2022 Guide to Spring Break in Tampa & Clearwater: Where to Go & Things to Do

February 8, 2022

Beaches so beautiful you swear they are the set for a Corona commercial, wave crushing watersports, and plenty of tropical themed adventures await those lucky enough to Spring Break in the Bay area.

Seeking a kid-friendly getaway anchored in immersive education and entertainment? Or, are you simply wanting to sunbathe or body surf all day? Then, the sunshine state provides the spring break oasis you've been searching for! Read on to discover the most popular places for Spring Break in and around Tampa Bay.

From the mangrove forest-filled state parks to the buzzing beach bars of Clearwater, there are so many ways to spring break in Tampa. 

Mid-March transforms the Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and St. Pete area into a balmy beach wonderland. 

Where to Stay for Spring Break in Tampa

The Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas

A perfect marriage of convenience, modern elegance, and comfort, the Godfrey Hotel is an ideal choice for discerning Tampa visitors. Recharge your batteries as you take in the panoramic Bay views, and appreciate the full-service amenities of this resort-style property which include two heated outdoor pools, a private dock, and a fitness center.

Don a cozy robe and relax in your stylishly appointed room complete with a mini-fridge, or take a load off with a frozen pina colada at the poolside bar.

JW Marriott Tampa Water Street

Rest your head in the heart of the downtown action when you choose to stay at the sumptuous JW Marriott Tampa on Water Street. Feel the electric energy of the vibrant neighborhood, and be sure to check out nearby local attractions such as Sparkman's Wharf and Armature Works.

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After a full day of Busch Gardens fun, pamper your aching muscles with a custom massage at the spa. Or, catch a searing sunset and cocktail on the outdoor terrace. Then, work on that tan, or catch up on your beach reading when you hideaway in one of the many private cabanas that frame their resort-style pool. 

Close up of people upside down on Iron Gwazi, a new coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa on a sunny day in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa

What to Do in Tampa for Spring Break

ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Is your skin crying out for a beach break? Ditch the sand for a day of animal-filled excitement and wonder when you head to ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Wander with abandon through 60 acres of jaw-droppingly beautiful jungle-like settings as you come face to face with koalas, tigers, penguins, chimpanzees, orangutans, leopards, and more.

Related Post: Pet-Friendly Tampa: Hotels, Restaurants, and Beaches

Cool off in a water play area, spot soaring Macaws at the Flyover, or wave hello to the cuddly manatees swimming in the mangrove. Then, board a boat and gear up for a crystal clear splashdown at the Roaring Springs Family Water Adventure for even more excitement.

The Florida Aquarium

Sharks, rays, and eels, oh my! Journey 20,000 leagues under the sea when you step foot inside Florida's largest aquarium. The Florida Aquarium is just bursting at the gills with exciting exhibits, interactive touch pools, a 4-D Theater, and more. This edifice of learning, laughter, and marine-based fun is a nationally ranked educational space home to over 7,000 aquatic plants and animals.

Spot Green Moray Eels, Giant Pacific Octopuses, and iridescently beautiful Moon Jellyfish. Schedule in time for stingray feedings, or hit the splash pad for a wet refresh.

Later in the afternoon, settle in for a screening at the 4Ducks theater. Or, travel to the dark continent when you explore the Aquarium's newest exhibit: Journey to Madagascar. 

A section of The Florida Aquarium filled with people at an event with a large tank full of active fish behind them in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: The Florida Aquarium via Facebook

Busch Gardens Tampa

Add together equal parts African Safari, Zoological exploration, and thrilling theme park rides, and you will be blessed with Busch Gardens Tampa. Get your adrenaline pumping with dizzying drops and speed on the brand new Iron Gwazi, or experience more leisurely water-filled twists and turns on the family-friendly Stanley Falls Flume.

