Florida—Three Ways

Sure, warm weather and ocean views are practically a given when you visit the Sunshine State. But Florida also offers diverse destinations to suit any vacation mood.

City Sizzle

Known as a sexy, glamorous city getaway, Miami offers much to do for all visitors.

Architecture and history buffs will be familiar with Miami’s Art Deco district—thirty-some blocks of preserved 1920s– 1940s hotels and apartment buildings. Take a Miami Design Preservation League walking tour to learn about the district’s history and gaze at the candy-colored buildings. Duck Tours South Beach’s amphibious vehicles take you around South Beach and into Biscayne Bay and along Millionaire’s Row, where you’ll see the homes of Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and Shaquille O’Neal, among others.

Foodies should check out a Miami Culinary Tour of South Beach or Little Havana, which showcases Miami’s strong Cuban influence. Or check out new restaurants db Bistro Moderne (contemporary), Haven (contemporary, small plates) and Sustain Restaurant + Bar (featuring locally sourced goods).

Miami Beach, of course, is a must-see, with gorgeous, sandy shores for miles and beautiful bodies frolicking in the area’s ideal year-round temps. – SM

 

Easy, Breezy 

If you’re looking for an easy, relaxing, family-friendly vacation, the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area of Florida’s gulf coast is a great option.

Fly into Tampa or St. Pete-Clearwater and it’s a short ride to one of two-dozen small communities that dot the shoreline. Each features a plethora of hotel accommodations and condo rentals.

While bumming and water sporting on white, sandy beaches are mainstays, there are plenty of other activities within walking distance or a quick drive. The museum and art gallery scene is impressive, with offerings as diverse as artist Salvador Dali, early automobiles and, of course, marine centers and aquariums.

Shopping and dining options are endless. Johns Pass fishing village and boardwalk in Madeira Beach is packed with casual cafes, ice cream shops,  beach boutiques, fishing charters and more.

Fort De Soto Park is a popular natural area for hiking, biking, enjoying the unclaimed, pristine beaches, canoeing and kayaking, bird watching and more. Made up of five offshore keys, it’s a lovely spot to wile away an agenda-free day. – BN

 

Natural Retreat

Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway just a half hour northeast of Jacksonville, Amelia Island offers equal parts peaceful beach escape and eco adventure.

The island, thirteen miles long and two miles wide, is full of natural beauty and wildlife. And for environmentally focused accommodations, consider the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. A certified Green Lodging destination, as awarded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Plantation melds three and a half miles of open beach with a nature center, seven-plus miles of shaded trails and golf courses winding past the ocean, marshes and woods.

After watching the sunrise over breakfast in an oceanfront room, spend the morning kayaking through tall grasses in the 1,350-acre property’s scenic marshes—you’re sure to spot lots of birds. Perhaps the afternoon will include a guided nature tour or a bike ride pas Spanish moss–covered trees. Or maybe it’ll be a game of tennis, a visit to the spa, a yoga class, shopping or simple relaxation at one of the resort’s two pools. – KV

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