The Everglades

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A view of the Everglades from the boardwalk at Kirby Storter Roadside Park

The Everglades is a 1.5 million acre swath of wetlands in Southern Florida. There are two main highways that cut through the preserve – the Tamiami (Tampa to Miami) and I-75 (Alligator Alley). Tamiami is generally considered the more touristic way to see the sites, as there are several stops with walking paths along the way. It’s easy to see alligators most times of year and there are tons of bird species as well. My favorite walking path was at the Kirby Storter Roadside Park as it was a bit quieter and more secluded than the other areas. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there are also extended walking trails for longer camping trips.

The little town of Ochopee is a nice stop along the way if you’re doing a road trip. You can see the smallest post office in the United States and grab lunch at Joanie’s Blue Crab, a divey local joint with lots of fried seafood on offer.

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Wynwood Street Art

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A mural by Toxicomano in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami

There is a neighborhood in Miami called Wynwood which is a mecca for street artists and muralists. Colorful walls stretch for blocks, covered with work by artists like Pez, Kashink, and Toxicomano. You can wander around for hours without knowing what you’ll find around the corner, but if you’d like a bit more guidance you can refer to Wynwood Map, which will help you locate and identify particular art or artists.

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Morikami Japanese Gardens

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Morikami Japanese Gardens

The Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens is located in Delray Beach, FL and is a nice spot to relax and experience some nature. The gardens are lovely and the museum features work by Japanese artists. There is also an exhibit for children about traditional life in a Japanese home and also a variety of different types of gardens, showing how zen gardens have evolved. If you are so inclined, you can feed the koi fish in the pond as well. Try to go on a weekday when it’s not so crowded so you can get the full peaceful benefit of the environment.

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Green Cay Nature Preserve

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Green Cay Nature Preserve

Green Cay is a gorgeous preserve in Palm Beach County, Florida. There is a 1.5 mile elevated boardwalk around the swamplands and you can view an abundance of birdlife and other animals. There is also an educational center where you can learn about the habitat and preservation work being done. If the season is right, you might even see an alligator.

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Hiking Enchanted Rock

A tree growing from the top of Enchanted Rock

A tree growing from the top of Enchanted Rock

My final day of my mini Texas road trip I headed out to Enchanted Rock, a giant granite dome near Fredricksburg. It was a bit of a further drive from Austin than I had anticipated, but the countryside was lovely and the destination completely worth it.

The hike reminded me a bit of Uluru, though geologically speaking the structures aren’t alike.  There were lots of geckos and lizards darting around, tons of desert flora to admire and an indigenous history stretching back thousands of years. I hiked to the top of the rock, then around the base to get a full view.

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East Austin Street Art

A mural in East Austin

A mural in East Austin

During my weekend in Austin I stayed at an incredible Airbnb run by a Hungarian woman. It was a farm just on the outskirts of town. They had goats, horses, dogs, bees, and a host of other animals hanging around. The family invited me to a 4th of July “anti-party” in East Austin – a part of town not usually frequented by tourists. I arrived at the bar about an hour early and took a stroll around, pleased to find an abundance of street art. Here’s a sampling.

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San Antonio and the Missions

An angel fixture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio

An angel fixture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio

For 4th of July weekend this year I took a road trip to San Antonio and Austin. The weather was incredible and I had a lot of fun driving through the Texan farmland. I went to San Antonio first and visited the Alamo and other missions, all of which encompass a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture is incredible and entrance is free to all the sites.

In addition to the Missions, San Antonio has amazing Mexican food and crafts centers. It was definitely worth the detour on my way to Austin to spend an afternoon there.

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