A&A Travel Review Of Greater Tampa Bay, Florida | RV Living
End of Week #92
Frog Creek RV Resort, Palmetto FL
Miles traveled since last week's post = 0 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 12,191 with trailer
We are winding down to our last few days in Palmetto, before we head further into into Bradenton for just a few nights next week to see my mom again. After that we will start to make our way north, and head a bit inland towards Ocala National Forest. We have already been in Florida for 4 months and it has gone by so fast! It's crazy to think that in less than 2 weeks we will be in Georgia, making our way north along the east coast...
All in all we have spent a little over a month in the greater Tampa Bay area now, and have sure done our best to explore everything we can. We have traveled all the way north to Clearwater and all the way south to Sarasota (& Venice), and taken every opportunity to check out the beaches and best places to eat along the way.
Keep reading to hear more about RVing and adventuring in Tampa Bay!
A&A Travel Review Of Greater Tampa Bay, Florida
The city of Clearwater is known for it's sunny weather and Gulf coast beaches. This is the northern most city in the greater Tampa Bay region that I will be reviewing. It is located north of St. Pete's Beach, and south of Dunedin.
Clearwater Beach - Voted the #1 Beach in the Nation by TripAdvisor in 2019 - this 3 mile stretch of white sandy beach on the barrier island of Clearwater. This beach was one of the busiest and most "happening" beaches we have come across in Florida, aside from Fort Myers beach. There is a pier and some activities for children, such as a blow up water slide, located right next to the pier along the water. There are several paid parking lots and street parking options to choose from, but it is still best to get here early to find a parking spot, or come on a weekday versus a weekend. There are several wash stations, bathrooms, and cabana chairs available for use, as well as volleyball courts in the sand. On the other side of the street from the beaches there are a lot of restaurants and bars to choose from too! The water here is quite shallow for a long way out, allowing both adults and kids the perfect place to experience the Gulf ocean waters.
Jimmy's Crows Nest (restaurant - rooftop) - What better prime location can you get than Jimmy's bird's eye view of the city, the Intercoastal, the beaches, and all that is Clearwater. This rooftop perch is small, but I would say this is the best view you can find in the entire Tampa Bay area. Jimmy's is a full service restaurant and bar located on the 10th floor of Pier House 60. The menu features American fare food, with reasonable prices. They also have an elaborate drink and cocktail menu.
Sand Bar (restaurant - beach side) - This ocean front bar is elevated along Clearwater beach, offering tiki cocktails and grub in their outdoor seating. They also feature daily happy hour specials on their drinks and select appetizers, including their nachos and quesadillas - which I highly recommend. In terms of a nice "beach bar" option in Clearwater, I would suggest adding this stop to your list!
I think I can already say that St. Petersburg is one of my favorite cities in Florida, especially on the Gulf coast. Nicknamed the "Sunshine City", St. Pete's is a popular area for boating, fishing, beaching and gulfing. It's waterfront parks host the famous Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and it is also home to the Florida Orchestra.
St. Pete Beach - The beautiful barrier island and resort city off the coast of St. Petersburg has more restaurants and tiki bars than I have ever seen in my life! There is so much activity to choose from, it's impossible sometimes to even make a choice. The beach itself is an award winning spot on the Gulf of Florida, and the area is also known for it's 1928 pink Don CeSar hotel that looms over the shoreline. This is easily one of my favorite areas to drive into, crossing over bridges and channels and looking at all of the beautiful houses and boats along the way!
Rick's Reef (restaurant) - One of the many seafood restaurants offered along the drive of St. Pete's Beach includes Rick's Reef. This restaurant has an adorable manatee statue right outside the front door, and offers outdoor and indoor seating options. They are known for their crab cakes, but also have delicious craft beers, and American cuisine too. What's awesome about Rick's Reef is they do not have ANY microwaves or heat ovens, leaving you with completely fresh cooked food options!
Beans & Barlour (coffee and desserts) - This might be the most intense and delicious gourmet coffee and dessert I have ever encountered! After seeing an old high school classmate post about this place, I just knew we were going to have to check it out. Thankfully we were able to go with our friends while they were in town and experience their seasonal Girl Scout Cookie menu items. Beans and Barlour specializes in made from scratch items and alcohol infused ice cream - my first time ever having anything like it! They also feature edible cookie dough and all kinds of tea and other shake creations. This is a must stop if you have any kind of sweet tooth at all!
Mad Beach Boat Rentals - While we spent the past week exploring with our friends, we thought it would be a really fun idea to rent a pontoon and cruise out in the Intercoastal or on the Gulf for a day while they were here. Under limited time to plan and limited availability, I was able to score a Friday afternoon out of the St. Pete Beach area, with Mad Beach Boat and Pontoon Rentals. We took out a 22 foot pontoon for 4 hours, and were able to cruise the Intercoastal channels and spend over an hour at a sand bar at John's Pass. It was an excellent experience with great guidance, maps, and suggested routes from their crew members. The only bummer was we weren't allowed to take the pontoon out into the Gulf like we had hoped, but I would still definitely rent with them again!
Tierra Verde is a census designated island off the south tip of St. Pete's Beach and St. Petersburg, and is the only point of access to get to the island of Fort Desoto. This community is at the entrance to Tampa Bay and houses a lot of condos, marinas, and beach access points for fishing and other water activities.
Fort Desoto Park - I recently reviewed our full week stay of Fort Desoto on my blog, and you can take a look at that post by clicking here. Fort Desoto is an old military fort island that served as a point of protection for Tampa Bay during the Spanish-American war. It has since been turned into a county campground, with extensive beaches, trails, fishing piers, a dog park, and a popular area to wind surf.
Ferry to Egmont Key - We were fortunate enough to take a visit with our friends to the pristine island paradise off the coast of Fort Desoto, called Egmont Key. This ferry service is offered through Hubbard Marina, and includes roundtrip ferry to the island, 2 or so hours on the island to explore, and the opportunity to explore the old ruins of Fort Dade - another military fort that was set up to protect Tampa Bay. The island is filled with over 30,000 birds (around 300 species), and the entire south end of the island is protected and remains inaccessible to humans. The north end of the island has the fort ruins, an old lighthouse that was in operation for 150 years, and miles of beautiful beaches on both the Gulf coast and the Bay side. This is also a popular area to find shark teeth and humongous shells! You can also access this island via boat, and the next time we are able to do a boat rental in Florida, you best believe Adam and I will end up here. The turquoise clear waters were like nothing else!
*You can also take a ferry to another nearby island, called Shell Key Preserve.