Your Winter To-Do List Just Got Warmer. Plan a Tropical Getaway to Florida’s BeachesBy Jen Karetnick
Nothing warms the body more than a good dose of tropical sun in the middle of a long, chill-inducing winter. Offering 1,350 miles of coastline, Florida is easily the most accessible place to absorb some natural vitamin D. The only problem potential vacationers face: Which waterside resort town is the most idyllic to visit?
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Soak up on the sun on Key Biscayne
An exclusive barrier island accessed via the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne provides some of the most awarded beach-scape in the country, along with golf opportunities, in Crandon Park.
At the tip of the island, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park features a natural beach that houses both a historic lighthouse and migratory Neo-tropical birds; snorkeling and diving are also divine here. While the tightly knit downtown serves up some great sushi, particularly the omakase at Chef Kevin Cory’s NAOE, some of the freshest-caught fish is at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami.
Come evening, enjoy The Ritz-Carlton’s unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean by dining on the terrace at Lightkeepers, where the coastal cuisine, featuring Florida-found ingredients, keeps you thematic.
While at the resort, take advantage of its Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center, one of the most prestigious facilities in the U.S. Tennis icon Cliff Drysdale actually oversees day-to-day operations and helps develop programming, and guests are privy to private lessons with pros and daily clinics.
Miami Beach runs from picnic-friendly North Shore Park Beach to South Pointe Park, where you can unleash your canines on Bark Beach. In between the two extremes, The Miami Beach EDITION is a veritable adult playground, with an ice-skating rink and bowling alley in Basement Miami, the on-site nightclub that’s one of the hottest in town.
Should you prefer a stay in downtown Miami, try the W Miami, in the city’s trendy Brickell neighborhood. Here you can take a dip in the property’s 15th floor infinity pool while soaking in epic views of the skyline and Biscayne Bay.
Find outdoor Zen in Fort Lauderdale
With seven miles of spacious, certified Blue Wave beaches (held to standards of cleanliness), Fort Lauderdale Beach offers water sports ranging from deep-sea fishing to riding Jet-Skis; ask about charters and tours at Las Olas Marina.
Relaxing yet chic North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, no longer known as the college Spring Break “strip,” is home to a row of boutiques and cafés as well as the W Fort Lauderdale, which takes advantage of its beachfront location by offering sunrise yoga and boot camp classes on the sand.
Nearby, The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale‘s fitness center overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway. Both hotels are just a few minutes from the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Museum, in addition to Las Olas Boulevard, where the Water Taxi navigates between there and the New River, dropping patrons off and picking them up at the many culinary and retail options.
Browse the shops in Bal Harbour
Home to Bal Harbour Shops, the OG of open-air designer malls, the tiny village of Bal Harbour is simultaneously classy and low key. Aside from some truly coveted shopping opportunities (browse everywhere from Gucci to Rag & Bone) and riveting dining at Stephen Starr restaurant Le Zoo, the beach resorts make up most of the remaining attractions.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort delivers outstanding views as well as amenities such as private cabanas with butler services on the beach or two infinity pools where you can also enjoy complimentary sunscreen applications, smoothie samples and reflexology sessions.
Go for the Gulf and the golf in Naples
The Gulf of Mexico provides a completely different kind of glorious Floridian outlook, where golfers and fans of utter relaxation gather. Whether you choose to hit the greens or the beach, you’ll be more than satisfied.
Check into the Three-Bedroom Royal Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, where you can soak in the sun and explore three miles of shell-collecting shoreline. Or, book a stay in the exquisite Presidential Suite at the neighboring The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, which features two Greg Norman–designed courses. Can’t decide between the two? Guests of either resort can enjoy amenities at both properties, and may take a complimentary guest shuttle between the two.
After a full day, catch the best sunset view in town at Gumbo Limbo, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples‘ beachfront restaurant, or head to Downtown Naples for a meal at local favorite Citrus Seafood or the excellent Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro.
Get your culture fix in Sarasota
A little farther up the west coast, artsy Sarasota, the former home of Ringling Bros. Circus, has some of everything: fine sand beaches with long, shallow reaches into the water; botanical gardens and nature preserves; galleries and cultural institutions; and fine-dining restaurants and upscale boutiques.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota reflects the coastal culture and lifestyle of the region by offering a private beach club, an 18-hole golf course and a luxurious spa. The resort also runs the Ritz Kids camp Friday through Sunday, so the adults can enjoy some alone time while on property.
When you’re ready to explore the town, plan a day at The Ringling, the nearby art museum; breathe deeply in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens; or take in a matinee at the Sarasota Ballet or the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.