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Social Distance-Friendly Getaways from Tampa

Close up of teenager's face while scuba diving.

By Sydney Rhodes 

There’s no denying that it has been a rough couple of months and many Florida attractions have closed due to COVID-19. Day or weekend trips are going to be a must during the stressful time of trying to get back into the swing of things, especially social distancing-friendly ones. 

Day Trips from Tampa: 

Lettuce Lake Park

6920 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, Florida 33637

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This quiet state park located about 20 miles north of campus is known for its alligator sights. Visitors can take a walk through the forested park or the boardwalk on the lake’s edge, but the canoe rentals are the main attraction. Visitors can rent a two person canoe for $25 for four hours along with a park entry fee of $2. Once launched into the water, you’re sure to see over a dozen alligators or even canoe right up next to them on your adventure down the Hillsborough River. 

Crystal River 

123 NW US Highway 19, Crystal River, Florida 34428Sydney.crystalriver

If you’re looking for a memorable experience kayaking, swimming and snorkeling with friends, then this is your spot! The Three Sisters Springs is one of the most popular destinations on the Crystal River, known for its manatee tours. Three Sisters Springs is located about an hour and a half north of campus, so it’s a perfect day trip. The average price of a manatee snorkeling tour runs at about $62 per person, while the average kayak or canoe rental is about $30 per person for three hours.  

Rainbow River 

9435 SW 190th Avenue Rd, Dunnellon, Florida 34432

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Tubing down the rainbow river makes a great day trip for you and a group of friends. You can rent tubes at KP Hole Park, located two hours north of campus. At the park, visitors can rent tubes for $25 per person, which includes a shuttle service. This day trip would be best in the fall due to tube rentals ending on Wednesday, September 30 until April. Not to mention, the water usually sits at about 70 degree fahrenheit in the fall, so finding a sunny, warm day would be best. 

Busch Gardens 

10165 N McKinley Dr, Tampa, Florida 33612

This amusement park full of roller coasters, rides and animal exhibits is located in Tampa, just 10 miles from campus. The average single-day ticket is about $96 per person. However, Busch Gardens is offering a “buy one single-day ticket, get one free” offer through Wednesday, Sept. 30, which would allow you to split the cost with a friend and enjoy the park at a more manageable rate. In addition to their buy one get one free offer, the park is hosting a Summer Nights special Friday-Sunday’s until Sunday, Sept. 6, where guests can stay at the park and enjoy rides from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

St. Petersburg 

Many students take trips to St. Petersburg for the beaches, but the city itself can be really interesting and fun too. 

St. Pete Pier 

800 2nd Ave NE, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701

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This brand new pier isn’t just any regular pier and is quite the experience. The 26-acre architectural piece sits on the waters of Tampa Bay where visitors can walk, bike, shop, eat, drink, swim, and enjoy concerts and events. The Discovery Center and Wet Classroom is a great place to learn about Tampa Bay’s ecosystem, with a hands-on indoor and outdoor experience. Visitors can also shop at the pier’s Marketplace, where they can find local St. Pete vendors and their unique items. Food and drinks are also available at the pier including a cafe, and five restaurants, one of them being a rooftop tiki bar at the end of the pier. 

St. Pete Sunday Market

Central, 217 Central Ave, St Petersburg, Florida 33701

This market is a “celebration of local arts, sounds and flavors” according to DTSP Sunday Market in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. The market is held on every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and hosts about 50 vendors and their creativity. Plus, there’s always live music. 

Dolphin Cruises and Snorkeling

Another fun attraction in St. Petersburg: dolphin cruises. These cruises and snorkeling tours are located around the city of St. Pete and they can make a great day trip out on the water. Prices of the tours typically range from $30-$55 per person, with an average cruise time of four hours. 

Weekend Getaways from Tampa: 

South Beach Miami

South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida 33139

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This trendy and quirky location on the beach is one of the most popular destinations in Florida, with a large nightlife and historic scene. A drive to Miami takes about four hours with the average Airbnb or Vrbo stay in South Beach running at about $65 per night depending on the time of year. While the average hotel cost is about $100 per night. In South Beach, you can enjoy your day on the beach or shopping around town, but when the sun goes down the streets will light up with clubs and bars. 

Fort Myers  

Fort Myers Beach, Florida 33931

White sand beach at sunset on Sanibel Island, Florida, USA

Whether you stay in downtown Fort Myers or on Fort Myers Beach, the location is sure to be a relaxing weekend getaway at a decent price too, just two hours south of Tampa. The population of Fort Myers is about a third of Tampa’s, making it the perfect social distancing stay. The average Airbnb or Vrbo stay is about $60 per night, depending on the area and time of year, while hotel prices on the beach usually average $90 per night. Just a few miles off of Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island is a popular, yet quiet island getaway covered in crystal clear waters, shell beaches and wildlife refuges. The best things to do in Fort Myers involve the beaches and water sports. Jet ski rentals range from $40-$100 for 2 hours, while there are many boat and sailing tours listed at a manageable price. Downtown Fort Myers is also full of boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars. 

St. Augustine 

St. Augustine, Florida

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The city of St. Augustine is known for being one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and its spanish colonial architecture. Located just south of Jacksonville, Florida, St. Augustine is about a three hour drive from Tampa. With the city flourishing in history and culture, some of the best things to do include sightseeing, museum and trolley tours, and experiencing live music and culture. St. George Street is known for being the heart of the town, as it’s lined with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and gift shops. With so much to do around town, the 42 miles of white sand beaches on the Atlantic are still a popular attraction. Airbnb and Vrbo prices average $75 per night, while hotels average at $90 per night. 

New Orleans 

New Orleans, Louisiana

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One of the cheapest locations to fly to from Tampa: New Orleans. Flights average at about $60 for a round trip ticket throughout the year and it only takes an hour and a half to land at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport, 15 miles outside of the booming downtown area. The sights are endless in New Orleans, but the city is best known for its 24-hour nightlife, live music scene, southern seafood cooking and French architecture. A quaint studio or apartment rental on Airbnb and Vrbo averages at $50 per night, while hotel prices average about $80 per night.

 

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