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17 LGBT Events in Floridas Sunshine

It’s easy to see why Florida is a draw for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender events. There’s a sense of freedom to the beaches, the warm weather and the tropical landscape – certainly a draw for people of all orientations, yes, but especially appealing to a community looking for a sense of belonging and acceptance.

 “Florida is excitement, it’s sunshine, happiness, relaxation… and all really hot-looking people,” said Carrie West, President of the GaYBOR District Coalition in Tampa’s Ybor City. “It’s not just Key West and South Beach anymore. It’s all parts of Florida.”

Year-round, gay tourists from all over the world come to Florida to enjoy everything from parades to film festivals to rodeo events catering to the LGBT community. Here are some of the most well-known events held in winter, spring, summer and fall.

Pride Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale (February): Held for nearly for decades, this is a well-run and well-attended (some regard it as the largest pride event in the state) week-long event held in both indoor and outdoor spaces around at the War Memorial Auditorium and Holiday Park. Local and national bands entertain those at the outdoor market featuring hundreds of vendors, an array of food and cocktail booths and a large dance floor. The famous Aids Memorial Quilt typically makes an appearance at Pride South Florida – a must-see for those who have not viewed this powerful reminder of the AIDS pandemic up close. 

Winter Party Festival, Miami Beach (late Februeary-early March): The prettiest people seem to turn up for this glamorous six-day party, which takes place during the cooler months in Florida but gets fairly steamy at night. Some of the world’s top DJs are known to perform here under towering tents and streaming lights, and surrounding clubs piggyback the event with special promotions. While it’s a heavily male crowd, the event also features some special events that cater solely to women.

PrideFest of the Palm Beaches, Lake Worth (late March): For a more low-key and family-friendly LGBT festival, PrideFest spreads throughout the Lake Worth and Treasure Coast community with not only a parade, vendors and entertainment but a sense of welcoming among the area’s restaurants and businesses. A feel-good event for sure; even the Mayor of Lake Worth typically gets involved by raising the Pride flag at City Hall each year. 

Miami Beach Gay Pride, Miami Beach (early- to mid-April): There’s something for everyone packed into this huge two-day event in lovely Miami Beach. Young and old alike can find live bands that suit their tastes, families can enjoy parade festivities and kid-friendly activities and the party crowd can let loose at a rooftop bar dance party or other evening events. And of course, there are always the bustling beach parties that happen nonstop throughout the weekend. 

Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, Davie (April): Sponsored by the Florida Gay Rodeo Association, the Sunshine Stampede caters to the country western LGBT crowd and is more than just a two-day rodeo for cowboys and cowgirls. The event also draws thousands who enjoy the kickoff mixer party and a night of line-dancing, as well as the bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping and other competitive categories. There’s even a “rodeo school” for beginners. Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Miami (late April-early May):  While the focus of this festival is the dozens of documentaries and short films chronicling the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people, some come just for the fancy soirees. Film enthusiasts can meet directors and cast members while they wine and dine at cocktail receptions and VIP parties held around the event. 

BeachBear Weekend, Fort Lauderdale (May): One of South Florida’s newest events, the BeachBear patterns after California’s LazyBear Weekend and caters to the more rugged, outdoorsy types. Expect to see a lot of bearded, burly men and hairy chests filling the beaches, riding shuttles to and fro and taking advantage of special discounts at area bars and businesses. Proceeds from the sponsored events benefit the Pride Center, which supports the local LGBT community.

Gay Memorial Day Weekend, Pensacola (late May):  This is a four-day Memorial Day weekend that never sleeps. Between the special theme parties for both men and women, the drag bingo, the beach parties, the daytime food vendors and the late-night dancing, this is a memorable experience that draws people of all races and ages to the Florida Panhandle – a refreshing change of scenery from the more popular South Florida. 

Gay Days Orlando(first weekend in June): What began in 1991 as an unofficial weekend where LGBT visitors show up at Disney World and wear red has blossomed into one of the world’s most popular and well-known weekends for gay and lesbian tourist. “We were voted the number one global destination in 2013, which we’re excited about,” said Chris Alexander-Manley, President of Gay Days, Inc. “It helps that we’re in one of the top tourist destinations in the world.” The weekend’s appeal spans all ages and applies to all of Orlando’s theme parks. 

