When it comes to the Sunshine State and all it has to offer, Central West Florida presents a little of the best of everything: powder-soft, white-sand beaches; thrilling theme parks; back-to-nature spots; vibrant nightlife scenes; captivating world-class museums; and much more.
CRYSTAL RIVER/CITRUS COUNTY
Begin your day feeling wonder again. Swim with manatees in the amazing springs of Crystal River’s Kings Bay. Take the trolley to the Three Sisters Springs boardwalk. It’s like a national park in a single acre. At the Kings Bay waterfront, dine on seafood fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. Afterward, explore the shops of Heritage Village in downtown Crystal River. Later, take a sunset cruise or enjoy the show from Fort Island Gulf Beach. For dinner, reserve a table at Vintage on 5th, winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence seven years running.
Cycle to Honeymoon Island, Florida’s most visited state park, to swim, fish and snorkel in the warm Gulf waters. Or pack a picnic and ferry over to Caladesi to hike, paddle or bask on award-winning beaches. After lunch return to historic downtown Dunedin to shop and stroll through waterfront parks. Sample craft beers at the Dunedin Brewery. Admire the sunset and dine on fresh seafood at the Harbourside Grill. During spring training, cheer for the Toronto Blue Jays at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Watch sunrise at North Shore Park in St. Pete. Grab breakfast at a St. Pete indie coffee house. Walk to the Dali Museum to view the artist’s largest collection of works outside of Spain. Lunch at Urban Comfort before heading to Clearwater Beach to soak up the sun and splash in the warm Gulf waters. Stroll along Pier 60. Sip a tropical cocktail at Tommy’s Tiki Bar at the Hilton Clearwater Beach. For dinner with a view, the outdoor patio at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill ends a perfect day.
Savor fresh guava turnovers and Cuban coffee at La Segunda Bakery in Ybor City before exploring Tampa’s eclectic Latin Quarter, one of Florida’s two historic districts. Visit Jose Marti Park, the only piece of American soil owned by the people of Cuba. Enjoy paella and sangria at Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest dining establishment. Ride the TECO Historic Streetcar Line to the Tampa Riverwalk and nearby museums and attractions. Order cocktails at Franklin Manor, followed by a sunset dinner at Ulele and a nightcap at Ciro’s Speakeasy and SupperClub.
With growing interest in travel to Cuba, it may come as a surprise that you can visit a part of Cuba right in Tampa’s Ybor City. Cuban-born poet, journalist, essayist and revolutionary Jose Marti made his home in Ybor City in the late 1800s. During this time he did a large part of his planning and fundraising, and wound up calling Ybor City his “faithful little town” because of the support he received there. Today, the small, 0.14-acre Jose Marti Park stands in tribute to the revolutionary, but what makes the park perhaps even more interesting is that it has been owned by the Cuban government since 1956.