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Florida makes a comeback??

February 18th, 2011 14 Comments

Every travel magazine I’ve read recently has featured Florida as THE domestic destination for 2011.

Hmm…

Is this new trend a result of Florida’s tourism department spending a lot on PR or are people really heading down to the peninsula for quality experiences?  You know, other than Disneyland and all-night raves.

Out of all of the articles I read, Conde Nast Traveler did the most thorough research to offer insider guides.

Click the links to find the articles:

The Best Hotels in South Beach

The Florida Keys by “Best” activity (biking, kayaking, turtles, etc)

The Forgotten Coast – “Old Florida”

Palm Beach v. West Palm Beach

Orlando, Not the city of just Disneyland

An Local’s Guide To Key West

Fort Lauderdale as a Hip Destination

Even though it’s warm here now, the beaches look so tempting! And I’m dying to see what the Versace mansion looks like (click south beach hotels).

Since it seems like everyone is heading down, do you have any favorite spots down there?  Share them in the comments so we can add it to our MUST-DO list when we make it down.  I’ll include mine there as well!

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  • I’ve been to Miami a few times, once last year, and I’ll say it’s not my favorite place to visit. I’m not big on all-night parties and many of the popular restaurants have their origin in NYC or LA.

    That being said, my FAVORITE Scarpetta (there’s one in TriBeCa and Las Vegas) is in the newly renovated Fountainbleu hotel. Amazing food and ambiance.

    The Delano was still rocking too. It’s classic Miami so you really should go. You can’t go wrong at the bar by the pool or the club downstairs, The Florida Room (started by Lenny Kravitz).

  • Amanda

    Missing from these FL articles is the Tampa Bay area so here’s quick guide! Favorite Tampa neighborhood is Ybor City (I have lots of recommendations for this area if anyone wants). Tampa restaurants: Ceviche, Mangroves, Bern’s. St Petersburg: Vinoy hotel for drinks on the veranda, Parkshore Grill for nice dinner, Fresco’s waterfront for more casual, Paciugo for coffee/the best gelato. Clearwater: Island Way Grill – not on the main drag of Clearwater Beach but avoid that anyway, so tourist-y.

    • Thanks for your input Heidi and Amanda.

      My Step-Mom goes to Tampa often to see her Mom and enjoys it. She also LOVES St. Pete, which seem to have a beautiful beach. I’ll have her write a comment too!

  • heidi

    We sometimes go to Key West for Christmas and we stay at Casa Marina resort – which I would recommend. However, the lattes are like $8 – which is crazy town. Also, I had a conference in Orlando and stayed at the Waldorf Astoria there and it was so much nicer than the Ritz – which is being sold in an auction….so that might be why. I think the “re-interest” in Florida is due to the fact that the economy sucks and people that were jetting off to the Caribbean have instead settled for the cheaper alternative which is Florida. Besides Palm Beach and some parts of Miami – lodging and stuff can be very inexpensive.

  • Whiskas

    St. Pete is amazing (shhh). It has this beachy, laid-back
    hipstery vibe. I actually just moved here from Williamsburg. Also,
    THE MANATEES. You can swim w. manatees. So rad! Also, Florida has
    way cool natural springs for swimming. Caladesi Island is one of my
    favorite beaches ever (and has been voted the best beach in the
    US).

  • I recently went to St. Pete and stayed at the Renaissance Vinoy (was there for a work conference) and I absolutely LOVED the old-world feel to the hotel. Not too far from beautiful beaches and the breathtaking Salvador Dali museum!

  • Sounds like St. Pete is the hidden gem! I just read about this trendy boutique hotel there in the NY times:
    http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/travel/30checkin-postcard.html?ref=travel

  • As a fellow native Texan myself (who lived in NYC for 11 years before moving to FL), let me tell you that Fort Lauderdale is the BEST. It has what Miami has to offer at cheaper prices. A great town for 20-30 somethings. Lots of culture, diversity, restaurants, nightlife. I can honestly say I rather enjoy living here now.

    • Wow, that’s quite a rec Amanda.

      With all of these glowing comments on Ft Lauderdale, I’ll have to make my way out there!

  • Vanessa

    Everyone seems to forget the Panhandle and the fact that
    there is a lot to explore north and west of Orlando. In particular
    the Emerald Cost with its beautiful waters and sugar white beaches.
    You’d probably enjoy the beaches in Destin and the resort towns
    along County Road 30A. The Digital Graffiti Festival in Alys Beach
    is also picking up more publicity and one of the coolest modern art
    festivals around.

    • My best friend’s family vacationed in Destin every summer in middle school and high school. They definitely enjoyed it.

  • Amanda

    Yes St Pete is great!

    Whiskas- Caladesi Island and Honeymoon island are about 5 mins from my parents house, my favorite beach too! Running on the causeway is my favorite. There’s also a great dog beach there if you have one.

  • Michel

    Mar, I have to assume you’re talking about MY family who
    went to Destin every summer in middle/high school. Correction – we
    went every summer for 16 years!! I had my first birthday in Destin,
    as a matter of fact! And yes, it’s the BEST. You won’t find
    prettier beaches in the US of A. Blue water, white sugar sand and
    beautiful sunsets. Can’t really comment on the restaurants or
    nightlife, since we stopped going before I had an appreciation for
    either. But if you’re looking for a kid-friendly spot to vacation
    with the fam, I’d HIGHLY recommend it!

  • Lonnie

    Destin proper is horribly crowded and over commercialized now. Highrise condos, huge cheesy restaurants and tourists everywhere. Skip it and head down to the beaches on highway 30A… Seaside, Grayton, Alys, Rosemary… you can’t go wrong.