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Five scenic Tampa Bay bike routes for the casual rider

From the breweries of Dunedin to the Tampa Riverwalk, these rides show off Tampa Bay’s character
Cyclists make their way north at Main Street in Dunedin along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The trail runs from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. There are several options for food and drinks along the trail. [CHRIS URSO | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 10
Updated Sep. 10

Seeing Tampa Bay by bike continues to get easier with the proliferation of bike shares, extended trails and new bike lanes. Whether you’re a local looking for a different view of home or a tourist wanting to explore the charms of the region, these five rides show off Tampa Bay’s character without forcing you to break too much of a sweat.

Did we miss one of your favorite rides? Or is there a hidden gem of a restaurant along one of our routes? Make sure to let us know in the comments.

St. Petersburg mural tour

Bekky Beukes, 34, St. Petersburg, finished her outdoor mural at 1120 1st Avenue North, St. Petersburg, on Oct. 15, 2018. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]

Distance: 5 miles round trip

Places to stop: Green Bench Brewing Co. and Right Around the Corner for brews. Trophy Fish for lunch on the weekends. Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria for sandwiches.

Things to note: Consider using Martin Luther King Jr. Street to turn onto Baum Avenue N, one block south of First Avenue N, for a whole string of murals leading up to Green Bench and Red Mesa Mercado. If you’re feeling a shorter ride, consider turning around at 22nd Street instead of 30th. This version is close to 3.5 miles round trip.

Bike rentals: Coast Bike Share has several bike rental locations downtown. We suggest the one in front of the Avenue Eat + Drink.

Cyclists use the bike trail along First Avenue South near 5th Street in downtown St. Petersburg, Friday, July 19, 2019. [SCOTT KEELER | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

The route: Start outside the Avenue and bike two blocks up to First Avenue N, where you can ride in a bike lane until turning around at 22nd or 30th Street. Murals dot both sides of the street, so keep an eye out and pull off at any along the way for some Instagram-worthy shots. When turning around, you can choose to take Central Avenue or First Avenue S back downtown. Much of Central has “sharrow” or shared-lane marking, meaning cars and bikes share the entire lane, while First Avenue S has a bike lane.

Palm Harbor to Tarpon Springs via the Pinellas Trail

Riding south on the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail just south Klosterman Road Tuesday, July 23, 2019 in Palm Harbor. The trail runs from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. [CHRIS URSO | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

Distance: 11 miles round trip

Places to stop: Tarpon Tavern and Johnny’s Taphouse and Grill are right at the end of the trail in Tarpon Springs. Two Frogs Brewing and Silverking Brewing Company offer craft beer pints without straying far from the trail either.

Things to note: Keep an eye out for cars when crossing streets on the Pinellas Trail. Just south of Klosterman Road you can get a glimpse of chimpanzees and an orangutan or two at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary. Those with their own bikes can start at Wall Springs Park. This makes the route closer to 7 miles round trip.

Bike rentals: Ozona Cycles, 408 Orange St., Palm Harbor.

Riding south along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail in the tunnel passing under Alternate US 19 Tuesday, July 23, 2019 in Palm Harbor. [CHRIS URSO | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

The route: Cyclists will travel part of the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail for a majority of this route. If riding 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, the trail splits Safford Avenue as you come into downtown Tarpon Springs. Stop for food and a pint (or two) just north of Tarpon Avenue. If you continue north you can jump off the trail and head west along Live Oak Street, which becomes Dodecanese Boulevard, to the historic Sponge Docks. This adds about 1.5 miles round trip.

RELATED: Pick a trail — we have many — and hit the pavement for exercise and adventure

Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail

A cyclist rides along the pedestrain trail that paralels traffic on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Distance: 15 miles round trip

Places to stop: If you’re sticking to the bridge, we recommend packing some snacks for a picnic at the turnaround at Courtney Campbell Causeway Beach. Ambitious cyclists can pedal down to Bar Fly or other options in Safety Harbor, pushing this to a 21-mile round-trip ride. Whiskey Joe’s serves drinks and food on the beach for a postride celebration upon your return to Ben T. Davis.

