Tampa Bay Beach guide

On Florida’s Gulf Coast, you can expect year-round sunshine, soft smooth white sand beaches, and warm waters. With miles and miles of beautiful coastline, there is a beach for everyone. Whether you are looking for relaxation, a party scene, gorgeous sunsets, a place to collect seashells, ideal swimming conditions, or a lively sporty scene, there is an option to suit your unique interests. Enjoy this handy Tampa Bay beach guide, plus accompanying restaurants and activities.

Sand Key Beach in Clearwater, Florida
Beautiful Sand Key Park, the perfect low key alternative to busy next door neighbor Clearwater

1. Indian Rocks – “Pure Relaxation”

Relaxing day at Indian Rocks Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast

Indian Rocks is one of the few beaches on the Gulf with almost a complete absence of commercialization. There is literally no business in sight besides a few quaint condos and vacation rentals. This isn’t the type of beach where you will find rowdy crowds of tourists playing loud music and drinking beer. There are no boat tours or vendors anywhere in sight.

The tranquil ambiance makes Indian Rocks the perfect choice for anyone who wants to catch some rays or relax with some reading in a low-key setting. This beach is frequented more by locals than tourists. And thus, the lack of any activity gives it a charming “Old Florida” old-school atmosphere. The light waves and shallow waters also make it a fun swimming destination. Keep your eyes peeled as manatees and dolphins are often spotted in the near distance!

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Breezy patio at Indian Shores Coffee Company on Florida's Gulf Coast
Indian Shores Coffee Co. offers a lovely covered patio and beachy vibe

Indian Shores Coffee Company – This wonderful local roaster is located just steps from the beach. The highlight here is a beautiful covered patio. They serve delicious coffee, espresso (their Americano is amazing) and specialty lattes, plus amazing homemade pastries. The Maui and Apple Cinnamon muffins are really delicious, and so are the croissants. They also offer a few gluten-free selections.

Delicious Americano and pastries at Indian Shores Coffee Company on Florida's Gulf Coast
Great coffee & great home baked pastries!

Cafe de Paris -Cute French bistro which serves excellent quiche, crepes, pastries, and coffee. It’s hard to choose just one treat from the tantalizing display case! The indoor seating area is quite small, however, the patio is nice, if weather permits.

Veggie quiche and chocolate croissant at Cafe de Paris in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Delicious veggie quiche & chocolate croissant!

Ready Set Yo – Casual coffee shop with a great outdoor seating area. Great place to enjoy a caffeinated drink & light snack outside on a mild morning. They serve Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea, an excellent local roaster which happens to be the official specialty coffee of Disney! Not a fan of coffee? – They also serve tasty fruit smoothies.

Coffee on the patio at Ready Set Yo in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Great place for a drink on mild breezy morning!

Local Lunch Gems

Covered patio at Guppy's on the Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
Guppy’s offers the perfect dining patio for anyone looking for a nice break from the sun

Slyce – Amazing local pizza joint which offers an interesting selection of creative pies. Also serves a top notch Greek salad and super tasty garlic knots. The casual sports vibe makes it the perfect post-beach hangout.

Delicious Cheese pizza at Slyce in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Awesome plain cheese pizza!

Guppy’s – Local seafood favorite known for their fresh Grouper sandwich and a breezy covered patio. The lobster mac and cheese is excellent. Although there is plenty of seafood on the lineup, Guppy’s is also one of the few places near the beaches to offer a vegan option. Do try the tasty Tofu Grains bowl if you are seeking a great vegetarian option. After your meal, be sure to indulge in a slice of Key lime pie, the official state pie!

Lobster mac and cheese at Guppy's on the Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
The Lobster mac and cheese is a creamy treat!

Jake’s Coastal Cantina – Great local Mexican restaurant with a casual beachy vibe. Mix and match toppings of your choice for the ultimate taco or burrito. Also, treat yourself to the Squash blossoms or Mexican street corn as an appetizer!

Delicious Mexican food at Jake's Coastal Cantina in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

More fun in the vicinity

Tranquil views at Indian Rocks Nature preserve on Florida's Gulf Coast
Quiet waterfront vista at Indian Rocks nature preserve

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary – Free admission non profit with a mission to rehabilitate and release formerly injured birds back into the wild. Take a stroll around the grounds which are home to over 100 permanently disabled birds. Also be sure to climb up the overlook for an incredible bird’s eye view of the Gulf!