Relax with Broadway-caliber entertainment and vocal stylings, or turn up the heat when you venture on a sizzling safari across the Serengeti. From glimpsing at Gorillas in the Myombe Reserve to shadowing a zookeeper for a day. There are a million ways to get wild at Busch Gardens Tampa for spring break.

Related Post: Insider's Guide to Busch Gardens® Tampa

Adventure Island Tampa

Feeling that spring heat? Cool those jets and prime yourself for a day of waterslides, cascading falls, and lazy rivers when you dive into the action at Adventure Island Tampa. Embrace that island lifestyle when you swim, splash, and slide your way through high-speed corkscrews, giant wave pools, and more.

Tackle unknown realms of deep space, medieval fantasy, and tropical lagoons when you participate in Virtual Reality snorkeling. Grab a buddy and head to the Bahamas on the Aruba Tuba. Or, test your mettle on the brand new dueling water slide, Rapids Racer.

For even more high-speed H20 based hijinks, board the recently opened Solar Vortex and head face-first into America's first dual-tailspin water slide. Hit hair-raising speeds of up to 20 miles per hour as you relish both high-banking rotations and rapid descents.

Where to Eat & Drink

RiverWalk

Museums, shops, restaurants, and more make the RiverWalk a can't miss Tampa spring break attraction. So, head on over during the day for a leisurely 2.4-mile stroll. Or a segway trip as you snake your way through the Bay. You also could take your sightseeing to the water with a kayak or water bike rental.

Those craving a slice of culture should admire the photography and contemporary modern art at the Tampa Museum of Art. At the same time, curious kiddos will relish the immersive activities and exhibits at the Glazer Children's Museum.

Pay homage to Tampa's Cuban heritage with their signature sandwich at the Columbia Cafe. Otherwise, head to Sparkman's Wharf to indulge in exceptional dining, craft beer, and panoramic rooftop views. 

View looking at the Tampa Riverwalk lined with bushes and palm trees with buildings on one side and the river on the other side in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Tampa Riverwalk via Facebook

American Social

Craving a neighborhood watering hole combined with the sleek sophistication of over 15,000 sq ft of waterfront property? Then head to American Social. A sought-after destination for Tampa locals and tourists alike.

Take a load off, and wet your whistle at one of their four full-service bars. Or, party it up on their outdoor patio space.

Their exposed brick and navy banquet studded interior create a cozy patriotic pause. Meanwhile, sip a handcrafted Cactus Pear Mojito. Then, share a bevy of 'social plates' including guava BBQ pork belly, Mahi tacos, and maple bourbon meatballs. 

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Armature Works

Ready to solve the age-old dilemma of where to eat? When the hangry threatens to take over, eclectic groups will find culinary solace at Armature Works.

This new addition to the historic neighborhood of Tampa Heights combines culture, music, and a dizzying array of food vendors all under one roof. So stroll through the Heights Public Market for a quick bite of mouth-watering Cuban cuisine at Hemingway's. Or, indulge that sweet tooth with a Nutella stuffed cookie from Bake'n Babes.

For a full sit-down dining experience and awe-inspiring Hillsborough River views, head to the rooftop for tropical-themed cocktails at M. Bird. With weekly events ranging from community workout classes to outdoor movie screenings, live music, and more, there is always something new to sample at Armature. 

View of the front of Armature Works and a giant sign that says HEIGHTS PUBLIC MARKET on a brick building in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Armature Works via Facebook

Soho Saloon

Raucous Tampa spring break-themed festivities for a steal? Yes, please! It may not be fancy, but generations of juveniles have headed to Soho Saloon for a rip-roaring good time.

Located in the beating heart of South Tampa, this down-home bar features packed parties, daily food and drink specials, live music, and DJs. So round up your crew of weekend warriors and order a round of vodka infusions or tequila shots to start the celebration.

Club Prana

Let loose in historic Ybor City when you bump and grind the night away at Club Prana. Tampa's premier nightclub destination features a rotating assortment of theme parties, musical guests, and DJs.

