Discover Diverse Culture and Communities Throughout Florida
As a travel writer, I get to see a lot of the world. And the diversity of all that's out there to discover always keeps me motivated to learn and continue to explore everything around me. So it's a thrill to know that when I'm home in Florida, I never have to want for open-minded, worldly travel destinations that nurture both the luxury-loving and culturally inclined soul.
Herewith, a few favorite Florida communities (some you've surely heard of, and others are quite insidery to Floridians) to put on your must-discover list:
Located a few minutes from downtown Orlando, Winter Park, as I mention in one of my recent Luxury Insider videos, is truly a destination of its own. There's the luxury shopping along tree-lined Park Ave., where European-style bistros and wine bars lure cosmopolitan crowds. And the cultural offerings here are rich, too, including the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum (home to the world's largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany), the annual Bach Festival at Rollins College and boat tours taking in the historic attractions along Winter Park's chain of lakes.
Overflowing with colorful characters and legendary for its open-minded attitude, Key West is one of America's most unique and culturally diverse towns, where everyone is received with open arms. With early settlers from such diverse backgrounds as New England and Cuba, Key West has always welcomed a rainbow array of residents, and such diversity shines through in the town's incredible cuisine scene and cultural attractions that include such highlights as the Hemingway House and museums devoted to sunken treasure.
An upscale enclave just north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors is an artsy community with an atmosphere that welcomes folks with alternative lifestyles. There are some excellent bed and breakfast inns here. And neighborhood galleries and shops to check out include Art Frenzie gallery (2055 Wilton Dr.) for a great selection of high-quality prints, photography and oil paint reproductions. Look for great independent men's clothing boutiques in this part of Fort Lauderdale, too.
Full disclosure: I used to live in this downtown Orlando neighborhood, one of my favorite communities in all of Florida! What makes Thornton Park so special? Bricked streets lined with restored Florida bungalows, stylish and progressive restaurants such as Hue, Eola Wine Company and Shari Sushi Lounge and the eclectic boutique-style shopping along Central Boulevard and Washington Street, for starters. EO Inn & Urban Spa is a prime place to stay, putting you within walking distance of all the highlights.
Miami's beautiful beaches most certainly have their allure. But when I'm looking for urban culture away from the sand, I hit the Design District in downtown Miami, with its plethora of art galleries, chic furniture shops (Driade is a personal favorite) and international restaurants – try Fratteli Lyon for Italian or neighborhood favorite Michael's Genuine. There's so much buzz in this part of Miami, and the diversity of the Design District's residents and shop owners add to the exciting atmosphere.
A historic residential area a stone's throw from the skyscrapers of downtown Jacksonville, San Marco is an urban trendsetter and another Florida treat for those in search of colorful communities where lifestyle meets luxury. Bistro Aix is a temple for foodies, and the art deco buildings in San Marco''s historic district house tony boutiques, a historic theater and fine-dining date destinations such as Matthew's Restaurant.
Enjoy Florida's diverse communities!