Ahh, the Sunshine State. Feel the wind in your hair and immerse yourself in Mother Nature with a micro-cation to Florida’s Sports Coast—a hidden gem for adventure-seekers waiting to be discovered. This beautiful paradise is filled with adventures and wonderment at every turn. Extend the summer vibes into fall with sporty outdoor experiences, such as skydiving, a hot-air balloon ride or safari-style 4WD (don’t forget the binoculars!) that will get your adrenaline pumping. Or chill out with a kayak ride along a majestic river or lay on the beach at Lift Adventure Park. No matter your outdoor style, you’ll find adventure calling your name. There are also great places to imbibe after a day of exploring.
So, hop in the car, type into the GPS and get ready to romp around Dade City, New Port Richey, Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel with friends, family or your significant other as you create memories that will last a lifetime!
Before you start exploring this adventure-filled area, you’ll rest easy at any of the indoor or outdoor accommodations knowing that every venue is working hard to ensure guests stay in clean, sanitized rooms with social distancing and safety guidelines followed.
You’ll find your home away from home at an abundance of affordable options, including spacious Hampton Inn & Suites in Port Richey; and Quality Inn in Zephyrhills, which is only minutes from Skydive City so you’re close to the action when you stay here. If all-inclusive accommodations are your style, we have world-class golf resorts such as Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel.
When sleeping under the stars and roasting yummy s’mores sounds like a spectacular idea, set up camp at the numerous campgrounds and RV areas in Withlacoochee River Park in Dade City, which is also perfect to enjoy multipurpose trails for hiking, biking and fishing.
This area promises every adventure angle you could dream up. For high-flying thrills overlooking the lush greenery, strap into a parachute and jump out of a plane at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, aka one of the world’s premier drop zones. Whether you’re a newbie taking your first tandem jump or a pro, Skydive City will help you channel that free feelin’ Tom Petty sang about as you free fall into the air.
For aquatic fun, make a splash at The Lift. The Lift Adventure Park in Hudson will have you practicing your balance as you wakeboard or paddleboard with its on-site amenities. Take the adventure to a different level at its full-size cable and Aqua Park (think water playground and inflatable jungle gym).
For lowkey adventures, slate some time at the James E. Grey Nature Preserve in New Port Richey. With some 80 acres of swamps and wetlands hugging the shores of the winding Pithlachascotee River (hey, kayaking!), the area boasts a beautiful boardwalk and plenty of nature trails to explore by foot or bike, plus a kayak launch and picnic area for refueling.
In Dade City check out Giraffe Ranch for family-friendly guided expedition on a 4WD safari tour vehicle. For island vibes, dive into your next experience at Anclote Key Preserve State Park, an island positioned off the southern coast of Pasco County that offers the perfect spot for a little R&R after a day of hiking and hunting seashells with the fam.
And if you ever wanted to see the sites from a bird’s-eye view, go where the wind takes you with a one-hour American Balloons hot-air balloon ride over Wesley Chapel, New Tampa, Lutz and Land O Lakes. Known for its sunrise takeoffs, the hot-air balloon ride company in Pasco County promises to take your thrills to new heights. They even have a new unicorn-shaped balloon for tykes!
Sip + Sup
What goes up, must come down. Spend that downtime maxin’ and relaxin’ at myriad outdoor restaurants and breweries ready to serve you safely with plenty of extra precautions like mask requirements and social distancing.
In New Port Richey, the brand-new restaurant Widow’s Fletcher is on the water with outdoor space to spread out and take in the views—and brews. Slide into one of the 43 customer-allocated boat slips and nosh on a wide range of seafood from New England, Maryland and, of course, Florida.
And just in time for Oktoberfest, Wesley Chapel welcomes its highly anticipated installment of the state’s largest brewer, Florida Avenue Brewing Co. slated to bow in October. In addition to its trademark “beer for the Sunshine State”—with neighborhood-inspired craft food, this brewery will have 34,000-sq.-ft of bike-friendly and dog-friendly space, including an outside Beer Garden in the former site of the Sports and Field complex off of State Road 56. Keep an eye on its Facebook page for the official opening date.
And since you’ll build up an appetite with all the outdoor escapades, plan to savor the moment over an eclectic assortment of vino and savory plates at New Port Richey’s Sip Wine Bar (inside scoop, it’s home to a secret speakeasy). Or take a load off (or take in a football game) at Port Richey’s Gill Dawg Tiki Bar & Grill with its fresh seafood, scenic views and large-screen TVs.
Coming soon—and a must-visit—is Krate, a hip, shipping container venue at The Grove at Wesley Chapel. This fresh collection of new shops and restaurants is a hit with its 470,000-sq.-ft. community center anchored by great local, regional and national boutiques, retailers and eateries.
For a down-home feel, Trinity’s Starkey Market offers an adorable and authentic outdoor shopping and eating destination with plenty to do and see. Stop in for local, responsibly sourced fresh produce and cool off with an iced coffee or freshly made smoothie from the coffee bar.
More shopping can be discovered at the open-air Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. It’s another can’t-miss destination for shopping and antiquing.
So, if you’re not already en route … time to gas up, gear up and hit the road. We’ll see ya sliding into home on Florida’s Sports Coast.