Tampa Bay Area

Next up in our Exploring the Sunshine State Series! I went to the Tampa Bay Area at the end of October!! And I'm just getting around to finishing this post in February!! 

We stayed in a two bedroom condo at Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites on Treasure Island that was right on the Gulf of Mexico which was very nice! It had a pool and hot tub as well as a kids pool, too. 

The view from Bongos on St. Pete Beach

Above was the view from dinner one night when we headed down to St. Pete Beach to eat at Bongos Beach Cafe. We ate beachside and the sky put on a great show! The restaurant is around the back of the hotel, on the beach. 

Downtown St. Pete

One of our first days we wandered around downtown St. Petersburg which is super cute and pretty pedestrian friendly. There are a fair amount of shops and restaurants all within walking distance of each other. 

We ate brunch one morning at Clear Sky Cafe on Clearwater Beach and I got this excellent waffle! We didn't actually spend any time on the beach at Clearwater Beach, but there is a pier there you can walk on and beach access as well as some beach shops and restaurants. 

Downtown St. Pete art murals

Ybor City!! I was not hipster enough...

We took a walk around Ybor City one afternoon and stopped in the most amazing vintage shop called La France. I wanted to buy everything in there and also move in. Oh to have unlimited money. 

Treasure Island beach

University of Tampa

Downtown Tampa

Downtown Clearwater architecture

When I started researching food for our trip to the Tampa Bay area of course I had to include some doughnut places!! Here are our doughnuts and cronuts from St. Pete Bagel Co. I had a really awesome blueberry bagel from them too! I love a good bagel. Almost as much as I love a good doughnut. The cronuts were really lovely as well! This was my first time eating a cronut, so i will definitely have to try again somewhere else to compare!! 

Overall, we spent a lot of our time in Tampa at the beach and laying by the pool which was very lovely and relaxing! The weather was gorgeous in October, in the 80's most days. We also spent a fair amount of time in the car driving around the Tampa Bay area exploring all the different towns and cities like St. Pete, Clearwater, Tampa, Treasure Island, Largo, etc, etc. 

 

Labor Day Weekend on the Gulf Coast

Kayla, Rachael, and I headed to Gulf Breeze for Labor Day weekend. It was so nice to spend some time at the beach since we hadn't been since May!

We ate at Sidelines, Peg Leg Pete's and Cactus Flower but sadly I have no pictures of it because I really fell down on the picture taking this trip. I do have a ridiculous amount of snapchats though.. 

We went out on Kayla's mom's new boat! 

IMG_9982.jpg

A pirate ship?? And we look naked.. 

Reenacting Titanic

Pensacola and Gulf Breeze

Next up in the Exploring the Sunshine State Series:

Pensacola and Gulf Breeze

Ohhhh hometown glory!! I mentioned that we grew up in Florida right?? So of course we can’t leave our hometown out of the sunshine state series! It’s pretty darn awesome, though we might be a little biased.

This will have to be a multi part story because there are a lot of great places to eat and hang out in Pensacola!

I know everyone knows about Destin as the place to go for vacation when you live in the Midwest, but Pensacola Beach is the undiscovered gem of the Gulf Coast (well until that recent article naming it one of the best beaches in Florida…). Anyway the sand is just as white and the water is usually a gorgeous blue/green. Plus there’s less traffic (sometimes) than Destin and quite a bit to do!

Where to Stay

The beach! DUH.

Portofino is a well loved option (although I’ve never stayed there)

There are tons of great places on P’cola Beach. Check out the options on VRBO.

Downtown Pensacola is getting cuter and cuter, but you will be two bridges away from the beach (two traffic filled bridges in the summer).

To Do

The BEACH! I mean c’mon look at this water. There is also live music on the beach during the summer at Band’s on the Beach

Festivals like the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival in November and the Seafood Festival in September are two big ones that come to mind.

The Blue Angels: Pensacola’s Naval Air Station is the home of the Blue Angels and you can catch their huge show on the beach in June.

Fiesta of the Five Flags: Happens in May every year to celebrate the fact that Pensacola was settled by explorers from five different countries before it became part of the US. Fun fact: Pensacola is the oldest city in Florida but it was wiped out by a hurricane, thereby losing it’s historic slot to St. Augustine. There are treasure hunts and parades for the festival.

The Bushwacker Festival happens every year towards the end of the year if milk chocolate alcoholic drinks are your thing. Bushwackers are available year round at many different places on the beach.

Mardi Gras happens in the early spring every year. Obviously not a big as it is in New Orleans, but there are a variety of parades and parties that happen each year downtown and on the beach.

See more at the Visit Pensacola website. 

Downtown Pensacola

-       Seville Square

-       Gallery Night

-       Browsing the many shops and restaurants.

To eat

Fish House/Atlas

            This is two restaurants in one. It’s on the bay in Pensacola and is gorgeous at night, sitting on the deck. If you like sushi you should definitely go on Tuesday nights because Atlas has half price sushi rolls. There is live music many night on the Fish House side and amazing food all around.

IMG_8505.jpg

Peg Leg Pete’s

            Peg Leg Pete’s is probably my favorite place to eat on the beach. Great seafood, views of the sound, and really great drinks.

Sidelines

             I don’t really remember when the first time I ever went to Sidelines was, it feels like it has always existed in my childhood memories. It’s one of my favorite places to eat on the beach, even though it’s a sports bar and not a true “beachy” restaurant. They make some killer wings and pretty much all of their other food is awesome as well.

Cactus Flower

             Cactus Flower is a newer favorite place, and they serve some delectable Mexican food! Our absolute favorite place for mexican used to be Cancun’s in Gulf Breeze but they got shut down for selling drugs (whoops.. maybe that’s why their food was so dang good??). So alas, we’re left with Cactus Flower. Their location on Pensacola Beach is on the boardwalk so it’s pretty, but all their locations serve great food.

Santino’s            

           If you are looking for a non chain place for pizza and grinder’s Santino’s is your place! Mmmm. I love their pizza.

Bagelheads

            The only bagel place I truly love, everything else just pales in comparison. Bagelheads has been around for almost 20 years and oh my goodness is it amazing. You can buy a huge variety of bagels, muffins, baked goods, sandwiches and soups. And of course coffee. Pretty much everything there is amazing, but if you love fruity bagels you’ll definitely want to try the Blueberry Cobbler bagel which is coated in a cinnamon sugar glaze.

There's just a few of my favorite parts of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. I'm sure there will be more posts to come, because there's no way to cover these in just one post. 

What's your favorite thing to eat and do in the Pensacola area?