Florida's Lower Gulf Coast is a series of layers: on the outside, a string of barrier islands with popular and crowded beaches; next, a series of large and small communities anchored by Sarasota in the north and Naples in the south; and finally, virtually empty rural areas that are largely sawgrass wilderness.
Virtually all of Florida south of Lake Okeechobee and outside the coast strips is taken up by the Everglades. This "River of Grass" is crossed by I-75 in the famed "Alligator Alley" that runs between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples. But from Naples north along the coast is a virtually unbroken string of small towns and cities, joined together by their proximity to the Gulf and the fishing, shipping, and tourism industries that developed and sustains this region.
Sarasota is considered the major cultural center of the region. This city developed a reputation as an artists' colony in the 1920s, and today the town is known worldwide for its music festivals, its ballet, opera, and theater. Farther south, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers are the major urban centers.
South Florida News from The Sun-Sentinel
Teens' 6 days adrift verge on limits for survival at sea
Jul 30, 2015 7:38 am
Crews pushed the limits of an ever-expanding search zone Wednesday for two teens missing at sea and potentially nearing the boundaries of human survival.
UCF student: Stranger petted her arm while she was sleeping
Jul 30, 2015 7:18 am
Four female University of Central Florida students say an unknown man broke into their off-campus apartment and touched one of them as she slept.
How to find healthy eats at Florida theme parks, zoos
Jul 30, 2015 7:04 am
Don't stress if you're trying to eat healthy while on summer vacation. Florida health officials are highlighting some guilt-free options for you at theme parks and zoos.
Missing southwest Florida dog turns up in Atlanta
Jul 30, 2015 7:04 am
A southwest Florida family has been reunited with their dog after she turned up several weeks later in Atlanta, more than 500 miles away.
Million-dollar donors lift Jeb Bush's presidential ambitions
Jul 30, 2015 2:21 am
A dozen million-dollar contributors account for at least 10 percent of Jeb Bush's record-setting presidential fundraising haul.
Report: Boy accused of strangling child had past troubles
Jul 30, 2015 12:48 am
An 11-year-old boy accused of strangling a 4-year-old boy had a history of disturbing behavior, including choking another child until the child turned blue in the face and carrying around dead farm an...
Carter: Successful Iran nuclear deal better than strike
Jul 30, 2015 12:01 am
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that the U.S. armed forces stand ready to confront Iran, but told lawmakers that a successful implementation of the nuclear agreement with Tehran is prefera...
Man gets life sentence for killing, beheading girlfriend
Jul 29, 2015 11:12 pm
A South Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his girlfriend and cutting off her head.
Move could be in store for Amarillo's Big Texan Steak Ranch
Jul 29, 2015 10:13 pm
The Lee brothers of The Big Texan Steak Ranch are weighing a decision much heavier than the 72-ounce steak for which their family tourism empire has become known.
5 Things to Know in Florida for July 30
Jul 29, 2015 9:45 pm
Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.