Florida’s Favorite Foods: Worth A Visit

When people like of Florida, they probably think of oranges and seafood. Our OJ is mainly produced for juice as opposed to California’s whole oranges, but our 1,350 miles of coastline means the Sunshine State is “swimming” in saltwater gourmet.  Florida, after-all, is also the only state located on two oceans.

Here is some of the things you should eat if you spend any time in Florida:

Fried Grouper Sandwich

It seems almost a requirement that if you spend anytime in Florida near a dock or marina, you better order a huge fried grouper sandwich, complete with fries and coleslaw, and a cold one.  Floridians have fried grouper sandwiches as often as the English eat fish and chips.

floridatraveler grouper andwich

If you don’t like your fish breaded and fried, most restaurants offer grouper in several preparations.  Most cities have contests to select the best grouper sandwich, but few places dare to serve one that isn’t large and tasty. Look for me at Frenchy’s on Clearwater Beach North  with a grouper sandwich.

Stone Crabs

As a native New England I can state that stone crabs are to Florida what lobster is to Maine.  Joe’s Stone Crab (1913) in South Miami Beach has been the most profitable proprietary restaurant in the nation for years despite the fact it closes down without stone crab.

floridatraveler stone crabs

This is actually a Hollywood Florida restaurant

Not every seafood restaurant in Florida wants to tackle the expense and cultivation of a stone crab populace.  But if you don’t serve it right – you don’t put it on the menu.

Spiny Lobster

I wanted to say mullet, but few places serve it up and it is a peculiar dish. There are lots of people in Florida who dive for eight months (August 6 to March 31) to capture their share of Florida spiny lobsters.

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“Hey, this lobster can’t pinch me.”

People in New England might laugh at the size of Florida’s little red beast, but consider the fact that people don’t need a much of lobster traps and a fishing boat to catch this seafood dinner.

Conch Fritters

Like a lot of Florida dishes, this large tropical marine mollusk was diced with celery, carrots, and lime juice and deep-fried by Bahamian sailors when the first Americans arrived.  Now the fanciest seafood spots in South Florida serve conch fritters or dishes, but I still prefer eating conch in a dumpy sea shack in the Keys.

floridatraveler conch fritters

They may look like Hushpuppies but they are not!

Gulf Oysters

Assuming they survive another hurricane and pollution from Georgia, the Apalachicola oyster will remain a popular Florida seafood treat.  Large, plump and slightly salty with a sweet finish, the Florida oyster is best when iot is served just hours from the Gulf of Mexico.

Good Ol’ Gator

Yes, it tastes like gator and I like it somewhat plain even if people want to chop a giant gator into tiny bites and marinated it and serve it with ciantro cream and chipote sauces.  I say “Serve it up larger.” – we got 1.5 million of those reptiles and if saltwater intrusion hits the Everglades, we’ll have dozens of them in our swimming pools.

Ceviche

While they serve ceviche across the nation, seafood-crazy urban Floridians serve up ceviche like they serve up tapas in Spain.  Lots of reasons for the chilled cocktail queen to be big around Miami: it came from Peru; it is served cold with a citrus sauce; and it can be fish, clams, mussels, and shrimp.   Ceviche even sounds like something you want at a big outdoor party by the pool.

floridatraveler ceviche fish and shrimp

This is fish and shrimp ceviche Miami style

Cuban Sandwich

Coming from Tampa, I know the history and tradition of the cigar worker’s favorite noontime meal is an important part of Florida’s Latin heritage.  I don’t know if it started in 1915 at the Columbia restaurant, but I know that it is almost sinful that some places are using mayo instead of mustard.  NO MAYO!

floridatravelr pressing a cuban sandwich

Real Cubans are best presed like road kill.

Look at how the sandwich blended the people who came to make cigars and cigar boxes in Florida: Cuban bread with Spanish ham, Italian salami, German pickles, mojo-marinated pork, and Swiss cheese.  It is a United Nations of food.

Key Lime Pie

Don’t tell people that most of Florida’s key limes were killed in a plague and Persian limes were brought in.  The remaining original limes are mainly hiding in the Keys and every restaurant on US1 claims they have a tree,

floridatraveler key lime pie ft myers

I confess: this is a Fort Myers restaurant

Be sure the meringue-topped pie with the graham cracker crust is not green – a sure sign that this is a loser.  Look for a thick pie.

