Photo: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center turtle hospital, Boca Raton

An injured sea turtle gets nursed back to health at the hospital at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.

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Hot Rods and Hogs Car and Bike Show Thunders into Charlotte Harbor Dec. 2

No other man-made device since the shields and lances of the knights quite fulfills a man's ego like an automobile.  ~ William Rootes

Hot rods and airboats and trucks, oh, my!

The Florida Hot Rods and Hogs Car and Bike Show rolls into Charlotte Harbor 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2,  2012. Sprawled over a 45,230 square feet of indoor exhibitor space, the event is guaranteed to be the largest single-day car and bike show in Florida.

It features amazing show cars, vintage vehicles, drag and air boats, swamp buggies and world-class bikes and motorcycles. It also features live entertainment from top bands on two stages, including Kettle of Fish, Yazgars Farm, SuperBot and the appropriately named Big Engine.

And that’s just the tip of the spark-plug; you’ll also have an opportunity to meet world-renowned car and motorcycle designers at the show.

The news gets even better. Spectator general admission is only $15. Of that, $4 goes to the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition Foundation, so you can give back while gearing up.

Insider’s Tip: Want to register your own hot rod at the show? Visit Florida Hot Rods and Hogs website to find out how.

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Turn on the Town in Seaside Nov. 24

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!  ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

There’s something unusual about Seaside.

People there smile a lot. They smile at me when I’m strolling through the village or on the beach, or even when I’m grocery shopping, as if we share some happy secret. They smile at each other, too, and to themselves sometimes. And they go out of their way to do nice things, like holding open doors or giving directions.

In fact, I’d say Seaside seems to have a permanent case of the holiday spirit – which means it’s the ideal place to visit if you’re looking to get your jingle on.

Kick off the holiday season and help Turn on the Town in Seaside 4 – 8 p.m., Nov. 24, 2012.

The celebration includes a beach community parade, pictures with Santa, festivities in the amphitheater and the official lighting ceremony. The parade begins in Seagrove Beach and proceeds to Seaside.

Admission is free, of course – it’s the holidays in Seaside, after all!

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Photo: Cape Harbour Marina, Cape Coral

Cape Coral in southwest Florida is a prime destination for boating, water sports and fishing.

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New Smyrna Beach Makes National Geo’s List of World’s 20 Best Surf Towns

I’ve spent most of my entire life surfing. The rest I wasted. ~ Unknown

Want some news guaranteed to float your flip-flops?

New Smyrna Beach just splashed onto National Geographic’s list of the World's 20 Best Surf Towns. The folks at National Geographic were looking for destinations with “consistent waves, inviting accommodations, friendly locals, fun nightlife, delicious food and plenty of activities should the ocean go flat.” They cited the town’s 13 miles of beach, 300 surfable days a year, warm water and great fishing.

Although I am not a skilled surfer (an epic understatement if there ever was one) I couldn’t agree more. New Smyrna Beach has loads of little shops and cafes, a thriving arts community and its beaches are wide and flat with golden-hued sands. You can drive on the beach – which is great if you have surfing gear – or opt for their beach that doesn’t allow cars. And parking is free.

Yes, you should visit!

Insider’s tip: For a great burger smack-dab on the beach, eat at Breakers (518 Flagler Ave., New Smyrna Beach, Fla., 32169, 386- 428-2019).

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Photo: Port St. Joe

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park has some of the highest sand dunes in the continental United States.

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Photo: Port St. Joe

Sea oats frame beachgoers at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

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Video: Escape to Santa Rosa Island

Just east of Pensacola Beach and west of Navarre Beach on Santa Rosa Island, I found the ultimate escape.

It has beaches thick with soft, white sand, and turquoise waters. It has beach houses snuggled close to the Gulf, bike trails to ride and kayaks to paddle. The waters are brimming with fish, and to say it’s not crowded is an understatement.

And I’ll bet you’ve never seen it. Check out my video for a peek at this remarkable island. 

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Photo: Port St. Joe

On Cape San Blas, a Salinas Park boardwalk rewards walkers with a vista of St. Joseph Bay and kayakers with an entry point.

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Photo: Port. St. Joe

Near Port St. Joe, the bend of Cape San Blas offers great boating and fishing.

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