Jimmy Buffett successfully morphed from a struggling country musician into one of the best-known performers in the world, thanks to his tropical Florida lifestyle. Buffett first began establishing his easygoing “beach bum” persona in the early 1970s, when he moved from Tennessee to Key West. The rest, as they say, is history.
Escape Reality on Your Trip to Florida
Hands down, Buffett’s most popular hit would have to be 1977’s Margaritaville, which first appeared on the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. Its lyrics, which describe “wastin’ away again” on the lime green cocktail, define the laid-back, escape-to-the-islands lifestyle that has since become Buffett’s multi-million dollar niche. His concert tours sell out every summer and he typically performs barefoot. His fans, which are known as Parrotheads, tailgate in the parking lot for hours before his shows begin.
You don’t have to be a Parrothead (or a heavy drinker) to appreciate the message that Buffett’s music portrays—just about everyone wants to escape reality every now and then! It’s become incredibly easy to live the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle during your Florida vacation thanks to Buffett himself. He owns a successful chain of Margaritaville restaurants, three of which are in Florida.
The original Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant and retail store opened in Key West, Florida in 1985. It’s conveniently located on Duvall Street, Key West’s famous road which runs north and south from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. When you’re on Duvall, you can also swing by Sloppy Joe’s, the famous bar that Ernest Hemingway frequented when he lived on the island, and don’t forget to head over to Mallory Square for the Key West sunset celebration. Local artists and musicians are abundant during the sunset festivities, and it’s a safe bet that you’ll have an experience that you remember forever!
Like tropical music and theme parks? Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Orlando is conveniently located in Universal CityWalk, the entertainment and retail district that’s adjacent to Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. After you grab a bite to eat and check out all of the Buffett-esque paraphernalia that’s for sale in the gift shop, be sure to stroll around City Walk. It’s also home to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, the Hard Rock Café, Pat O’Brien’s Bar, and more.
Panama City Beach
The most recent Margaritaville in Florida opened at Panama City Beach’s Pier Park in 2008. Pier Park offers over 1 million square feet of shopping and entertainment, a perfect pit stop on your Florida vacation. Want to take the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle to the next level? No problem, the Margaritaville Beach Hotel opened in 2010. The hotel, which occupies 800 feet the Gulf of Mexico, offers a “barefoot elegance” motif with 162 guest rooms. Expansion plans are already in the works!
Melissa Rhone has lived in Florida for over twenty years and is a travel writer for FloridaIsBest.com. Visit their site for everything from Panama City Beach Vacation Rentals to a Key West travel guide.