The beach is spectacular here — wide white sand, clear blue-green water. But the Old Florida charm of Pass-a-Grille, a community within St. Pete Beach, is what makes it stand out.
We’ve selected nine public campgrounds near Tampa Bay for their scenic beauty, low prices and prime opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and canoeing. We think you’ll like these choices.
Myakka is one of the oldest and biggest state parks, a great place for seeing wildlife, from huge gators to flocks of birds in winter. Go here for its log cabins, appealing camp sites, excellent kayaking, extensive hiking and good bike trails. It’s also a good spot for nature neophytes, who enjoy the airboat ride and canopy walk.
Travel writer Vicki McCash Brennan has a passion for craft beer, museums and art galleries, and they all come together along St. Petersburg’s historic Central Avenue.
The Manatee River is wild, natural and serene in its eastern section. Just a half hour from downtown Bradenton, the Upper Manatee Paddling Trail is another world. Your trip can include a stop at a preserve where a pioneer cemetery marks the site of an early town.
The Gamble Mansion has white columns to rival Tara and was the site of a dramatic Civil War event. It’s the only antebellum mansion left in South Florida.
Emerson Point Preserve is an exceptional county park, off the beaten path on the southern end of Tampa Bay. There is excellent hiking and kayaking, and the real gem is the Portavant temple mound.
Visiting here, I found myself amazed that places like Anna Maria Island survive — a low-rise beach town with quaint cottages and a spectacular beach. No, you won’t have it all to yourself, but it’s still a special spot to discover.
Just 45 minute from Tampa/St. Pete, the beautiful river, state park and region is a natural haven that can keep you busy exploring for days. There’s an outfitter to make trip-planning easy, plus it offers cabins and camping.
Tucked into a corner of Hillsborough County is a quiet, well-shaded campground that packs a lot of nature into a small 160-acre preserve along the Alafia River.
This cypress-lined Alafia river has an unusual feature for Florida: Rocky shoals that create fun rapids to kayak. It’s near hiking trails, springs and a very nice paddling trail at Little Manatee River State Park.
An open-air Thai brunch and market draws throngs every Sunday morning to this beautiful waterfront temple in Tampa. The food is very good and moderately priced. The exotic gold-trimmed temple is worth visiting just because it’s beautiful, set among shady live oak trees decorated with orchids.
Frog Creek is a scenic kayak trail near Tampa Bay that begins in a shady Old Florida river and flows into open salt water and mangrove tunnels. “Paddles in Paradise” authors Ed and Deb Higgins share their story.
This tiny fishing village wedged between Bradenton and Anna Marie Island celebrates its rich heritage as a commercial fishing hub.
The 1,140-acre park in eastern Hilllsborough County has a multi-use trail for hiking and cycling, and launch point for the Alafia River Paddle Trail.
If pitching a tent on a tropical island is your thing, then add Anclote Key to your bucket list. Anclote Key Preserve State Park is in the Gulf of Mexico, three miles west of Tarpon Springs over open water, and it is accessible only by boat.