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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Sunshine State Getaways

Jun 01, 2012 06:26PM

While visitors know the Sunshine State as a favorite destination with a warm climate, white sandy beaches and awe-inspiring ecosystems, Natural Awakenings knows Florida far more intimately as, “Home sweet home.”

Naples, the corporate launching pad for all Natural Awakenings publishers, is the longtime residence of healthy living entrepreneur Sharon Bruckman, who launched the first magazine in 1994. Since then, more than 85 innovators in 35 states—14 in Florida—and Puerto Rico have become members of the Natural Awakenings family.

Bruckman, whose flagship magazine covers Collier and Lee counties, regularly unwinds by walking the beach and watching the west coast’s spectacular sunsets from Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park ( She also enjoys sighting wildlife and exploring the wonders of a virgin bald cypress forest via strolls along the boardwalk at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (

To give our Florida readers some inside tips on great day or weekend summer getaways, we asked Natural Awakenings publishers around the state for their favorite escapes in one of the world’s most famous playgrounds.

East Coast

Linda Palmer, who publishes the Miami Dade & The Florida Keys edition, often joins Sunday morning groups that canoe or kayak through the peaceful waters and mangroves of Key Biscayne and the Ibis Preserve to observe and photograph nesting pelicans, herons and egrets. Another favorite destination is the Florida Keys, where opportunities for eco-adventures abound. (

Susan Wood, in Broward County/Ft. Lauderdale, counts on the acres of peace and serenity at Duncan Retreat & Conference Center, in Delray Beach—“a little piece of heaven, dropped into West Delray”—and Canterbury Retreat & Conference Center, in Oviedo, to renew her spirit. (; Canterbury

When Freddie Zeringue, in Jacksonville, is up for a great day escape, he plans a trip to historic St. Augustine, the oldest European-established city in the United States. The pristine beaches of Fernandina, Florida, and St. Simons Island, Georgia, inspire him to write. (;;

Laurie Davey, of Melbourne/Vero Beach, believes lifelong learners will appreciate the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) in Vero Beach, as well as the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge—140,000 acres that include a manatee observation deck and offer bird and wildlife watching, fishing, boating and paddling. She likes to visit the town of Indialantic during loggerhead sea turtle nesting season (June and July), when volunteers lead groups to see baby turtles make their way to the Atlantic. (; Fws.Gov/MerrittIsland;

Genevieve Short-Hamiwka, the Treasure Coast publisher, plans an evening at the Lyric Theatre, the center for arts and entertainment, in Stuart. This historic showplace hosts world-class performances by local, national and international artists in an intimate, 500-seat performance hall with whisper-perfect acoustics. (

Palm Beach County’s Publisher Leah Patton says the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, on Singer Island (Palm Beach County), rewards visitors in a number of ways: beaches, boating, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, a hiking/nature trail, picnicking, scuba diving, swimming and wildlife viewing. (

West Coast

North Port’s Warm Mineral Springs is a favorite relaxing getaway of Jason Cross and Jeff Taylor, Sarasota and Peace River publishers. They enjoy the healing power of 9 million gallons of 87-degree mineral water, the holistic spa services and good organic food. An added bonus: Admission covers free daily dance and yoga classes. (

One of the top 10 beaches in the U.S., Fort DeSoto Beach (includes two dog parks—one for small dogs, the other for larger breeds), is an afternoon or evening escape relished by Tampa/St. Petersburg Publisher Debbey Wilson, who sinks her toes in the sand on Pass-A-Grille Beach and then stops at the Don CeSar Beach Hotel for a cocktail. (

Central Florida

North Central Florida Publisher Carolyn Blakeslee heads to the Hippodrome Theatre, in Gainesville, known for its professional theatre group, first-run and independent films and film festivals. The Ocala Civic Theatre also offers professional quality live productions at an affordable price. (;

Orlando Publisher Margaret Jones says the one-hour Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour through a beautiful chain of lakes and canals is the best way to experience the true natural beauty of Winter Park. The tour includes the Kraft Azalea Gardens and the Isle of Sicily to observe tropical birds, plants and flowers. Beautiful landscapes of the magnificent mansions can be seen, too. (

For an invigorating swim or scenic canoe or kayak trip, Julie Arnold, Volusia/Flagler publisher, visits Wekiwa Springs State Park. Thirteen miles of trails also offer opportunities for biking, hiking and horseback riding. (Florida


Northwest Florida Publisher Daralyn Chase seeks peaceful reprieves and a chance to glimpse native wildlife along the miles of hiking and biking trails that skirt the bayous, creeks and rivers that flow into Choctawatchee Bay. For even closer views of the aquatic diversity, she recommends bringing or renting a boat, canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. (

Tallahassee Publisher Donna Konuch gets inspired by Mother Nature’s dazzling underground formations in Florida Caverns State Park, the state’s only park with dry (air-filled) caves open for public tours. She also favors Alligator Point, a great beach along the northern panhandle. (

To connect with Natural Awakenings – Sarasota/Manatee, call 941-538-7770 or visit For information about other Natural Awakenings magazines, visit the corporate website at and click on the “Go Local” box on the right.

Natural Awakenings of Sarasota February 2020 Digital Edition