Travel Guide for the Gulf Coast of South Florida



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Key West Lobster Festival

Key West Lobster Festival
by Anthony Vaarwerk

Things to do in South Gulf Coast Florida

South Gulf Coast Florida

Florida's South Gulf Coast contains a wide array of treasures, from lesser-known locales to top tourist attractions. The coast's geographic diversity, beautiful sandy beaches, and sparkling blue waters make it a preferred destination for many. Here you'll find varying city styles, from sleepy eyed small towns to bustling cities with impressive skylines.

The South Gulf Coast region is teeming with unique and exciting wildlife. It's a prime location for bird-watching and fishing while more adventurous souls can venture off into the wild, exploring nature trails and kayaking. From the delectable seafood to the breathtaking sunsets, the Gulf Coast is full of life and vibrancy.

Whether you're a foodie, a nature enthusiast, an avid shopper, or a beach bum, Florida's South Gulf Coast has something for everyone. Spanning hundreds of miles, each town and city on the coast offers its distinct flavor and charm, a harmonious blend of natural beauty and cultural sophistication. As you dive into the natural beauty, indulge in the culinary delights, and soak up the culture, you'll soon understand why the Gulf Coast is such a beloved destination. Whether you choose to relax on the gorgeous beaches, explore the charming small towns, or revel in the bustling city life, a visit to the Gulf Coast of Florida promises a memorable journey.


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The Gulf Coast of South Florida Vacation Rental Management Companies

Royal Shell Vacations Fort Myers Beach Area of Florida

Royal Shell Vacations Fort Myers Beach..

Royal Shell started in 1996, we are proud to have become the largest vacation rental company in Southwest Florida in the area. At Royal Shell, we're..  learn more

Cheerful Rentals

Cheerful Rentals

Cheerful Rentals, is a family-run business, located on Anna Maria Island, Florida, we promise a cheerful vacation rental management and real estate..  learn more

House of the Sun in Siesta Key Florida

House of the Sun in Siesta Key Florida

House of the Sun sits along the crystal white sand of Crescent Beach on Siesta Key offering the idyllic setting for a beach escape. When you're not..  learn more



Things To Do in the Gulf Coast of South Florida

Outdoor Activities

From beautiful sandy beaches to national parks and reserves, there are a plethora of outdoor activities. Fishing, kayaking, and bird watching are popular activities here. 

The Gulf Coast beaches are renowned. Florida's South Gulf Coast boasts some of the world's best beaches with beautiful soft sandy shores and crystal-clear water. Some beach locations with their quartz sand and calm, clear waters, is a haven for beach-goers.

Ensconced among the beaches and towns are nature preserves like Myakka River State Park and Sanibel Island. They provide unique opportunities to immerse in the region's rich biodiversity.

Historic Sites and Museums

Exploring the Gulf Coast's rich history can be as exciting as its natural beauty. The region is dotted with important historical sites and first-class museums.

Tampa's Ybor City is listed as a National Historic Landmark District. It's known for its vibrant night scene. Visit the Ybor City State Museum to learn more about this city's history. The Ringling Museum in Sarasota is another must-visit. Often called the 'Smithsonian of the South,' it houses 21 galleries of European paintings and an impressive circus museum.

Near Fort Myers, take a tour of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the historic winter homes of inventor Thomas Edison and auto pioneer Henry Ford.

St. Pete Beach has something for everyone, from the pristine wilderness of Fort De Soto Park to the interesting art of the Salvador Dali Museum. Another museum to experience is the Indian Rocks Historical Museum.

Festivals and Events

The Gulf Coast has a vibrant festival scene. They come to life with a variety of music, film, art, and food festivals throughout the year. 

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa is one such event that's been celebrated for over a hundred years. Expect pirate-themed events, lively parades, and fireworks in January and February. The Siesta Key Beach Sand Sculpture Festival, drawing international sand artists, is another noteworthy event.

For film and art enthusiasts, the Sarasota Film Festival and Ringling International Arts Festival showcase international and local works, creating an atmosphere of creativity and inclusivity.

To truly understand the Gulf Coast, one must immerse oneself in its local cultures. The blend of Hispanic, African and Native American influences is apparent in events, food, language, and overall lifestyle. From the fusion in the cuisine to the vibrant festivals, the local flavor of the Gulf Coast can infuse your vacation with rich and diverse experiences.

