Make no mistake — St. Pete Beach represents an unbeatable vacation destination. Our famously fantastic climate, endless beaches, and local culture draw countless visitors to our sunny gulf shores every year. Even so, one of the things that makes this area so special is that it’s surrounded by some of the most spectacular neighboring communities of any city in America. Nearly endless numbers of laid-back beach towns, quaint villages, and world-class attractions lie just a short trek from our front door. So we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the best not-too-far-away day trips from Saint Petersburg, FL.
Just across the eponymous Tampa Bay lies our neighbor to the east. As the third-largest city in the state (behind only Miami and Jacksonville), Tampa is a hotbed of culture, an economic center, and an entertainment hub. Just a short trek across the Gandy Bridge from St. Pete will take you there. Once you arrive, enjoy experiences like the Glazer Children’s Museum, Florida Air Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Tampa Bay History Center. Fans of animal encounters won’t want to miss Busch Gardens, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, or the Florida Aquarium. And beer fans will want to stop at Cigar City Brewing, Angry Chair Brewing and BarrieHaus Beer Co. for tastings and tours.
Just up the road from us at TradeWinds, intrepid travelers will discover Clearwater — one of the most picturesque spots on Florida’s western gulf coast. The white-sand beaches here are as inviting as a dream, inviting beach volleyball, swimming, sunbathing and sandcastle architecture. The charming downtown is packed with one-of-a-kind shops and dining, and is extremely walkable (thanks in large part to the Beach Walk pedestrian thoroughfare). While here, don’t miss the massive entertainment and fishing hub at Pier 60, the gorgeous green space at Sand Key Park, or catching your favorite touring act at Ruth Eckerd Hall. If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, then The District will surely scratch the itch. And marine life enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, one of the largest and most educational facilities of its kind in the world.
Just a quick trip south of us will bring travelers to the charming seaside city of Sarasota. Sarasota not only has a bustling and active downtown area, but the city limits also include several lovely island keys situated out in the gulf (including Casey Key, St. Armand’s Key and the picturesque Siesta Key). While here, visit Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, which is an open-to-the-public marine biology research facility that’s home to more than 100 species of sea animals. Circus enthusiasts will also find much to love in Sarasota, being as it was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers show. This heritage is honored at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which houses hundreds of works of three ring-themed creativity. John and Mable’s winter home Ca’ d’Zan Mansion is also open for tours, and is a local must-see. Lastly, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens offers guests a lush display of over 20,000 plants across more than 6,000 species.
A bit northwest of Clearwater lies the breathtaking Honeymoon Island State Park, a tranquil haven for nature-lovers. Largely untouched, Honeymoon Island affords serenity-seekers an unspoiled, 3,000-acre swath of gentle waves, powdery sand, and lush forest. Taking a break from the metro’s bustle for a breezy hike, or doing a bit of bird watching here can feel a bit like going back in time. Don’t forget to stop into the Rotary Centennial Nature Center for a little local history during your visit, and be sure to pocket some souvenir seashells for the trip home before you head back to reality.
There’s no spot on earth quite like Weeki Wachee. Just about an hour’s drive north from TradeWinds, Weeki Wachee (or “winding river” in the tongue of the Seminole peoples native to the area) is a 538-acre preserve widely known for its world-famous mermaid shows. Since 1947, the legendary Weeki Wachee “mermaids” have enchanted audiences with their beautifully-choreographed underwater aquabatics, performed in the crystal-clear aquamarine waters of the area’s natural springs. While you’re here, take a dip in the spring-fed waters of Buccaneer Bay, and thrill as you navigate the twists and turns of the park’s water slides. Or, you can check out the area’s flora and fauna on a riverboat cruise. That is, unless you prefer to chart your own course — in which case you’re welcome to rent a canoe or kayak, and set off on a self-guided adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for manatees when you do! Several schools are native to these waters.
Always wanted to go to Greece, but don’t want to have to dust off your passport? Then head to Tarpon Springs! Tarpon Springs is home to one of the largest Greek heritage communities outside of Athens, which has had a decidedly Mediterranean influence on the architecture, food, and culture of the area. In addition, Tarpon Springs boasts a fascinating maritime claim — the warm gulf waters here are home to an abundance of natural sponges, making the city the “Sponge Capital of the World”. In fact, the city’s large Greek community is largely the result of an influx of experienced Greek divers who arrived at the turn of the century in order to help satisfy demand at the city’s growing sponge docks. Today, that enduring influence means Tarpon Springs is home to gorgeous beaches, amazing European-style architecture, incredible antique shopping, and fantastic festivals.
Planning on a bit of gulf coast day-tripping? There’s no better place to start than TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach. Our oceanside location is convenient to everywhere you’d like to go in the Tampa / St. Pete / Clearwater coastal metro region. Of course, thanks to our all-in-one, “just let go” approach to grand getaways (complete with all the dining, bars, entertainment, activities and more you could want right on-site), nobody would blame you if you never left the resort!
When you’re ready to plan your escape, take a look at our Special Offers page to check out the area’s best of St. Petersburg travel deals, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!