• Elaine Zito

Vacay in South Florida

Over the past 6 years my parents, husband and I have collectively lived all over south Florida. My parents originally lived in Marathon, which is in the Keys and are now living in West Palm Beach. Allyn and I live in Naples on the Gulf coast half the year, but have spent many weekends traveling to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Marco Island, Tampa and more. Here is a rundown of the best places to visit in South Florida.

Naples: Naples is the place you want to go if you're looking for upscale relaxation that is laid back and pristine. It has the attraction of Miami but without the traffic and grime. The sand is white, the water is sea green, and you can find a lot of great shelling along these beaches. Naples pier is a historic attraction which is only a few blocks from the main downtown area. A few of my favorite things to do include driving around Port Royal to see the gorgeous mansions and landscaping, visiting 5th ave and 3rd St for shopping and dining (all the palm trees light up at night and its magical), and grabbing a drink on the water at the Cabana Bar on the bay.

Jupiter: If you want to be on the East coast where you can catch some waves, I highly recommend Jupiter, Florida. Unlike West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale it is way more laid back and secluded. And you're only 20 mins from Palm Beach Island where you can drive around to look at ridiculous homes including Donald Trump's Mar a Lago (because whether you like him or not, it's kind of cool to see). A favorite restaurant in Jupiter is Guanabana's which is on the water engulfed in so many palm trees you feel like you're in a jungle. I also love Blowing Rocks Preserve which is a beach that has natural cliffs that water shoots up through to create a geyser.

Marathon: Marathon is one of the last islands before Key West. If you're like me, you've done Key West one too many times and want something a little less crazy. I love Marathon because of the ability to jump on over to Key West if desired, but you're not in the craziness of it. Bahia Honda State Park located here is a great area for snorkeling and exploring. Or you can jump on a boat and head to Sombrero Light and snorkel or scuba in crystal clear blue water. For dining, my favorite place is the Sunset Grille and Bar which is the last restaurant before you cross the Seven Mile bridge. This restaurant is on the water and even has a pool and dock. It' s such a great place for kids, and the happy hour is on point. Finally, sunsets in the Keys are my all time favorite. If you're lucky you'll catch the green flash; which is what supposedly happens as the sun hits the horizon and then disappears.

So overall these are my 3 favorite places to relax in South Florida. As you can see, I'm a big fan of a more laid back "island time" vibe. If this is you too, then I hope it will lead you to a wonderful rejuvenating vacation.


xoxo, Isla Girl