St. Petersburg, Florida, my first ‘home’ in the USA. I lived there for almost 4 years and then, I moved to South Florida. I try to visit every time I can. Shooting videos for AT29 was a great opportunity for me to go back to the Tampa Bay area.
The road trip takes about 4 hours to get from Miami to Tampa. 266 miles to St. Petersburg and 280 miles to Tampa skipping St. Petersburg. The boring side of the route, crossing Alligator Alley. I mean, if it’s your first time… Enjoy the beautiful view to the Everglades, if you’re lucky, you might see an alligator. For me, it’s kind of boring because it’s almost an hour to drive it through, straight all the time and the same view… And I’ve been through it countless times since 1999.
Later, the road becomes a little bit entertaining. Especially for me, it was about a year (or more) since the last time I drove by that area and there were some things different. Plus, I always loved the view from 2 of the bridges – including one that passes by the Okeechobee -.
Before going to Tampa, even when you can keep driving North on the I-75, I always take the I-275 to St. Petersburg. Not only because it used to be ‘my city’ but because I love the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This bridge is also known as the “flag bridge” of Florida. From the highest bridge in the state you’ll get to see part of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg and Fort de Soto park. No, you can’t stop for pictures and yes, drive carefully.
Before crossing the bridge, there’s a rest area where you can take beautiful photos to the bridge and the bay. And rest, of course.
I drove north, passing by the Tropicana Field (baseball stadium), until I reached Largo and Clearwater, two other towns in the Tampa Bay area. Minutes later, I was visiting my old spot for parties, Ybor City in Tampa.
Ybor City is close to Downtown Tampa. Years ago, while I was there (1999-2003) it was the place to go clubbing or bar hopping. According to some friends, Hyde Park area is a better place to hang out nowadays. Ybor City is good to have lunch or dinner, movies or just for a stroll by stores and even museums.
Later, I drove to Downtown Tampa. Here you’ll find the Aquarium and the nice port with shops and restaurants. You’ll also find the University of Tampa and some blocks away Hyde Park and Bayshore Blvd. perfect for a walk by the bay.
And in Tampa, you also find Busch Gardens! Perfect to visit if you love roller coasters!
Next stop was my lovely St. Petersburg. I love this town! Beautiful city, very calm, gorgeous beaches and what I think is one of the most awesome Downtowns. As a local, call it St. Pete 😉
Downtown St. Pete houses the best Dali Museum! It’s amazing and it also has a weird but great design outside. It counts with a very large and original collection of Dali. This is a must if you visit this city.
From the museum, take a stroll around downtown and visit The Pier. It offers you various stores, an aquarium and restaurants. Get to the last floor and enjoy the amazing view to the city and the bay.
I needed to hurry because I wanted to visit St. Pete Beach before sunset. In few minutes I arrived to the beach side. Although, because of the season, it was very windy and a bit chilly to go for a swim, but while I was living in this city, I used to go to the beach just for a stroll, sit and relax or hang out with friends at many of the bars by the shore. For this trip, I just stayed for few minutes, took few pictures and said see you soon St. Pete. A 4hours drive was waiting for me.
Other areas you can visit while in town, Fort de Soto Park. They charge an entry to the park but it’s very big, you can have barbecues, spend a nice day and from some areas you can watch dolphins.
For my last trip I didn’t get a chance to visit one of my favorite areas, Johns Pass in Madeira Beach, between St. Pete and Clearwater. Perfect spot to spend few amazing hours. Here you’ll find restaurants, stores, you can take a boat trip to watch dolphins or rent jet ski or boats, and many other things by the boardwalk. Nearby you have the beach, hotels and more places to visit and see.
My trip, most of the times, is roundtrip the same day. But I believe staying for 3 days will be great to spend some time in Tampa Bay, one day for the beach (visit Ft. de Soto and St. Pete Beach), another day to stroll by Downtown Tampa and Ybor City during the day and by the afternoon get to know Downtown St. Petersburg. And a 3rd day to visit Clearwater and the beaches. Or, if you have a car, drive from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater, beautiful scenery.