Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida

I used to live in Sarasota and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places to wander.  Named for Marie Selby who lived on the property with her husband, William, for over 50 years.  She loved nature and when she passed in 1971, she left her home and gardens to the community "for the enjoyment of the general public." 

Selby Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to epiphytes.  They research, study, display, and conserve these plants that live on other plants.  Like air plants, they don't harm the host plant but rather just hang around as pals.  Some of the best examples are orchids, bromeliads, and gesneriads.  (Say that three times fast!)

It's a place of research and the scientific staff here have discovered more than 2,000 plant species. The collections on property include an herbarium of more than 110,000 dried and pressed specimens and over 30,000 preserved in fluids with some of the rarest dating back to the 1700s. 

If you're in Sarasota, take a couple hours to visit Selby Gardens.  The LIVE video below takes you on a walking tour through this living museum and shows the unique Warhol: Flower in the Factory works all over the property.  The exhibit is open from February to June 30, 2018 and "explores the surprising, and little known, role of nature in Warhol's art and life."

Gallery: Appleton Museum of Art

I was so fortunate to be host of our regional PBS station's local show called GALLERY.

GALLERY takes you inside the halls of prestigious museums, as well as unique private and community galleries on Central Florida. Experience the amazing beauty of expression, creativity, and the timeless qualities that identify great art.

EPISODE 9: The Appleton Museum in Ocala was a gift from Arthur Appleton, which opened to the public in 1987. Originally the gallery was built to display Appleton’s Art Collection, but today, the Appleton Museum Displays art from around the world.

Daytona Beach Turkey Rod Run: Daytona Beach, Florida

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I learned how to drive in a Model A Ford.  Back in 1986, my dad was slowly restoring a Model A and it was a just a chassis and engine.  I sat on a couple of tires to work the clutch and steer. Across the street from my childhood home at 117 Hattaway Drive, was an unused golf-course and orange groves that stretched all the way down to Lake Orienta.  I drove it everyday until I finally could clutch my way up the hill from Hattaway Drive to 436.  It's steep, and if you have a manual car, mastering that hill is key to being a good driver. 

So began my fascination with cars.  I love them, I do.  I've had quite a few different ones already.  I loved my diesel VW Rabbit, my red Acura Integra, and my Pontiac Fiero the best.  Collecting and restoring cars is an expensive hobby, and one well outside my means.  So, I headed off to Daytona to check out the Daytona Beach Spring Turkey Rod Run.  I thought maybe I'd get my fill and then not continue to shop CraigsList for Willys jeeps.   

Lots of cars, lots of collectors.

 

Click on the Townie Tourist video below to watch the show. You won't believe cars we see.👇👇👇

The Daytona Beach Turkey Rod Run is in spring and fall. This year it's November 22-25 at Daytona International Speedway. Click here for ticket and vendor info.

Gary Rack's Farmhouse: Del Ray Beach, Florida

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I may be back in Orlando, but I'm still thinking of the breakfast I had in Del Ray Beach at Gary Rack's Farmhouse Kitchen.

This clean eating spot serves up seasonal, sustainable, locally sourced ingredients to create delicious dishes. Their motto is "just good food," and they do not disappoint. If you're even in the area on in Boca, you must stop in. Even if it's for a snack.

Here are all the things my mom, sister and I feasted over:

  • Crushed Avocado Toast – with green goddess pesto and ricotta. Yes, my sister and I were basic millennials for ordering this, but if it ain't broke don't fix it right?

  • Roasted Root Hash - A yummy mix of crispy purple potatoes, --- and --- seasoned perfectly.

  • Honey butter biscuits – basically two giant clouds of sweet, carby goodness. I would do extra cardio in the gym just to have these on a regular basis.

  • Chicken Sausage - a thing I did not know even existed but am super glad I know exists. Well, maybe not since I'm not sure anywhere in the O is doing this. Normal sausage has always mades me nauseous, so I was really surprised at how freaking good this was. Super tasty with a touch of raisins (or maybe they were blueberries? I'm stilll trying it out honestly) for a nice hearty start to the day.

  • Yogurt Parfait – with Florida honey, mixed berries and Greek yogurt. I ordered this to ease my conscious for the bag of cheese puffs I devoured the day before, but it added a nice sweet touch to balance our breakfast out.

Gary, or if anyone else from the Farmhouse crew is reading this, please hurry up and open an Orlando location so a girl can get some good brunch. Much appreciated. 

 

 

Gallery: Martin Cushman

I was so fortunate to be host of our regional PBS station's local show called GALLERY.

GALLERY takes you inside the halls of prestigious museums, as well as unique private and community galleries on Central Florida. Experience the amazing beauty of expression, creativity, and the timeless qualities that identify great art.

EPISODE 7: Martin Cushman, a potter from Mt. Plymouth, Florida started making pottery in 1997. Martin’s pottery follows a tight schedule every week, but for Martin each pot is worth the effort.

Gallery: Modernism Museum

I was so fortunate to be host of our regional PBS station's local show called GALLERY.

GALLERY takes you inside the halls of prestigious museums, as well as unique private and community galleries on Central Florida. Experience the amazing beauty of expression, creativity, and the timeless qualities that identify great art.

EPISODE 6: Modernism was an art movement that moved to challenge and break classical and traditional art forms. In reaction to the Industrial Revolution, The Studio Arts Movement created art using everyday objects like furniture.

Gallery: Autistic Spectrum Art Exhibit

I was so fortunate to be host of our regional PBS station's local show called GALLERY.

GALLERY takes you inside the halls of prestigious museums, as well as unique private and community galleries on Central Florida. Experience the amazing beauty of expression, creativity, and the timeless qualities that identify great art.

