Get to Know the Atlantic Coast
Sometimes, the toughest part of planning a vacation is deciding where to go! You may know that you want to get away from any hustle and bustle, but to where should you escape? The family may want to go on a kayaking adventure, but from where should this adventure be launched? You want to have it all by visiting a museum during the day and hitting the clubs at night, but is that possible? Yes, yes it is. We can answer all of your questions by giving you the lowdown on the Atlantic Coast.
What it’s known for: With lush natural foliage, a charming downtown, and serene beaches, Amelia Island is a quintessential island getaway. Sitting near the very top of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, it holds all of the grace of the Old South as well as the tropical lifestyle of the Sunshine State. Downtown Fernandina Beach offers everything you’d expect from a historic island town: beautiful architecture, lots of unique shops, restaurants, and cafes, and gorgeous homes that often date back to Victorian times.
What to see and do: The natural beauty of northern Florida is wildly evident in the landscapes of Amelia Island, particularly at Fort Clinch State Park. Located at the northern end of the island, the park is the location of what was once a vital fort during the Civil War. Visitors can explore the fort’s many rooms, galleries and grounds and experience unparalleled living history programs as they learn about the life of a Union soldier. And on the first weekend of every month, a soldier garrison fires cannons and demonstrates other battlefield skills. But the historic fort is only one aspect of this diverse 1,400-acre park. Maritime hammocks with massive arching live oaks provide a striking backdrop for hiking and biking on the park’s many trails. The park is known for its gopher tortoises, painting buntings, and several other species of wildlife. Camping, fishing, shelling and shark-tooth hunting are also popular activities. Kayaking around this area is a great way to see nature from the water - and Amelia Adventures is ready to equip you! Not only do they offer kayak rentals and tours, but they also want to help you plan out your excursion to make the most of your time on the water. floridastateparks.org/fortclinch; ameliaadventures.com
Where to stay: The Historic District of Fernandina Beach offers several beautiful bed and breakfasts, converted from the area’s gorgeous Victorian Mansions. A particular favorite is The Hoyt House, an adults-only, luxury getaway where the guest rooms have been thoughtfully decorated to evoke the sense of Victorian glamour, each with their own thermostat for your specific comfort and all with private bathrooms. Visit the inn’s Amelia Lounge, a complete English Pub with a variety of libations, which can also be served to you beside the glimmering pool. Breakfast will fill you up for your day of explorations; this three-course, extravagant meal is a culinary delight. The Hoyt House also offers several delightful package deals, from romantic experiences to culinary tours and even seasonal dinners served at the mansion. Don’t forget, you’re also just steps away from all of downtown’s offerings.
What it’s known for: Dubbed “The Nation’s Oldest City” thanks to Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the area in 1513 and the city’s founding by Pedro Melendez in 1565, St. Augustine is like a living, vibrant history book that beckons you to walk through its pages. The city’s narrative reached another important point in the 1800s due to the reign of railroad entrepreneur Henry Flagler, and celebrated its 400th birthday back in 1965. Now packed with stunning architecture, fascinating historic sites, fantastic shopping and dining, and of course offering stunning beaches, St. Augustine is a true Florida gem.
What to see and do: There are far too many historic sites to see in one sitting, and perhaps too many to see in one trip - but the best way to get the most out of this historic city’s landmarks is to take a guided tour. Old Town Trolley Tours is a favorite method of touring, taking you around the city in an open-air trolley while a guide gives you the scoop on your surroundings. You can disembark at many of the landmarks visited by the trolley, including The Old Jail, Spanish Quarter, and Castillo de San Marcos. There are also specialty tours offered throughout the year, like ghost tours! Throughout the city, there are costumed interpreters to guide your through historic sites, immersing you completely in the historic experience. If you want to immerse yourself even further, we recommend you step aboard The Black Raven Adventures, where you will be transformed into a buccaneer! The Black Raven was designed and built to be a floating performance stage, and the talented crew of buccaneer lads and lasses engage with the audience as they present their live, unscripted show on all things pirate. Black Raven Adventures offers several different touring options, including a Treasure Hunt for all ages, Rum Runners for adults 21+ (yes, there really will be rum), and a Birthday Adventure.
