Gulf Coast Holidays
Wonderful climate and gorgeous beaches
The Gulf Coast is the wonderful warm west coast of Florida, facing the Gulf of Mexico. Holidays here enjoy a marvellous climate all year and resorts have attractively distinct characters, from stylish Naples to idiosyncratic Marco Island. Above all, the Gulf Coast is rightly famous for its beaches: 800 miles of fantastic wide beaches with gorgeous gently shelving fine white sand and safe calm warm water, making this area very popular with families. In addition holidays in the Gulf Coast resorts offer superb bases from which to visit the Disney and Universal theme Parks at Orlando and the amazing Busch Gardens African theme park in Tampa.
The Gulf Coast features some of Florida’s most attractive, stylish and characterful resorts. St Petes Beach has an appealing relaxed island atmosphere. Clearwater offers a compact unpretentious family-friendly Florida beach resort popular with couples and young families. Sarasota is a famous beach resort with a relaxed upmarket cultured feel, with outstanding concerts, theatre and ballet, and terrific museums, antiques shops and art galleries. Marco Island has all the idiosyncratic romance and charm of a small Florida island and has tremendous appeal for sports enthusiasts and fans of big game fishing. Naples is one of the most affluent, cosmopolitan and sophisticated cities in the US, full of elegant architecture, immaculate design and plenty of Old Florida charm. Gulf Coast holidays really do offer something for everyone.
The Gulf Coast offer visitors plenty of quality accommodation ranging from historic homely inns and family-friendly hotels to luxury penthouses. It also offers a superb and varied choice of restaurants to suit all budgets, featuring excellent seafood and romantic open-air dining. The Gulf Coast provides some great shopping, particularly in the stylish sophisticated resort of Naples and plenty of culture with superb galleries, museums and antiques along with entertainment ranging from down home live music to world-class opera and ballet. The area also features a number of fascinating well-organised nature parks and it's close enough to allow visits to the famous Everglades National Park and Big Cypress Swamp.
Winter is the most popular time to visit the Gulf Coast, when the days are warm and sunny, the humidity is at its lowest and there is limited rainfall. Average temperatures during the winter months range from 17C - 20C with up to 9 hours of sunshine each day. Spring and autumn sees temperatures of between 21C - 25C, still with plenty of sunshine, and cooler evenings. The Gulf Coast sees prominent easterly winds all year long, helping to temper the heat along the water and create ideal conditions for water sports and sailing. Water temperatures tend to be warmer along the southern coast, with the sea in St. Petersburg reaching 16C - 20C during the winter months, and temperatures in Naples reaching 18C - 21C.
With all inclusive holidays to the Gulf Coast there's the chance to do as much or as little as you choose, with the price reflecting excellent value for money thanks to the extensive facilities available and the convenience of all meals and drinks included in the price. All-inclusive holidays allow for plenty of choice, with guests able to make the most of sporting facilities, activities and classes, or just lie back by the pool or on the beach. The Gulf Coast region has huge appeal, with all inclusive options offering the ideal way to stay for those looking for the utmost in convenience and true value for money.
The varied beaches along the Gulf of Mexico offer something for everyone, with the emphasis on relaxing sunbathing and family fun. Choose from unspoilt spots such as Caladesi Island with its feeling of seclusion, more developed and family-friendly beaches such as Clearwater, or the more exclusive white sandy beaches of Naples in South Florida.
From surfing, parasailing, canoeing, jet skiing, kayaking and banana boat rides to snorkelling and scuba diving, the Gulf of Mexico offers warm clear waters ideal for water sports. Swimming in the warm Gulf waters is great for all the family, and shell-collecting along beaches such as Sanibel Island is a favourite pastime.
An excellent way to explore the coastline, Florida boat trips depart from most beach resorts. Choose from dolphin-watching tours, deep-sea fishing trips and sunset cruises, as well as sailing trips, catamaran cruises and motor boat rental.
The Gulf Coast is a major world-class fishing destination, and offers fantastic conditions for all types of enthusiast. There are fun casual fishing trips for all the family, relaxing angling in the inland waterways, and serious sport and deep-sea fishing expeditions to catch offshore fish such as grouper, snapper, barracuda, mahi-mahi and tarpon.
With more than one hundred courses, Florida's Gulf Coast is a haven for golfers. Reasonable green fees, the region's near-perfect weather and the lush tropical scenery all help to create the perfect conditions for a round or two.
Sports & Leisure
Swimming, tennis, cycling, horse riding, bowling and activities such as exercise classes at hotels and local sports centres are available all along the Gulf Coast. Visitors to the area can catch a local baseball, football or ice-hockey game, depending on the season.
Sights such as Ybor City in Tampa with its rich Cuban culture, the opera and ballet at the Performing Arts Centre and The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Pete and the Gulf Coast Railroad Museum in Parrish, offer plenty of interesting places for day trips to suit all types of curious visitor.
Family days out include the famous Busch Gardens in Tampa, Cypress Springs and Weeki Wachee Springs with its underwater theatre. Orlando is an easy drive from the Central Gulf Coast area, with many visitors heading to Disney World and Universal Studios on their holiday.
There are many local nature reserves, wetlands and conservation areas to visit up and down the coast, with the rivers, lakes and coastal areas home to alligators, osprey, pelicans, ibis, turtles and armadillos. The area has various manatee parks, and the Everglades National Park is a possible day trip.
Grab a bargain at one of the local outlet malls in the area, such as Ellenton and Tanger Factory Stores in Fort Myers, where designer brands are greatly reduced. Shopping features prominently on any visitors trip to the USA, thanks to the competitive prices throughout the towns and resorts.