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
Hunger striker vows not to eat until homeless can be fed in public
Nov 22, 2014 5:28 am
Jillian Pim hasnt had a bite to eat since police cited Arnold Abbott three weeks ago for feeding the homeless at Stranahan Park.
Auto avenger: Downtown Fort Lauderdale worker saves drivers from tow trucks
Nov 22, 2014 4:36 am
From a conference room on the third floor at work, Danny Haughton sees it happen. He doesn't know the men and women who park in the vacant lot across the street, but he knows they're about to be towed...
Homeless man struck by hit-and-run driver
Nov 22, 2014 1:58 am
A homeless man was taken to the hospital early Thursday after he was found lying injured on a road in Deerfield Beach.
Man accused of pimping runaway, 16, in Fort Lauderdale
Nov 21, 2014 11:46 pm
A 43-year-old man is accused of having sex with a teenage girl and providing her as a prostitute for other men.
Seminole bingo hall sparked Indian gambling boom
Nov 21, 2014 9:44 pm
The old bingo hall on State Road 7 in Hollywood can claim more historical significance than virtually any building in Broward County.
Free Turnpike coffee for late night holiday drivers
Nov 21, 2014 9:09 pm
Driving late to reach Grandma's for Thanksgiving? You can get free coffee at any service plaza on Florida's Turnpike.
Manatees start appearing in Broward
Nov 21, 2014 9:03 pm
Ten manatees were spotted in Broward County this week in the first aerial survey of the season.
Bill would raise stakes on texting while driving
Nov 21, 2014 8:43 pm
Get your hands on the wheel and put down the cell, because the first bill filed for the next legislative session would allow police to pull over drivers for texting while driving.
Fort Lauderdale bids farewell to police horse
Nov 21, 2014 8:24 pm
He only patrolled Fort Lauderdale's downtown and beach neighborhoods for a few months, but American quarter horse Thomas Red was known to visitors and residents and was a favorite in the police depart...
Half of I-595 express lane drivers hit at least 80 mph
Nov 21, 2014 8:02 pm
The new Interstate 595 express lanes are living up to their name, with half the drivers going at least 80 mph and about 1 in 10 zooming at 90 mph, state data shows.