So for the last year, I’ve been flying around Florida looking for some cool places to get away to, while enjoying my freedom of the skies. Florida is a pilots paradise as there are so many different and unique ways to experience this great state from the air. Here are just a couple of my favorites, not in any specific order, let me know where you like to fly in to.
Cedar Key, FL (KCDK)
The runway is a bit short with water at both ends, but the view is spectacular. There are no services here (i.e. fuel, FBO, maintenance, etc…) so if you are flying in, make sure you have enough fuel to get back or at least to the closest fuel stop. I can’t say she’s always working, but every time I’ve flown in for the last 20 years, there is a lady that will ask if you need a ride in to town over the CTAF. She use to drive an old 1940’s style taxi cab, but that has since been retired and now she drives a more reliable mini-van. The town wharf is reminiscent of the 1980’s movie “Popeye” with cool shops and restaurants that over look the water.
Venice, FL (KVNC)
The airport is right next to the Gulf beaches and the traffic pattern puts you right over the pier. The airport FBO has a local restaurant inside, but if you want the true fly-in Florida beach life experience, ask the FBO to call Sharky’s for a shuttle. They come and pick you up at the front door and take you right to the entrance to Sharky’s & Finn’s restaurant entrance. Walk through the corridor and your right on the beach. Spend the day on the beach or just sitting at the Tiki bar, either way, you’ll love the view. For that romantic dinner experience, fine dining at Finn’s upstairs has a large glass window (floor to ceiling) to watch the sun set over the Gulf water.
Vero Beach, FL (KVRB)
CJ Cannons is right next to the terminal with free aircraft parking and easy walk up. The food is great and the memorabilia throughout makes this a fun fly-in. If you have time to stay, you can catch a tour of the Piper Aircraft Factory twice a day (Morning and Afternoon), but you need to call ahead to reserve. They don’t like walk-ins. Just like all corporate trade secrets, leave your camera behind, as there are things you will see that they don’t want published.
Palm Coast, FL (aka Flagler Executive, KFIN)
For a quick bite to eat while out training or on a leisurely flight, High Jackers Restaurant is one of the greats. Taxi right up to the restaurant and walk through the gate and you’ll be immersed in a local tradition. Last time I was here, they had a festival going on right on the ramp in front of the restaurant. Great Food, Great People, Great Experience.
River Ranch, FL (aka Westgate River Ranch Resort, 2RR)
Just flying in for the Saturday night Rodeo or staying for the weekend, this place has it all. Small uncontrolled airport right next to all the resort amenities. We flew in and they shuttled us from my plane to hotel check in via a golf cart (the best way to navigate this large resort area). The family and I experienced everything from Shooting Skeet, to fishing, to zip lining, to riding a mechanical bull. Every Saturday night they have a large rodeo in the heart of the resort and all the locals come out to watch. Afterword, the kids have a DJ in the square while the adults get live entertainment just inside the saloon. If you’re looking for a more primitive lifestyle, there is an RV resort, or for that unique experience, you can rent a luxury tent or TP for true GLAMPING. All in all a great place to fly.
Although there are many, these are just a few of the coolest places I’ve flown in to this past year, I’d love to get your insight on experiences of flying in Florida. Leave me your comments below.