With five separate floors that spin beats and different vibes ranging from hip hop to reggae, there's always a good time to be found on the dancefloor. Soak in rooftop scenery and the Ybor city skyline at the Sky Bar, or appreciate the Italian marble, exotic paintings, and sensual dancers putting on a show on the fourth floor Night Club.

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Where to Stay in Clearwater Beach for Spring Break

Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa

Seeking some family-friendly accommodations that will put you within arms reach of everything in Clearwater? Live out your beach fantasies and keep those tykes entertained when you book Spring Break at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa.

Boasting over 10 acres of private beach, as well as a plethora of sand and sun activities, as well as water sports, the Hilton is ideal for busy bees. In addition, harried parents can soothe their sunburnt skin at the spa and even take advantage of a complimentary beach photo session.

Grab a gratis bike and pedal on over to the nearby Pier 60, or spend a day exploring the equally closeby Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Coconut Cove

Wake up to the siren song of crashing waves and the aquamarine waters of Clearwater Beach when you reserve a room at the palm tree-studded paradise of Coconut Cove. Sprawl out in your King Suite featuring 550 square feet of living space with a full-size sleeper sofa and private balcony.

Sun worshipers should slap on that SPF and head across the street where they can stick their toes in the sand at their sister property's private beach, or else get their daily dose of H20 at the spacious pool with cascading waterfalls. 

What to Do for Spring Break in Clearwater

Clearwater Beach

World-famous sunsets, watersports, and plenty of promenade action make Clearwater Beach a 'must visit' for any Pinellas county trip. Sandy shores, shallow crystal clear waters, and plenty of social buzz guarantee that the wide swaths of Clearwater are always packed with families, singles, and spring breakers.

Perfect for people watching or just playing a game of pick-up beach volleyball, the beach here is bordered by the famous BeachWalk promenade that hugs 2.5 miles of coastline. Head into town to window shop, snack on saltwater taffy, or hang ten on the sensational surf simulator.

Wind down your day of beach bumming with a trek to Pier 60, the quintessential spot to watch the sun waste away, as well as browse the various wares from artisans, crafters, and musical buskers. 

Sunset over Clearwater Beach with the pier in the middle and lots of clouds near Tampa, Florida, USAClearwater Marine Aquarium

Psst..did you know there are some real-life stars of the silver screen living right here in Clearwater? Kids of all ages will lose their cool when they realize the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to the star and memory of both 'Dolphin Tale' and 'Dolphin Tale 2'.

Playful and supremely intelligent, the star of the show, Hope, is a rescued dolphin whose inspiring story continues to make waves. Next, check out cheeky Green Sea Turtle, I Bailey at the Turtle Cove.

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Dive into a fuller appreciation of the mysterious ocean and her hidden treasuries when you stop by the aquarium's brand new exhibit 'Legends from the Deep,' which includes an optional Virtual Reality dive experience. 

Caladesi Island State Park

Escape to an unspoiled island oasis when you seek out the pristine sand beaches of Caladesi Island State Park. Overflowing with natural, rustic beauty, these untouched islands are located just off the coast of Dunedin and are only accessible by ferry or private boat.

Pack up a picnic, grab the beach umbrella, and set your phone to 'do not disturb' as you settle in for an afternoon of exquisite tranquility. Feel your cares evaporate as you float away in calm aquamarine waters, or grab some sneakers to engage in some nature walking through the island's Slash pine forests.

Those seeking to perfect their paddle can rent a kayak and observe the diverse marine and birdlife that call the bayside mangrove forest home.

Aerial view of Caladesi Island State Park, lots of green trees and a green tinted ocean near Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: VISIT FLORIDA via Facebook

Where to Party in Clearwater

Shephard's Wave NightClub

Calling all Clearwater rockstars! Surf that wave of late-night madness when you reserve a premium table at Shephard's. Part of the Shephard Beach Resort's world-famous entertainment complex, this multilevel space of pulsating beats, tropical vibes, and bountiful bottle service keeps the dancing going till 2:30 am.