Where to stay: From the downtown to the beaches, there are quite a variety of accommodations to suit your fancy. Speaking of fancy, right in the heart of the Historic District you will find The Collector Luxury Inn and Gardens, one of the fanciest - and most unique - accommodations in the city. This beautifully-appointed 30-room luxury inn combines modern amenities, upscale services, and the charm of a bed and breakfast for accommodations unlike any other in the city. Located at the site of the former Dow Museum of Historic Houses, this inn occupies a notable St. Augustine landmark which includes nine historic structures dating back as early as 1790. The Collector's expansive courtyard connects the property's buildings along meandering paths of manicured gardens, elegant statues, and soothing fountains. Brick-paved pathways and alcoves complement The Collector's romantic ambience. Each room boasts unique historic features, such as refurbished hardwood floors and coquina walls, and some suites feature separate living areas, outdoor verandas, and fireplaces. Venture to the open-air bar, heated outdoor pool, or restored amphitheater, and take advantage of being within walking distance of shops, eateries, and historic sites.
What it’s known for: One of Florida’s most recognizable vacation destinations, Daytona Beach combines speed and sun to banish your blues and get you excited about making memories! Its soft, sandy beach is one of the world’s most famous, although you’d be remiss to spend all your time there (not that we could blame you). In addition to its famous racetrack, Daytona also offers lots of arts and culture to consume!
What to see and do: Once you’ve torn yourself away from the beauty of the beach, you will be rewarded with a plethora of places to explore. And we cannot let you go to Daytona without urging you to visit the Daytona International Speedway. Whether you’re a racing fan or not, this is an impressive arena that has held numerous historic races throughout its lifetime; you can practically feel the energy of the roaring engines and cheering crowds as you enter the Speedway. Take a 30-minute, All Access or VIP Speedway Track Tour and discover what makes Daytona International Speedway the World Center of Racing. While there, visit the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, too! It honors racing in all its forms, and is a fun, colorful and exciting exhibit the whole family will admire. The best part? It’s included in your tour admission! The Speedway itself has recently undergone a massive $400 million renovation, and has also gained a new neighbor: ONE DAYTONA, a lifestyle and entertainment center. ONE DAYTONA also features a vibrant blend of dining, shopping, and entertainment, combined with thoughtful architecture and layout as well as public art like colorful murals. Their Victory Circle features weekly entertainment, post-race parties, and a professional fountain show. The center even offers accommodations for those who want to stay close to the action daytonainternationalspeedway.com; onedaytona.com
Where to stay: The breathtaking beach views of Daytona make an excellent backdrop for your vacation stay when you choose accommodations on the water. Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort is one such choice, where understated yet elegant rooms overlook the Atlantic waves, and spacious beach cabanas make you feel like a real V.I.P. Kids can be kids at the D-Dawgs Kidzone, with video games, arts and crafts, and indoor/outdoor activities (and a chance for a parents’ night out thanks to child-minding services). Speaking of services, you will definitely enjoy the room service and the in-room amenities, including optional fruits, cheeses, chocolate-covered strawberries, and more. If you want to venture out of your room, there are onsite oceanfront bars and restaurants infused with local flavors of surf-and-turf and other delicious fares. Take advantage of one of their incredible packages to get you the most out of your stay.
What it’s known for: Ironically, Martin County is best known for being, well, not so well-known. As one of Florida’s hidden gems, this area has been able to preserve its natural beauty and slow-paced way of life. Its quiet beaches, charming small towns, and lush tropical foliage make it a favorite for those who love to go on scenic drives; and its rivers, inlets, and lagoons make it a top choice for those who enjoy scenic paddles.
