Leslie here…and please pause while I sing a bit of “Sister Christian,” because very few people my age have, since 1984, said the word “motoring” and then not sung “What’s your price for flight? In finding Mr. Right! It’ll be all right…to-niiiight.” Old. Rocking. Not sorry.
OK, now that that’s over, I’m all filled with wanderlust after a ridiculously relaxing trip to Maryland with my husband and the kid who lives with us. It’s the first time we’d been to our home state in more than a year, and the wee one’s second set of round-trip flights. (A blog discussing the indignities and pleasantries of plane travel with a toddler is coming soon, but it’s been a heavy day, so I wanna be on the positive tip today, as we olds would say.) It was great to see everyone, we were super chill and the boy had a good time. But after the running through the airport, fighting to sit together and trying to explain to a 20 month-old why he couldn’t climb over me and run up and down the aisle past the beverage cart like a crazy boy, I turned to my husband and said, “Didn’t you want to do a bunch of road trips this year?”
We live in Florida, a very big state with some places we’ve made favorites, some I haven’t visited in ages and a few I’ve never made the acquaintance of but really need to. I’ll bet there are some cool places within decent driving distance of you, so your list is probably different. What’s your top five place to be motoring…and not take a flight? (I am sorry. You’re singing that now.)
1) Naples: We love the Gulf Coast, because it’s quieter and the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico have a different vibe than those out here on the Atlantic. Naples is a particular favorite, because it’s got several of my favorite things – really nice hotels with room service, an excellent downtown with great shops (see above) and eats up and down Fifth Avenue, and beautiful beaches. It’s a historic, elegant place with some quirks.
2) The Keys: There is no place called Kokomo in the Florida Keys, no matter what the Beach Boys say, but there are some incredible islands, shameless sunsets, cool hotels of every type from dive to divine, breathtaking bridges and lots of places to get lost. Key West was a favorite as a single girl, in bed and breakfasts and in a swanky Sheraton Suites on the beach, and now as a married chick (our honeymoon cruise stopped there, and we turned the end of the Ragnar Relay, which I ran three years ago, into a mini-vacation, staying in a little guest house with a clothing-optional pool. I told my husband that the fit runners would not be in the pool, only like old German tourists. And I was right.) We haven’t been back since the kid has been with us, but we’re in talks for my husband’s big milestone birthday this fall (I would also love to check out Key Largo, where I only stopped for an afternoon when my grandparents were staying there. I’d love to do the glass bottom boat.
3) South Beach: Again, this is a place we’ve done much differently as married people and parents than when I was single (Remind me to never tell you about that.) The above photo is from the rooftop pool at the Riviera, a cool spot in a slightly quieter portion of SoBe, just west of Collins Avenue. We also did The James, which is a little more central, not far from the shops and stuff on Lincoln Road, and the Metropolitan by Como, a relaxing and purposely chill spot where they’re proud not to be a party spot. I do most of my partying dancing around my living room with a toddler singing Four Seasons songs, so I’m fine with that. These days, we stay in nice places and eat. And there’s plenty of that.
4) Seaside: It’s in the Panhandle, where my husband used to live, but where I’ve yet to go. It’s a bit of a schlep. But I would love to take a few days, where we can stop somewhere in between if the kiddie gets restless, because it’s supposed to be gorgeous, with little postcard houses that attracted Peter Weir when he made “The Truman Show.” It’s also between Destin and Panama City Beach, two places I’m excited to visit, although not at Spring Break.
5) St. Augustine: About ten years ago I did a road trip with my friend Rachel for part of a story where I was running in different places around the state. We stayed at the cutest Victorian B&B, did some cool walking tours, including that of the historic fort there, and met a guy dressed as an authentic Spanish soldier named Jeff, or as we called him, El Jeff-e. I’d love to walk the kiddo around the cobblestones and buy him a little soldier hat. I also wonder how old Jeff’s doing.
Where do you want to go?