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My dad recently moved to the Tampa area so wife and I are kicking around the idea of Spring Break down there with the kids, age 5, 6, and 9.  I've been to Tampa a few times, but never with kids, and I've never ventured outside the inner city.  I'm looking at AirBnBs near the beach, but I know nothing about the beaches there.  I know Clearwater is the biggest city on the beach, but what about all the other areas to the north and south?  We'll only be there for 3-4 days, so we don't have a ton of time to venture around.  I'd like to be walking distance to the beach, and having a lot of restaurants or just general stuff to do nearby would be nice too.  If you were in my shoes, where would you stay and what would you do?  Besides Mons Venus, which we'll have to skip this time.

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You can’t go wrong from Clearwater Beach to as far south as you want to go from there.  There are also two nice aquariums in the area including the one that Dolphin Tale was based out of. The north end of AMI would be my preference, but it may be further out than you want to go.

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We stayed a few nights in that giant pink hotel in St. Pete Beach.  I won't go back to the hotel, but the beach was great, and there were neighborhoods just north of it that seemed like they'd be perfect for AirBnB rentals.  Kind of a cool little town.

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7 hours ago, jimmyjazz said:

We stayed a few nights in that giant pink hotel in St. Pete Beach.  I won't go back to the hotel, but the beach was great, and there were neighborhoods just north of it that seemed like they'd be perfect for AirBnB rentals.  Kind of a cool little town.

Pink Hotel is the Don Cesar - nice but there are definitely better places to stay in St Pete Beach. St Pete Beach is still very much an old Florida beach town., my family owned a place there in the 80s and not much has really changed. Just south of St Pete Beach is Pass-a-grille beach, great grouper sandwich at the Hurricane.

9 hours ago, maninblack said:

Siesta Key

Probably a little far for a short trip, but great beach

6 hours ago, Murfdogg21 said:

St. Pete is a cool town but Clearwater is better for beach stuff. 

Downtown St Pete is great, heading there in a few weekends for a couple of nights. Great restaurants, bars and breweries.

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9 hours ago, Brew said:

You can’t go wrong from Clearwater Beach to as far south as you want to go from there.  There are also two nice aquariums in the area including the one that Dolphin Tale was based out of. The north end of AMI would be my preference, but it may be further out than you want to go.

Florida Aquarium in Tampa was top notch. 

Also... https://bigcatrescue.org/ (be careful though, the proprietor has a dark side)

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2 hours ago, Ogie Ogilthorpe said:

Pink Hotel is the Don Cesar - nice but there are definitely better places to stay in St Pete Beach.

If my wife doesn't get a great vibe from the jump, that's it for her.  We had a very "meh" dinner on night #1 -- that's all it took.

Frankly, the Don Cesar wasn't blowing me away, either.  Just kind of a giant sprawling place with less character than one would expect.

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With kids that little, you may want to avoid the high traffic college / high school party spots. 

We spent a few days in an airbnb on Anna Maria Island two years ago and loved it. Lots of places to stay walking distance or on the beach and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, etc. Cool little town. Highly recommend.

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Anna Maria is great, Siesta Key is beautiful, but our go to is Lido Key and St Armands circle. Shopping, food, and the beach is top notch with lots of parking. This area is geared more towards family, whereas Clearwater will be crawling with Spring Breakers

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4 hours ago, Mitch Cumsteen said:

With kids that little, you may want to avoid the high traffic college / high school party spots. 

We spent a few days in an airbnb on Anna Maria Island two years ago and loved it. Lots of places to stay walking distance or on the beach and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, etc. Cool little town. Highly recommend.

 

tell me more, the lady friend drinks heavily - how's the bar scene and getting around (uber) ?

 

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My grandparents lived on Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island (west of Bradenton, just south of St. Pete).  If you want something a little slower paced and a true beach community you might like that.  

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51 minutes ago, tx 3 putt said:

 

tell me more, the lady friend drinks heavily - how's the bar scene and getting around (uber) ?

 

It isn't very big and pretty easy to get around. I don't think we ubered anywhere while we there. We were within walking distance to a few bars and restaurants and drove everywhere else. I think there are more restaurants per se than just bars, but you can drink outside at most of the restaurants and most have a water view. Any place can be a bar if you really put your mind to it.

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Ditch the wife and kids, make the drive to Panama City Beach. Hang out in PCB now to mid April. Rent a nice boat, tell every coed it’s yours. Start stocking the boat full of White Claw now, any flavor.

If you don’t like drugs, start doing coke. You’ll lose weight and look younger. If you do like drugs, start doing coke.

You’re about to have the best month of your life. You’re welcome.

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We like the Johns Pass area specifically a condo across the street on the gulf beach side. It's an easy walk to Johns Pass (vs having to drive) which has restaurants and shopping. The pizza joint there is pretty good.

