Florida Guide > Other Florida
Theme parks are great but fancy something different? Take a trip to one (or more) of the Gulf Coast beaches. Allow yourself a whole day and expect to be lured back for more.
Head south on Interstate 4 and give yourself a real treat by taking the Sunshine Skyway (Intersate 275 South) instead of the more boring Interstate 75 but be warned it will add about 45 minutes to your journey – but what the heck you’re on vacation! This magnificent piece of engineering soars almost vertically into the sky. Have your breath taken away as you travel along this 15 mile stretch of highway which seems to ‘float’ on the ocean. Marvel at the number of fishing piers along the coast (if you’ve got a committed fisherman in your party you may need yet another day!).
Follow the signs for the Gulf Beaches and head for the beautiful Anna Maria Island - just 7 miles long. Travel back in time to a different era - slow and relaxed. Driving along Gulf Drive at a maximum allowed speed of 30 mph take in views of the sea in between beautiful beach style houses, condos and well kept clap board Bed and Breakfast’s (there are no hotels here).
All along the coastline there are almost deserted beaches (even in the height of summer). Take time to relax and bathe in the warm, clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico where tiny fish swim around your ankles. Bathing here is safe as the shore gently slopes into the water.
Stop off for lunch at one of our favourites - the Beach House , good food at reasonable prices (average $10) the menu here consists of freshly caught fish and the usual steaks and burgers. Take a table outside and try dolphin and manatee spotting from a terrific vantage point of a table right on the sand. In spring and summer you may even see logger head turtles who clamber onto the beach to lay their eggs.
You can either spend some time stretched out on the softest and whitest sand you have ever seen or press on leaving Anna Maria Island behind and head for Long Boat Key. Long Boat Key is another Gulf Island but smaller than Anna Maria regarded by many as a very up market resort. St Armands Key , a huge favourite of our management company, with up market boutiques (some with price tags to match) abound as are galleries, jewellery shops, sidewalk cafes and swish restaurants. The pace here is not as relaxed as Anna Maria Island but don’t rush the experience you can spend hours just shopping , eating or people watching.
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