It’s Spring Break time in Florida and the streets are packed with automobiles and tired, disgusted tourists. Last weekend cars lined up for ten miles trying to get onto Clearwater Beach. After two hours in a traffic jam, they found that the island’s 2,000 parking spaces can’t handle 10,000 automobiles.
The solution? Book a hotel or motel or historic inn next to one of Florida’s best, walk-able tourist destinations and spend your time enjoying the sights and people at street level.
Here are my favorite destinations:
SAINT AUGUSTINE: Stay at one of the bed and breakfast inns just south of the downtown Plaza and walk into the Historic District. When the tourists drive out to motel row of US1, you will be amazed how delightful the restaurants and bars of Saint Augustine can be.
Take a Ghost Tour at Night in Saint Augustine
FORT LAUDERDALE’s Las Olas Boulevard: You can even get here by Beach Taxi. It’s a great strip of downtown shops, cafes, nightclubs, and galleries in the daytime, but at night Las Olas is magical.
Fort Lauderdale’s Favorite Street
FERNANDINA BEACH: Small towns can be fun if you have sixty blocks of amazing Victorian mansions and homes, topped with two dozen excellent bed and breakfast spots. Downtown is compact, but full of interesting food stops including the Palace Saloon, oldest drinking place in Florida.
KEY WEST: Stay as close to Mallory Square as you can afford and avoid hotel row on the north side of the island. There’s so much action and noise along Key West’s main streets that it would make the people jealous over in Havana, Cuba.
This Is A Fun Spot But Hemingway Drank Next Door
ORLANDO Lake Eola Downtown: WDW is great for kids but adult tourists are finding the classic hotels and restaurants of downtown Orlando’s lakeside area a great weekend getaway. And there are no character breakfasts!
The Hotels and Restaurants Of Lake Eola
MIAMI BEACH South Beach: People who cruise crowded Ocean Drive are not really experiencing Florida’s Riviera. Rent an Art Deco room and cafe sit and travel the streets of Sobe when they are full of people. This is nightlife tropical.
SARASOTA: Palm Avenue: Downtown Sarasota is noted for the arts, its galleries, and upscale dining. You can even walk there from a Ritz Carlton on the waterfront. Go to a play or an opera and dine before or after the show all within a block of each other.
Palm Avenue in Sarasota is For Lovers
There are other walkable towns which we will cover with later blogs. My advice is simple: get where you want to be early and get out of that automobile.
You might be getting to this . . . but Tarpon Springs is also quite walkable. Great suggestions here — thanks!
Tarpon Springs is a great “double walk” … In the 1990’s I did An Illustrated Guide to West Coast of Florida and had a two part walk with downtown to the Bayou and then over to the river for lunch. It is a little hard for many to walk to the two areas, but I have several times. Love the hidden treasures. Larger cities need to follow Florida’s smaller towns.
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