Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Rediscovering My Inner Florida Girl.
At 18, I left my mom’s home to embark upon my young life’s journey. I was determined to get out of “boring” Tampa and see all the wonders of the world. I only made it about 4 hours away to Gainesville, Florida, which was just far enough to come home on weekends for a good meal and launder dirty clothes. My passion for travel was fueled further when the Navy shuffled us around to places like Panama and Germany. I honestly never thought I would want to slow down or even settle back in my home state of Florida. In my young eyes, Florida had giant oak trees with creepy hanging spanish moss, alligators, stucco houses with terra cotta roofs, pastry made with guava, dirty organic citrus hanging off the tree, and everything seemed the colors of soft pink and seafoam green. All the things I thought were tacky about Florida are all the reasons I’m falling in love again. Particularly South Florida.
8 Reasons I Adore South Florida:
Lush Tropical Foliage
My favorite tree is a Banyan. It reminds me of something Tarzan would swing from as he hollers through the jungle. They look prehistoric with giant roots growing like ribbons across the ground and roots that hang like ropes. Don't be surprised if you see an iguana or 3 hanging out above in the limbs. You will also find giant tropical plants like elephant ears, and wild orchids.
Visit: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Visit: Miami Beach Botanical Garden
Saturday Morning Farmers Market
Coconut Grove has the coolest little market on a corner lot under the trees. I have tasted some of the most interesting culturally diverse foods made by some equally interesting people. Different booths offer the opportunity to try fresh organic vegetarian, vegan, and raw cuisine choices.
Visit: Coconut Grove Farmers Market
Cuban Coffee and Pastry
I cant visit south Florida without at least one Cuban pastry. My favorites are the traditional flavors like Pastelitos Guayaba, a sweet Cuban puff pastry filled with guava. For more savory, I like the small crunchy cigar-shaped Jamon (ham) Croquetas. Community pride runs deep, and I have yet to ever walk into a Cuban cafe/restaurant and received a poor quality pastry. Even at a gas station!
Visit: El Carajo
Unexpected on the road:
Visit: Toms Cuban on the Go off 175 Exit 241 (HWY484)
With or without a pastry, you cant start the day without a Cuban coffee. Comparable to Italian espresso Cuban coffee is bold and vibrant, just served a bit differently. One way is to ask for a “colada,” and you will receive a four-ounce Styrofoam cup of hot, sweet Cuban coffee with thimble-sized plastic cups to take away and share. Learn the lingo. Visit: Cuban Coffee 101
Think HOT HAWT HAUT!
South Florida finds a balance between no care casual and Miami vice chic. I have witnesses t-shirts worn as dresses with flip-flops to decked out designer from head to toe. Since it’s always hot in Miami, people tend to wear a lot of shorts, bikinis, light summer dresses, and tank tops. You will also see backless dresses, mid-drift crop tops, and strappy sleeveless tops. There is always sweating happening, so Floridians like to allow the body to breathe and show off their sexy skin. Miami is hawt and alive with energy. It’s simple, dress to impress, especially if you are clubbing. Don, your favorite designer as Miami clubs, run a strict door policy, with guys expected to wear a button-down shirt, dress pants or dark jeans and shoes. No ripped jeans, shorts, polo shirts, T-shirts or sneakers are allowed.
If you find yourself in Palm Beach, a stroll down Worth Avenue is a must!
Visit: Worth Avenue Palm Beach
For a list of fancy shops from Brickell to South Beach.
Miami is one of those cities known for its nightlife that doesn’t get rolling until after I have snuggled into bed. Where to be depends on your preferred vibe. Enjoy charming 1920 architecture as you walk around Downtown Miami. Fancy hotel bars can be found in Brickell, while if you want to party hard and possibly rub elbow with celebrities than Collins Avenue in South Beach is the place for you. If your looking for something wide open and into the DJ scene than check out Club Space. Offering several levels for variety and Sunday mornings open for music worship, your sure to leave with a story...if you can remember!!
Visit: Club Space
Boats and Water.
On the water in the sunshine is my happy place. The fact Florida is surrounded by water opens up an abundance of boating and water sport opportunities. Not to mention Miami is the cruise capital of the world and the perfect place to launce for travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and beyond. If you’re not in Miami to embark with one of the major cruise companies, then consider chartering a yacht for the day or week. Call Jill~your preferred Charter Yacht Broker to find the perfect fit.
If you want a fun sunset cruise hop aboard Caribbean Spirit, the largest passenger catamaran in North America. Tell Adam; Jill sent you!
Visit: Enhanced Life Yacht & Travel
Visit: Tropical Sailing
Architecture & History
1920-1930s pastel-colored Tropical Art Deco buildings line the streets of Miami Beach. You can’t help but think about the days when Hollywood celebrities like Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, and Carole Lombard called Miami Beach their playground. The Art Deco Historic District is located on Miami Beach between 5th Street and 23rd Street, along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, and Washington Avenue.
Sign up for a tour.
Visit: Art Deco Visitors Center
I’m obsessed with the classic homes built using coral stone, which is no longer legal to use today. My all-time favorite place to wander through the gardens and fantasize about living is an old lavish home called Vizcaya. This gorgeous Italian Renaissance-style estate now open to the public was built for James Deering, of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune.
Visit: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens,
Two extraordinary hotels are the Biltmore Coral Gables, part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection, and The Breakers Palm Beach. If you are not staying at the Breakers, belly up to the Seafood bar, which is an aquarium bar overlooking the Atlantic. Two drinks will set you back enough to get you free parking. Worth the visit.
Visit: Biltmore Hotel
Visit: Leading Hotels of the World
Visit: The Breakers Palm Beach
I have fond summer memories swimming through caves and under waterfalls at Venetian Pool. This unique pool was constructed from a coral rock quarry in the 1920s and is filled with 8200,000 gallons of spring-fed water daily.
Visit: Venetian Pool Coral Gables
Art is all around from the nationally recognized graffiti Wynwood Walls to art events like Art Basel, Love Burn, and the Coconut Grove Art Festival attracting the most talented artist and groovy people from across the globe.
If urban graffiti art is your thing, visit Winwood Walls. This open art destination displays huge colorful murals and installations that stretch through several city blocks. Open to the public and free of charge.
Consider joining The Wynwood Art Walk held the second Saturday of each month when art, street performances, music, and a full lineup of food trucks come together for a night of fun and creativity 6-10 pm.
Visit: Winwood Walls
If you cant, make it to Nevada for Burning Man than consider Love Burn Miami, your opportunity to play with art and be groovy.
Art Basel, Pronounced Baah-sel, is a giant art fair originating in Basel Switzerland. Think rooms and rooms of modern and contemporary art from galleries, personal collections, and emerging artists. Sure to tantalize your creative mind.
Visit: Coconut Grove Art Festival
Visit: The Love Burn
Visit: Art Basel
I know I said 8 reasons but #9 is personal:
I have family and friends all over Florida from the North West Coast down to the farthest tip on the East Coast.So, when I visit it is not only beautiful scenery but relationship building and memory making with the people I LOVE!
Every trip to Florida is a learning experience which motivates me to visit more frequently!