The scorching hot sunshine state – a.k.a. Florida – is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. I’ve always enjoyed my trips here, but this one was extra special. I was visiting my dad and my stepmom’s new house in Palm City, Florida. They had their house built from the ground up. The last time I saw the house, there was nothing inside. However, this time around I was going to see it furnished and decorated. I took this trip for relaxation, hanging out by the pool, and checking out some cool spots in the area. We can all use a vacation away from it all from time to time, right?
Flying Main Cabin To The Sunshine State on American Airlines
I flew the main cabin on my way to the sunshine state, although, I was in Premium Economy. There was more legroom in this class which is always a bonus. However, it will cost you an additional fee to do so, so please keep that in mind. There are times when I have the money, I’ll splurge to make my flight more enjoyable.
I flew out of LaGuardia (LGA) and one downfall is there weren’t any direct flights to West Palm Beach (PBI). However, it was a cheaper option than flying out of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Islip (ISP). If you prefer direct flights, you’ll have to shell out some extra money with respect to JFK or ISP. This was the only pre-flight inconvenience that I encountered. However, since I’m someone who doesn’t mind layovers, I was okay with it.
I arrived at LaGuardia via Uber. The Uber pickup I scheduled the day before for 5:00 am pickup went off without a hitch! I didn’t think a pickup from Long Island that early on a Saturday would be possible. I’m glad that it was! It’s an important tidbit for me to keep in mind for the future.
My Ammenities At The Airport
Once at the airport, I was able to use both priority check-in and priority security. Thanks to flying Premium Economy, I was able to go through the airport fairly quickly. I was at my gate in around 5 minutes. Therefore, there was plenty of time to relax at the gate before boarding.
I also had priority boarding and was in the main cabin; the first row behind the first-class cabin. The first observation I made was the comparison between the main cabin and first-class seats. I didn’t notice a difference in terms of size. That observation alone was a reassuring reason not to upgrade to first class. Additionally, the Premium Economy seats were quite comfortable so no complaints there.
In-Flight Initial Impressions
Once the plane took off, there was the traditional in-flight service. Due to the short distance to and from PBI (from LGA), a drink and cookies were provided. The flight overall is only two and a half to three hours in both directions, excluding time for layovers.
American Airlines drops the ball with in-flight entertainment. Other Airlines like JetBlue and Delta have built-in TVs on the back of the seats. My flight from LGA to PBI did not have that. You would need to have your device with you (phone, tablet, etc.) to watch the in-flight entertainment available. This can result in a drain on your device’s battery at a pretty steady clip. Considering there weren’t any charging ports on any of these flights, it seemed counter-intuitive to use your device. If that’s what they’re going to have you do, then they should supply charging ports at your seat.
During each flight, the flight attendant promoted the American Airlines credit card. They were making a strong push for people to sign up and even walked around the cabin with applications. Their promotional read over the intercom was quite long. A short ad-read would be fine, but this went on for 2-3 minutes.
The Benefits Of Premium Economy
Finally, it’s worth noting that “priority” on your itinerary also means your checked-in bags will have a “priority” tag. This means that your bags are “supposed” to be one of the first bags to come out on the turn-style. This was the case when arriving in the sunshine state, but not on the flight home. I can only imagine the inconsistency is due to how the bags are unloaded off the plane.
Overall, the flight home wasn’t too bad. There was a delay during my layover in Charlotte due to the flight attendants’ late arrival. The late arrival was attributed to their previous destination as they headed to Charlotte. Hey, it happens. My bigger issue was at PBI, they didn’t have a priority security line and if they did, it wasn’t open. To be fair, there were so few people at the airport on a Saturday at 5 pm. However, for those paying for that benefit, it should be available regardless of whether it’s busy or not.
Things To Do In The Sunshine State of Florida
If there’s one thing about the sunshine state I believe wholeheartedly it’s that there’s always something to do. Outside of spending a nice amount of time swimming in the pool, this trip was about relaxing. I also took in some of the unique restaurants/bars in the Palm City area.
To kick things off, I checked out Tommy Bahama. Yes, this is a clothing store, but my dad had told me that it doubles as a restaurant. Living on Long Island, I have never seen this before. I’m sure something exists like this in Manhattan, but in the suburbs, it’s not something I’ve come across.
It was my first time having a margarita on the rocks. In the past, I’ve had frozen margaritas. Drinking it on the rocks was delicious. I highly recommend it if it’s a drink you haven’t had before. Additionally, we ordered some sliders which were also very tasty. For bar food, it tasted a lot more high-end and was very good.
For dinner, we went to Guanabana’s, an outdoor-only restaurant surrounded by palm trees near the water. It felt like being in the rainforest. For food, I had their pulled pork sandwich and I highly recommend it. It came with cooked potato chips so they weren’t greasy nor were they very salty. It was a nice compliment to the pulled pork instead of going the traditional route. I would normally go which is french fries.
