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by: Kelly Stilwell

Even those of us who live in paradise need to get away now and then! Whether you’re looking for a week-long family vacation or a weekend getaway, we’ve got ideas!


If all the great restaurants and things to do weren’t enough, there’s a new reason to visit our neighbor less than an hour to the north. The Tampa Edition is the city’s first five-star hotel, and you really have to see it to believe it. The spacious lobby area almost feels like a garden party! It encompasses a gorgeous bar with plenty of seating and specialty cocktails, Lilac, the Mediterranean restaurant led by Michelin-starred Chef John Fraser, and The Market, a gathering place for coffee and pastries in the morning and Italian favorites like pizza and charcuterie for lunch and dinner. It’s hard to believe you’re still on the first floor!

Upstairs, spread over 26 stories, you’ll find 172 spacious guest rooms, 30 suites and a stunning penthouse suite for those really wanting to splurge. Enjoy a cocktail before or after dinner in The Punch Room, the elegant lounge with walnut wall paneling and a cognac marble bar. The Arts Club combines the Lounge, offering cocktails and appetizers, a specially commissioned photo booth, and the Verde Antico marble bar which is perfect before enjoying the Arts Club Cabaret which will host a lineup of entertainers. Inspired by Radio City Music Hall, it boasts 350 different sized mirrored balls.

Finally, you can’t visit without seeing The Rooftop on the ninth floor, housing another restaurant overseen by Chef Fraser — Azure. In addition, this area offers relaxation and fun at the gorgeous pool club with cabanas and more than 80 sun loungers. Needless to say, there are many reasons to visit this swanky new spot. Make reservations now as they book up fast.


Still in the state but a bit more difficult to get to from Bradenton, Amelia Island is a gorgeous destination in the northeast corner of Florida, 22 miles from the Jacksonville International Airport.
A short flight to Miami, another short flight to Jacksonville, and a 45-minute drive to Amelia Island is the preferred mode of getting there, but it’s an easy drive as well, taking around four hours.

Once there, Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island is a stunning oceanfront
resort with views that go on forever. The resort looks over the

Atlantic Ocean and boasts rooms and suites, all with private balconies and ocean views.

As for things to do, a visit to the spa is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Relax in the sauna or whirlpool before indulging
in one of their specialty treatments. Enjoy some time by one of the pools or grab a lounger by the ocean. Play 18 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island or take your game up a notch by attending a class at The Performance Golf Academy. There’s even a kids’ club if mom and dad need a little alone time.

When it comes to food, a visit to this property will take your tastebuds on a journey. Salt, the award-winning, AAA Five Diamond-rated upscale restaurant is outstanding. Coast, with its bright and airy atmosphere, features a sprawling breakfast buffet as well as morning menu offerings. For lunch and dinner, Coast specializes in seafood, but you’ll find something for everyone on the menu. Located outside by the pool, Coquina is laidback with delicious ceviche and other coastal and Mexican specialities. The Lobby Bar features small-batch spirits including a daily special you can taste at First Call each day, and serves delicious and creative made-to-order sushi. Tidewater Grill features local beer, drinks and Low-country inspired fare. You really never have to leave the resort!

Though not typically an early riser, I had to see the sunrise everyone talks about at this resort. Two hundred photos later, I’m happy to report it’s worth missing the sleep!


Especially for golfers, Pinehurst is an experience not to be missed, though there is a lot more than golf in this city located in Moore County, North Carolina.

One must-do activity is a visit to Pinehurst Resort, designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Take a stroll inside and look at the photos of the famous guests of the past, like John D. Rockefeller, Annie Oakley, Will Rogers, Amelia Earhart and Theodore Roosevelt. Of course, most famous golfers have visited, as well, so you’ll see photos of Ben Hogan, Sam Sneed and Arnold Palmer, just to name a few.

For those who do play golf, Pinehurst is home to nine professional courses, including the most famous, Pinehurst No. 2, built in 1907. Designed by Donald Ross, this course has
hosted more championship tournaments than any golf course in America, including The PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup and the U.S. Open.

Prefer an active getaway but not a golf fan? Try your hand at tennis or croquet, or set up a horseback riding adventure. And if you want to say you played golf when you visited, play a free round at Thistle Dhu, Pinehurst’s 18-hole putting course. Photos or it didn’t happen!

Rather shop, eat and explore? There’s a lot of that to do in the New England-style Pinehurst Village. You’ll find several handmade pottery shops, clothing boutiques, gift shops and

When you’re ready to eat, Dugan’s Irish Pub offers a traditional menu of Irish specialties as well as sandwiches and cold Guinness on tap. For an authentic American Tavern experience,
visit Drum & Quill. Don’t miss the bar, housed in a 130-year-old magistrate judge’s chamber. The menu is loaded with American favorites but also offers Korean beef and tacos, so it’s likely everyone will be happy. For a more upscale meal, The Carolina Dining Room in Pinehurst Resort is lovely and elegant.

Just strolling to look at the stunning architecture in Pinehurst is a fun way to get a little exercise and walk off those calories. If you’re up for a Historic Walking Tour, contact Pinehurst Resort for availability. For even more shops and restaurants, visit Southern Pines, a smaller village just minutes away.

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