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Florida Flavors: Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos at Miami's Local House

Sample some of the authentic flavors of Florida with Rachelle Lucas — like the clean taste of blackened mahi mahi fish tacos at Local House in Miami. Fresh fish, pickled onions, spicy mayo, homemade guacamole and pico de gallo never had it so good. 

Florida Flavors: Lobster Tacos at Miami's Coyo

Sample some of the authentic flavors of Florida with Rachelle Lucas — like the lobster tacos at Coyo in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. Fresh veggies in a citrus slaw, ripe avocado, Florida lobster tails, hand-pressed tortillas, jalapeño aoli, pickled onion and cilantro come together for a treat your taste buds won't find anywhere else.

Florida Flavors: Pompano at Tampa's Ulele

Ulele (pronounced "you-lay-lee") celebrates the vibrant fusion of ingredients from Florida waters and land once home to many Native Americans, including the young princess Ulele. Expect intricately flavored, visually appealing dishes prepared on a barbacoa grill that measures 10 feet across. Here, we'll walk you through how Ulele's Florida Pompano is pan-seared, and served with a sun-dried tomato shallot cream and fried carrot ribbons.

Florida Flavors: Cuban Sandwiches at St. Petersburg's Bodega

New Yorkers George and Debbie Sayegh fell in love with St. Petersburg's Central Avenue when a comfortable and exciting nostalgia set in. For all their restaurants and culinary studies, and the countries and cities where they'd lived, this was the place that reminded them of their early Brooklyn days when the city boomed.

Bodega has a commitment to fresh, made-to-order food that can be tasted in every bite. Renowned for its relaxed ambiance and fresh juice bar, it's become a local favorite — especially the Cuban sandwich.

Cuban Sandwich Showdown: Miami or Tampa?

Tampa can lay claim to the original Cuban Sandwich, but with a population of more than 1 million Cuban residents, Miami believes it deserves to be considered the Cuban Sandwich Capital. You be the judge as we feature a Cuban Sandwich Showdown between Versailles restaurant of Miami and The Columbia in Ybor City. Produced by Scott Barnett.

Finding the Hidden Farm and Treehouse in the Heart of Miami

Hidden in the heart of the Little Haiti neighborhood in Miami, Earth N Us Farm is an urban oasis from the busy city life. Earth N Us Farm features a permaculture farm filled with tropical plants and fruits. Some of the residents includes emus, chickens and pigs. There's even a treehouse you can rent out on Airbnb.

The Great Barrier Reef is dying

The Great Barrier Reef is dying, and tourists from all over the world are rushing to see it while there's still time.

Nearly 70 percent of people who visited the reef in 2015 said they made the trip to Australia to witness its beauty before it's gone.

>> Read more trending stories  

Almost half of the reef's coral has vanished over the past three decades, thanks to warming ocean temperatures, invasive species and coastal development.

This year, the reef suffered the worst coral bleaching in recorded history. One study estimated over 90 percent of the reef has been affected. 

The Australian government thought the reef's dire state would drive tourists away, but it's done the opposite. That's great news for the multibillion-dollar tourism industry, but it could be bad news for the reef itself.

This phenomenon is called last-chance tourism, and it happens all the time at vanishing destinations, like the Maldives and Galapagos Islands.

Researchers fear it could make the reef's plight even worse. 

One of the study's authors wrote in The Conversation, "There's a vicious cycle at play here: tourists travel to see a destination before it disappears, but in so doing they contribute to its demise, either directly through on-site pressures or ... through greenhouse gas emissions."

But a reef scientist told Motherboard the impacts of tourism are actually "overwhelmingly positive."

"The greater the value of Great Barrier Reef tourism, the easier it is to justify government investment in reef management," said reef scientist Peter Mumby.

And the reef might already be seeing those positive effects. A new video from early September showed at least part of the reef has almost fully recovered from coral bleaching.

3-D printed gun, other odd weapons confiscated by TSA in August

The Transportation Safety Administration found some weird things at airport security checkpoints in August.

A review of the TSA’s blog posts for August shows a variety of strange weapons — in addition to more than 300 firearms — confiscated from travelers around the country.

The TSA posts weekly updates on its blog with details on how many firearms were confiscated at airport security checkpoints, if the firearm was loaded and if there was a round chambered.

» RELATED: TSA find record number of firearms in carry-ons in one week

But the blog posts also include information on other weapons, including knives, that have shown up in travelers’ carry-on luggage that week.

One August post included a photo of a cane that pulled apart to reveal a sword. It was “discovered in a traveler’s carry-on property” at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, according to the blog.

TSA screeners at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport in Charlottesville, Virginia, found a “batarang” — a nearly foot-long, sharp-edged, winged object inspired by Batman — in one person’s bag.

In each blog post, the TSA cautions travelers that they cannot carry firearms or ammunition onto a plane. Passengers found with firearms in their carry-ons could face a fine up to $11,000, a ticket and possibly jail time.

However, ammunition can be packed in a checked bag. Travelers also can transport firearms in checked bags, but the traveler first has to let the airline know they are checking a weapon, the TSA said.

Here are a few other items of note travelers tried to carry through security checkpoints last month:

• A firearm assembled with parts from a 3-D printer, found at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada. The TSA notes the gun, a revolver, was loaded with live ammunition.

• A knife concealed in a pill bottle, found at San Francisco International Airport in California.

• A throwing star, found at Billings Logan International Airport in Montana.

• A set of throwing knives, found at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.

• A machete, found at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Neighbors, church concerned with adult-only hotel set to be built

A developer’s plans to build an adults-only couples retreat hotel in Forsyth County, Georgia will move forward, despite concerns of neighbors.

