Nestled on Florida's gulf coast, the Tampa/St. Petersburg area is one of Florida's most scenic areas - and it isn't overrun with tourists, like some of the Sunshine State's other regions.
Tampa/St Petersburg is made up of two districts, a cultural area that is centred around the bay and the laid back, but pricey, beachfront, which is made up of a sequence of barrier islands facing the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the convention hotels within the Tampa Bay Area also double as family friendly resorts and take advantage of the nearby golf courses, tennis courts, spas, marinas and beaches.
Top Tampa/St Petersburg Attractions
If you want to get a taste of the area's history, head to Ybor City. Developed by Spanish and Cuban immigrants back in the 1800's, the neighborhood still has a very Latin feel today. It is one of the best places in America to get fine Cuban and Spanish food. And, there are even factories there that you can tour, where people roll cigars by hand!
The Sunken Gardens are a 100 years old botanical paradise. Visitors can explore the koi ponds and cascading waterfalls and walk through exotic gardens and a butterfly house. Over 50,000 tropical flowers and plants thrive amid the palm trees.
The Bayshore Boulevard Trail is an 8.6 mile downtown trail with spectacular views.
Solomon's Castle is a 12,000 sq ft castle made of aluminium printing plates. Odd sculptures include a knight made from VW parts and an elephant made out of oil drums.
Of course, no trip to Florida would be complete without spending some time at the beach. Indian Rocks Beach is one of the favorites in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Developed as its own separate city, Indian Rocks Beach offers more than just sun and sand; there's also a complete nature preserve!
While you're near the water, be on the lookout for manatees. These gentle sea creatures might be endangered, but there are lots of them living up and down the Tampa/St. Petersburg coast. There are even manatee-watching tours you can take to see these animals in action.
The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is a non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing, recuperating and releasing sick or injured birds. When birds, such as pelicans, become entangled in fishing lines the locals sometimes bring them through to the sanctuary. At any one time there could be hundreds of sea and land birds at the sanctuary, including cormorants, owls, hawks, sandhill cranes, terns, gulls, herons and egrets.
If you're looking for something more adventurous, head to Busch Gardens. Created by Anheuser-Busch - the same company that developed Budweiser and Michelob - Busch Gardens offers thrill rides and rollercoaster for the kids and freshly-brewed beer for the adults.
Tampa/St Petersburg Accommodation
Tampa/St Petersburg accommodation includes several city-side and beachfront hotels. They may be international chain resort hotels or locally owned and operated private establishments. Peak time for tourists and rates is typically March to April, at spring break. Inland hotels can be found that are a short drive from the city or the beaches. Other beachfront neighbourhoods also have their own hotel and motel areas, including cheap hotels in Tampa/St Petersburg. Some of the best known are located in John's Pass, Redington Shores, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Sand Key and St Pete Beach.
There are countless hotels in Tampa/St. Petersburg to choose from, but if you are looking for something away from the hustle and bustle, head over to Clearwater. Located just west of St. Petersburg, Clearwater offers accommodations that are a little bit cheaper - but still close enough so that you can have easy access to all of the action in Tampa and St. Petersburg.