Spring has just about sprung, which means it’s about time we all start daydreaming about getting away to finally relish in those warmer temps. So what fuels your fancy? Perhaps indulging in the last of Florida’s beloved stone crab season? Or seeing Zedd, Logic, and Rae Sremmurd all play on one of three stages along the downtown West Palm waterfront? We dug deep into all Opal destinations to build this list of top events and activities you can only take advantage of during these select spring months.
Witness an Alligator Looking for a Lover [Stuart, FL]
Alligator mating season runs from April to July, making them far more active than usual as they look for mates. So, if you’ve ever wanted to hear an alligator mating call, now is the perfect time to take an eco-tour – we suggest River Lilly Cruises’ 1.5-hour tours – through the St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve, the freshwater and brackish water system encompassing roughly 5,000 acres in Port St Lucie. The reptiles’ deep bellows create vibrations in the water and can even be felt on board the 34-passenger pontoon boat.
Where to Stay Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa
Embark on a Food Journey [Rockland, FL]
This is an especially fine time of year to visit Rockland restaurant In Good Company: Every Thursday, from now into May, the loftlike space features a special Food Journeys dinner series. For 2018, the theme centers around exploring global cuisine through the women who’ve inspired owner and chef Melody Wolfertz. To whet the taste buds: a recent menu paying tribute to Julia Child and France featured artichokes stuffed with hollandaise, shrimp quenelles in tomato sauce, and pork loin roast with gratin of winter squash. Bon appétit!
Where to Stay Samoset Resort
Savor the Last of Stone Crab Season [Clearwater & Naples, FL]
Florida’s stone crab season ends on May 15, so make sure you get your fill of the crustacean’s popular sweet, tender claw meat before it’s gone (the season starts up again in October). In Clearwater, there’s no better place for a fresh-caught stone crab dinner than Frenchy’s. With four locations in Clearwater Beach, Frenchy’s isn’t just a restaurant, but a top stone crab harvest company, employing a range of independent crabbers who harvest for them daily. This ensures that the claws are fresh, never frozen. Near Naples in Everglades City, look to Triad Seafood Café (where the more famous Miami Joe’s Stone Crab gets its supply), open only on Friday and Saturday nights for bottomless bowls with mustard sauce. Gather at one of the picnic tables overlooking the Barron River and aim to have your photo taken by owners Orlo and Pam for the “Glutton Board.”
See Sand Take Amazing Shapes [Clearwater Beach, FL]
For 10 days each April, Clearwater pays tribute to the two things that have brought it renown: the sugar sand beaches and the sunsets. Pier 60’s Sugar & Sand Festival is a beach-wide celebration that offers free activities for all ages, including a children’s play area, street performers, live music and entertainment, artisans and crafters, and even fireworks. But the main attraction is The Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit. A 21,000-square-foot tent is filled with sculpted sand art crafted by world-class sculptors, seen only once a year (just go before noon or after 8 p.m. to avoid the majority of crowds). And if the sand art inspires you, sit in on one of the sand sculpting classes, speed sand demonstrations, or the master sand sculpting competition.
Immerse Yourself in Non-Stop Music…and More [West Palm Beach, FL]
During this four-day music fest, 50 bands play across three stages along the downtown West Palm waterfront and, for the 2018 season, feature notable performers Zedd, Logic, Rae Sremmurd, Incubus, and more. There is other entertainment in the form of an “art district,” hosting 80 artists, crafters, and vendors and a “ChillZone,” a lounge area outfitted with a sea of hanging hammocks. And of course, almost as important as the music lineup, is the food lineup, with three themed food courts, including a 1950s-themed pop-up diner featuring soda jerks serving classic Americana dishes.
Where to Stay Jupiter Beach Resort
Eat Your Way through Lake Placid and Beyond [Lake Placid, NY]
For eight days in early May, the third-annual EAT ADK Restaurant Week celebrates the Tri-Lakes’ best restaurants, while giving you the chance to sample numerous local eateries at affordable prices (some three-course fixed-price menus start as low as $15), before the busy summer season starts. Some 40 establishments across Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid will be participating, including Lake Placid’s Top of the Park, known for its tapas, craft cocktails, and amazing view overlooking Mirror Lake, and Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar, serving the area’s most expansive craft beer selection and specializing in house-made charcuterie.
Where to Stay Lake Placid Lodge
Sip Through Southern Florida’s Craft Beverage Scene [Delray Beach, FL]
Now in its seventh year, the Delray Craft Beer Fest boasts more alcoholic diversity than ever: More than 100 varieties of local craft beer, wine, and ciders, converge in 54 tents within Old School Square, including cult favorites Funky Buddha, Concrete Beach, Devour, Wynwood, J. Wakefield, and Saltwater (Delray Beach’s own craft microbrewery). Not only does your ticket get you unlimited beer samplings, but local restaurants are on hand to serve signature bar bites while guests play giant Jenga, jumbo beer pong, or jam out to the live deejay spinning tunes on the lawn facing Atlantic Avenue.
Where to Stay Delray Sands Resort
See a Rare Blooming Flower [Sarasota, FL]
Once a year, usually in late May or early June, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens hosts a special street watch party for the Selenicereus flower (a.k.a. Queen of the Night), actually a transplant from Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. So what’s so special about this flower – a type of blooming cactus, actually – and why do people make the pilgrimage to see it? Because, on a single evening each year, as twilight moves to night, spectacular blossoms open up all along the length of the plant’s sinister-looking vines – but only for a few brief hours. As dawn creeps in on the horizon, the petals close up and fall off. Definitely bring your camera for this one.