LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwire) -- 02/28/13 -- After a week of competitive campaigning and nearly 30,000 online votes, USA Today recently announced the results of its search to find Florida's best beach town. A shortlist of ten resorts was compiled for the poll, from which USA Today's travel readers chose Clearwater Beach as their favourite - the sparkling seaside resort on the Gulf of Mexico received a whopping 25% of the vote.
While Clearwater has earned its reputation as one of America's best beach towns, it's certainly not the only place to visit in Florida if you're looking for sea and sand, as there are loads of other great seaside destinations across the state.
Take a trip south from Clearwater, down the west coast of the Pinellas peninsula, to find the historic district of Pass-a-Grille. At nearly the southernmost point of the peninsula, it's somewhat out of the way, but in this secluded area at the meeting point between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, you'll find a long, beautiful stretch of golden sand. Its relaxed atmosphere and historic buildings are a world away from Florida's bigger tourist resorts, and the local selection of eateries and shops contribute to its laid-back, small town feel. The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, with its open rooftop bar, is a must-visit.
Pristine beaches can be found even further south along Florida's west coast on Sanibel Island, famous for the beautiful shells that wash up on its shores, some of which are displayed in the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. Sanibel's Bowman Beach is a lovely place to pass the evening - take a seat at one of the picnic tables and get set for a breath-taking sunset. And don't forget your camera!
But there are not only great beaches on Florida's west coast - a trip down the east side of the state will take you to the Space Coast, where the fishing haven of the Sebastian Inlet State Park awaits, with a stunning stretch of seafront facing the Atlantic. See some of the amazing hauls pulled in by locals, or grab a board and test yourself against the waves that make it one of the region's best surfing destinations. Alternatively, leave that to the thrill-seekers and simply lie back and relax somewhere on the extensive beach areas.
For affordable holidays to Florida's beaches and theme parks, visit http://www.cosmos.co.uk/florida/holidays. Cosmos' Florida deals start at just GBP 482 per person, with flights departing from London Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports. For more information, visit www.cosmos.co.uk.
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