Latin Drinks

For years Miami has consumed Latin food, Latin music, and Latin drinks.  The drinks are not just found in Art Deco bars and Little Havana, but across Florida’s diverse restaurants.  King of the drinks is the Mojito, that smooth mix of fresh lime, white rum, mint and simple syrup swimming with club soda.

And the next day, part of the wakeup menu at the local café will possibly be a guava-filled pastry and a cafecito, an expresso type coffee super-charged with sugar.  More sugar, I believe, makes it a cotadito, Cuba’s answer to the macchiato.  I am not a fan of sugar drinks so I’ll stick with my café con leche.

 

 

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Posted in florida history, Restaurants, Florida Food, florida vacations, attractions, travel, food, dining, mcbobleonard | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food With A View: Best Florida “Scenic” Restaurants

California Grill
Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World

Everyone who has spent some time at Walt Disney World knows the best view of the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom is from the restaurant at the top of the contemporary resort. Now that they have stolen the chef from Jiko, the menu and food is possibly the best at WDW.
floridatraveler califronia grille

From a WIndow Table or the Catwalk: You Get Fireworks

The good news is there is a large bar at the restaurant (if you can get in) and the menu which includes light items can be served to bar guests. There is even access to the roof viewing area for an perfect outside observation.

Armani’s
Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay

Planted on the 14th floor by the Causeway to Clearwater and right on scenic Upper Tampa Bay, Armani’s serves outstanding Italian food in a Northern Italian trattoria style. The hotel is right next to the landing pattern of Tampa International Airport so you also see the beautiful night views of the colorful airplanes coming and going.

floridatraveler armanis

Area 31
EPIC Hotel, Miami

High-rise Miami is loaded with good restaurants in high locations of buildings and along the ocean and Biscayne Bay, but the nighttime views of the downtown Miami skyline is best here at 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way.

floridatraveler area 31

There is River and Bay Action Here

The 16th floor view will dominate your attention until you are served one of the wonderful seafood entries at Area 31.

Juvia
111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
The top of a parking lot may seem an unlikely spot to get the best view of most of booming South Beach, particularly its night lights and miles of automobiles, but this is a great penthouse restaurant.

floridatraveler juvia miami

The windows seem to enhance the view

La Mar by Gaston Acorio
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Brickell Key

Surrounded by high rise condos on the exclusive island of Brickell Key is this amazing Peruvian restaurant. From the canopied patio you’ll see all of Miami’s downtown skyline.

floridatraveler la mar

The City Lights At La Mar

Canopy Rooftop Lounge

One would have to describe this as a social bar more than a full-service restaurant, but in downtown crawling with nightlife and mostly sidewalk cafes, this place is unique. People come here after a restaurant or movie to have light fare, have drinks, and relax with the Beach Drive scene and Bayfront all around them.

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Dusk at Saint Petersburg

Ocean2000
Pelican Grand Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale has a lot of beachside restaurants but the Pelican’s round main restaurant and long patio are located on the northside of the building and give a magnificent view to the wide beach. The food is served from 7am to 10pm so you can catch a sunrise in the morning and view the arrival of evening.

floridatraveler ocean2000ftlauderdale

Atlantic Bar and Grill
The Four Seasons, Palm Beach

For a lot of Florida visitors, seeing tall buildings aglow at night is not why they came to Florida. They want to dine at seafood with a salt sea breeze and a beautiful white beach spreading across the landscape. This resort beach fits that image both day and night.

floridatraveler atlantic bar and grill pbeach

How People Want To Breakfast In Florida

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Florida “Under The Sea” Is A Vacation Experience

Underwater Vehicles in Florida

Due to the sensitivity and depth of Florida’s reefs and poor visibility in most coastal area, Florida does not have the underwater submarine tours found in the Hawaiian Islands and in Catalina Island, California. Florida is mainly the place for incredible scuba experiences to sunken ships, some dating back to the days of pirates and seadogs.

