Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. The park is popular for sunbathing, swimming and picnicing and there is more than a mile of sandy Atlantic beachfront to enjoy, Ranked of of the "Top 10 Beaches in America" by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka 'Dr. Beach.' Biking and kayaking are also popular activities. Fisherman can throw in their lines from the seawall for some of the best shoreline fishing in the region. Bicycles, beach chairs, and umbrellas can be rented.
Want a guided tour of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage? They are given twice daily, Thursdays through Mondays. If you aren't prepared to bring your own picnic, you can also enjoy two restaurants, Lighthouse Café and Boater's Grill, which offers authentic Cuban cuisine.
See the amazing video DRONE footage below of the Ritz and of Bill Baggs State Park, shot by Sky High Aerial Productions. You'll feel like you're there, and you're flying...
TWA's Inside Scoop on your Favorite Viral Videos
After driving for about 2-3 hours, with no spottings, we decided to turn around and ...Boom! There he was, this beautiful bull, standing still and staring at us out of the woods on the side of the road.
There were two other vehicles pulled over as they were out "back country skiing," and he started licking the other pulled over truck (Moose have learned they can get salt from licking vehicles). We decided to watch from a distance. He was so unbothered and the road we were on was totally quiet and very wide. If had it been anything different we wouldn’t have stuck around, for the safety of the moose.
After a couple of minutes we were able to roll in a little closer and he knew we were there and watching him, still not caring, and more so looking at us as his next snack and very appreciative.
He then made his way over to us and I was a tad bit apprehensive because, with each step closer he took, the larger he became and it was overwhelming. Yet, he was incredibly gentle and amusing as he made his way around our car, gently bumping his dish (antlers) against our car.
About 10-15 min into his snack on our car the skiers returned to their vehicle behind us and they couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. They were about 20 meters away from us and the moose even knew they were there, taking off all their equipment and loading up their car, and the moose couldn’t care less. He was so infatuated with the salt he was getting for his diet from our car.
Had there been any aggression shown or uncomfortable nature the back country skiers would have gotten into their car for safety…as with us (we never got out of the car or unrolled the windows). Had there been any danger or aggression we wouldn’t have stuck around. We are very very respectful of the animals we live around and advocate for safe and conservation focused wildlife viewing. We are always very responsible and respectful.
We DO see a lot of disrespectful behavior from national park visitors causing “Bear Jams” which is essentially a traffic jam caused by a bear on the side of the road, and by people causing a very disruptive stir either by stopping or by getting out of their car for photos (which is SO not cool).
So yea……I’d say we were very lucky to have this moment but had the roads been busy, packed, narrow, or anything of that nature, we would have left straight away.
If you are ever in Banff, please keep your safety, and the safety of our wildlife in mind and, please, stop in to see me at the Gallery! I'd love to meet you and we are located right downtown at 201 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta, Canada. I'll give you some recommendations on some great places to eat and things to do!
UPDATE: The video and story are making their way around the globe. Scroll down to see some of our favorite ones... including in Russian and Japanese!
Fortunately authorities got ahold of the folks at the local Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and they dispatched an eagle eyed wildlife professional to oversee the rescue effort.
One of the birds did break free and flew up into the sky, continuing to circle and watching the action from up above. The other Eagle fell into the drain where, then, it could not escape at all. Firefighters were careful to tie a rope around the heavy iron grate, before they removed it, in order to prevent it falling on the trapped symbol of America and quashing all our hopes for the future.
Then, using a net, they were able to snare the bird around the legs (the safest place to grab them as their legs are very strong), and pull it to safety.
So today… “Democracy” is recuperating at the Audubon Center and people of ALL political persuasions are pulling together as one, checking on it’s condition and sending donations to help the center with it’s work.
Central Florida is home to many native species, some, like the Bald Eagle, is also found throughout the country and North America. However some species, like the Florida Alligator, or the Manatee, are only found in the Southern States.
If you love wildlife, and are visiting Florida, there are many “once in a lifetime” opportunities to see native and endangered wildlife, sometimes in their natural habits. A few of my favorite places are…
Blue Spring State Park
Depending on the time of year, you might see just a few, or a plethora of endangered Manatees here.
The last time I visited, there were so many Manatees packed into the river by the viewing dock that you could have walked across their backs to the other side without getting your feet wet (except, of course, that would be wrong, you cannot “molest” Manatees, it’s a crime).
If you’re an animal lover, like me, you probably already make them a part of any vacation you take and, besides what I’ve mentioned here, there are literally hundreds of opportunities to enjoy wildlife in Florida. Just use Google to find something near your destination!
As far as "Democracy," the Bald Eagle, goes... sadly, she passed away from her injuries. So, while Democracy is dead, you can still visit her friends at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center and make a donation in her name and in the spirit of freedom.
NOTE: It's a small, small world. Just learned it was Yaileen's boyfriend, Tito, who saw the Bald Eagles fall from the sky and called 911. Yaileen is "our" server at Sweet Mama's
Tubing at Kelly Park.
