If the dog days of summer are starting to stagnate, maybe it’s time to hit the open road and get out of town. There’s a world of discoveries north where the pace slows down, the crowds dissipate and everything feels familiar, yet somehow different.
Hopscotch past Broward to discover the sights of Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Indian River counties on this day trip up the coast that takes you from luxury shopping in Palm Beach to hiking through hardwood hammocks in Fort Pierce.
All you need is a tank of gas and your GPS handy.
Stop One-A: 11:30 a.m. | Poolside BBQ Lunch at Four Seasons Palm Beach
Start your journey off on a luxurious note with a poolside lunch overlooking the ocean at the Four Seasons Palm Beach. Chef Ricky Amezcua hosts a special weekend BBQ series at the oceanfront AB&G Grill, featuring everything from grilled rib eye to freshly caught mahi mahi and lobster, paired with sides like goat cheese horseradish mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and truffle parmesan fries, while highlighting a selection of Florida craft beers.
Starting in September, the theme shifts to Hawaiian BBQ, with entrees like ahi tuna poke and steamed pork buns.
If you happen to make your journey on a weekday, AB&G’s lunch menu is inspired by global beach culture, ranging from Mexico to the Middle East.
Lunch at AB&G Grill is served from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; 2800 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach; 561-582-2800
Stop One-B: 12:30 p.m. | Al’s Red Barn Grill, Fort Pierce
If you’d rather bypass the glitzy Palm Beach lunch and start your exploration farther north, set your sights on Al’s Red Barn Grill in Fort Pierce. This will allow you to take your time at the other stops on the itinerary. Just be prepared for the solid two hour drive from Miami.
As you drive north on Kings Hwy-713, you’ll notice a funky red barn on the side of road. This is Al’s Family Farm. Founded in 1977, they handpick and package fruit — namely oranges — from the area’s fertile Indian River groves. Swing by for freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice, honey, tomatoes, dragonfruit or a case of farm fresh Valencia oranges. For a hearty and inexpensive lunch, the grill serves burgers, sandwiches and Mexican food.
Kids of all ages can play in the OJ Corral, a homemade “agri” playground made of painted tractor tires with games like old-fashioned orange races, putt-putt and a maze of hay bails. Tours of the property can be arranged in advance.
2005 N. Kings Hwy, Fort Pierce; 772-461-7222; Open 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., closed Sundays
Stop Two: 1 p.m. | Worth Avenue, Palm Beach
If you opt for lunch at the Four Seasons, don’t leave Palm Beach without a pit stop on Worth Avenue, the island’s luxury shopping corridor, just six miles north on South Ocean Boulevard. If you go to Al’s, you could still make an early stop here first. Take in the sights of Palm Beach’s impressive limestone mansions with terracotta tile roofs overlooking pristine beaches and endless Atlantic Ocean. It’s all beautiful excess here, with intricate facades peeking above tall, manicured hedges on spotless streets with glimpses of private pools and tennis courts beyond.
Turn left on Worth Avenue and park. As soon as you set foot on the pavement, you’ll notice a palpable quiet that simply doesn’t exist in Miami. Whether it’s window shopping or power shopping, Worth Avenue has all the spoils in a beautifully landscaped, Mediterranean setting with high arcades, ivy climbing up storefronts and pocket gardens blossoming with bougainvillea. The street is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, with every designer flagship under the sun, as well as boutiques, like Calypso St. Barth and contemporary fashion labels, like Sandro and Maje.
Worth Ave., Palm Beach; 561-659-6909; Most shops open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Stop Three: 4 p.m. | Endless Summer Vineyard & Winery, Fort Pierce
Just a five minute drive north of Al’s and an hour and a half from Palm Beach, you’ll reach Endless Summer Vineyard & Winery inland in Fort Pierce. Owner-vintner and Florida native Gary Roberts has combined his longtime love of surfing with his newfound passion for sweet muscadine wine.
His collection of classic surfboards decorates the winery’s tasting room where guests can sample unique blends of Noble, Carlos and Doreen varieties of muscadine grape with clever names, like We Be Jammin’, Beach Nut and Rasta Mon Red Red wine.
If you’re there on Sunday, expect a festive party with live music in the vineyard where guests gather at picnic tables made of vintage surfboards, a bocce court and a small inlet with a sandy beach.
4200 Johnston Rd., Fort Pierce; 772-460-0500; Closed Mondays
Stop Four: 5:15 p.m. | Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
Drive east to Fort Pierce Inlet State Park and start with a short hike (roughly 30 minutes, although you can easily do it faster) on their hardwood hammock nature trail, made up of a tangle of live oak, sea grape, wax myrtle and red bay trees. Keep your eyes peeled for marsh rabbits, gopher tortoises, butterflies, snakes and migratory birds beneath the dense canopy.
Next, head towards the beach for a leisurely sunset stroll as the sky starts to change color. With its jetty to the south and reef line just offshore, the beach at Fort Pierce is known for its surf break when conditions are right. It’s a totally different vibe from Miami beaches, with a wider shoreline, more consistent waves, darker sand and deeper blue-green sea.
905 Shorewinds Dr., Fort Pierce; 772-468-3985; Open daily until sunset
Stop Five: Overnight | Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa, Vero Beach
Take the scenic route north on A1A for 13 miles to Vero Beach and Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa. Owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, this oceanfront boutique hotel brings a little Miami Modern flair to Vero’s largely rustic and colonial style architecture. With a breezeblock fountain and cheese hole facade emblazoned in neon, this stylish retreat is your stop for dinner—and your home for the night, if you’d rather not make the two and a half hour drive back to Miami just yet.
The Wave Kitchen & Bar serves a sophisticated menu of fresh Florida seafood, steak and Cuban classics, like ropa vieja with black beans, rice and plantains, straight from the Estefan Cookbook.
Rooms are chic and modern featuring comfortable beds and oceanfront balconies in natural wood and cream tones with nautical accents like porthole-style windows.
In the m
orning, wake up early for a walk along the tranquil, uncrowded beach where you can also launch kayaks or standup paddleboards. Before your drive home, book a treatment at the spa for a tension-melting massage.
You’ll leave feeling refreshed with a whole new perspective on what you can do in a day in South Florida.
3244 Ocean Dr., Vero Beach; 772-562-9919; Nightly rates from $193