Where: About 60 miles south of Tampa, via Selmon Expressway, Interstate 75 and state Route 780.
Why: Sarasota seamlessly blends art and culture with sand and surf. In addition to its white, powder-soft beaches and clear, warm turquoise water along the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota is known for its wealth of cultural institutions. Wander the galleries of fine art in The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, and then tour the Ringlings’ former home, Ca’ d’Zan, which has been called “a testament to the American Dream of the Roaring ’20s.” For natural beauty, stroll the grounds of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on your own, or join a guided tour. When it comes time to shop and dine, St. Armands Circle is a must-do.
Where: About 25 miles northwest of Tampa, via Interstate 275, state Route 60 and U.S. Route 19.
Why: There is much to discover in this charming beachside town. Be sure to visit Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park (accessible only by boat from Honeymoon Island) — these natural barrier islands boast uncrowded beaches, abundant wildlife and breathtaking sunsets. If you’re visiting the area in March, watch the Toronto Blue Jays professional baseball team take the field for spring training. Festivals are held throughout the year, including the Dunedin Highland Games & Festival in the spring — a nod to the city’s rich Scottish heritage — and the Orange Festival in the summer.
Vacation Destinations Outside Miami
Miami has so much to offer: wide beaches, oceanfront art deco architecture, international flavors and pulsing nightlife. Outside the Magic City, you’ll find even more to see and do in South Florida.
Getting there: Fly into Miami International Airport and pick up your rental car.