EPISODE 5: The Spectrum Exhibit hosted by The Mount Dora Center for the Arts featured artists like Austin Lubetkin, who are one the Autistic Spectrum. The exhibit helped to make it possible for everyone to be included and help open doors for all artists.

Habitat Galleries in West Palm Beach

Before heading to Morikami a few weeks ago, I stopped in West Palm Beach and came across Habitat Galleries. From quirky multimedia works to elaborate sculptures, this place has some really amazing stuff in a huge variety. The place has been open since 1982 and is super photo-friendly, so feel free to stop in and grab some shots if you're in the area. 

Some of the pieces I really liked were made by Christopher David White, whose mind-blowing work looks like carved wood, but is actually clay!

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Ceramic sculpture artist Park Joonsang had two pieces that played on small children turning the walls of their homes into canvases. He also has a couple vase pieces with some interesting kids serving some serious attitude.

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August Muth's holographic pieces were a nice interactive element that changed based on where you standing. The work on the white background includes a hidden message, if you can find it at the right angle. 

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A bonus stop you could easily make is right across the street where a mural with Prince, David Bowie, Adam "Ad- Rock" Horowitz from the Beastie Boys, Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain is painted on a wall near a vacant lot.

 

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Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum

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This weekend I finally got to visit a place I have been wanting to visit since I heard of it four months ago, the Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum in Del Ray Beach.

Opened in 1977, the historical park is dedicated to a small group Japanese farmers, known as the Yamato Colony, who came to Palm Beach County in the early 1900s. Initially the group grew pineapples, but when Cuban imports of the fruit became more popular they turned to winter vegetables. The Yamato Colony did not find much success, with only 30- 35 farmers in the group, by the beginning of WWII few remained. 

In the the mid-1970s one of the last remaining Yamato settlers, George Sukeji Morikami donated his land to Palm Beach County to be used as a park to preserve his people's culture.

Since then Morikami has been a center for Japanese culture and arts with it's rotating exhibits, tea ceremonies, outreach programs to local schools and traditional festivals throughout the year. 

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The garden is about a mile long walk with flowers, waterfalls, a zen rock garden, special memorial statues, giant Buddha and a section dedicated to the many different types of bonsai trees. From small grey lizards to huge bright green iguanas, look out for reptiles along your walk. For the most part, the animals seemed completely unbothered by anyone's presence and stayed still for plenty of photos. 

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The Yamato-kan is Morikami's original museum and home to two permanent exhibits.  One space details theYamato Colony in Florida, while the rest of the building shows what Japan is like through the eyes of a child through mock a train station, classroom, main street and home. In the middle of the entire building is a beautiful rock garden with copper rain chains, which the Japanese have been using for hundreds of years as a more pleasing water feature to closed gutters. 

I really enjoyed my visit here and would definitely say it's worth the three hour drive. If I lived in the area I would become a member and visit all the time. There's a traditional Japanese restaurant in the park, which I was unable to eat at since they stop seating people at 3 p.m., that would probably serve as even more incentive for reoccurring visit.

There's also one of the best museum gift shops I've ever seen here. Pricier items include traditional kimonos for $150+, but you can also find origami paper, Asian candies and other trinkets from $1.50 - $20.

I left with a Chinese Wishing Pot for $18. According to tradition, wishes were believed to come true if they were written on a slip of paper, stored in ceramic pot and kept in a lucky place.  

The park is closed Mondays and major holidays, but you can stop in Tuesday - Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $15, seniors $13 and children $9. For info go here: https://morikami.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gallery: Derek Gores

I was so fortunate to be host of our regional PBS station's local show called GALLERY.

GALLERY takes you inside the halls of prestigious museums, as well as unique private and community galleries on Central Florida. Experience the amazing beauty of expression, creativity, and the timeless qualities that identify great art.

EPISODE 3: Collage is defined as art that is made from sticking various different materials onto a backing. In Melbourne, Florida Derek Gores uses a unique approach to collage that comes from his love of abstract art.

Howey Mansion: Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida

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Howey-In-The-Hills is a quiet town in Lake County that is a testament to old Florida. In between the fields of citrus trees and the amazing Yalaha German Bakery is a beautiful grandiose home that was once abandoned – Howey Mansion

William J. Howey, a politician, real estate developer and one of the state's greatest citrus growers, had the 20-room mansion built in 1925 on a 15-acre property. Howey died in 1938 and left the home to his much younger widow who lived in it until 1981. In 1984 Chicago heiress Marvel Zona became the Howey Mansion's second owner until she began living in a nursing home. Since 2009 the home was vacant, but in July 2017 brothers Brad and Clay Cowherd purchased the home and have since been reviving it. 

To address rumors and what many of you are probably wondering – Howey Mansion is not haunted. None of the wonderful people who work there have reported supernatural activities and ghost hunters who have toured the space have said they sense no ghostly spirits are haunting the home. 

The mansion is in the style of Mediterranean Revival with a red Spanish tile roof and makes great use of color from the walkway leading up to the home, to its exterior and flooring inside. Katharine Cotheal Budd, who developed temporary lodgings for women who visited male relatives at military training camps and is the first woman inducted into the American Institute of Architects, designed the place.  

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The home opens up to a foyer with a pretty blue ceiling and curved walls with Florentine beige marble squares on the lower half. In fact, these walls were created in complete secrecy by an Austrian artisan who banned all other workmen from the home and locked the doors as he compounded and poured the wall mixture in the foyer. 

There is so much more to the history and detail our amazing guide Alexis was able to share. Definitely book a tour to check this place out for yourself. Follow them on Facebook for restoration and event updates. 

Tours are generally offered Tuesday through Friday at 11am OR 2pm and Saturdays at 10am and 11:30am.

To get an idea of what you'll see and hear on a tour, check out the abbreviated version we got on our weekend show.