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

Indian Rocks nature preserve – Beautiful small preserve with a shady boardwalk trail which ends with a scenic water vista. Great place to bird watch, see manatees, and get in a light workout.

Picturesque boardwalk at the Indian Rocks nature preserve on Florida's Gulf Coast
Unlike the beaches, Tampa Bay preserves are always pleasantly quiet!

2. Madeira Beach – “An entertainment Oasis”

Pirate cruise in Madeira Beach
The Pirate Ship cruise is a fun time for families

This 2.5 mile stretch of sand along the Gulf is a good choice if you are looking for plenty of quick access to entertainment. Madeira is located within close proximity to St John’s Boardwalk, a lively entertainment destination with lots to do, especially for families and active types. Themed restaurants, seafood cafes, dolphin cruises, watersports, parasailing, arcades, gator experiences, and more line the 1000 foot wooden fishing themed boardwalk. Be on the lookout for seasonal festivals.

Dolphin watch at St. Johns boardwalk in Madeira Beach, Florida
Best place for a dolphin watching tour!

The beach itself is beautiful with the trademark white sand and calm crystal water. Arrive early in the morning if you are looking to avoid crowds as this one gets quite busy by mid afternoon. Cabana rentals are available. Madeira may not be the best beach destination for those looking to relax, however, it’s a great choice for anyone seeking to combine beach fun and entertainment.

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Coffee and muffin at Sweet Brewnette in Madeira Beach, Florida
Sweet Brewnette serves the best coffee and pastries near Madeira/Treasure Island beaches

Sweet Brewnette – This is definitely the place to go to enjoy a quality breakfast and artisan coffee at the same time. Cute beach themed knick knacks and local artwork adorn the walls. The overall ambiance is definitely vacation leisure. The coffee is excellent and so is the food.

Coffee and breakfast at Sweet Brewnette in Madeira Beach, Florida
Try the English muffin topped with peanut butter, honey, & bananas!

Lisa’s Cafe – Local breakfast favorite located just a few blocks from St. John’s Boardwalk. If you are seeking a full breakfast to carry you through lunch, Lisa’s is a good choice prior to hitting the beach or boardwalk. Enjoy a savory veggie omelet filled with fresh onion, peppers, spinach, mushroom or tomatoes, served with hash browns and toast. Or go the sweet route, and treat yourself to French Toast or pancakes topped with berries or bananas.

French Toast at Lisa's Cafe in Madeira Beach, Florida

Local lunch gems

Slyce pizza in Madeira Beach, Florida

Slyce– The Madeira Slyce location offers the most gorgeous setting with a covered patio facing the waterfront. The casual sports bar vibe makes it the perfect place to kick back and enjoy some good comfort style foods and drinks after a long day at the beach. Pizza and apps aside, do treat yourself to a fresh cooling Greek salad!

Greek salad at Slyce pizza in Madeira Beach, Florida
Slyce’s Greek salad is as delicious as any you would find at an authentic Greek cafe

Mad Beach Craft Brewing – This modern American eatery is conveniently located in the touristy St Johns Boardwalk area. Stop by for a craft beer and tasty American comfort fare after a long day at the beach. The ambiance is casual and family-friendly with lots of entertainment options including multiple flat screens, a pool table, air hockey, and even a Stranger Things pinball machine. Great place to relax after a tiresome day in the sun!

Falafel dinner at Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company in Madeira Beach, Florida
Try the delicious Falafel Dinner served with roasted veggies!

More fun in the vicinity

Cabana rentals at Madeira Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
Afternoon crowds enjoying the soft white sands

Dolphin Quest – This top rated cruise combines dolphin watching and sightseeing. Dolphin sightings are guaranteed or you will receive a free return ticket! Not only will you see tons of dolphins, but you will also get to enjoy some of the most picturesque scenery out of any cruise line in the Bay area.