Witness lights, lasers, and high-energy DJ dynamics as you splash out in the patio section or splurge on a VIP table. 

Coco's Crush Bar & Grill

Nocturnal beach bunnies will be thrilled to bask in that ocean breeze just a smidge longer as they stretch their spring break nights into early morning days at Coco's Crush Bar & Grill. Open till 3 am, this tiki-themed Clearwater beach hangout has been serving up its signature Orange Crush cocktail for years.

Voted Clearwater's best beach bar, Coco's is the local sandy spot you've been searching for. Sip from a 16 oz Monkey Coconut or order an orange-hued Malibu Mango Crush to accompany your feast of firecracker shrimp and fresh grouper sandwiches. 

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View of the side of Coco’s Crush Bar & Grill with their outdoor dining area to the right with yellow and blue tables at night in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Jason Duncan via Facebook

Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

Quirky, kitschy, with a healthy dash of neon-hued 80s nostalgia, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill is a true blast from the past. Linger over locally caught fish and seafood, live daily music, and incredible Gulf of Mexico views.

Whether you cruise by early on for a little hair of the dog or settle in for a stellar sunset of purple, pink, and orange, an escape to Frenchy's is sure to hit the spot. So come hungry and dine on a medley of Floridian and Caribbean-style dishes, including conch fritters, grouper nuggets, and half pounds of peel and eat shrimp.

Wash it all down with an icy sweet Rum Runner and consider yourself spring break satisfied.

Where to Stay in St. Petersburg for Spring Break

The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

History, world-class hospitality, and contemporary charm collide at the renowned Vinoy Renaissance hotel. An exploration of luxury, impeccable service, and innovation, a Spring Break here is sure to dazzle.

Wander through quaint downtown St. Pete on foot, feast your eyes on scenic waterfront marina views, or perhaps work on your serve at any of the 10 Har-Tru tennis courts.

Perfect your coif at the on-site hair salon, savor a cocktail on the Veranda patio or entertain the kiddies in the game room. 

TradeWinds Island Grand Resort

If your sunshine state sojourn is not complete without a pampering beach resort stay, the TradeWinds Island Grand is the place for you. Adults and kids alike will be clamoring with joy to conquer all 25 acres of this beachfront playground.

Enjoy direct beach access, a three-story water slide, or just shut your eyes for a tranquil afternoon hammock siesta. Learn to paddleboard, dabble in kid-friendly arts and crafts, or fill up on fresh Florida seafood.

For an even bigger bite of luxury, be sure to reserve a premium suite that includes awesome features such as a stand-alone shower, whirlpool bathtub, and stunning Gulf of Mexico views. 

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What to Do for Spring Break in St. Petersburg

Fort De Soto Park

Carve out some time in your spring break schedule, as you'll want to spend at least a day uncovering the unique beauty and wartime history of Fort De Soto Park. Measuring well over 1,100 acres, Fort De Soto is the largest park within the Pinellas county system and consists of five interconnected islands.

Outdoor enthusiasts should grab a trail guide and some binoculars as there are oodles of mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods, and native species to discover. Water lovers will be drawn to the North or East Beach, where they can splash about in clear, cerulean water and even spot frolicking dolphins or loggerhead sea turtles.

Those families traveling with Fido can let their fur babies in on the fun, as Fort De Soto even has a dog-friendly beach. Then, wrap up your day of surf, sand, and hikes with a quick trip to the mid-15th century Fort from which the park derives its name and learn all about its importance as a stronghold during both the Spanish American War and World War II. 

Pass-A-Grille Beach

Lap up that old-school Floridian charm when you revel in the rays and tranquil waters of Pass-A-Grille Beach. Located at the southernmost end of St. Pete Beach, this sandy spot of serenity and sweetness is just bursting with seaside charm.

