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Best of Florida

The Best Beaches

Virginia Key:

The producers of Survivor could possibly shoot their show on this ultra-secluded, picturesque, and deserted key, where people go intentionally not to be found.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park:

The pot of gold at the extremity of the rainbow, Bill Baggs radiates serenity with 1 1/4 miles of sandy beach, nature trails, and even a historic lighthouse that recalls an era before pristine areas as this one gave way to avaricious creator and pollutants.

Lummus Park Beach:

This beach is world-renowned, not inevitably for its pristine sands, but for its more usual name of South Beach, on which observing, being observed and, at times, the obscene, go hand in hand with the sunscreen and beach towels. The 12th Street section is the beach of choice for gay residents and visitors who come to show off just how much time they've spent in the gym and, of course, catch up on the latest gossip and upcoming must-attend parties and events.

The Best Fishing

The Keys:

The Keys possess world-class deep-sea fishing; the prize is such big-game fish as marlin, sailfish, and tuna. There's reef fishing too, for "eating fish" as snapper and grouper; and backcountry fishing for bonefish, tarpon, and other "stalking" fish. Dz of charter-fishing boats run from Key West marinas and from other, less famous keys. Islamorada, in the Upper Keys, is the sport-fishing capital of the world. Anglers compete for trophy sailfish, marlin, wahoo, and kingfish at many annual big-money tournaments. Seven-Mile Bridge, linking the Middle and Lower keys, is known as "the longest fishing bridge in the world"; it's also a special spot for local fishers who wait for barracuda, yellowtail, and dolphin to bite.

Lake Okeechobee:

Diverse visitors to the Treasure Coast arrive to fish, and they definitely get their fill from the miles of Atlantic shore and from inland rivers. If you want to fish freshwater and nothing else, head for Lake Okeechobee, the state's biggest lake, which is chock-full of good eating fish. It extends more than 467,000 acres, that's more than 730 square miles. At one time, the lake held an enormous commercial fishing industry. Due to a commercial fishing-net ban, even so, much of that industry has disappeared, leaving the sport fishers all the rich bounty of the lake.


Known like the "Sailfish Capital of the World," Stuart is an angler's haven. The fish bite about all year, but highest months are December during March and June through July. Sailfishing is an art of its own, beginners must acquire that exact moment to let the reel drag so that the fish operate with the lure.

The Best Towns and Villages


Known as one of the last remaining fishing villages in Florida, Sebastian is situated at the northern tip of the Treasure Coast region in Indian River County. The area's small-town feel and laid-back, relaxed atmosphere are between its biggest draws.

Boca Grande:

Established in the 1880s, this little village on Gasparilla Island contains the flavor of those Victorian times. Luxurious mansions coexist with simple homes of fishermen who guide rich folks in search of tarpon, just as their ancestors did a century ago. The du Ponts, Mellons, and Astors once came for the wintertime "social season" at the town's railway depot, which has been reconstructed and now houses shops and the Loose Caboose Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor.

Olde Naples:

Commenced in 1886 as a real-estate development, the original part of Naples keeps much of Old Florida's charm, with tree-lined streets separating many of the original clapboard homes. With the houses on Millionaires' Row virtually hidden by dense foliage and with no high-rises in sight, Naples Beach seems far removed from today's modern city.

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