Dolphin sighting in Madeira Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
Dolphins and colorful scenery rolled into one

The Pirate Ship – Entertaining pirate themed cruise which is perfect for families and the young at heart. Amenities include face painting, festive music, treasure hunts, and pirate stories. If you get lucky, you’ll see dolphins too!

Pirate cruise at St. Johns Boardwalk in Madeira Beach, Florida

Smuggler’s Cove – Fun adventure themed mini golf course. Highlights along the 18 hole course includes waterfalls, caves, and live gators.

3. Fred Howard Park – “Amazing sunset destination”

Gorgeous sunset at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Beautiful sunset beyond the palms
  • Best for: Sunset watching, peace and quiet, hiking, picnics
  • Beach parking: $5 all day parking (1700 Sunset Drive)
  • Where to stay: The 1910 Inn

One of the lesser-known beaches in Pinellas County is found within Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs. A 1 mile long causeway, which is popular with joggers and fishers, leads you to this picturesque white sandy beach. Fred Howard is mostly frequented by locals, and thus, retains a laid-back, local charm.

Relaxing at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida

This beach is known to be one of the best sunset destinations on the Gulf. The palms on the beach give it a tropical ambiance not found at many other Bay area beaches. Wildlife is abundant with dolphins, osprey, and eagles often making appearances. If you have time, take a stroll on the boardwalk trail where you will have the opportunity to explore natural Florida habitat and possibly see some wildlife.

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Amazing cinnamon bread and house coffee at Copenhagen Cafe in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Coffeecake and coffee: the perfect start to any morning!

Toula’s Trailside Cafe – No frills local café serving classic breakfast standards like pancakes, bagels, and omelets. Enjoy a quick affordable breakfast here before making your way to the beach.

Breakfast at Toula's Trailside Cafe in Tarpon Springs, Florida

Copenhagen Cafe – Charming European café hidden away from the main touristy sponge dock region of Tarpon. Serves excellent espresso and the most delicious pastries and sweets. Try the Chocolate Blueberry crepe!

Delicious Americano and Chocolate Crepe at Copenhagen Cafe in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Copenhagen serves the best crepes in the Tampa region!

Local lunch gems

Nice ambiance at Hellas Greek restaurant in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Hellas offers a perfect touristy setting with colorful Greek art work adorning the walls

While in Tarpon, you will definitely want to try out a Greek restaurant. As the small city is the “Greek capital of the US” (more than 1 out of 10 residents claim Greek ancestry), there is no shortage of excellent authentic cafes and bakeries in the area. A big Greek salad is the perfect treat on a hot summer day in Florida, so cool and refreshing, yet also filling.

Hellas – The most touristy Greek restaurant. The dining room here is beautifully designed. Food is average, although they do make the best authentic Greek desserts in town (try the Baklava cheesecake). The Chicken souvlaki and spanakopita are both decent enough, although the Greek salad is a bit disappointing.

Spanakopita and Greek salad at Hellas restaurant in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Spanakopita, served with rice, potatoes, and veggie of the day. Greek salad for an extra fee

Mr Souvlaki – Local gem known for serving the best Greek salad in town. Not much in the way of ambiance, however, the food is pretty good. Serves the best spanakopita in town.

Greek salad at Mr Souvlaki in Tarpon Springs, Florida

Bread and Butter Deli – Wonderful local Greek & Middle Eastern deli located away from the tourist clutter. Try the Salad Sampler (pick 5 amongst 20 enticing options) or the Turkey Dinner special (they carve a fresh 30 lb turkey daily). Delicious falafel, Greek salad, dolmades, spanakopita, tabouli, and 8 homemade soups amongst the fresh offerings.

Salad sampler and falafel at Bread and Butter Deli in Tarpon Springs, Florida

More fun in the vicinity

Sponge docks – Tarpon is nicknamed “the sponge capital of the world,” as more than 90% of sea sponges are harvested here. Take a walk along the waterfront where you will see docked sponge boats. Don’t leave without picking up a sponge or 2 to bring home with you. Lots of great Greek food in this area as well.

Natural sea sponges in Tarpon Springs, Florida

A L Anderson Park – Beautiful local park with lots of shade. Perfect place to escape the crowds for a little nature walk. Features a boardwalk trail, nature trails, and a great overlook of Lake Tarpon. Lots of gator sightings here, esp during the early summer & winter season!

