Oh, how the world has changed in the last week. This was supposed to be the week of the PGA’s Valspar Championship, the first round of the NCCA men’s basketball tournament and so many other events that have now been canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. With the kids on spring break and the weather so beautiful, what options remain for us? Here are some of our recommendations for getting some fresh air and releasing stress without putting yourself at risk.
Though the gallery is closed, Florida CraftArt says it will continue to host its Mural Tours, which are done on foot or on bicycle. In the past few years, more than 30 murals have popped up all over St. Petersburg, and the CraftArt tour offers visitors some of the interesting stories behind the artists who created them in a four-block tour. The Saturday morning walking tours are from 10-11:30 a.m. ($19 for adults, $11 for children ages 6-18, free for children under 5). The first Saturday of every month, you can pay $25 for a tour using Coast Bike Share. You can save $5 if you bring your own bike. Check the gallery’s website to sign up at floridacraftart.org.
Even if the gallery calls off its tours, you could take one on your own by biking or driving around the city. Visit St. Pete Clearwater put a master list of the city’s murals on its website; you can view it here.
HIT THE TRAIL
It is just about the prettiest time of the year, so take this time to explore the many parks and waterways in the area. Most are free or low-cost to visit. You can also find some solitary pursuits away from the maddening crowds by inline skating, biking or kayaking.
Coast Bike Share has several bike rental locations in downtown St. Petersburg and in Tampa along the Riverwalk. You can get the app and find a map of bike locations at coastbikeshare.com. The bikes cost about $8 an hour to rent. Just be sure to bring some disinfecting wipes for the seat and all surfaces.
Here are some of our favorite Tampa Bay trails.
Palm Harbor to Tarpon Springs via the Pinellas Trail: If riding a bike from downtown Palm Harbor, you will pass Sutherland Bayou and Wall Springs Park under Alt. U.S. 19 via a tunnel. If you keep heading north, you’ll be in downtown Tarpon Springs. If you continue north, you can jump off the trail and head west along Live Oak Street, which becomes Dodecanese Boulevard, home to the historic Sponge Docks.
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Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail: One of the prettiest bike and pedestrian trails is a safe route on the bridge that connects Tampa and Clearwater. Start at Ben T. Davis Beach and enjoy the dedicated bike and pedestrian bridge that spans the boating channel on the Tampa side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. It’s a low-gear pedal to reach the top, where you can duck into pullouts for spectacular views reaching as far as downtown St. Petersburg. Then it’s a pedal-free thrill ride all the way down the other side.
Upper Tampa Bay Trail: Get out some inline skates and take a spin on the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, which leads to the Suncoast Trail. Good portions of this trail are made in the shade. The main trailhead is at 9201 W Waters Ave., where you’ll find the park office, restrooms, lots of benches and a water cooler. Parking costs $2 and there is a pay station. The majority of the trail is to the north. There are several trailheads with parking, and there are benches and restrooms at most of them. If your ultimate destination is the Suncoast Trail, consider parking in the lot at 7020 Lutz Lake Fern Road (again, $2).