St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg (late June): This humongous festival draws around 100,000 marchers to the parade in downtown St. Petersburg's Historic Grand Central District, as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoying the area’s clubs and beaches. As an added bonus this year, the parade has been moved to nighttime rather than its usual mid-day launch, giving attendees a relief from the heat and giving visitors more time to relax at BBQs, tailgates and parties during the dayl. 

Tropical Heat, Key West (mid-August): Held in the thick of summer, this event is possibly the hottest – both figuratively and literally – event in Florida. All events are male-oriented and most are clothing optional, including the morning yoga, the pool parties, the happy hours and the charity fundraiser parties. Not for the timid! This event draws men from all over the world and seems to grow in size every year.  http://www.tropicalheatkw.com/

Key West Womenfest, Key West (September):  Womenfest is the female answer to Tropical Heat, though a lot less risqué. This week of fun includes watersports, hot tub parties, dancing, comedy shows, happy hours, trolley tours and other outings. For those looking for romance, there are plenty of mixers and matchmaking activities – in 2013, the “speed meeting” event at Pearl’s Patio Bar & Grill was a hit. 

Come Out With Pride, Orlando (late September-early October): An entertaining and exciting event for both LGBT and non-LGBT visitors alike, Come Out With Pride – also known as Orlando Pride – takes over downtown and other areas for a week. With big-name sponsors such as Macy’s and Universal Studios, the parade and its colorful costumes and elaborate floats is something to behold, and the fireworks show is one of the best you’ll see outside of July 4th

Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Fest, Tampa (October): The Tampa Bay Business Guild, the Bay Area Human Rights Coalition, and the Tampa Bay Gay Men’s Chorus come together to host this film festival, screened at the historic Tampa Theatre. While a few parties and galas surround the event, it is centered mainly on film and the arts, attracting a more cerebral crowd. 

Fantasy Fest, Key West (late October):  Fantasy Fest is like Comic Con meets gay pride, with a different theme for each year – superheroes, anime characters, cartoons. Don’t skimp on your costumes and makeup for this one and bring your camera! Duval Street converts to a mile-long parade and street festival of fantasy and frivolity, and prizes are awarded to the most convincing characters. 

White Party Week, Miami Beach (late November):  As the world’s biggest LGBT holiday party, White Party Week’s notoriety has grown over the last three decades to extend adults of all orientations. Multiple parties take place over several days, ranging from classy and elegant to hot and high-energy, and the official Saturday night White Party event is the oldest and largest HIV fundraiser in the country. 

Santa Speedo Run Tampa Bay, Tampa/Ybor City (December – World AIDS Day) – Joining this light-hearted, Christmas-themed run at Centennial Park is a good excuse to check out Ybor City’s holiday decorations, courtesy of the GaYBOR District, which began gaining ground years ago and helped shape the area’s business and nightclub scene. Proceeds from the run benefit Brighter Seasons for Children and AIDS Service Association of Pinellas, which serves the Tampa Bay region.

Viral response to travel app's suggested 47-year layover is comedy gold

A 47-year-long airport layover sounds like the stuff of our worst nightmares.

>> Watch the video from Newsy

But one particularly witty representative for U.K.-based travel app Skyscanner actually made it sound pretty fun. Allow us to explain.

It all started when Skyscanner user James Lloyd got a puzzling flight itinerary from the app. Notice the extremely long layover in Bangkok — nearly 414,000 hours, which is roughly 47 years.

Of course, Lloyd just had to share the obvious goof-up on Skyscanner's Facebook page along with the caption, "Just wondering what you'd recommend I do during the 47 year layover your website has suggested?"

>> Click here to see the Facebook post

Hi Skyscanner. Just wondering what you'd recommend I do during the 47 year layover your website has suggested?Posted by James Lloyd on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

And an employee named Jen responded to the message a few days later with a pretty extensive list of activities for Lloyd to try during his four-decade-long wait in Bangkok.

But Skyscanner Jen didn't stop there. She went through the comments and started several other hilarious conversations with users who came across the post.

Fortunately for us, amusing social media responses from companies are becoming more and more popular these days.

>> Read more trending stories 

The chief marketing officer of social customer service company Conversocial told Digiday, "Customers increasingly appreciate it, because they've gotten bored of the sterile nature of branded customer service."

On top of making us all laugh, Jen even sent Lloyd a care package to help keep him busy for the next 47 years. Gotta love a happy ending.

Up-and-Coming Courses

Florida has been described as a long fairway surrounded by sand and water. With more than 1,000 courses in the state, Florida disproves the old saying that "the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard." Florida's greens stack up with anyone's.

