Take your talents down A1A, to see Pittsburgh take on the Canes
Give yourself a chance to digest Thanksgiving dinner then let's worry about more important things. Like college football.
Some of you will turn the TV this week to see if Will Muschamp can do one final good deed for the folks in Gainesville.
Others will watch the Iron Bowl to see if Nick Saban can get Chris Davis' field goal return for a touchdown out of his nightmares.
People might think that the Florida game of the week will be Muschamp’s last chance to do something great for the Gators against the undefeated Seminoles. But don't worry about that, follow me and we can kick back on a beach in south Florida.
Pittsburgh travels to SunLife Stadium to set up a slugfest between two of the best running backs in the country -- Miami’s Duke Johnson and Pitt’s James Conner.
A trip to Florida really only comes from one direction. So let’s say you’re trying to hit South Beach from … Cleveland. There are many instances of people from the north migrating to the Sunshine State (some permanently, others for just like four years), so let’s just say Cleveland.
Start your trip by seeking St. Augustine, a little town outside Jacksonville.
(Let’s get this out of the way now: Every city I’m going to mention has a beautiful beach and going to said beaches is recommended.)
St. Augustine is the oldest city in America and it’s filled with shops and great restaurants and cool things to see; 450 years of history live in those streets and the town is not shy about revealing its history. Settlers from Spain founded the city and the Spanish influence is evident throughout.
Continue down past the Palm Coast and go to Daytona Beach. There is more to Daytona Beach than NASCAR and spring break. There is actually a very family friendly theme park called Daytona Lagoon.
After Daytona, go inland to Orlando and go to those theme parks. Disney and Universal Studios sprawl out across the most tourist friendly place on earth.
Once you’re done in Orlando, go back to the coast and head down A1A to Cocoa Beach. Check out Coconuts on the Beach, an awesome restaurant on the water with live entertainment. Didn’t pack your flip-flops? The original Ron Jon surf shop is in Cocoa Beach.
Outside Cocoa Beach is Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. There is an interactive NASA museum that’s a lot of fun for families.
Continuing down A1A to Miami, you’ll pass Port St. Lucie, where the Mets have their spring training facilities. You’ll notice this when you drive around Florida -- 15 major league teams play in Florida’s Grapefruit League, and facilities are scattered about the state. It is definitely something to keep in mind if you want to plan a return trip for the spring.
If you have the time, get off the coast a little bit and explore the Everglades. Otherwise let’s go to a beach in a city that stands alone in a dateline.
South Beach is obviously the first place you’re going to want to go, but one of the more interesting places is Little Havana. Cuba sits 90 miles south of Key West and the Cuban culture's influence on Miami is astounding. Calle Ocho (8th Street) is the main street in Little Havana. There is a lot going on so immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy.
Miami is one of the more football-crazed cities in America and the high school game probably gets more attention than the Miami Dolphins. If you could catch a Friday night game, you’ll see amazing fans and high-level athletes. Who knows -- you may catch Howard Schnellenberger watching, pipe in mouth like its 1979 and he's needing a wide receiver next season ...
The championship Miami teams of the 80’s were built on local talent and they were one of the more dominant programs of any decade.
It’s an interesting shift in gears if you go to one of these high school games before seeing Coral Gables and the Miami campus.
Coral Gables is set away from Miami a bit and has an upscale, country club feel to it. It doesn’t look like a college town but people still love The U -- especially Canes football. The best place for some blue-collar fun around Coral Gables is Coconut Grove on the harbor. There also are a ton of shops to take advantage of Black Friday deals.
If you can make it out to the Orange Bowl, I would strongly suggest going. It is one of college football's national landmarks. Then hit SunLife Stadium to see the Canes and Sebastian the Ibis. You'll see the team running out of the smoke in the corner of the stadium, which now is an oft-imitated tradition but it originated at The U.
After the game, if you want you can keep going down the coast until you hit Key West. Any further than Key West and you're going to need a boat and this no longer becomes a road trip. But I do guarantee you'll fall in love with Florida and you'll want to pull a Jimmy Buffett and adopt it as your own home town, develop a cult following and become a billionaire.
Pretty good work if you can get it.