When it comes to winter, just about everyone in the Midwest and East Coast is looking to spend a weekend in Florida enjoying the warm weather. Actually, I don’t know anyone who would pass up a weekend in the sun at any point of the year! Since we just got back from Tampa and Clearwater, here is what to do in the area! You can read more travel guides here!
Before I start, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone on Instagram who sent me recommendations. We had so many recommendations that there weren’t enough meals to try all the yummy restaurants that you guys sent me. We appreciate it so much! Don’t worry, we will definitely be back for spring training (baseball) next year and I’m keeping them starred on my Google Maps!
Before you go, make sure to check out this post on what to pack! Make sure to bring your sunscreen too. If your skin hasn’t seen the sun since September (like mine), it gets pretty bright. My favorite safe suncreen is this body lotion, this body stick, and this face stick. If you need face coverage, try this tinted moisturizer. They all smell amazing, are environmentally and human friendly, and are safe for kids!
Tampa is a really quick flight from anywhere east of Texas. Short flights are always better! We tend to fly Southwest because Midway is an easier airport to fly out of than O’Hare. For any other Chicagoans, you guys know what I mean. Plus, bags fly free! I’d also recommend renting a car for your stay. There is quite a lot of ground to cover – it’s not a big, concentrated city like New York or Chicago. It will make your life easier and you can find some really great deals!
Pick a hotel based on where you plan to be spending most of your time. If you missed Matt’s tips on how to pick a good hotel, read them here. He’s so good at this. We alternate between luxury hotels and affordable accommodations. We decided to stay at a Hampton Inn this time because we were traveling with family. We also wanted to be in between the baseball field and downtown Tampa. Ultimately, staying right in between made the most sense since we knew we would be moving all around.
Brunch (or even lunch) at Oxford Exchange is a must. There’s not much in the area but it’s such a cute restaurant and the food is really amazing. The decor is also very Instagram worthy. They have a storefront with a bunch of soaps, books, and other items in front to keep you occupied while you wait (if there is one). Definitely a must see!
Yellow Ruffled Dress (only $28!) | Similar Beige Mules | Similar Straw Clutch (same brand, this one sold out so fast!) | Tortoise Sunglasses | Monogram Initial Necklace | White Beaded Earrings | Mantraband Bracelets | Lipstick in ‘Currant’
If you’re up for it, head over to St. Petersburg for a day in this area. Stop by The Dali Museum to see some amazing art. You can also see the Sunken Gardens if you’ve got a green thumb or love botanical gardens. You can also stop by St. Pete’s beach. Do these in whatever order you prefer! If you like to hit the beach earlier in the day and leave when the sun gets too hot, start there!
Since we were there during spring training, we didn’t get a chance to see either (baseball is life in my household) but almost everyone recommended them! If you’re in Tampa during March, consider going to a baseball game. It’s a fun way to see some of the professional players for really cheap rates. It’s also sure to make any males you’re traveling with incredibly happy. Who doesn’t love cracking open some peanuts anyway? The games are all at 1PM so you might want to grab lunch before unless you like ballpark food! You might also want to read my tips on how to make spring training fun.
If you’re into golf, check to see if there is something going on at Innisbrook. We happened to be there during the Valspar classic and got to watch Tiger Woods play one afternoon! I was a little out of my element but I still thought it was cool. They do a free country music concert as part of the festivities every year on Saturday night (we also went last year) so if you’re there the first or second weekend of March, check it out! It’s a really good time. This year Dustin Lynch and Jake Owen played!
If you’re only in Florida to work on your tan, skip all the sights and head to Clearwater Beach! Otherwise, try the Florida Aquarium (it was advertised all over the airport).
Should you be looking for a good family restaurant, try Island Way Grill. Be warned that vegan options are limited but if you’re a meat eater, you will have so many choices including freshly caught fish. If you’re heading there on a Friday or Saturday, I’d recommend making a reservation in advance to avoid a wait. It was packed so the 7 of us ended up eating at the bar which was also great!
One Shoulder Striped Dress (only $45!) | Zac Posen Bag (crossbody version here) | Similar Mules | Tortoise Sunglasses | Monogram Initial Necklace | White Beaded Earrings | Mantraband Bracelets | Lipstick in ‘Currant’
If you want to have dinner and walk around for a bit, head to Hyde Park. It’s a really cute little downtown area – they even have a Sprinkles cupcake ATM! This seemed to be everyone’s favorite spot and restaurants to try are: Daily Eats, Green Lemon, Bulla Gastrobar, and Ciccio Water. We walked around during the day but you could easily browse the shops for a couple hours and grab a bit to eat. You can do this at lunch or dinner depending on your schedule!
Wrap up the night at Sheppard’s in Clearwater. While it’s not much and I was heavily skeptical at first, we had a really great time. It’s like a beach nightclub and the people watching is beyond entertaining. There is quite a crowd (and it’s typically a younger one). The drinks are cheap and you’re right on the beach. Get there before sunset so you can watch it over a cocktail!
Surprisingly, one of the only breakfast restaurant recommendations was Pinky’s Diner in Tampa. It’s vegetarian friendly and if you can’t find something on the menu you like, you just might be a picky eater!
Plan to dedicate one full day to the beach! That’s why you’re in Florida, right? The sand is so incredibly soft! At some point during the day, make your way over the Pier 60 for a photo or two. It wouldn’t be a weekend in Florida without some dreamy beach pictures!
If you need a spot to eat, try Badfins which is right off the boardwalk. We ate there with the family and it was pretty good for a beach front eatery. It’s order at the counter and then sit down (they also have margaritas)! A few of the other restaurants in the area that were recommended are Frenchy’s and Jimmys Crows Nest but I can’t vouch for the food. If you want to walk a little further, try Marina Cantina. While the food isn’t 100% authentic Mexican, it’s decent. We had a group dinner there one night and really liked it. Generally speaking, order grouper when you’re in Clearwater. You can’t go wrong with a grouper sandwich (or so I’ve been told)!
One of the restaurants that we went to that’s a little out of the way was Ulele. This was recommended by so many people and it didn’t disappoint! The food was delicious and it’s right on the edge of Water Works Park. While it’s not too much to look at, it is a bit of a unique locale and the restaurant was amazing. Would definitely recommend this more for lunch since they have lawn chairs out and it’s a little isolated.
If you’re up for a game of mini golf, Captain Bligh’s Landing might look a little familiar to you if you follow me on Instagram. We spent a couple hours there one afternoon before our flight out! It was weirdly one of my favorite things.
Have you spent a weekend in Florida? Do you have any favorite things to do in Clearwater or Tampa? Leave them below!