Tranquil views of Lake Tarpon at A L Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida

Dolphin Adventure cruise – This 2 hr narrated cruise offers plenty of chances to see dolphins, plus a stop at beautiful remote Anclote Island. On this fun & affordable cruise, you will learn more about Tarpon’s sponge industry, see lots of dolphins, and collect tons of sea shells.

Dolphin sightings in Tarpon Springs, Florida

4. Clearwater Beach – “Sugar Smooth Sand”

Soft white sand at Clearwater Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
  • Best for: Swimming, festivals, touristy cruises, walks on the beach, watersport rentals
  • Beach parking : Parking starts at $3 per hr. More info on Beach parking
  • Where to stay: Opal Sands

The beautiful white sands and clear water draw millions of tourists each year to Clearwater Beach. This beach is world famous for its’ sugar smooth sand, which is comprised almost entirely of quartz. As you toss off your flip flops, you will notice a pleasing absence of hard seashells. Also the sand is cool to the touch so you don’t have to run immediately run to the water. Clearwater, a frequented recipient of “best of” awards, was ranked number 1 beach in America by Trip Advisor in 2019.

A beautiful sunset destination despite the crowds!

Besides offering 2.5 miles of the smoothest sand on the Gulf, Clearwater is a prime entertainment destination. So many cruise lines, restaurants, resorts, and shops can be found in the area. If you are looking for all day action and excitement, this is definitely the place to be. Rent a paddleboard, book a sunset or party cruise, try parasailing, take a stroll along the pier, dine at a waterfront restaurant – there’s plenty to do. Also be on the lookout for the free Pier 60 festival featuring movies on the beach.

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Clear Sky Cafe – Popular local breakfast joint which sees huge crowds most weekends. Get here early to avoid a wait! The menu is huge, incorporating options for those with a savory (quiche, omelets, skillets, bennies) or sweet tooth (crepes, waffles, French toast). Try a delicious veggie skillet along with their house coffee – no need to resort to a chain!

Veggie skillet at Clear Sky Cafe in Clearwater Beach, Florida
A delicious veggie skillet with rye toast

Ryan’s Island Cafe – Beach themed eatery featuring a menu of American favorites for breakfast and lunch. Their Vegetarian Hash Browns plate is unique & delicious. Also, they serve the most delicious coffee near the beach!

Vegetarian hash browns at Ryan's Island Cafe in Clearwater Beach, Florida
Vegetarian hash browns featuring sautéed veggies and potatoes with a chili seasoning

Where to enjoy a local lunch

Salty’s – Beach favorite popular with tourists due to its’ convenient location (walkable to the beach), frozen drinks, variety of seafood choices, and scenic outdoor deck. Take a seat outside and enjoy a few fun appetizers (lots of seafood selections and the nachos are great!), tacos (try the Fried avocado), a fresh salad, fresh seafood, or a Grouper sandwich.

Fried avocado tacos with a side of broccoli at Salty's in Clearwater, Florida
Fried avocado tacos with a side of broccoli and french fries

Marina Cantina – Upscale Mexican restaurant overlooking the water. Great views and super convenient as it is located right across the street from the beach. Enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and tortas are amongst the tasty options available. They also serve a delicious weekend brunch menu – try the Huevos Rancheros!

Torta at Marina Cantina in Clearwater, Florida

More fun in the vicinity

Mega bite tour boat in Clearwater, Florida
Shark themed boat rides are amongst the quirky tourist activities

Sunset Tropics Cruise – Scenic evening sightseeing cruise tour around the Gulf. Free champagne toast for guests over 21. A great way to learn more about the area, while also taking in a bit of sightseeing.

Sunset Tropics cruise in Clearwater, Florida
Great view of Clearwater’s small skyline. Gorgeous sunset destination!

Ice skating at Westfield Countryside – If you need an escape from the heat, nothing says cool down quite like ice skating. While it will never match the ambiance of a real outdoor rink, skating indoors at this real rink at WestField is about as close to the real thing as you can get in Florida.

Ice skating at Westfield Countryside in Clearwater, Florida
A bit pricey ($19 pp), but a fun way to get into the winter/holiday spirit!

