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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Try a day at the beach for a change

If you would like to try something different from theme parks while you are in Florida, why not try a day at the coast. There are many areas to choose from and all about one and a half hours drive from Orlando. As someone once said, “There is more to Florida than just Disney World”. The gulf coast has some of the best beaches in Florida.

Travel west from Orlando and you will have an easy drive on Interstate 4. The first place you will arrive at is Tampa, where a further 30 minutes drive will take you to the Gulf coast at Clearwater. This is a great place to spend the day just sunbathing under one of their rental umbrellas. You will need this if you are there in the summer or you could take your own if you have one. Do remember that you can still burn on a cloudy day, so do take plenty of sun cream and hats (especially for children)

Driving out of Clearwater heading south on the coast road, just over the bridge, brings you to Sand Key Park. This is a beautifully maintained public park with direct access to the beach. Once again umbrellas can be rented and there are showers, toilets and changing rooms if you care to swim. There are also picnic tables here and even places where you can BBQ if you should feel so inclined. Do be aware if you do take your own picnic, that there are regular patrols checking that no one has any alcohol in their cooler boxes as it is strictly banned on the beach and rigidly enforced. This is pretty standard on most beaches as it is on all public streets. (This is why you often see down-and-outs in the cities carrying drink in brown paper bags)

From Sand Key Park, it is a really pleasant drive south down the coast road towards Treasure Island and St. Petersburg – known as St. Petes!

Another interesting place to visit is the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. It is on the right hand side of the road located at Indian Shores. No flashy signs announce that you have arrived, in fact if you are not careful you could very easily drive past, so keep a good look out. The owner rescues birds that have been injured or are sick and nurses them back to health until they are well enough to leave.

If you want to try the East coast head up to cocoa beach (although the parking there is a bit tricky. Better to travel further up the coast to Daytona Beach. Do be VERY careful of the children as cars are allowed on the beach.

All in all I would recommend the West Gulf coast more as the parking is much easier although the drive maybe a little further.

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Page added on: 7 August 2011
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