Golf is such a central part of the Florida lifestyle that it's sometimes easy to forget just how many good places there are to pursue the royal and ancient game here.

The PGA Tour comes calling every spring, and it's possible to duplicate the professionals' swings throughout the state, staying and playing at the likes of Miami's Doral Golf Resort and Spa, Orlando's Bay Hill Club & Lodge or the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass. The LPGA and the Senior Tour also play multiple events in the Sunshine State, from Palm Beach to Naples to Tampa.

But swing a golf club almost anyplace at the map and you'll find a great track or three. Florida not only has fine golf resorts in every corner of the state, but some of the best "daily fee" courses in the country. With all this great golf right in your own backyard, why would you go anywhere else?

Florida's big-name golf destinations may garner most of the national attention, but locals have long known that some of the state's best golf is found in up-and-coming locales like Northwest, Central Florida and the Daytona Beach area. Here are some examples: Beachy Keen

The Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort has been a favorite beachside resort since it opened in 1973. In recent years, however, it has improved and added to its golf facilities and now offers some of the richest resort golf in the state.

With the addition of its newest course, the Raven, in 2000, Sandestin boasts four courses and 73 holes (the Raven has two par-three #16 holes to be played on alternate days).The Raven Golf Club is the work of famed architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. whose brother, Rees Jones, designed Sandestin's Burnt Pine Golf Club in 1994. Sandestin's two other courses, Baytowne Golf Club and the Links Course were designed by Tom Jackson. In addition, Sandestin offers the high-tech Hank Johnson School of Golf, with a full-time staff to provide the latest golf instruction.

On the Raven, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. decided against using tricks and gimmicks, and built a straightforward, traditional golf course. Of course, that doesn't mean it's a pushover! There are water hazards on 13 of the 18 holes, and the par-three sixth features a green floating in the midst of a lagoon. But as Jones points out, except for that hole and one other, there are no forced carries over water. Instead, there are twisting and turning fairways, smallish greens tucked into wooded settings, bordered by sand and water, and the usual challenges of the wind sweeping in from the Gulf of Mexico.

One other non-traditional aspect of the Raven course is the twin-holes 16th. The two par-three holes (16-A is 228 yards from the tips, 16-B is 172) are alternated so golfers who want to play the same course every day will still have a different look.

The Raven also features unusually proficient customer service. Golfers are greeted at the door, clubs are whisked away to the carts and a "player assistant" is assigned to each group to handle bunker raking, club cleaning, yardage advice and even ordering snacks and refreshments.

The level of golf found at the nearby Burnt Pine course is just as high. With views across Choctawhatchee Bay, it has been considered one of the best in Florida since it opened in 1994.

Sandestin's two other tracks, the sporty Baytowne and the brawny Links course, wind through the resort's many different neighborhoods.

Sandestin offers an amazing choice of accommodations as well as the Village of Baytowne Wharf, a collection of bayside shops, eateries and night clubs. Of course, ever popular is the gorgeous sugar-sand beach along the Gulf. There are few places on the globe where one can find such perfect beaches within a chip shot of the top-quality golf waiting at Sandestin. Luxury in the Middle

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is directly adjacent to Walt Disney World and right in the middle of the tourist hubbub that makes up Orlando. It's been said before, but if you can't have fun in this theme-park, theme-restaurant and theme-flavored part of the world, you're not trying very hard!

Yet the Grand Cypress has always taken a more stately approach. Although it's right in the heart of the action, it is a quiet, dignified oasis amid all the bright lights and excitement. The hotel is filled with exquisite works of art and its dramatic atrium lobby makes a statement. The grounds surrounding are lush and private, with Oriental garden ponds and streams creating a sense of peace and tranquility. And the 45-hole golf complex at the Grand Cypress is truly one of a kind.

Thank Jack Nicklaus for that. Not only did the Golden Bear design the three challenging and watery nines that have hosted professional tournaments in the past, but he also constructed a replica of the famed Old Course of St. Andrews, Scotland. Grand Cypress' 18-hole "New Course" boasts many of the features of the original: undulating fairways, pot bunkers, double greens, wee burns and even a white-washed fence around the last hole. It may not have the bracing cold winds off the North Sea, but most golfers will gladly forgo that bit of authenticity!

