Valentine’s Day arrived, already, and, as comedienne Ellen DeGeneres joked the other day, maybe you were stuck buying carnations from Ralph’s at the last minute. In her monologue the Friday preceding V-Day, she laughed about couples in the early part of their relationship going out to dinner, while later in their lives they promise one another they’ll go out later in the month and never do.
If you and your significant ‘other’ found yourselves promising one another you’ll take a romantic getaway later, perhaps it’s time to make your move! Maybe you’re stuck in Atlanta but your heart is in Havana (ooh-na-na) like hit singer Camila Cabello might say! How about a taste of Havana in the much more accessible South Florida, U.S.A.? Here are some ideas to consider if you’re looking to heat things up, even after Valentine’s Day is long-gone:
If you're heading south on the I-95, you can take the exit for Highway 708, the West Blue Heron Boulevard and head east toward Singer Island. After crossing Broadway Avenue, you may want to stop by the Publix Super Market at Riviera Beach for supplies before crossing the bridge from the mainland. You'll may want to load up on breakfast and snack goodies, plus some champagne and a box of chocolates, if you're heading for a resort with kitchen facilities like Palm Beach Shores Resort and Vacation Villas. This secluded resort faces the Atlantic Ocean, so you’ll want to bring your walking shoes, sunglasses, and sunblock for those long walks on the beach.
During your visit, be sure to belly on up to the circular bar at Johnny Longboats. The joint has a full selection of beverages and a selection of menu items. Into Mexican food? There are actually two excellent choices less than a mile apart from one another nearby. Two Drunken Goats offers Mexican-American food in a casual atmosphere, while Guakamole's features tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and, yes, guacamole.
Palm Beach Shores Resort is located adjacent to a lovely municipal seaside park, Riviera Beach. At nearby Riviera Beach Marina Village, you can find a fishing charter or boat rental to take you to legendary “Sailfish Alley,” home of marlin, wahoo, tuna, grouper and many more species. Here you can also rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks or jet-skis.
You’ll want to check out Manatee Lagoon while you’re there for a look at Florida’s state marine mammal. The free discovery center features family-oriented hands-on exhibits, children’s classes and an observation deck to look for wild migrating manatees.
The highlight of the trip for snorkelers and scuba enthusiasts would be the Phil Foster Park. You may have noticed you passed by a small island when you drove on Blue Heron bridge, or State Road A1A, on the way to Singer Island. You might want to set aside a day to backtrack and explore this 14.7-acre beach park featuring an underwater snorkeling trail, fishing areas, and a playground. The area is reputed to be “internationally recognized by scientists, scuba divers, underwater photographers, and snorkelers for its abundance of unique marine life. Squid, octopus, spotted rays, and starfish are regularly seen. A snorkel trail made of limestone boulders and prefabricated reef modules spans a two-acre area in 6 to 10 feet of water. 600 tons of rock were used to build this artificial reef!”
If you continue further south from Singer Island on I-95 toward Fort Lauderdale and follow the I-595 W to FL-84 W in Sunrise, taking the exit toward Naples from I-595 W, you will arrive at Weston, Florida. The area is unique in its access to the edge of the Florida Everglades, and at the same time, close to the retail, restaurants, and art museums of Fort Lauderdale.
You can make your home away from home either Vacation Village at Weston or the Vacation Village at Bonaventure, Mizner. If you get tired of outdoor activities, fine dining (like that might happen), or sightseeing, how about visiting one of the many art museums in the area? Among these are Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Norton Museum of Art, NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, and The Bass, to name only a few.
You and your family can have an adventure you will remember forever as you discover the thrilling wilderness of the everglades with a visit to Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area. Under the oversight of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, hunters and fishing enthusiasts may obtain licenses. For those of us who prefer shooting with a camera or even a cell phone, rather than a gun, the wildlife viewing is astounding. The area is one of the highlights of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, a network of 510 premier wildlife viewing sites across the state. The website, floridabirdingtrail.com provides a plethora of educational information. “When you want to know where to go in Florida to see native birds, butterflies and more, head for the Trail.”
Bal Harbor/Miami Beach
From the wilds of bird- and alligator watching territory, you can head further south, still, to the long strand of island outside of Miami. In the northern part of the island, Bal Harbor, check out the Bluegreen Solara Surfside.
Separated from Miami, proper, by Biscayne Bay, you're just a bridge crossing from the hottest nightlife in the south. For those interested in being at the very heart of this nightlife, a trip across the Bay can lead down to the South Beach area to the Hilton Grand Vacations at McAlpin-Ocean Plaza.
Whether you prefer the more remote, laid-back Bal Harbor or the vibe of Miami heat in South Beach, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the Cuban and Latin American flavor of the region, plenty of world-class shopping venues and eateries, access to fishing and boating, and some of the most fabulous beaches in the world.
And did we mention golf? In fact, golf is a major attraction in each of the areas we profiled above. The local AARP has a list of public courses on its website at https://local.aarp.org/singer-island-fl/golf-courses. Weston, Florida, is surrounded by some of the country’s finest public, as we as private courses, including home to famous Bonaventure Golf Club, a championship semi-private Bonaventure Country Club is home to an 18 hole course designed by Joe Lee. GolfAdvisor.com lists almost three dozen courses, among them, the famous Pembroke Pines, in the Miami-Dade area.