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Less than a 30-minute drive from the Tampa International Airport, St. Petersburg and Clearwater are two of the popular beach communities on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Full of pristine white sand beaches, delicious restaurants, world-renowned museums and pulsing nightlife. If you’re in the Tampa area you’ll be sure to find your happy place here.
If you’re looking for the #1 beach in America, look no further than Clearwater Beach – it was named the top beach in the country by Trip Advisor in 2016, 2018 and 2019, as well as the #6 beach in the world in 2019! Due to the clear, shallow water and white sand beaches, Clearwater Beach is very popular with everyone. You can explore other beaches in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, including Sand Key, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (or SUP) has taken the world by storm, and the Tampa area is no exception! It’s a great way to see the sights from the water and get some exercise, not to mention very environmentally friendly! There are lots of places along the water to rent paddleboards, kayaks and other kinds of sports equipment, and you can also book a tour and have a guide accompany you on your adventure. One great option is a nighttime glow tour, like the one you can book through Mad Beach Paddle Sports - ditch the sunscreen and take a board out to watch the sunset. They also have LED lights underneath for that Instagram-worthy moment!
There’s a reason they call Tampa the “Gulp Coast” - it’s full of two of our favourite things, beaches and breweries! From Tarpon Springs to St. Pete, you can find a huge selection of breweries that have your perfect pint waiting for you. You can even order a Craft Beer Trail Passport to fill out for a chance to win a prize. Make sure to look out for the area’s signature beer, the Florida Weisse, or a Postcard Pilsner from Green Bench Brewing.
Have you ever seen a 20-foot sculpture made entirely of bright red glass? At the permanent Chihuly exhibit at the Morean Arts Centre, that is just the beginning! An icon in the blown glass art world, Dale Chihuly and his team have created sculptures that truly stop you in your tracks. The permanent collection in St. Petersburg includes some of his most impactful work as well as pieces commissioned specifically for this museum. You can also find hands-on glass blowing workshops and the opportunity to watch the artists at work across the street at the Glass Studio and Hot Shop.
Along with the endless coastline, the St. Pete/Clearwater area also has an abundance of restaurants for everyone’s taste buds. A local highlight is Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill for Grouper sandwiches, fresh seafood and other “Floribbean” style dishes with some of the best ocean sunset views you’ll find. Another great beachside option is Clear Sky Cafe - it has been voted best dining any time of day, with their extensive menus for every meal. For something a bit more upscale (although let’s be real, we’re still talking about beachy Florida here), try Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber Restaurant. They even have a vegetarian menu if you’re looking for something plant based.
Written by Andrea Zakaib