Road Trips Close to Home - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Road Trips Close to Home

Road Trips Close to Home

Explore these not-too-far locales that are well worth the cost of a tank of gas

Living in Florida is as close to paradise as one can get. From the white-sand beaches of Clearwater and the exhilarating theme parks in Orlando to the nightlife of Miami and the exotic beauty of the Keys, there is never a dull moment for those who seek adventure.

The Sunshine State is also home to a great many hidden gems, off the beaten path but close enough for an exciting day trip. Here are two destinations that prove there is more to see and do than one might imagine.

Crystal River and Homosassa Springs

Step back in time with a visit to Crystal River and Homosassa Springs, home of the world-famous mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The whole family can enjoy the mermaids as they perform underwater acrobatics, just as they have for the past six decades. Children will spend the ride home recounting how the mermaids can even eat and drink underwater.

Even though the trip takes a quick one hour and 11 minutes, it feels like another world. Sit by the river and sip libations at MacCrae’s of Homosassa; check out Historic Monkey Island or explore the history of Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park. And for those who dream of swimming with the manatees, there are several options available.

Plantation on Crystal River

WHAT: This historic resort is a one-stop resource, featuring fabulous dining, an Adventure Center, Golf and spa.

WHERE: 9301 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River

INFO: Call 352-795-4211


Just over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a quick 45-minute drive south of St. Petersburg and Bradenton, sits lovely Sarasota. The one-time winter home of the Ringling Brother Circus circa 1907, Sarasota has been a cultural hotspot for decades.

Can’t-miss attractions include the Ringling Museum of Art, Tibbals Learning Center and Circus Museum at The Ringling, Sarasota Opera, Florida Studio Theatre and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, where you can explore 45 acres of their world-renowned, bayfront garden oasis. Dine and shop at St. Armand’s Circle, a charming destination for trinkets and treasures or sit outside and soak in the ambiance.

Visitors can truly step into another world while visiting the Pinecraft Amish Community, established in 1926 by vacationing Amish. Stay at Carlisle Inn & Conference Center, located in the heart of Pinecraft where you can feast on authentic Amish cooking, including some enormous homemade pies. Sarasota also boasts miles of award-winning, sugar sand beaches such as Lido Beach and Siesta Key Beach.

See Also

Carlisle Inn & Conference Center Sarasota

WHAT: Managed by the Amish community, the Carlisle is where the locals go to buy their pies, cakes and food. The breakfast buffet is out of this world and the service is always with a smile. Do not miss Yoder’s Restaurant and Amish Village, located across the street from the Carlisle Inn.

WHERE: 3727 Bahia Vista St, Sarasota, FL

INFO: Call 844-369-2275

by Michelle T Walker

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