There are some fun underwater activities you can experience in Florida:

SeaVenture at Sea World’s Discovery Cove

At Orlando’s Discovery Cove, the underwater and above water park next to Sea World, you can not only swim with the sharks and play with the dolphins, you can walk underwater like a member of the crew of Captain Nemo of the Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
FLORIDATRAVELER seaventure tour group

The adventure does not require special training and most visitors adjust to the air system. Of course, you can’t look for sponges nor handle the sea life. You can imagine the kind of photographic selfies you can make in this setup.
FLORIDATRAVELER SeaVenture people and residents
The HydroBob Tour in Key West
800-660-1720

Over on Stock Island in Key West at the Marina Village there are dozens of tour boats specializing in taking scuba and snorkel divers out to the Florida Keys reefs. Billy Ocean Underwater Adventures has those tours, but they have something else.
FLORIDATRAVELER hydrobob scooter goes past
Underwater water scooters which require no scuba certification to travel around Stock Island following the fish. These devices probably would be discouraged around some of the shallow coral reefs, but these tours travel other waters. From the looks of the photographs you will see lots of fish.
FLORIDATRAVELER hydrobob tour explore-floridas-only
Jules Undersea Lodge in Largo
http://www.jul.com 305-451-2353

Florida’s underwater hotel off the Florida Keys in Key Largo is a rather expensive place to vacation, but you will have the most unique photographic experiences of any trip. The 600-square foot, two bedroom lodge isn’t fancy like that place in the Maldives, but it is just a short drive from Miami.
floridatraveler JULES LODGEFloridatraveler inside-Jules Verne Lodge livingroom
And you get pizza delivered by underwater scuba divers.

Posted in adventure vacation, bed&breakfast, diving, environment, extreme sports, florida history, Florida sports, florida vacations, keys, mcbobleonard, Recreational Experiences, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida’s Often Undervalued Gem: Charlotte Harbor

Recently I attended a convention in Punta Gorda, the town where my family first moved to Florida in the 1960’s.

The waterfront devastated by category 4 Hurricane Charley in August of 2004 has not only been rebuilt, it has been magnified.  The plain-jane Holiday Inn and motels have been replaced with high end Wyvern and Sheraton Four Points resorts.  Downtown has a dozen neat restaurants and shops, making it a nice weekend vacation spot.

FLORIDATRAVELER charlotte harbor map

 

The Convention Center where my parents produced dancing recitals and beauty pageants has tripled in capacity and produces a diversity of shows.  I don’t recall the Russian Royal Ballet coming to Charlotte County when I lived there.

One thing that didn’t change was the impact of Charlotte Harbor on the area’s tourism and overall economy.  Whereas most visitors know of massive Tampa Bay and perhaps historic Pensacola Bay, most people have never seen the second largest bay (270 square miles) in Florida.

FLORIDATRAVELER FISHERMANS WHARF -punta-gorda-marina

Punta Gorda’s Fishermen’s Wharf Has Stores and Ships

Besides the fishing and boating magnificence of the Harbor, there are two important freshwater rivers ideal for long distance kayak trips and sheltered fishing.  On the northwest corner is the 72 mile Myakka is one of Florida’s most scenic and undeveloped rivers with 34 miles by Myakka River State Park and other campgrounds.

On the northeast corner is the 106-mile Peace River ay whose mouth is Punta Gorda, offering river tours and serious game fishing trips.  The Isles Yacht Marina and Fishermen’s Wharf is home to several boat tour groups as well as a popular sailing school.

FLORIDATRAVELER charlotte harbor boat race

Besides the water, there are places to explore and see: Pelican Island in Gasparilla Sound where hundreds of white pelicans gather in the Fall; exclusive Useppa Island where a few boat cruises are allowed to land, and Cabbage Key.

FLORIDATRAVELER island-useppa

Cabbage Key is a special stop for its houses the Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, built by mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart in the 1940’s.  The restaurant is covered from ceiling to floor with taped one dollar bills, but the restaurant is more famous as the place where singer Jimmy Buffet liked a certain burger.

FLORIDATRAVELER CABBAGE KEY INN restaurant

The Cabbage Key Ceiling Is All Green Paper

The western edge of Charlotte Harbor has some incredible barrier islands.  There is Gasparilla Island and the fishing resort of Boca Grande, home to the famous Gasparilla Inn where the rich and famous hung out for one hundred years.  Sailing along the canal side of the island shows the upscale side.

FLORIDATRAVELER boca grande inn from air

The Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande

      At the southern tip of Boca Grande near the historic lighthouse that survived Charley is the greatest tarpon fishing area in the United States.  Just watching from a distance the catching of huge fighting fish is a spectacular attraction.

FLORIDATRAVELER Tarpon Fishing Charlotte Harbor

Cayo Costa Island State Park allows campers to play Robinson Crusoe on a beautiful beach, on an island designed for primitive camping.  But beware: boaters love to park on the bayside so you won’t be alone.

