I target shop when I look for clothes. No time spent mulling over colors, collars, texture, and inseams. Go to men's shirts, find something blue, double-check neck sizing, look for a discount, grab two or three, head to the register. Five minutes max. It's a joy. 

When my wife and I vacation, she'll say, "I want to pick up something for the grandkids." This is code for "I want to go shopping for a couple of hours, look thoughtfully at 100 different unrelated things, pick things up and put things down, feel the texture, check the price, maybe buy something if it's on sale – or not." 

This never ends well for me. She’ll ask, "How will this look on me?" Or, "Do you think this makes me look fat?" And questions like, "Do you think this will go with that black cocktail dress I wore to that party we went to last year?" My memory is only one week long. Save me. 

So, I look for a bench under a tree. Smartphones were invented for this: to entertain spouses while their significant other shops. Even better if there's a pub or bar around the corner where I can watch hilarious YouTube videos in peace over a very cold beer, or as is currently my keto choice, a vodka and soda with lime.

The Avenue Viera just west of I-95 on Florida’s Space Coast is the perfect place for shopping, watching hilarious YouTube videos, or drinking beer or vodka soda. This is a modern, upscale, very millennial, open-air mall with a nice combination of local and national stores and restaurants. It is aggressively landscaped [my wife loves this] and has plenty of free parking [I love this]. There are plenty of places to shop, sit, enjoy a beverage, read an online book and people-watch. And, there is a Cold Stone Creamery near Pizza Gallery & Grill across from an Apple-style computer store adjacent to a restaurant with cold beer [a four-fer].

Now you're probably wondering how I'm going to make the connection between shopping, cones, and giraffes, and how do Space Dots fit into the picture? It is easier than you think.

Less than a mile from The Avenue Viera is the Brevard Zoo. I personally think the Brevard Zoo is an absolute Space Coast must-see. One of the tops in Florida. With over 125 species, you'll need at least half-a-day for your visit. Unlike other zoos you won’t walk for miles or wonder where the animals are hiding. You'll need your smartphone or a good lensed camera for photos and they have Space Dots (and why they don't call them Giraffe Dots?)

There's plenty to see:

  • Watch the Meerkats. Very devious. Ask a docent what happened when they were introduced to the zoo.
  • Hand feed the birds in the aviary.
  • Stand eyeball-to-eyeball with an 18-foot tall giraffe.
  • Admire alligators and crocodiles [from afar].
  • Check out monkeys and a Blue-tongued Skink [look it up].

Having been to zoos where animals are caged in tight, obscene spaces, Brevard Zoo takes care of their species in style. I always feel that I'm in a curated homo sapiens display, not the other way around.

There's more to see here than I can describe, and they're always adding new exhibits. If you haven't been there in a few years, a re-visit is recommended. If you've got kids or grandkids in-tow, they'll never be bored or disappointed. Be sure to wear walking shoes, a long sleeve sun shirt and a hat. The summer sun is fierce here. Again, if you've got a 'real' camera with a good lens, bring that too. 

The zoo's focus is conservation and education, so there's always an interesting program to attend or a featured exhibit. Be sure to check their website for events.

Fees & extras: Children under 3 are free, adults are under $20, and seniors under $19. Some of the attractions, like the TreeTop Trek zip lines or the Wildlife Encounters run extra, so check the Brevard Zoo website for additional pricing so you're not surprised at the gate.

And of course, there are plenty of benches to sit while you enjoy your giraffe dots.