While road tripping across Florida with three of my gal-pals, for a girlfriend getaway, I came to realise something that I totally did not expect nor fully appreciated of Florida before.
Every city is wildly different.
Wildly different. Like, alligators vs dolphins kind of different.
Thanks to 1000s of hours of movies and TV, I could safely say that Miami was the place to be to party. And that Orlando is home of the mouse.
But I didn’t expect Florida’s tourist destinations to be so individually unique.
Flying into Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) for Girlfriend Getaway Road Trip!
Like all of my girlfriends, Florida is filled with personality.
Thanks to a week of travel through Jacksonville, St. Pete’s Beach/Clearwater, and St. Augustine with my buddies, Margarita from DownshiftingPRO, Paula of Thrifty Mommas Tips, and Sandy of Canadian Blog House, I’m going to create a personality chart for Florida cities/towns that I’ve visited, based on traits, such as The Foodie, The History Buff, the Sporty Enthusiast, etc.
In the meantime, check out…
This one had me floored (literally, hah). In theory, I did know that there are endless varieties of sand, but I didn’t fully appreciate that you will find differing sandy beaches across Florida.
Who knew that the various constant wind patterns and the gulf stream would create such a diverse sand compositions along Florida’s multitude of coast.
Apparently, not I.
St. Pete’s Beach
A fluffy, yellowish sand, layered with shells. This beach is riddled with shells of all kinds, so be sure to pack water-shoes or durable sandals to cross over and swim in the epic Gulf of Mexico/Atlantic Ocean without thinking ouch-ouch-ouch, as you traverse over the shell-filled sands.
Cabanas available for your stay at TradeWinds Island Grand Resort – pro tip – book yours ahead of your trip online! They might not be available to reserve if you wait.
Wear water-proofed sandals on this beach for quick access to the waves.
This picture is titled, “Sandy Has No Head, hahaha.”
Where a St. Pete’s Beach sand is fluffy and yellow, a Jacksonville Beach can be packed, wet and grey/brown-ish in colour.
Thanks to Sandy, I did that absolutely touristy thing, and wrote “Geek with Style” in the sand. It disappeared in under 5 minutes with the waves.
Standing under the bridge, watching the waves collide.
I think my favourite sunrise happened in Jacksonville, Florida during our road trip.
Kayaking along Simpson Creek, Jacksonville with Kayak Amelia will find you standing on truly fluffy white beach.
There are particular areas of Florida that will make a Foodie cry tears of absolute joy, like I did a few weeks ago. My favourite city for the multitude of deliciously fresh food to enjoy was St. Augustine.
The “scratch kitchen” concept is highly regarded here, and it absolutely shines with every meal. You will be hard-pressed to find a fast food franchise in this historic town, and you will thank them for it.
I refuse to make a devilled egg ever again, because it could never live up to the heaven I experienced at Catch 27 as an appetizer.
I’m not even kidding.
Picture a hardboiled egg, with nicely whipped yolk, topped with a breaded oyster and bedded on bacon jam. While that mixture might sound obnoxious, the results will make you weep. It’s that good.
Deviled Egg BLT w/Southern Fried Oyster – it will make you cry happy tears.
Also delicious, The Shrimp Taco with garlic aioli and Squash Bisque
Catch 27’s Highly Regarded Cocktail Bar – I asked for a mocktail, and he brought me something delicious with watermelon & mint in a cute tiki glass, YUM!
Hot Shot Bakery & Cafe
I love my job, largely because I get to experience moments like having a hot lunch, in Hot Shot Bakery & Cafe’s kitchen with the fantastic owner and chef Sherry Stoppelbein!
Hot Shot Bakery & Cafe’s owner and chef Sherry Stoppelbein. Stop by and say hi to the Duchess of Datil.
I will come back to St. Augustine, Florida for her Ham & Turkey Panini alone. The housemade cranberry mustard is a must-do experience, as is the Datil B Good hot sauce!
I’m not normally a fan of hot sauce, but that didn’t stop me from bringing a bottle of the Duchess of Datil’s “Datil B Good” Fifth-Degree Burn Hot Sauce home for Jay and I to enjoy.
You will not want to leave St. Augustine simply because you’ll be leaving Hot Shot Bakery’s Ham & Turkey paninis behind! Created with housemade cranberry mustard, and breads! Housemade gluten free bread is an available option too!
Watching the delicious Ham and Turkey paninis be made. *drool*
You could eat this housemade cranberry mustard with a spoon! True fact: I did!
Authentic Minorcan Clam Chowder – made by Menorca descendant Chef Sherry Stoppelbein
Datils – a locally grown pepper, covered in chocolate for a delicious treat.
Maple Street Biscuit Company
So GOOD I had breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company TWICE. This delicious bit is The Farmer Sandwich. Flaky biscuit, all natural fried chicken, pecan wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese topped with fresh house made apple butter. Maple Street has recently started to franchise, and I’m absolutely begging them to open one in Toronto.
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails
Loved the appetizers at Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, like the Cheddar Biscuit Tots, and this lovingly stuffed bacon and cheese mess that I can’t find on the menu, so can’t tell you what it’s called. If you visit Moxie’s, just show them this picture and say, “I want that!” (include the exclamation!)
THE FUN OF EXPLORATION
Whether by kayak, segway, or foot, there is just so much to explore and enjoy within Florida. You would need a month to barely scratch the surface.
After two experiences of kayaking this past October, I am by no means an “expert” in this sport.
But, I can tell you a secret that I learned in Jacksonville, Florida. For a kayaking adventure with serene floats along a mangrove, and a little bit more robust paddling along choppy waters. And cookies. Visit Kayak Amelia for an incredible time, designed for beginners in mind.
Now, the four of us are fairly smart people. But, that didn’t stop a single one of us from reading this sign below, and wondering if oysters bite. *facepalm*
Beware of Oysters – they will walk up and bite you.
Simpson Creek is home to oyster beds along the floor bottom. Their shells can be super sharp, so you have to be careful of where you step.
Roll over this Instagram image to scroll through all seven pictures of our kayak adventure!
A trip with Kayak Amelia includes a stop on a beach to enjoy homemade cookies! THIS is the only way to kayak, seriously.
Casa Marina Hotel
History geeks will love to explore this historic hotel that first opened its doors in Jacksonville, Florida in 1925.
It’s also reputably haunted by several spirits, just ask the staff!
Watching a sunrise on the upstairs patio of the historic Casa Marina Hotel.
For those who are historically inclined, you will want to spend a week minimum in St. Augustine. The architecture, the culture, food, and even the ghost stories.
All of it is epic.
There was honestly a buzz of excited energy that rippled through our car the moment we drove into St. Augustine.
Exploring the Historic Coast of Florida, St. Augustine.
Stay tuned as I share all of my geek-hearted love in exploring St. Augustine next week! If I tried to fit everything here, this post would be more like a book!
St Augustine Florida Explore the Historic Coast – here’s a tiny sample of the pics I’ve edited so far.
St. Pete’s Beach & Clearwater
Also cannot wait to share all the fun to be had in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida! Keep an eye out on Twitter when I announce that post is finally published!
Sharing St. Pete’s Beach and Clearwater, Florida, coming soon!
Have you visited Jacksonville, St. Pete’s Beach, Clearwater and/or St. Augustine? I would love to hear your expereinces!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Visit Florida in a partnership with Geek with Style to provide you the most up to date facts, helping you make better informed decisions. All opinions in this article are my own.