Tampa - Further Afield
Pinellas Reef Diving
This site is home to a couple of shipwrecks. You can dive into the compartments and see all the sections of both ships, now home to jewfish and barracuda. PADI schools offer courses at St Pete Beach.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota
Orchids, ferns, bromeliads and heliconias - there's lots to tempt the budding botanist here. The garden's biggest claim to fame is that it has more epiphytes than any other exhibit or display in the nation. Epiphytes are delicate, cactus-like plants which use other plants for support. There's a lot more obscure botany where they came from in this nine acre plot, splashed with colour all year round.
John and Mable Ringling Museum Complex, Sarasota
Circus magnate John Ringling transformed Sarasota into a cultural and entertainment hot spot in the 1920s. Today his influence is still strong – in the shape of the excellent, sprawling campus of the John and Mable Ringling Museum complex, affiliated with Florida State University. Stunning hacienda style architecture and an expansive collection of works by baroque masters and American artists lend the museum real gravitas. Innovative installations, the Cà d'Zan (the recently restored 32-room Ringling mansion), the Circus Museum, Original Asolo theater, Rose Garden and beautifully landscaped grounds make this one museum you could happily spend the day wandering around.
Just down the coast from Bradenton, Venice is a handsome, small-scale city, with a historic shopping core, pretty promenade and lovely riverside walks along the banks of the Myakka - and, once a year, it plays host to the Sharks' Tooth Festival: the town has the dubious title of the 'Shark Tooth Capital of the World', due to the amount of fossilised teeth found along its shoreline!
This ecologically rich stretch of coast, 120 km northwest of Tampa is 'where man and manatee play'! This friendly community is clustered around a hot spring, which affords glorious swimming, all year round. The tame manatees (often known as sea cows) enjoy nothing better, it seems, than swimming with tourists. If you don't want to get that close, you can take a manatee safari, or go fishing, boating, camping, or enjoy any number of the well marked nature trails. Other attractions include the Naber Kids Doll Factory and the Crystal River State Archaeological Site.