West Florida

Dali the Master – St. Petersburg

The new Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg houses over 2,000 items, including 96 oil paintings, hundreds of drawings and watercolors and objets d’art and a 5,000-book library in a space that’s twice the size of the former museum. The building, accented by distinctive exterior glass panels, was designed by architect Yann Weymouth, who helped to create the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris.

Inside, the Artwork competes for attention with a grand ‘double-helix’ staircase that clims nearly the full height of a 75-foot-high atrium. AOL Travel calls it “one of the top buildings you have to see before you die.

Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens – Tampa

A new roller coaster is scheduled to be unveiled later this month at Busch Gardens in Tampa. In its construction phase, Cheetah Hunt already has added something to the theme park’s skyline, with its towering pinnacle of track that twists skyward almost like fingers reaching toward the clouds. Cheetah Hunt will join park attractions  that include the thrill rides Montu and Kumba, as well as animal encounters, safaris and stage shows.

 

Paddling the Blueway – Fort Myers

The thought of a 190-mile paddling route might sound too daunting for a weekend warrior, but don’t worry: The Great Calusa Blueway, completed in 2007 along the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, can be experienced in short excursions fit for novices at kayaking or canoeing. Most of the area’s inland waterways are calm and easy to navigate, offering up-close views of birds, dolphins, sponges, starfish and other wildlife. Guided archeological trips and family excursions are available and visitors can cast off in an assortment of area parks.

 

Watch the Sunsets – Anna Maria Island

There is nothing new about watching the dimming of the day, but its a cherished ritual in Anna Maria Island, a charming barrier island bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa and Sarasota Bays. It’s not uncommon for the daily performance on the horizon to be greeted by spontaneous applause from the visitors who line up on the beaches to watch. Occupy the rest of the day with watersports, dining at quirky restaurants or fishing on one of the historic piers.

Historic Plantation – Ellenton

Gamble Plantation State Historic Park in Ellenton, near Bradenton, is an 1840s home filled with the trappings of a wealthy sugar plantation owner and is the only surviving plantation house in Southwest Florida. It is believed that the Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin took refuge here after the fall of the Confederacy, until his safe passage to England could be secured. Guided tours of the house are given six times a day, Thursday through Monday, and there are picnic tables on the grounds.

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