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Florida

Gulf Coast Holidays

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GULF COAST TRIP? NO TROUBLE.

If you’re dreaming of sugar-white beaches, great food and friendly cities, a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast is just the ticket. The Sunshine State’s western coastline is brushed by the bath-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico – hence its name – and, while it technically unspools for 700 miles, Gulf Coast holidays typically focus on the 200-mile stretch linking Tampa and Marco Island. In-between, you’ll find popular sun-soaked spots like Clearwater, St Petersburg and Naples. So, whether you want to stay in one place or go beach-hopping along the shore, Gulf Coast holidays offer plenty of choice.

Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to some of the best beaches in the USA. Perhaps the most famous, Clearwater Beach boasts pristine white sands and a bustling promenade, while popular St Pete Beach is ideal for foodies and families. Further south, the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island are covered in beautiful shells. And then there’s sleepy Naples – a laidback city loved for its talc-like beach and picture-perfect sunsets.

While it can be very tempting to spend all your time at the beach, Gulf Coast holidays serve up plenty more things to do – so, when you fancy a break from sunbathing, you’ll find lots of activities on offer. In Fort Myers, you can take a boat trip in search of wild dolphins and manatees. You can play 18 holes on one of the immaculate golf courses around Naples. Admire tropical blooms at Florida Botanical Gardens. Or stroll through the streets of St Petersburg, where you can visit the Dali Museum, the Sunken Gardens and dozens of craft breweries – giving this part of the world its nickname, ‘the Gulp Coast’.

Tempted? Speak to our experts to find out more about our holidays to Florida’s Gulf Coast, and let us plan your perfect trip.

Best beaches

Activities

City sights

Best time to visit the Gulf Coast

Best beaches

There are some fantastic Gulf Coast beaches. These sandy shores aren’t just the best in Florida – they’re the best in the whole of the USA. Clearwater Beach takes the crown, with its turquoise waters and pearly shore. You can swim in the clear-as-could-be sea, or paddle out in a kayak and admire the shore from afar. Families will find plenty of child-friendly restaurants, too, while couples can sip cocktails in the beachfront bars.

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Charming St Pete Beach is another popular stop on Gulf Coast holidays. You can learn to surf or jet-ski, go on a dolphin-watching trip, and dip your toes in the balmy Gulf of Mexico. Further south, Sanibel Island is ideal for families with its pretty shell-speckled beaches, playgrounds and picnic tables. Or you could head to Fort Myers Beach for endless watersports. Meanwhile, Barefoot Beach County Preserve – just north of Naples – regularly crops up on lists of the ‘Best Beaches in America’ thanks to its sugary dunes, which are criss-crossed by scenic boardwalks.

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Activities

The beaches are undoubtedly the main draw of Gulf Coast holidays, but there’s plenty more to discover. Keen golfers will be in their element, as this part of Florida is peppered with manicured fairways and greens. The area surrounding Naples, in particular, has dozens of courses to choose from, including Old Corkscrew Golf Club – designed by Jack Nicklaus – and the hugely popular Naples Grande Golf Club.
If nature’s more your thing, why not watch wild dolphins playing in the clear waters around Fort Myers Pier?

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Show Less

Alternatively, see some of the USA’s famous animals in J.N ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, where you might spy bald eagles, alligators and bobcats. Or take a boat trip to Pine Island in search of gentle manatees and loggerhead turtles.

Thanks to the Gulf Coast’s tropical climate, you can also expect to find lots of interesting gardens here. In St Petersburg, you can stroll around the Sunken Gardens amidst 50,000 exotic plants, along with tumbling waterfalls and a butterfly house. Or head south of Clearwater to Florida Botanical Gardens. This place boasts more than 25 gardens, with sections dedicated to roses, butterflies and tropical plants.

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Show Less

City sights

The cities along Florida’s Gulf Coast feature all sorts of things to do. Naples is ideal for shopaholics, and children of all ages will love Naples Zoo. Elsewhere, baseball fans will love the games on offer at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, where the Boston Red Sox play every winter. 

If you’re into culture, though, make tracks for the museums dotted across Clearwater and St Pete. You can visit the Dali Museum, Morean Arts Center and the St Petersburg Museum of History.

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Show Less

Foodies should also do a beer-tasting in at least one of St Pete’s craft breweries. Make sure you try a freshly poured Florida Weisse – it’s the most popular beer in Tampa Bay.

Speaking of Tampa, this large city has loads going on. If you’re taking the kids on holiday, you can make the most of the fantastic waterparks and theme parks, including Adventure Island® and Busch Gardens® Tampa. Alternatively, catch a dazzling show at Straz Center or stroll around the Tampa Museum of Art.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit the Gulf Coast

Holidays to the Gulf Coast are best planned between December and May, when this part of Florida is generally dry and sunny. Temperatures hover between the late teens and mid-twenties, and the Gulf of Mexico remains balmy enough for swimming and watersports. Clearwater and Fort Myers are popular destinations for spring break, though, so the weeks around Easter can be crowded – and perhaps livelier than you may like. So if you’re keen to avoid the crowds and enjoy great weather, March or May is your best bet.

