Top Ten Lists

Southern Pinellas County

Southern Pinellas County is the more populated and touristy section of Florida's most dense county, and home to many popular travel destinations such as St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

The area is very hectic with lots of traffic, malls, and endless apartment complexes. Despite the overly congested surroundings, there are still a few fantastic well-known beaches to visit and a few unique little gems to explore.

Featured below are 10 fantastic beaches, parks, and attractions to check out on your next visit to Southern Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Madeira Beach, Pinellas Park, Seminole, and Treasure Island). Enjoy the list and be sure to incorporate an activity or 2 into your next Gulf coast vacation!
  • 1. Spend the day relaxing at Fort De Soto Park
    Spend the day relaxing at Fort De Soto Park
    3500 Pinellas Bayway S, , 33715
    Fort De Soto is home to some of the prettiest beaches in the Tampa Bay area. Although the smooth, sandy beaches are wonderful, the highlight of the park is a 6 and a half mile recreational path. As you stroll or bike along, you'll have the opportunity to take in the peaceful natural views of the area. There are no businesses in sight, just pure Florida nature. The flat and fast path is easy enough for the beginning cyclist and a great choice for those who are looking for a long weekend walk or training for a 10k or half marathon.

    Additional activities at Fort DeSoto include kayaking, picnicking and taking in the beautiful panoramic views via numerous scenic overlooks. Don't forget to pack a picnic lunch. Fort De Soto is a beautiful, quiet place to enjoy lunch in natural surroundings.

    Overall, Fort De Soto is the perfect day escape from the city.
  • 2. Explore lush tropical plants at Sunken Gardens
    Explore lush tropical plants at Sunken Gardens
    1825 4th St. N., , 33704
    If you are looking for an hour or 2 of quiet, head straight over to Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg. The garden also holds some historical significance as it is over 100 years old and home to many of the oldest plants in the area.

    On first glance from the highway, Sunken Gardens doesn't look like much. However, once entering the gardens, you will be transformed into a mini tropical oasis. Hidden away amongst the congestion lies a beautifully landscaped collection of palm trees from around the world, gorgeous waterfalls, Koi ponds, and exotic birds.

    On an interesting side note, the Sunken name comes from the fact that the gardens are 10 feet below sea level (in the early 1900's, a lake was drained to form the beautiful space that exists today).
  • 3. Hike the nature trails at Weedon Island Preserve
    Hike the nature trails at Weedon Island Preserve
    1800 Weedon Drive NE, , 33702
    St. Petersburg is definitely home to some of the most beautiful parks in Pinellas County, which is surprising considering the urban nature of the area. Weedon Island Preserve offers some of the best wildlife watching & hiking trails in the area.

    The must see sight here is a 45 foot tower which overlooks the preserve and Tampa Bay. The views of the bay are just stunning - you will want to pack your camera! The nature trails are beautiful as well and often bustling with wildlife.

    Weedon is a quiet place which sees much less visitors than it should due to the immense popularity of beaches and restaurants in the area. Skip these in favor of this natural beauty; you will leave much more relaxed than you ever would at a noisy beach.
  • 4. Enjoy the soft, smooth white sands of Clearwater Beach
    Enjoy the soft, smooth white sands of Clearwater Beach
    1 Causeway Blvd, , 33767
    A visit to the Tampa Bay area wouldn't be complete without stopping by for a visit at Clearwater, famous for its' ultra fine smooth white sand, beautiful pier, and clear warm waters.

    This is one of the wider beaches in the area, making it perfect for those looking for a day of sports and exercise. It has more of a California vibe with live nightly entertainment, sand volleyball courts, and a boardwalk path. There are plenty of activities to enjoy here including dolphin cruises, watersports, and the Yacht Starship dining cruises. Numerous hotels and restaurants surround the beach, so you will have no trouble finding a place to eat.

    This is one of the most popular beaches in the area, so visit on a weekday if you are looking for more of a relaxing experience, as well as ease of finding parking.
  • 5. Relax at Pass-a-Grille Beach
    Relax at Pass-a-Grille Beach
    22nd Avenue, , 33706
    A more laid-back St. Pete beach option is Pass-A-Grille. This beach is more popular with locals than tourists, therefore, making it more suited for those looking to be a beach bum for the day. The space is not as wide as St. Pete Beach, however, the views are very relaxing and the beach combing is great. No major commercialization surrounds the beach, leading to a much more relaxed vibe.