FLORIDATRAVELER cayo-costa-state-park

Cayo Costa Is Primitive Florida

 

 

 

 

Posted in adventure vacation, attractions, conservation, dining, environment, extreme sports, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, Historic Buildings, Historic Hotels & Inns, keys, mcbobleonard, Recreational Experiences, Restaurants, small towns, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Dislike Most About Orlando’s Super Theme Parks 2018

It still doesn’t feel like Fall has arrived in Central Florida this Fall and we are hitting October.  Soon the snowbirds will be filling Florida’s highways and the hectic holiday season will be in full swing.

I  thought I should give a new review for going to Orlando’s Super Theme Parks in the winter 2018-19 season with an orientation to the most common complaints I hear from visitors at WDW and Universal. Of course, I have some observations.

What I Dislike Most

 Constantly Increasing Ticket Prices is the largest complaint and this year there is a new problem for Floridians.  Beginning October 16 Walt Disney World will be selling date of visit tickets rather than tickets with seasonal prices.  Where this will get messy is the new tickets have narrower date usage rules.  Go to the Disney websites.

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Will Opening Day Star Wars Mean $200 Park Tickets?

            Many of my Orlando friends buy several single park tickets so if friends come down for a day at WDW, my friends will have a ticket and just drive over to the park.  The new rules, however, really encourage Central Floridians to purchase year-round or seasonal passes. There will probably be a rush on the older ticket choices for the next two weeks.

Over-priced Low Quality Fast Food Places at all the Orlando parks.  While the prices at Table Service restaurants are high and most places have almost combined the lunch and dinner menus and prices, most table service places have decent food.  At the fast food places quality food is rarely the option.

FLORIDATRAVELER columbiahouse magic

See That Second Floor on a Fast Food Place?: Peaceful

My choices as the best value fast food: Magic Kingdom: Columbia House and Pecos Bill; Epcot: Sunshine Seasons Food Court; Studios: Backlot Express; Animal Kingdom: Flame Tree Barbecue; at Universal: The Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomstick shows they spent money on more than just the rides at Harry Potter.

FLORIDATRAVELER the-leaky-cauldron

Universal’s Leaky Cauldron Is Great Theme Fast Food

Rising Parking Fees make me glad I have an annual pass.  I know people who breakfast at the Wilderness Lodge and the Dolphin in order to take a nice, peaceful boat ride into Magic Kingdom and Epcot rather than a packed tram and monorail.

FLORIDATRAVELER parking at wdw

In the world’s largest one-level parking: now two price parking

Mandatory Locker Policies upset a lot of people at Universal even when they have their pocketbooks safely nestled under their armpit.  They do have a lot of rides, one after the other, that flip you about unlike the tamer WDW rides.  WDW is pushy about this only at the water parks and water rides.

Access To The Best Rides is a serious issue for people who come to the Parks from across the world or have saved up their money for six months to visit.  The answer, of course, is the use at the earliest time of the Fastpass system, but even here you have the limitation of just three rides in two categories.

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Thanks to Festivals August to May: No Slow Seasons

            How do you choose between Test Track, Soarin’, and Frozen if you have a family of different ages and tastes?  WDW online software is geared on the assumption your entire family wants to Fastpass the same rides.

Universal has the neat Express Pass but it excludes Harry Potter’s rides.  I will confess I loved it when it came as part of the package of staying at Portofino Bay.  My wife and I zipped through the Universal rides like we owned the place.  Considering the resort prices, maybe we did buy the place for the day.

Stinky Stinky Places:  At the end of a day of 50,000 visitors, including dirty diapers and sick kids, confined places filled with confined people will stink despite the huge maintenance crews at both WDW and Universal.   The monorail can get so bad when it is crowded, I gladly take the ferry boat.  Give me fresh air even in the Florida humidity.

Posted in adventure vacation, attractions, dining, disney, disney springs, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, Recreational Experiences, Restaurants, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, wdw | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Hurricane That Killed and Flooded Florida

The devastating flooding in the Carolinas due to the huge hurricane reminded me of Florida’s most dramatic flooding crisis.  It may seem strange to some of you since Florida is so flat and its rivers seem to flow slowly.

