Located on San Francisco Bay, Oakland is a major port city for the state of California. Featuring nearly 400,000 residents, Oakland serves as the county seat in Alameda County and is part of the region known to locals as the ‘East Bay’.
Vacation homes in Oakland provide an ideal climate for visitors twelve months of the year because the area possesses a lovely Mediterranean climate that features about 300 sunny days during an average year. This leaves only about 65 days for inclement weather, making Oakland a prime vacation spot for both Californians and for others who stream in from across the United States.
There is also much to do and see in Oakland. Lake Merritt, which is technically a large estuary located somewhat to the east of the downtown area, was actually the first place in the United States to be designated as a wildlife refuge. To this day, tourists can go to Lake Merritt to see a little haven of the original ecosystem of the area. Another popular site to visit is Jack London Square, named after the author who wrote such beloved and seminal works as White Fang and Call of the Wild. London once lived in Oakland and many of his works feature the local San Francisco area as a primary setting. The square is located on the waterfront, which also features businesses targeted to provide goods and services to those who are visiting Oakland.
Palatka may sound like it ought to be a place in Greece, but in actual fact it is a city located in Putnam County, Florida. A small town, the population consists of fewer than 15,000 permanent residents, though the surrounding local area boasts almost 75,000. In its region, Palatka is the most important city, and it is here that important Florida institutions such as St. Johns River State College are located. For tourists heading toward their Palatka holiday rental homes, however, a bigger draw is the schedule of local festivals, which includes the Blue Crab Festival and the Florida Azalea Festival.
The Florida Azalea Festival
This is an event not to be missed by flower lovers or nature enthusiasts. The festival dates as far back as the 1920s and in fact is one of the oldest festivals in Florida. It is no accident that the festival takes place each year during the first weekend in the month of March; this is when the azaleas begin to bloom.
The main venue for festival activities is downtown Palatka, but the nearby Ravine Gardens State Park also welcomes many visitors at this time since there are a great many azaleas growing in the park. Activities during the festival include an arts and crafts show featuring booths put on by local residents as well as fellow visitors to the festival, entertainment, and vendors selling their wares out of historic residences on Lemon Street in Palatka.
The festival also offers visitors a chance to see a beauty pageant and participate in a golf tournament.
Ozello is a community located in Citrus County, Florida. It lacks the formal status of a city, because it is situated on unincorporated county land, but this adds rather than detracts from one of its great charms, which is the Ozello Trail. Contrary to its name, this winding roadway is not precisely a nature trail since it is paved and popular with motorcycle riders as well as nature enthusiasts. However, it does offer outstanding wildlife scenery and is one of the major reasons why Ozello vacation homes are popular with tourists traveling to the northern Gulf Coast of Florida.
The Ozello Trail
Technically, Ozello is made up of several keys, or islands, which are connected by C.R. 494, also known as the Ozello Trail. This twisting road is unique among roads in Citrus County. There are steep turns and curves as well as unexpected dips, making driving along the road somewhat akin to riding in a roller coaster. Two things are certain: drivers need to pay attention every second, and it will be a driving adventure they never forget.
The road is two lanes and connects Ozello to U.S. Highway 19, but its true attraction is not the final destination drivers reach, but the drive itself. Meandering along the Gulf Coast, the road features tides lapping right up to the edge of the pavement in places. In some senses, it is like a nature trail on steroids since rolling down the car windows will give drivers and passengers alike the chance to watch fish and sometimes even dolphins leaping out of the Gulf waters while the car speeds along.
Ormond Beach is located in Volusia County in the state of Florida. A medium-sized city, Ormond Beach boasts fewer than 40,000 permanent residents and is located just north of its famous racecar-circuit neighbor, Daytona Beach. This places it along the upper half of the Atlantic coastline of Florida.
Tomoka State Park
One of the outstanding attractions that draws people to stay in Ormond Beach vacation rentals is Tomoka State Park, which occupies 1800 acres and is situated alongside the Tomoka River. This places it three miles north of Ormond Beach proper, making it an ideal destination for a day trip or even a morning or afternoon activity since travel time is negligible. However, there is definitely enough to do in the state park to keep tourists occupied all day long!
Wildlife watching is a major activity for park visitors. Tourists who are quiet and patient can expect to see a variety of native fauna including birds of prey such as the Northern Harrier, the Peregrine Falcon, and the Bald Eagle. Other birds are more commonly seen wading in the river eddies; these include wood storks and herons as well as egrets and the beautiful white ibis. Apart from birds, West Indian Manatees, a marine mammal, and American alligators can be seen in Tomoka State Park.
Although a state park since just after World War II, the parklands have actually been significant for far longer; the site was inhabited by Native Americans a thousand years earlier. In recognition of this, Nocoroco, a Timucuan village in the park, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Orlando is the number one tourist destination in the state of Florida, attracting almost 50 million tourists every year. Most of them arrive by plane, making Orlando International Airport the thirteenth busiest metropolitan airport in the nation – it is even among the top 30 busiest airports in the world. All of these tourists arrive in Orlando for very good reason, since this city of almost a quarter-million people is the home of major theme park venues. These include the Walt Disney World Resort, which itself encompasses several amusement parks: the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Adventure, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
More than Disney
Although Disney is without a doubt the single most famous attraction in Orlando, and most likely all of Florida, there are plenty of other reasons for visitors to book days or even weeks in Orlando holiday homes. Sea World is one such reason. Here, visitors can learn about sea and other aquatic life by visiting habitats suitable for species as diverse as sharks, dolphins, killer whales, sea turtles, and penguins. Many of the animals are also trained performers who put on several shows daily, with each show designed to teach visitors about the natural behavior of the animal, as well as promote healthy fishing practices and other issues related to conservation and environmentalism.
Tourists most interested in the American alligator should try nearby Gatorland, and for those who want to get wet themselves, there are water parks such as Wet ‘n Wild.