    From the beach you can walk to the historic Pass-A-Grill neighborhood and enjoy local shops and restaurants. Vida de Cafe is a great choice for health conscious diners looking for gluten-free & vegan options.
  • 6. Dine waterside at Columbia Sand Key
    Dine waterside at Columbia Sand Key
    1241 Gulf Blvd, , 33767
    It's no wonder that Columbia Sand Key has been rated one of the most scenic restaurants in the country. With a patio overlooking the beautiful Gulf Coast, there are few places that compare. Columbia, the oldest and biggest Spanish restaurant in the country, has several locations throughout the Bay including the original 1905 destination in historic Ybor City.

    Asides from the great views, you will also get to enjoy wonderful Spanish and Cuban cuisine. In addition to savoring a delicious plate of paella, do treat yourself to a bowl of the fabulous Cuban Black Bean soup!

    After lunch, head over to Sand Key State Park for amazing shelling! This beach is loaded to the brim with colorful seashells and much quieter than neighboring Clearwater!
  • 7. Take a narrated tram ride around Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
    Take a narrated tram ride around Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
    1101 Country Club Way South, , 33705
    If you are interested in seeing alligators & lots of diverse plants and trees, as well as getting in a bit of exercise in the form of hiking, then head right over to Boyd Hill Nature Center in St. Petersburg.

    In addition to a variety of fantastic hiking trails which take you through many different diverse landscapes (marsh, pine flatwoods, sand scrub, lake, swamps, and hardwood hammocks), Boyd Hill offers a wonderful narrated tram ride and a great interpretive center. The staff will provide you with a great overview of the many plants and animals which call Boyd Hill home. You can even hold a tarantula!
  • 8. Take a scenic dolphin cruise at Madeira Beach & enjoy fun dining & shops at John's Pass Village and Boardwalk
    Take a scenic dolphin cruise at Madeira Beach & enjoy fun dining & shops at John's Pass Village and Boardwalk
    170 Johns Pass Boardwalk, , 33708
    Madeira Beach is a scenic local gem which features soft sand, clean water, and great views. After relaxing a bit at the beach, head over to adjacent John's Pass Village and Boardwalk for dining, shopping, and entertainment. This lively destination features more than 100 restaurants, shops, and attractions.

    The Hubbard's Bay Marina dolphin cruise is an excellent educational & fun narrated ride with guaranteed sightings. Along the way, you will see many dolphins and enjoy gorgeous views of Boca Ciega Bay.

    In addition, a special pirate themed cruise is a perfect option for families. On this lively cruise, you will enjoy pirate themed on-board entertainment, great sunset views, and possible dolphin sightings.
  • 9. Enjoy the peace & quiet at Indian Rocks Beach
    Enjoy the peace & quiet at Indian Rocks Beach
    1700 Gulf Blvd, , 33785
    Indian Rocks Beach, located halfway between Clearwater and St. Petersburg, offers three miles of beautiful shoreline to take a morning jog or an evening sunset stroll. Or, simply grab your beach chair and good book and enjoy a day of listening to nothing but the waves.

    Swimming conditions are great as the water is clean and the big waves make the experience a bit more exciting than other area beaches. It's also a decent beach for beach combing. The sand is a bit rocky, however, this works to your advantage as you can find plenty of unique shells to take home as souvenirs.
  • 10. Have some fun in the sun at Treasure Island Beach
    Have some fun in the sun at Treasure Island Beach
    11260 Gulf Blvd., , 33706
    St. Pete Municipal Beach is a fun, wide, & scenic beach in Treasure Island. There are plenty of amenities like sand volleyball courts, a snack shop, and cabana rentals. The beach itself is very clean. Although the beach tends to get a bit crowded, it is very wide, so there is still plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the day! The mile long jogging/walking path which runs adjacent to the beach is a big bonus for those looking to get in an little exercise.