As an American travel destination, Florida is hard to beat. It has so much going for it, with amazing wildlife and exciting adventures in the Everglades, gorgeous art deco architecture and buzzing nightlife in Miami, the thrills and nostalgia of the Magical Kingdom in Orlando, and sun-drenched beaches wherever you turn.
Although plenty of travelers tend to stick to the most famous spots, there are glorious places to visit all across the Sunshine State. South Florida often flies a little under the radar, but adventurous and curious tourists should take another look at the hidden gems and sometimes overlooked cities towards the bottom of the peninsula.
Whether you are on an exciting Tampa cruise vacation or looking to put together an alternative travel itinerary, a multi-city tour of South Florida can be an amazing experience.
For anyone considering taking in the joys and delights of this part of the world, our multi-city travel guide to South Florida will be a great help when looking to plan your trip and discover the best things to see and do. Read on for a full rundown of visiting South Florida’s, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota areas .
With its gorgeous Gulf of Mexico location, Tampa’s relative lack of fanfare as a Florida travel destination is hard to understand.
Granted it has had an edgy reputation in the past, but those days are long gone, and this is now a bustling, buzzy city with a fantastic drinking and dining scene, exceptional beaches, and a wealth of cultural and artistic attractions.
The center of town overlooks Tampa Bay, and the city itself spreads out well into the Gulf of Mexico. Great beaches abound, with Clearwater Beach one of the most popular stretches of sand, fringed with exceptional bars and restaurants for when the sun goes down. Honeymoon Island is a more tranquil spot, and a bit of a local favorite.
Tampa’s Cuban heritage is at the heart of its amazing vibe, and time spent in the wonderful Ybor City district will be a rewarding experience. Discover the home of the Cuban sandwich, and see the Cigar Museum, where the famous Cuban cigars were made for many years.
Head to Apollo Beach and the Manatee Viewing Centre just below the Tampa Bay Electric Company’s plant for a unique opportunity to see these rare animals in their natural habitat. Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, and the Big Cat Center are also well worth taking the time to visit.
Just across the Bay from Tampa, St. Petersburg is a truly delightful waterside city that just keeps getting better. Combining a charming small-town ambiance with all the excitement of a far bigger city, this often-overlooked city is an excellent addition to any South Florida holiday.
St. Petersburg has an art and cultural scene that rivals that of far bigger cities. Centered around the city’s Downtown district, the main attraction is the stunning Dali Museum. This magnificent art museum houses the largest collection of Dali’s works outside Europe, in an appropriately wonderfully designed building right on the waterfront.
St. Petersburg’s climate makes this charming city a year-round outdoor holiday destination…and the five miles of pristine sand that makeup St. Pete Beach don’t hurt either! For those looking for something more adventurous, Fort de Soto Park is made up of over 1,000 acres of parkland and miles of nature trails spread over a number of islands in the middle of Tampa Bay.
The culinary scene in St. Petersburg is not to be sniffed at either, with huge names like Fabrizio Aielli doing their thing in a variety of exceptional restaurants across town. Southern flavors mix with amazing seafood to provide a wonderful foodie experience.
Keep on heading down the coast from St. Petersburg, and you’ll soon hit Sarasota, one of the loveliest spots in this part of the world and an inexplicably hidden gem of South Florida.
Overlooking Sarasota Bay, sheltered from the Gulf by Longboat Key, the city is a delight. Sarasota County boasts over 40 miles of shoreline, and some of the best beaches in the state are right on Sarasota’s doorstep. The flour-like sand of Siesta Key or Lido Key is a huge draw for many visitors to the city, and the exceptional 5-star hotels and resorts will ensure you are treated like royalty.
Sarasota’s dining scene is legendary, an exemplar of Gulf Coast cuisine, full of exciting combinations of seafood, Southern soul influences and some of the finest grills you can find anywhere. The Beach Grill Club is legendary, and the many waterfront restaurants offer a superbly relaxed dining experience. Alternatively, head downtown for some excellent Southern cooking at Nancy’s Bar-B-Q.
Sarasota has a fascinating history as the circus capital of the world, and no visit would be complete without a trip to the Ringling Campus. Delve into the rich history of circus performance, and gaze in awe at the exceptional 44,000 piece miniature replica of the 1920s Ringling Circus.