-Pass-A-Grille Beach / Paradise Grill
This is our favorite beach in the area. Part of it is the experience that goes along with this beach. It is very similar to the more famous beaches. However, at Pass-A-Grille you get a great small-town feel with more local people. There is a downtown area with shops and restaurants. But you also get Paradise Grill, an ocean front food/drink shack that serves the best shrimp and cheap drinks! It is the best place to have a drink, eat dinner, and watch the sunset.
-Clearwater Beach and Pier
Clearwater Beach probably pulls in the most tourists. Along with that, you get incredible retail surrounding it. Some of the best hotels, restaurants, and nightlife are in this area. You will instantly understand why it is so famous as this is likely one of the best beaches in the world. The pier is also fun to walk along. There are often vendors lining the sides of it selling various locally made things.
-Fort De Soto Park
North Beach in Fort De Soto Park is probably the most beautiful beach in the area. It is a county park, which means there are no hotels, restaurants, or other publicly owned buildings. It sits mostly in its natural setting, but it is cleaned and taken care of daily. It is also interesting to explore the fort that still stands today. You can also rent kayaks, or bike around the many miles of trails around the park.
-Shell Key Island
Very similar to Fort De Soto, except it is an island! This island is actually a small channel away from North Beach in Fort De Soto. You can take a ferry for $30, often seeing dolphins or manatees on the way. If you want to find unique shells, this is the place to go.
Of the remaining beaches, it comes down to preference and parking availability. They are all amazing, but all similar. The exception is Cypress Point Park, which is not as great. Cypress Point Park is still a very good beach that is more local to the Tampa area.
-St. Pete Beach
-Cypress Point Park
As mentioned in the “beach” section, Pass-A-Grille beach along with Paradise Grill is one of our favorite experiences in the area. This is the best place to watch the sunset!
-Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish
This is the best fish I have ever tasted! It is a little pricey, but you get plenty of food. It is not uncommon for them to run out of fish in the afternoon. Make sure you get there earlier in the day. This is my highest ranked food recommendation if you take out the experience at Paradise Grill.
-Starlight Cruises Tropical Buffet
It is $45 for unlimited drinks, including select beer, wine, and a specialty cocktail. You can also fill up on an above-average buffet. All while having a ton of fun cruising around on a boat and sightseeing. This is another opportunity to see dolphins.
The remaining places are some of our favorite places and highly recommended.
-Mykonos Greek food in Tarpon Springs
-Revolution Ice Cream
-Heights Public Market/Armature Works
-Don Pancho Mexican Food
-Blue Sea Seafood
-Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City
Some of the best beer and best atmosphere at a brewery in Tampa Bay. They have an incredible patio area, or a cozy indoor area. They have a large variety of beer flavors for everyone. The bartenders are always very generous and nice. You can’t go wrong here.
-BarrieHaus Beer Co.
This brewery has mostly German style beers. They do a very good job making them too. The atmosphere is much more down to earth and has a smaller business feel than other breweries in Ybor City. Also, not a bad place to watch sports. Fun to walk around Ybor city while in the area as well.
-Cigar City Mead
We find ourselves going to Cigar City Mead every time we are in Ybor City. They make the most incredible mead. If you are not familiar with mead, it is wine made from honey, rather than grapes. A lot of Cigar City’s mead is more sweet and reminds me of drinking grape juice. Except better!
The rest of these are also places that we visit far too often when we want to grab a drink. One thing to note is at Florida Cane Distillery, they do tours that are usually $10 and come with more drinks than you should have. It is an incredible deal. Otherwise, these are definitely the best places we have discovered in Tampa Bay.
-Angry Chair Brewery
-Florida Cane Distillery
-Whiskey Joes beach bar
-C.1949 Beer Bar
Sites/Areas to Visit
Ybor City is a very cool historical area. It is also famously known for its chickens that freely roam around the area. It has the best nightlife and often is where you find the biggest party scene. Besides the nightlife, there are tons of incredible restaurants and history to be seen.
-Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks and Greek Food
More or less, a large population of Greek people landed in Tarpon Springs for one reason or another and started harvesting sponges. For obvious reasons this also resulted in some of the best Greek food that you can find outside of Greece. I find it interesting to see the boats docked, loaded with sponges waiting to be counted and sold. Make sure you buy one, they are the best sponges!
-Tampa River Walk
The Tampa River Walk stretches for miles through downtown Tampa. There are several places to eat, such as the many vendors inside Heights Public Market/Armature Works. You can grab a drink at Eulele and walk along the path with it. Maybe explore everything along the path, such as the University of Tampa. Or maybe you are lucky enough to be there during a boat parade!
The remaining sites/areas to visit are other fun things that we have explored. They are all a ton of fun!
-Pinellas County Heritage Village
-John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk
-The St. Pete Pier in downtown St. Petersburg
-Manatee Viewing Center at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station
-Cruise around Davis Island (look for Derek Jeter’s massive mansion!)
-University of Tampa
-Florida Botanical Gardens
-Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Thrills and Entertainment
-Crystal Springs Snorkeling with Manatees
It is a little bit of a drive, but worth it. It is a cool experience and relatively inexpensive for what you get. If you want a unique Florida experience, this is it.
-Rays Baseball Game
You can usually get tickets for about $20 and you can watch the biggest names in baseball. The games are a ton of fun.
Busch Gardens can be expensive, but it is a great amusement park. It is a zoo and rides mixed into one. Make sure you get there right when it opens so you can catch a few rides before it gets too busy. Also, Montu is one of their best roller coasters and it is hiding in the corner. The line for this ride is often shorter than most.
The others are pretty self-explanatory. Also check out the City Pass, which lets you visit 5 Tampa attractions over 9 days for around $120, including Busch Gardens, the Zoo, the Aquarium, etc.: https://www.citypass.com/tampa
-Adventure Island water park
-Rent Kayaks at Fort De Soto
-Rent a boat or jet skis
-Board the American Victory Ship and Museum
-Big Cat Rescue
-Hillsborough River State Park
It is not guaranteed, but we can usually spot an alligator along the banks of the river. It is also just fun to walk through the trails.
-Upper Tampa Bay Trail
This is a great trail for walking, running, and especially biking. Miles of trails through the woods. You get to see a lot of wildlife and natural Florida vegetation.
There are a lot of great parks in the Tampa Bay area. A quick google search will take you to many that you will be excited about. Here are a few more that we have explored and enjoy.
-Lettuce Lake Park
-Al Lopez Park