After breakfast, pack your beach bag and drive west on Highway 60 toward Clearwater Beach, past the peaceful, glass-like waters of Old Tampa Bay. The white sandy beach is beautiful: take a brisk walk, then drive south on Gulf Boulevard past a string of beaches that have different personalities. Stop at John's Pass at Madeira Beach for some souvenir shopping, there are 100 or so specialty stores and wonderful restaurants in this quaint beachside village and pier.
Continue south, crossing the Pinellas Bayway, and stop at Fort De Soto Park for a little history and an abundance of sand and water. North Beach has been voted the best of America's top 10 beaches: take a swim (there are changing rooms) before exploring the fort, which was built in 1906. Drive on to St Petersburg and head for the Pier, where you can have a delicious Cuban lunch at Columbia Restaurant. In the afternoon, visit the Salvador Dali' Museum, which has an amazing collection of the famous surrealist's works, including 96 oil paintings. Take a ride on the downtown trolley and stop at some of St Pete's museums and antique shops before you drive back to Tampa.
Fit in a one-hour massage before you go off for dinner at Donatello. Order the pompano and a good Italian white wine and you'll soon be ready for some dancing with Miss Kitty. Then move on to Blue Martini for drinks, an energetic crowd and more dancing.
The Gulf of Mexico offers 35 miles of white-sand beaches on eight major barrier islands that are all just a short drive away.
Calm water conditions are the norm for the Gulf of Mexico. There is excellent year-round deep-sea fishing (join one of the many charters) but the area excels in equally good in-shore and near-shore fishing along the coasts of Tampa Bay.