by Morgan Jenkins | February 26, 2018

Things To Do In Florida: The Tide Spring 2018

Road-trip-worthy events and things to do in Florida



Tallahassee Film Festival organizers in character on the red carpet. Photography by Ashley Earles


March 23–25

Play the film critic and brush shoulders with top movie industry professionals at exclusive screenings during the Tallahassee Film Festival, back for its 10th year with better movies, celebrity guests and more talent than ever. Previous attendees include Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and Joe Swanburg, director of the indie-acclaimed Drinking Buddies. Enjoy premieres from rising filmmakers, Q&A sessions and fare from Tally food trucks. Following Friday’s opening night presentation, mingle with fellow moviegoers and entertainment insiders at the after-party at Proof Brewing Co.

John T. Edge. author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South will appear at Word of South. Photography by Jason Thrasher


April 13–15

This three-day celebration of words—written, spoken and belted out in song—unfurls on the state’s capital in an annual festival of music and literature rooted in the South. Cascades Park, a grassy knoll punctuated by the Tallahassee skyline, blossoms with national and local talent, with readings by such notable word smiths as songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, culinary penman John T. Edge, author and Flamingo columnist Diane Roberts, and Oxford American editor Eliza Borné. Tedeschi Trucks Band headlines this year’s musical lineup. Eateries, rare booksellers and artisans populate the festival grounds in the heart of town.

When and If is an 83’ Alden schooner, commissioned by General George S. Patton in 1939. Photography Sail When and If


April 12–15

Take a trip to an era in which iron-hulled giants owned the seas and much of the modern world remained unconquered. Four ancient ships sail from Galveston to New Orleans and finally into Pensacola as part of the first-ever Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast Series, a series of races and port festivals in the Gulf of Mexico. Walk the decks of six massive, seafaring ships, including the tripled-masted Elissa, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a trip on one of these magnificent crafts on a Sail Away tour or splurge on VIP Viewing Party tickets, featuring after-hours access, coastal bites from top local chefs, complimentary libations and live entertainment.

The anticipated oyster roast at Fish to Fork in Amelia Island; Photography Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort


Amelia Island
May 17–20

Six of the south’s best chefs battle on the water and on the grill for the right to boast the top toque at Fish to Fork, a weekend of outdoor pursuits and feasts hosted by Omni Amelia Island Plantation and Resort. Culinary masters like Waylon Rivers of Jacksonville’s Black Sheep and Joey Ward of Atlanta’s Gunshow duke it out to see who can turn the day’s catch into the most talked about dish. Adventurous foodies head out to sea with the chefs on Friday morning for an angling excursion in search of the evening’s main course: indigenous fish like flounder, snapper or black drum. The signature dinner unfolds Saturday night under the stars with an elaborate spread of Florida-inspired fare, culminating in a vote for the guests’ favorite creation.


Top tastemakers gather for a weekend of refined eats and entertainment. Photography UNwineD


Panama City Beach
March 23–24

Some of the Panhandle’s top tastemakers gather for a weekend of refined eats and entertainment. The festival begins with the Biscuits & Jam kickoff party, promising comfort food like Southern-style lionfish bites from celebrity chef Matt Moore, a self-proclaimed “cast-iron enthusiast.” Then sway to a blend of ballads and up-tempo tunes by country crooner Cale Tyson. From there, grab a sunhat and roll into Saturday afternoon’s Grand Tasting to sample a prime selection of regional and international wines, spirits and aperitifs. Between bites, groove to pop-rock legends Los Colognes and the soulful St. Paul & The Broken Bones as they perform at Aaron Bessant Park’s palm tree–framed amphitheater.

The New York Yankees’ spring training facility in Tampa; Photography New York Yankees all rights reserved


February and March

For baseball fans, springtime embodies the promise of a new season, as Major League Baseball’s Grapefruit League takes up temporary residence at training facilities throughout the Sunshine State. Get up close and personal with MLB veterans and newcomers alike, from the World Series–winning Houston Astros to Florida’s own Tampa Bay Rays and the team everyone either loves or hates: the New York Yankees. The smaller regional stadiums provide a more intimate setting with unparalleled access to players as they engage in a month of practices and exhibition games. Cheer for high-profile Florida natives like Tim Tebow, who will train for a position with the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie.

