www.vagazette.com/entertainment/travel/os-fla-destinations-warm-spots-01021120110103,0,3295983.column

vagazette.com

POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

When Florida gets cold, here's some warm travel options

Jim Abbott on Florida Travel

Postcards from Florida

3:03 PM EST, January 3, 2011

Advertisement

For inquiring minds that want a window into how the Postcards from Florida column comes together, here's the reason your traveling correspondent selected this week's photo:

It looks warm.

Thinking about warm places was top of mind this week, with overnight temps dipping into the 20s.

That's insane.

In one road-trip fantasy, I even imagined returning with pleasure to that sweltering cave with the educational video at Dinosaur World, the utterly no-frills roadside landmark that has defied tourism evolution off the Branch Forbes Road exit on Interstate 4 in Plant City. Sheltered from the biting wind even dinosaur narration by Jeff Goldblum sounds entertaining.

Hey, it's not exactly beach weather, unless you can find a view of the water with a terrific heater in the mix. For that, I'd recommend an indoor table by the window at The Grille at Riverview in New Smyrna Beach (thegrilleatriverview.com).

Here are other climate-controlled suggestions:

Go South. Key West keeps the tropical vibe going year-round, and the lack of air-conditioning in attractions such as The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (hemingwayhome.com) isn't a drawback on chilly days. Plus, there are plenty of spots to warm-up with a drink, such as the iconic Sloppy Joe's (sloppyjoes.com).

Take in a museum. You can get out of the elements at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa (pictured with this column), which features sharks, an abundance of tropical marine life and a lush mangrove forest, which somehow sounds warm (flaquarium.org).

In nearby St. Petersburg, the Salvador Dali Museum will open its new, expanded museum to the public on Jan. 12. Just blocks from the existing museum on Tampa Bay, the $35 million, 66,450-square foot building offers room for expanded exhibits and educational programs (salvadordalimuseum.org).

Also new is the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum (piratesoul.com). That's the new name for the former Pirate Soul museum, which moved from Key West to a spot closer to Central Florida. Look for a report on it in a future column.