Moccasin Lake nature park – Escape the beach crowds in favor of a relaxing trek into the Florida wilderness at this prime gator watching destination.

Shady boardwalk nature trail at Moccasin Lake Park in Clearwater, Florida

5. Pass-a-Grille – “Old Florida style”

Quiet Pass-A-Grille Beach in St. Pete, Florida
  • Best for: Relaxation, scenic views, fishing
  • Beach parking: Meters start at $3.25 hr, Free parking long 8th Avenue
  • Where to stay: Inn on the Beach

Pass-a-Grille is one of the Gulf’s most charming beach destinations. This beach is located on the southern end of touristy St. Pete beach. While this stretch of sand is much narrower and lacks touristy commercialization, the vibe is enjoyably old-school. If you are looking to lay out in quiet surroundings, then this is the beach destination for you.

White sands and crystal water at Pass-A-Grille beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
One of the most gorgeous destinations on Florida’s Gulf

From here, you can also visit another popular destination: Shell Key preserve. Consider taking the Shell Key Shuttle over to this quiet barrier island. The preserve is most known as a shelling and birding hotspot. Also, beach umbrellas and snorkels are included, so really it’s a great deal at just $25 roundtrip.

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Excellent mocha and Americano at Chill St. Pete Beach
Chill serves the best espresso drinks in the area. Amazing mocha!

Chill – New American restaurant which serves excellent coffee and food. Try the Vegan Hash or the Mixed Berry crepes with brie. Definitely the best breakfast destination near the St Pete beaches.

A delicious filling veggie hash will give you plenty of energy for a beach walk

Cafe Soleil – Quaint local French bistro serving coffee and espresso (they serve Kahwa a popular local roaster), quiche, toasted croissant sandwiches, and a decadent array of homemade pastries. The ambiance is charming and the service friendly.

Americano and lemon tart at Cafe Soleil in St. Pete Beach, Florida
Try the amazing lemon tart, along with an Americano

Local lunch gems

The impressive saltwater tank is loaded with colorful fish

Rumfish Grill – Popular seafood restaurant featuring a massive 33,500 gallon salt tank. Every seat has a fantastic view as the aquarium takes up the entire wall! You may have seen this tank featured on Animal Planet’s Tanked.

Massive aquarium at Rumfish Grill in St. Pete Beach, Florida
Dining next to a colorful aquarium in a dark cool setting is the perfect way to beat the afternoon heat!

Vito & Michael’s Pizzeria – Super casual Italian restaurant which serves an assortment of fantastic lunch specials (includes complimentary salad & bread) for under 10 bucks. Great place to kick back with some comfort food after a long day in the sun. The Eggplant Parmesan is amazing!

Eggplant Parmesan at Vito & Michael's Pizzeria in St. Pete Beach, Florida

Skidder’s – Local & tourist favorite for Greek and Italian fare. Try a refreshing Greek salad, a hearty pasta entrée, comforting specialty pizza, or a broiled or fried seafood dish. The ambiance is very casual, so this is a great place to enjoy a laidback lunch before or after your day at the beach.

Greek salad at Skidder's in St. Pete Beach, Florida

More fun in the vicinity

Beautiful Fort deSoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida
Take a quick drive over to Fort deSoto to enjoy some of the Bay’s top rated beaches

Boyd Hill Nature preserve – Take a narrated tram tour around the grounds of one of the Gulf’s prettiest parks. You will get to enjoy various Florida ecosystems, plus see lots of wildlife including gators and armadillos.

Pretty Spanish moss tree at Boyd Hill Nature preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Fort deSoto Park – Popular tourist park made up of 5 interconnected islands. You will find lots of attractions here including top rated white sand beaches, a 7 mile bike path, nature trails, and more.

Beach at Fort DeSoto Park near St. Petersburg, Florida

Corey Ave Sunday Market – Open air market featuring over 50 vendors. Shop for local produce, artwork, jewelry, and more. Walkable to great restaurants and cafes.

