Friday, 15 June 2012 8:34 AM
Situated in Florida, St Petersburg and Clearwater are destinations famous for their sugary white sand beaches and amazing golf courses. As you may expect, these rank among the key attractions for visitors, but there is plenty else to see. Indeed, one of the advantages of booking a holiday to Florida based in either location is that you'll be able to combine relaxing on the beach with exploring a variety of attractions, the best of which you can read about below.
Salvador Dali Museum
If you're something of an art lover, a visit to the impressive Salvador Dali Museum is an absolute must. Located in St Petersburg, it is home to more than 1,000 works by the artist, making it the world's largest Dali collection. So, it is the ultimate place for fans of the Spanish surrealist to explore.
Among the most famous works you can see here are the Girl with Curls, The Average Bureaucrat and Paranoia. While perusing his paintings is undoubtedly going to be the highlight of your trip, you can also take guided tours of the facility, which are offered free of charge. These give you the chance to be shown selected works from the permanent collection, with each tour focusing on a different aspect of Dali's interests, such as mathematics. On Sundays, there are also complimentary tours that showcase the highlights of the building itself, pointing you to unique design elements of both the museum and the gardens.
You're unlikely to expect a safari experience in Florida, but you can have exactly that by visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This fantastic destination recreates the splendour of the Serengeti in a 65-acre park, combining the chance to see amazing animals with trying out adrenaline-spiking rides. Plus, there are plenty of attractions to keep younger visitors happy, so it's easy to spend a whole day here - in fact, you may want to come back again to get through everything!
If you're interested in animals, you can go on a number of safaris here to see all kinds of exciting creatures. For example, the endangered species option gives you an incredible opportunity to meet rare white rhinos, zebra and giraffes, as well as learn all about breeds in danger. You'll be accompanied by a professional wildlife expert, so expect to hear lots of fascinating insights.
Theme parks fans, meanwhile, will find themselves in a thrill-seekers' heaven - especially as the park is home to North America's first floorless rollercoaster, SheiKra. This is one of seven rollercoasters you can go on, while there are also a variety of other rides. Wild Surge, for example, launches you out of a mountain crater, giving you great views of a waterfall and the park sprawled out below. If you're travelling with little ones, there are plenty of quieter attractions to keep them entertained, such as three-storey play area Treetop Trails, which will give them the chance to clamber through climbing nets and tackle a three-level maze.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Crystal River
If you're more interested in marine life, one place you can't miss off your to-do list is Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This fantastic attraction rescues and rehabilitates animals that have become ill or been injured in the wild. The ultimate goal is to release these back into their natural environment, but any that would not survive are permanently cared for by the facility - and you can meet long-term residents during your visit.
There are a host of exciting attractions for people of all ages to enjoy, including Stingray Beach, where you can try hand-feeding stingrays! Alternatively, head to Turtle Lagoon to see Molly and Stubby, who both call the park home. Each is missing some of its flippers, so the facility houses them in an environment suited to their limited swimming capabilities.
If you're keen to see some amazing animals in the wild, head to Crystal River. Situated around an hour from Tampa Bay, this destination is well known for being one of the rare places where you can swim with wild manatees. There are a number of different tours you can book, while there is also an annual manatee festival, which usually takes place in January. Time your visit to coincide with this and as well as meeting the manatees you can listen to live music and sample local food.