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Travel + Leisure says Apalachicola is 'so eerily perfect it almost feels Photoshopped'

6

January

A mention near the back of The Week sent me to something that ran in November in the giant travel mag, written by Tom Austin, the "Ultimate Guide to Florida." Here are 14 things I underlined:

1. All over my home state, there's a renewed enthusiasm for the unique and authentic. Where "Old Florida" was a semiotic grab bag of calculated nostalgia (rocking chairs; "Howdy, neighbor" civility), today you'll find a Stay Local, Buy Local approach to quality. Floridians are becoming ... well ... hip.

2. The first leg of any Florida road trip should begin in Miami. Curiously, as South Beach gets bigger and bigger in a starchitecture kind of way (we're set to have seven parking garages designed by award-winning architects), my world here has become a self-curated small town of sympathetic haunts, distilled into a kind of Miami haiku.

3. ... all over Miami a new order of contemporary pleasure is being built on the romance of the past.

4. Nearby, in 1888, Henry Morrison Flagler opened the Hotel Ponce de León, a Gilded Age wonderment that launched Florida tourism and made St. Augustine a veritable Newport South.

5. Croatian sea salt infused with peels of Florida citrus is paired with Key West pink prawns.

6. Jacksonville has the ineffable hipness of Portland, Oregon ...

7. ... Apalachicola, which is so eerily perfect it almost feels Photoshopped: the town is one big charm bracelet of antiques stores and quaint B&B's ...

8. Apalachicola is just real enough — the ideal Florida town ...

9. ... the usual chain of drugstores and strip malls conceding to the great, good grace of Weeki Wachee Springs, where local women dressed as mermaids have put on shows since 1947.

10. Tampa, like Jacksonville, is an urban revelation of DIY cool ...

11. The place for dessert: Bern's Steak House ($$$), done up in acres of gilt and sin-red walls.

12. ... Naples, the Gulf Coast equivalent of Palm Beach. Naples is all about the clang and clamor of money ...

13. The most fun place in town is the high-concept Peace, Love, & Little Donuts, situated in a gas station and serving such "groovy donuts" as "Saigon cinnamon," proving that even in tony Naples, some of the best things in life are also the cheapest.

14. ... January for the annual Key West Literary Seminar. This year's theme is "The Dark Side," exploring the noir part of life — never in short supply in Florida ...

[Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 12:25pm]

    

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