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I'm newly retired and want to flee the cold. Where should I go?

Thirty-five miles of white-sand, island beaches await visitors to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area.

The question: I am a newly retired senior and want to get away from the cold and snow for a week or two. I will be travelling on my own, so I would like someplace safe, as well as a destination near the beach and within walking distance of restaurants. Could you recommend somewhere in Florida, as well as somewhere further away for when I get more comfortable travelling solo?

TRAVEL CONCIERGE: The Sunshine State, with its miles and miles of warm, sugar-white beaches, familiar culture and well-oiled tourism machine, is a good place to start. And Clearwater Beach, about 30 kilometres west of Tampa International Airport and situated on the Gulf of Mexico, is an ideal home base.

"Clearwater Beach boasts calm, emerald-coloured waters, soft white sand and nightly sunset celebrations with street performers," says Lauren Tjaden, who blogs about beaches and adventure for Visit Florida, the state's official tourism site ( "It's a safe area, and you can walk to many of the restaurants, shopping and attractions."

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As for where to sleep, check out the listings on Clearwater's Chamber of Commerce ( for everything from hotels to beach house rentals. Or why not splurge to celebrate the end of your working years? The Sandpearl Resort (, named one of the top resorts by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2010, features sailing and painting "enrichment" programs to uncover your post-work passion.

Or just relax into this new phase with the luxe accommodation and a citrus bliss manicure at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa (

As for your next adventure, Christine Davies, founder of the women's travel site, recommends Barbados. She describes the country as a safe destination for women, and one with a healing ambience and friendly populace. "No matter how many times I got lost," she adds, "there was always a concerned person to give me directions."

E-mail your travel questions to

Karan Smith is a former Globe Travel editor. Special to The Globe and Mail

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