A picture of the Atlantic Ocean

The past year changed how we were able to travel, but we also learned that the spirit of adventure and exploring never ceases. “Travel Diaries: How to Explore From a Distance” is a Darling series focused on virtual exploration and distanced travel that allows us to vacation safely as the world returns to normal.

If you have yet to soak in the sun this summer and explore the great outdoors, you are not out of time. Summertime is the peak travel season for Florida’s Sports Coast. Just 35 minutes north of the Tampa area, the Florida Sport’s Coast offers 742 square miles of lush, rolling hills, gorgeous coastline and picture-perfect trails. At the heart of coast is New Port Richey, a quaint town known for its unique riverfront landscape, lively festivals and historic homes.

July is also famously known as the region’s premier scallop season, where thousands of people grab their snorkels and mesh bags to go underwater and collect what tasty little mollusks the ocean has to offer. The ten day season runs annually from the third Friday in July to the end of the month. Florida bay scallops line the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico. So be sure to look thoroughly because the scallops can easily hide in the tall grass!

A picture of a woman underwater scallopingGet ready to get some sand in your toes and a nice summer tan with these Florida Sports Coast travel suggestions:

Where to Stay

Newly renovated, the Hacienda is a historic hotel that has been all the rage since its early days in the 1920s. Originally built in 1927 just before the Great Depression, the Hacienda was specifically created to accommodate the big names from old Hollywood who were visiting from the Great Neck, New York region.

Painted in a rich pink, it’s no wonder that the Mediterranean Revival style hotel attracted the likes of the rich and famous. With its recent renovations, the gorgeous 40-room hotel now offers a dining room, bar and romantic courtyard perfect for weddings.

Where to Dine

If you are not up for scalloping and cooking your dinner, don’t worry. New Port Richey has lots of a great local dining options. If you are looking for something light and easy, try Sip Wine Bar. They offer a selection of sweet and savory bites along with a wide array of organic wines and craft bear. We love their charcuterie board selection too!

If you are looking for seafood, we have you covered. The Widow’s Fletcher offers a menu full of fresh fish options from a seafood platter to a key west fried shrimp to the most mouth-watering sea scallops. Even though you may not have caught this meal, you will feel like you did with the restaurant’s waterfront views.

Where to Play

The Florida Sports Coast offers so many options for outdoor adventures that it may be difficult to choose how to spend your time. You’ll definitely want to go kayaking through one of the area’s two state parks.

Salty Dog Kayak Rentals takes you through Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park. While the Salt Springs may looks small, they are actually an incredible 352 feet deep! Be on the lookout for sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and river otters as you paddle the inlets and bayous that wander through the salt marsh.

Where to Relax

If it’s not too humid, spend the afternoon enjoying outdoors at Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey. That will put you in walking distance from the Gulf of Mexico where you can casually stroll the river and take in the idyllic architecture. The dog friendly park offers a kids playground, amphitheater, canoe launch and open green spaces for relaxing!

A picture of people scalloping in the oceanTo learn more about New Port Richey and what to do on your next visit, follow Florida’s Sports Coast on Instagram.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? How does traveling to new places make you feel?

Images via Florida’s Sports Coast

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