Travel Guide to Florida - - CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA -

Fort Pierce’s Down­town Farm­ers’ Mar­ket is a big draw on Satur­day morn­ings from 8 AM to noon, rain or shine, with lo­cal foods, crafts and art­work for sale. Live mu­sic is also fea­tured. Come and see why this farm­ers’ mar­ket con­sis­tently ranks among the top five in Amer­ica.

For fam­ily fun-filled ac­tiv­i­ties in Mel­bourne, visit the Bre­vard Zoo or An­dretti Thrill Park. The zoo houses mon­keys, jaguars, kan­ga­roos, meerkats and a Ko­modo dragon, plus you can kayak through 22 acres of wet­lands. The An­dretti Thrill Park in­cludes bat­ting cages, kid­die amuse­ment rides, pad­dle­boats, a large ar­cade and in­door Lazer Tag. Best of all, there are sev­eral go-cart tracks, one of which is re­stricted to fans with a valid driver’s li­cense who wish to travel 40 miles per hour on a Euro­pean-style course.

One of Florida’s most fa­mous at­trac­tions is the Kennedy Space Cen­ter Visitor Com­plex. Dis­cover what it means to be a hero through the sto­ries of NASA’s Space Pi­o­neers at He­roes and Le­gends fea­tur­ing the US As­tro­naut Hall of Fame. Get a closeup view of At­lantis, the only space shut­tle dis­played in flight, with more than 60 in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits. A fa­vorite ac­tiv­ity is a buf­fet-style Lunch with an As­tro­naut in an air-con­di­tioned set­ting, dur­ing which your host, a re­tired as­tro­naut, shares some of his or her fond­est mem­o­ries via a slideshow. Fol­low­ing the meal, there’s time to have photos taken with the host­ing celebrity. Be sure to check the cen­ter’s web­site for rocket launches.

The Ponce In­let Light­house, Florida’s tallest, is lo­cated in the town of Ponce In­let, slightly south of Day­tona Beach. It’s a great place to watch the sun set or catch a moon­rise.

Na­ture Lovers can choose from two botan­i­cal gar­dens in St. Lu­cie. Heath­cote Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in Fort Pierce show­cases the coun­try’s largest pub­lic dis­play of trop­i­cal bon­sai trees while the Port St. Lu­cie Botan­i­cal Gar­dens fea­ture myr­iad trop­i­cal habi­tats.

Feel the need for speed? Whether you are a de­voted NASCAR fan or have no idea what all of the hype is about, the world’s first and only mo­tor­sports sta­dium, the Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way, will blow you away. Hav­ing re­cently un­der­gone a US$400mil­lion ren­o­va­tion, there are tons of things to see and do. Book a 30-minute or a 90minute VIP tour. NASCAR fans should sign up for the Richard Petty Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence, where they can drive on the track or be a pas­sen­ger for laps with a pro­fes­sional driver. The Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way at­tracts mil­lions of vis­i­tors an­nu­ally.

Look­ing for quirky hid­den gems in the Day­tona Beach area? Visit Sugar Mill Botan­i­cal Gar­dens where di­nosaur stat­ues left over from a 1940s tourist at­trac­tion can be found. Or how about the won­der­ful, fam­ily-friendly, very af­ford­able Marine Science Cen­ter in Ponce In­let where you can touch stingrays, play with an oc­to­pus, ob­serve the sea tur­tle hospi­tal and learn about Florida’s marine en­vi­ron­ment. And in DeLeon Springs State Park, you can make your own pan­cakes at the Old Span­ish Sugar Mill, take an eco boat tour, hike na­ture trails and swim in the springs.

OP­PO­SITE TOP LEFT: Gallery in Eau Gal­lie Arts District. OP­PO­SITE TOP RIGHT: Sun­rise The­atre in his­toric Fort Pierce. ABOVE: Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way.

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