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Moon Handbooks: Florida Gulf Coast

A Different Side of Florida

By Joshua Lawrence Kinser

In a neatly organized way, Joshua Lawrence Kinser exposes travelers to the places in Florida that are not theme park-related or that rarely get attention in many other guidebooks. He covers all areas from the southern tip of the state in Paradise Coast all the way up to Pensacola bordering Alabama. His easy-to-read style is narrative, but he sneaks in essential information and history. He describes the gulf coast as "'Old Florida' or 'Real Florida,' its unaffected beauty a siren's call to come and dive in headlong, or just sit quietly at the Gulf's edge and marvel." Unlike so many other guidebooks that leave one confused, overwhelmed or under-excited, Moon Handbooks: Florida Gulf Coast is well designed and laid out, easy to follow and packed with information and maps. In fact, Kinser lists so many different types of places to go and activities to do at varying price levels that saying anyone could find anything to do is no overstatement. He includes unusual multiple-day trips based on varying themes: The Real Florida, Beaches, Kids Stuff, Native American Sites. He even provides inset boxes with extra tidbits, such as the nature of sea turtles, what to do should one have the unfortunate run-in with a stingray and what some local terminology means ("Who wants to go out to the chickee?"). Numerous topics are covered: accommodations, food, travel, tours, shopping, sports and even the effects of the abundant hurricanes of the past few years. Following the county-by-county guide area of the book is a hearty back section about the land, weather, flora and fauna and history of the state. Well done. The guide is encyclopedic in nature but with a light and friendly flare. It would be hard not to learn anything about the sunshine state, even if one tried.

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