Feel at home in sunshine state

Florida's weather and spicy food are reminiscent of Thailand but it has a more artistic feel.

STYLISH: Outdoor artwork is everywhere in Florida, reflecting the American state's bohemian nature.

I would like to introduce Florida, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the US. This entire state has so much to offer Thai tourists who are not fans of Western winters. The weather here is just like in southern Thailand. Beaches, the sea and trees are like those in Phuket and Phangnga. Many beautiful white yachts look so good against the crystal blue background of the sea and sky.

As so many people from everywhere live or stay in Florida, it has more than enough to offer in terms of the variety of food, convenient transport and shopping malls. Thais would like the food because it's spicy and kind of exotic in a different way.

Aside from the must-visit Disney World, you don't want to miss Miami Beach, where the lovely art deco architecture sums up the city's personality.

Art deco, which originated in France in the 1920s, has been adopted and adapted all over the world. I think this genre is so prosperous in Miami Beach because the city is so liberal and multicultural. It is even the official art deco historic district. Millions of tourists visit every year for the stunning decorations, which give you different moods in the daytime or at night. Even public toilets are artfully decorated.

Lincoln Road in Coral Gables is a walking street with art deco buildings on each side. Some buildings used to be banks or theatres but have been renovated to be fashion shops. This is how you stylishly synchronise the past and present art of living. Originality doesn't fade. It isn't even destroyed. In fact, it can be remade to go well with the modern lifestyle.

Even though it may be considered silly in the eyes of modernists, outdoor art is very popular in Miami.

America's largest outdoor artwork, created by artist Tony Goldman, is definitely a stunner. In 2009 he was looking for an art gallery and came across Wynwood, an abandoned warehouse district.

His favourite aspect is that it doesn't have windows. There's only one entrance. Plus, the rental price is very cheap. The following year, he started the Graffiti and Street Art project using just six warehouses. Entrepreneurs came along to develop the area into a full-circle attraction featuring other painted and traded warehouses. One of them is a bakery shop.

In the same neighbourhood, there is a 24,384 square metre outdoor space and Wynwood Walls gallery featuring works created by artists from 16 countries covering the US, Europe, Latin America, Japan and Singapore. In a corner, they paint on containers that are arranged to make a perfect landscape.

To me, Wynwood Walls is like a bomb dropped by clever artists to make the place a big boom. If you can't get enough of the loud artistic presentations outdoors, there are quite a few art galleries nearby and also a fantastic cafe offering dishes by Florida's top chefs.

Another must-visit in Miami is Books and Books, also in Coral Gables. The one-storey building was built in 1927. I was astonished by all kinds of great books they sell here. They let you spend time reading as you like. A separate section for children is used for art and a cartoon playground.

A multi-purpose room can often be used to hold parties for writers to mingle with readers or for poets to read their poems. There are also cafes, restaurants and drinking places perfect as meeting places for leisure and business.

One outdoor cafe holds different activities. For example, every Monday the Foods to Table Project is held for organic farmers to present and cook vegetarian food. Friday and Saturday evenings are the booze time with all kinds of drinks and live music, including Latin, jazz and acoustic.

Florida has many interesting attractions. You can't miss Key West, a dream destination where you will find a Victorian-style historic park, the home of Ernest Hemingway and the island that hosts a burgeoning carnival.

photos: Suthon Sukphisit

COLOURFUL: Outdoor art at Wynwood Walls, which features work from many artists.

BOOKWORM'S DELIGHT: Books and Books store.


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