Being from Florida I know some great places to go but I haven’t seen it all, so I like to explore and try new things each time I go. Here is my Florida in 48 hour guide to Tampa and Sarasota.
*Tip: Fly in on a Thursday night and get settled into your room and enjoy a late dinner and sunset or check out the newly painted Tampa sign.
Sarasota & St. Armand Circle: Growing up in the area I have a lot of experience with where to eat and the perfect time to head to the beach. Here is what you need to know!
Eating: Here is a list of my top places I recommend to try while in the area.
- Owen’s Fish Camps
- Pacific Rim
- First Watch
- Columbia Restaurant
- Daiquiri Deck
- Dry Dock Waterfront Grill
The Met: When I was little my mum always uses to go The Met for pedicures and manicures. With The Met being known for its luxury fashion and high end spa services I figured I would surprise my sister and take her for her 21st birthday. Not only does The Met offer luxury fashion, but also their high end spa services starting at $50. Each package includes snacks, fudge and mimosas (21+). Great for an afternoon relaxing, couple’s message or girl’s day at the spa.
* Tip: Be sure to book in advance as the services fill up fast.
Siesta Keys: A short 20 minute drive from the circle will bring you to Siesta Keys Beach ranked best beach in Florida in 2015, according to Orlando Sentinel and personally my favorite beach as my parents would take me there after school or for an evening to watch the sunset and grab ice cream.
This beach is like no other beach I’ve ever been too it maybe because it holds a special place in my heart or that the sand feels like baby powder and the water is crystal blue. On a busy day or peak season be sure to arrive early as the beach gets crowded. The parking is free and includes changing stations, grilling/picnic areas as well as a concession stand.
*Note looking to spend all day at the beach? Siesta Village is a short five minute drive where they have a variety of restaurants and bars allowing you to extending your beach day.
Evening in Tampa: After spending a full day in the Sarasota area you may be a little hungry. My recommendation would be to eat back in Tampa and explore what the city has to offer. The drive from Sarasota to Tampa is around an hour giving you plenty of time to decide what you want to do/eat. My recommendation would be to head over to International Mall located at 2223 N West Shore Blvd., here you have the option to try several dining options including: Bar Louie, Blue Martini, Brio Tuscan Grille, Capital Grille, The Pub and more.
*I recommend The Pub or Brio Tuscan Grille.
Breakfast in Tampa:
Oxford Exchange: My personal favorite Oxford Exchange is located at 420 W Kennedy Blvd., directly across from The University of Tampa. Oxford Exchange offers breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea with an extensive menu for each. The restaurant not only offers food, but a café, study rooms and a gift shop.
*Tip: Be sure to book ahead as tables fill up fast. This is a popular destination for locals and tourist. Be prepared to spend a little extra money as eating here comes at a price, but worth it!
*I recommend the Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes (AMAZING!), also be sure to try one of the many teas on their extensive tea menu, which you can also get to-go.
First Watch: Located at 520 Tampa St., First Watch offers a variety of Breakfast and Lunch options for families, tourist and locals looking for a casual and affordable dining experience. First Watch is open from 7a.m. to 2:30p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
*I recommend the Avocado Toast or Fresh Fruit Crepes.
Bayshore Boulevard: Looking to unwind after breakfast? Bayshore Blvd. is the perfect place! Looking over the water Bayshore is the perfect place to rent a bike and ride along the water, go for a run or just admire the beautiful homes. Simply park downtown, rent a bike or walk over!
Lowry Park Zoo – Tampa: I first went to Lowry Park Zoo when I was in Kindergarten for a field trip and I have to say it’s one of my favorite zoos. I recommend the zoo for anyone looking for a nice relaxing day as the zoo is shaded and the park isn’t crowded like your typical parks in the area. The zoo offers shows throughout the day, a safari ride and the opportunity to feed stingrays and giraffes. Parking at the zoo is free and the cost to enter is $13 (very affordable).
Evening at Clearwater Beach: After a packed day what better way to unwind than watch the sunset. Make sure you leave early as parking fills up fast. When you arrive enjoy the sunset from the beach or one of the many restaurants located along Clearwater beach. Note be prepared to wait where ever you choose to eat. Typical wait for a table at any of the restaurants is around 45 minutes to an hour. *See below for recommendations.
- Frenchy’s Saltwater Café
- Frenchy’s Restaurant
- Crabby Bill’s
- Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar