Whether you’re a history lover, food fanatic or adventure-seeker, there are so many ways Florida can steal your heart. So when Condé Nast Traveler asked me to curate a few of my favorite Florida experiences and places to stay for the magazine, I couldn’t wait to share what I love most about the Sunshine State.
Learn about the origins of the Sunshine State’s legendary hospitality with a genteel Old Florida-style stay in a historic hotel. In South Florida, The Breakers is the centerpiece of Palm Beach. Nearby, the quaint and charming Seminole Inn in Indiantown has been owned by the same family since 1926. On the Gulf Coast, enjoy the classic comforts and spectacular sea views of St. Petersburg’s beachfront Don CeSar, the iconic “Pink Palace” built in the 1920s, or settle in at the cozy St. George Inn or the Mediterranean-style Casa Monica after a horse-drawn carriage ride through the cobblestone streets of historic St. Augustine.
(Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach. Photo by Kara Franker)
From fresh seafood to ethnic eats to five-star indulgences, Florida cuisine is deliciously diverse—and a draw for foodies. In Tampa, savor Cuban specialties in the historic Ybor City district or enjoy an evening straight out of the Prohibition era with cocktails and dinner at Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club. Be sure to ask for the catch of the day at beachside restaurants all along Florida’s coastline. At Little Palm Island Resort and Spa, a secluded resort on Little Torch Key, you can have a romantic picnic on the beach enjoying a basket filled with baguettes, artisanal cheeses, and wine or take a seaplane to a private island for caviar and champagne.
(Photo by Little Palm Island Resort and Spa)
With unlimited options for fun, relaxation, and soaking up the sun, your love affair with Florida never has to end. Whether your passion is golf or shopping, the Turnberry Isle Miami resort has packages perfect for your interests. Charter a yacht at Capt. Anderson’s Marina in Panama City Beach to enjoy a day of fishing or dolphin-watching near Shell Island. On unspoiled Amelia Island, explore nature trails and go for sunrise horseback rides on the golden sand. Near Fort Myers, watch unbeatable sunsets from Lovers Key State Park’s beaches and bike over breezy causeways and through wildlife preserves.
(Photo by Amelia Island Tourist Development Council)
A bevy of mermaids put on an enchanting show in the clear spring waters at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, located just north of Tampa. Nature lovers should head to the nearby Plantation on Crystal River for its lush grounds, stately oaks and abundant wildlife—you can even swim with manatees in the warm springs.
(Photo by Plantation on Crystal River)
(Photo by Kara Franker)