Tampa Area Beaches

Tampa, Florida has the unique benefit of being located near an array of beautiful white sandy beaches, each with a distinct character of its own. Whether you are looking for a retreat into Florida nature or a bustling vacation spot, the Tampa Bay Area offers it all!

Fort De Soto Park is perhaps the crown jewel of the area beaches. Located in Tierra Verde, about 50 minutes from downtown Tampa, and relatively easily accessible from the interstate, Fort De Soto has earned the distinction of “America’s Top Beach” in 2008 and 2009 by TripAdvisor. One look at this large and beautiful “nature beach” and you can see why. In addition to over three miles of pure white sand, Fort De Soto Park also offers nature trails, fishing piers, boating docks, a dog park, a dog beach, campgrounds, and even a museum.
Parking is free and plentiful, but there is a small toll on the highway to get here. For the chance to enjoy a pure and natural beach, untouched by a skyline of high-rise condos and hotels, it is well-worth it for many!

Clearwater Beach is another favorite among locals and tourists alike. About a 45 minute drive from downtown Tampa, Clearwater Beach offers lots to do and see. There are many restaurants and bars within walking distance of the water, and quite a few directly on the beach. Cutesy surf and souvenir shops in brightly colored buildings line the main drag. Boat rides of all sorts can be embarked upon here – dolphin-watches, fishing charters, parasailing, even a cruise on a pirate ship! Every day of the year (weather permitting), beginning two hours before sunset, be there for “Sunsets at Pier 60.” Vendors and entertainers set up along the pier and there is usually a live band. The event is free and always draws a good crowd. There are often “bounce houses” and large inflatable slides set up on the beach for the kids (these are not free), as well as a very nice playground in the Pier 60 park.
During the spring break season, this beach does tend to get pretty packed. Traffic out to it gets backed up and the parking lots fill up fast and early. There is a trolley that runs from downtown Clearwater out to the beach, if you’d rather not hassle with parking.

Saint Pete Beach, about 35 minutes from downtown Tampa, is almost like a smaller, simpler version of Clearwater Beach. There are plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants close by, and many resorts, including the famed Don Ce Sar “Pink Palace.” Dolphin-watching boat cruises are available, and there are several ice cream stands and mini-golf courses close by for kids (or the young at heart).
Ben T. Davis Beach may not be the gorgeous expanse of gulf-front white sand that the others are, but what it lacks in nature, it makes up for in sheer convenience. Only a 10-15 minute drive from downtown Tampa, this beach is literally located on the Courtney Campbell Causeway spanning Tampa Bay on the way to Clearwater. There are some great restaurants located close by, and the novelty of pulling off the highway to be right on the beach can be kind of fun.

Any of the Tampa area beaches are a great choice for a day out in the sun. From the casual bar-hopper to the family with kids, there is truly “something for everyone” in the Tampa Bay area.