Best Hidden Gem Beaches

Odds are good you’ve heard of St. Pete Beach, TripAdvisor's No.1 Beach Destination in the U.S. (and No. 5 in the world) for 2012, or Fort De Soto Park, whose North Beach was named America’s best family beach by Parents magazine in 2011. But St. Petersburg/Clearwater also conceals a cache of lesser-known beaches, many of them cozily tucked into residential neighborhoods. For a more laid-back fun-in-the-sun day in the Tampa area, retreat to these hidden shores, which are spiked with all your favorite activities, from pier-fishing to delectable dining.

1 Belleair Beach

Belleair Beach

Lay of the Land: This 4500-foot quiet and secluded white-sand shoreline on a barrier island is surrounded by some of the most impressive waterfront homes on the West Coast of Florida. You'll find free parking in palm-dotted Morgan Park and boaters can tie up at the 7th Street Park Boat Ramp and the Municipal Marina across the street from the beach.
Why You Should Go: No crowds, no active sports, fascinating sea turtle and sea bird nesting sites, luxurious peace and quiet.

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2 Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach

Lay of the Land: Indian Rocks Beach features a beautiful dune-lined expanse dotted with small motels, vacation cottages, rental condos and some early 20th-century shell and sand roads.
Why You Should Go: Nostalgia (the hamlet is a throwback to old Florida), top-notch cuisine including Keegan's Seafood Grille--a Food Network "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" pick, quaint shops, and an intimate beach experience that affords views of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway in some spots.

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3 Redington Shores

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Lay of the Land: The compact 220-acre Town of Redington Shores has several small condo rental and boutique hotel properties, two renowned seafood restaurants and many amenities catering to anglers.
Why You Should Go: It's the perfect place for a family getaway. Situated in the heart of the beach communities, Redington Shores offers broad swaths of sea grass-framed sand, with beautiful and unencumbered views of fiery Florida sunsets.

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4 Sand Key Park

Sand Key Park

Lay of the Land: Sand Key Park features a pristine white-sand beach, beach cabanas, large bathhouses, a dog park, a playground, a seasonal lifeguard, a salt marsh, two nearby resorts and easy boating access through Clearwater Pass.
Why You Should Go: The Park's peaceful atmosphere, million-dollar views, rare opportunities to observe endangered birds and turtles nesting and abundant family oriented amenities make it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Clearwater Beach.

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