Ninety years ago in September of 1928, a Category 5 hurricane came eastward over Palm Beach County and flooded the southern half of Lake Okeechobee with a twenty-foot tsunami that killed over 2,000 people.   It was the most violent natural disaster in the history of the state.

FLORIDATRAVELER muck bowl intro

Much like the controversy over the number of deaths caused by last year’s Puerto Rican hurricane, since a majority of the deaths were immigrant workers from the Deep South and some from the Bahamas, no one can be totally sure on the death count.  Bodies were sent southward miles into the alligator-invested waters of the Everglades.

The hurricane called by Floridians Okeechobee hurricane, also known as the San Felipe Segundo hurricane, formed September 6, 1928, off the coast of Africa.  Moving westward, it hit Guadaloupe on September 12 with Category 4 winds and a storm surge that caused 1,200 deaths on the island.

FLORIDATRAVELER flood zone 1928_Okeechobee_Flood

By September 13 it was a Category 5 with sustained wind of 160 mph as it crashed into Puerto Rico.  312 people were killed, the vegetation destroyed, and 500,000 people were left homeless.   People in Florida sounded the alarm.

But as San Felipe Segundo arrived in the Bahamas, it had weakened somewhat to a Category 4 and the damages in the Bahamas was less with just 18 fatalities.

On September 16 it seemed the storm was heading north along the Atlantic Coast which would mean the western side of the storm might get less rain and wind.  It should be noted that in 1928 there wasn’t today’s radar nor cell-phones nor even a decent radio station to communicate into the Florida interior, the Muck Bowl.

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There was no escape from the huge wave.

Suddenly at night when many in rural areas had gone to be, the storm moved westward hitting West Palm Beach with 145 mph winds.  1,711 homes were crushed.

But there were worse things to come.  Hurricane winds move counter-clockwise and as the hurricane moved to Lake Okeechobee, the huge winds blew the waters in the shallow 25 mile by 25 mile lake from the southern end of the lake to the deeper north end.  Suddenly boats were sitting in the muck and the best roads for escape headed eastward into a wind that could blow a horse cart into a canal.

FLORIDATRAVELER finding bodies 1928 hurricane

Faceless People in the Swamp

Most of the farm workers lived in crude wooden house on stilts to avoid gators and snakes.  As the storm passed a giant tsunami wave rushed southward and swept away the cities of Belle GladeCanal Point, Chosen, Pahokee, and South Bay, Florida.  Only a few commercial buildings survived.  The wave could have been thirty feet high.

FLORIDATRAVELER Mass_Grave_1928

Hundreds of square miles in the swamps south of the Lake were filled with floating bodies that would quickly decay or be eaten by swamp things.  Only mass graves could handle the hundreds of unknown corpses.

FLORIDATRAVELER hoover dike

The Lake Is So Wide It Looks Like An Ocean

The Hoover Dike, Florida’s largest WPA Project, was built around Lake Okeechobee to prevent future disasters, but it also meant interfering with the flow of fresh water into the Everglades to the south.  The Great Wall of Florida is the first man-made site astronauts see as they return to Florida from space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in adventure vacation, attractions, conservation, environment, florida history, Florida parks, Historic Buildings, Hurricanes, mcbobleonard, small towns, travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Shopping Malls and Shopping Places in Florida

One of Florida’s most popular indoor vacation experiences is to go shopping, although with Florida’s climate, many of the popular shopping spots utilize beautiful outdoor settings.  It seems every area of Florida has discount malls but I prefer going to shopping plazas that are non-traditional in their variety and awesome-ness or have shops you can’t find in nearby malls.

Here are some places you should include on your Florida shopping plans:

The Mall at Millenia (Orlando) at 4200 Conroy Road, Orlando


Orlando is crowded with malls but for some slightly more high-end shopping the Mall at Millenia is my choice. The indoor, multi-level shopping space is only half the size of The Florida Mall, but stores here focus more on the upscale brands such as Gucci, Cartier, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, and Tiffany & Co.  Located south of downtown, means it is easier to get to from Universal, SeaWorld, Disney and the international airport.

FLORIDATRAVELER MALL AT MILLIA orlando 

Disney Springs off I-10 at Walt Disney World

This monster of a shopping village is more than Disney shops: it has great restaurants, more upscale places then you might imagine, but also the best selection of things visitors want to bring home on vacations.

FLORIDATRAVELER disney-springs-anoitecer

Disney Springs could be called Shopping World

Despite the crowds, the automated free parking facilities make it easy to park provided you don’t arrive weekday afternoons.  The addition of quality nightclubs with movie theaters makes Disney Springs a full day attraction.

