Florida's beaches make a perfect setting for a romantic or spiritually satisfying moments at sunset. Anywhere you can relax is a great place to watch the sun go down. However, some places stand out for various reasons. In the Tampa Bay area, we have a number of places where you can take your choice of a sundown with nothing but nature's wonders surrounding you or places where you can join friends for a celebration of nightfall with great food and drink. We've put together a list of some of our favorite places to watch the day become the night.
Fort DeSoto Park
3500 Pinellas Bayway S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33715
Located on the tiny barrier island of Mullet Key on the edge of St. Petersburg, Fort DeSoto Park is a beautiful combination of almost unspoiled woods and beaches. While there are modern amenities available, every effort has been made by the Pinellas County Parks Department to keep the human impact as light as possible. Walking or biking are both encouraged and along with abundant wildlife and flora, history buffs will enjoy walking around the namesake fort. Built in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, Fort DeSoto boasts several vintage artillery pieces. But the real treat comes as the day winds down and the sun begins to settle over Tampa Bay. The rainy season thundershowers can add an extra splash of color to the warm glow of the setting sun. The car parking fee is $5.
Tampa International Airport
4200 George J. Bean Parkway
Tampa, FL 33607
Tampa International Airport might seem an odd choice, but its parking garages make a perfect location for photographers looking for that perfect sunset shot. The garages offer one hour of free parking and the top levels usually have enough spaces to allow the hardcore shutterbug to set up a tripod. The air traffic also offers plenty of interesting opportunities to capture beauty shots of airplanes taking off and landing in the twilight. One caution, the exposed rooftop is not a safe place to be when there are thunderstorms anywhere in the area. Being on one of the highest spots for miles around can make you a juicy target for a lightning bolt.
Gator's On The Pass
12754 Kingfish Drive
Treasure Island, FL 33706
A sports bar on one of the world's most beautiful beaches sounds like a great combination and Gator's has what it takes to make the most of the combination. Any day at Gator's could be a perfect day, but for football fans, the idea of spending a day on the beach watching football while enjoying the non-stop party atmosphere with delicious food and drink might be awfully tempting. There are other places that over a better view of the setting sun, but if you're looking for a good time to complement a beautiful sunset, there aren't many better places than Gator's.
Related: Best Outdoor Fall Dates In Tampa Bay
148 Marina Plaza
Dunedin, FL 34698
Dunedin's funky and charming downtown area is getting popular enough that it's no longer one of the Tampa Bay area's best-kept secrets. With over a hundred shops including art galleries, boutiques and antique stores, there's plenty of mainstream and offbeat shopping to keep you busy all day. However, there's also an active nightlife if your energy flows most strongly after dark. Locally owned nightclubs and bars are also part of Dunedin's unique charm. Located on the water, Bon Appetit is a perfect bridge between a day of shopping and exploring and all-out partying. Bon Appetit offers a stunning array of delicious appetizers and seafood, but the piece de resistance is the Marina Cafe which offers you a full menu of dinner and drink selections while watching the sun set over a harbor full of boats of all shapes and sizes.
St. Armand's Circle
300 Madison Drive
Sarasota, FL 34236
Sarasota's waterfront is the centerpiece of its downtown district and the centerpiece of the waterfront is St. Armand's Circle. As with so much of Sarasota, St. Armand's was the product of circus magnate John Ringling's vision during the 1920s. The vision faded when the Great Depression rolled over the United States. But as the saying goes when it comes to real estate, everything boils down to location, location, location. With a combination of shops, restaurants and a nature walk that takes full advantage of the waterfront's natural beauty, the tiny island is a virtual shopping center on the water connected to the mainland by two bridges that cross Sarasota Bay. During the 1950s, St. Armand's began its comeback as Sarasota's downtown gathering place. Great landscaping, tasteful architecture and a collection of statues that have become famous in their own right make shopping at St. Armand's Circle a vastly different experience than the standard Florida strip mall. What could be better after an afternoon of shopping than to finish the day watching the sunset, either from one of the walkways or parked in a prime spot at one of the island's many watering holes?
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Mike Hennessy is a veteran news man who has won Florida AP awards for feature reporting and covered almost every kind of story imaginable from on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Andrew, to some of the highest profile murder and corruption trials in Florida history. Mike is versatile and has the curiosity it takes to get to the bottom line of any story. His work can be found at Examiner.com.
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