Three alternative Florida destinations

16 May 2018

Everyone knows Orlando, with its tourist bustle, theme parks and adventure-fuelled attractions. But the state of Florida has much more to offer beyond rollercoasters and Disney castles. Here are three alternative Florida destinations you should try.

Naples

Perched on the Gulf of Mexico on the southwest coast of Florida, Naples is a destination known for its high-end shopping and sophisticated dining, with plenty to keep nature lovers and beachgoers entertained.

Explore the historic downtown area of the city and soak up Floridian culture with various art galleries, chic clothing boutiques and home décor shops in abundance. Naples is also blessed with a fantastic variety of eateries, where you’ll be able to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or dinner with waterside views – whether that’s at a cosy beachfront resort or an elegant bayside bar.

St Petersburg - Clearwater

Also on the Gulf of Mexico, the beaches of St Petersburg and Clearwater offer long stretches of dazzling white sands and turquoise waters. Alongside the stunning beaches, there’s plenty to occupy everyone including the iconic Dalí Museum, which houses the largest collection of Salvador Dalí's works outside Europe and the beautiful Florida Botanical Gardens.

A legendary landmark on the dining scene here is the Salt Rock Grill. Known for its hand-cut prime beef, freshly-caught seafood, raw bar and amazing wine cellar, it’s definitely worth a visit! Another place for superb seafood is the Olde Bay Café and Dunedin Fish Market. From its humble beginnings as a wooden shack on the waterfront, it is now the go-to place for seafood lovers. For panoramic views of Clearwater Beach, head to Crabby’s Dockside and tuck into something tasty from the shell bar, or if you’re feeling adventurous, sample some alligator bites!

If you can prise yourself away from the sparkling beaches, you’ll find that this fabulous Floridian destination also has a lot more to offer. The St Pete Indie Market takes place on the first Saturday of each month and hosts local artists, independent designers, vintage sellers and eclectic crafters. For beer lovers, the Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail is the Sunshine State’s answer to California’s wine country! Running from Tarpon Springs to St Petersburg, you’ll find plenty of small, independent breweries serving some delicious and fresh artisanal beers.

Florida Keys

A string of idyllic tropical islands off Florida’s southern tip, the beautiful Florida Keys is simply stunning. White-sand beaches, turquoise waters, secluded coves and awe-inspiring bridges all combine to create a truly magical holiday experience.

Grab your camera and get a snap of yourself at the Southernmost Point Buoy on Key West. It’s one of the United States’ most visited and photographed attractions! For a spot of culture whilst you’re in Key West, visit the former home of Ernest Hemingway and don’t miss Duval Street, which is where the city’s boutique shopping and outdoor cafes can be found.

The Marathon Turtle Hospital is also worth a visit and since it first invited the public through its doors back in 1986, it has successfully nursed over 1000 sea turtles back to health. For a real taste of Key West, try the Half Shell Raw Bar – a local institution. Grab a seat at one of the wooden picnic tables and enjoy some of the freshest seafood that you’ll ever eat.

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