The 2nd Annual Summer Hot List

Swimmers and non-swimmers of all ages can interact with the manatees that live and feed near the headwaters of the Crystal River.

John Moran
Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 10:04 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 10:04 a.m.

As the temperatures rise, there's always the temptation to find a shady spot and simply chill until the sultry weather passes. But summer was made for fun — at least according to every song that ever made the Top 40 charts — so rather than just wait it out, we say let's embrace every steamy moment of it.

To that end, we present you with your very own Summer Hot List — a guide to the best of the season.

Cheap thrills

With these eight offerings you can go mild (a gentle swim with the manatees) or wild (alligator wrestling anyone?)

Whether you seek adventure underwater, on land or in the skies, adrenaline rushes are a short drive away.

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Hidden wonders

Ready for a quick — and close — getaway? Try these secret — and not so secret — day trips.

Avoid the crowds and theme parks this summer — Florida has more to offer than roller coasters and overcrowded beaches. These day trips are designed to get you out of your comfort zone and back, all within a day.

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On the trail of "La Florida"

Viva La Florida: Hot on the trail of 500 years of Spanish Colonial history.

This year, Florida celebrates a significant historical milestone, the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's arrival on the state's east coast.

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Southern comfort food

Southern comfort for the soul: Five spots that dish up a taste of the South.

We each have our own definition of comfort food. In the South, it usually involves dishes like Grandma used to make: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, great biscuits. When Grandma's not available, there are a number of spots within a day trip from Gainesville to refuel the tummy and refresh the soul.

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Cooling off

The rules of Keeping Cool: Beaches, springs and pools hold the key.

Nothing revives you from the Florida summer heat as quickly as a quick dip in cool waters. Luckily, nearby we have a large variety of options from which to choose. Here's a list of some of the best beaches, springs and pools in and around Gainesville to help you plan your next escape from the intense summer heat.

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After dark

When the sun goes down, it's time to venture forth and check out the entertainment.

Zip through the sky, dive in the dark, watch movies under the stars and enjoy the sounds of summer.

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Just for kids

The never-bored zone: Activities to keep your kids happy and occupied.

It's hot, it's sticky and you're tired of hearing your kids say “I'm bored!” What should you do? A plethora of kid-friendly indoor and outdoor activities exists, if you know where to look. It can be a short visit to the newest bounce house extravaganza at Bouncin' Big, or exploring rocket technology with the experts at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, or taking a short day trip to cool off at the Blue Springs Water Park in nearby High Springs.

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Finding your creative spark

Imagine that! 11 ways to expand your mind and unleash hidden talents.

There's something about the summer that makes it perfect for learning something new. Perhaps it comes from our childhood memories of picking up skills at summer camp. Or maybe it's just the long stretch of sunshine that makes it possible to daydream and create.

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Discovering your inner athlete

Unlocking your inner athlete: Where to take lessons in what you've always wanted to learn.

While it may be too late to become the next Michael Phelps or Michelle Wie, it's never too late to pick up a fun new sport or hobby. If you've ever dreamed about being a scratch golfer,

an award-winning swimmer or a champion ballroom dancer, chances are there is a certified teacher here in Gainesville who can help.

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