Ideas for Car-less Activities in Tampa area

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Nov 10th, 2018, 11:10 AM
  #1
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Ideas for Car-less Activities in Tampa area

Hi,

I have essentially 3 full days and two half days this upcoming Christmas/New Year's break. I have visited a number of places in Florida without a car in the past--Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Fort Lauderdale, Miami & Key West and managed to make it work. I'll take an Uber, rent a bike, catch city buses, boats or rail, but don't drive. This year, I decided I'd escape the Canadian winter on the gulf side, checking out Tampa & vicinity for the first time ever , staying at the Barrymore in downtown Tampa. It's mostly about getting warm weather, exploring a new place & hopefully indulging in a bit of biking. I don't care if I "do it all" but I imagine the area has some pleasant places to view the bay and/or gulf, so if you have any favourite parks or lookouts for such viewing near or in downtown Tampa or St. Pete, I'd love to hear it.

I've made a list of things I'd like to do in no particular order. I know this part of Florida grew largely in the 20th century but I enjoy history, culture, handsome city parks, neighbourhoods with character, even just discovering what makes a place unique (this could include made-in-Tampa food specialties or interesting restaurants). I thought I'd focus on exploring downtown Tampa and St. Pete but if you think somewhere nearby (Clearwater, for example) is worth making a special effort given my interests, let me know. For indoor activities, I've written the Tampa Bay History Center, Ybor Village, Tampa Museum of Art, the Dali Museum (St. Pete). All additional ideas are welcome

Best wishes, Daniel
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Nov 10th, 2018, 12:22 PM
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Eat lunch at Alessi's Bakery - and maybe buy a treat or two for afterwards -
About Alessi Bakery - Alessi Bakery
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Nov 10th, 2018, 01:22 PM
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It has been a while since i have been to Tampa, but if you are interested in maritime history
there is the SS American Victory, a Victory class merchant ship (preceded by Liberty class)
that saw service at the end of WW2, Korea, and Vietnam.
It is next to the Tampa Aquarium.

American Victory Ship | Mariners Memorial Museum

Last edited by cdnyul; Nov 10th, 2018 at 01:37 PM.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 07:03 AM
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Starts, cdnyul--Thanks for the suggestions! I may check out the Tampa Aquarium also, now that you mention it.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 07:19 AM
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That should be starrs, not starts! Autocorrect!
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Nov 11th, 2018, 07:53 AM
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Do you know about Pass-a-Grille Beach?
If you don't, you should go out that way. It's probably a pricey Uber ride (about 30 miles/ minutes) but I fell in love with it a few years ago. It's at the tip of the island and is still officially a part of St. Pete's Beach, but it's a world away. As you drive on the island, you take a left/ south at the Don Cesar and you'll soon be in a mini version of Key West or P'town. A very laid back groove. Gorgeous, quiet white sand beach. Great (low-key) places to eat. Just a wonderful place to hang out.

The Seahorse is like stepping back in time. It's where you'll find a lot of locals and very good food at very fair prices. It looks unchanged from the 40s. It's definitely like going back into an Old Florida vibe that was Florida pre-Disney and pre-AC visitation years.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...h_Florida.html

Here's a link that includes the history page of the menu - since 1938!
Seahorse Restaurant | Tampa Bay Breakfasts

There is a tiny museum. I didn't stop but you may find it interesting -
Gulf Beaches Historical Museum

More info on PAG -
Eat - Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete Beach, Florida - The Official Visitor's Site


If I were you, I'd seriously consider changing a night or two to a place at PAG or even one of the hotels on St. Pete. I doubt you will and prices may be sky high, but that's what I would do.

If you were there for more than a few hours, I'd stop at this French bakery in St. Pete, next to Publix. You could still go there, but I'd eat at one of the places at PAG if you were only there for a day trip.
Cafe Soleil - https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...h_Florida.html

And maybe a stop at the big pink Don Ceasar. Here's their history page -
https://www.doncesar.com/our-history.aspx

I've been in the Tampa area a lot through the years. I always stop at Alessi's. Pre-9/11, I'd bring some of their soups back home. Great Cuban sandwiches, soups, amazing treats from the bakery. That's like "going home" for me when I'm in Tampa.