From the Spanish-style architecture and vibrant pink hues of the famous Don CeSar hotel to the laid-back beach town that brims with rooftop bars, restaurants, and ice cream parlors, every inch of Pass-A-Grille is picture-perfect.

Hop on a cute and convenient beach Trolley to get around town, or stick to aquatic activities such as deep-sea fishing, kayaking, or speed boat adventures. 

Two women on the beach with umbrella behind them and the massive pink Don CeSar behind them on a sunny day in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: The Don CeSar via Facebook

Treasure Island Beach

Amp up the adrenaline when you swap your landlubber ways for some serious pirate play at Treasure Island Beach. Showcasing a spectacularly vast expanse of wide, white sugar sand beach, Treasure Island has made a name for itself when it comes to H20 based enjoyment.

Harness that wind when your kitesurf or parasail, or hit that surf like a pro when you rent a fully decked out wave runner or jet ski. Tinier tots will enjoy scouring the sand for shells, building sandcastles, or playing on the beach's substantial playground.

Don't towel off for the day before you slip and slide your way down the enormous inflatable water slide. It's located just west of the beach parking lot at 104th Avenue.

Where to Eat & Drink in St. Petersburg

Jimmy B's Beach Bar

Ice cold margaritas, friendly bartenders, live music, and waterfront views make Jimmy B's a lauded beach bar. Laidback vacation vibes abound here. You'll want to kick off your sandals the second your feet hit the wooden deck.

Order a frosty beer, and wait out the sun as you prime yourself for the Gulf of Mexico's sunset masterpiece. A little-known Jimmy B's secret is that if you stick around past sundown, you'll be treated to a free shooter while you sway to the breezy tunes of the day. 

Postcard Inn St. Pete Beach

Whether you are staying at the sun and surf-inspired Postcard Inn or not, every St. Pete spring breaker needs to stop by the Beach Bar & Snack Shack for some refreshing seashore sips.

Cannonball into the crystal clear pool, then order a drink without even drying off via their lounge service. For an endearing Instagram photo opt, choose the citrus-hued slushy (and seriously tasty) Miami Vice drink.

Remember that this is your getaway, and calories don't count. Then dive into a plate of cheesy nachos, crispy fries, and zesty seafood tacos. 

Close up of the Miami Vice drink with the blue pool water in the background at Postcard Inn St. Pete Beach near Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Postcard Inn on the Beach via Facebook

No Vacancy

No Vacancy may not be beach-bound, but their jungle and vintage hotel-inspired aesthetic may just convince you've been teleported to the Keys. There is something new to document everywhere you look. As a result, selfie opportunities run wild in this palm tree and flamingo-peppered tiki paradise.

Spring into vacation mode as you choose a lawn chair perched on top of their astroturf patio. Then challenge your friends to a giant game of connect four. Meanwhile, lean into the celebratory spirit with a fishbowl-sized mai tai cocktail. Or, try to avoid a brain freeze with an icy Painkiller.

Devour hand-breaded grouper tacos or some garlicky Bayou Shrimp and Grits with a side of fluffy sweet potato tots. 

Fruity flavored iced drinks laced with rum, saltwater kissed skin, and balmy Gulf breezes. The Tampa Bay area may just be spring break heaven on earth.

Many outdoor delights, including soft sand beaches, secluded island hideaways, and diverse wetland ecosystems. It provides the perfect setting for hours of hiking, birding, kayaking, and more.

Those who yearn for high-speed amusement and thrills of roller coasters will be jumping for joy at Busch Gardens. Meanwhile, inquisitive kids will relish the marine mammals on display at the area's many aquariums. 

However you choose to spring break in Tampa, St. Pete, or Clearwater, you are guaranteed to feel the magic of the sunshine state!

What Will You Be Adding to Your Spring Break in Tampa Itinerary?

Let us know in the comments below!


isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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