A vacation on the beaches of the Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach area of Florida has plenty of things to do without ever leaving the beach. Activities abound up and down the coast and its seems that new ones pop up every month. Some folks, however, are born explorers, determined to find out what is in the area they have visited. They want to strike out and see what there is to see. That’s okay too, because the Central Gulf Coast of Florida is full of fantastic places to visit for those who love sightseeing.
We’ll start with a destination that does well to fulfill the need for sightseeing. The Tampa Bay area has some nice malls such as Countryside Mall in Clearwater or Tyrone Mall in St Petersburg, but the unrivaled champion in the area is the International Plaza in Tampa. The mall is large, with a pleasant upscale atmosphere and top-notch restaurants either attached or nearby. It is also very close to the airport. While a mall might or might not make your ordinary things-to-do list, this one deserves a look, especially during the holiday season.
After your visit to the International Plaza, take a short jaunt to downtown Tampa. A walk down the city streets can be quite pleasant. Downtown Tampa is a business district, naturally, so you might find it somewhat deserted on the weekends. We recommend visiting when it is alive and bustling during the week. Additionally, Tampa’s Riverwalk is famous, with an ample spread of appealing restaurants to consider. Evening dining along Riverwalk might be one of your most memorable.
A trip to the amazing Florida Botanical Garden should be on the list for anyone who loves relaxing walks and colorful displays. The well-manicured walkways will melt your cares away. The botanical garden is not alone within the park, however. Right next door is Heritage Village, a collection of old homes and business buildings from Florida’s past. From a log cabin to a railroad station or a Victorian home to blacksmith’s barn, Heritage Village provides hours of sightseeing while you wander around and through the historic buildings.
You will find some of the best sightseeing in the area on the two state parks of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island, located directly north of Clearwater Beach. These two barrier islands are covered with soft white sand that is the stuff vacation memories are made of. Nature trails wind through the forests of both islands and each has a public beach, facilities, and concession stands. Honeymoon Island has Nature Center with dioramas, books, and a movie theater that are great for nature lovers and kids.
On the south end of the chain of barrier islands, Fort Desoto Park offers some of the best beach and water vistas in the area. The white sand creates an award-winning beach that is one of the most popular in the region. In addition, the park contains an old fort that used to defend the mouth of Tampa Bay from enemy ships. Many of the large cannons used to defend the region are still in place at the park as well as a fair number of bunkers. Bike and walking paths wind across the island while the east side of the park affords a perfect view of the stunning Skyway Bridge.
A ferry from Fort Desoto Park takes you to the island of Egmont Key. This historic island holds more intact ruins than any other place in the Tampa Bay area. Old bunkers, brick roads, railroad tracks, barracks foundations, and other items left behind from the old military installation on the island provide the perfect opportunity for sightseeing. Stroll down forgotten brick roads and view the sites of former lodging for soldiers, the area now overgrown by natural palm forests of Florida. A jaunt just off the brick roads takes you to yet another white sand beach. A lighthouse with a working lamp stands at the center of the island and serves as its best-known landmark.
An easy drive from the area beaches Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach will transport you to any of these sites. Sightsee amid upscale malls, amazing gardens, remnants from the past, or naturally beautiful scenery within an hour or less from your vacation headquarters here on West Central Gulf Coast.
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