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gillybrit Aug 6th, 2010 06:45 AM

A few hours in Tampa - need help ASAP please!!!
Hi - need help soon if possible. We are leaving for a cruise Sunday and when we return we will be renting a car for the day in Tampa - we will only have a few hours before our flight but wanted to get the feel for the area, particularly the beaches, in case we ever decide to return for a vacation.
Looking for suggestions...

vjpblovesitaly Aug 6th, 2010 07:31 AM

Gekko Aug 6th, 2010 08:02 AM

I love the Treasure Island beaches. You'll also want to see St Pete Beach and possibly Clearwater.

All have a very distinct feel -- you'll know which area best suits you.

With a map or google you can plan a circular route that takes you through all the beach areas.


gillybrit Aug 6th, 2010 08:51 AM

Thanks - if we do a circular route how long would we need to allow?

MsSteinrunner Aug 6th, 2010 12:42 PM

Unless your flight is a late evening flight, you really need to limit your approach. Two suggestions - first, head to Dunedin and Honeymoon State Park. From there, take the ferry (really just a small boat) to Caladesi Island for some beach time. When you've had enough beach time, after showering off and cleaning up a bit at the state park, head north on Alt 19 to Tarpon Springs and sample some Greek food at the Sponge Docks.

Another suggestion - get on I-275 and head toward St. Petersburg. Just before you get to the Sunshine Skyway, you'll see the Ft. DeSoto exit. After beaching it at Ft. DeSoto, you can drive on over to the Gulf Beaches and meander a bit.

nlg Aug 6th, 2010 02:08 PM

Ft. DeSoto Park is one of our places in Florida-you will love it.

bachslunch Aug 8th, 2010 08:29 AM

Do you really only have a few (2-3) hours available to explore with your car? If so, you won't have time to head to the beach. Consider that traffic can be rough getting from Tampa to anywhere in neighboring Pinellas County, which is where you'll find the beaches -- there are no beaches in Tampa.

However, if you truly have a full day to play with, you can do what's been suggested above. MsSteinrunner's suggestion above makes the most sense from a time perspective, though you could also substitute Clearwater Beach for Caladesi Island (you will only have to contend with parking instead of parking and a ferry). Agreed, Ft. DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg Beach, Treasure Island, Pass-a-grille, and such are all excellent, but they're a pretty good haul from Tampa in comparison.

OO Aug 8th, 2010 09:38 AM

I'll second Ft Desoto, the very prettiest in the area, and past winner of the best beach in the US! It's easy to get to, and once there, parking is free. Head to the north end of Ft Desoto, as far as you can go north (ends in a small circle), park there and walk out for unspoiled beauty--beaches the way they used to be "way back when". It is comparable to Caladesi Island, which is also unspoiled, also "best beach in the US" past winner, but Caladesi is harder to get to than Ft Desoto.

hibiscushouse Aug 13th, 2010 06:57 AM

I live in Indian Rocks beach which is just south of clw. Beach. It takes us a good 30 minutes to get to Tampa airport from our house. It's about a 20 mile drive. I think you would have plenty of time to do a loop from Tampa airport. With the tax free wkend this wkend, a lot of families are shopping for back to school, so it's not going to be that busy. I'd go Courtney Campbell Causeway (hwy 60) West to Clearwater Beach, which is the most popular destination for tourists as far as beaches go and look around. You can easily go to the north end of the beach and have a quick look, then turn around and head through the south end (the busier end by the marina) for an eye full. Clw. Beach is not a large area to drive or see. Keep heading south over the Sand Key bridge on Gulf Boulevard all the way down to St. Pete Beach by the Don Cesar. Even past the Don Cesar into the small, cute town of Pass A Grille. Come back to the Don Cesar and head East on the Pinellas Bayway right over the toll bridge to where the Bayway turns south towards Ft. Desoto. A quick peek at this old Florida beach, turn around, jump on 275 over the Howard Franklin Bridge (93) to the airport. It's a very quick look around and not much time for getting out of the car, but it's a good overview. Clw. Beach being the busiest, heading south on Gulf Blvd gives you a look at small beach communities some with lots of condo's, some much more residential (like the town I live in), a busy marina (Hubbard's marina) and the craziness of that small area which every seems to love), some with more hotels, anchored by busy St. Pete beach which is more spread out than Clw. bch.) and finally a quaint beach artist type town (Pass A Grille), then beautiful old Florida (Ft. Desoto which is similar to Caladesi). Bear in mind that this area is built up on either side of the street along our beaches, so as you drive south, you get glimpses of the beach between buildings and some public areas along the way. You will see a good view of the Gulf as you head over the Sand Key bridge (mount. Clearwater, as we call it) and once you pass over the John's Pass bridge where Hubbard's marina is. But don't expect a grand vista of the Gulf of Mexico and the beach for the duration of the drive.

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