The U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt demonstration team will return to perform at Melbourne after a seven year absence. Photography Melbourne Air and Space Show


March 24–25

Park a chair on the Orlando Melbourne International Airport lawn and take in the aeronautical acrobats at the Melbourne Air & Space Show. Hold your breath as the United States Special Operations Command “Para-Commandos” Parachute Team free-falls from the skies, demonstrating military techniques typically deployed during infiltration into enemy territory. The patriotism is palpable as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds blaze across the sky in Sunday’s grand finale. Pop in your ear plugs while the four-jet squad of A-10 Thunderbolts race in perfect formation for a routine composed of more than 40 breakneck maneuvers.


Spring Hill
March 2–4

Amidst the canopied trails and rolling waterways of Linda Pedersen Park, Swamp Fest fuses the rustic history of old Florida with the whimsical spirit of traditional folklore, making for one awesomely unconventional event. Ramble among attendees dressed as kelp-clad swamp creatures, wander through stalls of locally made goods and sink your teeth into edible novelties like “gator on a stick”—all in one eclectic place. Pick up homemade jams or an intricately carved cypress knee sculpture from the more than 100 local artisans on-site. Then head to the food trucks for carnival-style snacks. All the while, channel your best creature from the Black Lagoon, as the annual swamp monster costume contest is as cutthroat as they come.


Winter Park
March 16–18

Satisfy your creative side at one of the largest and most revered juried outdoor art shows in the United States. Get lost in rows upon rows of paintings, sculptures and other creations, ranging from the decorative to the disturbing, by more than 200 artists from across the globe. Explore an open-air gallery with the shops and restaurants of Winter Park’s charming cobblestone Park Avenue as the backdrop. Check out Lakeland ceramicist Beth Garcia’s brightly colored, carnivorous plant–inspired pottery, or painter Brian Murphy’s serene oil landscapes. Peruse works ranging from mixed media to metalworking to watercolor and everything in between.



March 4–10

Every spring, hundreds of the world’s best small-boat sailors hit the waters of Miami’s Biscayne Bay for a week of racing and revelry. More than 100 Stars-class vessels (23-foot racing keelboats for two people) vie for the prestigious Bacardi Cup. The invitational portion of the event brings about 40 J/70s (another class of small sailboats) on the water in an atmosphere that fuses cutthroat competition with unmatched skill and precision. The Bacardi family began the regatta in Cuba with Stars boats in 1927, and it has become one of the most coveted prizes in sailing. After the finish, toast the evening with a signature Bacardi cocktail as the sun sets and the boats fill the harbor at the iconic Coral Reef Yacht Club.

Fresh lobster dinner; Photography Marathon Seafood Festival


Marathon, Florida Keys
March 10–11

Some of the best seafood in the world comes from the blue-green waters of the Florida Keys. Meander through the culinary fair and pile up your plate with freshly caught morsels of butter-soaked Florida lobster, sweet stone crab, deep-fried mahi-mahi and more. Then grab a cold beer and drift through the village of more than 150 vendors from hammock makers to fishing outfitters to Key Largo painter Jessica Hessing, who specializes in coastal scenes. Top off the weekend with this year’s special Hurricane Irma Relief Concert, featuring Billboard Music Award–winning Latin artist Tito Puente Jr., and dance the balmy, breezy night away.

The Palm Beach International Boat Show features hundreds of yachts and megayachts. Photography by Forest Johnson


West Palm Beach
March 22–25

Attention, boat lovers: Head to the docks for a weekend of nautical eye candy sprawled throughout Palm Beach’s luxurious harbor. Wind through the maze of more than $1.2 billion worth of boats, gadgets and accessories. Get up close with everything from Hell’s Bay skiffs to Rybovich sport fishers, Hinckley picnic boats and 200-foot megayachts. Get off the docks and on the water in boat handling classes taught by a U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captain or veer slightly off course to take in the shops and restaurants of nearby Worth Avenue.

A conversation with actress and director Aisha Tyler at Sarasota Film Festival; Photography Sarasota Film Festival


April 13–22

This 10-day celebration presents an exclusive opportunity for indie film fans to mingle with top and rising filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals alike. Don your cocktail best and kick off the week with the annual opening night film and party, hosted by the Sarasota Opera House. Mingle with a slew of Hollywood’s elite while walking down the red carpet. Past guests have included A-listers such as Diane Lane, Stanley Tucci, Elisabeth Moss and Jason Momoa. Hobnob at the 20th anniversary celebration, and, between parties, head to the cinema for exclusive local film screenings, star-studded conversation series, and more.