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Suggestions for St.Pete/Clearwater Area for vacation

June 11, 2013

As I mentioned the other day, I had a great time on vacation in Indian Rocks last month. It is just outside Tampa and nestled right in between Clearwater and St.Petersburg and I love it! Below are some of my thoughts on places to eat and things to do if you are in the area for vacation.

Food

  • Dockside Dave’s. It is a total hole-in-the-wall dive with occasional crappy service but some fab food. Be sure to get an order of the fried veggies as an appetizer! You have not lived until you have chowed down on some deep fried carrots, broccoli, onion rings and so on. I’m not a fan of the deep fried cauliflower, but love everything else. Make sure you mix the ketchup and horseradish sauces together to dip them in! Their burgers, grilled chicken sandwich and the grouper sandwich are all pretty good too. But be sure to have the fried veggies!
Fried veggies at Dockside Dave's

Fried veggies at Dockside Dave’s

  • JD’s. Another out of the way place that has a lovely view of the channel with a live band and dancing on the weekends. Their house salad dressing is homemade and I could probably eat a gallon of it, but I really love their grilled shrimp skewers. Really well priced and really good. We actually ate their twice this past go around.
Grilled Shrimp at JD's

Grilled Shrimp at JD’s

  • Boston Market and Sweet Tomato. Yes, they are both casual dining chains… but we don’t have them near me. I can’t tell you how much I miss being near a Boston Market. Love those damn corn muffins. And then Sweet Tomatoes is just yummy and who doesn’t like a good soup and salad bar? Oh, and they have yummy blueberry muffins!
  • Cody’s Original Roadhouse. I believe this is a Florida only chain and it is soooo yummy. Good tex-mex mix and yummy rolls. I had a grilled chicken quesadilla that had really great flavor.  Plus, they have a great early bird special (we were with a baby and a toddler, remember?).
  • Crabby Bills. Eh. okay seafood. A tad overpriced, but the t-shirts are funny.
  • The Boardwalk Grill. Small location with not great A/C… but who the hell cares, the food was sooo damn good. A tiny hole-in-the-wall at John’s Pass (a restaurant and shopping area) that has the best fries ever. I mean… it was just a WOW. I had a grilled chicken sandwich and it was so good I wish I could go get another one. Go there. Bonus points because the entire crew working were awesome and made all of us laugh, including Lili, and went out of their way to make little JR and his parents comfortable by pointing them to the best AC location!

beachside

  • TJ’s Italian Cafe. Great deal on pizzas if you order early and they are yummy. The Chicken piccata was okay and they didn’t have the best seating for kids, but the pizza and salads were really good.

Activities

  • Beach, beach and more beach. It is gorgeous. I could sit out there for ages playing in the sand, reading a book, or taking a long walk. I should be upfront though and tell you all that I don’t really love to get in the water. I like the movie JAWS a little too much and don’t like to get in much higher than my knees or thighs. But I can tell you there are some easy access sandbars that my fam likes to swim out to… so look for those.
  • Or… pool, pool and more pool. It is on the beach, so there is the no concern of sharks! And kids love it!
Please ignore my blinding paleness in this picture. My skin had clearly not seen the sun in a year.

Please ignore my blinding paleness in this picture. My skin had clearly not seen the sun in a year.

  • Things that involve boats. You can rent them. You can go para-sailing. You can go waterskiing. You can go on a sunset dinner cruise. You can go on a dolphin tour or any other number of things. We opted for the dolphin tour this year and went up to Clearwater. You can also pick one up in John’s Pass. It was a lot of fun and since we didn’t see any dolphins on the first go around, they give you the opportunity to come back later and do another cruise for free. Which we did. We planned ahead and did the first tour early in the week, so we could fit in a second trip later if needed. I am happy to report that there were dolphins on the second go-around!
  • Outlet malls. The Ellenton Premium Outlet Mall is just south of Tampa, so it takes abotu 45 minutes to get there and you have to go over the HUGE Sunshine Skyway bridge (which is a toll, btw). The outlets are nice and it is wear I bought my very first COACH purse a few years ago. There is a great selection of stores and I wish I had had more time to shop… but I was being distracted by an ongoing text conversation while I was there (ahem) and was in a rush to get back in time for dinner. So the distractions were probably good for my wallet, but I did get some good deals!
  • Wagon Wheel Flea Market. Oh, you don’t know what you are missing if you don’t make a stop at the Wagon Wheel during the weekend. Not only is it great for some fabulous people watching, but it is the BEST place to find sunglasses. Seriously. Be sure to go to the front building near the road, to the booth that is in the corner… they have the best deals every year, without fail. Wagon Wheel. Your mind will be blown. And you will get a good chuckle from people watching, promise.
  • John’s Pass. In St.Pete… great little shopping and restaurant area. A good way to spend an cloudy afternoon!
  • Amusement Parks. Busch Gardens is right there in Tampa and then it is only about an hour and a half to Orlando with Disney and Universal. We have made the day trip to Disney several times from here, but this is the first time we took Lili and SHE LOVED IT! My most favorite part of the day happened to be when she woke up from a nap. She was conked out for about 45 minutes in her stroller, so the adults had gotten some snacks are were just parked under a tent resting our feet and talking while she slept for a bit, there was a HUGE mural behind me with all sorts of characters on it and it was the very first thing she saw when she opened her eyes. She just kept saying “oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness”as fast as her little two year old excited self could get the words out. PRECIOUS.

minnie

So that is my review of things to do in the St.Pete/Clearwater area. What have I left out?

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2013 7:15 pm

    Where is the Wagon Wheel flea market? I feel like I drove past it while I was visiting my mom.

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