The Best of Gulf Coast Florida
Collected by Terry Ward, AFAR Local Expert
The stretch of Florida that runs roughly from Tampa to Naples is home to sophisticated towns and more of those powdery beaches lapped by calm, shallow waters. Explore the Cuban history of Ybor City in Tampa, have a grouper sandwich with your feet in the sand on Anna Maria Island, or go looking for ghost orchids in the incredible nature preserves around Naples.
Tampa Riverwalk, Tampa, FL 33602, USA
Stretching 2.4 miles along the Garrison Channel and Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa, the Riverwalk is a paved path perfect for walking, jogging, or biking along the beautiful waterfront of Tampa. Landscaped parks and sculpture gardens provide...
Ybor City, Tampa, FL 33605, USA
Founded in 1885, Tampa's Ybor City became the center of cigar making in North America. At one time there were 230 cigar factories employing 12,000 cigar makers and producing 700 million cigars a year. One of only three Historic Landmark Districts...
420 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606, USA
The Oxford Exchange is my new favorite place in Tampa. First, there are books. Not just any books, but a well curated selection of books on interesting subjects, well displayed with helpful hints from bookstore staff. The room is light-filled and...
101 1st St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday morning throughout the year, a wonderful market takes over a parking lot right in downtown St. Petersburg's pretty marina district. Locals and visitors descend in droves to listen to live bands while browsing...
5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA
Circus magnate John Ringling and his wife, Mable, built their ostentatious winter home just south of Tampa, and today the lavish estate houses a series of galleries and gardens. Ca' d'Zan was the Ringlings' Prohibition-era, Venetian-style mansion,...
6990 Dickman Rd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572, USA
Visitors to the MVC environmental education building can dive into the world of the manatee by viewing safe and natural manatee habitats, intriguing displays, and interactive exhibitions like assembling actual manatee bones. See how The Big Bend...
1208 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606, USA
Simply put, Bern’s is a Tampa institution and probably the one place you should plan to eat if you only have one night in town. The stark, rather dull facade of the building in the heart of South Tampa doesn’t prepare you for the...
1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
The 20,000-square-foot Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg is dedicated to the world’s most comprehensive collection of masterpieces by Salvador Dalí, including 96 oil paintings, more than 100 watercolors and drawings, and 1,300 graphics, photos,...
Pass-a-Grille Beach, St Pete Beach, FL 33706, USA
Pass-a-Grille Beach is a local treasure. Nestled between the much busier Clearwater beaches to the north and Fort DeSoto park to the south, Pass-a-Grille on St. Petersburg Beach stretches for a mile and a half from end to end. Save for a small...
2909 22nd Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33713, USA
Mazzarro Italian Market is, hands down, one of THE BEST things about living in St. Pete, FL. First, there are the smells: freshly roasted coffee, bread baking in the ovens, wheels and wheels of parmesan cheese, meatballs cooking in the kitchen,...
Seagate Dr &, Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34108, USA
Naples brims with beautiful beaches where dolphins frolic and the sun melts like molasses into the Gulf of Mexico. But the best one is this local, lesser-known park accessed by a long boardwalk winding through wetlands and mangroves. Pay to park...
1200 Main St, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931, USA
For all the beautiful beaches in Fort Myers, one of the coolest things you can do here is take the ferry to Key West. In just three-and-a-half hours (much quicker and more relaxing than driving), the double-decker catamaran carries you down the...
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