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4 minutes ago, Zepol87 said:

Just landed for a work trip. Only busy day is Saturday so I'll be taking some recs here. Right now at Sparkman Wharf downtown and the eye candy is quite solid

Post in the right thread and you’ll get plenty of recs.  

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On 3/1/2021 at 5:53 PM, VABuckeye said:

Tons of traffic up there.  I’d stay in Clearwater Beach and camp my ass there.   Plenty of eats in that area.  Frenchies really knows how to fry seafood. 

This. My wife lived on Clearwater Beach for 4-5 years after she graduated from Clemson. She took me to a friend's wedding there a few years back and we stayed in Clearwater Beach. It's absolutely gorgeous -- white sand, crystal clear blue water and the surf was relatively calm (it was October, though). I love that area.

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19 minutes ago, Zepol87 said:

Just landed for a work trip. Only busy day is Saturday so I'll be taking some recs here. Right now at Sparkman Wharf downtown and the eye candy is quite solid

Eat dinner at Bern's Steakhouse. You'll need a jacket, though, unless you eat in the bar/cocktail area. Make sure you get the tour of the restaurant -- it's cool. Bern's has the 3rd-largest wine collection in the world, apparently. They took us into the on-site cellar -- they have warehouses where they store shit -- and I saw a port that was like 150 years old or something. The servers have the wine book memorized. Seriously.

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1 minute ago, C-Man said:

Eat dinner at Bern's Steakhouse. You'll need a jacket, though, unless you eat in the bar/cocktail area. Make sure you get the tour of the restaurant -- it's cool. Bern's has the 3rd-largest wine collection in the world, apparently. They took us into the on-site cellar -- they have warehouses where they store shit -- and I saw a port that was like 150 years old or something. The servers have the wine book memorized. Seriously.

Hell yea. Looking to expense a great steak after an epic fail last month at STK in Vegas. That placed sucked. 

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Ditch the wife and kids, make the drive to Panama City Beach. Hang out in PCB now to mid April. Rent a nice boat, tell every coed it’s yours. Start stocking the boat full of White Claw now, any flavor.
If you don’t like drugs, start doing coke. You’ll lose weight and look younger. If you do like drugs, start doing coke.
You’re about to have the best month of your life. You’re welcome.


This is the sort of valuable travel advice I expect from Surly.
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On 3/5/2021 at 5:37 PM, C-Man said:

Eat dinner at Bern's Steakhouse. You'll need a jacket, though, unless you eat in the bar/cocktail area. Make sure you get the tour of the restaurant -- it's cool. Bern's has the 3rd-largest wine collection in the world, apparently. They took us into the on-site cellar -- they have warehouses where they store shit -- and I saw a port that was like 150 years old or something. The servers have the wine book memorized. Seriously.

I have spent way too much money at this place entertaining clients over the years.  Don’t forget to make a reservation after dinner to go to the dessert room. I have actually spent more money in the dessert room after dinner than at dinner itself once the flights of port wine start flowing.  Bern’s is a great experience that kind of brings you back in time since it has been the same since my parents use to get flown up there from South Florida for business dinners back in the 1970’s.

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We got a VRBO in Clearwater Beach on the water.  I expect this to be a complete shit show considering it's Spring Break for a lot of colleges but I also expect to see a lot of titties.

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We got a VRBO in Clearwater Beach on the water.  I expect this to be a complete shit show considering it's Spring Break for a lot of colleges but I also expect to see a lot of titties.

Wife said it gets more crowded during Spring Break for sure but it’s mostly families, not college kids.
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33 minutes ago, C-Man said:


Wife said it gets more crowded during Spring Break for sure but it’s mostly families, not college kids.

I prefer MILFs so it looks like I'm in luck.

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Pretty funny. First I’ve seen of this thread is while sitting at the Don Cesar waiting on first lunch. Early signs lead me to agree with the poster who said “nice beach but I won’t come back to the hotel.”  
 

also got a kick out of the fact that we stayed in Tampa last night after a late flight. Told my wife we should visit the bar visible from our room. The dollhouse... wheeee

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The weather was perfect, the water was warm, and the women were milfy.  We didn't leave the island once I don't think and everything was within walking distance.  I highly recommend an outside table at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill.  We were seated about 15 minutes before sunset and had a perfect view.  We also did one of those dolphin boat tours and the kids loved it.  The Clearwater Aquarium was underwhelming but it broke up the day and gave us something to do besides roasting on the beach.

I'd say about 90% of the people on the island were families of high schoolers on spring break.  Lots of moms that were proud to show off their bolt-ons but also a lot of "I can't tell if this chick is 16 or 19 so I probably shouldn't stare" moments.  Overall, 5 stars.  Would visit again.

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