Food and Restaurants

The Gulf Coast's bounty from the sea and farm-to-table resources make it a food lover's paradise. In Tampa, try Ulele or The Columbia for authentic Floridian flavors in an upscale ambiance. Further south in Sarasota, The Blue Rooster offers Southern comfort food and live music, stimulating all your senses.

Seafood reigns supreme on the Gulf Coast and the famous 'Grouper Sandwich' of Tampa Bay, the regional cuisine is abundant with fresh, briny flavors of the sea.

For those with a sweet tooth, a slice of key lime pie is a must. Originally from Key West, this delicious treat has found its way all over Florida's coasts. You can not leave the Gulf Coast without trying this tangy-sweet dessert.


The Gulf Coast offers numerous shopping opportunities, from designer boutiques in upscale malls to quirky local shops selling handcrafted goods. *Add a shopping image here*.

St. Armands Circle in Sarasota offers more than 100 boutiques, specialty shops, and restaurants. The grandiosity of Tampa's International Plaza and Bay Street is another shopper's delight. This mall features more than 200 luxury stores and restaurants.

Shoppers looking for unique finds should visit the art and antique shops in the region. They offer beautiful handcrafted items and antiques that you can take home as souvenirs.

Nightlife and Entertainment

As the sun sets, the Gulf Coast comes alive. Clearwater and St. Petersburg offer a lively bar and club scene, while Tampa's Ybor city is known for its vibrant nightlife.

Enjoy musical performances on Bradenton's Riverwalk, or head to Sarasota, where the Downtown Sarasota Comedy Club guarantees a laughter-filled evening.

Jannus Live, an outdoor music venue in St. Petersburg, features everything from rock to jazz, catering to a variety of musical tastes.


Are you a beach lover? The Gulf Coast of South Florida consists of many incedible beaches from Cedar Key to the Tampa Bay Area to Marco Island. Miles of beautiful beaches all displaying their own flavor and charming beauty. This area draws travelers from all around the world coming to experince these soft sand beaches, sand dunes, nature hikes, and sparkling blue waters. Indeed, the South Gulf Coast is a must visit.  

- Naples and Vanderbilt Beach

Nestled on Florida's Gulf Coast, Naples offers a blend of luxury and natural beauty that captivates every visitor. Imagine strolling through vibrant botanical gardens during the day and diving into the lively Naples Florida nightlife as the sun sets. Here, you're free to explore upscale boutiques and luxury shopping venues that promise an unparalleled retail experience. If you're a golf enthusiast, you're in luck. Naples is dotted with world-class golf courses, inviting you to enjoy a leisurely game under the Florida sun. And don't miss the art festivals, where creativity and freedom merge, showcasing breathtaking works that reflect the spirit of the Gulf Coast. 

Vanderbilt Beach Park is one of the most popular beach accesses, because it is in a prime location near vacation rental accommodations, hotels and in the popular North Naples area.

- Bradenton Beach

Located on the southernmost part of Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach gives visitors the vibe of Old Florida and the experience of a premier vacation destination. Its picturesque shoreline, rich culture, hospitable locals, and awesome food will make your stay at this beach getaway a memorable one. Bradenton Beach shouldn’t be confused with Bradenton, which is a city in mainland Florida. The former is a quiet vacation town with only over a thousand people living in it. So, it’s the perfect place to escape the noise and crowds of the city.

- Siesta Key

Siesta Key is a beautiful barrier island eight miles long just offshore of Sarasota. Siesta Key has 3 amazing white sand beaches to enjoy -  Siesta Beach, Crescent Beach, and Turtle Beach (north to south). Voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world for several years straight and continuing to grow in popularity. This "sleepy" beach town is a true R and R - from the beach to the town, from the sand to the walkways (pedestrian friendly cross walks), from the acoustic music playing from several restaurants to the beach bicycles, and from sun kissed skin to the salty air.

- Lido Beach

Lido Key is a barrier island off the gulf coast of Florida, outside of popular Sarasota and just 1.5 hours south of Tampa. Only a short drive west of Sarasota, it has some of Florida's cleanest beaches and is well-known for ecotourism and sunset excursions. Check out amazing Lido Key, Florida vacation rentals close to everything you want to see and experience.