A Getaway In The Florida Water
I want to discuss a fun getaway day trip we took on the Island Princess. It’s a “cruise ship to nowhere” as my stepmom calls it. It takes you from Hutchinson Island to Stuart which takes a total of two hours. Going back is another two hours, so it’s a relaxing and educational four-hour adventure. The first two hours of the trip are a guided tour. The Captain aboard the ship provides insight into the surrounding areas. The Captain of the ship provides insight and historical tidbits about the houses you’re passing and the surrounding land.
There are many houses along the water. For example, we passed by Tiger Woods’ house. The Captain told us he has an entire golf course in his backyard for practicing. Unfortunately, tall trees were blocking his backyard so you couldn’t see much except for some minor gaps.
Additionally, the ship had a cash bar, complimentary coffee, tea, and pastries. Also included in the price was a boxed lunch. It’s provided to you on the return trip to Hutchinson Island. The return trip allows you time to yourself to take in the sights and relax. Outside of the incredible houses, my favorite thing to see on the cruise was the lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida. I thought it was cool looking. Finally, I highly recommend you bring sunscreen if you take part in this cruise. I wish I would have been wiser!
My Restaurant Recommendations In The Sunshine State
The sunshine state has plenty of restaurants to offer. We checked out the Drift Kitchen and Bar in Jensen Beach. We then followed it up with Kyle G’s Prime Seafood and Steaks in Hutchinson Island. Drift Kitchen and Bar is a very elegant-looking establishment but still a casual environment. They have a delicious pizza appetizer that tastes like coal-fired pizza which I like. Their meatballs were as good as meatballs served at an Italian restaurant. The bartender told us that the chef has always received a lot of great reviews from customers. This appears to hold especially true for their pizza. I also tried whiskey for the first time in my life. For someone that has Crohn’s Disease, this was a mistake. I didn’t realize it would bother my stomach at the time, but lesson learned.
After the appetizers, we made our way to Kyle G’s. We started at the outdoor bar to have a beer, but the service outside bar was not very good. We felt ignored and it took a while for us to give our drink orders. I was starting to feel like this experience wasn’t going to be a good one.
However, we decided to go inside to eat and that’s where the whole experience became a positive one. We received service at the indoor bar from the owner himself, Kyle G. He was very nice and hospitable and made sure we had a nice time. It made a great impression to see the owner willing to help out when his restaurant was busy. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich for dinner. I know, very basic!
The Ultimate Lodging Accommodations
As we close out this review of the sunshine state, the last thing to go over is where I slept. Well, I think it’s pretty obvious that since I was visiting family I stayed at my dad’s beautiful new house. Whenever you travel, I highly recommend you go to places where you know someone. Your wallet will thank you.
In my dad’s new house, I was fortunate enough to stay in one of the three guest rooms. This house is huge and I couldn’t be happier for my dad and stepmom. I liked that the guest room had a bathroom immediately adjacent to it. However, I chose to use one of the other bathrooms to get done because it has a stand-in shower. I am personally not a fan of bathtubs.
While awake, my favorite room in the house had to be the office. I have always wanted – and hopefully will someday – to have an office in a house of my own. I loved how it had sports memorabilia hanging on the walls. It was a great personal touch. Not only that, there was a TV in the room! With how much time I spend on the computer myself, this was the ultimate office setup.
The kitchen was tremendous and had that great open layout that so many people appreciate. There was so much room to walk around. There was no way you were going to experience congestion while in the kitchen. I enjoyed waking up every morning, sitting on the island in the middle of the kitchen. Having my coffee and chatting with my dad and stepmom are the simple things in life I appreciate.
My Favorite Spot In The House
Without a doubt, the most fun thing to do around the house was to sit outside in the backyard. The weather outside was always warm and bug-free. Florida has lizards, snakes, bugs, etc., so a screened-in lanai is worth the investment. My dad recommends it if you live in Florida. Even better is the overhang they have over their outdoor patio furniture. The Sunshine State can have scattered thunderstorms throughout the day due to its tropical climate. The good thing is it only lasts about 15-20 minutes and then the sun is back out. The overhang covering the outdoor patio was great. We were able to stay outside and listen to music all while the rain came down.
Additionally, a fun activity to do outside was to read during the day. I’m an avid reader and so is my stepmom. During the day, it was nice to hang outside with her while we both read our books. I would be remiss to not mention the surround sound Sonos system. As a fan of tech, I thought this was so neat to see implemented in the house. I know surround sound systems aren’t new. Moreover, what blew me away was no matter where you were in the house, you can hear the music. In the morning and mid-afternoon, we tended to listen to easy-listening music. No lyrics, just calming sounds which made for the perfect complimentary while reading. At night we would listen to upbeat music while hanging out by the pool.
A Hotel Quality Pool Area
Speaking of the pool… Do you want to talk about the ultimate place for relaxation? I could have stayed there all day every day. Additionally, I had to pinch myself in awe of this being the life my dad and stepmom live every single day. I am so happy for them that they have this and get to enjoy every minute of it.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to experience it. To sit in the pool with that “not a care in the world” feeling was complete euphoria. As I look out from the pool to the palm trees and forest encompassing the backyard… “This is paradise”. It’s no wonder my stepmom’s cousin would say, “If I lived here, I would never leave”. That encompasses the sunshine state of Florida in a nutshell.