Sand, Surf & Turf in NORTH Pinellas County
Start your morning at one of the area’s many local breakfast spots and then go explore some parks, beaches and interesting towns in northern Pinellas County.
By the end of the day, if the sun hasn’t drained you too much, take in some dinner and nightlife in downtown St. Petersburg. Relax later with a nice cigar and a light stroll along Beach Drive or around one of downtown’s many waterfront parks.
For an overall picture of Pinellas County, north and south, here’s a quick look at all of the beach communities on the Gulf of Mexico.
There also are plenty of biking trails in Pinellas County (via a PDF map), as well as more than three dozen green spaces and parks throughout this beautiful coastal county with hiking and many other activities.
Breakfast on the Way to the Beach
Paradise Restaurant in downtown Safety Harbor is a dependable breakfast spot to start the day.
Open 7 a.m. Mon.-Sat.; 7:30 a.m. Sun. Call 727-725-0618 @ 443 Main St., Safety Harbor.
Read more about Safety Harbor in our Eating and Shopping section below.
Before hitting the beaches, drive eight miles north and walk off your breakfast while lighting up some fine tobacco leaf on the south end of 2,500-acre Lake Tarpon, which offers a boardwalk and dog area at John Chestnut Sr. Park. It’s a very pleasant way to spend time at one of the area’s largest lakes.
REMEMBER: Never hurts to ask or check if a park or beach has any outdoor restrictions on smoking cigars or other tobacco products. You just never know from town to town.
Lenny’s Restaurant also is on the Clearwater side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Lenny’s is Nirvana for Philly’s fans (just south of their spring training site at Bright House Field). Lenny’s opens at 6 a.m. every day. Call 727-799-0402 @ 21220 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater.
Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor has two restaurants open to the public. Reservations are suggested for Packard’s Steakhouse and the Market Salamander
Grille. Call 727-942-2000. There’s also a spa.
Eating and Shopping
Tarpon Springs, the hub of the region’s Greek-American community, is known for its sponge docks and authentic cuisine. There is plenty of strong native coffee, pastries and hometown restaurants and even some local, hand-rolled sticks to sample along the sponge docks.
Down the channel along business route U.S. 19 (North Pinellas Avenue) is a sports bar, Capt’n Jack’s Waterfront Grille, which offers several dozen TVs and a huge outdoor deck that’s pet friendly. (Google map of Captain Jack’s and sponge docks in Tarpon Springs.)
Safety Harboris an eclectic village overlooking Old Tampa Bay and home to an historic resort and spa bearing the town’s name. Reach the community via Bayshore Boulevard, the first major turn after driving over the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
Safety Harbor has a waterfront park and dock area and is just south of Philippe Park, which is built around an ancient Indian mound and is the oldest park in Pinellas County. Philippe offers plenty of shade trees and places to sit and ponder beautiful views of the bay with another relaxing smoke.
Safety Harbor boasts a number of restaurants and entertainment spots suitable for many tastes, from the Green Springs Bistro in a converted old home a block off of Main Street to the west end of Main and the Whistle Stop Grill and the 8th Avenue Pub.
Beautiful Beaches and Sunsets
Fred Howard Park Beach is larger than it looks because there’s also a sandy strip along the causeway leading to the beach, which is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico just west of Tarpon Springs. (Google map of Howard Park Beach.)
Caladesi Island State Park and its nationally renowned white sandy beaches also offer trails for hiking and kayaking. It’s accessible via ferry from Honeymoon Island. (Google map of Caladesi Island State Park.)
IMPORTANT NOTE for Caladesi Island: Ferry tickets guarantee a seat if you return within an allotted time; otherwise, especially on a busy holiday weekend, your departure from Caladesi Island may be delayed.
Clearwater Beach is worth an entire day. But if beach clubbing isn’t your gig at night, check out what’s going on in downtown Clearwater, which is anchored by the classic movies and live music acts at the Capitol Theatre. The Capitol is operated by Ruth Eckerd Hall, one of the region’s largest entertainment venues. Ruth Eckerd is off of McMullen Booth Road just north of where the Courtney Campbell Causeway hits the Clearwater side. (Google map of Clearwater Beach.)
Downtown St. Petersburg
Here’s an interactive map describing bars, eateries and a decent night life.
You also can take an après-dinner stroll around a splendid collection of waterfront parks along Bay Shore Drive that are anchored by one of the jewels of St. Petersburg, the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
There’s also the iconic St. Petersburg Pier, which was closed in 2013. A replacement for the pier, called The Lens, was halted by voters in a special referendum later that year. But public access was restored in 2014 to everything except the interior of the building at the end of the pier, known for its inverted pyramid shape.