Central Florida is one of the best places to be when vacation time rolls around. No, it’s not because of the theme parks. Orlando is an ideal location to start off a road trip because it is located within hours of many of Florida’s most famous beach towns.
Naples: 3.5 Hours
By Marisabel Wolfinger
I always know I’m getting close to a beach town when I start passing beautiful palm trees adorning the side of the road. Naples is no exception. We arrived at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, which rests right on the Gulf of Mexico, and quickly checked in. I could feel myself decompressing the minute I walked into the lobby.
Once settled in a spacious, oceanfront room we changed and hit the white sand where we enjoyed a Spicy Watermelon Margarita served by our beach butler. This was a great way to use our time before heading to SpaTerre for a much-needed Biotec facial. Ask for Joy – she will make you look 10 years younger.
After the beautification, we walked the property and were in awe at the gorgeous landscaping. We lounged by one of the four cascading pools before taking a quick tour of the private golf course, which is surrounded by rolling hills and meticulously manicured greens that wind around 14 lakes and water features.
Dinner at Baleen, one of the only oceanfront restaurants in Naples, called for a decision: to eat inside or at one of the premium tables right in the sand. Our server was attentive and made some delicious recommendations for our food choices. The tuna tartare was fresh and the lobster risotto was creamy and loaded with lobster meat.
Sipping wine and watching the sunset was a perfect ending to a perfect day. It was so stunning I don’t know which I enjoyed more, the food or the view.
Key Largo: 4.5 Hours
By Lyndsay Fogarty
As summer began, we hopped in a 2017 Buick LaCrosse with our sights set on the Playa Largo Resort & Spa in Key Largo for a long weekend of relaxation.
We found that a road trip in this car is as entertaining as it is comfortable. A built-in 4G Wi-fi hotspot kept us connected to work when necessary and made scrolling through social media a breeze (for everyone except the driver, of course). Plugging into Apple CarPlay helped us navigate apps that were safe to use while the car was moving, like Maps and Pandora, on an easy-to-use touchscreen.
We were greeted with the resort’s signature mojito when we pulled up – the perfect way to start off a beach weekend. Located on 14 beachfront acres, the Playa Largo Resort & Spa is known as “the pearl of the Florida Keys.” You can relax in a seaside hammock, rent paddleboards or kayaks, and book an ocean excursion like a snorkel session or sunset catamaran cruise. Then take a break with a massage at the Ocean Spa, which features a wealth of luxuries for the ultimate health and beauty experience. While there are plenty of tasty local eateries off property, the resort has three on-site restaurants and a poolside bar for drinks and light bites. You can even have a snack delivered straight to you on the beach.
While we could have spent all day exploring the property, we jumped back in the Buick and called the OnStar navigation system to find some island adventure. After a quick drive, we landed at Robbie’s in Islamorada, where we fed the massive tarpon that hang around the dock and shopped at a charming market for souvenirs.
It could have been the car or the stress-free stay away. But whatever it was, Key Largo was worth the drive.