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Show Less

Summer is when American holidaymakers flock to Florida, so you can expect the Gulf Coast to be busy. Between June and August, temperatures soar to the mid-thirties. And the humidity can become very uncomfortable, so this time of year may not suit everyone, especially families travelling with young children. June to November is officially hurricane season, too, so you can expect intermittent downpours and tropical storms.

Show More
Show Less

Best beaches

Best beaches

There are some fantastic Gulf Coast beaches. These sandy shores aren’t just the best in Florida – they’re the best in the whole of the USA. Clearwater Beach takes the crown, with its turquoise waters and pearly shore. You can swim in the clear-as-could-be sea, or paddle out in a kayak and admire the shore from afar. Families will find plenty of child-friendly restaurants, too, while couples can sip cocktails in the beachfront bars.

Show More
Show Less

Charming St Pete Beach is another popular stop on Gulf Coast holidays. You can learn to surf or jet-ski, go on a dolphin-watching trip, and dip your toes in the balmy Gulf of Mexico. Further south, Sanibel Island is ideal for families with its pretty shell-speckled beaches, playgrounds and picnic tables. Or you could head to Fort Myers Beach for endless watersports. Meanwhile, Barefoot Beach County Preserve – just north of Naples – regularly crops up on lists of the ‘Best Beaches in America’ thanks to its sugary dunes, which are criss-crossed by scenic boardwalks.

Show More
Show Less

Activities

Activities

The beaches are undoubtedly the main draw of Gulf Coast holidays, but there’s plenty more to discover. Keen golfers will be in their element, as this part of Florida is peppered with manicured fairways and greens. The area surrounding Naples, in particular, has dozens of courses to choose from, including Old Corkscrew Golf Club – designed by Jack Nicklaus – and the hugely popular Naples Grande Golf Club.
If nature’s more your thing, why not watch wild dolphins playing in the clear waters around Fort Myers Pier?

Show More
Show Less

Alternatively, see some of the USA’s famous animals in J.N ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, where you might spy bald eagles, alligators and bobcats. Or take a boat trip to Pine Island in search of gentle manatees and loggerhead turtles.

Thanks to the Gulf Coast’s tropical climate, you can also expect to find lots of interesting gardens here. In St Petersburg, you can stroll around the Sunken Gardens amidst 50,000 exotic plants, along with tumbling waterfalls and a butterfly house. Or head south of Clearwater to Florida Botanical Gardens. This place boasts more than 25 gardens, with sections dedicated to roses, butterflies and tropical plants.

Show More
Show Less

City sights

City sights

The cities along Florida’s Gulf Coast feature all sorts of things to do. Naples is ideal for shopaholics, and children of all ages will love Naples Zoo. Elsewhere, baseball fans will love the games on offer at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, where the Boston Red Sox play every winter. 

If you’re into culture, though, make tracks for the museums dotted across Clearwater and St Pete. You can visit the Dali Museum, Morean Arts Center and the St Petersburg Museum of History.

Show More
Show Less

Foodies should also do a beer-tasting in at least one of St Pete’s craft breweries. Make sure you try a freshly poured Florida Weisse – it’s the most popular beer in Tampa Bay.

Speaking of Tampa, this large city has loads going on. If you’re taking the kids on holiday, you can make the most of the fantastic waterparks and theme parks, including Adventure Island® and Busch Gardens® Tampa. Alternatively, catch a dazzling show at Straz Center or stroll around the Tampa Museum of Art.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit the Gulf Coast

Best time to visit the Gulf Coast

Holidays to the Gulf Coast are best planned between December and May, when this part of Florida is generally dry and sunny. Temperatures hover between the late teens and mid-twenties, and the Gulf of Mexico remains balmy enough for swimming and watersports. Clearwater and Fort Myers are popular destinations for spring break, though, so the weeks around Easter can be crowded – and perhaps livelier than you may like. So if you’re keen to avoid the crowds and enjoy great weather, March or May is your best bet.

Show More
Show Less

Summer is when American holidaymakers flock to Florida, so you can expect the Gulf Coast to be busy. Between June and August, temperatures soar to the mid-thirties. And the humidity can become very uncomfortable, so this time of year may not suit everyone, especially families travelling with young children. June to November is officially hurricane season, too, so you can expect intermittent downpours and tropical storms.

Show More
Show Less

Chat With Our Florida Experts

With 40 years in travel and hundreds of experts ready to help you realise your dream holiday.

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Our top 5

Clearwater Beach

Regularly named as the best beach in the USA, this postcard-worthy stretch is ideal for a lazy day in the sunshine.

Our top 5

Sanibel Island

Discover this idyllic spot off the coast of Fort Myers, where you’ll be able to see all sorts of animals and birds, as well as lots of pretty shells.

Our top 5

The ‘Gulp Coast’

Beer-lovers should spend some time sipping their way around the craft breweries in St Pete – Green Bench Brewing Co and Mastry’s Brewing Co are two of our favourites.

Our top 5

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Visit this impressive place in Fort Myers to see a laboratory once used by Thomas Edison, plus a museum and botanical gardens.

Our top 5

Old Corkscrew Golf Club

Play 18 holes on this beautiful course designed by Jack Nicklaus – it’s been named Florida’s best golf course by Golf Magazine.
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Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

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