All Aboard! The Adventure Begins Here: Visit Florida’s Sports Coast
Whether you are looking for an aquatic adventure, or to test your climbing skills, Florida’s Sports Coast, located in Pasco County, has something to offer for everyone. After a long day of activities, sit back and relax by the hotel pool before indulging in some of the best food available in the area. Vacation like you never have before and come to a destination that won’t disappoint your adventurous side (and your inner foodie).
The journey begins north of Tampa, check-in at Marriott’s Springhill Suites in Land O’Lakes, this new construction has an ideal location that allows guests to be close to all the activities—everything is within a short drive. This is a modern hotel with spacious suites, friendly staff, complimentary breakfast buffet, and an outdoor pool next to the patio, perfect to unwind after a long day. Did someone say firepit? They got it!
On a hot summer day, there is no better activity to begin with than heading straight to The Lift Adventure Park, located at SunWest Park, which operates three aquatic attractions. Before tackling the inflatable Aqua Park—which is a challenge for children, teens, and adults alike—relax by the public beach and study what’s the best technique to master the aqua park like a true Wipeout champ. While it might not look intimidating at first, don’t let it fool you. It’s almost a guarantee that you will fall in, and it won’t take long—pro-tip, use water shoes, to help stabilize your feet so they don’t sink and slip as much. Run, jump, slide, splash and get back on. On a hot summer day, there is no better feeling than falling into the refreshing water after breaking a sweat, competing against your friends to see who can finish the obstacle course first.
At SunWest Park there are also volleyball courts and concession stands available to the public. So, if you’re looking to work on your tan, or maybe just admire the aqua park from a distance, that’s an option too. If you’re looking for another aquatic attraction, visit the Wake Park (which is next to the beach) to practice your wakeboarding skills, or to learn how to wakeboard. They have a ½ mile cable, and a personal instructor who will walk you through step by step via a radio connected headset. And as if that wasn’t enough, there are also rentals available to paddle board and kayak around the lake. Truly something for everyone!
If you like to get your adrenaline going by reaching new heights, as opposed to splashing around in the water, then Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park is for you. There are 9 courses available, which range from easy to very hard and marked like ski slopes—if you’ve never done anything like this before, start with the green circle easy courses—Sunshine or Sunflower. Each course is filled with unique elements (that will make you think “why did I think I could do this?”), from hanging wooden and rope courses that will challenge your balance, tenacity, and core, to ziplines that will send you soaring to the next platform. Reach heights of 65 feet if you attempt Commando or Black Storm courses—the black diamonds of the bunch. And don’t worry about it if you fall, everyone is harnessed in, so if you don’t finish the course, your ego will be the only thing getting bruised. Being securely attached (with an ingenious cable system) gives adventures the freedom and flexibility to move at their own pace on the course and discover what they are capable of. There are plenty of guides around (on the ground) to shout advice, and they will gladly come to your ‘rescue’ if you find yourself dangling from your safety harness.
Looking for a different type of action? How about visiting the Giraffe Ranch, 47 acres full of exotic wildlife ready for you to explore. They offer five intimate safaris, whether you are doing a Segway or Camel Safari Tour, there are no roads or a specific path to follow—but you will always have a dedicated guide, so they will tell you exactly what to do if an ostrich or a pack of zebras head your way. During the tour you will learn about the animals, meet a friendly pygmy hippo, a rhino, and at the end get ready for the giraffe feeding. The animals come from all over the world—from Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Unlike a zoo, at Giraffe Ranch the animals have space to roam, and because of the intimate tour settings, visitors really get an up close and personal experience.
After a day of burning calories, a calm night out in town is just what your body needs. Sip on Grand Wine Bar is a cozy spot located in the trendy New Port Richey—here locals and tourist meet, mingle, and relax. This family owned and run charming wine bar is unpretentious, classy, and offers delicious food. If you like charcuterie boards, you’re in for a treat. This is charcuterie board heaven. Their four main boards are served with warm baguette on the side of a fantastic blend of sweet and savory items. Also available, paninis, flatbreads, and desserts like the Cannoli Dip, or the Halava, which complement the rest of the menu nicely. They have house made, domestic, imported, sparkling, and organic red and white wines—plenty to pick from. And if beer is more on your mind, their craft beer on tap is also a treat, and local! This jazzy speakeasy is the perfect place to come and unwind.
Green Door on 8th in Dade City is also a family-owned restaurant with phenomenal food. All their food is made with fresh ingredients, which is why this family establishment does not struggle to keep the place full. Many of the house specialties are available for lunch and dinner, as well as the appetizers and salads. If you come for lunch, there is a wide selection of delicious sandwiches and wraps, but where the menu truly shines in the dinner menu’s main entrées. The Andouille Crusted catfish is the comfort food your body has been craving, and the Danish Salmon is smooth and hearty. If you still have room after licking your plate clean, try their take on a Florida classic, the key lime pie.
For those looking for a little taste of home, but still want a restaurant experience, Kafe Kokopelli in Dade City has a classic menu and an exotic hunting lodge look and feel inside that will fulfill all your needs. Since 1996, they have been offering classics like Chicken Marsala, Rib Eye Steak, and if you come for brunch, try the Chicken and Waffles. This local restaurant delights visitors with hearty portions, and wonderful service.
If you’re looking for a little more drink, Florida Avenue Brewing Co currently brews 12 beers made from local ingredients, all their beers represent a little bit of what Florida is all about—sea salt and fresh limes, guava and passion fruit. Their taproom offers something for everyone. If you want to learn more about how the beer is made, tour the brewery, and if you’re looking to make it a day, they offer a full menu with everything from crab cakes, to fish and chips, as well as a selection of refreshing cocktails and crowd-favorite churros with caramel Nutella sauce. They have an incredible industrial indoor space, with the taproom at the center, and an even more majestic outdoor space on a beautiful lawn where you’ll frequently find some local live music.
Finally, don’t be fooled by the name Noble Crust, this local chain offers more than just pizza and pasta. Delicious cocktails and southern comfort food with an Italian twist will keep bringing you back. Come during happy hour and enjoy their unique, hand-crafted cocktails for only $5! The Pina Diablo, a pineapple mezcal drink with lime and a sugar rim is a spicy tropical delight with a hint of spice. For something more refreshing, the Hibiscus Sling is a wonderful blend of vodka, prosecco, bitters, and lemon juice. They also have quite the variety of frozen drinks—strawberry, watermelon, peach, and orange creamsicle flavors available, each one with a unique twist. This casual eatery features locally grown ingredients, generous portions, and great presentation. The Rigatoni + Short Rib Ragu and the Gorgonzola Filet are two main entrées to try, you won’t regret it.
Whether you come to Florida’s Sports Coast to try something new like wakeboarding, or if you would like to get in touch with your wild side, at the end of your trip you’ll leave accomplished, empowered, and with the desire to come back and do it all over again. Afterall, who doesn’t like to play, eat, and drink? Let your inner adventurer take over and embark on a vacation like no other.
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