Travel Writer Cathy Salustri’s Favorite Florida Destinations


Cathy Salustri knows Florida like few others.

For his master’s thesis under his adviser, the great Gary MorminoSalustri traveled nearly 5,000 miles retracing the WPA Federal Writer’s Project Guide’s drive-thru tours of Florida’s forgotten destinations, which became a travel book titled “The roads of paradise.”

  • She’s been a freelance writer here for years, and during the pandemic Salustri bought the Gulfport Weekly The Gabber. She also writes a Florida Bulletin.

So we asked Salustri, “What is your favorite Florida…”

To stroll: I love the back streets of Gulfport. You learn so much about a community by what it doesn’t show to the rest of the world

Raise: It’s like asking me to choose a favorite cheese. … I love to walk Lake Dixie at Lake Louisa State Parkbecause even though the park has removed most of the citrus due to greening, there’s still a wild bitter orange tree there, and even though it’s probably not legal, I’ll take some oranges for a pie or sour orange margaritas.

Body of water: florida bay. Especially on a boat. Bonus points if I take my dinner on this boat.

Beach: It’s a stalemate between St. George’s Island State Park and Grayton Beach State Park. People call it “sugar sand” but it’s not true; it’s more like Bisquick – soft and powdery.

City park: Fort of Soto. I am grateful every day that Pinellas County had the foresight to turn these five keys into a park.

Outdoor dining area: Kayaking on a river. I learned a long time ago how to make a veggie burger, wrap it in foil, and when I’m ready to eat, put it on my bow for the sun to warm it up. Elsewhere: Lazy days in Islamorada. There is a fish market downstairs and a small beach.

Equipment piece: The search app. As an undergrad at the time, I had a great teacher, Dr. Jerry Smith, who taught “Identifying Florida Biota” – he could name any tree, lichen, or animal in Florida. Having this app with me is like having it in my pocket.

Ideal zone: It’s more of a soft experience. I call him the Oolite Slide, and it starts as I turn onto US 41 just north of Collier Seminole State Park.

  • While I’m driving, civilization crumbles and the world shows its wild side as I slip to the edge of North America. It lasts until the top of the Bridge Sound Cardwhere I disappear into the limestone world of the Florida Keys.
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