What to see and do: You cannot visit this area without going on an eco-tour. This is one of the greatest places on Earth to learn about the importance of conservation and to see some of the purest, “realest” wild areas in the U.S. Sunshine Wildlife Tours takes you on a wild excursion aboard the Sirenia, a 35’ pontoon boat with seats in the shade, and even restrooms. Enjoy close up views of Bottlenose Dolphins, Manatees, Sea Turtles and a vast array of endangered and threatened bird species and their rookeries, and a visit to Bird Island on every tour. Zeke’s Surf, Skate, and Paddleboarding Tours put an active twist on the typical nature tour, getting you out on the water while you learn about wildlife. You can also choose a sunrise or sunset excursion to add a little extra magic!
Where to stay: Throughout the county, you will find unique accommodations that really pack on the charm. One such place is the Historic Seminole Inn, which welcomes you to enjoy Florida “the way it used to be.” Located in Indiantown, the inn was built in 1926 and completely renovated in the summer of 2018, with guest rooms offering tasteful furnishings combined with original art, painted murals and historic photographs. Their eateries, The Fox Grape Cafe and The Windsor Room, both offer mouth-watering dishes that satisfy. Visit the inn’s own farm, The Farm at Fox Brown, where you can ride cracker horses or pet farm animals. The gorgeous setting is an excellent backdrop for weddings, and the fruits of the farm provide the ingredients for the inn’s restaurant dishes.
The Palm Beaches
What it’s known for: The Palm Beaches have been a luxurious vacation destination for many decades, and while offering respect to the past, they are always perfecting the present. Of course, no matter the popular travel trend of the day, it is always the beaches that draw visitors: nearly 30 tropical beach parks span 47 miles along the Atlantic Ocean, from Jupiter Beach to Boca Raton, and you could literally choose a beach based on your mood. Venturing away from the beach, the shopping here is top-drawer (pun intended), and the rising trend of including your pet on your trip is widely serviced by pet-friendly restaurants and hotels, as well as pet spas and plenty of dog-friendly parks and beaches.
What to see and do: The cultural offerings of this area are endless, from sensational seasonal festivals, to museums and theaters, to science centers and botanical gardens. Walk amongst the exotic blooms of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. While it may come as a surprise, you will discover here the century-old connection between Japan and South Florida, beginning when a group of young Japanese farmers created a community in the area. At Morikami, you will be presented with Japanese cultural experiences that include the museum’s exhibitions rooms, surrounding an open-air courtyard, which chronicles the Yamato Colony farmers. The Morikami Collections house more than 7,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, including a 500-piece collection of tea ceremony items, more than 200 textile pieces and fine art acquisitions. The 16 acres that surround Morikami’s two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, our world-class bonsai collection and lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife. The wider 200-acre park features nature trails, pine forests and picnic areas. For another enriching cultural experience, visit the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The museum serves as the official art museum, as well as the cultural heart, of the city. The Museum in Mizner Park, The Art School in its historic home on Palmetto Park Road, and its Artists’ Guild, together form an expanded creative campus that generates an immersive experience. You will find many thought-provoking exhibits, including “Excuse Me!?!…I’m Looking for the ‘Fountain of Youth’” (through March 24th) which examines aging from the perspective of artist Michael Smith’s character “Mike.” Also through March 24th, “Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State” is a major anthology of art made in and inspired by Florida and its people, places, flora, and fauna. In addition to its exhibitions, the museum offers events throughout the year that engage all ages. morikami.org; bocamuseum.org
Where to stay: Posh pets and their parents cannot pass up a stay at Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, a beautifully contemporary oceanfront accommodation that leads way to a private white-sand beach and features panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. They provide boutique rooms and suites, two delightful onsite restaurants, a dazzling swimming pool, and a world-class spa. And, of course, there is the best part: they are pet-friendly, allowing up to two dogs per room for an extra fee (service animals, however, are always welcome free of charge). Now you and your pup can live in luxury!
