I just wrapped up an incredible, action-packed road trip to Florida over the last 6 days in collaboration with Visit Florida.   It was my first time back in the sunshine state since 2007, so it was great to be here with fresh eyes and new perspectives. My girlfriend and I flew into Fort Myers, and then visited Cape Coral, Babcock Ranch, Punta Gorda, Englewood, the Everglades, Marco Island, Naples and finally headed East to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. We drove more than 400 miles in total and just had the time of our lives.

If you are a visual person and don’t want to spend the next 15 minutes reading about our trip, then please see this recap video below:

My 7 Favorite Things About FLORIDA

I just finished an amazing week road tripping around Florida!! We saw so many animals, ate incredible foods, soaked up the sunshine on the lovely beaches and did tons of water sports like parasaling, jetskiing, air boating and kayaking.

In this video, I share with you my 7 favorite things about the Sunshine State. What are your favorite things to do in Florida?

Huge thanks to VISIT FLORIDA for organzing this trip and all the regional partners in Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, Naples and Fort Lauderdale. I can’t wait to return to your state! As for now, I’m on my way to Hilton Head, South Carolina — see ya there!

‘Like’ Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Sunday, April 1, 2018

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Overall, I think Florida is the most relaxed, beautiful and forward-thinking state in the USA. We did not have a single bad meal – I think I gained 10 pounds while there (but I’m not mad about it!). We were doing nonstop activities, mostly water sports, like jetskiing, kayaking, air boating, parasailing and scuba diving. The wildlife caught me by surprise, as did the heartwarming southern hospitality.

In this blog post, I’m going to recap the highlights of each place we visited, while sharing some photos and videos that I made along the way:

Part 1 – Fort Myers, Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda

I personally think that Florida’s South West part is the best kept secret in the state. It’s less commercial, less touristy but has the same stunning beaches, ridiculous views and relaxing lifestyle as East or North in the state.

For me, the two highlights of Charlotte County were visiting Babcock Ranch and the beaches in Englewood. Babcock ranch is a 27 square mile planned community, that is America’s first solar powered town. They are 100% powered by solar energy, as almost 500,000 solar panels can be found in nearby fields and on the top of commercial buildings. Being solar powered means electric driverless cars to get around, top-of-the-line technology with free wifi outside (everywhere!) and work out machines that pump energy back into the ground. I was thrilled to be here and witness such forward thinking and innovation – and I hope that the rest of the U.S. will soon follow their footsteps.

Inside America’s First Solar Powered Town

The future has arrived!

Yesterday, I had the privilege to visit the most forward-thinking and innovate town I’ve ever come across. It’s called Babcock Ranch and it’s in South Western Florida.

Babcock Ranch is America’s first solar powered town — 100% powered by the sun. This means that they produce more energy than they consume, as almost a half million solar panels are laid out in nearby fields and on top of commercial buildings. They have driverless electronic shuttles that take you around, work out machines that pump energy back in to the ground, top-of-the-line technology readily available and even free WiFi everywhere in town (including outside)!!

Babcock Ranch is setting the standard for future cities across the U.S.A and the world, and I’m lucky to be able to witness it first hand. They are planning to have 19,500 homes on 6 million square feet of commercial space.

Have you ever heard of Babcock Ranch? Or do you know of any other towns that are on their way to be 100% solar powered?

More to come soon around Florida with VISIT FLORIDA 🙂

‘Like’ Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos, and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky!

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

 

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Englewood was shockingly beautiful – I wasn’t expecting the West (Gulf) coast beaches to be as pristine as the East (Atlantic) beaches. But I was proven wrong.   I woke up early for sunrise and sat in the sand with my eyes out on the horizon. I saw dozens of dolphins playing in the sea as I listened to the sound of the crashing waves on the shore. Aside from the beach, Englewood had incredible restaurants and a lovely downtown shopping area called Fisherman’s village with tons of shops, cafes and live music.

Part 2 – Naples and Surrounding Areas

As we headed South down the West coast, our first stop was Everglades City to jump on board a air boat (powered by a huge fan on back). The boat took us around the Everglades – AKA the swamp where the alligators live! Even though it was the low season for gators (because of the low water level and high concentration of salt) – we did manage to see a few and I cannot believe how big they are.

