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Baker's Dozen – 13 Tips to Make Your Next Florida Getaway Great

Women's Initiative Newsletter

As the temperature rises and the days get longer, our thoughts turn to planning vacations to the Sunshine State. The women of Baker Donelson's Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tallahassee offices provided their tips to help you travel like a pro.

1. Wakulla Springs State Park near Tallahassee. Take a glass-bottomed boat tour in crystal clear water to see manatees and wildlife close-up and play in swimming area. It's not just for nature-enthusiasts.

2. Shopping in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. If you enjoy discount shopping, the outlet malls in these cities are heaven. The malls are crowded during the middle of the day on the weekends and during the holiday shopping season.

3. Tampa. Hotels outside of the downtown area are relatively quiet after business hours. I recommend the South Tampa area, or to stay at a property on one of the beaches. Note that there are not many areas around there that are "walkable" from a hotel.

 – Marisa Dorough, Associate, Orlando

4. Park Avenue in Winter Park (just north of Orlando). The brick-lined street that begins at the entrance to Rollins College is full of charm – an art museum, a train station, a park, great shopping, and one of my favorite restaurants, Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine. The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour leaves every hour and is a fun way to see the waterfront homes and hear a little bit of local history (Winter Park was once home to Rollins grad, Mr. Rogers). Visit the Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass museum to see all their beautiful works. On Saturdays, there is a popular farmer's market and twice yearly the wonderful Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. The SunRail, the light rail system, goes through this area and can take you to our office in downtown.

5. The best way to cool off on a hot day in Orlando is with Jeremiah's Italian Ice. It is a refreshing and delicious creamy or fruity treat (depending on your flavor) with the option to layer in frozen yogurt (a combo referred to as a "gelati"). My order is the same every time: all ice, half cookies and cream, and half "Scoop Froggy Frog" (Jeremiah's-speak for mint chocolate chip).

 – Michelle Zaltsberg, Associate, Orlando

6. Visiting during stone crab season (October 15 – May 15), but don't want to wait for a table at Joe's? Check out Joe's Take Away next door, grab your claws to go, and head a block south to South Pointe Park and set up a picnic overlooking the water. In addition to grabbing some side dishes to share, don't forget to load up on wet-wipes, little forks, and bibs – stone crabs are delicious, but quite messy!

7. Architecture fan? Check out the guide-led and self-guided Art Deco Walking Tours from the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL), which will guide you around South Beach's famous Art Deco buildings. Pick up info at their welcome center at 10th Street and Ocean Drive. If you're big on true crime, the MDPL also offers a "South Beach Scandals" walking tour the second Saturday of the month.

8. Hit up the bar that was voted #18 out of the 50 Best Bars in the World – The Broken Shaker, located in the Freehand Hotel on Miami Beach. Indulge in a hand-crafted cocktail, the punch of the day, or ask the bartender to create something to suit your taste preferences. Pro tip: call to reserve a table in advance. The restaurant onsite, 27, is also a great choice for dinner or brunch.

9. Check out graffiti and art by artists both local and international in Wynwood. You could easily spend a day wandering the Wynwood Walls and the galleries located within. Stroll up NW 2nd Avenue and check out the boutiques and galleries along the way. Grab a meal, snack, or juice at Coyo Taco, Wynwood Kitchen + Bar, Alter, Kyu, The Salty Donut, Dr. Smood, JugoFresh, or a host of other options, and drinks at Brick House, Gramps, Wood Tavern, or anywhere in between.

10. Don't be scammed into a "Happy Hour" special at any establishment along Ocean Drive – you'll walk away $50 poorer and with a massive sugar-induced headache. If people-watching on Ocean Drive is what you're in the mood for, grab breakfast or brunch at News Café or Front Porch Café, or a drink at the Clevelander. There are great spots for people watching at any establishment along Lincoln Road and Espanola Way as well.

11. For a night out without the lines, velvet ropes, and "lists," check out Rec Room at the Regent, Basement at the Edition, Sweet Liberty (all on Miami Beach), or Ball & Chain (on Calle Ocho in Little Havana). Basement also has a small bowling alley and an ice skating rink. Sweet Liberty has the best non-frozen pina colada ever. Ball & Chain is a revitalized 1950s Latin-music venue, which often has live music in their outdoor, pineapple-topped bandshell.

12. There's more to Miami than South Beach. Check out the recently-revitalized Coconut Grove, the always-interesting Little Havana, and the luxe shopping and interesting public art of the Design District. And forget the car because parking, especially around South Beach, is scarce and expensive. Uber and Lyft are a Miami visitor's best friends.

 – Eve Cann, Shareholder, Fort Lauderdale

13. We are so blessed to live so close to the beautiful beaches on the Florida Panhandle. My favorite beach is Rosemary Beach on 30A. The beach is beautiful and there are fun clothing and home boutiques and restaurants contained in a walkable area. The Pearl is a small gem of a hotel right in the center of Rosemary Beach. As Rosemary's popularity continues to rise along with the crowds, we also enjoy visiting Carillon Beach and Panama City Beach near St. Andrews State Park, which is quiet and beautiful. If you're looking for a destination this fall, late September and early October are wonderful times to visit the Panhandle, because the summer crowds are gone and the weather is still warm enough for swimming.

 – Dena Sokolow, Shareholder, Tallahassee

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