Appeared in February/March 2009 LINKS
Rolling terrain and tree-lined fairways challenge golfers at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead, one of four courses at the resort and a favorite with PGA Tour pros. Routed around wetlands, TPC Tampa Bay is teeming with wildlife. The Pine Barrens course at World Woods is a Tom Fazio design with manicured fairways framed by wild bunkering. At Tom Lehman’s Lake Jovita South, the par-5 11th features a 94-foot drop from tee to green, the largest natural elevation change of any course in the state.
In addition to great golf, the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club offers 620 rooms and suites. Saddlebrook Resort has deluxe one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, two Arnold Palmer courses and 45 tennis courts in every Grand Slam surface. At InterContinental Tampa, rooms blend sophisticated urban ambiance with authentic local charm, while the rooftop pool has bay and city views. The Tampa Marriott Waterside is a bayfront hotel along downtown’s Channel Riverwalk.
Drawing from all corners of the Mediterranean, Pelagia Trattoria is tasty and tantalizing. Bern’s Steak House boasts a 65-page dessert menu and a wine cellar with more than 6,800 selections. Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City offers Old World charm, award-winning Spanish-Cuban cuisine and flamenco shows. Mise En Place is a cutting-edge bistro with modern American dishes that have an imaginative flair.
Busch Gardens Africa combines one of the country’s largest zoos with thrill rides and Broadway-style live entertainment. Just 12 miles from downtown, take a Canoe Escape down the Hillsborough River through a 16,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve. Visit historic Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter, for jazz, blues, salsa and hand-rolled cigars. Pitchers and catchers report February 14: Several baseball teams, including 2008 World Series foes Philadelphia Phillies and the local Rays, make the area their spring training home.
Whether you want great golf, the culture of an historic city or sugar sand beaches, there is never a bad time of year to visit Florida’s Gulf coast
By: Bill Utley