Author Jenna Kernan’s new release, The Ex-Wives, is a dark, twisty domestic thriller set inside the safety of an exclusive gated community in sunny Florida. Though I often make Florida a dangerous, sinister place, I wanted to give readers a different look at my home state, so I can acquaint you with some of the amazing places I’ve enjoyed in my little corner of the Sunshine State.  

Author Jenna Kerna

Author Jenna Kerna

1 Myakka State Park 

Where can you to see an alligator? Many tourist spots keep a gator or two for the amusement of their guests. These wandering critters are often captured on golf courses. That gives water hazard a new meaning. They appear in swimming pools after floods and are spotted often in lakes, rivers and retaining ponds. But if you want a place that has hundreds of wild alligators, you can’t beat Myakka State Park. It’s only a few miles inland from Sarasota and is teeming with wildlife. You can take a boat tour or even a kayak and explore the lake. Best viewing is in the cooler months or early in the summer mornings. You may also spot wild deer, feral pigs and so many varieties of birds, including herons, buzzards, coots, egrets, ibis, and spoonbills. Every spring and fall, the park is full of migrating birds, adding to the joy. The park has a boat tour, a tram, bike apartments, camping and even cabin rentals.

2. The Ringling Museum

John Ringling made his fortune in the American circus and his wife, Mabel, spent a fortune in Europe on artwork in the form of sculpture, paintings, and architecture. At his death, he left his art collection to the city of Sarasota, along with his elaborate bayfront home. The Ringling also includes a fascinating circus museum, a teahouse, lovely grounds that include huge banyan trees, a rose garden, and the graves of the Ringling’s. New and ever-changing collections are available for viewing.

3. Anna Maria Island

This beachfront resort community has so much to recommend it. On the narrower stretches of the barrier island, visitors can see both white sand beaches and the bayfront by simply looking left and then right. If wildlife viewing is your jam, be sure to visit the newly reconstructed pier where dolphin, tarpon, and manatee (summer only) are spotted frequently from a vantage just above the bay.

4. Casperson Beach

How do you feel about finding fossilized shark teeth? Start at Casperson Beach. Just south of the city of Venice, Florida, here you can find these black fossils tossed on the beach or you can bring a scoop and expedite the hunting. You may see divers enter from the beach, beginning their hunt for the rare and valuable megalodon teeth. I’ve found some beauties in the shallow waters including an inch-long tiger shark tooth.

5. Crystal River

Want to swim with the manatees? Crystal River is the place for you. The spring-fed rivers draw the gentle giants each winter and they can be viewed from your kayak, or you can jump in with a mask and snorkel to have a more intimate wildlife encounter with an experienced guide.

6. Benderson Park

Do you like rowing or viewing a rowing competition? The 2022 Masters National Championship was held here in August 2022. The park itself is 600 acres, with two-thirds of that being a lake used for aquatic sports. Visit one of the world-class competitions, festivals, or special events or just rend a stand-up paddle board or kayak and take a little aquatic trip.

7. Tarpon Springs

This lovely little community was settled by sponge fisherman by the Greek immigrants who still collect natural sea sponges to this day, earning its moniker “Sponge Capital of the World.” Each afternoon visitors can watch the catch unloaded on the sponge docks while sampling Greek cuisine and my favorite, Baklava. Don’t forget to buy a natural sponge for your shower.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little list of my special places on Florida’s Gulf Coast and that you will pick up a copy of The Ex-Wives, my October release about a young, widowed mother who has married the perfect man until she discovers he has been married twice before and both his stepdaughters are on the FBI’s list of missing children.


Publishers Weekly bestselling author, Jenna Kernan, writes gripping thrillers. Her next release, The Ex-Wives, features a woman who marries the perfect man, until she discovers he has been married twice before, both his former stepdaughters are missing, and he's the FBI’s prime suspect. Is her daughter next?

Look for The Ex-Wives in October 2022.

Visit Jenna at

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