Choose Florida’s Gulf Coast, For Your Next Assignment…

If you’re thinking about a destination for an upcoming travel assignment, think no further than the Gulf Coast of Florida. With a captivating and diverse make up of many different locales, there is no better place to take on a travel assignment. Oh, and did I mention Florida doesn’t have State income taxes?!?!?!

The “Gulf Coast”, as known by locals, is usually thought to be the Tampa/ St. Pete area south to Naples. In between these two book ends is a ton of small to mid-size cities, each with their own distinct feel and vibe. Not to mention the endless miles of white sandy beaches. You don’t need to go to the west coast of the US to see an astonishing sunset, as the Gulf of Mexico provides an AMAZING back drop as well!!

A very unique aspect of Gulf Coast living is that you usually have a world class beach just a few miles from heavier populated areas. Here is just a sampling of what this region has to offer.

Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater

Tampa is the largest city by population on the west coast of Florida. It sits on the edge of Tampa Bay and is just a quick drive from the beaches of Clearwater.

If you’re a sports nut, the area is home to two professional sports teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The cost of living is 6% less than the US average.

Ybor City is a small subsection of the Downtown area and is bustling with restaurants, bars, and clubs. When you’re there don’t forget to check out the Columbia Restaurant, established in 1905. Their trademark salad is amazing!

St. Pete beach was also recently ranked #3, while Clearwater Beach was #4 on the best beaches in the US list.

Sarasota – Siesta Key

Sarasota is just a brisk 45-minute drive South from Tampa Bay, but it might as well be worlds away. Not only does it have an up and coming downtown area, filled with the redevelopment of restaurant and bars, but it’s only a few minutes from Siesta Key.

The population is becoming younger than most Gulf Coast cities, with 33% between the ages of 18-44.

Cost of living is slightly higher than the median for the US, but then again, what do you expect for a city having the #1 beach in the US. Edging out Ka’anapali Beach in Lahaina, Hawaii for the top spot. It’s also the #5 beach in the WORLD!!!!  Check out tripadvisor’s article on the world’s best beaches for 2017!

After a long day at the beach, head on over to the area on Siesta Key that the locals aptly call, “The Key”. Oyster bars and frozen drinks are on the menu at S.K.O.B and Daquiri Deck.

In the mood for a little more of an “artsy” type day? Try the Ringling Museum and the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. Both have been featured in cinema and routinely host food and wine festivals.

Fort Myers – Sanibel Island

“There is only one Fort Myers, and 90 million people are going to find it”, an original quote from Thomas Edison, who along with Henry Ford kept winter homes in this Jewel of early Florida. Roughly another 30-45 minutes south of Sarasota, is the combo of Ft. Myers & Sanibel.

With a median, again, that is slightly higher than the Sarasota & Tampa areas, Ft. Myers is more on the quiet side. However, that doesn’t change the beauty of the area.

Ft. Myers still has the quaint feeling of a sleepy beach vacation town, but don’t let that fool you. With many historical buildings being well kept and redeveloped, a stroll downtown is like a trip to the past.

In the mood for more history? Visit the mansions of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, see one of the main workshops in which many modern-day inventions were created.

Of course, you can’t forget about Ft. Myers beach with its trademark pier, or the pristine and undisturbed beaches of Sanibel Island only a short drive away.

Getting a little bored of the sleepy and quiet side of things?? Hop the “Key West Express” which calls Ft. Myers its home. That’s right, you can be in Key West in less time by taking this high-speed ferry than you would driving!  (look for travel updates on the Florida Keys)

Naples – Marco Island

About a 30-45 minute drive south of Ft. Myers (noticing a pattern here), is the city of Naples. Known for its golfing and beaches, Naples is on the south end of this region of Florida.

With a close proximity to the Everglades, countless State parks and beaches, Naples is also a great place for anyone who loves nature. This area contains eco-tours and endless walking/hiking trails available for your discovery. Don’t forget to check out Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, which is only a short car ride from Naples and allows an up-close look at some of Florida’s wildlife.

Finally, take your commute south from downtown Naples to Marco Island. Completely isolated from the main land by a few miles, Marco Island is on the North end of the “Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge”.

Known for its back water fishing and secluded beaches, Marco Island is definitely for those nature lovers out there. Whether or not its paddle boarding, kayaking or fishing, you’re sure to find something that will spark the outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) in you!