By Nancy Foster
Florida’s Gulf of Mexico lures millions of visitors each year with sugar-soft sands, tropical breezes and warm waters. While beaches may be the main draw, numerous attractions add to the fun, including these high-flying adventures that will raise the bar for vacation memories. Reservations are recommended at all.
If the thought of soaring 350 feet in the air and basking in the spectacular vistas of the Gulf of Mexico appeals to you, then Suncoast Watersports is your perfect choice. Co-owner Captain Dave Winkler and his licensed crew, in business since 1978, service St. Pete Beach with three convenient locations. A colorful banana boat will shuttle you to the parasail boat, where instruction will be provided prior to the 10 to 15 minute ride. Go solo or bring a friend or two and choose the tandem and triple rides for more fun. If you dare, kick it up a notch and upgrade to the Adrenaline Junky Ride, which includes multiple dips, a maximum altitude “skydive simulation” drop toward the water and five extra minutes of thrills. Parental permission is required for those under 18. funstpete.com
For an exhilarating way to experience the beautiful coastline, sign up for a helicopter tour with Tampa Bay Aviation. Among the many area tours available is the Treasure Tour, which departs daily from downtown St. Pete’s corporate Albert Whitted Airport. Licensed pilots route their helicopters over scenic Tampa Bay waters as they climb high in the sky and head westward to Treasure Island. Gaze down on popular landmarks, including John’s Pass, pristine St. Pete Beach and the iconic Don CeSar Resort before following the Pinellas Bayway back to the airport. Tours are priced to accommodate two to three passengers. Sunset tours can be arranged for an additional $15 fee. tampabayaviation.com
Surpass your need for speed when you visit the JetLev Flight Center at Tradewinds Island Grand Resort. Built to propel you to heights nearing 30 feet with speeds of up to 30 mph, this flight experience requires 45 minutes to complete—15 minutes of training and 30 minutes of airtime. Flight instructors are on hand to guide and assist, preparing you to experience weightlessness and levitation as you control your own direction, height and speed. Must be 18 years old and a good swimmer. tradewindsresort.com/resort-activities
Plan your St. Pete / Clearwater getaway today at www.allegiant.com!