Sunsets are big celebration here, as the setting sun paints billowy white clouds floating above the Gulf of Mexico in dramatic shades of pink and red until it dips below the waves on the horizon. It’s a nightly wonder that is only bested by the occasional sighting of porpoises leaping out of the turquoise-colored water. This is the magic of Florida’s Gulf Coast, where miles of white-sand beaches and palm trees swaying in the balmy Gulf breeze inspire stories of a year-round paradise found is small seaside communities like Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island, and St. Pete Beach. The vibe here is more laid back than Florida’s Atlantic coast, and reminiscent of a Caribbean island.
If water is your element, you’ll be overwhelmed by the choice of ways to enjoy it, from snorkeling and scuba to jet skiing, deep-sea fishing, sailing and a host of other exciting water-based activities. Foodies can indulge their craving for fresh seafood at a number of casual and upscale eateries here. Get a good dose of culture with a surreal visit to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg which hosts a varied collection of the flamboyant artist’s most noted oils, paintings and drawings. Or just plant yourself on a stretch of beach, kick off your flip flops, put on some sunscreen and just wait for that magnificent sunset.
Lowry Park ZooVisit this 56-acre attraction that features more than 2,000 animals in eight habitat areas. This award-winning zoo has something for every member of the family including live shows, interactive exhibits and exciting rides.
The Florida AquariumExplore an aquatic world filled with sharks, moray eels and endangered turtles. For those wish to dive right in, SCUBA instruction is available and allows you to swim with the fish at the Coral Reef Exhibit.
Busch Gardens® Tampa BayGo on an African safari for up-close encounters with wild animals in their natural surroundings. This popular theme park is also home to action-packed thrill-rides that will get your heart pumping with excitement.