The Grand Cypress Academy of Golf is one of the finest teaching facilities in the world. There, visiting golfers will find acres of practice grounds, putting greens, chipping greens and practice bunkers as well as three practice holes. A full-time staff of experienced pros offers programs year 'round, complete with the latest high-tech video teaching aids. Don't be surprised to see a famous PGA Tour pro hitting balls on the range. Many of the Orlando-based players come out to Grand Cypress to practice.

Grand Cypress Resort also features a 10-acre Equestrian Center offering both dressage and hunter/jumper instruction and trail rides, an expansive Racquet Club for tennis lovers and a 21-acre lake for water sports. Business groups keep the convention facilities busy all year long, and Camp Hyatt provides plenty of daily activities for the younger set.

Dining at Grand Cypress ranges from the high formality of the La Coquina room to the shirtsleeve, open-air informality at Hemingways, a Key West knockoff.

For a long weekend getaway filled with plenty of great golf, luxurious accommodations and top-notch service, there aren't many places that can match the experience found at Grand Cypress. All For One in Daytona

Words that spring to mind when one hears "Daytona Beach" are "speedway," "Race Week" and "great beach." Golf is not usually the first association one has with Daytona Beach, even though the area has some great courses.

The selection of golf courses is indeed remarkable, with famous architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Rees Jones, and Arthur Hills represented in the choice of golf. The two exciting courses at LPGA International, home of the LPGA Tour, are on the list, as is Palmer's Matanzas Woods and Nicklaus' Ocean Hammock. Another highly rated track is Halifax Plantation Golf Club in Ormond Beach, and the tried-and-true Indigo Lakes, which once hosted pro tournaments, is a Daytona Beach course not to be missed.

The list of hotel accommodations is varied and covers all price ranges. Of course, Daytona Beach also offers its familiar attractions: Daytona International Speedway, miles of spectacular Atlantic beaches, and all the fun restaurants, shops and nightclubs that have made Daytona Beach a favorite of families for generations. For more information on golf in the Daytona Beach area visit daytonabeach.golf or call 800-981-5475.

Daytona Beach/New Smyrna Beach area Beaches

The Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach area offers 23 miles of sandy beaches on Florida’s central Atlantic coast, with a fantastic mix of bustling action and quiet, secluded seashore.

Some beaches feature pedestrian-only areas that are perfect for families with children. Other beaches allow cars on them, which is perfect for disabled visitors or for folks with a lot of gear—like surfers.

Besides beach access at most street-ends, the area boasts plenty of larger public parks. Read on to discover which one is right for you.

Beaches and parks are listed geographically from north to south.

Discover 23 miles of sandy beaches on Florida's central Atlantic coast.

New Smyrna Beach offers beaches you can drive on as well as traffic-free beaches. Ormond-by-the-Sea This quiet beach town is the northernmost in Volusia County. It's primarily a residential community, so there are plenty of quiet spots where you can bask in the sugary-white sand. Take a dip in the ocean or just enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Al Weeks Sr. North Shore Park provides beachfront recreation and 100 paved parking spaces, as well as dune walkovers, a ramp for disabled beachgoers, restrooms and showers, and picnic tables and grills. Just south of North Shore Park, you’ll find Tom Renick Park, which offers features sheltered picnic areas, a playground, outdoor showers, restrooms and plenty of parking.

Al Weeks Sr. North Shore Park provides beachfront recreation and off-beach parking. Bicentennial Park This Ormond Beach park is located on the east and west sides of the beach road, and features spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Halifax River. The complex features baseball fields, basketball courts, a boardwalk, fishing dock, fitness trail, nature trail, pavilion, picnic area, playground, racquet ball court, restrooms, shuffleboard courts, soccer and football fields, and tennis courts. Ormond Beach Beach driving is a tradition here where world land speed records were set on the beach during the early 1900’s. You can still drive on a section of this beach, but the atmosphere is more relaxed, and reading a good book in the sun is the perfect activity. There are more than a half-dozen beach access points that have restrooms and showers. Visit the Birthplace of Speed Park that commemorates the area's first automobile timed trial in 1903. This park has a picnic area, restrooms and a dune walkover.

Driving on the beach is great if you’re carrying a lot of gear—and it’s fun!

Daytona Beach Nicknamed “The World's Most Famous Beach,” this is where the center of the action is. Fish the surf, parasail, people watch on the old-fashioned boardwalk. Everyone in your family will have a blast. In addition to the public beach access points where you can drive right onto the beach, there is a mile-long, pedestrian-only zone surrounding the Daytona Beach Pier. Oceanfront Park offers a beautiful green space with volleyball courts and historic sites for a pleasantly relaxing day at the beach.

