These Unexpected Florida Destinations Are the Perfect Wellness Escape in Any Season

Florida's Gulf Coast has plenty to offer travelers looking for a healing escape.

Aerial view of Pier 60 and Clearwater Beach

Nicholas A Collura-Gehrt/Courtesy of Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

About 30 minutes from Tampa, Florida, is some of the whitest sand you’ll find north of Turks and Caicos — on Clearwater Beach. With a surprisingly walkable downtown, Clearwater Beach doesn’t fit the typical Florida beach town stereotype. Tampa is positioning itself as the cultural hub on Florida’s Gulf Coast, but Clearwater and its artsy neighbor, St. Petersburg — affectionately known as “St. Pete'' — are both close enough to benefit from Tampa’s new, cool-kid cache. The two cities have become hubs for self-care and personal healing, through luxe spas, fitness retreats, and the areas’ many public green spaces.

Exterior of the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach from the water at sunset

Courtesy of Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

How to Find a Wellness Retreat on Florida’s Gulf Coast

The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach has fitness retreats that invite travelers from across the U.S. and abroad to jump-start and revive their fitness goals. Partnered with 1Team Fitness, the property’s retreats and activities include beach boot camps, kayaking on Florida’s 3,000-mile Intracoastal Waterway, biking, beach yoga, HIIT classes, boxing, and interval training — for guests and locals alike. Those looking for the more relaxing side of wellness can book treatments at the Pallavi Luxury Spa, which features an intensely moisturizing HydraFacial and salt therapy treatments. Salt scrubs, salt lamps, wraps, and seaweed detoxes are often used in holistic ways to begin or end an itinerary at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach focused on health, mind, and body recovery.

The fitness center inside the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

Courtesy of Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

In addition to helping with visitors' fitness goals, 1Team has partnered with chef Nana Darkwah at Clearwater Beach’s elite Ocean Hai restaurant to create a customized menu for 1Team Fitness guests. The menu is made to fit guests’ dietary needs and requests in collaboration with the team’s on-site registered nutritionist. The restaurant features gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico with an impressive Asian fusion menu. In addition to its signature items, Ocean Hai offers carefully crafted plant-based and vegetarian choices from chef Nana, a native of Accra, Ghana, currently residing in Clearwater. 

Kayacking the Intercoastal Waterway with the Wyndham Fitness program

Shea Peters

Finding Healing Activities in Unexpected Places

Wellness travelers venturing to explore the Florida Gulf Coast region will enjoy keeping their minds clear at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Guests can interact with rescued animals such as dolphins, pelicans, sea turtles, otters, and many other animals that require care. During their stay, visitors will learn the story of Winter, the dolphin with scoliosis featured in the Dolphin Tale movies. Winter was rescued, housed, and cared for at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium until November 2021, when she passed away due to an intestinal abnormality.

The miso soup at Ocean Hai restaurant at Wyndham Grand Clearwater BeachClearwater Beach

Courtesy of Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

Aquarium visitors who enjoy yoga should inquire in advance about their Dolphin Yoga Nidra classes. The specialty wellness class is a 60-minute outdoor yoga class near the new dolphin viewing area (open to visitors age 18 and older).

The Art Scene on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Colorful street art and murals in St. Pete, Florida

Shea Peters

Salvador Dalí once said, “A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others,” and art lovers cannot help but be inspired when visiting The Dalí Museum. If your wellness journey includes finding and exploring beauty, trek south from Clearwater Beach to St. Petersburg, a city surrounded by artistry. The Dalí Museum hosts the largest collection of Dalí pieces, paintings, artifacts, and interactive displays outside the artist’s native Spain. Opened in 1982 with the blessing of Dalí himself, the museum has been the center of the fine arts movement in the Tampa Bay area since its arrival. Designed by architect Yann Weymouth, even the building that hosts the museum is a work of art in and of itself. 

The Dalí Museum hosts several gardens that wellness travelers and art lovers will fancy. Facing Tampa Bay, the gardens represent important portions of Dalí’s life. The Avant-garden is directly on the waterfront and promotes an environment of learning and tranquility. The Mathematical Garden is for students of all ages to experience the relationship between math and nature, while also encouraging exploration and well-being. Both gardens are adorned with beautiful flora, such as pineland acacia, verbena, and wild petunias. These plants attract butterflies, which were important to Dalí as he viewed them as transformative creatures in his art.

With approximately 400 pieces of outdoor artwork, sculpture, and murals, St. Petersburg is a colorful, eclectic, and spirited getaway for wellness travelers who want to spend time outdoors. Tourists can take a food tour during the day and walk the city’s new St. Pete Pier. At night, visitors can enjoy a meal at one of the Pier’s fine dining restaurants or relish in the Instagram-worthy sunset views of Tampa Bay from a local rooftop bar.

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