Florida Visit Recommendations


2017 REU Scholar suggestions related to making the most out of your time in South Florida:

Suggestions from scholars based on FAU’s Harbor Branch campus

  • Explore. I cannot stress this word enough there are so many cool places in South Florida that you will have access to. For example, on the weekends, I traveled to Boca Raton, Orlando, Miami, St. Augustine, and Key Largo…all driving distance from Fort Pierce (where I was). The beaches are incredible in Vero Beach (a destination for many surfers), and either Vero or Ft. Pierce have Friday Fests, which have a ton of music and food.
  • When I first heard that I was going to work at Harbor Branch away from the other interns, I was a little concerned intern-wise. However, there are about 20 other interns in another program that literally live in the same apartments and dorms, and we all became really close. We did everything together during the week and the weekends and we helped each other destress as we worked through our projects! We’re still friends to this day. So, make friends as soon as you get there!
  • The HBOI campus is beautiful. There are so many ponds and it’s right next to a channel where people do research. Look for the manatees and sharks, they’re always in the channel behind the cafeteria. Be wary of alligators though (but they really never leave the ponds). Also, it rains A LOT. Expect your beach plans to change last minute. Sometimes the interns would get caught outside in the rain walking home from work – so keep an umbrella on you at all times. Bring a backpack to work everyday that has your laptop, umbrella, water, and money for food (HBOI has a nice cafeteria but since we were really close to home, we would either run home to make food or meal prep and bring it).
  • IF YOU ARE NOT FROM FLORIDA ALREADY, BE WARY OF NO-SEE-UMS. These flies are like mini mosquitoes that attack you from all angles at any time of day. This past summer, the interns and I tried using bug spray, which mildly works. Just be careful after it rains because they are always worse when it’s humid. Since wearing long sleeved shirts and pants are out of the question during the summer, try different types of bug sprays, and keep your windows closed. The apartments have good air conditioning and fans.
  • I rented about 5-6 cars throughout the summer. FAU has a great discount for renting through Enterprise (even with me being 21) and it allowed me to travel to where I wanted to! Get some interns involved so that you can split the cost and make things even more affordable. Most trips were day/night trips, but look into AirBnB or motels for cheap accommodation. Sometimes I rented a car just to have it to do chores throughout the weekend. But during the week, you won’t need to worry about it, since work is about a ten minute walk from the apartments!
  • Go to Sebastian Inlet State Park. It is like $8 to get in but it is so cool.
  • I prefer any Vero Beach over the Fort Pierce Beaches any day. They seem to generally be cleaner, more fun, and more interesting.
  • Go to the Keys for a weekend! If you are in Harbor Branch, it is about a 4 hour drive. From Boca it is 2. I have never been to the Keys before and it was absolutely beautiful. You are already pretty far south in Florida so you might as well drive the rest of the way!
  • Loutina’s is way better than Nino’s and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • I ate at Captain’s Galley for breakfast probably 4 times a week. It absolutely delicious.
  • For students in Fort Pierce, Vero Beach and Avalon Beach are close by and beautiful.
  • In Fort Pierce, Winn Dixie is the closest decent grocery store and its location is good because Indrio Gym is in the same plaza.
  • Friday Fest in both Vero and Fort Pierce are fun events for you and the other interns to check out!

