Why waste away the summer on the couch? Avoid the monotony by checking out some of Tampa Bay's coolest sights. We've compiled a list of our favorite local landmarks, from metropolitan museums to hidden beaches. Whether you want to explore the coast, wander through wilderness or experience a downtown vibe, we've got the perfect itinerary planned. Grab some friends and let your stay-cation begin!
m Weeki Wachee: A Florida classic since 1947, no staycation is complete without a trip to Weeki Wachee Springs. Watch the iconic Weeki Wachee mermaids perform, swim in the spring at Buccaneer Bay or rent a kayak or canoe. $13 (Not including food or rentals). For more information, weekiwachee.com.
Caladesi Island: Accessible only by ferry, a day trip to this remote island feels like a tropical getaway. Spend the day collecting shells, enjoying the water and exploring the shore. Be sure to pack a picnic and a camera. The ferry departs from Honeymoon Island daily beginning at 10:30. The last boat leaves Honeymoon at 4:30. $14. For more information, tampabay.com/things-to-do/destination-detail/caladesi-island-state-park.
Fort De Soto Park: Located in southern Pinellas County, Fort De Soto Park offers fishing, swimming, boating and hiking. Explore the miles of pristine coastline or wander through historic Fort De Soto. If you want to prolong your stay, camping sites are available for an additional fee. $5. For more information, pinellascounty.org/park/05_ft_desoto.htm.
Tarpon Springs sponge docks: Spend a day on the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs, once the international leader in sponge cultivation. Wander through quaint souvenir stores and sample authentic Greek food at one of the area's many restaurants. Go on a "Sponge Cruise" to learn more about the sponge industry or check out the Tarpon Springs aquarium. Prices vary. For more information, spongedocks.net.
Downtown Tampa: Looking for an urban escape? Downtown Tampa offers a plethora of parks, museums, restaurants and attractions. Check out the Florida Photography Museum on Ashley Street ($10), enjoy beautiful Curtis Hixon Park or catch a flick at Tampa Theatre. Walk or bike along the newly opened Tampa Riverwalk or grab pizza at Eddie & Sam's NY Pizza, a downtown institution. Offering some of the best Mexican cuisine around, Taco Bus is also a can't-miss. Parking is available on several streets (pay at the meter) or in one of the many parking garages. For more information, tampasdowntown.com.
Downtown St. Pete: Downtown St. Petersburg also makes a wonderful day trip. Start the day off with coffee at Locale Market or head to the Dali Museum to view some of the surrealist's most famous works. The Museum of Fine Arts also boasts several impressive exhibits. Stop for ice cream at Kilwin's or pack a picnic and eat beside the water. The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club provides hours of entertainment. After a day of sightseeing, watch a concert at Jannus Live, one of Tampa Bay's top concert hubs. For more information, discoverdowntown.com.