Put the top down and let the warm breeze blow through your hair as you drive along the beaches on the west coast. Is there anything better than the sun overhead, tunes on the radio and the feel of the open road?
Greek cuisine, art and culture—it’s all found in the small fishing village of Tarpon Springs. The area was first settled in 1876 by Greek immigrants, and today has the highest percentage of Greek-Americans than any other city in the U.S. What was once “the sponge capital of the world” is a popular day-trip destination from Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Dunedin and Pasco County. Go for the history, culture and food, and you’ll find yourself wanting to go back for more!
Park the car and walk, run, cycle or rollerblade along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, a 40-mile protected, multi-use greenspace created along an abandoned railroad corridor that extends from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.
For a truly unique experience you won’t soon forget, head over to Crystal River, where various tour operators provide the equipment and let you swim among West Indian manatees in super clear waters. Visitors who prefer to stay at arm’s length from the gentle giants can rent a kayak (with or without a guide) to observe them as they swim and play below in the warm waters. If this option is still too close for comfort, you can watch manatees any day of the year from the underwater observatory at the nearby Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The park also showcases other native Florida wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, river otters andAmerican alligators and crocodiles, and offers Wildlife Encounter programs and a children’s education center.
The Sunshine Skyway is a cable-stayed bridge that spans across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Manatee County to the south. The bridge soars hundreds of feet into the air, and provides magnificent views of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond for passengers; drivers should keep their eyes on the road.
Head north up Gulf Boulevard from the tip of St. Pete Beach for more than 25 miles that pass a succession of some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida: Madeira, Redington, Indian Rocks, Belleair, Sand Key and Treasure Island.
“Florida’s Nature Coast” in Hernando County to the north promises peaceful vistas ranging from expansive pasturelands to moss-laden, oak-canopied roads. The area is rich with wildlife and marine life. Watch for deer, manatees, dolphins and rare birds.
A car and gas are all you need to explore beautiful Central West Florida. Which way will you go?
Now it’s your turn! Which places have you been? Where do you want to go? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us all!