On my summer holidays I love seeing the cultural side of a country as well as sunbathing and shopping. People are often surprised when I tell them how many great museums and art galleries there are to explore all over Florida. I’ve picked out a few of my favourites which are great to experience if you are after a break from the theme parks and beaches!
I recently discovered that one of my favourite authors Ernest Hemingway spent the majority of his life in Florida Keys. His beautiful home and gardens in the Old Town in Key West are open to the public to explore. Hemingway wrote most of his most famous novels whilst living in this house, including For Whom the Bell Tolls. The museum offers lots of interesting information on his life and novels and the house is also home to 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats, thought to be descendents of his cat Snowball that was given to him as a gift by a ship captain.
Another cultural hot spot not to be missed is Miami, which has limitless art and history embedded into the city. Visiting The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is like stepping back in time and walking into Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It is a stunning Italian Renaissance style villa surrounded by 50 acres of gardens on the coastline, built in 1916 by the agricultural Industrialist James Deering. You can catch a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy in the 1920s living the ‘American Dream’. As well as being a popular place for weddings, it has also been snapped up for film sets for Ace Ventura and the old time classic Tony Rome, starring Frank Sinatra.
Sarasota on the Gulf Coast has been labelled ‘the cultural coast’ of Florida and is home to an opera, the ballet, two symphonies and architecture tours.The John and Mable Ringling Arts Museum is Sarasota’s crown jewel of cultural significance, boasting an eclectic collection of baroque art, the museum of the circus and the stunning bay front Ca’ d’zan mansion and grounds. Get ready to be blown away by its beautiful ornate splendour which fully encapsulates 1920s American society.