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It wasn't the typical State Road 200

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

It wasn’t the typical State Road 200 Coalition meeting. Instead of county government or politics, members listened to a presentation of a lighter topic. Great places in Florida to take a walk – not long grueling hikes.

Lucy Beebe Tobias gave members an overview of things to explore and discover in the Sunshine State from her book, 50 Great Walks in Florida. Although she went on 80 walks, only 50 made the final cut. To gather firsthand research for the guide Tobias took 10 months to travel the state of Florida.

The 312-page book is broken-up into five geographic sections and shows sights such as botanical gardens, nature walks, wildlife, and a beach or wetlands to visit.

And each division will have what she calls a “surprise.” She used the example of the Florida panhandle town Monticello, which has gained notoriety as being “the most haunted town in the south.” Or taking a moonlight walk on Clearwater beach, instead of a daytime stroll, she also called a “surprise.”

The book, which was published in February, also tells readers if the walk is easy, moderate or hard. She adds details such as, handicap accessibly, whether pets are allowed or not at a specific attraction, restroom facilities and watering areas.

“This handy guide includes comprehensive locator maps, listings of trip essentials, and useful warnings about possible dangers such as poisonwood sap,” according to Amazon.com.

To give examples on walks she explored, Tobias gave a slideshow presentation which included glimpses of St. Augustine, Corkscrew Swamp, which is in Estero, Little Talbot Island State Park, Tallahassee, Miami and Sarasota.

At Corkscrew Swamp there are 800-year-old cypress trees and a boardwalk for guests to stroll on. Over at Little Talbot Island State Park, which is north of Jacksonville, is a sand dune walk. “The dunes are so big.”

While in St. Augustine, Tobias suggests walking instead of riding on a trolley. She said she likes that the town hasn’t changed. “They celebrate their past.” She recalled an Episcopal church in St. Augustine that has some over 250-year-old stained glass windows inside. “The colors are so vibrant,” she said.

Down in the Miami area, walkers can take a tour with the Art Deco Preservation League for $15.

For walkers who don’t want to leave Marion County, the retired Star-Banner environmental writer suggested five parks, which included Sholom Park and Rainbow Springs State Park.

After traveling the state of Florida for almost a year, Tobias said she cannot pick a favorite walk, each one is different.

After her presentation Ms. Tobias made her book available to interested Coalition members and signed copies for those who purchased 50 Great Walks in Florida.

The cost is $ 24.95, and can be found at online at Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.