While snow piles over the rest of America, Miami’s gearing up for the best weather of the year. As tourists flock to our sunny beaches, sometimes the sheer density of people can become a bit overwhelming. We get it. It can be nice to get away from all the noise, but sometimes, it’s not so easy to just pick up and go off to another state or country. Here are some ideas for taking a short breather to get away from all of the rush. Recharge and refresh without straying too far.
The Long Drive
Settled by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is technically the nation’s oldest European settlement. As the old tale goes, Juan Ponce de Leon explored St. Augustine in 1513, where he is rumored to have found the fountain of youth, a well that bubbled magical springs promising to keep the young, young, and transform the old into their youthful selves. Whether you believe the dubious tale or not, there’s plenty of history to soak in when visiting St. Augustine. We suggest you stay at the centrally located Secret Garden Cove, which is just walking distance from the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a 17th-century Spanish fortress. The pedestrian-friendly downtown streets are lined with preserved historical houses, local artists painting and making jewelry at street corners, and tons of kitschy coffee shops and restaurants.
The Short Getaway
What if we told you that you could spend a weekend surrounded by roses, ginger, basil, mint, and hibiscus flowers, and all you have to do is drive about 40 minutes south? There’s a farm in Homestead where you can stay to stop and smell the flowers, shower under the stars, and end the day by a warm fire. During Miami’s busy season, with so many new drivers honking their horns and airplanes flying overhead, it can be hard to even hear yourself think. Take a quick break and explore Miami’s agricultural scene, and while you’re there stop by local favorites like Knaus Berry Farms for their famed gooey cinnamon buns, or the Robert is here fruit stand. You can even bike over to the Everglades and soak in the beauty of the swamp’s seemingly endless river of grass, and maybe even catch a glimpse of alligators, deer, and the endangered Florida panther.
Key Largo Boatel
It’s a hotel, it’s a boat — it’s a boatel. What could be better than waking up every morning singing “I’m on a boat,” and it actually being true? In the Upper Keys, there’s a place where you can sleep along a mangrove-lined shore, amidst coastal nature, but with the comfort of A/C and wifi. From the boat, you’ll be able to see manatees underwater and iguanas climbing along trees. Be sure to get off of the boat at some point and kayak or paddleboard over to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to snorkel and dive, exploring the beautiful coral reefs hidden just below the surface.
Treehouse Canopy: Permaculture Farm
Sometimes all you need to recharge and refresh is to get out of your house and explore your own city in a new way. This permaculture farm in Little River is surrounded by goats, pigs, emus, and chickens — and it’s all just 3 miles north of Wynwood bars and restaurants (and a couple blocks away from The New Tropic, so come say hello!). The treehouse was built 25 years ago and has survived at least three major hurricanes, according to Airbnb host Leslie Chasser. “We wanted to give people an opportunity to live on an urban farm and enjoy the gardens, animals, and have a little escape within the big city,” she said. Climb a ladder high up into a pithocilobium tree, where the wooden tree house comfortably houses up to three people. The bathroom is three floors below, with a hot water, outdoor shower. But be wary of mosquitos and other insects — especially during the rainy and summer seasons. On the plus side, the mosquito netting makes it feel like you’re sleeping in a canopy bed. There have been more than 400 people on the farm to date, with guests from every continent, Chasser added.
Some Miamians love this New Orleans-style wine bar so much they just want to live here. Well, for a few nights they actually can, because there are three reasonably priced rooms for rent just above the beloved jazz house. After spending the night drinking wine, eating a plate of yummy cheese and fig jam, and listening to some of Miami’s best local talent, just walk up the stairs and sleep it off. The next day, stop in for some Venezuelan arepas at La Latina and go window shopping around Midtown’s Design District.
The total disconnect
Camping in Ocala
To really get away from it all, ditch your phone, leave your computer at home, and pack up a tent to go camping in northern Florida. We suggest pitching a tent in the Ocala National Forest, kayaking the rivers and cozying by the warmth of a campfire. Another option is the Blue Spring State Park, just at the edge of a national forest where you can kayak in fresh springs and maybe even spot a manatee or two. If you’d rather be glamping, rent a cabin or bring an RV for an unplugged getaway minus the mud and bugs.