Explore Hidden Gem Experiences
Unearth the hidden gems that are the unique, quirky and quiet places to visit in beautiful St. Pete/Clearwater.
Yes, our gorgeous Gulf beaches are our number one attraction, perennially listed among the top in the U.S. and even the world. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that St. Pete/Clearwater also offers amazing hidden gem attractions and experiences. Start in Tierra Verde, near the southern end of St. Pete/Clearwater, and work your way north, following this guide to offbeat, lesser-known experiences beloved by locals and savvy visitors alike.
Go Kayaking with Amazing Views
Peer below the water’s surface, look for fish and other marine life and watch cormorants diving for fish beneath your clear kayak as you paddle to Shell Key with Get Up & Go Kayaking. Launch from Billy’s Stone Crab in Tierra Verde, explore a mangrove forest and wander the deserted beaches of Shell Key on a day or nighttime glow tour of this aquatic preserve.
The Secret Garden is a shaded patch of sand with lush landscaping.
Discover a Hidden Garden Oasis
Many people know that St. Pete Beach is one of the top beaches in the U.S. – and for good reason, given its sugar sand, jewel-hued Gulf water and family-friendly accommodations – but not everyone knows about the Secret Garden. Meander north along the shore to reach this delightful, lovingly attended spot in an area known as Upham Beach. The Secret Garden is a shaded patch of sand with lush landscaping, benches and a small picnic area, and it’s all just steps from the Gulf.
Take an Eco-Tour by the Pier
Chances are good that you’re already planning to check out the landmark St. Pete Pier. While you plan your day at this must-see hub of fun, food and drink, be sure to carve out time to explore bay waters on an ecotour aboard M/V Discovery, a 45-foot boat operated by the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, at the end of the pier. Spot dolphins, manatees and shorebirds and learn about the bay’s ecology and history during the 75-minute excursion. The tours, which are wheelchair-accessible, are available throughout the day.
Buy Locally Made Pottery
If you’re seeking unique, far-from-tacky souvenirs, check out the locally crafted pottery at the Craftsman House Gallery, located in a historic, Arts & Crafts-style bungalow in the Grand Central District of St. Pete. It doubles as a low-key café, so grab a coffee or craft beer and relax on the large, welcoming porch.
Visit Rescued Shorebirds
Head back to the coast and continue northward to the laid-back beach community of Indian Shores, which offers hours of low-key beach time. Be sure to wander into the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, which sits right on the beach. This nonprofit seabird rescue and rehabilitation center is a temporary home for sick and injured pelicans, cormorants, osprey and other birds, which the sanctuary nurses back to health. It’s also a long-term home for more than 100 birds that can’t be released back into the wild.
The Tiki Gardens Beach Access is also a great spot for birdwatching.
Find a Pint-Sized Park and Beach Access
Also in Indian Shores, what’s now a public beach access and parking area was once the site of Tiki Gardens, an Old Florida attraction where grass huts and statues of Polynesian gods ruled the landscape. The attraction is long gone, but locals know the Tiki Gardens Beach Access as a great spot to birdwatch on the Intracoastal Waterway, then walk along a short boardwalk to reach a sparkling, uncrowded stretch of sand just across Gulf Boulevard. The park, at Gulf Boulevard and 196th Avenue, also has restrooms and showers.
Be Amused by Offbeat, Eccentric Art
Lovers of all things unexpected and eclectic won’t want to miss Whimzeyland in Safety Harbor, where elaborate mosaics of bowling balls, colored glass and other elements cover every surface, from a VW Bug to tiki statues. For more incredible art, wander over to the Safety Harbor Art & Music Center, where a life-size, mosaic-adorned elephant sculpture greets visitors.
Take to the Sky on Ziplines
In Oldsmar, thrill seekers can get an adrenaline rush alongside incredible panoramic views of Tampa Bay with Empower Adventures. The two-hour ziplining and aerial challenge course traverses more than 3,000 feet of ziplines, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the water and wilderness below. Test your mettle on a 200-foot suspension bridge and – if you dare – top it all off with the heart-pounding Leap of Faith experience.
See the Beatles Come to Life
If “Good Day Sunshine” is running through your head (you’re welcome), make tracks to Penny Lane in Dunedin, where you’ll find a collection of more than 1,000 pieces of rare Beatles memorabilia. It’s heaven for any die-hard Fab Four fan – and admission is free!
Learn About Local Pioneers
Explore the history of some of St. Pete/Clearwater’s northern communities in the historic home that houses the Palm Harbor Museum. There you’ll uncover the stories of the people who founded Palm Harbor, Ozona and Crystal Beach.
Time-Travel with Retro Videogames
Sometimes, nothing beats an old-school arcade game. For everything from vintage pinball machines to classic, arcade-style videogames, head to the Replay Amusement Museum in Tarpon Springs. It’s part nostalgia, part just plain-old fun for all ages.
Marvel at Stunning Gulf Sunsets
Also in Tarpon Springs, Sunset Beach Park is an 11-acre, under-the-radar beach paradise that juts out into the Gulf. As you might imagine, it’s a great place to see otherworldly colors as the sun sinks into the Gulf, and you likely won’t have a lot of company as you ooh and aah.
If your travels don't take you to Tarpon Springs for the day, no matter where you are you are in St. Pete/Clearwater, try to get to the Gulf before sundown so you can celebrate a day well spent with an epic sunset.