The Gulf Coast
The Gulf Coast of Florida takes its name from the Gulf of Mexico and boasts year round sunshine and a great climate.
One local newspaper reputedly gives away free papers if the sun does not come out for 24 hours. There are miles and miles of white sandy beaches.
This part of the Gulf Coast is a winter retreat for the endangered manatee. During the winter months they take refuge in the warm waters of rivers such as the Crystal River.
Downtown Tampa, from the Henry B. Plant Park
© Robbie Rogers
Tampa and St. Petersburg
The Tampa metropolis encompasses Clearwater, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs and St Petersburg and each district reflects different ethnic populations. Tampa has a thriving Hispanic population, primarily originating from the cigar industry which moved here from Key West in the late 19th century.
Dunedin has Scottish festivals and Tarpon Springs is famous for its Greek sponge divers. With its international airport, it is the main gateway to the Gulf Coast resorts.
Nearby is the Busch Gardens Africa theme park modelled on various African settings with a number of large white-knuckle roller-coaster rides including SheiKra, Florida's tallest roller coaster with a 200 foot 90 degree vertical drop.
Sarasota is home to the Ringling Museum. John Ringling, founder of the Barnum and Bailey circus company, built his magnificent Cad'zan winter palace here in 1927, which is now open to the public.
Often referred to as the Palm Beach of the West Coast, Naples is home to many wealthy citizens. This is evident from the many fine villas and luxury boutiques.
Marco Island, 16 miles (26 km) south of Naples is the largest of the 10,000 odd islands that run down to the Keys.