2013: Point me in right direction

On the road in 2012, I ate gator jerky but somehow never made it to Gatorland.

That's going to change in 2013, which I now proclaim as the year that I'll finally make my first trip to the perennially popular gator-themed attraction in south Orlando. That's my pledge to you, the devoted readers that have helped make "Postcards from Florida" so fun and interesting for me.

I often ask for suggestions and, thankfully, you aren't shy about providing them.

During the past year, such tips pointed me toward the fabulous Chamblin Bookmine in Jacksonville (chamblinbookmine.com), the most amazing bookstore I've encountered in Florida. There have been recommendations for barbecue restaurants and kitschy only-in-Florida attractions such as Solomon's Castle, the showplace of quirky artist and sculptor Howard Solomon in the middle of nowhere in tiny Ona, east of Bradenton.

I haven't been there yet, but it's also on the list for 2013.

Other readers point out when I'm wrong.

I was a frequent cheerleader for Buddy Freddy's, the buffet restaurant off Interstate 4 in Plant City, based as much on sentimental attachment as on the fried chicken. That all changed, however, when a reader admonished that I was missing the boat by not venturing a few more miles from the highway to patronize Fred's Southern Kitchen (fredsouthernkitchen.com), a restaurant operated by none other than the "Fred" once associated with Buddy Freddy's.

The reader was right; his suggestion was better.

In 2012, I've listened to the sweet melodies at Bok Tower Gardens in Winter Haven; nibbled on goat-milk fudge (better than gator jerky); interviewed a mermaid at Weeki Wachee; dined on fried catfish at an old-Florida riverside restaurant; sipped beer in the third-base bleachers at a minor-league baseball game; and marked the start of the year on the quiet deck of J.B.'s Fish Camp in New Smyrna Beach.

I expect I'll be back at that destination again this week because good traditions are worth keeping.

The rest of my schedule is pretty flexible, so I'm again looking for ideas from readers, including the many who are smarter than I am.

What's the best diner? Best museum?

I'd love to put your ideas on the list.

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