6. Treasure Island – “Sports Lovers Haven”

Volleyball nets on Treasure Island Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
  • Best for: Beach volleyball, water sports, sunbathing, fantastic scenery
  • Beach parking: $2.50 per hour for meters, Free parking along Wesley Drive (arrive early)
  • Where to stay: Treasure Island Beach resort

One of the only beaches on the Gulf where you can engage in a classic fun-in-the-sun beach volleyball game is Treasure Island. This wide sandy beach offers plenty of sand for all sorts of beach sports. Back in the day, a Treasure Island hotel owner buried and “discovered” treasure on the beach. This drew many tourists to the area, and thus, the beach was eventually nicknamed Treasure Island.

Treasure Island beach on Florida's Gulf Coast

Today, it’s not the legend of buried treasure which draws visitors, but rather the 3 miles of wide sandy white beaches. Active types will love parasailing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and playing v-ball at this Gulf gem. The beach is also famous for being home to Gators, “the world’s longest waterfront bar.” There’s also a giant inflatable water slide – you can’t miss it!

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Las Casa del Pane – Authentic Italian bakery featuring assorted pastries and desserts, plus a full coffee and espresso menu. Try the Sfogliatella with an Americano.

Coffee and pastries at Las Casa del Pane in St. Pete Beach, Florida
Homemade pastries and great coffee!

Grove Surf and Coffee – Unique surf retail shop which also offers a full coffee menu. Their espresso is excellent and they also offer unique seasonal lattes. Treats include coffee cake and a bagel bun stuffed with cream cheese.

Americano and stuffed bagel bite at Grove Surf and Coffee in St. Pete Beach, Florida
This bagel bite is a bit unusual, yet delicious!

Local lunch gems

Barracuda deli Cafe – Casual Caribbean Mexican fusion café known for serving the best Cubans in the area. For anyone seeking something really fresh, their Barracuda veggie bowls are totally delicious.

Veggie bowl at Barracuda Deli Cafe in St. Pete Beach, Florida

Original Pizza – Low key local counter service pizza joint serving specialty pizza, hoagies, Stromboli, calzones, pasta dishes, and muffulettas. Pizza is decent enough to warrant a visit, although seating is limited.

Original Pizza in Treasure Island, Florida
Cheese pizza and a vegetarian stromboli

More fun in the vicinity

St John's Pass boardwalk in Madeira Beach, Florida
Take a stroll around Johns Pass, home to many touristy restaurants, shops, & attractions

Treasure Island Family Fun Center – The largest arcade in Pinellas County offers hours of gaming fun for families. Escape the heat for a few hours with the largest selection of arcade and ticket redemption style games in the region.

Games at Treasure Island Family Fun Center
Test your hand at arcade basketball, Skeeball, pinball, and other faves at this large arcade

Lori’s Soaps and Sponges – Pick up a natural sea sponge for bathing or cleaning. Sponges come from nearby Tarpon Springs, “the sponge capital of the world.” Lots of cute gift sets. Located on St. Johns Boardwalk.

Natural sea sponges at Lori's Soaps and Sponges in Madeira Beach, Florida
Sponges of every shape and size!

7. Honeymoon Island – “The one that offers it all”

Amazing sunset at Honeymoon Island state Park in Dunedin, Florida
Gorgeous sunset destination
  • Best for: Hiking, swimming, sunsets, smooth white sand, wildlife watching, dog friendly beaches
  • Beach parking: $8 per car (1 Causeway Blvd Dunedin)
  • Where to stay: Fenway Hotel

Honeymoon Island is a favorite amongst both locals and tourists. On any given weekend, you can expect a line to get into this beautiful park. Although entrance is quite pricey (8 bucks a car), it’s worth it for a full day of fun-the-sun. Besides 4 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches and ideal swimming conditions, the highlight here is the beautiful 3 mile Osprey trail.

Nature trail at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida

Spend some time away from the beaches in favor of exploring one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests in Florida. On the trail, you may see gopher tortoises, osprey and eagle nests, and lots of hermit crabs.

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

The Sandpiper Cafe in Dunedin, Florida
The quaint Sandpiper Cafe in downtown Dunedin

Sandpiper Cafe – Cute local café in downtown Dunedin. Features whimsical beachy décor inside and a cute shady patio out back. Serves excellent coffee and pastries along with a full breakfast menu. A bit overpriced, but worth it for the cute ambiance.