International Plaza and Bay Street off Westshore at Tampa Airport

The creation of this upscale 200-speciality shop mall with Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus is often filled with foreign visitors who pop off the airport, book a room in the mall’s hotel, and shop and dine for day.

FLORIDATRAVELER INTERNATIONAL MALL tampa

The restaurant area at International Mall

Bay Street is filled with some 20 restaurants and even the food court’s spots are places like Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, Johnny Rockets, and Earl of Sandwich, not unknown dealers.  There are a dozen deluxe handbag firms, some only found in Italy and Beverly Hills.

Dolphin Mall, 11401 NW 12th Street, Miami

 FLORIDATRAVELER dolphin mall_exterior

Miami is loaded with shopping options, but I am amazed by the Dolphin, the largest outlet-shopping-entertainment complex in Miami-Dade.  It has great transportation options in this overcrowded metropolis.

With massive discount stores by Saks and Neiman Marcus sitting next to Bass Pro Shops and Burlington Coat, you realize this complex has everything, including a 19-screen movie theater, high quality restaurants, and even a Sunday farmer’s market.

Bal Harbour Shops, at 9700 Collins Avenue, off A1A, Bal Harbour

This plant-dominated outdoor mall in the beachside suburb of Bal Harbour is more than an upscale shopping place.  It is a spot where top notch designers want to present their latest selections.

FLORIDATRAVELER bal-harbour miami

There is nothing discount at Bal Harbour. La Perla, Wolford, Agent Provocateur join Oscar de la Renta, and Stella Mccartney.   It is not shocking that the restaurants here are also upscale – a fast snack means Parisian-style treats at Lauduree.

Swap Shop, 3291 West Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

 Not everyone has Versace tastes or pocketbooks and the Swap Shop is the wildest and probably biggest flea market, farmers market, and 14-screen drive-in in the South.  Everyday 2,000 vendors jam 75 acres of shopping entertainment and the good news is that typical catalog discount stuff won’t get you in the good graces of these shoppers.

FLORIDATRAVELER fort-lauderdale-drive-in-and-swap-shop-

Swap Shop Is 75 Acres of Mad Entertainment

The bright yellow people bridge over Sunrise Boulevard is the yellow brick shopping road to a vast collection of everything.  It may not be the Emerald City but you can purchase discounted emeralds here.

The Galleria, 2414 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale

 Head toward the beach from Swap Shop and you come to one of Florida’s most world-class shopping meccas.  The two-story structure houses Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and all the expected glamour chains.  Its valet parking is the best in Southeast Florida and the restaurant list is first class.

FLORIDATRAVELER galleria-fort-lauderdale

 Worth Avenue at  Palm Beach

 Florida’s most famous and glamorous shopping street is Worth Avenue in the heart of Palm Beach.  The island center contains quality shops, but even more wonderful Land Boon architecture, classic hotels, and notable restaurants.

FLORIDATRAVELER Palm-Beach-Worth-Ave-gate

Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, a stroll around this beautiful neighborhood is a worthwhile tourist attraction and you can even find guides online.

The Avenues Mall, 103 Southside Blvd, South Jacksonville

The pride of South Jacksonville off I-95 and near I-295 and the eastside of the St. Johns River, this massive two-story 125-store mall is the best in North Florida.  Besides the traditional big chains and large food court, Avenues has odd places like Subculture and Winey Wench.   The architecture here is amazingly lovely.

Fifth Avenue South, downtown Naples, west of US41

 Upscale Naples has a lot of upscale malls, but I love Olde Naples when the weather is mild and walking along the wide avenue with its tropical plants is so Florida.  People thought shopping might leave here in the 1990’s with the growth of more suburban malls, but Fifth Avenue South has boomed with its delightful mix of sidewalk cafes, unique local shops, and quality urban design.

FLORIDATRAVELER 5th AVenu South

Fifth Avenue South in Naples At Holiday Times

Fifth Avenue South is at its best in the winter months when street festivals and outdoor events attract half of Collier County downtown to enjoy their downtown treat.

 

 

 

 

Posted in adventure vacation, attractions, dining, disney springs, florida history, florida vacations, Historic Buildings, mcbobleonard, museums, Restaurants, Tampa, travel, Walt Disney World, wdw | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment