Betcha didn't know it's Florida State Parks Month.
Enjoy some fresh air at any one of the area's state parks on Saturday, May 17 — for free. This issue being Summer Guide, there's a gargantuan list of all the parks, so take your pick.
If you have a hard time motivating yourself to simply commune with nature, and are more apt to visit the great outdoors if there's an event tied to the occasion, consider the following:
The Eastern Surfing Association's Central Florida district holds the first contest of the summer season at Sebastian Inlet on May 17 and 18. The contest starts at 8 a.m., but heat times are subject to surf conditions. ESA, the largest amateur surfing association in the world, has more than 7,000 surfers in districts stretching from Maine to South Florida. And it's helped shape top professional surfers such as six-time world professional surfing champion Kelly Slater, who grew up in Cocoa Beach, Fla. And 2001 World Chapion C.J. Hobgood, who grew up in Satellite Beach, Fla., began his competitive career in the ESA's Central Florida district. Sebastian Inlet State Park is situated on the tips of two barrier islands — the Indian River Lagoon to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east — with Sebastian Inlet flowing in between. A little less than three hours away, the park is located at 9700 S. A1A, Melbourne Beach. For more info, visit www.surfesa.org or call 321-984-4852.
The Southwest Association of Mountainbike Pedalers (SWAMP) is holding one of its weekly rides at Alafia River State Park. Knowledgeable members of the SWAMP club lead riders in groups (divided by skill level) through this challenging, gorgeous single-track trail system. SWAMP created and manages the trails — trimming back branches and hoeing uneven terrain. Consequently the trails make for some of the finest mountain biking in Central Florida — with a rambling mix of technical turns, climbs, bumps and steep drops. The ride is from 8 p.m. to noon on Sunday, May 18. Riders need bring their bike (and it better have a front fork shock), helmet, a snack and plenty of water (at least two liters). Park admission is free. Alafia River State Park is located at 14502 C.R. 39 S., Lithia. For a trail map or more info, visit www.swampclub.org or call 813-689-5109.