Hotel at a Glance: Lake Tarpon Resort
The Lake Tarpon Resort overlooks a canal that leads into Lake Tarpon, a saltwater lake just north of Tampa Bay. The titular lake, known as the "Jewel of Pinellas County," spans 2,500 acres and is renowned for its bass fishing. It's only 30 miles away from Tampa.
- Included meal: daily continental breakfast
- Go swimming in the outdoor heated pool or hot tub
- Room with a view: Each guest room comes with views of the canal
- Architectural influences: the Mediterranean-style resort features stucco walls, a tiled roof, and soaring archways
- Take a hike within the John Chesnut Sr. Park, home to gators, turtles, and various waterfowl, located on the other side of the lake
Greater Tampa, Florida: Sunny Days, Beaches, and Busch Gardens
About 30 miles northwest of Tampa lies Palm Harbor, whose scenic beaches, such as Fred Howard Park, are on the Gulf of Mexico. Here, you might see dolphins, manatees, and nesting ospreys. You can also head south down the coast for easy access to Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg, picturesque towns located on the peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. They’re known for their festive seafood restaurants and outdoor attractions, such as dolphin-watching cruises and nature preserves.
Roller coasters and exotic animals share real estate at Busch Gardens Tampa, a theme park designed to evoke the thrills of an African safari. Like a big cat sprinting after its prey, Cheetah Hunt—one of the park’s newer thrill rides—reaches speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Back on solid ground, you can get up close and personal with more than 2,000 animals living in detailed replicas of their natural habitats.
Tampa is just 30 miles away. Given that the city has more than 15 white-sand beaches and nearly 250 sunny days a year, it should come as no surprise that Forbes magazine ranked it the fifth best city in America for enjoying the outdoors. Set on the Gulf Coast, about 90 miles southwest of Orlando, the city offers abundant green spaces as well as year-round opportunities for fishing, surfing, and golfing on waterfront courses.