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Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida has plenty of shoreline to go around. In fact, its world-renowned beaches span a whopping 663 miles. And it’s because of this fame that you must choose carefully, lest you end up somewhere where you can’t see the sand for the beach towels and lounge chairs. For rest and relaxation, choose these six quiet beaches that are no less spectacular — just less crowded.
By Claudine Zap
Really want to get away from it all? Consider a hotel that’s so remote, you can get there only by boat (or seaplane if you’re a tycoon). Think Robinson Crusoe without the shipwreck. Here, some of the standouts.
The dock leading to paradise — Ilet Oscar Guest House (Photo: Ilet Oscar Guest House)
The 27-acre Sunset Key is privately held by residents lucky enough to own multi-million dollar homes there, but the rest of us can get a taste, even if just for a few hours. There are only three ways you can board the free shuttle boat to the island from Key West (from the marina in front of the Westin Key West Resort). You can spend the night at one of the Westin’s Sunset Key cottages, have a reservation at their restaurant, or book a service at their spa. Read more
No summer is complete without a trip to the beach. But instead of the typical best-of roundup, we decided to do something a little different: We had the ShermansTravel staff share their favorite off-beat alternatives to the hotspots that everyone flocks to in drove. We won’t go as far as to call these spots “secret,” but we will promise that you’ll find a relatively intimate excursion with lots of character at any one of them. Ready to feel like a beach insider and stretch out?
Last month we introduced you to some of the Florida Keys’ local characters and their tips for visiting the area. If you follow their suggestions for ghost tours, paddleboarding, making new friends in local bars, and more, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Here are some of the best place across the Keys to fill up on brunch, seafood, and, of course, Key lime pie. Read more
By now you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding SeaWorld. As a result of the documentary film Blackfish, and its exposure of what animal rights advocates claim is mistreatment of the orcas used in SeaWorld shows, calls for a boycott of the marine mammal theme park chain have grown. The debate goes on: SeaWorld released an open letter stating that, among other things, their research on captive whales benefits those in the wild, but the Oceanic Preservation Society then rebutted the claims.
And there are signs that public opinion is turning against the theme parks. The company recently posted a 13 percent drop in attendance. If you the claims have gotten the better of your conscience and you’re looking for an alternative, here are seven places in North America where you see the same animals that you’ll find at SeaWorld, but in their natural habitats. Read more
Chat with a local in the Florida Keys and you’ll likely hear a similar story often repeated. The storyteller talks of traveling here for a vacation and never going home, of calling time on their corporate life back home in New York (or Chicago, or Cincinnati…) and moving down to the Keys for a simpler, slower, and sunnier life.
Even if you’re not quite ready to make the move yourself, let the locals (both born-and-bred, and transplanted) guide your trip. Here, we introduce you to a few of them, and how to experience their Keys: Read more
Long gone are the days when a Griswold-esque family vacation was anyone’s idea of fun. Today, modern families require a particular set of leisurely pursuits – and family resorts across the country are pulling out all the stops to offer such fine recreation. On top of the typical smorgasbord of family amenities – day camps, cool pools, kids’ meals – our 10 favorite family resorts offer something different: pioneering learning programs. Yes, we’ve said it. Learning really is fun at these family resorts, where kids can hone in on their latest obsession be it tennis or sailing, learn a new craft like surfing or waterskiing, pick up a few pointers in the kitchen at a cooking school, or star gaze with skill after an intriguing 101 in astronomy. Formulated to engage and inspire, these innovative resort programs span the U.S., from Florida to Vermont, Texas to Minnesota, San Diego to Maui, and provide the winning formula (instruction, encouragement, and rewarding hands-on activities) for a satisfying summer vacation. Plus, the experience and knowhow will last long after your family heads home. Check out our Family Resorts Slideshow for a sneak peak at these fun, kid-friendly resorts.
Romantic vacations don’t have to break the bank – no really, they don’t have to. It’s still possible to find great deals on warm getaways during the winter, when snowbirds flock to the Sunshine State to escape the cold. If a romantic escape is what you seek, packages can offer more for your money. Of course, everyone’s idea of a romantic getaway is different – mine was a scuba certification mission with my husband to West Palm Beach in January (I scored two round-trip flights from Baltimore for $300!). But there are a few elements that make any winter escape romantic in everyone’s eyes. Privacy is key; a hot tub is a plus. There’s a better chance you’ll get both by booking at a venue that caters to couples. Here’s a look at three wintertime Florida romance packages worth looking into once dreary January comes:
Florida brings to mind many things – theme parks, retirement condos, alligators, golf courses, and orange groves among them – but one of the state’s sometimes overlooked qualities is its easily accessible setting for romance. It’s sunny, warm, and ringed with 663 miles of beaches. It’s home to leading hotels and top chefs. And its assorted resort regions, from the Atlantic to the Gulf to the Keys, have vibes that range from exceedingly mellow to, well, not so much. Plus, you won’t have to spend much on airfare, so you can splurge on your accommodations. Here’s a look at five very different ways to embrace the romance on offer in Florida. Read more
Spend just five minutes with your teen while she’s forlorn or disengaged, and the idea of one of you leaving town won’t seem like a bad idea. And while that scenario’s not what Jim and Donna Stein had in mind when they began The Road Less Traveled, the couple has lured thousands of teens out of town – with and without their families – for vacations commingling adventure and community service.
Helping out the locals during vacation has been aggressively marketed in recent years with the buzzword “voluntourism,” but the Steins can’t be accused of being trendy, as they’ve been running their adventure trips combining recreation and camping and volunteering for 20 years.
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