A transformation occurs the further south you roam the Atlantic Coast of Florida. South of Sebastian Inlet, seaside residences start out low, often grouped in private colonies. Barrier islands are narrow, with miles of extensive public beaches protected by state parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Cities cluster along the Indian River Lagoon–Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Jupiter–with numerous public lands set aside along the tributaries feeding the waterways.
Then Southeast Florida’s most compressed corridor of cities, spanning all the way to Homestead, takes over at Palm Beach. High-rises tower over tiny patches of green space between Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, their larger public parks well west of the highest density communities. A tropical vibe begins, infusing the Miami waterfront and the agricultural Redlands. It continues through the relaxed Florida Keys, where Caribbean-style forests are the norm.