Discover Boca Grande/Gasparilla Island

Uncover the town of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island off Florida's Gulf Coast for a perfect and serene vacation.

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Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island

The quaint and stylish town of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island.



Courtesy of Florida Tourism Bureau;

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The town of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island is like Palm Beach without the bling: pastel cottages, Gulf-front estates, and a nice assortment of upscale but understated shops and restaurants. Duponts, Vanderbilts, and other elite visitors have been vacationing here since the Gasparilla Inn opened in 1913. At this low-key but stylish retreat, almost everyone dresses smart-casual, favoring colorful Florida looks such as Lilly Pulitzer and Vera Bradley.

People generally get around by bicycle or golf cart to check out the 1890 lighthouse/museum at the island's southern end or the gorgeous length of sand that stretches along its entire Gulf shore. In the sleepy off-season, beachgoers can spend an entire day without seeing anyone else until locals walk their dogs at sunset.

Shoppers stop at Ruhama's Books in the Sand to buy a beach read or some souvenir sand dollar note cards. Anglers will find a flotilla of boats in Boca Grande Pass when the tarpon are running; the rest of the year, fly-fishing yields snook and other prized fish.

Stay: The Anchor Inn has four quiet suites and a pool. Rates start at $195; The larger Gasparilla Inn includes 61 rooms and suites, plus an additional 78 bedrooms in surrounding cottages. Rates start at $375;

Eat: The Temptation Restaurant & Bar lives up to its name with palate-pleasing dishes including bronzed grouper over sauteed Brussels sprouts in an orange beurre blanc; The garden patio at 3rd Street Cafe is the perfect backdrop for the restaurant's Mediterranean-inspired dishes; 941/946-0155. Hudson's Grocery (look for the flamingo-pink gas pump) stocks gourmet picnic fixings, barbecued ribs, and cold beer; 941/964-2621.

Play: Boca Grande Outfitters ( and Gasparilla Outfitters ( can "hook" visitors up with fishing gear and a savvy guide.

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