Dive in to see a famous underwater landmark
To see some of Florida’s most famous landmarks, it’s best to get wet. That is the case with Christ of the Abyss, a 4,000-pound bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ that stands in 25 feet of water off in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Almost 9 feet tall, the statue is one of three cast from a mold by an Italian sculptor Guido Galletti, and was given to Pennekamp in 1966.
The original “Il Christo Degli Abissi” statue was anchored in the Mediterranean Sea off Genoa, Italy, in 1954. The Underwater Society of America donated the Key Largo statue to the Florida State Park Service in 1961, in recognition of the conservation efforts involved in the creation of America’s first underwater park.
The bronze is sometimes called “Touchdown Jesus” because of the statue’s pose with arms outstretched like a referee after a football player scores. It’s lovely to view and swim around (the fish seem to enjoy it, too) but local captains warn divers to keep hands off. The warm prickly feeling those who touch it experience is fire coral — not a religious experience! For more information, visit www.pennekamp.com/dive/sites.htm.
Scare up spirits at a haunted lighthouse
Lighthouses make for fascinating tours and, apparently, ghosts are drawn to them, too. The Travel Channel and SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters,” along with a whole slew of clairvoyants and psychics, have called the Pensacola Lighthouse one of the most haunted in the country. Skeptics and believers alike are welcome to explore the topic for themselves during a ghost hunt in the 1869 Keeper’s Quarters. The tour includes a trek to the top of the lighthouse and a spectacular view of Pensacola Bay. The next ghost tour starts at 8 p.m. on July 20. For more details about various lighthouse tours, call 850-393-1561 or visit www.visitpensacola.com/node/411.
Kids Family Cook-off
The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa has launched a “For Kids, By Kids Family Cook-Off” recipe contest. Along with the debut of new and kid-approved menu items, the contest kicks off the second year of the resort’s For Kids, By Kids initiative, and continues its commitment to delivering healthier options for kids while they are traveling. The cook-off invites families to create and share a healthy breakfast recipe, along with a photo via Facebook, for a chance to win a vacation and a place on Hyatt’s Kids menu.
The menu is a part of Hyatt’s industry-leading philosophy — Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served. – promoting healthy people, a healthy planet and healthy communities. All items on the For Kids, By Kids menu were created by Hyatt’s food and beverage team and 12 year-old youth advocate and chef, Haile Thomas, who has cooked for First Lady Michelle Obama, and was integral in the conception and testing of dishes on the menu.
The resort is currently offering a special bed & breakfast promotion. Families planning a summer getaway can take advantage of the package, which includes suite accommodations, complimentary breakfast and late checkout. For more information, call 800-233-1234 or visit clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com.
A club with river views and a very clean history
Club Continental, a 27-acre resort on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, is postcard pretty, and a favorite getaway spot for Floridians and snowbirds traveling to and from the northeast. It is often the setting for weddings, too, and makes a great backdrop for photos with its arched windows, ivy-covered walls, formal gardens with hundreds of rose bushes, courtyards, multi-tiered barrel-tile roofs, fountains and fishponds.
Mira Rio, the estate’s main mansion, was built as the winter retirement home of Caleb Johnson, son of the founder of the Palmolive Soap Company. He and his wife, Elinor, commissioned an architectural firm in Milwaukee to design the Mediterranean structure, built in 1922.
The resort began in 1966 as a way for Caleb (Jon) Johnson Massee, grandson of the first owner, and his family to maintain the property. Seven tennis courts, a yacht basin with 85 slips protected by a breakwater, three swimming pools and 22 overnight guest rooms were added to the mix over the years. Guests can bunk upstairs in the Mira Rio, which has a restaurant on the first floor, or in the River Suites, which has pretty views of the St. Johns River. For reservations or more information, call 800-877-6070 or visitwww.clubcontinental.com.
‘Sea and Save’ on Las Olas
Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside Hotel and its newly opened Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille are teaming up to offer a ‘Sea and Save’ deal good through the end of July. With rates starting at $199 per night, guests will save 40 percent on rooms and dinner for two at downtown Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille. The eatery boasts an expansive raw bar serving East and West coast oysters, and a menu that changes regularly. Also on the menu — an extensive wine list, specialty cocktails and a popular snack — white-cheddar, jalapeno popcorn. For reservations or more information, call 800-325-3280 and ask for the “Sea and Save” package or www.riversidehotel.com.
Mary Thurwachter is a West Palm Beach freelance writer and founder/producer of INNsideFlorida.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.