(Guest Post) Sunshine State Odyssey: Florida North to South
Once upon a time, the sunshine state – which belonged to Spain prior to 1821 – was all swamps and orange groves. But after super-wealthy society types began taking refuge from the icy blast of New York winters here in the 1870s, a boom time began. Later, with the advent of air-conditioning, it became a bona fide resort state. Club Med Florida holidays will give you the opportunity to discover all this sun-drenched place has to offer, from the riverside urbanity of Jacksonville in the north to the tranquillity of Key West off the southern coast.
The state’s largest city, Jacksonville, sits on the St John’s River and has 20 miles of golden sands among the beach communities, which stretch along the Atlantic coast. The city is a real boon for shopping, especially along the Jackson Landing at the riverfront, and also for learning and culture – there are maritime, contemporary art and science and history museums there. It’s also a very green city, with a staggering ten national parks within the city limits. If you’re a foodie and devotee of local beverages, you’ll be happy in Jackson with its regional delicacies and craft-beer scene (or real ale, as it’s known in the UK).
No more the favoured destination for students to razz it up on Spring Break, Fort Lauderdale is aiming a little higher these days. With luxury hotels, yachts in the bay, a vast art and entertainment district and over 4,000 restaurants, Fort Lauderdale has something for everyone. Known as ‘the Venice of America’, you can take gondola rides along the city’s palm-lined waterways and canals, visit the several historical districts, take a stroll along the gorgeous beachfront promenade or take a hiking trip to the Everglades.
Dazzling, cosmopolitan, sexy, buzzing and alive are just a few epithets justifiably attached to Miami, one of the most popular places to holiday in all North America, if not the world. The hip and tireless nightlife is concentrated around South Beach and the retail opportunities are equally vast, with huge malls, edgy vintage stores and the high-end boutiques situated in Coconut Grove. Visit Little Havana for parades, food and wine festivals and don’t forget the Art Deco district, where you can see the gorgeous candy-coloured hotels, restaurants and apartment houses built back in the 1930s and ’40s – they are truly things of great beauty, not least when bathed in a blood-red sunset.
The southernmost point in not only Florida, but the whole of the USA, you can actually see Cuba from the golden sands of Key West’s beaches. This tiny, southerly part of the Florida Keys was home to Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway once, and countless descendants of the latter’s vast family of cats now languidly sun themselves on the steps of his old house.
Key West is the last word in tranquillity: Duval Street, the main drag, features gently waving palm trees, bars and restaurants, many serving local fresh seafood and traditional Seminole cuisine.
One more thing – be sure to try some Key Lime pie while you’re there.
Disclosure: This post was written and sponsored by a third party.
Photo via sachinchitale.