Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

St. Pete Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast is as Glorious as Ever

July 26, 2010
Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach

From our room at the charming Postcard Inn on the Beach, we stroll out to St. Pete Beach © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Just back from St. Pete Beach, Florida, where we had the most delightful stay at the Postcard Inn, right on the beach (more in stories to follow). The Gulf Coast beach is as beautiful as ever.

One evening, as we were awaiting the nightly spectacular – the sunset – we saw a pod of dolphins swimming past just beyond where the buoys marked the edge of swimming area. Brown pelicans were diving for fish just near where we were swimming.

Just beyond where a couple swims in the Gulf of Mexico, a pod of dolphin pass by © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

From our room at the  Postcard Inn on the Beach, chic, remodeled 1950s-era motel with the charm of an inn and the amenities and service of a boutique hotel, we stroll out to the beach.  (More on the Postcard Inn, 6300 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706, 727-367-2711 main line, 800-237-8918 reservations, www.postcardinn.com, to follow).

There are scores of phenomenal beaches all along this spit of Florida, between St. Petersburg Beach, with Fort DeSoto (you can visit the Spanish-American War era fort) and Pass-a-Grille which is a quaint, historic village with what I considered the most beautiful, white-sand beach of all,  at the southernmost point, up through Treasure Island, Indian Shores, Clearwater Beach, Caledesi Beach, and Tarpon Springs.

A delightful way to visit is by the trolley bus that goes from Pass-a-Grille in the south, up to Clearwater Beach.

Pass-a-Grille turned out to be one of our favorite places to idle away. You follow Gulf Boulevard passed the famous “pink castle” of St. Pete Beach, the 1920s era Don Cesar hotel, and find yourself in Old Florida – charming houses lining a narrow street that ends in a historic village. Four miles of undeveloped public beach along Gulf Way on the Gulf of Mexico wrap around the end of the key to meet Boca Ciega Bay on the harbor side of Pass-a-Grille. You can go on a shelling or snorkeling excursion to Shell Key, watch the dolphins play; or enjoy gentle sea breezes on a sunset cruise. Take a stroll on 8th Avenue, where you’ll find galleries, boutiques, and restaurants and an adorable ice cream shop, Paradise Sweets.

To plan a trip, contact St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau,  13805 58th Street North, Suite 2-200, Clearwater, Fl 33760, 727-464-7200,  877-352-3224,  http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/.

See our full coverage of St. Petersburg and the Gulf Beaches at www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

–Karen Rubin/Travel Features Syndicate

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Florida’s Magnificent Gulf Coast Beaches: See Them Now

June 3, 2010

Vacationers have been hesitant to book trips to Florida's Gulf Coast beaches, but now is the time to visit and VisitFlorida provides real-time tools to make your plans to places like Caledesi Beach (c) 2010 Karen Rubin/News&PhotoFeatures).

Travelers so far have been hesitant to book summer vacations to Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches, as the BP Gulf Oil spill saga continues to unfold.

That is a big mistake.

So far, the beaches have remained as pristine and spectacular as ever, and Visit Florida, the  state’s official tourism marketing corporation, has created an excellent network of real-time web-cams and on-site reporters so you can see conditions for yourself at the state’s beaches and destinations, on line in real time, VisitFlorida.com/FloridaLive (just click on the map) – muchlike the ski industry lets you see a real-time videocam to show conditions on the slopes.

But the fact that the beaches are unspoiled is all the more reason to go now to experience these treasures.

Like Venice, these treasures are not to be taken for granted.

Places like Sanibel Island, Caladesi Island State Park,  Clearwater Beach, and Naples.

Some of Florida’s Gulf Coast beach destinations have gone so far as to offer liberal cancellation policies, such as the Beaches of South Walton, a destination located along a 26-mile stretch of Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast and comprised of 15 picturesque beach communities, and white sand beaches and emerald green waters for which the region is renowned. It was named as one of the Top 12 travel destinations for 2010 by Frommer’s. (For more information about Beaches of South Walton, visit www.beachesofsouthwalton.com or contact the Visitor’s Center at 800-822-6877).

The South Walton TDC and lodging partners are monitoring conditions with the BP Oil spill closely, and partners are developing generous travel policies should any of the beaches be impacted. Visitors are encouraged to contact their lodging provider directly to discuss specific policies and programs. To keep visitors informed about beach conditions and the county’s preparedness the TDC is continuing to post daily updates and images on www.BSWupdate.com, including information on a fully funded action plan to protect the destination in the event of oil reaching the shore.

Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches are in many ways even more magnificent than its Atlantic Ocean beaches, and afford more ways to explore, experience and enjoy – there are the most magnificent nature preserves, world-renowned birding areas, and kayaking along designated trails.

“Visit Florida’s role to the consumer is to be a trustworthy provider of accurate information, so the traveler can make travel plans,” said Kenneth Morgan, Public Relations Manager. “We want vacationers to make their travel plans based on current information, not out of fear or misinformation. At this time, our beaches are clear and open, and not impacted in any way.”

The Florida Live site provides a Googlemap of the state – visitors can click  on twitter feeds from various destinations and be linked at the “hyper-local level” to get up-to-date local information.

You can also find out about vacation deals and events.

More complete information about Florida’s plethora of destinations, including beaches is available from http://www.visitflorida.com/ with links to real-time information about local destinations.

You can click on the “Florida Live” tab to see photos and videos that are authentic, real (they are uploaded by local people).

Visit Florida has also created a “Share a Little Sunshine” advocacy program: a fan page on Facebook that Florida residents subscribe to and invite people to Florida.

Other contacts:

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel) is the best source for trip planning (12800 University Drive, Suite 550, Fort Myers, FL 33907, 239-338-3500,  800-237-6444, http://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com, Email: VCB@leegov.com). It also has a link on its site for updates on the impact (or none) of the oil spill, which when we checked, had none  and it was reported safe for swimming and fishing (http://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/oil-spill).

Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, 401 Cleveland Street, Clearwater, Florida 33755, 888-425-3279 or 727-461-0011, http://www.visitclearwaterflorida.com. info@clearwaterflorida.org. Clearwater Beach is also monitoring the oil spill situation. “We are monitoring the oil spill situation closely, but there are no negative impacts in Clearwater and we are open for business as usual.” For regular updates visit: www.dep.state.fl.us/

Naples, Marco Island & Everglades Convention & Visitor Center, 800 688 3600, 239-225-1013, http://www.paradisecoast.com, Email: info@paradisecoast.com.

The Florida Keys & Key West tourism council has added a section to its www.fla-keys.com site to provide travelers up-to-date information on the TransOcean/BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The site provides official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil slick trajectory maps as well as a Q&A section on the oil leaks. The 72-hour forecast maps are updated on a daily basis  (visit www.fla-keys.com_.

Also see our story: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-38705-Long-Island-Eclectic-Traveler-Examiner~y2010m6d1-Floridas-Magnificent–Gulf-Coast-Beaches-See-Them-Now.

Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate

http://www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate