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The Ultimate Florida Beach Road Trip

The beach at the Boca Grande Resort.

Photo: Paul Costello

Side Trip: On the Gulf Coast

World-class art comes to this beach-blessed stretch of western Florida, already known for its wildlife. Here, four places not to miss.

Gasparilla Island: Sea turtle nesting is up on this barrier isle, beloved for its circa 1890 lighthouse. Naturalists are hoping for even more turtle nests in the 2012 season, which runs from May to October. Try your luck at spotting hatchling tracks—made during their break toward the sea—on a beach walk in Gasparilla Island State Park (880 Belcher Rd., Boca Grande).

St. Petersburg: The new Chihuly Collection (400 Beach Dr. N.E.; 727/822-7872) is the world’s first permanent exhibition space for the work of American sculptor Dale Chihuly.

The Dalí Museum (1 Dali Blvd.; 727/823-3767), which houses more than 2,000 paintings by the surrealist icon, recently relocated to a $36 million glass-and-concrete building designed by global architectural firm HOK.

Sanibel Island: Bucolic nature meets 21st-century technology at J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It just unveiled an iNature Trail, the first of its kind in the United States. Visitors can scan smart-phone codes along hiking paths to access online videos for more in-depth information. —Lindsey Olander

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