An Ohio-based hotelier plans to open Belamere Suites on Antioch Road in Cumming sometime next year.

“We are concerned because it’s an adult-only hotel that’s designed for romantic getaways,” neighbor Paula Duncan told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “We think the location is causing us to stress.”

The hotel will sit just feet from the 150-year-old Antioch Baptist Church.

Pastor Travis Bridgeman told Petchenik he worries about the message the hotel’s business model sends to the community.

>> Read more trending stories  

“When people come to this location here, we know what’s on their mind,” he said.  “There’s better locations.  Build in an industrial location that doesn’t affect families, home life, and particularly a house of worship.”

Neighbors gathered more than 2,000 petitions opposing the project, but the petition won’t go to Forsyth County commissioners, because they won’t vote on it.

A county spokeswoman told Petchenik that the law doesn’t require commission approval on projects that are less than 5 acres. Because the land is already zoned commercial and the project will take up 4.72 acres, it won’t require commission vetting.

“The commissioners’ hands are basically tied,” said Duncan.  “They can’t stop it.”

Attorney Ethan Underwood told Petchenik his clients intend to be good neighbors.

“This hotel hosts everything from marriage encounters to church groups and they’re hoping to bring that great product to Forsyth County,” he said.  “It’s high-end, it’s on the up and up and we’re excited to have them in Forsyth County.”

Underwood said the hotel has already been successful in Ohio and the owner hopes to continue that success in Cumming.  He said construction could begin sometime next year.

Let a Local Show You How Locals Live

From dining to arts to sports, companies offer private tours and tips from local experts to cater to your interests

The idea took root when Sarah and Shawn Ward, a longtime marketer and entrepreneur respectively, were vacationing with friends in the Hamptons. They wanted to go to a club but it was sort of exclusive and there was a line. One of the friends they were with was much more connected in town; he had a few words with the doorman, who quickly whisked the group inside.

That’s when it occurred to them: how cool would it be if anyone could hangout with a local while traveling? It affords you dependable advice about local haunts and hidden gems overlooked by guidebooks and, if you work it right, access to places that might otherwise be exclusive and inaccessible. And with that, Gibby Road was formed.

“It’s not that you’re told where to go. You don't get a curated list of places to check out. It’s just a chance to go around with someone—whether you know the person or not—and it’s like having a friend of a friend who’s an expert," explains Sarah Ward. "There’s this idea of ‘come with me’ infused throughout the whole Gibby Road concept.”

The site went live in in August with more than 100 local “gibbies” in three states. The guides sign up, explain the experience they offer, and provide a bio and their contact information on the website so that you can get in touch with them directly while deciding on whether to hire them. Fees are variable and range between $5 and $250. But the coolest thing about the site—and others like it—is that each individual offers highly specified tours, usually around a particular theme. You can go on a food tour in Brooklyn or San Francisco for instance, but there’s plenty that are more eccentric featuring places and things you likely didn’t know were a thing. In Detroit, for instance, you can go on a music tour with a longtime Detriot dweller and music industry vet. In Joshua Tree, CA, there’s a “surreal” art crawl with a local film producer featuring little known installations in the desert and a visit to Junk Dadaist, an outdoor museum. )  In Palos Verdes, California, an adventure-loving ski instructor takes you to test drive a Tesla along the coast. Detroit’s every growing hipster haunts are the focus of a tour of the Motor City's increasingly vibrant Downtown

“Going local trend that everybody is obsessed with. You even hear it from hotels that say ‘don’t be a tourist, live like a local,’ but that’s just four walls and a bed,” says co-founder Rachel Harrison. “What really allows you to be a local is actually interacting with and spending time with locals.”

Gibby Road is very much a product of our time. After all, that “come with me” ethos that Ward describes is increasingly infused throughout most of the way we travel, from AirB&B to Uber and other rideshare services. In fact, thematic local-led tours are a growing trend. 

Viator is the elder statesman of destination tourism, having launched in Sydney in 1995. It’s a bit more slick and glossy than the newer indie start-ups, having been acquired by TripAdvisor in 2014. It’s a network of more than 3,000 tour operators around the planet and its site is available in ten languages.  Vestigo, which launched in 2015, focuses on outdoor activities, from yoga to hiking to mountain biking. It’s largely offered in Georgia, where it was founded, and surrounding states. 

Your Local Cousin is much broader in scope. Like Gibby Road, locals sign up to offer tourists tips and insight when they travel. There are over 1200 “cousins” in 250 cities in 110 countries. Unlike Gibby Road, it is not a marketplace for purchasing hours’ or days’ worth of time with a guide. (Many of its cousins are independent tour operators, though, so the connection could end up with the option of a private tour.) YLC's network of cousins is pretty broad and eccentric. There’s a fishing expert in Victoria Falls, Zambia, for instance, and an Olympic silver medalist in field hockey offering tips in Amsterdam, to name a few.

YLC’s services are communication-based, allowing you to pick someone’s brain and answer your specific questions. You can connect with a Cousin over text (20 questions for $15) or communicate through the YLC platform (3 questions for $10). Have a phone conversation with a local to help you plan your trip (30 minutes for $15), or get a custom designed itinerary for one to 11 days ($25 to $60) to use as a guide as you explore a city on your own.

“The best source of information is always a network of friends and family,” says co-founder Aarti Kanodia. “We have a family of 1200 locals who really help you explore the way you should. They're a way to get a deep dive in the city.” 

See More From Budget Travel:Park-to-Park Adventure: Glacier to YellowstoneAmerica's Greatest Walking ToursBest Foodie Cities in America

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