I am a freelancer writer and producer, but more than anything, I love being Latina! Join me as I explore the rich Hispanic heritage that Florida has to offer.
More From the Viva Florida Insider
Viva Florida QUESTIONS
Q: What are some good music festivals?
The most well-known festival is Calle Ocho in Miami. Held in the spring, the festival offers the best and most recent Latin music. There’s also amazing food, parades and a children’s zone. Part of Carnaval Miami, it is the main event in a series of arts and culture celebrating the Hispanic heritage in South Florida. Visit http://www.carnavalmiami.com/calle8/ for more information.
Q: Is it OK to bring my kids to see Florida's historic sites and heritage attractions?
Absolutely! Bring the entire family! We’re proud of our history and heritage and would love nothing more than to share it with you and your loved ones.
For more tips on family activities, check out fellow Insider Jill Martin at www.visitflorida.com/insiders/family.
Q: I would like to travel the Spanish trail, starting in St. Augustine all the way to California. What are the must hit points?
That sounds great! In St. Augustine, make sure to visit Castillo de San Marcos, the Fountain of Youth and the Oldest House in the country. Make sure to plan your stops and keep your supplies in check and have a lot of fun! For a more complete list of where to stop along the way, visit http://www.drivetheost.com/index.html.
Q: Ive heard about the Spanish influence in Florida architecture; whats a good place to check it out?
The best place to check out is The Cloisters of the Ancient Spanish Monastery. After years of going through different uses, William Randolph Hearst purchased the property and took it apart, stone by stone, to bring it back to the states. It’s the original construction, so to speak. Go to http://www.spanishmonastery.com/home.html to learn more about the history and where to go.
Q: Is there a place where I can get old world charm, but still be in the present?
If you’re looking for a step back in time, visit Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, where a community of Apalachee Indians and Spaniards is reconstructed from the 17th century structure. Every first Saturday of the month, a lecture is presented to visitors covering topics such as archeology, history and the mission. For more information, go to http://www.missionsanluis.org/index.cfm.
For a more recent time frame, Downtown Gainesville is the place to go. With Victorian neighborhoods and houses, you’ll literally feel like you stepped back in time. Some of the houses still have steps on the sidewalk from where carriages would pull up and let the passengers out. Take a look at the Hippodrome where you can enjoy plays, film festivals and improv performances: http://thehipp.org/.
Q: What's so special about Coral Gables?
Coral Gables holds the title of the first planned community in the country. Everywhere you go in Coral Gables, you’ll find Spanish influence in its architecture and street names, from Alhambra to Majorca. Dubbed the City Beautiful, it earns the name with its majestic Banyan trees and landscaping, not to mention the ease of walkability. Check them out at www.coralgables.com.
Q: Weve got a cigar lover in the family who wants to go to Ybor City. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa founded in the late 1800s. A cigar factory was built and brought workers from Cuba, Spain and Sicily. To this day, the city still celebrates their heritage with festivals, tours and cigar rolling demonstrations. For more information, visit www.ybor.org.
Q: Were in Miami and are on the prowl for great Cuban food!
You need to go to the one and only Versailles Restaurant, in the heart of Little Havana. Cuban Sandwich? Check. Churrasco? Done. Ropa Vieja? Do I even need to ask? It’s been in the same spot for the last 40 years, making it a staple in the Calle Ocho landscape. Check them out at www.versaillesrestaurant.com; you won’t be sorry.
Q: It's our first trip to Florida, and we're history buffs. Where's a good place to go?
History lovers will revel in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the state and the country. Take a horse drawn carriage down Anastasia Blvd, visit the Fountain of Youth and see some Cannon Firing Demonstrations at Castillo De San Marcos, the oldest fort in the US. During the fall/winter, make sure to check out the Nights of Lights, going on from mid-November to January. For more information, visit http://beta.floridashistoriccoast.com/