Rock Springs Run
Central Florida, NW of Orlando
Ninja Level – 2 out of 5
Budget - $ (take cash)
As a lifelong Florida resident I have, sadly, not even begun to cover all the opportunities for adventure and leisure, that it has to offer. You could really spend a lifetime visiting all the unique parks, springs, towns and historical spots within the state... where to start?
Recently though we made a pledge to get off our couch, get out and explore. I'd heard a lot about Rock Springs in Kelly Park and it was close enough for a half day adventure.
I really didn't know what to expect before visiting the park, though I did a quick online search for basic information. It costs (cash only) $3 per car with 1-2 people, $5 for 3-8 and $1 for each extra person in case you've got folks strapped on the roof or something.
The springs are the perfect place to go in the HOT Florida summer (I frankly find the beaches as attractive an idea as inserting myself in my toaster oven). There are plenty of shade trees and the water is (“Rock Springs” – duh) from a SPRING... meaning it is COOL. Not so cold that you don't adjust to it pretty darn quick, but cool enough that you absolutely feel refreshed.
As we were getting close to the park we stopped just outside at an intersection with a gas station on one side and a place to rent TUBES on the other (no tube rental inside the park). To rent a tube they ask you to leave them your ID (as sort of a deposit to insure you come back), and tubes are just $5 each to rent (take cash for these too). If you have a good sized trunk the tubes will just stack in there and probably not bounce out as you only have a short distance to get to the park (though some people will just stick their hand out the window and hold the tube). Total cost for 3 people: $5 entrance, plus 3 tubes = $20 for an entire day of fun! You can bring your own tubes and floats as well... though be aware they cannot be longer than 5 feet in length (a lot of blow up rafts are 6-7 ft).
We were not planning to stay the whole day so we didn't eat in the park, but you can certainly do that. The park has BBQ grills and picnic tables scattered under the trees and, if you're just feeling lazy, you can pick up sandwiches on your way there or buy food at the park's concession stand where they have hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and drinks. Don't bring alcohol or beer though... it's not allowed and, with the number of kids and families there, anyone that is drunk or disorderly is sure to feel the wrath of “Florida Redneck Father” - a common, and occasionally frightening, creature best left unprovoked.
Upon arrival we grabbed our tubes from the trunk of the car and headed down to the Springs to check things out. A little tip: Lock your valuables in the car and put your car key (but not remote) on a lanyard around your neck. This way you won't risk losing the keys by having them fall out of your pocket while swimming, or have to worry about someone stealing them.
The layout of the Springs is such that you will first encounter an area that is about midway from the springs headwaters to the end of the “run.” If you just want to float around a bit, there are stairs to make it easy to get down to the water; so just go for it. Even if you are partially disabled or less limber, it's easy to get in here and you can then float to the end of the “run,” get out on a ramp there and take the tree lined sidewalk back to the midway point. This aspect makes tubing in Rock Springs great for the whole family and we saw many grandparents enjoying the water.
If you want to float down the whole length of the “run,” which is more like a slow stroll down a “lazy river,” then you can take a series of boardwalks up to the springs headwaters. Here you will find it a little trickier to get into the water if you are not limber, because the rocks are a tad slippery. I would certainly not recommend it for anyone that is disabled in any way because slipping on the rocks could leave you with a nasty injury. I did see a rather overweight gentleman manage to navigate an entrance into the water just fine, although it took him a bit of time to figure out the safest way.
The “run” itself takes you down a mostly tree shaded river surrounded by flowers and wildlife. We encountered some Ibis birds that were so intent on nabbing their insect breakfast, and so used to people, they allowed us to come within 4 feet of them. There was also a bit of drama as the park rangers briefly closed off a fork in the river when someone spotted an alligator. It was a baby gator so it was more to protect it, than the noisy humans, but from the level of excitement in the crowd you'd think it was an extraterrestrial.
If you have a waterproof camera or one of the new waterproof smart phones, bring it! You'll be able to capture some great photos of foliage, flowers and maybe even wildlife.
One of the things I liked most about the “lazy river” part of the park is that it is a combination of floating down and walking back. It takes about 25-30 minutes or so to float from the head-springs to the end of the run... and only about 10 minutes to walk back on a beautiful shady path to do it again. This makes it a perfect way to both relax AND get a bit of moderate exercise.
Another thing I liked is that they close the park when it reaches capacity... meaning, while it can get a bit crowded,it's not so overcrowded you can't enjoy yourself.
A word of warning though; you must get there early as the park often reaches capacity very quickly after opening (8:00 am opening time). We were there by 9:00 on a Monday (during summer vacation when the kids are out of school) and they had closed the park already when we left at Noon. The park is open until sunset and they do let additional vehicles in after 1 pm, IF enough of the earlier visitors have left. If you're driving a distance to get there though.. best to plan an early arrival (8-9 am) to avoid disappointment and so you won't have to wait in too long a line to get in and parked.
Kelly Park Rock Springs Run is part of Florida's State Park system and is only about 40 minutes from downtown Orlando and 45-50 minutes from International Drive, making it convenient for a day, or half day, adventure for locals and tourists alike.
Author: Sue Copening