5 Secret Islands in Florida
THE GOODS: Just off of St. Petersburg, a hidden paradise only a block wide with art galleries, shops, beach bars and historic hotels.
ESCAPE: Steps from the beach, the old-charm Coconut Inn offers rooms with kitchens, free use of bicycles and beach chairs, and a pool; sabalpalms.com
Discover Matlacha/Pine Island
Located just west of Ft. Meyers, the tiny town of Matlacha is the perfect island getaway for a quiet and relaxing vacation. With local art galleries, infamous food, and prime fishing, you'll wish you discovered this paradise sooner. A little down the road, Pine Island offers a peaceful stay, with waterside accommodations in historic hotels, outstanding seafood, and fun beach activites like cruisers and kayaks.
THE GOODS: The perfect island for nature lovers: multiple trails studded with mangroves, gumbo limbo, and other exotic plants. Take a trip to nearby Cayo Costa State Park for ideal kayaking and fishing.
BEST ESCAPE: Quaint hotels like the Cabbage Key Inn and delicious, fresh seafood ramp up the allure of this hidden gem.
THE GOODS: An easy-going, but upscale island boasts stylish shops and boutiques, as well as excellent seafood restaurants. In the off-season, beachgoers can have the water to themselves, going the whole day without seeing anyone.
BEST ESCAPE: The Gasparilla Inn is an Old-Florida jewel with immense charms; the-gasparilla-inn.com.
Enjoy the lively island of Pass-A-Grille, just off of St. Petersburg. This hidden paradise is only a block wide, but features quirky art galleries and shops, delicious drinks and dining, and a number of historic, quaint hotels. If you're up for it, you can even experience a kayoga class--a mixture of kayaking and yoga.
Discover Cedar Key
A little bit north of Tampa, the sleepy island of Cedar Key is sure to make for a calm, enjoyable vacation. Free of stoplights and franchises, this paradise allows you to enjoy the beauty of nature, and features a National Wildlife Refuge, which guests can enjoy by kayak. On a delicious note, Cedar Key is known for its multiple versions of fresh and local clam chowders.