A Perfect Day Along A1A
Driving south along A1A, from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach then Palm Beach and Miami, shows the changing scenes along Florida’s Atlantic coast. There is solitude and beauty along with action and adventure.
Almost isolated spots are a part of what makes the drive along A1A so enchanting and reflects the Florida that European explorers first encountered upon reaching the New World.
Daytona Beach and the rollicking boardwalk competes with the action of the waves. Surfing, swimming, sun bathing and Spring Break are all a part this area.
But it’s places like The Breakers in Palm Beach and the Fontainebleau along Miami Beach that harken to days gone by.
Luxury homes and resorts were designed for travelers to stay for months at a time along with their servants, maids and nannies. At the turn of the last century, two of Florida’s first luxury resorts were Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel ,with its sparkling minarets, and Flagler’s Breakers, in Palm Beach. Plant and Flagler established a chain of resorts, Flagler on the east coat and Plant inland and along the Gulf Coast. Flagler’s Hotel Ponce de Leon was his first in Florida and Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel featured a reading room and a basement bar, or rathskeller, for men. For women, there were parlors and tea rooms. A Culinary History of Florida.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach, The Breakers Hotel continues to operate as a luxury resort. White Hall, also built by Henry Flagler as a winter home, houses the Flagler Museum, seasonally serving high tea with sandwiches, scones and sweets. Florida Sweets
Jack and I were staying at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, doing more research (wink-wink). After check-in, we saw the whimsical display of cookies and cakes as we walked past the coffee shop, Chez Bon Bon. A square red velvet cake and glistening flip-flop-shaped cookies were only two of the luscious-looking desserts on display. Ready for coffee and something sweet the next morning, I was intrigued to see a Florida orange mocha on the menu. It reminded me of the exotic flavors offered to vacationers during the Gilded Age at luxury resorts along the coast. Florida Sweets.
When you reach South Florida, along the Atlantic Coast, and the explosion that is Miami, the rollicking beats and crashing waves along the shore at South Beach exemplifies the average American’s perception of Florida. Its tropical summers, flat wetlands; sprawled out, mid-century suburban communities; and Art Deco hotels are the true stereotype. The landscape is covered in shopping malls and highways, between renowned beaches. A Culinary History of Florida.