Daytona Beach is home to the Sunglow Fishing Pier, where you can enjoy a Grouper sandwich, fish, or just kick back and enjoy the views.

Sun Splash Park Beachgoers can sun, splash and beat the heat here. The park features an interactive water fountain, decorative walkways, a shaded playground, volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, showers and two beach access ramps. This is a perfect park to stay cool and happy. Daytona Beach Shores This 5.5-mile beach located just south of Daytona Beach is home to only 5,500 locals, and features many attractions commemorating the racing industry. Public access is available at several street ends, and if you are looking for a larger public park, Frank Rendon Park features sheltered picnic areas, grills, a playground, restrooms, showers, a beach walkway and an observation deck. Ponce Inlet This tiny town located at the southernmost tip of the area's barrier island provides a perfect spot to stop and enjoy the beach and sparkling Atlantic Ocean. In addition to swimming, surfing and sunbathing along the beach, the 52-acre Lighthouse Point Park has nature trails, an observation deck and tower, and picnic areas. Fishing along the beach or the inlet is a fun treat and a number of marinas offer easy access to deep-sea fishing charters and outfitters.

Discover a beautiful beach at Lighthouse Point Park, as well as nature trails and picnic areas.

Smyrna Dunes Park Perched on 73 acres of pristine land on the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula, this park is surrounded by water on three sides: the Indian River in the west, the Ponce de Leon Inlet in the north and into the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It's a unique environment that is home to a variety of animals, birds, reptiles, marine life and vegetation. Explore the more than two miles of elevated boardwalks that wind through the principal habitat, sand dunes. Guided nature walks are educational programs are also available. The park also features picnic areas, pavilions and an observation tower. Pets on a leash are allowed here. New Smyrna Beach Consisting of more than 13 miles of beautiful white beach, New Smyrna is considered a safer area beach due to the rock ledges 45 miles offshore, which eliminate dangerous undercurrents. There are a number of public access points and city and county parks. The beach is open to vehicles from sunrise to sunset in certain areas, and quaint restaurants and shops line the nearby streets.

New Smyrna Beach is famed for surfing, and your whole gang will love its laid-back vibe.

Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park This six-acre park between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean has a boardwalk on the oceanside and a fishing pier on the riverside. In addition to basking in the sun and dipping your feet into the warm Atlantic water, you can play basketball and tennis, watch the kids play in the playground or have a picnic. The park features a pavilion, grills, picnic tables and restrooms.

Canaveral National Seashore, Apollo Beach Located approximately seven miles south of New Smyrna Beach, this is the northern beach access to the Canaveral National Seashore. The park is a barrier island which features ocean, beach, dune, hammock, lagoon, salt marsh and pine flatland habitats. It's a beautiful, quiet place to spend your time. This additional 24 miles of beachfront is undeveloped, so be sure to bring any supplies you may need for the day. There is a parking area with boardwalk access over the dunes. The park also has nature trails, lagoons, the Eldora State House historical site and the Turtle Mound archeological site.

If you’re looking for soul-soothing solitude, Canaveral National Seashore is the place to go.

