2017 Great Places in Florida Finalists
VOTING FOR THE FOURTH ANNUAL GREAT PLACES IN FLORIDA AWARD IS OPEN!
REVIEW EACH OF THE FINALISTS BELOW, PICK YOUR CHOICE, AND VOTE HERE:
Listed in alphabetical order by “place” name
ANCIENT SPANISH MONASTERY – NORTH MIAMI BEACH
The Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, or “Ancient Spanish Monastery” lies within the City of North Miami Beach. Built in the 12th Century in Spain, Cistercian monks occupied the Monastery for 700 years. In the 1830’s it was abandoned; in 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings.
The structures were dismantled stone by stone, packed in 11,000 wooden crates, and shipped to the United States. Hearst’s financial problems forced his collection to be sold at auction. The crates remained untouched for 26 years. In 1952, they were purchased by entrepreneurs for use as a tourist attraction.
BEACHWALK – CLEARWATER
For decades Clearwater Beach was an extraordinarily popular if not aging beach destination. Known for white sandy beaches and family friendly environment, it was increasingly characterized by aging hotels and antiquated infrastructure. It was a pedestrian unfriendly area devoid of the type of connection to and feeling of a great public space. In this context, Beach by Design was developed and set in motion implementation of a plan that south Gulfview be transformed into a great beachfront destination which would rival other popular beachfront drives in Florida.
This drive was to be uniquely Clearwater, improve waterfront access, encourage walkability, provide for multiple forms of transportation, promote economic development, and constitute a truly great public space. Beach Walk has truly been all that and more.
Dating back 450 years as the first European settlement in the United States, Pensacola has a rich and colorful history, and the heart of the city of Pensacola is its downtown. A refreshing blend of historic resolve and cosmopolitan progress defines Downtown Pensacola, a 44-block district encompassing historic and archaeological sites, chic shops, eclectic art galleries and award-winning restaurants.
It’s a walkable district lined with colorful bicycle racks, and bustling with alternative transportation options—from pedi-cabs to Segways to trolleys to holiday-time horse-drawn carriages. Thousands come to the nationally-recognized Blue Wahoos waterfront stadium, just around the corner, during spring and summer, and thousands more head downtown each Saturday for Palafox Market, a farmers’ market enjoying its tenth anniversary in 2017. During the holidays, downtown Pensacola glows with the lights of half a million white lights and the month-long Winterfest, recognized as one of Florida’s Top Events.
DOWNTOWN WINTER PARK
Winter Park was planned in 1881 on a street grid centered around a train station and park with spaces planned for commerce, residences, lake views, government and religious buildings – a plan enhanced and maintained for the future. Downtown is a cultural nucleus including the Morse Museum, Historical Museum, Central Park, Welcome Center, Polasek Museum, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Alfond Inn collection, historic clubs and public art. The train station is a hub that serves SunRail commuters, Amtrak, Lynx bus, car charging station and car and bike share. Sidewalks throughout downtown Winter Park connect residents and visitors to a mix of uses. Downtown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and includes the historically African-America Hannibal Square. Sidewalk cafes and shady parks are offered as great places to meet. Special annual events include national art festivals, hometown parades, street parties, holiday celebrations, concerts, and a weekly Farmers Market.
MIZNER PARK & DOWNTOWN BOCA RATON
Downtown Boca is a 344-acre, pedestrian-friendly district of shops, businesses, restaurants and living spaces. It was here that famed 1920’s architect Addison Mizner established his signature Spanish-Mediterranean style, which went on to become the hallmark of our buildings. Many of them have been meticulously restored to their former glory, and new construction here imitates the unmistakable Mizner style. The magnificent Mizner Park, one of the earliest successful mixed-use developments in the United States, was named after the famous architect, known for traveling between Boca and Palm Beach with his mischievous pet monkey, Jonnie Brown. The Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is focused on keeping Boca beautiful and booming, encouraging economic development and helping businesses meet their individual goals.