Where to Find Old, Classic Florida

The Wall Street Journal


In Boca Grande, Apalachicola, Sanibel and Anna Maria, you can find beach bungalows, vintage hotels, fresh seafood and local character

CASUAL COVE | A grocery store in Boca Grande

IT'S ONE OF my favorite childhood photographs: My little brother and I are squinting into bright sunshine. Behind us is a scattering of disheveled palm trees and a sandy path. The corner of a faded beach house edges into the shot.
The picture, taken in the Florida Keys some 30 years ago, conjures up a thousand sunny memories, but just two words: Old Florida.
My nostalgia for the Sunshine State of yesteryear—before frenzied art fairs, $35 martinis and a Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park—isn't exceptional. Not according to travel marketing materials, at least. "A piece of Old Florida," claims the website of a fishing lodge near Fort Myers. "Experience Old Florida," urges the brochure of a Naples resort. References to "authentic" and "classic" settings abound. So do images of vacant beaches and puttering fishing boats.
Touting Old Florida, it turns out, is a relatively new phenomenon. "I don't remember hearing anybody promote it much before 9/11," said Tracy J. Revels, a historian and author of "Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism." "But some people are looking for quieter things. I think the whole search for authenticity has become more important in the 21st century."
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Rich Taylor has specialized in the luxury real estate market of Boca Grande, Fla., since 1995 when he began building long-term relationships with his clientele based on integrity and dedication.