After the Everglades, we headed to the quaint town of Naples, which I honestly knew nothing about before arriving. And I quickly figured out that it’s one of America’s richest cities, with the second highest density of millionaires per capita and households that are upwards of $10 million dollars.   While the people were mostly over 65 and retired, there was definitely a fair share of younger, hip areas (check out Bar Tulia!) and the beaches did not disappoint.

 

How Rich is Naples, Florida?

I’ve never seen wealth like I’ve been seeing here in Naples, Florida over the past 48 hours. It’s one of America’s richest cities, with the second-highest proportion of millionaires per capita and an average home price of $520,000! Almost every household I’ve seen is HUGE — like fancy castles.

BUT despite the rich and famous, there are plenty of things you can do on a budget in Naples, and also, there are loads of fun activites & water sports available. We have gone parasailing, jetskiing, air boat riding through the Everglades, kayaking, river cruising and swimming on the shore. Have I mentioned that there is a 10-mile straight coastline of pure white sand beaches?

Have you ever been to Naples?? More to come soon from the Sunshine State with VISIT FLORIDA!

‘Like’Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos, and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Thursday, March 29, 2018

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But above all, the highlight of Naples was visiting the Naples Zoo. When most people hear the word zoo, they tend to freak out and over analyze animals being mistreated, etc. But the Naples Zoo does the exact opposite – specifically their rehabilitation facilities for injured or orphaned Florida panthers.   We were about to meet with one panther, named Uno, who was found blind on the side of the road 4 years ago after being shot in the eye. The team at Naples Zoo rescued him, gave him a nice facility and they are now closely looking after him.  Uno is currently living a happy and healthy life, which is crucial when there are only 230 panthers left in existence.

 

Are You Against Zoos?

Whenever I mention the word ZOO, people tend to freak out because they automatically think animals are being mistreated. While this may be the case for some zoos in the world, there are several others I’ve visited who are working hard to protect & conserve animals and our ecosystems.

Yesterday, I visited the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens in Florida, where I was able to meet with Uno — a blind panther that they rescued on the street and have taken under their wing. Without their efforts, Uno would not be alive, and the vulnerable species of the Florida Panther would have one less member (there are about ~200 living today).

What are your thoughts on zoos? Are you for or against them? Let me know in the comments below.

‘Like’ Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂 We are now on our way to Fort Lauderdale with VISIT FLORIDA!

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Saturday, March 31, 2018

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Part 3 – Fort Lauderdale

Our last leg of the trip took us to sunny Fort Lauderdale – a place I remembered as kid was very fun. And my thoughts are confirmed as an adult!! We began our experience by attending a mermaid show – where real girls dress up as mermaids and swim in a pool as we all watched through giant windows from inside a bar. It was actually more fun than I thought!

The following day, we went scuba diving with South Florida Diving Headquarters which was actually my first time diving in the states (I’ve been diving more than 5 countries!). Even though the day was quite windy and slightly rainy, the sea life was booming. I did one ship wreck dive and one reef dive, and I saw turtles, sting rays, puffer fish, lobster and more!

Finally, to wrap up a fun time in Fort Lauderdale – we went to the FAT Art Walk Village, which only occurs once a month on the last Saturday. It’s basically a blocked off street with art exhibits from local artists, food truck vendors, live music and all around good vibes. We loved it.  This was so much fun that I think it should be a weekly event, not only once a month!  Seeing this retro side of Ft. Lauderdale was a nice change of pace from Naples.

Final Words 

Our trip to Florida was one that I will never forget.  Aside from winter sports and mountains — this state really has it all.  Especially if you like to be around the water!

It’s no surprise to me why everyone wants to retire in Florida.  Year round great weather, golf courses, wildlife and beaches is all I need to hear to live a happy life!  It was truly a magnificent adventure down in Florida.

Special thanks to my friends at Visit Florida for helping organize this trip, as well as all regional partners of Charlotte Harbor, Paradise Coast & Fort Lauderdale –I can’t wait to return in the near future!!.

Disclosure: I was invited to Florida by Visit Florida, and received financial compensation from them during the trip. As always, this post was written by me and is honest from my own personal experiences.

Drew Binsky

A graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drew Binsky has visited 120+ Countries since 2012.He first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Prague, then taught English in Korea, and now he's on a mission to visit every country on earth.Follow his journey on Facebook & Instagram @drewbinsky 🙂

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