Florida Gulf Coast Attractions

Florida Gulf Coast Attractions
Overflowing with gorgeous beaches, wildlife and history, Florida's Gulf Coast is full of natural, untouched beauty. With a number of national parks that contain nature trails for hikers and walkers, warm waters for swimmers and boaters and eco-tours for nature lovers, Florida's Gulf Coast is home to hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park, which is accessible only by boat or ferry, was named the best beach in the United States in 2008 by Stephen Leatherman, the director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research, in the 18th annual Top 10 Beaches list. Swimmers and water sports lovers can enjoy the warm waters and white sand beaches, while boaters can visit the marina or rent kayaks and canoes (for a modest fee) to explore the mangroves. Hikers, bikers and walkers will want to explore more than 3 miles of nature trails, where birds and other wildlife are easily spotted. Caladesi Island also features a number of concession stands and a bait and tackle shop for visitors who want to fish. Camping areas, playgrounds for children and picnic areas with grills are also available near the beach.

Caladesi Island State Park
1 Causeway Blvd.
Dunedin, Florida 34698
Tel: (727) 469-5918
floridastateparks.org/caladesiisland

Islamorada

Situated in the Florida Keys and less than two hours from Miami, lies Islamorada. Islamorada is home to the Long Key State Park, which contains hiking and biking trails and guided walking tours. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boats are available for visitors who want to explore the Long Key Lakes Canoe Trail. With dolphin, crocodile and manatee sightseeing tours, exotic plants, coral formations and tropical fish for snorkelers and divers, Islamorada is an eco-tourist's utopia. Known as the "Sport Fishing Capital of the World," Islamorada is full of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions that are sure to delight travelers.

Islamorada Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 915
Islamorada, Florida 33036
Tel: (800) 322-5397
islamoradachamber.com

The Everglades

A trip to the Florida Gulf Coast would not be complete without a visit to Florida's famed Everglades National Park. With numerous offices all over southern Florida, the Everglades Day Safari promotes responsible travel to natural areas and provides a variety of adventurous Everglades tours to meet the diverse interests of travelers. Eco-enthusiasts will enjoy the tours designed to explore all four ecosystems of the Everglades including the cypress swamps and pine savannah. Boaters and wildlife lovers will not want to miss the air boat tours or guided 90-minute boat tour of the mangrove estuary, which offers dolphin, manatee and exotic bird sightings. Nature walks into the cypress swamp are ideal for hikers and walkers who want a closer view of the Everglades' rare plants and numerous animals.

Everglades Day Safari Ecotours
13901 Shell Point Plaza
Fort Myers, Florida 33908
Tel: (800) 472-3069
ecosafari.com

Article Written By Ayisatu J. Taylor

Ayisatu J. Taylor is a graduate of Smith College and has been writing for more than six years. She is attending graduate school for a degree in emergency health studies with a concentration on disaster response and recovery management. Taylor's work on travel, health and gardening can be seen on numerous websites.

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