Our Favorite Under-The-Radar Destinations in Florida
There is no shortage of great destinations throughout the state of Florida; and with so many communities providing residents with a host of services and amenities, more than 20 million people now choose to call Florida home. The state is no longer known to be a retirement getaway, as all ages now strive to make Florida their full-time home, or at least a vacation getaway with second (or third) homes.
Beyond the obvious destinations of Miami for a high-energy pace of life paired with resorts dedicated to wellness and fitness; Naples for unparalleled luxury golf communities and high-end shopping with an unmatched sense of style; and Palm Beach for a mix of modern shopping venues with the classic elegance among the residential communities; Florida is also home to other destinations not often featured in the popular guidebooks. Being a bit under-the-radar makes these destinations that much more attractive since you can still take advantage of the perks of Florida’s weather, private residential communities and the up-and-coming food scene while not being concerned with large crowds or pretention.
City of Stuart
Located just 45 minutes north of Palm Beach is the unassuming city of Stuart, aptly known by those in the know as the “Sailfish Capital of the World.” Its waters are prime for this ultimate catch, as well as dolphin, wahoo, kingfish, tarpon, snook, redfish and sea trout. For those looking to settle down in the area, the high quality of the schools and healthcare are attractive additions to the local boutiques, the high-end shopping, a diversity of dining options, and perhaps the most important, the people. Many of the full and part time locals gravitate to nearby Sailfish Point to live in this ultra-exclusive private residential community, complete with a variety of housing types, private marina and yacht club, golf club, tennis and endless activities and social opportunities. This unrivaled setting is the perfect backdrop for a captivating lifestyle while being as active — or relaxed — as you wish. Once you visit Sailfish Point, you understand why Ocean Home Magazine selected it as one of the “Best of the Best” in residential developments.
- Learn More: City of Stuart
- Our Favorite Hotel: Marriott Beach Resort
- Our Favorite Restaurant: The Gafford
- Our Favorite Community: Sailfish Point
Relatively speaking, Marco Island is a small island only measuring 6 miles by 4 miles, but it has a lot of offer. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, just thirty minutes south of Naples, Marco Island is the northernmost island of the Ten Thousand Islands chain that stretches south through Everglades City to Flamingo and the Florida Keys, and is the largest of this island chain. The locals love this area for the abundance of wildlife, excellent fishing, and simply a relaxed way of life. Though much of the social life here revolves around the white sandy beaches and activities like kayaking, fishing and boating; there is also great shopping and dining at the Esplanade, which spans along the waterfront on Smokehouse Bay. Hideaway Beach is a private community that offers their residents direct access to a sensational private beach, luxury home options, a challenging 9-hole golf course, a dynamic sports complex, and a true sense of community. Unique to Hideaway Beach is that of their 300 acres, approximately half of this is part of their wetlands and conservancy, and that they hold the distinction of having the largest concentration of native Florida Live Oak trees.
- Learn More: Marco Island
- Our Favorite Hotel: JW Marriott Marco Island
- Our Favorite Restaurant: Chop 239
- Our Favorite Community: Hideaway Beach
Located between Orlando and Palm Beach, Vero Beach is part of Florida’s “Treasure Coast,” where it is largely shielded from the Atlantic Ocean by narrow sandbars and barrier islands that protect the shallow lagoons, rivers, and bays. The shopping and dining is first-rate, and the culture is surprisingly abundant in this little elegant beach town. You will also notice that there are no high-rise buildings disrupting the views in Vero Beach, thanks to their zoning that prevents any building or structure from exceeding 35 feet. Golfers and water sports and fishing enthusiasts feel right at home here in Vero Beach with endless opportunities to follow these passions. In addition to a few larger shopping malls, downtown Vero Beach offers dining and shopping that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning of residents and guests. Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club is a favorite private community in the area, catering to residents looking for championship golf in a relaxed and chic environment. Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club is nestled between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Vero Beach, and recognized as a Distinguished Emerald Club of the World.
- Learn More: City of Vero Beach
- Our Favorite Hotel: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
- Our Favorite Restaurant: Bistro Fourchette
- Our Favorite Community: Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club