Veggie skillet and house coffee at the Sandpiper Cafe in Dunedin, Florida
Veggie skillet and a house coffee. Tasty, although a bit overpriced

Dunedin Coffee Company – Local coffeehouse favorite which serves delicious coffee, quiche, and homemade pastries in a low-key local setting.

House coffee and veggie quiche at Dunedin Coffee Company on Florida's Gulf Coast

Ohana Cafe – Laid-back Hawaiian cafe which serves healthy organic breakfast and lunch fare. Serves the best pancakes in town, including a rare GF vegan option. Awesome smoothies and acai bowls!

Amazing plant based pancakes at Ohana Cafe in Dunedin, Florida
Best pancakes in Pinellas, hands down!

Local lunch gems

Pretty patio at the Living Room on Main in Dunedin, Florida
Most restaurants in downtown Dunedin offer cozy outdoor patios

The Living Room on Main – International favorite with an eclectic menu sure to please everyone. Features include unique décor inside and a great patio for the cooler season!

Quinoa salad at The Living Room on Main in Dunedin, Florida
A delicious quinoa salad

Clear Sky Draught House – Popular local restaurant/pub which serves a diverse menu of American comfort favorites. Highlights include awesome burritos, lots of drink specials, fun apps, and a delicious create-your-own mac and cheese option.

Amazing burrito at Clear Sky Draught House in Dunedin, Florida
Best burritos in Pinellas!

More fun in the vicinity

Hammock Park – Local park with several short nature trails, a disc golf course, picnicking facilities, and a butterfly garden. Great place to get back to nature for a bit during the cooler season (beware – there is not much shade here!).

Boardwalk nature trail at Hammock Park in Dunedin, Florida

Dunedin Main Street – Charming downtown area lined with shady trees. You will find a number of local cafes, boutique shops, and art galleries here. Cork and Beans is a wonderful local wine/coffee bar. Also, be sure to stop by the Beatles museum if you are a fan!

Delicious house coffee and Americano at Cork and Beans in downtown Dunedin, Florida
Stop by Cork and Beans for a relaxing Americano or glass of wine

Edgewater Park – Quiet park near the waterfront. Great place to take a short stroll and enjoy the exotic bird life.

Pelican at Edgewater Park in Dunedin, Florida

8. Sand Key – “A shelling oasis”

Seashells at Sand Key Beach in Clearwater, Florida
Great place to spend the morning hunting for treasures to take home!
  • Best for: Beachcombing, scenic views, picnics, avoiding crowds
  • Beach parking: $5 for the day (1060 Gulf Blvd Clearwater)
  • Where to stay: Sandpearl Resort

Sand Key is the beachcombing oasis of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Almost the entirety of the beach is loaded with colorful shells. Unfortunately, this means the sand isn’t as soft and smooth to the touch as that found in neighboring Clearwater. However, you get the benefit of going home with a big bag of beautiful shells. You may find a coveted sand dollar here (note-do not take if alive!). Another bonus is the lack of tourist crowds and the gorgeous views of the cityscape.

Pretty views at Sand Key Park in Clearwater, Florida

Bonus – there is a nice little picnicking area by the parking lot. During the milder season, skip the pricey tourist restaurants in favor of a nice quiet lunch accompanied by a scenic view! Other amenities include restrooms, nature trails, a dog park, and umbrella/kayak rentals.

Best breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Southie Coffee – Funky local coffeehouse serving excellent coffee and pastries. Plenty of vegan options including an amazing black bean empanada and tasty muffins. Located a few miles off the causeway, but worth the drive!

House coffee and black bean empanada at Southie Coffee in Clearwater, Florida
Southie’s empanadas are delicious – vegan and meat available!

Belleair Coffee Company – This 4th wave local roaster is located about 5 miles away, but well worth the trek for the top knotch coffee and food. They easily serve the most amazing coffee/espresso drinks in Tampa. Try the overnight oats or quiche of the day along with your cup of joe.

Amazing food and coffee at Belleair Coffee Company in Largo, Florida

Local lunch gems

Waterfront dining at Columbia Sand Key

Columbia – Tampa’s most popular Cuban/Spanish restaurant opened in 1905 in Ybor City as Florida’s oldest restaurant. Today, locations are found throughout the metro. The Sand Key restaurant is particularly attractive as the dining room faces the water. Take a seat on the breezy waterfront patio and enjoy Cuban black bean soup, paella, and black bean cakes.

