When Miami hits high season, skip the buzz and take a breather at these Floridian weekend destinations.
In high season, Miami is full of lively attractions, but even the best of this southern party town can have you craving some down time. These nearby destinations make for ideal short getaways.
The town that rose to renown as a clichéd spring break destination—immortalized in 1960’s Where the Boys Are—is now a multi-faceted, forward-thinking destination. At The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, Chef Gavin Pera helms the sophisticated Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits, featuring craft beer sourced from thirteen South Florida breweries. For nightlife, hipsters seek out Kreepy Tiki Bar & Lounge, decorated with Tiki heads and given to such powerhouse drinks as a Mai Tai made with Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum.
On the drive from Miami to Islamorada, South Florida insiders know to stop at the wonderful Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier, dedicated to the rescue of injured wild birds and their eventual release into the wild. Once in town, sip an Islamorada Ale at the Islamorada Beer Company Brewery & Tasting Room. For dinner, try Oltremare Ristorante at Amara Cay Resort, featuring chef Dario Olivera’s Cracked Conch Francese. Throughout 2016, Cheeca Lodge & Spa is celebrating its 70th anniversary; just down the road, the Moorings Village & Spa remains one of the prettiest properties in the Keys, and an ideal spot for some rejuvenation.
In winter, the artsy and increasingly sophisticated island city offers everything from a monthly series of Historic House Tours to art exhibitions at The Studios of Key West. On the culinary front, the offerings range from the elegant Café Marquesa at the circa-1884 Marquesa Hotel to Spencer’s by the Sea, located at The Reach, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, and there are always lines for a table at Blue Heaven, where diners nosh outdoors on surprisingly gourmet fare while cats and chickens roam freely at their feet. (Other hotel options include the Gardens Hotel, a lush compound of cottages.)
The crown jewel on the Gulf of Mexico coast, Naples is full of interesting attractions, including the Naples Botanical Garden, featuring three new gardens and the Fogg Café. For fans of rare ghost orchids, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a must. The hotel and restaurant realm is another kind of delight here, from the Naples Grande Beach Resort to the recently renovated Edgewater Beach Hotel.
To learn the history of this old-line resort, visit the first-rate Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, set in the circa-1901 home of Palm Beach founder Henry Flagler. On the society hotel beat, the Colony Palm Beach is fresh from a $14 million dollar “re-imagining” by designer Carleton Varney. The hotel’s Polo Steaks & Seafood restaurant will make you feel you’re stepping into a classic club. At the oceanfront Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Josh Thomsen’s sophisticated Breeze Ocean Kitchen features such locally sourced dishes as Florida pink shrimp on skewers.
Tom Austin is based in Miami and covers the Florida beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @TomAustin__.