beaches when it was actually far away, were canceling their vacations. Panhandle occupancy rates, according to Florida officials, were down to "less than 20 percent." The very existence of Florida tourism would "live and die by the next 90 days." All of this came as Crist was demanding a cool $35 million from BP, which would allow the state's tourism board to run ads explaining that their beaches are pristine. It's a great deal if you can get it, basically saying "you need to pay us $35 million because your spill has not reached our shores."
Active Travel / Biking / New York City / Wisconsin / Washington / Mississippi / Florida / → All Tags
Have you checked the pressure on your bike tires yet this spring? When it comes to backing your bicycle out of the cobwebs, it's important to give it a check-up and make sure you're not running on flats. This is exactly what the League of American Bicyclists is doing, except that they're looking over cities to check out the facilities and attitudes towards cyclists in preparation for the season.
In fact, they've just released their list of the country's most bicycle-friendly states, topped by Washington and Wisconsin. Both of these states do have some pretty sweet seasons aside from winter, and so we're not surprised that they look most favorably on those who choose to take to the streets on nicer days.
As far as biggest movers on the list, Mississippi rose 23 spots to claim 24th most bicycle-friendly state, while Florida dropped 12 spots to number 32. We're confused about New York's 41st position however, as 2008 brought the arrival of many controversial bicycle lanes in Manhattan and this summer welcomes free bike rental at the South Street Seaport. Of course, the body checking incident during last summer's Critical Mass ride through Times Square probably didn't help New York on this one.
· Washington, Wisconsin on a roll as most bike-friendly states [USA Today]
· Bike Around Downtown NY [Downtown Alliance]
· Bicycle Travel Coverage [Jaunted]
This eastern Florida city of Port St. Lucie produced a Fox: Actress Megan Fox, whose newest film "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" (in which she plays a party-girl actress) opens Friday.
The "Transformers" eye candy got the full tabloid treatment in the News of the World this week when a former boyfriend told the world how Fox liked to "be one of the guys," had an eye for the ladies (particularly Angelina Jolie) and rebelled against her super-strict folks. Since she already admitted to this, and many more, in this month's super-TMI GQ profile, it looks like that lonely boy is just a little too late.
Port St. Lucie is best known for hosting Mets spring training and for being one of the fastest growing cities in the Sunshine State: In 1970, only 300 people lived there.
We've always been fascinated with Florida's Gulf Coast, which has all of the sun and surf of the Atlantic side, minus the crowds, expense, and attitude. Today's Washington Post travel section has a nifty item on the town of Apalachicola that makes us want to zip on over for an extended weekend of oysters and air conditioning.
The story's author, an Apalachicola resident herself, introduces us to John Gorrie, the city's most famous resident who invented air conditioning and refrigeration in the 1840's. While Gorrie died before his scientific breakthrough was fully appreciated, today the town - heck, the entire state of Florida - remains deeply indebted to him. Can you imagine Florida without air conditioning?
With a population of fewer than 3,000 people, you'd be surprised at the number of entertainment options in Apalachicola. Hepcats probably won't find the martini bar of their dreams, but the walkable city has 100 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 85 miles of designated hiking trails through the sprawling Apalachicola National Forest (do not feed the alligators, they will bite you), and more sublime seafood restaurants than you can shake a stick at.
It's all about the oysters in Apalachicola, which are some of the world's best, and the Owl Cafe is called out as the place to go for everybody's favorite bivalve, both raw and cooked. Try them both ways, sip the wine or beer of your choice, and savor the climate-controlled beauty of the "Redneck Riviera."
[Photo: Washington Post]
Florida / Florida Tourism / Tourism Boards / Tourism Marketing / Tourism Board Travel / Fark / Websites / Travel Websites / → All Tags
Visit Florida has unleashed a revamped website, gunning for the same kind of smashing success Philadelphia has racked up with its Web 2.0 initiative, uwishunu. After asking for a bigger budget last year, tourism officials are actually spending the loot on tourism initiatives that should boost visitor arrivals. Go figure!
The new Florida site offers all the usual suspects, including a trip planner tool that lets you save useful tidbits to your online profile, videos and an extensive events calendar. The site also offers blogs on 10 different subjects; arts and culture, shopping, golf, fishing and beaches are just some of the choices. On the beach and surf blog, for example, you'll find up-to-date beach reviews, a Google map mashup and a video about snorkeling.
Of course, this shouldn't be the only place you look for Florida info. Why's that? Because it's produced by the tourism board, who's editorial judgement we have to question:
Businesses listed on VISITFLORIDA.com are participants in the VISIT FLORIDA Partners program or are members of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Florida Attractions Association or the Florida Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds. Partners must be at a Silver level or above to be listed on the site.
That gripe aside, it looks like Fark will finally have some good news to publish about Florida: The state has finally embraced the Internet!
Food / Florida / → All Tags
As if Florida wasn't the crucible for tacky chain restaurants already, you can plan on adding one more to the mix: Dagwood's Sandwich Shopppes. Yup, they're based on the long-running comic strip--in fact, the creator's son, Dean Young, who currently pens Blondie, is in on the whole thing. The first DSS is opening in Clearwater Florida, but Young hopes to have 1,000 of them franchised within three years.
And what, praytell, will be the signature sandwich at Dagwood's? Why, the Dagwood, of course: "The 1-1/2-pound (0.68-kg) Dagwood includes ham, salami, pepperoni, mortadella, cappicola, cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, red pepper and a secret Italian spread on three slices of bread topped with an olive skewer." Yum. Remember: Dagwood doesn't get fat because he's a cartoon character.
Oh, and the inside of the restaurant will be plastered with images from the strip--you didn't think they would leave room for anything tasteful, did you? Start buying stock in Boar's Head now.
· Cartoonist to Open Sandwich Chain
Thrills! Tepid, yawn-inducing thrills! For the theme-park loving contingent of tourists who will fan out across the nation this summer, the new roller coaster season is likely to be a lot more mild than those in years past. Many of the large theme park operators have determined that whiplash and nauseating rides tend to put a dent in concessions.
Teenagers, with whom those rides are the most popular, don't spend all that much at the park anyway, but families do, and they prefer rides that are low key. Once again, the list of new rides is in the subscription-only Wall Street Journal, so here's what speed freaks have to look forward to underwhelming them this year. They seem, on the whole, pretty boring:
Pirates 4-D at Busch Gardens: Surround-sound, vibrating seats, and a voice-over by actor Leslie Neilsen all mimic the experience of watching Chinese DVD pirates make 400 copies of Maid in Manhattan in less than twenty minutes. Or there's something about sea pirates.
Killer Whale Ballet at SeaWorld: The name is entertaining enough for this one. There's a "Dine with Shamu" feature opening there this summer, too. Maybe SeaWorld is hoping to cut back on costs by feeding children to the famous Orca.
Bugs Bunny National Park at Six Flags: Rejoice at the reservations-only brunch! Nothing says action-packed quite like Eggs Benedict. Daily parades and clearly marked exits spell excitement here.
Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge at Hersheypark: Riders sit in two competing cars with a laser pointer and shoot at targets while the operators pump in the smell of peanut butter and chocolate. Then there are "sweet rewards" waiting at the end. Hmm, what could they be? Oh, right. Six peanut butter cups.
Phew. We need to sit down after all that.
[Image via Forever Souls/Flickr]
· Rethinking the Thrill Factor [WSJ]