All photos by Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA

Daytona Beach's Perennial Golf Appeal

It's a mild winter's day in Central Florida, and sunset is approaching. Golf carts are heading home to the clubhouse at the DeBary Golf & Country Club as the last rays of sunlight stream through Spanish moss that's draped like lace over a grove of century-old oak trees. The semi-private course southwest of Daytona Beach – one of 18 in the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau's Golf Daytona Beach program – has been certified a bird sanctuary by the National Audubon Society. And a pair of sandhill cranes step across the putting green as if considering joining the foursome that's headed for a celebratory drink at the 19th hole. Daytona Beach may be famous for louder pursuits – namely NASCAR at the Daytona International Speedway – but there's no denying the region's appeal to golfers in search of an entirely different type of excitement and escapism. Blessed with 23 miles of beautiful seashore and a near-idyllic year-round climate that's the envy of neighbors to the north, Daytona Beach has made a name for itself as a premier golf destination. Professional and Amateur Appeal Courses designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ron Garl and Rees Jones up the ante for challenging links in a state rife with world-class courses. And the Ladies Professional Golf Association, headquartered in Daytona Beach, keeps local interest in the sport high. Golfing greats arrive regularly to compete in LPGA events and qualifying events at Champions at LPGA International and Legends at LPGA International courses, thrilling spectators and inspiring local members. Dedicated amateurs descend on the private Oceanside Country Club in nearby Ormond Beach for the annual South Atlantic Amateur Championship for Women, better known as the SALLY. And when it comes to action off the fairways, Daytona Beach's man new and top-notch hotels, shopping and restaurants are icing on the cake. Customize Your Golf Vacation Being able to choose from small, family-run establishments and larger luxury resorts means golfers can custom-design their vacations. And course offerings are just as diverse when it comes to challenge and character. With Golf Daytona Beach doing the logistical legwork of finding the perfect accommodations for your budget and tee times, your only task is choosing a course that suits your personal style. Feel like a classic round in Old Florida surroundings of pine groves and majestic oak trees? Tee up at the Daytona Beach Golf Club, where two courses allow you to opt for ample water hazards or drier environs. Threaded among canals and lakes, the Pelican Bay Golf Club has two challenging and scenic courses. And Indigo Lakes Golf Club, a semi-private championship course, was named among the top 10 in the state by Golfweek. A short drive south of Daytona in Port Orange, set your sights on The Golf Club at Cypress Head, where cypress trees and preserved Florida wetlands back most of the 18 holes – a whopping 14 of which involve water hazards. Other top Port Orange picks in the Golf Daytona Beach collection include Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club and Spruce Creek Golf Club, in the fly-in community of Spruce Creek. Road-tripping farther south along the coast, clubs in tow, you'll reach New Smyrna Beach, an quaint and artsy community with a golf-crazed populace and beach and greens appeal in equal measure. Hidden Lakes Golf Club, adjacent to the New Smyrna Beach Golf Club, has long been a local secret. You may spot eagles and hawks circling over the tree-shrouded fairways. North of Daytona Beach in the friendly beachside burg of Ormond Beach, you'll find River Bend Golf Club, set along the Tomoka River, and the stately Halifax Plantation Golf Club. Just west, in DeLand, is the Victoria Hills Golf Club, renowned for its elevation changes and walker-friendly terrain. And farther north still, in Palm Coast, challenge your group to Arnold Palmer's signature Pine Course at the Grand Club and Gary Player's Cypress Course at the Grand Club, surrounded by stunning marshlands and lakes. To plan your golf getaway to the Daytona Beach area, call 800-981-5475 or visit daytonabeach.golf.

What Families Should Do in St. Petersburg and Clearwater

Play in the sand on beautiful beaches, see a Tampa Bay Rays game, meet a movie star at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, swim with the fishes at RumFish Grill — and these are just some of the Florida firsts your family can experience in the St. Pete / Clear­water area.

The Natural Beauty of Three Rivers State Park

Where Florida meets Georgia, and the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers converge to form Lake Seminole and the Apalachicola River, sits Three River State Park — home to great camping, hiking and fishing.

JetBlue flight departs to Cuba, first commercial flight to country in 50 years

There were cheers and balloons as JetBlue sent off its first regularly scheduled flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Santa Clara, Cuba -- the first such flight between the U.S. and the island nation in more than 50 years.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was among the guests on the flight.

Although about half of the 150 seats on the plane were occupied by journalists, many travelers said they were making a pilgrimage-type journey to visit family or explore their birthplace.

>> Read more trending stories  

That was the case for Domingo Santana of Miami, who came to the United States in 1968.

He said planning the trip was even more special because he bought the first ticket for the flight.

"It's historic not only that it's the first flight … but I also get to discover the country where I was born," he told the Palm Beach Post. "This is my first time going back home."

Santana's tip for those hoping to go to Cuba: If you have a Cuban passport, be sure to use that name when you book your flight.

Mark Gale, CEO and president of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said he's proud of his team and JetBlue.

The airline accounts for about one-fifth of all flights at the airport.

"To have that very, very first flight come out of our airport is a great honor," he said.

Fort Lauderdale's airport is host to more weekly trips to Cuba than Miami, which Gale said is "a testament to the reputation of Fort Lauderdale."

SUP Yoga in Northeast Florida

Let the outdoors be your workout facility with SUP yoga. Jennifer McManaway with First Coast Outdoor Fit in St. Augustine, explains some of the benefits of doing yoga out in Florida's great outdoors.

Greenville: The Hometown of Ray Charles

Although he was born in Georgia, Charles had deep ties to Florida. He was raised in Greenville, educated in St. Augustine at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and played at clubs around Orlando before heading across the nation to Seattle and fame.

Greenville commemorated the music legend by restoring his childhood home.

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