Born and raised in Maitland and educated in public schools, he worked his way through Valencia Community College and the University of Central Florida as a Walt Disney World cast member and supplemented his income as a comedy writer and standup comedian. A passionate traveler since his teens, after graduation he backpacked across Europe; returning seven months later to embark on the first of many motorcycle tours of America. After earning an AA degree from Valencia, Gary earned his BA in Radio & TV Broadcast Communications from UCF.
As a freelance travel writer, he specialized in Florida destinations, with his stories published in newspapers, magazines, and travel guides across America and around the world. As VISIT FLORIDA’s ‘Off the Beaten Path Insider’, he continued to travel to the state’s rural counties and towns to celebrate Florida’s often overlooked people and places.
Prior to opening a bed and breakfast in Mount Dora with his wife, Nancy, the couple traveled across America on two wheels to research Gary’s book ‘Great American Motorcycle Tours’, which remains the nation’s best-selling motorcycle guidebook. Having “re-discovered” America, he embarked on another multi-year journey across the United States with the experience captured in National Geographic’s ‘USA 101’, a celebration of the nation’s most iconic places, events, and festivals. Through ‘motivational storytelling’, he shares tales of American courage, resilience, and our cultural heritage with audiences across the nation and at sea.
Certain that “to whom much is given, much is expected,” Gary is a course leader with WorldStrides, traveling to Washington, D.C. each spring to teach middle school students from across the nation the principles of government and their role in ensuring the success of our experiment in democracy. It was by sharing these very lessons that Gary was inspired to seek elected office.
Approved and paid for by Gary McKechnie, Democrat for Florida State Senate, District 12