Florida means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some equate it strictly to its white, sandy beaches and 1,350 miles of coastline. Some think solely of Florida’s tourist attractions and world-renowned theme parks like those located at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. Others form an opinion about Florida from the news media. Whatever your thoughts on Florida; the good, the bad, and the ugly; we can all agree that it’s a big state with lots to offer. That is why the Sunshine State welcomed over 134 million visitors in 2022.
As hard as it is to define modern Florida, the term “Old Florida” is a magic that’s equally difficult to describe, but when you see it, you know it. If you visited Florida in the 50s, 60s, or 70s you were likely to experience a vastly different state than exists today. That Old Florida style may be mostly gone, but there are still pockets of it remaining if you know where to look.
As a child, traveling to Florida for family vacations during the early '70s, I remember stopping off at roadside fruit stands to purchase a bag of oranges. We visited alligator farms, thinking it was the coolest thing ever and we purchased kitschy postcards to send back home, letting our friends know where we were.
I also remember staying at beach cottages that had an old Florida style, probably unchanged since it was built in the early 1920s or 30s. The large cottage was light and airy. It had a high ceiling and cypress paneling. It was highly functional and uncomplicated. Built during a slower, more laid-back era, it was cozy. It was low maintenance. You knew it was a beach house and it felt like you were in a piece of history.
Most of those beach cottages that I stayed in as a kid are now long gone. Hotel rooms, while luxurious, simply don’t have any of that old Florida style, or charm. The person that checks you in is just one of many employees. You don’t get to know them and they have no desire to get to know you. Today, many of the accommodations are just boxes with beds inside. They all look the same, regardless of which mega-corporation owns it. Those beach cottages that I stayed in as a kid had character. They had their own distinctive vibe. They had a soul.
So how does one define old Florida style? Everyone will probably have a slightly different answer, but to me, it is simple elegance with eclectic undertones. It’s being unapologetic for ignoring modern trends and embracing comfort and function. It’s keeping what has worked in the past, because well, it just works.
Perhaps no other place in Siesta Key captures the true feel of old Florida style better than The Cottage at the Inn on Siesta Key. Built-in 1936, The Cottage oozes with old Florida charm as soon as you enter through its French glass doors. The Cottage still has a magnificent natural stone fireplace where a large family can gather after spending a day at the beach (within walking distance). This accommodation can sleep 8 guests comfortably, or it can be a great romantic getaway for a couple.
While The Cottage is rustic, it also features great amenities such as a 65” flat screen TV, a king-size bed with a memory foam gel mattress as well as a full kitchen and breakfast bar/buffet. It even has an outside patio area for watching the sun go down.
The old Florida style that I knew as a kid is quickly disappearing. It’s just a sign of the times. However, it is nice to know that you can still capture some of that old Florida magic, and it’s right here in the heart of Siesta Key.