This trip holds a special place in my heart as it was Charlie's first look into my SoFla upbringing. I was excited to show Charlie my high school hangouts, the house I grew up in and the unique perks of growing up in a small, beach town.
We flew out just as the snow was beginning to fall over NYC - little did we know it was the actual start of #BombCyclone. We decided to keep it lowkey for our first night and chose a quiet BBQ dinner at home with the parentals.
We woke up bright and early the next day to sunny 65 degree weather. After a quick breakfast at home, we took to the road and did a mini driving tour of my hometown. I was particularly eager to show him Indian Riverside Park - a gorgeous 63 acre park that sits alongside the Indian River lagoon. It's a popular wedding venue destination and without-a-doubt the number one hangout spot from my adolescent years. We strolled along the lengthy docks, explored the renovated mansion and used fallen palm trees as balance beams on the private beach.
We then hit up Historic Downtown Stuart and gandered at the whimsy shops and bought quirky dog toys for my dad's pups. As we strolled, I re-realized that Stuart, FL is simply crazy for live music. You cannot walk ten minutes in any direction without hearing some jam band rocking out. It was the perfect soundtrack for our relaxed, exploration day.
Now being of legal drinking age, I was excited to investigate the local bar scene in my hometown. First stop, coffee bar Blue Door. It's in Downtown Stuart and known for it's amazing coffee drinks, movie-night Mondays and an impressive collection of Italian Wines. I was bummed that it was raining so we couldn't sit in the string-light adorned courtyard, so we enjoyed a glass of red indoors.
Next bar stop - the newer Vine & Barley. I absolutely LOVED it here. They had vintage chess tables as seating and giant, cozy red leather chairs along the back wall which were perfect for people watching. At V&B, you're given a reusable swipe card that you can load and then self-serve yourself. They have over fifty unique wines available.
After our relaxing day of pretty drives, pretty strolls and pretty wines - we, again, had a nice BBQ dinner at home with Shark Tank re-runs and gin & tonics.
We woke up on New Years Eve excited for the nights festivities. I loved that we weren't in NYC having to decide which hot party or bar to go to, but instead choosing to keep it casual, cheap and, most importantly, very Florida. My dad insisted we go to Twisted Tuna, it's a nearby bar and restaurant in Port Salerno that's unique because you can enter the restaurant by land or sea. It was right on the water and encouraged boaters to pull up to the dock and party on the outside bar. Charlie, my brother and I had a wonderful time sitting at the bar and taking advantage of the much cheaper beer prices FL has to offer.
I was a bit disappointed that for the remainder of our trip, the weather was gray and chilly and not the Florida sunshine that I promised Charlie. However, we made the best of it. A family favorite growing up was Shuckers, a fun spot on Hutchinson Island where you eat your meal directly on the beach. We enjoyed oysters, crab cakes and Coronas in the chilly, Florida air.
Charlie and I then hit up The Elliot Museum. I've always loved this space and we had an amazing time learning about my towns history and admiring their extensive collection of vintage cars. The collection is displayed in a glass-enclosed, three-story garage, equipped with a robotic stacking system that allows visitors to select a vehicle and move it on a conveyor belt to a turntable that rotates to offer a better view. It was incredible.
We concluded my hometown visit with, you guessed it, a BBQ dinner at home. However, this time we added a round of cigars on the porch and a new episode of Shark Tank.
Charlie and I had recently discovered we were both Slytherins and had a plan to go to Universal Studios, walk Diagon Alley and purchase authentic Slytherin scarves. We packed up our bags and drove the two hours north to Orlando.
Although it was only thirty degrees outside, we luxuriated in an embarrassing amount of butter beers and Lard Lad donuts. The cold meant shorter lines, which was a silver lining. After a day at the park, we hit up Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal City Walk. Their milkshakes were out of this world and definitely worth the hour long wait.
All in all, our trip to Florida was relaxed, chilly and fun. After the trip we decided to make this our New Years tradition and here's to hoping there isn't another #BombCyclone next year.