Things to note: There’s enough shade along the route for regular breaks from the sun, with new concrete shelters on the Tampa side and, on the Clearwater side, cool dots that shift with the sun from the fronds of tall palms up above. The only facilities along the way are permanent restrooms at the Ben T. Davis Beach concession area on the east end, portable toilets at the beaches on the west end of the Courtney Campbell Trail, and in Safety Harbor.

Bike rentals: WhatSUP Paddle Sports, 7740 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa.

The route: 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.

One piece of advice: Check the wind — maybe turn around at some point soon after departing and pedal in the other direction to see if you’re up to the return trip. It can blow strong and unfettered on this wide-open route. And, as always but especially here, wear a helmet. Bikes can fly around you, and pedestrians pop up at an unlimited number of access points along the way.

Armature Works to Davis Islands via the Riverwalk

Pedestrians and water bike riders enjoy the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa.

Distance: 8 miles round trip

Places to stop: You can ride out to the point of Davis Islands and watch the airplanes land at Peter O’Knight airport, or head up the street to the park and the dog beach. Consider stopping at TeBella Tea Company, Molly Malone’s Irish Pub or the Anchor Bar before crossing back over to the Riverwalk. Or grab some ice cream at Farrell’s. Once you return your bike, Ulele is a perfect place to relax with a beer or some Florida-style food after your ride.

Things to note: The Riverwalk gets crowded after midmorning. Davis Islands has everything: bars and restaurants, gas stations with air pumps, bank machines and, most importantly, shade. The islands also boast lots of waterfront park space that’s great for a picnic. The channel and the interior streets feature great architecture and shade trees. Keep an eye out for cruise ships sailing from here on Sunday afternoons at 4.

Bike rentals: Coast Bike Share has several locations along the Riverwalk. We suggest the ones by the river at Armature Works or nearby Water Works Park.

The route: Start at Armature Works, where there is plenty of parking for those using their own bikes and loads of drinks and food to celebrate when you finish. The Riverwalk is the main draw here, but you can also take downtown streets like Ashley Drive if the popular bike and pedestrian path is too crowded. Once you reach Bayshore Boulevard, take the pedestrian underpass at Swann Avenue over to Davis Islands. From there you can make a 3-mile loop around the islands (either head up Channel Drive behind Tampa General or go the other way around, starting at Davis Boulevard and heading east and looping around to Channel Drive) before returning.

Dunedin to Palm Harbor via the Pinellas Trail

A cyclist passes DeBine Brewing Company which is located along the the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Tuesday, July 23, 2019 in Palm Harbor. The trail runs from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. [CHRIS URSO | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

Distance: 10 miles round trip

Places to stop: Power up with breakfast at Crown and Bull, formerly Kelly’s. Turn this into a mini (but responsible) brewery tour with stops at Palm Harbor’s Stilt House Brewery and DeBine Brewing Company and Dunedin’s Cueni Brewing Company. If you’re hungry, check out Frenchy’s Outpost Bar and Grill just off the trail by the Dunedin Causeway.

A cyclist makes his way past Cueni Brewing Co. along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Tuesday, July 23, 2019 in Dunedin. [CHRIS URSO | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

Things to note: There are bathrooms at Josiah Cephas Weaver Park, just north of downtown Dunedin. On the weekend, the trail can get congested in the downtown Dunedin area, so look out for pedestrians, skateboarders and other cyclists. There’s a great view of the Intracoastal between Dunedin, North Clearwater Beach and Caladesi Island for those willing to take a walk out on the fishing pier.

Bike rentals: Kafe Racer, 998 Douglas Ave., Dunedin; Pedego Electric Bikes, 324 Scotland St., Dunedin.

The route: Starting in Dunedin, head north on the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail toward Palm Harbor. You will cross a couple of small streams that feed into the canals and the Intracoastal waters. Keep heading north until you reach DeBine, located on the trail in the downtown Palm Harbor area. You can also get food at several restaurants in downtown Palm Harbor just off the trail. After grabbing a pint at DeBine you can start back south to Dunedin. The trail follows close to the coast and is shaded by trees along the route. Once back in Dunedin there are multiple options for food and adult beverages either on the trail or off.

Times staff writers John Hill, Dennis Joyce, Chris Urso and Sharon Wynne contributed to this report.

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