Tampa, the hip city on Florida’s Gulf coast with its world’s longest continuous sidewalk (4.5 miles), rich Cuban hand-rolled cigar history, and family-friendly attractions is Florida’s most diverse travel destination. If you love eating good food, visiting world-class museums, having fun in theme parks, plus lounging at the beach, you should consider Tampa for your next vacation.
I hear a lot about beaches in Florida in general, but never about Tampa beaches specifically, so I’m at a loss about where to go. I’d love to lounge at some beautiful beaches while I’m down there! Any suggestions?
Here are 7 beaches that will give you good reasons to spend a night or a week in Tampa this winter season:
1. Honeymoon Island State Park
Open daily from 8 am until sundown, Honeymoon Island State Park has a four-mile beach and a three-mile walking/bicycling trail, an ultimate haven for beachgoers and nature lovers. Along the path, you can see one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests in Florida. Be mesmerized by eagles, osprey, horned owls, gopher tortoises, armadillos, and raccoons.
You can go fishing, shelling, bicycling, hiking, swimming, lounge at the beach, relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset.
You can go further by taking the ferry to Caladesi Island State Park from Honeymoon Island State Park. The ferry service is provided by Caladesi Island Ferry (727-734-1501)
2. Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach made took the number one spot in Trip Advisor’s U.S. Top Beaches for 2018. Here’s why:
- White sand beach
- Clear and shallow water
- Lots of activities along the Beach Walk Promenade
- Plenty of cabanas, beach chairs and beach umbrellas for rent
- Free parking
- Close to entertainment and good restaurants
- Many fun shops
- Secluded spots for those who want to be away from the crowd
Trippy user Debbie said:
Clearwater Beach…beautiful white, powdery sand on a big beach! There’s a little hut on the beach that sells cocktails, several restaurants that line it (I dig Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill!), people to rent lounge chairs, umbrellas, and water sporting equipment from, and then some. Make sure you bring cash to this one because sometimes when it’s busy, you have to pay for parking, and also, you might be tempted to grab some food!
Andrew from Los Angeles pointed out the negatives and the positives of Clearwater Beach:
Clearwater Beach is the main big famous beach in the area but can get very crowded. Clearwater Beach has a great sunset festival.
Jacey and Scott recommended Clearwater. They wrote:
My cousin got married in Clearwater-huge, soft beaches-excellent nightlife, solid restaurants, good vibe and easy to access from Tampa International Airport.
3. Fort de Soto State Park
Apart from the unspoiled beaches, Fort De Soto has 1,136 acres of five interconnected islands and is home to mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods, beach plants and more. You can go camping, kayaking, canoeing, biking, hiking, fishing, shelling or just lounge on the beach. It’s the best place to go camping on the beach.
USA Today named Fort de Soto as one of the Best Beach for Families on 2014.
Though shelling is one of the fun things to do in Fort de Soto, taking live shells and sand dollars is illegal. Two of the must-dos according to Visit St Pete Clearwater are:
Climbing the steep stairs to the fort overlook to see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the world’s longest cable-stayed concrete bridge and stop in at the Quartermaster Museum for stories about the fort and the Spanish-American War artifacts.
Andrew from Los Angeles wrote:
Also, Fort Desoto State Park And Beach are one the top beaches in America. It’s only about 45 minutes from Tampa.
4. Indian Rocks Beach
Three miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and beautiful sunsets await you at Indian Rocks Beach. Victoria from Plant City, Florida, and Debbie from Los Angeles recommended Indian Rocks Beach. Victoria wrote:
Indian Rocks Beach is incredible and mostly quiet. Be sure to check out Keegan’s Seafood Grille.
Indian Rocks Beach this is a small, quiet beach as Indian Rocks is more of a retirement town than anything. Great to wade in the water and then relax and read a book on the sand. Also nice to walk on the street that the beach is on and stop by the little businesses. I love Indian Shores Coffee Company for coffee, and light snacks and Mahuffer’s is a, um, real hoot, if you’re looking for a drink (you have to at least check out the outside decor!)
5. Treasure Island
Treasure Island is where l would stay in Tampa. There is nothing accept fun, sun, and sand. Plenty to do and see and be with each other. Just walk a few steps, and you will find paradise…dine and dance on the beach. Cool place.
There are several affordable beach resorts that you may want to check out:
- Bilmar Beach Resort
- Thunderbird Beach Resort
- Treasure Bay Resort and Marina
At the southern tip of Treasure Island is Sunset Beach. This gay-friendly beach is Debbie’s favorite. She wrote:
My favorite part of Treasure Island to visit is Sunset Beach, particularly the restaurant Caddy’s On The Beach! It was recommended to me by a waitress in Tampa. The restaurant is right on the beach front, and you can order food and drinks and bring it onto the beach. You can also tip some hot beach bodies they’ve employed to set up lounge chairs and umbrellas for you. One time, I saw a manatee swim up here!
6. Fred Howard Park
Located in Tarpon Springs, Fred Howard Park is accessible through a scenic mile-long causeway. It’s a hidden gem with a large park, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, and beautiful beaches. You may find dolphins and manatees in the waters. On land, small creatures like gopher tortoises and fox squirrels.
It’s best to combine a trip to Fred Howard Park with a stop at Tarpon Springs town center for authentic Greek food. Tarpon Springs is known as the Sponge Capital of the World, and the downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy the antique shops, art galleries and historic sites of this historic town after a day at Fred Howard Park beach.
7. Madeira Beach
Madeira or Mad Beach is the “Grouper Capital of the World” and is where most groupers are brought from the sea in Florida. The most famous attraction in Mad Beach is John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk.
This 2.5-mile beach offers plenty of room for you to enjoy the white sand beaches and emerald-turquoise waters. After having fun in the sun, head over to John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk for food, drinks, and entertainment. There are more than 100 shops and restaurants there and if shopping is not your thing, after your meal, go to the marina for fishing, watching the sunset or go on a dolphin-watching cruise.
Visitors can take a stroll on the 1,100-foot boardwalk in Madeira Beach.
Looking for a destination to visit this winter? Consider one of these beaches and if you have any questions about Tampa, head over to our Q & A platform, sign in with your Facebook account and get your questions answered by a local or a travel expert.