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Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

WV
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Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

I am traveling with my two kids - 12 and 14 on vacation to Florida. We are doing Five days at Disney, one day at Busch Gardens and would like to spend two days at a beach near Tampa/Busch. After the beach we are going back to Orlando for three more days. I have no clue as to what beach would be the best! I want to stay at a beach close to Busch Gardens and Orlando. Would someone please explain the differences between beaches such as St. Pete, Clearwater, Treasure Island? How do they differ in atmosphere, tourism, water conditions, distance? Are they all on the gulf waters? Which is more "touristy"? Much thanks to anyone who might help me better understand.

Tallahassee, Florida
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1. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

First of all, there is no beach close to Busch Gardens and Orlando. Busch Gardens is at least an hour away from a decent beach and from Orlando to the West Coast beaches add 1 1/2 hrs. to that. All of the beaches you mentioned are in Pinellas County, across the bay from Tampa. Fort

DeSoto Park in south St. Pete is my favorite and on the list of the best beaches in the US. It is about 1-1 1/2 hrs. from the Busch Gardens area depending on the traffic and time of year. You can picnic there, they have showers and dressing rooms, a fort to visit, bike trails and fishing piers. You can often see huge ships off shore and dolphins too. Clearwater is nice, but full of people and I guess you could call it touristy.

Clearwater
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2. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

Hi

I live near and work on Clearwater beach. I will be glad to give you all the scoop on where you can stay. Busch Gardens is only 40 minutes from the beach actually. I can tell you some local "secrets" I surf a lot around here and work in Real Estate.

Give me a call

727-564-2488

Gavin

Washington DC...
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3. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

From my experience regarding beach differences:

-Clearwater is touristy. You'll always pay for parking, there will be lots of peeps on the beach with their umbrellas and towels and clans, and lots of shops to walk to, and lots of aquatic things to rent or do.

-St. Pete is less touristy, so quieter, but more of the same things.

-Treasure Island...I think there's a lot of condos, nice kept areas, but not a lot of shops or rentals or anything like that. Or am I thinking just south of Treasure Island? I drove that area and can't remember exactly now.

Also look into Ft. Desoto. If you are coming this far, you might as well check that out too. They have a few rental things, fishing, canoes, etc.

A possible point of interest. I think it's either on or just South of Clearwater is Capt. Memo's pirate ship cruise. It's pretty fun. I don't think a 14yr old would like it, but my 6yr old niece enjoyed it and so did I. Lot's of adult drinks to keep the adult pirates entertained.

Distance wise, the beaches are not terribly near Busch Gardens, and the closest beach to Orlando would probably be Cocoa Beach on the East coast (Coco? Cocoa? whatever).

The water is really calm, and fairly warm. This is surprising because up in Pensacola the very same Gulf waters have a tremendous riptide. Here you can just float in the water all day and not really worry about being taken out to sea, then just apply all your sunburn cream on that evening.

Remember that just because you're in the water doesn't mean the Sun won't hit ya. I learned that the hard way. My shoulders were burned when I thought I was all safe under the water.

I haven't been to Clearwater since they were working on that new bridge. If they have that all cleared up there may be less traffic because the old bridge was a drawbridge.

Oh, in Clearwater, you want to get to the beach before 11am or there will be tons of bumper to bumper traffic. Maybe the bridge helped that situation a bit too.

The other beaches have considerably less traffic.

Clearwater
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4. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

Lot of mis-information about Clearwater here. There is plenty of uncrowded beach here on N. Clearwater beach. You have to know how to get there. The water is far from warm right now, it is under 60 degrees, I wear a full wetsuit when I surf. When it is calm, it is very calm but during cold fronts we get some raging surf.

I can drive to busch gardens in under 45 minutes form the beach. Cocoa is the closest to Orlando. St. Pete beaches do not in any way compare to Clearwater. De soto is nice but very isolated, there is NOTHING there as far as facilities except for public bathrooms. It is about an hour from Busch. Great for a day trip.

Lots to do in Clearwater from a tourist viewpoint, forget about swimming until April.

Anyone have any Real Estate needs please contact me at gmagrath@gmail.com

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

sorry, it slipped my mind that you would be traveling to FLA now. Now - yes the water is cold. It's winter. I just automatically assumed summer. Sorry.

I like Indian Rock better than Clearwater. Less crowded and much nicer beach. Nowhere (that I've seen) to get a quick hotdog or buy a t-shirt, though, so it's not really for 12-14yr olds.

I haven't been to Clearwater in the winter, so there's probably fewer people now.

Clearwater
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6. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

The thing people do not understand is that there is a beautiful beach, North of Clearwater main Beach, it is voted in the top 5 in the nation. It runs up to a State park called Calladessi, once you get up there there are no houses and very few if any people. You just have to know how to get there. To get to the very deserted N end you can actually take a ferry over from Dunedin, (which is a great little town in it's own right) You will then be on a totally remote part of a georgous white sand beach only accessible by boat or an hour or better walk.

Even just walking past the more crowded area for 10 minutes gets you to a much less populated area.

The new bridge is bult now which helps out a lot as far as traffic goes. It will still be backed up on holiday weekends though. I think anyone is insane to show up here then!

Tampa
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7. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

I think you've received some great tips here....I am a native of Tampa & an avid outdoors enthusiast. I used to own a Travel Agency & would like to point out some nice amenities of Ft. DeSoto.

#1 Great family place- they have an old Fort (hence the name) that kids just love to play in

#2 Activities- The park has bike rentals (suitable for four people kind of like a little car that you peddle), they have a kayak rental & water trail (love love love)

Tampa, Florida
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8. Re: Confused about beaches near Tampa - Please help me!!

IM not sure when you say you are coming down, but Clearwater Beach would be best for the 12 and 14 year old. There are nice WIDE beaches, mini golf, pirate cruises, sunset and dolphin cruises, small restaurants and shops all walking distance in this small island. Just south of Clearwater Beach is Sand Key, a little more secluded, also beatiful beaches and there is a free trolley that will take to to CLearwater Beach(less than a mile over the bridge) for the activities.

Travelling down the Gulf Coast is Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach, again, very nice Gulf Beaches, but when I have family in town, they really enjoy Clearwater Beach with this kids for lots of touristy activities, and Fort DeSoto Beach with the kids for more recreational activities, and much less touristy..

Check this site www.floridasbeach.com for additional info.

I hope this Helps!