- Longboat Key

This upscale Gulf Coast vacation enclave benefits from its 12 miles of white sand beaches and plentitude of amenities. The majority of Longboat Key's almost 7,000 residents are retirees who take advantage of the island's championship tennis, golf, and exceptional dining and shopping opportunities. Longboat Key provides a refined and picturesque setting with an exceptional blend of gorgeous beaches and cultural events, all while maintaining a classy and calm way of life.

- Fort Myers Beach

Just down the coast from Sarasota, Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach await to offer their own unique blend of sun, culture, and adventure. Here, you're not just visiting; you're immersing yourself in an environment where freedom and excitement merge seamlessly.

Nightlife options that keep you dancing under the stars, feeling the pulse of Fort Myers' vibrant spirit. Local festivals that invite you to celebrate life with the community, creating unforgettable memories. Art walks that lead you through a journey of creativity and connection, showcasing the soul of the city. Beach yoga sessions that offer a serene escape, aligning your spirit with the rhythm of the waves.

Come experience the freedom and joy that only Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach can offer, through engaging community events and the warmth of the sun.

- Horseshoe Beach

Horseshoe Beach is a serene, friendly fishing village perfect for a relaxed vacation. Historically, the settlement first came into the area in the early 1800s. Then, in 1935, C.C. Douglas and Burton Butler paid $324 for the land. Reason for the change of ownership was from undue pressure on residents to relocate. Without delay, the Douglas/Butler union ensured all residents of an equal chance to own their property.

Today, Horseshoe is home to many recreational facilities. These include full service marina, eateries, the waterfront park, churches, and an ice cream shop. Moreover, the town features luxury vacation rentals spacious enough to accommodate up to six guests. Though it is a bit remote, visitors will appreciate the peace and serenity here. Fishing, kayaking, boating, swimming and several water sports–are some of the many reasons why Horseshoe Beach is a must visit.

- Indian Shores and Indian Rocks Beach

Located on a barrier island on the West Coast of Florida, these lovely communities are loved by local visitors and tourists alike. Visitors enjoy access to magnificent beaches, shops, restaurants, and quaint attractions. Also, the local’s friendly nature makes communities of Indian Shores and Indian Rocks Beach fun places to visit.

Just few miles from Tampa, Indian Rocks Beach features gorgeous beaches stretching three miles along the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. Tourists from across the world visit Indian Rocks Beach to explore its fine beaches. Visitors come to catch stunning views of the beautiful sunsets. In addition, 27 beach access points can be found in the area. In addition, visitors can stroll through quaint restaurants and shops scattered all over Indian Rocks Beach.

Indian Shores, on the other hand, offers family fun. Visitors will be thrilled at the popular Smuggler’s Cove Adventure Golf. In addition to the mini-golf course, the attraction also features a live alligator exhibit. Take up a golfing challenge and learn more about alligators in just one trip. Another attraction is the Splash Harbour Water Park. 

- St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach is a wonderful area to take in the sights and sounds of the Florida Gulf Coast, whether you're seeking to unwind at home or get out and explore. Sun, beach, and good times come together perfectly at Florida's St. Pete Beach

In Pinellas County, Florida, St. Pete Beach is a beautiful seaside community. St. Pete Beach attracts visitors worldwide due to its picture-perfect combination of white sand, bright sunshine, and blue ocean waters. It's no surprise that St. Pete Beach is a favorite vacation site for families, couples, and lone tourists.

- Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, with its pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters, offers you an unforgettable Gulf Coast experience. This haven not only promises relaxation but also buzzes with activities that liberate your spirit and ignite your passions. Imagine the freedom of diving into a world where the ordinary fades and every moment becomes a treasure.

Beach Volleyball, Sunset Cruises, Nightlife Scene, Sand Sculpting and Dolphin Watching ... Clearwater Beach isn't just a destination; it's your gateway to freedom and unforgettable memories.

Other Great Beaches to Explore

Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to several exotic places and attractions for visitors to enjoy a vacation to remember. Sand Key Park, which opened in 1984, offers a large beach perfect for group or family vacation. Located halfway between St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach is Madeira Beach, a beautiful destination for a serene vacation. Another place not to miss is the Ceday Key, a tranquil island community admired for its charming beauty.

Map of the South Florida's Gulf Coast

Additional South Florida Gulf Coast Articles

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