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Beach bliss

Tampa and Clearwater/St Pete - Best beaches in Florida

Clive Wedderburn August 13, 2015

Florida is famous for its family holiday theme-park fun in Orlando, also for its vibrant nightlife and long stretches of golden sand beaches. You could rush through several Sunshine State destinations to get your fill, or you could simply head to Tampa and St Pete/Clearwater for fabulous beaches and for all the above.

This region incorporates the buzzing city of Tampa and the beautiful beaches of St Pete/Clearwater with its 35 miles of award-winning white-sand beaches. So why not combine the destinations in a twin centre break? Here are our suggestions for doing just that.
Florida Family Holiday Fun
A great way to start a family trip to the Gulf Coast is with thrills at the world famous Busch Gardens Tampa. This unique theme park combines nature — a 65-acre Serengeti Plain where you can see hundreds of animals and hand-feed giraffes — and exhilarating rides. Try out SheiKra’s vertical drops, America’s tallest free-standing drop tower Falcon’s Fury or Cheetah Hunt, a triple-launch coaster and the longest ride in Busch Gardens theme park.
For an educational family day out, head to The Florida Aquarium in Downtown Tampa. The scale is vast: there are over 20,000 marine animals and plants to see at the Aquarium, including penguins, dolphins and sharks and there are educational shows also on offer. The kids can enjoy the water adventure zone and activities on offer also include diving with sharks for those aged 15 and over. The best way to see the top family attractions is with the Tampa Bay CityPASS.
Discover the city and beach
If you take a few steps away from the tourist trail, Downtown Tampa is also a great place for couples to explore. The locals here like to have a good time, which means there are plenty of restaurants, bars and outdoor activities to enjoy. There’s excellent food and wine in the region, a vibrant atmosphere in the SoHo district and Latin Quarter, while the short trip to the Bay will allow you to see dolphins, go fishing fish or enjoy a spot of canoeing — it’s as active or peaceful as you want it to be.
The beachside communities in and around St Pete/Clearwater are for those looking for a culture twist. St Pete is the cultural hub of central Florida; neighbourhoods are cosy and full of character, with galleries to explore and annual events such as Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Finish off a couple’s day on the Gulf Coast with a visit to one of St Petersburg’s vibrant cocktail bars or live music venues. There are hotspots scattered along the beachfront as well as Sundial in downtown St Petersburg, an open-air entertainment complex for dining, shopping and amusement.
Relax on a Florida Beach  
The best way to unwind after an exciting spell in Florida’s urban areas is by hitting the beach, and you’ll be tickled pink with the choice available — St Pete/Clearwater has previously been voted USA’s best beach destination and is the only area with two beaches in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 in the country. There are 35 miles of golden beaches and you can be there in just half an hour from Tampa.If it’s immaculate sand and turquoise sea you’re looking for then look no further; Clearwater has the softest, whitest sand imaginable so comfort and tranquillity is simple to find here.
St Pete Beach averages just the 361 days of sunshine a year! This means you’ll always have plenty of time to explore all the beaches along this gorgeous stretch, such as laidback Pass-A-Grille on the southernmost end. Here you can browse the outdoor market or enjoy an ice-cream walking along this idyllic stretch of sand.
Family holidays in Florida
Families can also enjoy some more up-tempo activities on the sand and land, such as volleyball and biking. Bike, jog or rollerblade along the scenic Pinellas Trail that provides access points to nearly every community in St Pete/Clearwater. Or in the water along this whole stretch of the Gulf Coast there’s every water sport under the sun — quite literally. Have a go at Jetlev and fly up to 30 feet above the water with a futuristic jetpack strapped to your back! So by twinning the busy city of Tampa with the glorious Gulf Coast you can have the best of both worlds, without the hassle of moving around!
For further inspiration and details and to find out what else the Sunshine State has to offer visit our Florida pages.