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A Scenic Drive on Florida’s A1A

[Lake Worth, FL / Boca Raton, FL, Dec 25, 2017]

Christmas Day! What to do, what to do? If you are in the United States, it is highly likely that you will find yourself at the movies. It’s as American as apple pie! If you know B, you also know that he’ll take any excuse to go to the movies. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we were meeting friends of his to go to the movies in Boca Raton in the early afternoon. To take advantage of the beautiful day, we decided to go for a short scenic drive beforehand.

Stretching the entire length of Florida’s East coast, from Fernandina Beach on Amelia island at the North end all the way south to Key West, is Florida’s state road A1A. Most roads in the US, whether interstates, US roads or state roads, are numbered. So why is this one called A1A, I wondered?

Prior to 1945, the A1A had different route numbers in different parts of state. When Florida roads were re-numbered in 1945 to make them uniform, A1A was given the number 1 as it was the easternmost major north-south road in the state. However, this caused confusion with another road, US 1, which ran parallel to this one and connected several states along the Eastern coast of the United States. To avoid this confusion but preserve the number 1 in the name, Florida state road 1 was renamed to A1A.

751px-Florida_A1A.svg

Image attribution: SPUI (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What makes the A1A so scenic is that it runs along the waterfront of the Atlantic ocean or on barrier islands in many places along the route. On our drive today, we took the portion of the A1A between Lake Worth, FL and Boca Raton, FL. We chose Lake Worth as our northern starting point because going farther north would have meant bumping into Mar-a-Lago, where President Trump had already arrived to spend his Christmas holiday. We did not want to deal with any road closures or security there. The portion we drove is highlighted in red below.

Map

Note US 1 and Interstate 95 running parallel to the A1A, just to the West.

I got my first glimpses of the Atlantic ocean as we drove along the A1A. We also passed many beach-front mansions with giant, perfectly manicured yards. This reminded me how much more sprawling almost every other place in the US is compared to California. Beach-front properties in LA don’t have nearly the same lot sizes as I saw here – in fact, many don’t have any back yards because the houses have been built to take up the whole lot. The best mansions along the A1A had fences and shrubbery creating privacy, so I couldn’t take good pictures from the car. The homes I did manage to snap photos of weren’t too shabby though. 😉

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If you find yourself driving the A1A and you’re ready for a break, simply keep a lookout inland for a main street lined with restaurants, shops and galleries. You are bound to find one in the many beach communities along the A1A. There are also many parks on both sides of the road if you’d rather be closer to nature or want to go to the beach. It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 70s (mid 20s Celsius); most parks looked busy and parking seemed scarce, so we kept going.

As we reached Boca, I had the nagging feeling that there was a university here I was looking into when I was trying to decide where to study. We saw a sign for Lynn University, which sounded familiar. A quick Google search confirmed that this university had the major I thought I wanted at the time, Air Traffic Control (weird major, I know – long story for another time). I couldn’t help but wonder how different my life would have been if I had gone to Lynn University instead of the small college I’d picked in Virginia instead. Would B and I have crossed paths? He was still living here in 1999 when I would have arrived. Hmmmm.

At any rate, the movie we wanted to see, Downsizing, turned out to have horrible ratings, so we decided to skip it and go grab a drink instead. Since it was Christmas day, we wanted something that was open but not crazy crowded. Any time you want to escape crowds, really, a good place to search for are hotel bars and restaurants. And of course, this being Florida, a waterfront hotel was never too far – and that’s how we ended up back on A1A on our way to Waterstone Resort and its namesake bar.

We spent a nice evening there drinking, chatting and watching boats go by – a perfect Florida evening.

Waterstone Bar and Grill at Waterstone Resort

Waterstone Bar and Grill

Sunset

Christmas Day sunset

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