An aerial view of Tierra Verde and Fort de Soto Park

Fort de Soto Park is an absolute must-see place when you're in St. Pete/Clearwater.

island life

Tierra Verde

While mostly residential, this boating community at the southern tip of a peninsula is more than a gateway to Fort De Soto Park, the crown jewel of St. Pete/Clearwater’s county park system. Comprising several small islands south of the Pinellas Bayway between St. Pete and St. Pete Beach, Tierra Verde is notable for its marinas, fishing spots and casual restaurants. 

Things to Do

The big draw here is Fort De Soto Park, which is home to award-winning beaches, one of the area’s best dog beaches, a historic fort, waterfront campgrounds and miles of pedestrian and kayak trails. It’s also where you can catch a ferry to undeveloped Egmont Key for a day of snorkeling, tortoise-spotting, bird-watching and exploring the ruins of old military buildings. 

Between the Bayway and the park, there’s a trail that’s popular for getting to Fort DeSoto by bicycle. You’ll cross over bridges and patches of sand where locals love to fish. Heading south on the right side of the road is Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit focusing on preserving the health of the bay and educating visitors about marine conservation (look for the blue lighthouse). Just to the north of the nonprofit’s headquarters is a great spot to launch a kayak to explore uninhabited Shell Key.

Where to Eat

Tierra Verde is a haven for hungry beachgoers after a day spent playing in the sand. Island Grille & Raw Bar has an extensive menu with seafood and pub fare, and they’ll even cook your catch for you. Billy’s Stone Crab is a local landmark on the waterfront, serving fresh fish, crabs and other fare since 1972. For classic European-inspired fare, head to ALSACE French Bistro, Good Times Continental Restaurant or Tony and Nello’s Southern Italian Cuisine. If you and your crew have worked up a thirst after a day of island-hopping, Smuggler’s Tavern is a popular watering hole open late into the night.

Places to Stay

An unusual (but very popular) accommodation option is the campgrounds at Fort De Soto Park. Many of the campsites are on the water, and all have electricity and running water. Reservations go pretty quickly, so be sure to book well in advance. The new Marriott Residence Inn St. Petersburg Tierra Verde is also an attractive option with its rooftop restaurant and marina views, as well as its comfortably appointed apartment-style suites with full kitchens.

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