In 2017, Florida’s Adventure Coast proudly embraced history and nature. We welcome a major new attraction and cheered the 70th birthday of another. On top of popular sights, events, dining and adventures, enjoy this review of what was new in 2017 around Florida’s Adventure Coast.
The Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s Adventure Coast got a boost to its artificial reef program, thanks to collaboration among Hernando County Waterways, Hernando County Port Authority and the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners. Reef balls splashed into shallow water, joining material sunk in deeper water earlier in the summer.
The reef balls were crafted and deployed into shallow water thanks in part to a fundraising kayak expedition. Local adventurer Cole Kolasa paddled solo from the Panhandle to the Keys last summer on a Kayaking for Conservation tour.
Photo: Tampa Bay Times
Further offshore, a team deployed construction surplus like pipes and culverts, as well as specially-made fish-friendly concrete pieces. They were released to the Gulf floor around Bendickson Reef, tripling its size. The Bendickson Reef was originally created in 1995 from ten retired M-60 tanks and sits twenty miles west of Hernando Beach.
Enhancing sea life habitat and attracting organisms like sponges and coral are objectives for both types of reefs. More fish and interesting underwater structures also present fresh opportunities for Florida’s Adventure Coast fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Photo: Bayport – Linda Pedersen Paddling by Trail Keith Kolasa
Official distance and direction signage mark the new Bayport – Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail. This 1.7 mile (one-way) coastal waterway invites paddlers to confidently explore the estuary.
A marked branch off the trail called the Redfish Bayou Loop affords another up-close view of our coastal nature. Kayakers and other paddlers can now launch at either county park, both of which boast ample parking, restrooms, covered picnic areas and other amenities. Don’t have your own kayak, canoe or paddleboard? Check with the new-in-2017 Kayaks and Attractions for rental, delivery and pick-up.
From marine life research and protection to coastal clean-up and shoreline enhancement, key projects lead by Florida Sea Grant include important strides to propel and protect Florida’s Adventure Coast into the future.
Photo: Richloam General Store by Carole Knudson
Tucked into the eastern corner of Florida’s Adventure Coast is the Richloam General Store. Renovated to reflect its 1920’s-era heritage, the store was recently re-opened. On the National Register of Historic Places, the shop carries period merchandise and serves up a living history experience.
Photo: Town of Centralia Marker. Historic Hernando Preservation Society
On the west side, a new historical marker was unveiled in September commemorating the former town of Centralia, a short-lived but large-scale logging and sawmill community. The Centralia historical marker is located across from Centralia Road.
Nearby, the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area marked their new Rattlesnake Camp Road entrance with an informative ecology and history sign.
Photo: Brooksville – Tampa Bay Regional Airport
2017 marked the third time the Florida Department of Transportation awarded Brooksville – Tampa Bay Regional Airport (BKV) General Aviation Airport of the Year. BKV earned this distinction due to outstanding achievements in airport aesthetics, safety and services. A convenient alternative to Tampa, BKV is home to a thriving Technology Center with facilities to operate and house private aircraft as well as a flight academy.
Photo: Masaryk Winery from Facebook
Florida’s Adventure Coast welcomed newcomers to the hand-crafted spirits scene with the opening of two new wineries, Masaryk Winery and the most recent addition, the newly open Sparacia-Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards. Both are farm estate wineries, committed to excellence and focused on producing wines from the finest grapes and fruit Florida has to offer. Contact the vineyards to inquire about tours and tastings.
TreeUmph! Adventure Course maintains that “The Ground is Overrated.”
On a lush 50 acres, minutes from Interstate 75, TreeUmph! thrills with adventures ranging from beginner to extreme at the new Brooksville park. Guests will enjoy over 130 treetop obstacles and ziplines. Those who choose to stay on the ground can watch the adventures from walking trails and observation areas.
Photo: TreeUmph! Brooksville Little Ninja Course
New to TreeUmph!’s repertoire is the “Little Ninja” course, a ground-based, 30-obstacle adventure that tests the ninja skills of little warriors aged 5 to 8 years old. The TreeUmph! mission is to inspire FUN and a sense of PRIDE through ADVENTURE.
It was 1947 when the crystal-clear Weeki Wachee spring head was transformed into an underwater theater. The original vision of former Navy diver, Newton Perry, it became one of Florida’s original roadside attractions. Back then, pretty girls learned to swim graceful underwater ballet, breathing through long air hoses and performing for appreciative audiences. In keeping with Mr. Perry’s vision, they were called Mermaids.
This inventive breathing technique is still in use today and the underwater theater remains one-of-a-kind. After 70 years, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids are truly World Famous and more beloved than ever.
With a major new attraction, historical recognition and coastal initiatives, 2017 was loaded with good news and good works; these were just a few of the highlights.