Suggestions from scholars based on FAU’s Boca Raton campus

  • Don’t miss out on Sloan’s Ice Cream in Mizner Park! The carrot cake flavor is out of this world.
  • Mizner Park has free concerts and movies on Friday nights throughout the summer. People go to enjoy the bands, eat food from local food trucks, and dance under the stars.
  • Check out Delray Beach’s 4th of July Festival! Delray is just north of Boca Raton. They have fun activities like rock climbing and soccer darts. The 2017 headliners included Aaron Carter and AJR. The fireworks display was huge. Plus the whole festival is free.
  • While planning a trip to Miami, South Beach wasn’t on my list of things to do. I said to the other interns “we have beaches here in Boca.” They convinced me we should see South Beach while we visited Miami and I am so glad they did. Don’t miss out on South Beach! The vibe is so energetic! It’s not like any other beach in the US.
  • Consider getting a gym membership at FAU. As an intern you can get a good rate. They have cardio machines, weights, basketball courts, a pool, and group classes. Many of the interns enjoyed playing basketball together. I loved going to the Zumba classes.
  • Go snorkeling by the Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach! You can rent equipment from a nearby scuba shop for less than $20. Be sure to check the tides before you go. There are maps online that have all of the underwater sights. There are lots of artificial reefs, a wrecked ship, and statues underwater. We got to see barracudas, starfish, crabs, and countless schools of fish when we went. It was unbelievable to see how many fish live right below the surface of the water. It is a whole other world under the water! I’ll never forget looking at some beautiful striped fish to my right and then turning my head to the left and seeing hundreds of fish swim by quickly together as a group.
  • Explore the rest of Florida. There is so much to see you won’t be able to do it all in your 10 weeks. I’d particularly suggest visiting Miami, the Keys, and the Kennedy Space Center. A group of interns went to the space center this summer and we had a blast. It was so cool to see the actual launch pads used by NASA.
  • Take advantage of all the weekends you have at FAU! You’ll be shocked at how fast they fly by. Try to plan out at least one exciting thing for each weekend.
  • Snorkeling/Diving is a must. There are many great places to try, but the ones that are really supposed to stand out are Blue Heron Bridge and Red Reef. Both of these can be accessed by Uber pretty easily (especially if split a couple ways) and equipment can be rented nearby. Make sure to pay attention to tides/wave conditions though.
  • Try to plan out at least one meaningful trip during your stay at FAU. We had several, including a trip to Miami, where we visited Little Havana, South Beach, and a Marlin’s game. It’s definitely a great idea to explore other areas than just Boca Raton/Harbor Branch.
  • Mizner Square in Boca Raton is a fun place to explore, and includes some cool places to eat. Sloan’s has the best ice cream I’ve ever had, and YardHouse has eight dollar burger nights on Tuesdays. They are worth the expense.
  • Have fun getting to know the other interns.
  • Go to Yardhouse on Tuesdays because they have specials on delicious burgers; make sure to order them medium-rare.
  • If you are over 21 go to Beer fest in West Palm
  • Go snorkeling anywhere
  • Beaches are a must, they are elegant, tranquil, and the water is at a nice temperature to take a dive in.
  • FAU’s recreational facility is a great place to go with your peers if you want to play pool or some pingpong.
  • FAU’s gym facility is a good place to energize yourself for your research and get the blood pumping to your brain.
  • The volleyball court within FAU’s apartment complex is a great bonding place amongst your REU team and ever so often you will see Dr. VanZwieten there with his legendary spike coming towards your face.
  • Canoli Kitchen is one of the best bang for your buck pizza joint, being down the street from FAU, it’s definitely a must try.
  • There is a multitude of snorkeling and dive location across South Florida. Blue Heron Bridge in Rivera Beach, FL. Red Reef Park Boca Raton, FL. South Inlet Park Boca Raton, FL. The Seatech campus also has a couple reefs right off the beach. They Florida Keys are just an hour an half south of Boca Raton. All dive locations are just a google search away.
  • There is a lot of nightlife in the Boca Raton and South Florida area. Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, South Beach and Brickell in Miami. The Florida Keys is a nice getaway location for a weekend.
  • The beaches are very nice in Boca Raton. South Inlet Park, Palmetto Road, Spanish River, Red Reef Park, Hillsboro Beach.
  • Things to do in Boca:
    • Nippers karaoke bar - open till 5am
    • O’Brians Irish pub – College Bar open till 2am with great, cheap pizza right next to it
    • Mizner Park - Fancy stores. Yardhouse is a great place to eat. Sloan’s ice cream is the best in Boca. They had a Beatles tribute on the stage by the art museum with food trucks and lots of people.
    • The Beer Tap – A college bar with weekly trivia and lots of food deals.
  • Riviera beach (30 mins north of Boca): Blue Heron - Snorkeling trail where they have put artificial reefs/sunken ship/hammerhead statue. Spent a couple of hours here and it was great!
  • Dania beach/SeaTech: 1) Jimbo’s sandbar by intra-coastal gives a beautiful view of mangroves and the intra-coastal and 2) Quarterdeck restaurant right over the beach has great seafood.

HBOI ocean fish