It's cold in Chicago. Still. When it feels like winter may never end, for me, it's essential to have a warm-weather trip in the works or at least as a daydream.
Last month I was in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Deerfield Beach? Don't worry- I'd never heard of it either. But, friends were getting married in Boca Raton and had arranged for some hotel accomodations and events just south in nearby Deerfield. Just about 10 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale, it was an easy drive from the the airport (FLL) and much more affordable than the more recognizable neighbors up and down the coast.
We were there during a cold snap where the highs were only in the 50s, but the sunshine was still incredible. We loved the laid-back atmosphere and friendliness of the locals and of course the beautiful beach. The Founders' Days festival right on the boardwalk offered up great food and drink for outdoor eating, with live music and entertaining people watching.
I checked out Goddess Day Spa in the adorably pastel Cove Shopping Center filled with local-owned businesses, a seeming rarity these days. After my amazing Green Tea Body Scrub, the owner explained how Deerfield is a "crunchy" alternative to the more flashy Ft. Lauderdale or Boca Raton, and here you don't need to worry about what you're wearing or how big your house/boat is. Illustrating her point, she then wished me a "happy and blessed life" as I left. I think if I'd have stayed any longer she would have analyzed my aura.
So if south Florida is in your travel plans, I highly recommend Deerfield. It's an easy drive to many other beach destinations and offers a relaxed vacation vibe without the pretense. There's still lots of local shopping and dining options, with the rum flowing freely. Happy travels and think warm!