Miami and the Beaches
What it’s known for: Recognized around the world as one of the hottest vacation spots, Miami offers something for everyone: sunny beaches, flavorful eateries, trendy nightlife, plush hotels, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Shopping opportunities abound in sprawling malls, unique specialty shops, and neighborhood family-owned stores. There are endless water activities, from boating and fishing to Jet-Skiing and parasailing. Festivals and events are a constant, from huge art fairs to intimate musical performances. Whatever you may choose to do, you can do it in Miami.
What to see and do: Do not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of Miami’s offerings; instead, use the first day of your trip to take a tour of the city and get a feel for the kinds of places that you want to visit. Miami Tour Company offer half and full day tours of the city aboard an air-conditioned bus complete with luggage storage and in-seat cell phone chargers! There are several tour options, with add-ons like lunch or attraction tickets, and they also include plenty of perks with your tour price. Take advantage of their special offers and savings, whether you’re a family, senior, or even a single rider. If you want to venture outside the city, they have plenty of excursions to the Everglades, the Keys, and more. While touring the city during the day is great, you can’t forget that Miami is also known for its nightlife - so, if you like to heat up the night by hitting the hottest clubs, bars, and lounges, you should check out a tour service like Miami Beach Party Tours. Live like a VIP when you travel with this tour company, where you can get into the clubs without the typical long wait and where event planners help you organize the night to get you into the best places. This is an especially great service for group vacations, like a guys’ weekend or a bachelorette party.
Where to stay: The neighborhood of Brickell, surrounding the busy Brickell Avenue, has risen in trendiness the past few years as its prime location just off of the highway, adjacent to downtown, and right on the water culminates in the ideal place to stay, and the hotels here have taken advantage of the trend. One of the most stylish hotels in the area is the SLS Brickell, with an exterior looks like a colorful art piece, and which boasts designs by Philippe Starck and amenities by Ciel Spa. Guest rooms feature clean lines and immaculate decor with contemporary furnishings, minibars, and rainfall showers that make it easy to relax. Two award-winning chefs bring their talent to SLS Brickell with Bazaar Mar by Chef José Andrés, and Fi'lia by Chef Michael Schwartz. uests can indulge in a full menu of services from Ciel Spa and enjoy full access to a state-of-the-art fitness center. You will also be within walking distance of all of Brickell’s offerings, and a short drive in any direction to Miami’s best attractions.
More of Florida’s Atlantic Coast
Beacher’s Lodge Oceanfront Suites
Beacher’s Lodge Oceanfront Suites is a unique, all-suite condo hotel that sits on the shores of Crescent Beach in St. Augustine. Discover ultimate beachfront relaxation when you choose an oceanfront suite, all of which feature a private balcony or patio facing the Atlantic Ocean. Perfect for families or groups, suites offer kitchenettes, dining and sitting areas, and private bedrooms. Hit the beach, swim in the oceanfront pool, or take a drive into St. Augustine’s downtown.
The Addison on Amelia
Experience the history and beauty of Amelia Island at The Addison, an elegant Florida bed and breakfast located in the seaside village of Fernandina Beach. The Addison features three antebellum-style buildings around a courtyard, surrounded by lush gardens and quiet pathways. Choose from 14 stylish guest rooms with private baths, luxurious linens, and some rooms offer private porches. Dig into a delicious, fresh-made breakfast each morning, and wine and appetizers at Happy Hour!
Fountain Beach Resort & Oasis Tiki Bar
Located on “The World’s Most Famous Beach,” otherwise known as Daytona, Fountain Beach Resort is perfectly situated to help you make your beach vacation dreams a reality. The resort’s rooms offer private balconies with ocean views, and their one-bedroom suites are spacious enough to suit your family. Relax at the seasonally-heated pool, or enjoy a drink and live entertainment at the Oasis Tiki Bar & Grill. Shops, restaurants, and Daytona attractions are minutes away.