Most people think of Florida as a place to spend a relaxing vacation on the beach, getting tanned and sipping on a refreshing cocktail. Older people think of it as a good place to relocate and spend their after-work life. But if you look beyond the clichés, you’ll find out that Florida is not defined only by tropical beaches and retirement communities as it has much more to offer.
Those who are passionate about architecture and design and plan on visiting Florida are in for a treat. We’re not talking about the billionaire mansions or Miami’s skyline, but about the many picture-perfect houses and buildings that you’ll discover across the state.
Florida is a mixture of old and new in terms of architecture. Classic and modern styles blend perfectly together and you’ll definitely fall in love with some of the buildings you see. If you decide to buy a property in Florida, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. Just remember to buy insurance for your new asset as well, since the Sunshine State is a hurricane prone area, so do some research for homeowners insurance quotes in Florida to have your back covered.
Amongst the many architectural gems you’ll find along the way, there are a few that stand out. Here are 7 of the most impressive architectural attractions worth visiting in Florida:
Ancient Spanish Monastery
One thing that makes the Ancient Spanish Monastery worth visiting is the fact that it is the oldest building in Florida, but there’s a catch to it. It dates from 1141 and it wasn’t built in Florida, but in Sacramenia, Spain. In 1925 a rich newspaper owner, William Randolph Hearst, bought the building and had it moved piece by piece to America. However, it remained stored for years in New York and it wasn’t until 1954 that it was rebuilt in its actual location. Its long and fascinating journey through time and across different continents makes it a valuable tourist attraction, but the monastery is also an interesting option for those who are planning a wedding in Florida.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
If you have a soft spot for luxury and opulence, then Villa Vizcaya and its gardens are not going to let you down. The grandiose mansion was built between 1910 and 1922 by James Deering, an American industrialist who wanted to bring to life his vision of extravagance in the form of an Italian-inspired villa, where art, culture, history and architecture come together to create a unique setting. Nowadays, Villa Vizcaya is an impressive museum, with 34 enchanting rooms, each decorated in a specific style and packed with equally impressive art objects that will transport you back in time.
Art Deco in Miami
We’ve started with the oldest architectural treasure, but let’s move a bit closer to our times. Miami offers visitors many exciting experiences, but there’s one thing every architecture lover needs to explore and enjoy if they have a chance to visit the city, and that is of course the Art Deco architecture. The Art Deco movement is iconic for Miami since the city has the highest number of buildings in the world built in this style. All the rage began in the 30’s and the outcome can be admired all along Miami’s main streets. Amongst the many fascinating Art Deco structures in Miami, the Park Central Hotel, the Carlyle, the Marlin Hotel, the Colony Theatre or the Breakwater should definitely be on everyone’s must-see list.
We can’t talk about iconic architectural styles in Florida without mentioning the famous bungalows. Historic Kenwood district of St. Petersburg is the best example of the importance that bungalows have in Florida’s culture and lifestyle. A visit to St. Petersburg wouldn’t be complete without a nostalgic stroll through this captivating district. It’s like opening a forgotten story book from childhood and being drawn into its pages, in a dimension that seems frozen in time. The charming little houses built mostly throughout the 20’s have been carefully preserved and maintain all their authentic features. Those who wish to live a little in the fairytale they create should check their calendars and plan a visit during the Bungalow Fest in November.
If you’re familiar with The Greatest Show on Earth, then it will come as no surprise that Ca’da’Zan was the home of John Ringling, one of the creators of the famous circus. The building was built in 1926 in the Venetian gothic style, drawing inspiration from the Ca’D’Oro palace in Venice. Ringling’s vision and interests are reflected throughout the entire mansion. The extravagance of the place speaks of the former owner’s flamboyant personality and his love for the arts and show business. It’s grand, it’s lavish and overwhelming – an architectural feast for the eyes and soul offered by the man who created a larger-than-life circus empire.
You can experience luxury and elegance not only by visiting historic mansions, but also by being a guest in one of the most exquisite buildings in Florida, such as the Biltmore Hotel. The structure was built in 1926, being the tallest of its time and since then it had the honor to host numerous personalities. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, the Roosevelts, Bing Crosby and Al Capone are just a few important names who enjoyed staying at the Biltmore. Besides being a favorite location for the rich and famous, the hotel was also a preferred setting for different films and TV programs. So if you want to feel like a celebrity, the Biltmore will surely give you the VIP treatment.
Ybor City Historic District
Yet another historic district makes the list. Ybor City in Tampa and its colorful streets and buildings will take you down the history lane to the rhythm of Latin music. The district, founded in 1886, is a mesmerizing blend of history, Cuban flavors and vibrant nightlife that will awaken all your senses. The National Historic Landmark District is a treat for every tourist looking to enjoy life in an exotic setting, filled with charm and character.