Feature

Getting the flavor of ... The sands of Siesta Key

Florida’s Siesta Key has some of the finest, whitest sand in all of the United States.

The sands of Siesta KeyFlorida’s Siesta Key is a “perfect playground for families,” said Liz Doup in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The 8-mile-long stretch of land on the Gulf Coast boasts some of the finest, whitest sand in all of the United States. About 99 percent pure quartz grains, the “clean, flour-like” beach sand “packs down firm and smooth.” Because the sand also stays surprisingly cool, “even in the blazing sun,” it’s ideal for jogging, cycling, and, of course, building sand castles. Kids spruce up their granular palaces with finials that swirl “like frosting.” Dads play catch across the “sugar-white” heaps. Moms race strollers over the “smooth sand as if it were asphalt.” Meanwhile, teenagers kayak alongside manatees at the Jim Neville Marine Reserve. Once you’ve gotten enough sun, you can all take a sunset bike ride through the tiny, “laid-back” beach town, which connects to the mainland by two bridges.Contact: Simplysiestakey.com

High Island in full flightYou don’t have to be a bird lover to come to High Island, but you’ll probably leave as one, said Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times. The small town, on the Upper Texas Coast between Galveston and the Louisiana border, is one of the country’s top birding sites. Migrants such as thrushes and black cormorants, flying north from the Yucatán Peninsula, see the salty marshlands as an ideal “resting place.” Exhausted from their trip, the birds literally fall from the sky and into the “tuft of oak, mulberry, cypress, and hackberry trees.” The yellow warblers, caramel-colored Carolina wrens, and “candy-­apple-red” cardinals look like “bright, cellophane-wrapped candies among the branches.” Even if you don’t experience what watchers call “a fallout,” the abundance of wildlife—from toothy alligators to cotton-candy-hued spoonbills—“makes the trip worthwhile.”Contact: Birdinghighisland.com

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