Delicious black bean soup at Columbia restaurant in Clearwater, Florida
The black bean soup is amazing!

Good Vibes Juice Co. – Go healthy with a fresh smoothie, acai bowl, or juice drink. After a long day in the hot Florida sunshine, a refreshing cool treat is oftentimes more satisfying than a hefty lunch.

Acai bowl at Good Vibes Juice Co. in Largo, Florida

More fun in the vicinity

Pinellas Trail – Beautiful 50 mile rail trail running from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. Rated one of the country’s best rail trails for its’ flat terrain, easy access to numerous attractions, and many access points. See the Pinellas map to plan your adventure.

Pinellas Trail in Florida
For a long bike ride or run, there is no better option in the Tampa metro

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise – Fun themed cruise which departs in Clearwater Beach. Soak up the sun, enjoy the view, look out for dolphins, and take part in all sorts of pirate adventures on this lively cruise.

Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise in Tampa, Florida

Merry Mouse of Sand Key – Great gift shop offering an incredible assortment of souvenirs, plus custom t shirts.

9. North Redington Beach – “Hidden gem of the Gulf”

Quiet day on North Redington Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast
No crowds in sight on a beautiful morning
  • Best for: Quiet walks on the beach, relaxation, uninterrupted natural beauty
  • Beach parking: Meters located along 18200 Gulf Blvd
  • Where to stay: Hotel Sol

Best Breakfast/coffeehouse near the beach

Tropical patio at Sweet Sage's Cafe in North Redington Beach, Florida
Sweet Sage offers the perfect laidback tropical beach vibe!

Sweet Sage Cafe – Laid-back American cafe serving comfort style breakfast and lunch fare. Fun tropical themed outdoor patio. Highlights include Apple Crisp French toast, Quiche, crepes, and specialty Benedicts.

Breakfast at Sweet Sage Cafe in North Redington Beach, Florida

Gypsy Souls Coffeehouse – Waterfront coffeeshop with a cozy outdoor seating area. Also serves light breakfast fare (smoothies, bagels, pastries, etc).

Local lunch gems

Spanakopita lunch special at Greek Village restaurant in Seminole, Florida

Bay 1 Sandwich Company – Simple no frills counter service sandwich shop known for their delicious sandwiches, Cuban dishes, and ice cream! Great quick stop after hitting the beach.

Bay 1 sandwich company in Indian Shores, Florida
Best sandwiches near Indian Rocks/North Redington beaches!

Greek Village restaurant – Authentic local Greek cafe located just a few miles from the beach in a low-key strip plaza. The fantastic lunch specials come with pita, tzatziki, and a Greek salad. Try the cheese/spinach pie combo.

Cheese pie lunch combo at Greek Village restaurant in Seminole, Florida

Seabreeze Island Grill – Quaint seafood eatery overlooking the waterfront. Known for their Grouper sandwiches and nuggets. Try their early bird special (11-5) which includes an entrée, pineapple coconut bread, a side, and a slice of cheesecake for just 13 bucks.

Smothered Key West lunch special at Seabreeze Island Grill in Redington Shores, Florida

More fun in the vicinity

Lake Seminole Park – Gorgeous shady park with a 2 mile biking/walking path. Other amenities include a huge playground, softball fields & volleyball courts, and gorgeous views of the lake. Parking is free.

Shady bike trail at Lake Seminole Park in Largo, Florida
The shadiest bike trail near the beach

Studio Movie Grill – Dine in movie theater serving a full menu of apps, entrees, desserts, and specialty drinks. Order before the movie or via your comfy seat.

Studio Movie Grill dine-in theater in Seminole, Florida

Boca Ciega Millennium Park – Quiet park with a short boardwalk trail and an observation point looking over the Bay. Prime place to birdwatch and enjoy a variety of natural Florida habitats.

Beautiful Boca Ciega Millennium Park
Gorgeous overview of the park via the observation deck

Also be sure to take a look at my handy Florida beach day guide.