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Play, Eat, Shop: Itineraries For A Day At Florida Beaches (VIDEO)

12/17/2012 07:18 am ET | Updated Feb 16, 2013


Lazy Horseback Ride on Amelia Island

Our thought was to plan a day at the beach all over Florida.

Family or friends in town and you want to send them off with a winning itinerary, right? A place to lay in the sand or ride a wave. A local joint to grab a burger or a grouper sandwich. A craftsman gallery to browse or buy.

We dispatched Florida reporters, videographers and photographers to plot their day at the beach. Here's a sampling:

Veteran television journalists Janice and Donald Jones went to northeast Florida.

Amelia Island is a tranquil getaway, excellent for a sunset horseback ride or just enjoying a good book. Nearby downtown Fernandina has upscale boutique shopping and a range of restaurants offering cocktails on a porch or barbecue in a hidden courtyard. Watch

Anastasia State Park is two miles from historic St. Augustine and right off A1A. You can enjoy surfing, bike riding, and shell collecting on the beach, paddling and sailing in the lagoon. The park is filled with great walking trails and wildlife viewing. Just outside the park gates, the St. Augustine Lighthouse awaits with spectacular views. Add on a stop at a new favorite restaurant that touts locally-sourced comfort food with a twist. Watch

Flagler Beach is a retro beach town with friendly locals, open-air restaurants, eclectic shops, laid-back surfing, a classic fishing pier and more than a six-mile stretch of spectacular ocean views. Watch

Central Gulf coast

2012-12-11-don_cesar.jpgPass-a-Grille at the southern end of St. Pete Beach offers unheard-of public beach access. Only the Don CeSar, which opened in 1928, rises higher than a few stories. Most structures are private homes and locally-owned businesses nestled among the sand dunes. For food, the Hurricane Restaurant is a large, three-story wooden building famous for its grouper sandwiches and roof-top views of the gulf. Along the bay side of Pass-a-Grille are several cozy art galleries, among them the Nancy Markoe Gallery. Read

Drive west about 10 miles from downtown Bradenton on Manatee Avenue and you will discover Anna Maria Island. Strict regulations govern the type of buildings and businesses allowed on the island. After traveling through the urban landscapes of Bradenton, you might feel you have journeyed back in time once you arrive here. Quaint, family-owned shops and businesses can be found up and down the Island. On Pine Avenue, near the northern end of Anna Maria, you'll find French-milled soaps and specialty olive oils and hand-made clothing and small art galleries. Read

South Florida

Among the many options at Key Biscayne are kayaking, kiteboarding, wandering through interactive nature museums and wildlife trails - all a short drive from Miami. Watch in English or Spanish.

Southwest Florida

Cayo Costa is a relaxed island destination with great fishing, oak-palm hammocks, mangrove swamps and miles of beautiful beaches. The barrier island, seven miles long and one mile wide, retains its natural wilderness and sense of remoteness because you can get there only by boat. Watch

Venice Beach is the shark teeth capital of the world. Watch

Florida Keys

Henry Flagler's railroad to Key West turned the remote island of Bahia Honda into a tropical destination. Today, the island is home to one of Florida's southernmost state parks, known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets and excellent snorkeling. Watch

These are a few of our days at the beach. What are yours?

- Kevin McGeever, VISIT FLORIDA