In spring when it's strawberry time, I'd head out to Parkdale's in Plant City - although that would be a heck of an Uber ride -
https://parkesdale.com/pages/about-us
The festival is at the end of Feb/ beginning of March -
Florida Strawberry Festival ? 11-day event celebrating the strawberry harvest of Eastern Hillsborough County
More than once I've stopped for lunch = a giant strawberry shortcake.
Here's a photo -
https://orlando-florida-attractions....rry-shortcake/
But your trip is too early. Worth a stop to shop if you had a car, but not via Uber.

So, Alessi's, Plant City and the original Columbia would be my top 3 things when in Tampa -
Columbia Restaurant
And heading out to the beach. PAG or St. Pete Beach.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 08:11 AM
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If you do head out to the beach, I'd use the Paradise Grill at PAG as a destination location for your Uber/Lyft driver -
https://www.facebook.com/ParadiseGrillePAG/
It's a bar/restaurant right on the beach and pretty much the social center of the tiny town. There are other shops and restaurants of course. I'd definitely consider eating at the Seahorse though. PAG is just a couple of blocks of businesses and a lot of blocks of low key places to stay and homes.

If you want a busier vibe, St. Pete Beach stretches along for miles. Gorgeous beach but lots of hotels right next to each other. If you want to go to SPB, I'd suggest the Postcard Inn -
https://postcardinn.com/
Here's a peek into why it is special -
https://www.alexinwanderland.com/hot...ard-inn-beach/
And some of the story -
St. Pete has a laid-back beach vibe that’s reflected in the affordable, hip and casual Postcard Inn, originally built as The Colonial Gateway Inn in 1957. Before restaurateur Stephen Hanson gave the property new life as the surfer chic Postcard Inn, it was a Travelodge, and plans to demolish and rebuild were strongly opposed by the community, eventually encouraging Hanson to renovate and preserve the historical motel instead.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 09:18 AM
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Hi starrs

Thanks for the detailed suggestions! I'd never heard of Pass-a-Grille, so thanks for pointing me in its direction. Sounds interesting--given the number of times I've been to Florida, I'm
surprised it hadn't caught my attention earlier. Maybe I'll take a bus as close as I can in St.Pete and grab an Uber from there? I'm now getting excited.

sincerely, Daniel
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Nov 11th, 2018, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel_Williams View Post
...-given the number of times I've been to Florida, I'm
surprised it hadn't caught my attention earlier. l
Same here!
Especially given that I worked for years, spending weeks in the Tampa area each spring!
A couple of years ago, I noticed friends' photos on Facebook. I'd never heard of PAG. I visited for the first time and fell in love with it. I'll go back often. It's really small. It reminds me of Tarpon Springs, at least the Tarpon Springs from 20 years ago. Small but thriving. PAG is very small and VERY laid back. Just a cool place to hang out. Go see! I attended the community church when I was there (an UCC congregation) and it appears to be a very NPR-ish place to live. If that makes any sense. So different than other areas in Florida in a wide variety of ways. I would love to spend more time there after retiring.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 11th, 2018 at 10:10 AM.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 04:28 PM
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https://www.homeaway.co.uk/p7015127
This will give you an idea of cottages, etc. in Pass-a-Grille. It has been a popular "secret" with many people for a long time. Popular for very small weddings on the beach, candy stores, parents pushing strollers in the evening, really good, reasonably priced, restaurants. It is filled with lovely old cottages and beach style homes, not a place of big hotels.
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Nov 12th, 2018, 05:48 AM
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Sassafras, Starrs--Thank you both for your additional thoughts on Pass-a-Grille! I chose to do this trip originally mostly to escape the cold for a patch (and if current temperatures are an indication, it seems that southern Quebec is in for a doozy of a winter), but it seems I might also get to explore an interesting North American neighbourhood; what fun! So glad I asked this question as I might not have discovered it otherwise--I regret not asking questions before visiting St. Louis for the first time this summer, as I missed the Cahokia Mounds and historic St. Charles there!
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Nov 12th, 2018, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel_Williams View Post
... mostly to escape the cold for a patch (and if current temperatures are an indication, it seems that southern Quebec is in for a doozy of a winter),...
I would spend a couple of nights there (at least) and just relax and enjoy. The Keystone Motel is a basic, old school motel overlooking the beach (across the street). If they are booked, there are some sister properties. I stayed in one and had a little studio apartment. Loved it! If interested, I'll add more info.
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