FLORIDA CHEAT SHEET
- Visa: No for Australian Citizens but an ESTA of $14USD MUST be paid online here for tourist stays less than 90 days + no necessary vaccinations. No for Canadian Citizens for less than 182 days with no necessary vaccinations.
- Best Time to Travel: August - October for the perfect weather, cheap flights and less crowds. Winter time is peak season (Dec- Feb).
- Currency: $1USD = $1.39 AUD / $1.31CAD
- Cost of Typical Meal - $15USD for a typical tourist restaurant. Higher prices at finer establishments.
- CC friendly: Yes
- Transportation: Car, Bus and Tri-Rail (But you're better off renting a convertible and driving into the sunset)
- Airports: Fort Lauderdale (FLL) , Miami (MIA) and West Palm Beach (PBI)
- Language: English with many Spanish speakers
Ongoing Rumor: Gators, dumb criminals and rich old New Yorkers escaping the city
My Experience: No, No and Yes.
A MECCA FOR YOGIS, VEGANS
MAYBE RETHINKING THAT NETFLIX LIFESTYLE
Lululemon. Vegan Cookies. Raw Diets. Yoga Brunches. The new San Francisco?
Boca Raton is no longer the upper crust of New York royalty gallivanting in multi million dollar boats (maybe a little), but rather a young, healthy and yoga centric community. Replace the all day drunk debauchery of NYC with a 9am Yoga and Brunch class and you'll feel like a lost patron of the Twilight Zone. What are these new feelings? Healthy? Not hungover? Are you actually feeling good about last night's decisions?
If you're in Boca Raton (pronounced RA-TONE) I implore you to jump onto the Yoga bandwagon full speed. It is SO easy to be healthy here. Everywhere you turn, there's a fitness model off the clock casually flexing their abs in the sun and slowly sipping on a raw juice (No friends, not ME). Take a FREE Yoga class every Saturday @ 9am in Sanborn Square or visit Green Bar & Kitchen & Green Planet Festival's Yoga + Brunch + Bottomless Bellinis every Sunday @ 9am. Order the vegan breakfast tacos and your mouth will thank you. The food is "tear up a little at the table, make your friend look in the opposite direction, casually wipe your tears away, pretend nothing happened" good.
Everyone should check out the Green Planet Festival in Phoenix (Nov 7th) and Fort Lauderdale (Feb 27th) for more yoga, live music and fun activities because honestly, who says you can't have fun AND save the world at the same time? Visit Raw Juce for some post workout smoothies and juices to keep up that healthy lifestyle. Otherwise, take a visit to Mizner Park to do some shopping. Be sure to pick out a Hawaiian shirt and some Sperry shoes to wear un-ironically. Don't forget the golf clubs!
There's plenty of great beaches to grab your tan and go snorkeling. At least once a day it rains and can be foggy and muggy but the sky clears up. Go snorkeling at Spanish River Park Beach or drive to the nearby Pompano or Delray Beaches.
NO CAR? NO PROBLEM.
well, Kind of...
Take the Tri-Rail, Florida's efficient train system that is a throwback to trains of yesteryear. Running along the East coast of Florida, cheap stops will bring you from Miami Airport to West Palm Beach, with stops along Fort Lauderdale (airport too), Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Hollywood. Cards cost $2 and a one way ticket from beginning to end of the line will only cost you $6.90USD. Regardless, you'll still need a ride to the station, but cabs are a plenty by each station that have meters and accept credit cards.
SHOPPING, SHOPPING AND SOME EATING
Most flights heading to Central and South America have layovers in Fort Lauderdale. If you're making a trip south, make sure to leave the airport and make a pit stop in the FLL for some fun and vices.
First thing's first. Go to the bank, withdraw your life savings, throw cash into the streets of Las Olas like a politician trying to cover up a scandal with a good deed. There is SO MUCH SHOPPING HERE. Everything and anything you would want to spend money on is here. This street is so popular that cruise ships have a contract with stores to bring their patrons here. You might need a fanny pack to fit in.
Try some homemade fudge, ice cream and chocolates from Kilwins, pretend to be an oil tycoon and sample some cigars from Havana Republic Cigars or relive being a kid again at Sydney B. A Children's Boutique toy shop. I spent the whole day hanging out at these three shops - they are all amazing. Otherwise, take a stroll and hit up the vintage boutique shops and art galleries that you'll pretend to be interested in and never actually buy from. End your day with a bite to eat at any of the outdoor restaurants and have some wine at the hidden Vinos Wine Bar and Shop or grab dinner at Rocco's Tacos.
OH MIAMI, MIAMI. YOU REMIND ME OF AN EAST COAST CITY.
Do I really need to write an introduction to Miami? The plethora of gorgeous hotels and pools - Loews, The Standard and my personal favorite - The SLS South Beach has two incredible pools and a Jose Andres restaurant attached, these places will leave you swooning. Visit JUVIA for a delicious sunset dinner and afterwards stroll down Lincoln Road and get yourself a trashy bikini or t shirt from the souvenir shops. Tons of outdoor touristy restaurants decorate the strip, but watch out as the food is targeted towards tourists and cruise passengers. Food will be overpriced and sub par.
In the mood for relaxing? Get a day pass at The Standard for a spa/pool day for $40USD per weekday, and $50USD per weekend from 8am -10pm, and 12am on Fridays. The Standard Miami is notches above the Standard NYC and has a pool with music playing underwater. A spa and hot stone room offers up plenty of privacy for relaxation and there are several hidden enclaves to relax in. The best part? No splashing kids to interrupt your relaxation. Guests must be 17+.
For some touristy fun visit Ocean Drive and pop into MANGOS for people watching. Order yourself a frozen drink that comes with a light up ring. Sneak in some popcorn. Stand on the sidelines. Let the show unfold. You will never encounter more plastic surgery in your entire life. Bartenders perform on the bar dancing to salsa and Michael Jackson impressions every half hour or so. Miami is known for their Cuban Cigars, so if that's your thing, there's a man who offers them up in the street. Grab a fruity cocktail at the Clevelander or just make your way down the strip - there are plenty of bars and nightlife for you to see. If you're into the club scene, you can't go wrong with the LIV at the FountainBleau hotel. Strip clubs are also a thing here, with King of Diamonds being one of the most famous. Oddly enough, they're like a glorified Dave and Busters and people come here just to read the articles. Remember all those rap songs about strip clubs? Yea - you can bet they all took place in Miami.
Traveling on a budget? Instead of walking everywhere, take a free SWOOP TAXI. It's an electronic golf cart that will pick you up after you text/hail them and drop you off within 1st to 23rd street, and Ocean Drive to the Bay. In my younger years I once hailed one of these cabs for a night out and got dropped off at the Fountainbleau. We pulled into the hotel driveway alongside Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Teslas. I tipped him $9 in singles and said, "Don't spend it all in one place honey." It was one of my finer moments in life.
Need to get away from the touristy places? Instead take a visit to the up and coming Wynwood section. One of my favorite neighborhoods in Florida, Wynwood has a gritty, neighborhood feel with street art decorating every corner of the street from some of the best artists in the world. Check out Gramps for it's Karaoke, stand up and dance nights. They also have a food truck attached called Ms Cheezious for drunken munchies, or visit Wood Tavern for it's selection of craft beers. How can you not love the combination of art and food? . Art lovers will recognize this area as the famous Art Basel festival that's held every December.
Enjoy Florida, and if you've got any suggestions - feel free to comment below!