Celebrating its centennial in 2013, this Gulf Coast island gem has never strayed far from its Old Florida roots. Whitewashed Grecian columns, sprawling lawns, and an explicit dress code call to mind its Victorian past, while cheerful interiors in the 142 guest rooms pop with sunny yellow walls and pastel furnishings and upholstery. Activities abound, including stand-up paddleboarding and airboat and seaplane excursions, along with guided history, horticulture, and grounds tours. The Gasparilla also has a redesigned Pete Dye golf course on Charlotte Harbor, a tennis club, and two restaurants—classic fine dining in the Gasparilla Dining Room, and the more laid-back Pink Elephant for steak and seafood.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.